Lords Vision of the final mile 4 Broadband 4 All

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The Communications Committee of The House of Lords has today published its   report “Broadband for all – an alternative vision” Onlinepdf.

The Committee members are Baroness Bakewell (from 16 May 2012), Lord Bragg, Lord Clement-Jones, Baroness Deech, Lord Dubs (from 16 May 2012), Baroness Fookes, Lord Gordon of Strathblane, Lord Inglewood (Chairman), Bishop of Norwich Lord Macdonald of Tradeston (until 30 April 2012), Lord Razzall, Lord St John of Bletso, Earl of Selborne, Lord Skelmersdale. Michael Fourman, Professor of Computer Systems in the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh, acted as Specialist Adviser for this Inquiry.

It’s pretty weighty (80 pages) and comes up with something like 46 recommendations to Government (summarised on pages 63 to 67).

Their “vision” “In brief, ….. is of a robust and resilient national network linked primarily by optical connectivity, bringing open access fibre-optic hubs into or within reach of every community.”

“The open access fibre-optic hub is, in fact, quite a simple idea. It refers to a physical object—in all likelihood a box—situated in the vicinity of a community. Its job is to act as a waystation between that community and the broadband infrastructure that spreads out across the rest of the country. Running into the hub from the wider network would be an ample number of fibre-optic cables, which in the first instance, would be ‘dark,’ in the sense that no data traffic will yet be running over them. The reason for this may be, for example, that it has not yet been connected in any way to the properties in the community around it. An important feature of the hub, however, is that the dark fibre running into it should be open access; so that anybody is permitted to build a link between a premises in the community and a fibre in the hub by installing their own passive or active electronic equipment in between, and then rent the existing fibre they are connecting to, which extends the connection from the premises out from the hub and onto the wider network. This would enable any type of compatible access network to be built by any local community, SME or infrastructure provider.”

Whilst we are not sure if this is a preferred way forward (and unsurprisingly the Government are opposed) we would certainly favour greater competition for BT and their Open Reach division (which owns and manages BT’s local access network). As they rightly point out the current competition in this area is to say the least limited  “There are two major local access networks (the final mile) for broadband in the UK: BT’s copper telephone network and Virgin Media’s cable television network which almost entirely runs in parallel with BT’s network.”

Almost as an aside they note that as “initially the strongest driver of consumers moving from basic to enhanced broadband will be Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) services.” Then “It is likely that IPTV services will become ever more widespread, and eventually the case for transferring the carriage of broadcast content, including public service broadcasting, from spectrum to the internet altogether will become overwhelming. This may well be a more sensible arrangement, as spectrum is perfectly suited to mobile applications,”

So they recommend “ …… that the Government, Ofcom and the industry begin to consider the desirability of the transfer of terrestrial broadcast content from spectrum to the internet and the consequent switching off of broadcast transmission over spectrum, and in particular what the consequences of this might be and how we ought to begin to prepare.”

We think there is a way to go but in the light of how the market develops for connected TV & associated devices eg Google’s Nexus Q etc the previously unthinkable should be thought. Also, unlike 4G, it could be worth considering sooner rather than later.

Its progress will certainly have a huge influence on consumer demand for improved broadband services.

Keep up with your Highway Code and win a NEW iPad!

The Official Highway Code and associated information is now available:

and there are apps for:

  • iOS 
  • android (sort of – it’s a link to the direct.gov online version)

They have 13,000 twitter followers and 10,600 likes on facebook. Not really up there with Lady Gaga  (27.7 million) Katy Perry (24.1mln) or even Stephen Fry  (4.6mln) and we would have hoped that it would be far greater as  you  “Get Highway Code reminders” and presumably updates.

Possibly one of the reasons for this might be the status of the online version(s) which are qualified as follows “This version has been adapted for online use from the Department for Transport’s current printed version of the Highway Code. In any proceedings, whether civil or criminal, only the Department for Transport’s current printed version of the Code should be relied upon”

It’s of course free online but the printed version   from TSO costs £2.50 the iPhone app is £3.99 and the CD Rom a whopping £9.99 Possibly the best route in the absence of a pdf is an e-book which on our Kindle store indicates a price of £1.32.

Now for the interesting bit! For 13 year olds (parental consent required etc etc) and upwards you can enter their competition via facebook if you “Take a photo or a simple video which fits the caption ‘Keep up! The Highway Code has!’”

