SEARCH CLINIC

Search engine online marketers
Subscribe Twitter Facebook Linkedin

Archive for the ‘Broadband’

Should BT be split?

July 14, 2015 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Broadband, Computers, Dr Search, internet, Search Clinic, Telecommunications Companies, Uncategorized

Ofcom has suggesting that its highly lucrative Openreach division could be sold off from BT.

Ofcom has suggesting that its highly lucrative Openreach division could be sold off from BTOpenreach is the “utility” bit of BT- which is the delivery mechanism for broadband to millions of customers.

Think Network Rail owning the railways bit of the train network, or National Grid owning the electricity grid which delivers power to our home.

Openreach is virtually a monopoly service, with Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin and others obliged to pay BT for access to the broadband “pipes”.

And as such it is heavily regulated already- although according to John Fingleton, the former head of the Office of Fair Trading- the “enormously profitable” Openreach would be likely to perform better as a standalone company.

Mr Fingleton argues that a separate Openreach would be likely to invest more in improving broadband connections.

As an example he cites Worldpay, a former division of the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Worldpay operates a “plumbing business” for banks – providing payment services for card transactions and mobile phones.

Since RBS sold it, as a condition of the bank’s taxpayer bailout in 2008, its new private equity owners, Bain and Advent, have significantly increased investment.

Many believe that Openreach would travel the same route, and the amount invested in it as a standalone business would be more than the present £1 billion BT provides each year.

It could also mean accelerated investment in changing the network from the older copper network to “super-fast” fibre.

To enforce a sale, BT’s ownership of Openreach would probably need to be referred to the Competition and Markets Authority which has more muscle in this area than Ofcom.

Mr Fingleton agrees this is the best route to decide whether Openreach would be better out of BT’s hands.

Sky – of course a major competitor to BT – concurs, calling this morning for a referral to the CMA.

It says that BT’s performance on broadband delivery leaves a lot to be desired, and that under investment means that appointments to connect its customers to broadband are often missed and that faults regularly remain unfixed.

Sky and BT don’t like each other very much, particularly since the latter took a healthy portion of Sky’s lunch by piling into sports television and winning the rights to broadcast Premier League matches.

There are dark mutterings that BT uses the vast profits from Openreach to fund its incursion into television, a claim the company hotly denies.

BT insists that Openreach’s service has improved, with 2,500 engineers added in the last year and 700 more coming this year. It says it reaches or exceeds all of the 60 service targets set it by Ofcom.

And that it is only because of BT’s large and healthy balance sheet that so much investment has been made in upgrading the network to super-fast broadband.

What won’t be superfast is the Ofcom process. This is just the latest stage in a far wider review of the UK’s digital market which will take months to conclude and years to implement.

Smaller broadband companies are better

March 18, 2015 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Broadband, Customer Service, Dr Search, internet, Search Clinic, Technology Companies, Telecommunications Companies, Uncategorized

Customers of smaller broadband companies are much happier than those of the big three BT, Sky and TalkTalk according to the consumer group, Which?

Smaller broadband companies are betterThe three largest providers received customer satisfaction scores below 50% in a survey.

Smaller broadband companies such as John Lewis Broadband, Plusnet, Utility Warehouse and Zen Internet had customer satisfaction rates over 70%.

Which? is campaigning for greater clarity in the broadband speeds companies are allowed to advertise.

The consumer campaign group says most of the internet service providers in the survey received scores of three stars when people were asked to rate their broadband speed.

TalkTalk customers were least happy, giving their provider two stars for speed.

Which? is campaigning against rules which it says allow providers to advertise broadband speeds that only 10% of their customers actually receive.

Broadband companies should give customers the speed and service that they pay for, the consumer group Which? has said.

A survey carried out on its behalf claimed that 45% of customers suffer slow download speeds. Over half of those customers said they experienced slow speeds frequently or all the time.

Ofcom already has a voluntary code of practice on broadband speeds in place that it says ensures customers are protected.

Providers who have signed up to it must give customers a written estimate of their broadband speed at the start of a contract and must allow them to leave a contract without penalty if they receive speeds significantly below the estimate.

