Combining 19th and 21st century technologies

Geo Networks   have linked up another customer from Enfield to Docklands using their impressive fibre system which uses London’s Victorian sewage system. According to Thames Water this allegedly measures some 67,000 miles in total.

Whilst this sounds incredulous the London Subterranea  graphic can be explored in much more detail at source and you begin to grasp the enormity of that network.

Click to explore the detail

Computer Weekly have some underground shots which are worth viewing.

It’s a bit dated (2008) but Geo’s video explains all!

It’s 25 and the www rating is AAA

“Sir Tim Berners-Lee wrote a paper  on March 12, 1989 proposing an “information management” system that became the conceptual and architectural structure for the Web.”

So starts the Pew Research Center’s “The Web at 25 in the US” report whose overall verdict is that “The Internet has been a plus for Society and an especially good thing for individual users”. We think they may have underrated it!

A lot of the underlying research is current having taken place earlier this year  but unsurprisingly they use much of their historic data.

We’ve roughly added the smartphone usage to their computer usage for comparative purposes.









We’ll leave you with their – How hard would it be to give up chart.

Valuing connectivity

As part of his address to the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona Mr Zuckerberg also mentioned Deloitte‘s report Value of connectivityEconomic and social benefits of expanding internet access which was produced for Facebook, basically in support of’s mission of extending the internet to the 2/3 of the world’s population who currently have no access.

As detailed in the important Notice from Deloitte, repeated in full below, this is an assessment and they go to some lengths in detailing its scope & limitations.

In spite of all the caveats it’s definitely worth reading.

The, sort of, headlines are :

  • Internet connectivity has already changed many aspects of the lives of individuals in developed economies and provided far-reaching economic and social benefits. Extending these opportunities is critical to accelerating economic and social growth in developing economies, while enabling the transition from a resource-based to a knowledge-based economy.
  • Deloitte estimates that the resulting economic activity could generate $2.2 trillion in additional GDP, a 72% increase in the GDP growth rate, and more than 140 million new jobs.
  • Internet-enabled devices are already transforming the way healthcare professionals operate in developing countries by allowing remote diagnosis and more efficient ways of treatment.
  • Deloitte estimates that by extending internet penetration another 640 million children may be able to access the internet and the wealth of information it makes available while they study.
  • Governments should recognise the importance of the internet in complementing the delivery of healthcare, education and other social services and should promote investment in the development of innovative solutions in these areas targeted to their communities
  • The internet allows all of the world to join the knowledge economy.

Important Notice from Deloitte

This report (the “Report”) has been prepared by Deloitte LLP (“Deloitte”) for Facebook Inc. (“Facebook”) on the basis of the scope and limitations set out below.

The Report has been prepared solely for the purposes of assessing the economic and social impact of extending internet access. It should not be used for any other purpose or in any other context, and Deloitte accepts no responsibility for its use in either regard including their use by Facebook for decision making or reporting to third parties.

The Report is provided exclusively for Facebook’s use under the terms of the contract between Deloitte and Facebook. No party other than Facebook is entitled to rely on the Report for any purpose whatsoever and Deloitte accepts no responsibility or liability or duty of care to any party other than Facebook in respect of the Report and/or any of its contents.

As set out in the Contract, the scope of our work has been limited by the time, information and explanations made available to us. Where information contained in the Report has been obtained from third party sources they are clearly referenced in the appropriate sections of the Report. Any results from the analysis contained in the Report are reliant on the information available at the time of

writing the Report and should not be relied upon in subsequent periods.

Accordingly, no representation or warranty, express or implied, is given and no responsibility or liability is or will be accepted by or on behalf of Deloitte or Facebook or by any of their respective partners, employees or agents or any other person as to the accuracy, completeness or correctness of the information contained in this document or any oral information made available and any such liability is expressly disclaimed.

All copyright and other proprietary rights in the Report remain the property of Deloitte LLP and/or Facebook and any rights not expressly granted in these terms are reserved.

This Report and its contents do not constitute financial or other professional advice, and specific advice should be sought about your specific circumstances. In particular, the Report does not constitute a recommendation or endorsement by Deloitte or Facebook to invest or participate in, exit, or otherwise use any of the markets or companies referred to in it. To the fullest extent possible, both Deloitte and Facebook disclaim any liability arising out of the use (or non-use) of the Report and its contents, including any action or decision taken as a result of such use (or non-use).