“Tips to win

  • Make your photo or video original and creative – read the ebook on an elephant, beef up on a bouncy castle or retweet a rule at a rodeo!
  • Show us yours – make sure that the Highway Code can be seen clearly in your photo or video – get your copy here
  • Keep it safe – any photo or video we judge to have involved danger won’t be allowed, so make sure you follow the Highway Code if you take your photo or video when out and about
  • Don’t worry about the quality – we’re not looking for the next Spielberg or David Bailey. It’s the content that counts!”

You can then email your photo / video link to competition@dsa.gsi.gov.uk by 28 September 2012. Runner up Apple / amazon prizes also apply. Full details & T & C’s  are here

Keep an “I” on our week (July 28) London 2012 edition

The top three articles this week were:

  1. 4G for all – coming to a device near you
  2. Internet GB retail sales growth slows in June 
  3. No Blockbuster for Apple this Quarter  

There’s obviously only one show in town this week (and for the next two)

Useful start point for all the London 2012 events and results.

Here’s Business Insiders video of The Lighting of the Cauldron:


Hat Trick Design designed the welcome stamps – Here’s the video

Samsung wins Q2 round of Smartphone contest

Both IDC and Strategy Analytics  have just published their quarter 2 estimates for worldwide smartphone shipments by vendor. Whereas it was pretty close just a couple of quarters ago with Apple  it’s another convincing win for Samsung this time with a 16% lead in market share terms.

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Both press releases (Strategy Analytics & IDC ), and a significant number of commentators, have majored on the “Apple & Samsung have more than 50% of the market” angle.







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An interesting point that we noticed was that in the context of the overall mobile market a comparison of the smartphone growth in total and by vendor is fascinating.



Total Mobile & Smartphone Vendor Shipments Q2 2012
Q2 2012 Q2 2012 Q2 2012 Q2 2011 Q2 2011 Q2 2011
Units mln Units mln % Smart- Units mln Units mln % Smart-
Mobile Smartphone -phone Mobile Smartphone -phone
Apple 26.0 26.0 100.0% 20.4 20.4 100.0%
Samsung 97.8 50.2 51.3% 75.4 20.2 26.8%
Nokia 83.7 10.2 12.2% 88.5 16.7 18.9%
Other 198.5 67.5 34.0% 217.5 51.0 23.4%
Total 406.0 153.9 37.9% 401.8 108.3 27.0%
Source data: IDC Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker, July 26, 2012
Source calculations: I.co.uk


So using IDC’s data the total proportion of smartphones shipped in a year has moved up from 27% to 38% and Samsung has accounted for over 60% of the growth .

At the Global Investment Conference yesterday at Lancaster House we think it was Eric Schmidt who said (in so many words) that the world population was 7bn and that there were 5bn mobile phones out there of which 1bn are smartphones, The implication being that there would be a huge move to smartphones in the foreseeable future. So the conclusion was  “that’s quite a market …”. We certainly could not disagree!

A Great Conference

As a, sort of precursor to the Olympic Games a Global Investment Conference is being held today in London at Lancaster House.It’s the first of 17 Global Business Summits to be held during London 2012. Full details of the British Business Embassy initiative are on a section of the UK Trade & Investment site. There is also a section for Tech City UK.

Today’s opening conference has some noteworthy Technology contributors/participants. (times are BST & are approximate)

Themes for growth (12.15pm)

  •  Eric Schmidt – Executive Chairman Google
  • John Chambers – Chairman CEO Cisco


Innovation in Technology (3.00pm ish)

  • Dr Mike Lynch – Founder Autonomy
  • Warren East – CEO ARM
  • Vittorio Colao – CEO Vodafone
  • Martin Sorrell – CEO WPP Group

Unable to trace video(s) unfortunately

Full agenda (pdf)

Warren East of ARM has sort of trailed his speech with a press release  announcing the formation of an industry group  to combat the Internet of Silos whilst promoting the Internet of Things! We are not over fond of the terminology (TIOT) so maybe the forums first task could be ……..

After the event we will attempt to link to videos of these two sessions.

Interesting stuff – watch it Live courtesy of YouTube

.Here’s David Cameron’s opening address to the conference.

4G for all – coming to a device near you!

Ofcom announced yesterday  (some would say at long last) that it was starting the process of auctioning off the licences for 4G – the fourth generation of mobile broadband.

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Their indicated timescales are:

  • 24 July 2012 – Consultation start date
  • 11 September 2012  – Consultation end date
  • End 2012 – Invitations to bid issued
  • Beginning 2013- Bidding starts
  • March 2013 – Licences awarded
  • Mid 2013 – Mobile operators start 4G roll-out
  • Later in 2013 – First consumer services available

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Ofcom’s detailed proposal  and related 86 page Consultation document can be viewed and responded to online.