A mystery shopping exercise carried out by Ofcom revealed that the code was working effectively. However, there were areas where it could be improved and a revised code of practice would be published in the coming months.

Which? said in practice it supported the code but it was voluntary, not compulsory and providers needed to go further. Rather than providing an estimated speed range that a customer could expect to receive, providers should pinpoint a more accurate speed that customers can expect at their home address and provide this in writing.

This written confirmation should be accompanied by information explaining what consumers can do at different speeds – what they could download and how long it would take – and how to test their speed, Which? said.

According to the survey of 2,000 people, a quarter of those who had reported a loss in service said they had had to wait two days to get it fixed, with one in 10 waiting a week or more.

Twenty per cent said they had contacted their internet service provider at least three times when trying to resolve a problem with their broadband connection.

Which? is calling for broadband companies to fix connections as quickly as possible and refund customers for any loss of service.

End of Orange Wednesdays

February 26, 2015 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Broadband, Customer Service, Dr Search, Mobile Marketing, mobile phones, Search Clinic, smart phones, Telecommunications Companies, Uncategorized

Yesterday was the last “Orange Wednesday” when UK cinemas offered 2 for 1 deals.

Yesterday was the last The latest company behind the phone operators EE- announced last year that it was ending the promotion because its customers’ “viewing habits had evolved”.

It promises to have another package to offer soon, but there was speculation that the company couldn’t reach a commercial deal with a cinema chain.

In a statement issued in December, EE said: “Orange Wednesday launched over a decade ago and at its peak was a massive success and an iconic promotion.”

“After 10 great years our brand has changed and our customers’ viewing habits have also evolved so it’s time to move on.”

2013’s box office attendance was the lowest in 20 years, according to Rentrak.

Cinemas in the UK and Ireland saw box office takings drop 2.9%, or around £34 million, from 2013 – the most significant change since 1991.

Blame, in part, was being directed at a lack of Hollywood blockbusters on screens that year, but it was also put down to the increasing cost of a ticket and people downloading films and box sets at home on a tablet, TV or phone.

But Stephen Fry says it’s not as simple as people being turned off film and brands the decline as “sad”.

“I don’t know whether one can factor in the figures for those who wait in order to watch Netflix, iTunes and other such downloads. Because I think that’s really on the up enormously and the passion for cinema and for movies is the greatest I think that it’s ever been.”

“So the fact that it’s not reflected in box office returns is sad, because I think filmmakers and everyone like to see their movies watched in proper, big, big cinemas. “

“Indeed Imax and funnily enough, you get things like Game of Thrones being shown in Imax cinemas. It’s disappointing but actually that’s bound to happen but over a longer period I think. I think you’ll find that cinema attendance is still pretty good.”

And he’s not wrong. 2014 did mark the fifth consecutive year that the film industry exceeded the £1.1 billion mark.

Which makes Search Clinic conclude that as the brand name has changed since the promotion’s inception, the brand value to EE was no longer cost effective.

Vodafone’s Italy and Spain businesses written off

November 21, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Broadband, Customer Service, Dr Search, internet, mobile phones, Search Clinic, smart phones, Technology Companies, Telecommunications Companies, Uncategorized, WiFi

Vodafone has written down the value of its units in Spain and Italy by £5.9 billion which the firm has blamed on the tough market conditions in the two countries.Vodafone's Italy and Spain businesses written offThe news came as the mobile phone firm reported a pre-tax loss of £492 million for the six months to 30 September, against an £8 billion profit a year earlier.

But there was better news from Verizon Wireless, a US business of which Vodafone owns 45% as it said on Monday that it would pay an $8.5 billion (£5.4 billion) dividend.

The dividend is due to be paid to its owners – Verizon Communications and Vodafone – by the end of the year.

It is the second dividend that Verizon Wireless has paid this year-  following a $10 billion one in January.

For several years before that, Verizon Wireless had been using its spare cash to pay off it’s debts instead of paying dividends.

Vodafone said it expected to receive £2.4 billion of the Verizon dividend and plans to use part of it to start a £1.5 billion share buyback programme.

Under such a programme a company buys its own shares and cancels them which increases the value of the remaining shares.

