Friday, August 31, 2007

Free Will Support Two HDTVs on Fiber

Free announced its FTTH package that includes two Freeboxes and supports two HDTVs, still for €29.99 per month. Its fiber package will include:
  • Internet access at a speed of 100 Mbp/s download, 50 Mbp/s upload
  • Free access to a landline
  • Unlimited calls to fixed lines in 49 destinations including mainland France
  • A range of TVservices including access to more than 100 channels and to High Definition (HD) channels on two televisions
  • Provision of 2 Freebox units for these TV services :
    o High Definition compatible Optical Freebox including router and WiFi functions, with 4 Ethernet ports,
    o High Definition compatible Freebox HD connected to the Optical Freebox via Ethernet or WiFi to provide access to the audiovisual services on a second television, including a digital video recorder.

Free will carry out installation within one month of the validation of the subscribers request where it is offered.

Free's strategy has been to maintain its price of €29.99 per month for its basic broadband service. It has consistently increased the capability of that package. Thus Free is ratcheting up the competitive environment again and is continuing to set the pace in the broadband market in France.

Deutsche Telekom Cuts Prices

Deutsche Telekom has renamed its IPTV packages and begun a new marketing campaign, based around features such as time-shift TV and content such as soccer, and dropped its triple play (voice, broadband, and TV) entry level price by around 25 percent from the previous €81.26.

Its IPTV customers can now get an entry level service, called Entertain Comfort (formerly T-Home Complete Basic), for €59.95. This includes 70 TV channels, access to additional pay TV channels and on demand content, high-speed DSL access, and unlimited fixed line voice calls within Germany.

The Entertain Comfort Plus (formerly T-Home Complete Plus), includes about 30 more TV channels, two soccer games each weekend, a listings magazine, and free access to the carrier's 8,600 public WLAN access points. It costs €74.95.

The European market is quite price sensitive and Deutsche Telekom's prices are still twice the price that a similar triple play service is offered for in France. In the long run, it may have to include basic TV channels in its broadband data service as is done in France and Sweden.

Starz Goes MPEG-4

Starz Entertainment will use Motorola encoders to distribute its content using MPEG-4 AVC.

This is another step in the trend for the content producers to do the MPEG-4 AVC encoding themselves, thus eliminating the need for IPTV service providers to transcode from MPEG-2 to MPEG-4.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Chunghwa Telecom adds 84k subscribers in 2007

Chunghwa Telecom, the incumbent carrier in Taiwan, ended 1H07 with 333 thousand IPTV subscribers, up 84 thousand from the 249 thousand subscribers that it had at the end of 2006. This was an increase of 113 percent in the preceding 12 months. It had 157 thousand IPTV subscribers at the end of 1H06.

Chunghwa received approval for its open IPTV platform, which is based on the Alcatel-Lucent OMP middleware software. It expects to roll the service out island-wide that should attract additional subscribers and more content.

Chunghwa is now on a nice curve with its MOD IPTV service. It has had consistent subscriber growth over the last 18 months. I expect that its progress will continue and that it should easily exceed 400 thousand IPTV subscribers by the end of the year.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

PCCW Adds 92K IPTV Subscribers in 2007

PCCW, the incumbent carrier in Hong Kong, has announced that it reached more 850 thousand IPTV subscribers in August 2007. This is up 92 thousand from 758 thousand at the end of 2006. This is also up more than 32 thousand from the 818 thousand that the company had at the end of its first half in June 2007.

At the end of June PCCW also had 560 paying subscribers. PCCW offers a basic set of TV channels as part of its broadband subscribers, so there is no requirement to pay anything additional to get TV service. This is up 59 thousand from 501 thousand at the end of 2006. The company is adding new paying subscribers at almost the same rate as total subscribers. Its total number of subscribers increased 60 thousand in the 1H07.

The average customer spending for its IPTV service grew to US$21 at then end of June 2007 up from US$18 at the end of 2006. It attributed this increase in customer spending to several factors:

  • Popularity of its Mega Sports package at US$28 per month
  • Success in up selling its customers to two different packages priced at US$24 and US$47 per month each.
  • New service installation set-top box rental fees
  • Building momentum in advertising revenues
  • Stock trading service introduced in August 2007
PCCW offers 150 channels today including exclusive access to sports, movies, news, and entertainment channels. In 4Q07 it will start to offer a split screen presentation showing four live football matches at one time along with football betting and network based PVR (NPVR).