In connection with the announcement Ofcom issued a rather useful media briefing (pdf) which outlines both the technology and the process.

Hopefully now that the starting pistol has been fired there won’t be any undue delays but we have some doubts. We will not be amongst the leading countries who have this technology!

In these challenging times improved communication achieved through speedier broadband infrastructures we regard as being of paramount importance.

No Blockbuster for Apple this Quarter


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Summarising – July 25


  1.  Analysts – generally negative & some concern about 4th Quarters guidance
  2. Market – In after hours trade the shares were down by $33.12 (5.5%) at $567.80 (only 9 cents below a remarkable progression)! WSJ quote


  1. Press release 
  2. SEC Filing 


  1. Audio
  2. Transcript (SeekingAlpha)

UPDATES -  July 24 pm

Results update 9.32 pm BST – Top line figures are revenues of $35.0 bn and earnings per share of $9.32 which is lower than expectations (Analysts). Shares are (after hours trade) down $33. ish (5.5%) . The Apple earnings press release is here. Dividend of $2.65 per share.

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We’re off to update our graphic (look left) for the actual results & to listen to their conference call

A summary of the conference call is at AppleInsider.

A point from the Q & A session of the conference call was that cumulatively 84 million iPads have now been sold. So we reckon it’s likely that the 100 million mark will reached in the next quarter!

Update   9.15pm BST Apple shares closed down $2.54 (0.42%) at $601.29 compared to the main markets being down just under 1%. The overall market seems very sensitive to any negatives eg Netflix just announced a near miss on subscriber numbers & their shares fell 10% 15% ish.

Apple shares in after trading are down marginally at $601

Apple is due to announce its 3rd  Quarter 2012 results today after Nasdaq/Wall Street closes. They are usually released some 20-30 minutes after the close.

Their guidance for Q3 was included in their Q2 earnings release and there have been no updates

Our graphic tries to summarise the varying forecasts that surrounds these results together with our own guesstimate (which we apologise for in advance)!

Apples share price has fluctuated over the last 3 months between $530 and $614 but in the last 3-4 weeks has steadied around the $600 level +/- a couple or so percent. In premarket trading today 1.30pm BST they are up a couple or three $’s to just under $607.

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In the meantime here is Philip Elmer-Dewitt‘s (of Apple 2.0) excellent summary of the numerous analysts views which for this quarter has less detail than historically. We’ve added the averages for the Analyst and Independents categories. His best guess based on his favourites (Independents with the best track record over the last 7 quarters) is Revenues of $41.3 billion and Earnings per share of $12.4 (Gross Margin 45.4%)

Our overall view is that Apple still has much more to come this year in product updates / announcements so this quarter may be more of a consolidation rather than a blockbuster as with the previous 2 quarters.

If you want to catch Apple’s conference call commenting on the results the webcast will be here.  and takes place at 10pm BST 5pm EDT and 2pm PDT.

We will update the graphic after the results & link to Apples earnings release.

Internet GB retail sales growth slows in June

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Last Thursday was the third Thursday of the month so The Office for National Statistics (ONS)  published the monthly retail sales figures for June (pdf) We’ve cut the pdf  down to exclude the 85 pages of tables. If you want these, the full version is on the ONS site.

Overall the figures had a mixed reception being headlined as either in line with forecasts or marginally disappointing. No Diamond Jubillee “bounce” was apparent! The weather is still being blamed for unseasonal movements and inflation is seen to be moderating..

Our Internet sales headlines are:

June increases:

  • Year on year +14.3%.(+25.2%) showing a significant slowing after May revision to over 25%
  • Year to date June 2012/2011 + 17.6% (18.4%) a marginal reduction again on a revised upwards May figure.
  • Moving Annual total increases (1) on May 2012 annualised + 13.9% (2) on June 2011 +16.8%
  • The UK’s *largest online retailer is included in the group (Non store retailing) showing 16.7% growth on 2011 and contributing 6.9% to the overall growth of 14.3% (This is an area which is likely to just grow & grow unless further meaningful analysis is undertaken by the ONS)

As always the “history” has been revised by the ONS which this month went back as far as September 2011 with a significant upwards revision to May 2012 sales of +2.9% with the headline weekly Internet sales figure increased to  £525.8 million from the original £510.9 million.

The ONS words are:

“Internet Sales

Key points

  • Average weekly Internet sales values (non-seasonally adjusted) in June 2012 were estimated to be £493.3 million, an increase of 14.3 per cent when compared with June 2011.
  • Internet sales were estimated to account for 8.5 per cent of all retail sales values excluding automotive fuel.
  • The non-store retailing sector had the largest proportion of Internet sales in June 2012 and accounted for 62.0 per cent of all sales in this sector, up from 57.0 per cent in June 2011. The food sector had the lowest proportion of Internet sales and accounted for 3.2 per cent, up from 2.7 per cent a year earlier.

