Archive for February, 2010

The power of a brand

I’ve always been fascinated by the power of brands within different sectors for a long time, probably due to Naomi Klein’s controversial No Logo. I recently came across the BrandFinance Global 500 tables. This basically aims to position the most powerful brands in the world by their percieved value. Although it’s quite focused on the financial sectors, it does help to give an indicator of general trends within certain sectors.

Coming off the back of the deepest and longest recession since WWII, it’s interesting to see which brands have maintained their value and which sectors hold the most powerful brand identities. In the UK, the most highly valued brand is Vodafone, who have usurped HSBC. This lends us a clue as to a macro economic trend, which sees the value of brands within the financial sectors decreasing in line with motifs formed from the recession. Interestingly enough, the reverse can be seen to within the communications and technology sectors, with brands from these two sectors making up half of those within the top 25 positions. It’s hard to pinpoint on a micro level where to attribute this success, as various factors can be seen to have made a difference, from the continued dominance of the IPhone to increased exposure in the BRIC economies.

In it’s conclusion, the article also states that the top 500 brands are starting to geographically diversify from the power bases of the UK and US. Although the article mentions new entrants from the emerging markets from their respective finanical sectors, it’s interesting to note that the top brand valued from outside of the UK and US is Toyota. It will be interesting to see where they stand next year, with the automative industry constantly tackling ever changing regulation and Toyota themselves starting the year off with a serious safety crisis.

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To Infinity and beyond?

Fibre to the Cabinet

Well the trials have finished and amid all the fanfare, BT have officially launched their brand new FTTC service, providing up to 40Mbps down and up to 10Mbps up. Named BT Infinity (surely ironic) this promises to be quite a compelling offering for both domestic and business users hoping to adopt applications that require a large amount of bandwidth to be transferred across the last mile.

Now I’ll be honest in saying that I’m not the biggest fan of BT. However they deserve praise in being fairly quick to market with this. BT retail pricing seems competitive against the main competiton (being Virgin Media’s 50Mb service) whilst although geographic penetration is very limited, there are already over 100 enabled for the service, with quite a few exchanges planned for roll out. However saying that, there are still a few things that deeply concern me about the service.

Firstly it’s key to remember that essentially Infinity is a VDSL based service, meaning that BT will rely on their copper infrastructure from their local cabinets. This means that end user sync rates are still determined by the same factors that determine DSL. However even more important to note are their roll out plans for cabinets attached to exchanges, as even thought BT say they’re to enable a certain exchange for FTTC, it does not mean that they will enable all cabinets associated to that exchange. There are already stories of certain exchanges enabled where only half of the cabinets will be able to provide the service. Not good

Secondly it will be interesting to see how the underlying bandwidth is managed. It’s a well known fact that 21CN has been having some well documented congestion issues, and there is little doubt that Infinity will not help if BT can’t sort out the current issues that the’re already having. Infinity can only have a larger drain than the current access methods used. BT have gone some way to negate this being an issue, by deploying the same usage policies applied with thier ADSL2+ sericves. For the consumer, this has the added threat of reaching your limit faster than previously, due to having the ability to download a lot more.

Thirdly as expected, this will have very little impact on those in the not-spot areas around the country, as BT only plan to enable current market 3 exchanges. Therefore it won’t make major inroads into the USC set within the Digital Britain report. Further woe for those in rural areas.

However from my perspective, the main thing to take away from this is the fact that we are starting the process in moving away from copper in the last mile to fibre. This move will be painful for most, as we discuss the most viable ways to deploy it whilst making the end user propositions cost effective. However as it is used more and more within certain political party manifesto’s, it is sure to become a bigger plane for debate within various wide ranging communities. Hopefully this will mean more wide ranging action.


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