PCCW stated that it was the first to offer HD in Hong Kong in July 2007.

PCCW also provides interactive services that enhance its sports viewing experience including:

  • Access to promotional videos for all of its sports channels
  • Head-to-head statistics, team line ups, player profiles available while watching a match
  • Instant voting and results presentation for the player of the match
PCCW continues to be arguably the most innovative TelcoTV service globally. It is offering serices that the others are only thinking about right now.

PCCW also has been able to turn a "free" TelcoTV service into a money maker. Its TV service has been an important factor in maintaining its broadband growth and in stopping the loss of telephone customers. It is the only incumbent in a developed country that has been able to turn this loss around.

It is well worth taking a look at its 1H07 presentation.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Webinar and Conference Appearance

I will be making a presentation in an iHollywood Forum webinar on Wednesday, August 29 at 10:00 AM PT on opportunities in IPTV. I will identify opportunities for service providers and for manufacturers based on a new forecast and market share analysis that is currently in the final stages. You can register at this link if you would like to attend. It is open to all.

I will also be making a presentation at the iHollywood Forum IPTV World Conference on Tuesday, September 25 as part of a panel titled "The Mobile Phone as the Wild Card". I will talk about how Mobile TV and IPTV fit together. This conference will be held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel at the San Francisco Airport.

Say hello if you attend this conference. I would like to meet the people that read this blog.

Saturday, August 25, 2007


Light Reading published an article with a statement from ATT that the fire and explosion of a VDSL box located in a customer's front yard in the Houston area was caused by a defective battery. It has deployed 17,000 of the same type of battery in other locations.

A second Light Reading article stated that there was a second fire caused by one of these batteries also in the Houston area in January 2007, four months after the first fire. This fire did not involve an explosion.

Hopefully ATT has got the hint and will find and replace all of its defective batteries.

IPTV Regulatory Battle in Argentina

Fixed line incumbent Telefónica de Argentina will continue preparing for an IPTV launch even though it was warned by the Argentine regulator, Comfer, that it does not have the authorisation to do so. The company has stated that it would invest $98 million to launch an IPTV service called Speedy TV by the end of 2007.

Comfer has threatened to confiscate Telef√≥nica ’s licence if it goes ahead and launches Speedy TV without authorisation. The government is drafting a new telecommunications law that will allow operators to offer bundled services of TV, voice and Internet over a single network. It appears that little work will be completed on this new law until the political in October are complete.

Regulatory issues seem to be a problem in Latin America. TelcoTV providers in Brazil are limited to only video on demand services. The market their should be strong, but it will pay not to get overly enthusiastic about this market. It will take a while for all of these issues to be resolved.

Belgacom Approaches 200K IPTV Subscribers

Belgacom reported that it had 191,348 IPTV subscribers at the end of 2Q07, an increase of 51,683 in the first half and 41,857 in the second quarter. It generated 16 million euros in revenue from its IPTV service in 1H07, which is up 11 million euros from 1H06. It achieved a 14.6 euro average monthly customer spending for its IPTV service in 1H07 compared to 10.9 euros in 1H06.

Part of this increase can be attributed to double play and triple play bundles that Belgacom introduced in 2Q07. The double play bundle consists of Internet plus IPTV and the triple play bundle consists of Internet plus IPTV plus mobile. Both of these bundles can be acquired with without a voice line.

Belgacom's "try & buy" program generated significant churn in 1Q07, which was absorbed by mid-May. The end of the “try & buy” promotion positively impacted the Belgacom TV ARPU, which grew to EUR 14.6 over the first six months of 2007, equal to a year-on-year increase of 34%.