Internet sales in detail

The Internet sales measure how much has been spent online through retailers in Great Britain.Figures are non-seasonally adjusted and the reference year is 2010=100. The table below shows the year-on-year growth rates for total Internet sales, by sector and the contribution that each sector makes to total Internet sales.


Category Weight Year on year Contribution to
(YOY) growth YOY growth
All retailing 100.0 14.3%
(a) All food 17.3 18.2% 3.1%
(b) All non-food 41.4 10.1% 4.2%
Department stores 7.0 16.4% 1.1%
Textile clothing & footwear stores 11.7 16.4% 1.9%
Household goods stores 8.2 16.7% 1.4%
Other stores 14.5 -2.0% -0.3%
(c) Non store retailing 41.3 16.7% 6.9%

We have added our annotations to the ONS table) – The bold categories/ figures in the table are the primary constituents of the total (ie (a) + (b) + (c) = All retailing). Dept. stores, Textile etc, Household etc and Other stores are simply an analysis of (b) All non-food.

* Whilst the ONS will not confirm the names of specific retailers within categories they did say that retailers selling wholly online with no physical outlets would be included in the Non store retailing category along with eg online  mail order retailers.

As previously mentioned the figures are no longer experimental.

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The moving annual total, which we report, moved up again (it has increased EVERY MONTH since October 2007 being the first full year of reporting by the ONS) to an all time high of £27.1bn an increase in the month (adjusted re restatements and revisions) of 1.16% annualised 13.9%. This is well below the long term compound average growth rate (from 2007) of 25.8%.

Our last months aggressive forecast of  £525 million weekly sales with a Diamond Jubilee contribution was 5% above the actuals BUT we did achieve the £27+ billion MAT primarily due to Mays revised figures! For July, with some London 2012 help, we will again go for our £525 million with a MAT reaching £27.5+ billion ish!

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We have again included our experimental graph (e & oe!) showing the relative internet and non-internet, moving annual total, sales from late 2007 by month. As before it highlights that high street sales have been and continue to go nowhere! As, we have mentioned before, the Boston Consulting Group forecast  in their report (The $4.2 Trillion opportunity) that this trend is likely to continue with the high streets market share contracting at around 2.75% a year from 2010 through 2016.

Further details and explanations are either in the ONS release on the statistics or on their website. As previously mentioned a retail convention of a 4, 4, 5 week quarter is used by the ONS. To cater for the inconvenience of years not having 364 days every 6 years or so an extra week is included in the statistics. The ONS adds this in January.

Keep an “I” on our week (July 21)

The top three articles this week were

  1. A Bellevue from Bing & Seed Capital from Seedrs
  2. Are you a household in a thousand with 10 IED’s?
  3. Sky on NOW 

As previously mentioned Apple announce their 3rd Quarter 2012 results on July 24 and we will get together some of the forecasters estimates as well as our own guess early next week.

For the weekend here’s a view of the opening hole at Royal Lytham & St Annes where our 2012 Open is being played and finalised today & tomorrow.

Full leaderboard

Smile IF you don’t want our bank!

As part of yesterdays announcement that Lloyds TSB plc is selling part of its business to The Co-operative Group (632 branches together with most of the accounts held at them), due to European Union/Commission State Aid and competition rulings, Lloyds indicated that it WAS NOT transferring its internet bank Intelligent Finance (IF) to the Co-Op.

On its website If.com they inform customers that:

Intelligent Finance is not included in the transfer

Following detailed discussions with The Co-operative Group, our Intelligent Finance business will no longer be included in the transfer of part of our business. This is because it did not fit with The Co-operative’s strategic requirements. So, you can continue to bank with Intelligent Finance as normal”.

We were rather drawn to IF’s iSaver offering simply on an “I”  terminology basis!

The bank itself has had an interesting history and initially was a leader in the online banking field having been founded in 2000 in Scotland  and sponsoring at differing times the  Scottish Premier League and the Perrier Comedy Awards.

Its future now looks a little glum as rumours abound that it likely may have to be run down by Lloyds.

A Smile or Smile.co.uk (we like the.co.uk!)  (the Co-Operative groups online bank) though looks as if it has a happy and expanding future following this major banking expansion by the Co-operative Group. Founded a year before IF in 1999 arguably it was the first FULL internet bank and continues to reside in Stockport.

We look forward to a range of iSmile products!