Announcing its latest results, Vodafone chief executive Vittorio Colao said: “Our results reflect tougher market conditions, mainly in southern Europe.”

But he added that he was positive about longer term opportunities, partly as a result of the group’s “attractive and growing exposure to emerging markets”, such as India and Turkey.

Revenue in southern Europe fell 17.5%, including an 8.2% decline due to the euro weakening against the pound.

Vodafone said the pressure from price competition and continuing economic problems in the eurozone had been partially offset by improved revenue from data services, as more people had smartphones.

It said customers in Italy and Spain had been reducing their spending on mobile phone tariffs because of economic weakness in those countries.

TalkTalk most complained about telecommunications company

September 28, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Broadband, Customer Service, internet, mobile phones, smart phones, Technology Companies, Telecommunications Companies, Uncategorized, WiFi

TalkTalk remains the most complained about telecommunication landline and broadband provider- according to the official UK regulator Ofcom.TalkTalk most complained about telecommunications companyIt has topped the charts since Ofcom began publishing them in October 2010.

Complaints about its broadband service often related to line faults while landline quibbles focused on billing and customer service Ofcom found.

For mobiles, Ofcom received the most complaints about 3, while BT Vision was the most complained about pay-TV service.

The regulator said that generally complaints were falling, with all broadband and landline providers generating fewer issues between April and June 2012, compared to previous periods.

This is Ofcom’s sixth quarterly report on the state of complaints in the mobile, broadband and landline markets.

It aims to help consumers make informed choices when choosing new services.

During the second quarter of 2012, it received 0.53 complaints per 1,000 of TalkTalk’s customers.

TalkTalk was the only provider whose complaint levels were above average for landline services, although Ofcom pointed out that this quarter saw the fewest number of complaints since it had begun publishing the data.

In the same period, Virgin Media was the least complained about with 0.14 per 1,000 customers.

In broadband, TalkTalk generated 0.42 complaints per 1,000 customers, again above the industry average. BT Retail also had above average levels of complaints during the last quarter.

Despite TalkTalk topping the charts again, Ofcom said it was not planning to take any action at present. In the past TalkTalk has been fined £3 million for incorrectly billing customers for services they had not received.

It is also currently under investigation about the number of silent calls received by its customers.

Ofcom said it had seen a rise in complaints about this type of call – which occur when automatic dialer systems used by call centres make more calls than they have people to take them.

UK broadband expansion aided by planning permission rule changes

September 14, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Broadband, Computers, Customer Service, internet, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

The government is changing planning permission rules to aid the quicker rollout of faster internet speeds across the UK.UK broadband expansion aided by planning permission rule changesThis includes permission for firms to install broadband cabinets and other related infrastructure on public land without local councils’ permission in England.

It is also consulting about ways to shorten the time it takes to agree approval for cables and cabinet installation on private land UK-wide.

The commitment includes £150 million to create 10 “super-connected” cities offering download speeds of at least 80Mbps (megabits per second) by 2015, and £530 million from the BBC licence fee to help boost speeds in the countryside.

The overall aim is to offer speeds of at least 24Mbps to more than 90% of the UK to become the “fastest in Europe” within three years.

At that speed it would take 15 minutes to download a 90-minute high definition programme.

The plans are designed to make it easier for BT and others to install their 4ft 7in tall dark green cabinets, and retrofit existing ones with new outer shells without running the risk that they will be opposed by the public.

The government said that English councils would only retain the right to object if plans affected a site of special scientific interest.

Internet providers have also been told that they will “face less cost and bureaucracy in laying cables in streets” in England and Wales once officials have found a way to simplify current permit schemes.

BT ran into problems earlier this year when London’s Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea rejected 96 of its 108 applications for street cabinets needed to offer its fibre optic cabling service, leading to the plans being withdrawn.

BT Openreach cabinet BT said it typically took between 28 and 56 days to be granted council permission to install its cabinets.

UK censorship consultation closes

September 07, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Broadband, Customer Service, Cyber Security, internet, Personal Security, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

A consultation into whether UK internet users should be automatically censored and have to opt-in in order to access adult content closed yesterday.UK censorship consultation closesOver 2,000 responses had been submitted by the eve of the deadline, the Department for Education said.