The factors that contributed to Belgacom's success in 2Q07 were the:
  • Introduction of Comfort View (Pause TV, instant Rewinding, PVR) in February
  • Introduction of Belgacom TV over ADSL Time in March
  • Additional channels (MTV, Nickelodeon) in Classic+ offer in April
  • An extended video-on-demand offering -including concerts-, increasing the VoD usage
  • Introduction of 'Internet +TV' packs at EUR 40 (ADSL Light) and EUR 50 (ADSL GO) in
    April, with option to include Mobile services (Smile 10)
  • Launch of Walled Garden applications (yellow/white pages, railway schedules,
    holidays, news etc) in May

Belgacom has a major FTTN program underway and increased the penetration of its VDSL service from 44 percent to 52 percent of its households. Its IPTV service is available to 80 percent of Belgian households. In 1H07 Belgacom invested 53 million euros in its FTTN deployment and 45 million euros in its IPTV service.

Belgacom seems to be on track for significant growth with its IPTV service. I think that this shows that an IPTV service can compete well in a saturated cable market where the bulk of customers receive only analog services. Cable companies that want to defend against IPTV services need to upgrade their customers to digital services as quickly as they can.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Hanaro's HanaTV Success

I found an interesting article about Hanaro's HanaTV service in Korea. HanaTV is an over the top Internet Subscription Video On Demand (SVOD) service that now has more than 500 thousand subscribers. Hanaro's content strategy of acquiring On Demand content from the broadcasters in Korea in order to get content that is ready for the Korean market without further preparation.

This is probably the most successful Internet TV service that delivers content to TVs rather than to PCs. This service is certainly helped by the high speed broadband connections that are available in Korea compared to the rest of the world.

I have written a report called "The Battle for Broadband TV" that discusses the issues of TelcoTV vs. Internet TV. There is a free whitepaper available summarizing the results in this report.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

IPTV Kid Tracker, a provider of IPTV Solutions, and Tech Mahindra, a provider of telecommunications IT services solutions, announced the release of DigiTracker™. This application will allow TV viewers such as parents to see the current location of their children's mobile phone on their TV screen. It will also allow text or SMS messages to be sent to that phone. DigiTracker uses integrations to Location Based Services and mapping systems to enable the plotting of a mobile location on a map and displaying it on the TV.

This is an example of an attractive service that TelcoTV operators add to their IPTV services. Verizon Wireless offers a mobile phone tracking service already. Adding a display capability to FiOS TV would be a nice adjunct.

Of course, a smart kid will leave his phone at a friends house if he is going to leave his prescribed area. It will probably take his parents a while to figure that one out.

I wrote about this in a report that I did for the Multimedia Research Group last year on IMS and IPTV. It is nice to see somebody doing something about it.

Accenture Online Advertising Report

Accenture has released a new report on online advertising. It finds that the content providers are embracing the Internet and other new technologies that promise to change their industry. They expect that user control is becoming very important. These content companies expect they are in the best position to profit from these changes.

These people also expect that advertising support is going to remain the predominant means of monetizing their content; however the nature of this advertising will change. While they expect that audience measurement will be the primary way of pricing advertising, interactive approaches that include cost per click or cost per action will become nearly important.

This report is well worth downloading and reviewing. It shows that fundamental changes are actually starting to happen.

DirectTV/Broadband Powerline Alliance

DirectTV has made a wholesale distribution agreement with Current Communications Group to resell Current's Broadband Power Line (BPL) service. This will give DirecTV a broadband data and VoIP service components so that it can better compete with the triple play offerings from the Cable companies and the Telco IPTV services that it competes with.

Current is currently offering a 3 Mbps broadband service to 50 thousand homes in Cincinnati, Ohio. It is deploying a 10 Mbps broadband service in the Dallas Fort Worth area in Texas that is planned to cover 1.8 million homes over the next four years.

The satellite companies are in a tough position with only the video component of the triple play offerings from the cable companies and the Telcos. Sky in the UK has addressed this issue by acquiring a major broadband company there.

This looks like a pretty weak strategy that only addresses two major metro areas today. Current is working to add other power utilities to its service, but this will take time. It seems to me that the real answer to this would be for AT&T to acquire DirecTV or EchoStar. I think that a merger like that would be good for both companies.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Telecom Italia Confirms Microsoft Commitment

Telecom Italia did not make an announcement about its number of IPTV subscribers in Italy. It did say that it has 10 thousand IPTV subscribers at its Hansenet subsidiary in Germany and 59 thousand at its Telecom Italia subsidiary in France. It did say that it expects to have 1.5 million IPTV subscribers in Italy in 2012.

it stated that it is developing new content based services with Microsoft including Time-Shift TV Personal Video Recording using a set-top box with a hard disk, and Multi-User services. Its set-top boxes will be capable of supporting HD content.