There’s strength / shakti in numbers

As Mr Zuckerberg was not only explaining his $19 billion acquisition of Whatsapp  at the Mobile World Congress yesterday but also extolling the virtues of’s vision Unilever were announcing a rather interesting, and we think highly relevant, partnership with It is likely one of the 3 to 5 partnerships Mark mentioned yesterday as taking place over the next few years.

As we previously pointed out 2/3 of the unconnected world are in Asia with likely 2.5 billion in India and China.

Unilever reckon that only 13% of  the Indian population has internet access and with 17.5% of the worlds population that’s a big number possibly in total terms some ¾ of a billion over 14 year olds. Over 70% of the Indian population live in rural areas.

The partnership will carry out a comprehensive study to examine the opportunities to increase internet adoption in rural communities.

Unilever or rather their Indian operation Hul (Hindustan Unilever Limited) already have developed a network around the estimated 640,000 small Indian villages most of which are “hard to reach”. As part of their “shakti” (meaning strength in Sanskrit) project started around the turn of the century they are looking to have around 75,000 micro-entrepreneurs operating a rural distribution initiative by next year. They had 48,000 in 2012.

They describe the business model as being “… centred on partnerships with the government-supported and microcredit-financed village self-help groups. The self-help groups composed predominantly of women.

This was not only because women tended to be its main consumers, but also because of the belief that giving additional income to women would result in greater benefits for the household as a whole and enhance livelihood for the family.

This model has been guided by the belief that the private sector can help create solutions to social challenges through innovative strategies that meet both business and social objectives. By promoting micro-enterprise, our initiative not only made great business sense but also had deep social impact.

Now Project Shakti has provided business opportunity to the male member of the family too, who could service outlets not only in their own village but also of the nearby villages.

In 2010-11, Shaktimaan initiative was introduced under which men of the Shakti families are given bycycles to cover surrounding villages to increase HUL’s distribution and sales as well as enhance the income of Shakti families. There are now 30,000 Shaktimaans across India.

Each shaktimaan covers 5-6 villages in his vicinity which is a larger area than a woman, Shakti amma, can cover on foot.”

Originally set up to distribute traditional Unilever products like Lifebouy Lux & Surf plus the local offerings such as Kissan Fair & Lovely and Wheel they are already branching out and are introducing alliances with telecom & banking companies.

This partnership we think will be really worth watching as it appears to be based on practical grass roots experience of a hugely significant market in terms of the unconnected.

Free Global Internet from Outernet

Well maybe!

Outernet have an ambitious project with incubating funding from MDIF (Media Development Investment fund) a New York based not for profit organisation who “… invests in independent media around the world providing the news, information and debate that people need to build free, thriving societies.”

“Although Outernet’s near-term goal is to provide the entire world with broadcast data, the long-term vision includes the addition of two-way Internet access for everyone. For free.”

The concept in our words is to get hundreds of CubeSats  (mini 10x10x10 centimetre satellites) in low earth orbit which receive streams of data from ground stations and then rebroadcast it eventually world wide via long distance wifi.

We’ve seen it described as the modern version of shortwave radio broadcast from space.

You can get as deeply involved as you want from, joining their forum discussions through simply receiving updates to directly supporting them by contributing in various ways.

We shall watch with interest.

Keep an I on our Week – Ancestry edition

Our top three articles this week were:

  1. Trust and Secure London UK Domains 
  2. The A Web Awards
  3. The EU app gap

We also had our regular feature on the months Internet Retail Sales.

.Scot the NEW gTLD domain name, available from sometime this summer, apparently is doing remarkably well  with pre-orders far exceeding expectations. The Not for Profit registry aptly named Dot Scot Registry (DSR)  have they say been inundated with applications from ex-pats reflecting  the 100 million or so world wide individuals with some Scottish ancestry.

If you want to do some tracing this weekend Ancestry are having a free access weekend to get you started.

We’ll leave you with a more current rendition of Braveheart from Neon Jungle which has an explicit content warning!

Internet sales reduction contributes to lower retail sales in Jan

Today  The Office for National Statistics (ONS) published the monthly retail sales figures for January (pdf) Full details  are available on the ONS site.