Proposals for an opt-in system are supported by several MPs, but fiercely opposed by internet rights campaigners.

Internet service providers (ISPs) have also voiced concerns, favouring instead an “active choice” system.

This method, already in place at several ISPs, prompts a new customer to choose if they want inappropriate content to be filtered out by their provider.

However, the option is currently only offered to new customers, and therefore does not address the huge majority of internet users already set up.

The findings of the consultation are due to be published later in the year.

The government’s discussion paper canvassed opinion on three possible ways of helping parents filter inappropriate content. They were:

  • Opt-in: Also known as “default on”, homeowners would be required to contact their ISP in order to have access to adult content (similar to existing systems in use for accessing the internet on smartphones)
  • Active Choice: The popular system among ISPs, an active choice rule would mean providers would have to present filtering options to all customers as they set up their connections
  • Active Choice Plus: This method would give users a detailed breakdown of content types, and would encourage filtering by pre-selecting options to block content

In a joint letter to the Prime Minister, several rights groups – including Big Brother Watch, the Open Rights Group and Index on Censorship – argued that an opt-in system undermined dialogue between parents and children.

“Blocking is trivial to circumvent and it is likely a default blocking system would lull parents into a false sense of security,” the letter said.

“A more complex, connected world needs parents to engage more with their children on issues of safety, privacy and personal development.”

This view was backed up by Sir Tim Berners Lee, inventor of the world wide web: “My personal preference has always been that if you want to block sites, you download software, and you install it for your children, rather than having the ISPs involved.

“The job of the ISPs is to provide good internet connectivity, not to spy and not to block.”

UK 4G gets go ahead from Ofcom

August 24, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Broadband, Customer Service, Dr Search, internet, Mobile Marketing, mobile phones, smart phones, Technology Companies, Uncategorized, WiFi

Telecoms regulator Ofcom has authorised Everything Everywhere- the company behind Orange and T-Mobile in the UK, to use its existing bandwidth to launch fourth generation (4G) mobile services.UK 4G gets go ahead from OfcomThe move means 4G, which allows much faster downloads, could launch in the UK earlier than previously planned.

Ofcom said the move would deliver “significant benefits” to consumers that outweigh any competition concerns.

But Vodafone and O2 expressed surprise and disappointment at the decision.

Ofcom plans to auction 4G bandwidth to other providers next year.

Everything Everywhere will be allowed to offer 4G services from 11 September.

But, as the regulator pointed out, the timing will be a commercial decision for the company itself. The operator has been trialling 4G services at a number of local businesses in Cumbria in the north of England since the end of June.

Ofcom said delaying the mobile operator from launching 4G would be “to the detriment of consumers”.

“4G will drive investment, employment and innovation and we look forward to making it available later this year, delivering superfast mobile broadband to the UK,” the company said.

The firm’s two main competitors in the UK mobile market were less than pleased with the ruling.

They claim that they are disadvantaged as only Everything’s spectrum can be reconfigured to handle 4G, while they will have to wait to buy spectrum at an auction next year.

“We are hugely disappointed with today’s announcement, which will mean the majority of customers will be excluded from the first wave of digital services,” said a spokesperson for O2.

Vodafone was more forthright, saying it was “shocked” at Ofcom’s decision.

“The regulator has shown a careless disregard for the best interests of consumers, businesses and the wider economy through its refusal to properly regard the competitive distortion created by allowing one operator to run services before the ground has been laid for a fully competitive 4G market,” a company spokesperson said.

Analysts said the two companies were right to be concerned, with the examples of other countries suggesting those network providers that got a head start on their rivals were often able to build successful 4G networks.

Everything Everywhere has also announced that it will sell some of its 4G spectrum to rival Three.

This was a condition of the European Commission allowing the 2010 merger of Orange and T-Mobile in the UK.

Three’s chief executive Dave Dyson said this deal would “more than double the capacity available to customers”.

As Everything is not obliged to make the spectrum available until September 2013, this deal will not give Three a head start in launching its own 4G services, however.