It appears that the service providers that are pleased with their IPTV subscriber numbers are announcing. My impression is that Telecom Italia is not attracting a large number of subscribers with its service.

Monday, August 13, 2007

TeliaSonera hits 200,000 IPTV Subscribers

TeliaSonera increased the number of its IPTV subscribers to 200 thousand in 2Q07. Most of this gain came from Sweden where the number of IPTV subscribers increased by 80 thousand to a total of 160 thousand.

TeliaSonera has turned its ability to acquire IPTV subscribers around, especially in Sweden. Of course, what it had to do is to include a basic IPTV package in its broadband service, thus making it free for all intents and purposes.

I think that this is a good strategy for many countries in Europe in Asia where the uptake of Pay TV is low. The idea is to hook them with the basic channels and then upsell them with premium content. This strategy has worked very well with PCCW in Hong Kong and should translate to other countries, if it is well executed.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Photos of ATT IED

Light Reading posted a set of photos of the Alcatel-Lucent VDSL remote that exploded in Houston, Texas in October 2006. In a second article, Light Reading stated that it appears that the battery may have been the source of the explosion.

This event resonated with me. I received a letter last October asking if AT&T could place one of these cabinets in my front yard. The City of San Francisco does not want them on the sidewalks.

The box would have been much closer to my house than with the unit that exploded in Houston. I could have suffered significant damage if this had happened on my property.

There is still no sign of the VDSL mux being installed to serve my neighborhood. I was told that this was scheduled to have happened at the end of January.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Deutsche Telekom is Mum on IPTV Subscribers

Deutsche Telekom announced its first half results today but did not disclose any information on the success of its IPTV service. It did state that it plans to equip 50 cities with VDSL
and connect them to its IPTV platform by 2008. This year it will also offer IPTV and triple play services over on ADSL-2+ in a total of 750 cities. This will allow around 17 million households to use these services.

Most European telcos with IPTV services are disclosing subscriber numbers. I wonder if this means that its results are not strong. If they were, I think the company would want to talk about it.

Verizon FiOS TV Consumer Research

Research firm One TRAK has published a study of Verizon FiOS TV subscribers in 34 communities in Massachusetts. An abstract can be found on its website. It found that:
  1. Initial incumbent cable subscriber losses can exceed 10%.
  2. Traditional overbuilders, such as RCN, can take a disproportionate hit, effectively insulating the incumbent cable provider.
  3. As many as 40% of FiOS TV subscribers could well be coming from DBS.
Comcast is the incumbent cable operator in these 34 cities, while RCN Corp. provides service in nine of these communities. This study is based on information made public by the Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Cable, which requires all cable operators in the state to file year-end subscriber count figures by municipality

Across all 34 communities , Comcast lost 5,216 subscribers from a base of 204,160, a drop of 2.6%, while RCN lost 1,813 subscribers, or 7% off its base of 25,895 subscribers. Verizon’s gain was 11,982 subscribers. The average amount of time Verizon was in any one market was about 90 days.

One TRAK points out that since Verizon gained 4,953 more subscribers, that most of this remainder came from the satellite providers.

This is an interesting analysis. It shows again that it usually the weaker competitors, in this case RCN and the satellite companies, that have been most strongly affected by the new FiOS TV service.

It also shows that a large part of the FiOS TV is probably coming from Verizon's ADSL subscriber base. The satellite TV customers are probably nearly all using Verizon's broadband service rather than a cable modem service. FiOS TV should be quite attractive to these users. They can upgrade to a better data service and get rid of the dish at the same time.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Swisscom has 50,000 IPTV Customers

Swisscom announced that it had over 50 thousand Bluewin TV customers signed up and installed at the end of 2Q07. It had 25 thousand customers installed and another 15 thousand signed up but not installed at the middle of May. It cited its IPTV introduction as having a particularly negative effect on its EBITDA.

It looks like Swisscom is adding 20 thousand IPTV subscribers per quarter. This keeps it on the path to achieve the 100 thousand subscribers by the end of year that it previously announced.