Overall figures showed a decrease of 1.5% on last month in the quantity bought  which was greater than expectations.

We are adopting for our internet sales figures the new seasonally adjusted statistics issued by the ONS. Whilst this may be an exclusive as the ONS are only selectively using them as this is our first month of usage there will likely be certain updates in future months!

January was the one year in 6 or so when a further week was added to the month so it is a 5 week month!

Our Internet sales headlines:

  • Internet sales remain at over 10% of all retail sales (excluding automotive fuel) for the 14th consecutive month.
  • Compared to December internet sales fell by 3.3% contributing 0.2% to the overall retail sales decrease in the amount spent of  1.8%.
  • Online food sales continue to exceed £100 million a week for the fourth consecutive month.
  • For every £1 spent in the online retail sector 47 pence was spent on non-store retailing 37 pence in non food stores and 16 pence in food stores!
  • We do think the ONS needs to do more analysis of internet sales as already nearly half 47% this month are effectively categorised as sales by online retailers virtually irrespective of the underlying goods or services!  

January stats for internet sales:

  • Months sales 10.3% (10.5% last month 10.0 % a year ago) of all retail sales
  • Monthly year on year increase of 8.9%.(11% last month 12.9 % a year ago)
  • Moving Annual total increases (1) on December 2013 annualised +26.9% (2) on January 2013 +17.1%
  • The UK’s *largest online retailer is included in the group Non-store retailing and this sector shows growth of 7.7% on 2013 and accounts for nearly 50% of all online retail sales. This is an area which SHOULD just grow & grow unless further analysis is undertaken of this channel!

The ONS words this month (which contain a mix of seasonally (SA*) and non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) figures are:

Key Points

The amount spent online showed a similar pattern to the amount spent in store. Compared with January 2013 the amount spent online increased by 8.9%* but fell by 3.3%* compared with December 2013.

Internet Sales in Detail

Seasonally adjusted Internet sales data are provided within this release. These seasonally adjusted estimates are published in the RSI tables (165 Kb Excel sheet) and include:

  • A seasonally adjusted value index; and
  • Year-on–year and month-on-month growth rates.

ONS will publish the seasonally adjusted proportion of sales made online in the February 2014 bulletin in March 2014. More information on the seasonal adjustment of these estimates can be found in section 4 of the background notes or in The quick guide to Internet sales (106.3 Kb Pdf).

Internet sales are estimates of how much was spent online through retailers across all store types in Great Britain. The reference year is 2010=100.

Key Points

  • Average weekly spending online in January 2014 was £650million*. This was an increase of 8.9%* compared with January 2013.
  • The amount spent online accounted for 10.7% of all retail spending excluding automotive fuel. 
  • The online spend in textile, clothing & footwear stores was estimated at 12.9%

Table 4 shows the year-on-year growth rates for total Internet sales by sector and the proportion of sales that made online in each retail sector.

Table 4: Summary of Internet Statistics for January 2014

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.

We have also added the weekly Internet sales figures by sector and the proportion they represent of all online sales.

We have used seasonally adjusted figures throughout in our table

Sector summary

The non-store retailing sector comprises of stalls and markets, mail order and those retailers that sell mainly online.

+ 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.

The moving annual total, which we report, moved up again (it has increased EVERY MONTH since January 2009  to an all time high of £34.2.billion an increase in the month  of 2.6% annualised 26.9%. The average this year is 13.5%. The long term compound average growth rate is 23.0%.

The published weekly figures was £650 million and tentatively we are looking for an increase to £665million in February and  a £34.5 billion moving annual total target.

We have again included our experimental graph (e & o e!) 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 (March June September and December are 5 week months). 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 which happened this year the last one being in 2008.

From Apple to Mobily

Brand Directory are one of the first to come up with a 2014 brand table – in their case the Global 500 2014.

The top 5 by value we would categorise as coming from the technology sector and elsewhere at Warc they categorise 9 of the top 10 as Tech brands with Walmart being the only exception at number 9. The top UK company is Vodafone is at # 16.