Ofcom has issued Everything Everywhere with licences to launch what are called Long-Term Evolution (LTE) services. This is one of a number of broadband technologies that allow the transfer of high-bandwidth data such as video streaming and mapping services.

Other mobile phone networks will be allowed to bid for 4G bandwidth early next year.

The auction will offer the equivalent of three-quarters of the mobile spectrum currently in use – some 80% more than released in the 3G auction which took place in 2000.

Ofcom wants to see at least four wholesalers of 4G mobile services, so that consumers will benefit from better services at lower prices.

The auction will sell chunks of radio spectrum to support 4G, which will allow users to download data such as music and videos at much faster speeds.

Microsoft to go carbon neutral in July

May 16, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Broadband, Computers, data security, Microsoft, search engines, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Microsoft has promised to help protect the environment by going carbon neutral and reducing its carbon footprint.Microsoft to go carbon neutral in JulyFrom July 1st 2012 its data centres, software development labs and office buildings would all be carbon neutral, the firm announced.

Environmental groups have been calling on the technology company to adopt more renewable energy sources.

Rivals Facebook and Google have already pledged to move away from coal-powered data centres.

“We recognise that we are not the first company to commit to carbon neutrality, but we are hopeful that our decision will encourage other companies large and small to look at what they can do to address this important issue,” said chief operating officer Kevin Turner in a blog post.

As part of its carbon neutral plan, Microsoft plans to charge an internal carbon fee to business units responsible for incurring emissions from data centres, air travel, offices and software laboratories.

“The carbon price and charge-back model is designed to provide an economic incentive for business groups across Microsoft to reduce carbon emissions through efficiency measures and increased use of renewable energy,” said Mr Turner.

It also plans energy efficient software solutions at its Redmond campus. It said that it hoped to achieve energy savings of approximately £937,000 ($1.5 million) in the fiscal year 2013.

Environmental group Greenpeace said that it showed Microsoft had listened to calls for a “clean cloud”.

Greenpeace urged Microsoft to follow Facebook’s lead and chose renewable energy when building new data centres.

Technology for small businesses- on your terms

May 14, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Broadband, Computers, Customer Service, Ecommerce, internet, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and their employees increasingly want to do business on their own terms.Technology for small businesses- on your termsTechnology has a fundamental role to play in transforming how we do business and succeed.

Smart software has also helped SMEs prioritise and protect what information is viewed by relevant people regardless of location, making ecommerce and mcommerce a competitive reality.

So long as information is delivered in a meaningful format that is quick to access, easy to view and efficient to use, the back office responsibilities of reliability and security are all too often assumed.

Responsibility for data integrity and protection will increasingly fall to the small business and its technology partners.

Today, data within small businesses still tends to be siloed and locked down, as software and systems are purchased in a standalone way by individuals or specialist teams who look after a function like payroll or marketing.

But to be effective in unlocking true business potential and aid growth, technology needs to be integrated so that it can provide accurate insights in real time.

But with so much business critical information digitised and available beyond the walls of the workplace, small business owners will want the freedom to choose where to host their data and how to protect it – locally, in the cloud, or most likely a combination of the two.

By digitising information and giving users a choice of how they access and analyse that shared data, technology will make more use of the rich information that exists within organisations.

Traditionally untapped insights will provide new opportunities for SMEs to drive competitive advantage and performance beyond divisional and geographic borders.

While business software enables small firms to realise the full value of their digital business intelligence, social networks will increasingly be used to help organisations identify new markets and engage new audiences on an unlimited scale.

But technology will never fully replace people’s fundamental need for social interaction and the role of a physical workplace – be it an office or a business community hub.

Small business owners are, and always will be, very pragmatic about their choice of technology, as what matters ultimately is getting the job done in the most timely and accurate way.

The opportunity to buy software as a service (SaaS) has created, amongst other benefits, more flexible payment options for SMEs, whilst the widespread adoption of smartphones and tablet devices has created an environment where entrepreneurs are used to snacking on apps and services.

No matter how individuals and organisations choose to consume their technology, their expectations for customer support and advice will remain high.

Those technology partners that offer 24/7 telephone support and a choice of online support tools will set new standards for how small businesses can rely on software and services and realise their full potential.