I can't help to point out that Swisscom in a small country has been able to get about as many subscribers in 8 months of service that ATT has achieved in its first 12 months of service. Both use the Microsoft Media Room software system. I suppose that a more compact deployment is easier to manage than the expansive deployment that ATT is doing.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

SureWest Putting Along

SureWest added 673 IPTV subscribers in 2Q07, most of them on its FTTH network. It now has a total of 21,118 IPTV subscribers. It now has 103 thousand fiber capable homes, up 10 thousand homes in the last 12 months. Its fiber penetration is 24.8%, up from 22.6% in the last year.

SureWest stated that it is now facing competition from cable provider Comcast's cable telephony service. Comcast is offering a triple play bundle that includes voice, video, and data services for $99 per month. Comcast's service only started in June, so SureWest has not felt its full effect as yet.

SureWest offers 310 IPTV channels, including 23 HDTV channels.

SureWest is continuing to progress well. It has establish a strong competitive position against both ATT and Comcast. It should continue to to well in the face of Comcast's new cable telephony service. SureWest may be forced to adjust its prices to meet the new competition, but with the right price its growth should continue.

Fiber Deployment to Drive IPTV into Slovenia

A Light Reading article describes Slovenia's plans to spend 450 million euros to deploy fiber to 70 percent of its households. It will use active Ethernet technology from Iskratel, the Slovenian telecom systems company. Telekom Slovenije plans plans to have 100,000 homes connected by the end of 2008 and 300,000 by the end of 2010. By 2015, it plans to have fiber to 434,000 homes, or 70 percent of Slovenia's homes.

IPTV will be an important part of the service bundle on this fiber plant. It is the only service that can really use a significant part of the bandwidth that this fiber plant will provide.

Free's Numbers Decoded

I have been in touch with Free. They said that its subscriber must be on an unbundled loop in order to get the Free TV service on the TV. What they are providing to all 2.6 million of its subscribers is the ability to watch TV on their PC. Free had 2.1 million unbundled subscribers at the end of 2Q07.

Interpreting Free's numbers has always been a challenge. The number of its IPTV capable subscribers is a shade under the number of unbundled loops, probably around 1.9 million currently. It has not announced the number of subscribers taking paying services, but I expect it is about half a million now.

The 1.9 million number is the number of subscribers capable of watching its TV service. It has never announced the number of subscribers that actually do so. Many other analysts report only Free's paying subscribers. I have always reported the number of TV capable subscribers. The other broadband companies in France plus companies such as Telia Sonera in Sweden and PCCW in Hong Kong also include a basic set of TV channels in their broadband services. The difference is that they do not provide a set-top box unless the subscriber requests it. The Freebox with its IPTV support is provided to every one of Free's broadband subscribers.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Widevine and Verimatrix Enter Legal Battle

The content protection/digital rights management company Widevine is suing Verimatrix, one of its major competitors for patent infringement based on Widevine's patent for selectively encrypting different portions of data sent over a network. Widevine has offered Verimatrix the opportunity to license its selective encryption patent, but Verimatrix has not responded.

Verimatrix denies Widevine's claims and states that it will vigorously defend itself.

Both of these companies have done well in the IPTV market. The preliminary conclusions from our report "Opportunities in TelcoTV" are that Verimatrix appears to be in a stronger position today because it has been included in the IPTV service of more major telcos than Widevine. This report will be released by the end of this month.

Tiscali to Launch IPTV in Italy

Tiscali plans to launch an IPTV service in Italy in October 2007. It has received rights to broadcast RAI content. RAI is the primary TV broadcaster in Italy. Tiscali has an IPTV service in the UK . It has a total of 3.3 million customers in Italy and the UK, with 2 million subscribing to ADSL .

The Italian market is heating up. Wind in Italy is also considering an IPTV service and has signed on with Microsoft for a trial of its Mediaroom software.

25,000 FastWeb Subscribers Take Sky

FastWeb reported its second quarter earnings. It is now 82 percent owned by Swisscom. It has significantly decreased the level of detail in its reporting. It now reports that it had 1.2 million total subscribers and the end of 2Q07, an increase 45 thousand. It stated that 82 percent of these total subscribers are residential subscribers. The company made no statement about the number of IPTV subscribers.