Overall Brand Value Rating Sector Country
ranking $ billion
1 Apple 104.7 AAA Computers USA
2 Samsung 78.8 AAA Semiconductors S Korea
3 Google 68.6 AAA+ Internet USA
4 Microsoft 62.8 AAA- Software USA
5 Verizon 53.5 AAA- Telecoms USA
6 GE 52.5 AAA- Miscellaneous USA
7 AT&T 45.4 AA Telecoms USA
8 Amazon 45.1 AAA- Internet USA
9 Walmart 44.8 AA+ Retail USA
10 IBM 41.5 AA+ IT Services USA
16 Vodafone 29.6 AAA- Telecoms UK
77 Toshiba 13.7 AA Electronics Japan
145 Canon 8.2 AA Office business equip. Japan
500 Mobily 3.0 AA Telecoms Saudi Arabia
Source: Branddirectory, Global Brand Index 2014


This encouraged us to look at their sector categorisations – they have 50 and of these we would allocate 8½ to our wide view of the technology sector. The ½ relates to Miscellaneous where of the 9 companies we would count 4 as techs!

On the 8½ basis 82 (16%) out of the Global 500 are techs.

A critique of the sector allocations might question Google & Amazon being categorised as Internet – in fact  looking at the remaining 11 constituents (ebay, facebook, QQ, PayPal, Priceline, Yahoo, Baidu, QVC, Semantec, Netflix and WeChat) their appears to us to be a remarkable diversity of brands. Even more so than Miscellaneous!

They also categorise differently the most powerful brands where Ferrari comes out on top and the other AAA+ rated brands are Google, Coca Cola, Disney, PwC, Hermes, Red Bull, L’Oreal, Rolex, Mckinsey and Unilever. Only one tech here then and we might argue, subjectively, for Apple’s inclusion (who fall short by a single+) ahead of Google.

Much more to digest on their interactive table including the history from 7 previous years. 

The A Web Awards 2014

Earlier this week saw the  announcement of the opening of applications for this years Nominet Internet Awards.

There are five categories:

  1. Innovative internet business
  2. Online skills and training
  3. Making the internet a safer place
  4. Doing good online
  5. Digital innovation in public services

There are four supporters/sponsors

  1. Innovation Warehouse
  2. Cyber Streetwise
  3. NCVO
  4. techUK

 There are eight Judges:

  1. Ami Shpiro
  2. Nadhim Zahawi
  3. Eden Upton
  4. Peter Wilson
  5. Chi Onwurah
  6. Gillen Knight
  7. Alun Cairns
  8. Julian David

 There are a couple of, sort of, bespoke website sections:

  1. The Guardian Media Network – Nominet Partner Zone
  2. Nominet’s site

Applications have to be made by 25 April

Judging to take place on 5 June

Results are announced at a black-tie event

Follow them “ …on Twitter @Nominet and look out for updates about the awards using the hashtag #nia2014.

The EU app gap

A rather impressive report by Gigaom Research for the EU Commission concerning the European Union app Market – Sizing the EU app Economy (pdf)

In Gigaom’s words -  “This report focuses on sizing and qualifying the EU app ecosystem, with an eye toward revenue generation, jobs supported, and the bottlenecks still facing EU app developers.”

To support the revenue predictions they foresee employment growing from 1.8 million last year to around 4.8 million in 2018.

 The bottlenecks they envisage are as follows:

“Our surveys, interviews, and workshops all confirmed that EU developers face more business challenges than technical challenges. The independent developers told us low prices or free apps were the biggest problem (40 percent of respondents), though customer acquisition costs (30 percent of respondents) also ranked above access to capital or financing (14 percent of respondents).”

Talent is also a problem area.

“The business issues are reflected by the talent or HR bottlenecks shown by the surveys. Both types of company find it hard to compete with U.S. salaries for developers and wish there were more education and training programs to teach mobile and social networking developer skills. But even the startups acknowledged their own lack of business skills.”

The main takeaways from their research they reckon are:

  • A potential opportunity in third-party discovery platforms outside the Apple and Google app stores
  • A large opportunity in contract development, there’s a need for startups to connect with would‐be enterprise customers.
  • On the technology side, cross‐platform development tools and higher-level abstractions like HTML5 and methodologies like responsive design could alleviate incompatibilities.

Much more besides and we couldn’t help but notice a very active and informative Blog  over at Gigaom