Week in research: Cyber Monday may be a blockbuster; Rural voice service problems on the rise

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Internet consumers drive spending boom: Consumers spent $41.9 billion purchasing online in the third quarter of 2012, up 15 percent from the same period last year, the Internet Innovation Alliance reported. The results are based on the Dept. of Labor Consumer Expenditure Survey, which also found that average annual expenditures rose 3.3 percent, the first increase since 2008. Based on Labor's numbers, Forrester is predicting a blockbuster Cyber Monday, with $68.4 billion in sales in the United States. IIA noted that despite the increase in overall spending, online consumers are saving an average of $8,800 per year. Being able to compare prices, access to deeper inventories and web-only discounts and coupons are among the most attractive benefits to buyers, along with the gas savings realized by not driving from store to store to hunt for items.  News release

ComScore consumer spending

Image source: ComScore

Rural voice service problems rise: Voice customers in rural areas of the United States are getting frustrated with the increasing number of call completion problems they're experiencing, a survey by the National Exchange Carrier Association (NECA), the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA) and two other groups revealed on Thursday. From March to September 2012, the volume of complaints related to call completion were steady or rising in 62 percent of service areas studied, compared to the same period in 2011. "The results of this survey echo a theme that I hear over and over again from small carriers all over the country: that call completion problems are rampant in rural communities and in many cases have gotten worse over the summer and fall," said NTCA Chief Executive Officer Shirley Bloomfield. "From Alaska to Alabama, the number of calls ending up in dead air or busy tones is on the rise. It's clear that regulators need to step in and step up to end such bad practices once and for all." News release

Optical market slogs along in Q3: WDM (wave division multiplexer) revenue grew 6.9 percent sequentially in the third quarter of 2012, thanks to a strong performance by Huawei, but it isn't enough to offset continuing declines in SONET/SDH (synchronous optical networking / synchronous digital hierarchy) optical spending, an Infonetics Research report said. "SONET/SDH spending hit another all-time low in the third quarter, as architectural shifts in wireless backhaul quicken its transition into obsolescence. Carriers aren't allocating scarce capital to out-of-date equipment," said Andrew Schmitt, principal analyst for optical at Infonetics. "On a brighter note, there's an investment cycle set to begin next year in the core network that's based on 100G coherent and supported by the massive ramp in 100G prototyping and trialing activities that are already underway worldwide." NEC, Fujitsu and Infinera (Nasdaq: INFN) saw double-digit performance in Q3 thanks to ROADM equipment spending. However, the North America and EMEA markets saw weaker performance, with Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) posting its lowest-ever optical results. Growth may pick up in North America this quarter as AT&T (NYSE: T) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ) increase spending. News release

Infonetics optical network hardware market q3 2012