During the quarter FastWeb completed executing its agreement with Sky that allows Sky to offer FastWeb broadband services and FastWeb to offer Sky satellite TV services over its broadband network. It stated that more than 25 thousand of its subscribers have subscribed to the SKY service. I think that this is about 10 percent of its IPTV subscribers.

The company also discussed its triple play self install gateway. This gateway supports MIMO WiFi, SIP based VoIP, connection to the home phone wiring, and a WiFi enabled set-top box.

The company also stated that it is developing a home multimedia that will permit access of TV content from the PC. This system is based on the UPnP.

I believe that FastWeb's IPTV service is lagging its overall broadband service in growth. The company's strategy has been to maintain a higher price for the TV service to make it profitable in itself rather than to use it to promote its broadband service.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Does Free have 2.6M IPTV subscribers now?

Free in France announced added 122 thousand broadband subscribers in 2Q07 giving it a total of 2.6 million. It also announced that due to its MPEG-4 deployment all of its broadband subscribers and not just its 2.1 unbundled subscribers can now receive its IPTV service. According to this announcement then, Free now has 2.6 million subscribers capable of using its IPTV service.

According to its release, it was number two after France Telecom's Orange in the number of new ADSL subscribers and ahead of Neuf Cegetel. Orange added 246 thousand subscribers and Neuf Cegetel added 67 thousand. Neuf Cegetel has the second largest broadband subscriber base at 3.0 million.

In the first half of 2007 Free added a subscription video on demand service that includes access to a set of films and TV services for a fixed monthly fee. It also added the TV Perso service that allows its subscriber to broadcast live or pre recorded content to the TV's of other Free subscribers.

Free is continuing to progress well. Its TV service is an important part of its offering. I will clarify what its IPTV subscriber base actually is and create a post when I know something more. Until then, I will use the 2.6 M number cautiously.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Qwest Says No to IPTV

Outgoing Qwest CEO, James Noteabart, stated that Qwest would not pursue a video strategy similar to Verizon's FiOS or ATT's U-verse under Qwest's next CEO: "Why in the world would you go do that and incur all that expense when you've got YouTube and the direction the world is heading and can still do the broadcast model with more HD than anywhere else with DirecTV. I can't find any logic for us doing it."

Qwest was an IPTV pioneer under Joseph Naccho and implemented a large trial in Phoenix and another outside Denver. Both trials are still in operation and appear to support well over 50 thousand subscribers.

It is not clear what Qwest's future will be without an aggressive fiber broadband plan similar to ATT's or Verizon's. Its wireline business is shrinking and its long haul business is in a highly competitive market place.

IPTV Key to UTStarcom's Turnaround

UTStarcom stated that its RollingStream end-to-end IPTV system is a key element in its strategy for returning to profitability. The company stated that many of its IPTV deployments in China are undergoing expansion. The company estimates that its IPTV platform is serving an estimated 310,000 subscribers currently. UTStarcom is also beginning to win IPTV business in India.

UTStarcom is currently the only IPTV system being used by China Telecom, including its Shanghai Telecom subsidiary. It shares the business at China Netcom with ZTE. IPTV growth in China will be very large, which puts the company in a good position in the future.

Telefonica's O2 at 40,000 IPTV Subscribers

Telefonica's O2 TV, an IPTV service in the Czech Republic by Telefonica O2 Czech Republic, has passed 40,000 subscribers. The acceptance of this service was helped by a new triple play service as well as the country's from analog to digital TV transmissions. The service is seen as an attractive way to make this switch. O2 TV offers 38 television channels and 17 radio stations in digital quality as well as a video on demand offering that includes movies and TV programs.

This is a very good result for a small country. It appears that the service is on its way to becoming quite successful.

France Telecom has 872K IPTV Subscribers

France Telecom announced that it had 872 thousand IPTV subscribers at the end of 2Q07. This is up 104 thousand in the quarter and up 282 thousand since the beginning of the year. It also had 16 thousand subscribers in other European countries. It will be running an IPTV trial in the UK in 2H07.

France Telecom should end 2007 with at least 1.1 IPTV subscribers. It is seeing a nice acceleration in its IPTV service and added over 500 thousand subscribers in the last 12 months. The repricing that was implemented in June 2006 has had a very strongly positive effect.