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Celtro, a  global supplier of switching solutions for the mobile backhaul network, has announced the commercial availability of Virtual Bonding, a technology which is said to enable mobile operators to cost-effectively scale backhaul capacity and peak rate by bonding different transport links into one virtual backhaul pipe. The announcement of Virtual Bonding's availability follows the successful completion of intensive trials at two Tier-1 European mobile operators, where it dramatically improved HSPA service delivery.

According to Celtro, one of the greatest challenges faced by operators in the deployment of HSPA services is the shortage of backhaul network bandwidth and capacity. In order to ensure the highest level of service, operators must be able to maximize the HSPA peak rate capacity available between cell sites and the RNC.

Celtro's new Virtual Bonding technology is claimed to make it possible to bond together different transport links over various infrastructure technologies into one virtual backhaul pipe to transmit HSPA traffic. With Virtual Bonding, any combination of existing links - like ADSL2+, SHDSL, traditional E1 and Ethernet - can be combined to form a single high-capacity pipe. This virtual pipe's peak-rate is equal to the accumulated peak-rates of the individual links.

With Virtual Bonding, operators can cost-effectively boost backhaul network capacity, reducing time-to-market for HSPA service delivery. Virtual Bonding's inherent load sharing further benefits operators with traffic protection against single-link degradation or failure.

"Operators are facing a steep increase in mobile data usage, and need to provide immediate capacity for HSPA deployments. Virtual Bonding provides mobile operators with a unique and innovative means to increase HSPA backhaul capacity at a minimal CapEx, by harnessing existing infrastructure for cellular traffic" said Ron Zor, CEO of Celtro. "This new technology demonstrates Celtro's continued leadership and commitment to developing leading-edge solutions designed to overcome backhaul network challenges and enables mobile operators to deliver the highest level of service to their subscribers," he continued.

Virtual Bonding is available as a part of Celtro's mobile backhaul switching solutions suite, which optimizes TDM, ATM, IP/MPLS mobile backhaul traffic. The first commercial deployments of Virtual Bonding are expected in April 2009. Celtro is an active participant in the establishment of the Bonding industry standard via leading standards organizations such as the IP/MPLS Forum and IETF, together with Tier-1 operators and other leading vendors.

Celtro will be offering a hands-on, in-booth demo of Virtual Bonding at the Mobile World Congress 2009

Synchronica, a provider of mobile email and synchronisation, has announced that following its Group-Wide Framework Agreement with a Tier 1 mobile operator, it has now won a second order from a subsidiary of the group in Lithuania. 

Carsten Brinkschulte, CEO of Synchronica plc, said: "This second purchase order reaffirms the large demand we see for our push email and synchronisation in the high-growth nations of Eastern Europe."

Truphone has announced the immediate free availability of its Truphone Anywhere application for Android-enabled mobile handsets, including the recently released G1 phone. The application is available now as a download on the Android Marketplace in the UK and the US.

To coincide with T-Mobile's announcement earlier this week of the availability of the G1 mobile phone in March 2009, a German version of Truphone Anywhere for Android is available and will be the first native language multi-communications application in the Android Market in Germany and Austria when it launches at CeBIT 2009.

Truphone Anywhere for Android delivers an all-in-one conversations hub that allows customers to take advantage of Truphone's low international call rates, in addition to the cost of a local call.

As well as being able to make low-cost international voice calls, Truphone customers can also easily Instant Message their friends across a variety of networks including MSN, Yahoo!, Google Talk and Twitter from within one Android application. Customers can also call friends anywhere in the world on Google Talk for the price of a local call, and similarly will soon will be able to Instant Message and call their friends on Skype.

"We want to make it as easy as possible for people to have conversations with their communities around the world in whatever form they choose," said Truphone CEO Geraldine Wilson.

She continued: "We passionately believe in devices like the Android and iPhone which offer easy user access to applications through the Android Market and the App Store in Apple's iTunes. The G1 and the entire Android platform is an obvious and important distribution channel for us."

Truphone is now available on Android, the Apple iPhone, the Apple iPod touch, Blackberry and Nokia devices.

Research launched today by Colibria is said to reveal that mobile users want social networking services pushed straight to their mobile, making the experience more interactive and allowing them to communicate with all of their social networks from one single access point. The survey of 2,000 online respondents in the UK found that 39% of 18-45 year olds believe that if updates were pushed directly to their device, it would greatly improve their experience of social networks via mobile.

Assessing social networking usage across consumers in the UK, the survey highlighted key differentiators that subscribers feel are needed to make these services for mobile accessible. Currently, of those who do already access their social networks via their phone, 65% prefer to do it through a device's internet browser, whilst 28% use a dedicated application. The interactivity limitations of browser based access may explain why 43% of users only describe their experience as average, with a further 20% rating access as poor or very poor.

Additional key findings have highlighted that there are a number of potential challenges facing mobile operators looking to deploy social networking solutions:

 *   Almost one third (31%) said that messages are what they would most like to receive on their mobile when checking their social networks
 *   Single log-in access across multiple social networks is the most popular option for improving the experience via mobile (14%)
 *   Only 16% of those asked used social networks excluding MySpace and Facebook
 *   78% use the instant messaging functionality available on their respective social networking sites

As the popularity of social networking services continues to grow, operators looking to tap into potential new revenue streams will be interested to hear that currently only 21% of 18-45 year olds signed up with a fixed social network access their service over their mobile; meaning there is a huge untapped market for operators to target. With recent predictions from Informa stating that global revenues from mobile social networking will be between $29b and $52b by 2012, mobile social networking appears set to grow in 2009*.

Lars Kristian Roland, CTO of Colibria, commented, ‘‘This survey shows that mobile users want to be able to enjoy a seamless, consistent, rich experience across all of their social networks on the mobile. Put simply, a truly interactive experience is required from operators for the mass adoption of social networking on mobile to become a reality and mirror the success of the fixed world.''

Sybase, an enterprise software and services company, has today announced that it has acquired paybox Solutions AG, a specialist in mobile payment solutions.

Sybase will now provide mobile operators, financial institutions and merchants with a full suite of mobile payment solutions enabling customers to undertake person-to-person remittances, make payments for goods and services, top-up mobile airtime and pay bills from a mobile device, in both developed and emerging markets.

"Mobile payments are an increasingly critical part of mobile computing, a core component of our Unwired Enterprise strategy," said Marty Beard, president of Sybase 365. "The sheer number of people with access to a mobile phone in both developed and emerging markets around the world, means the mobile device has the potential to become a dominant vehicle for consumers to connect and transact conveniently, anytime, anywhere, fuelling the mobile economy.  This acquisition extends our offerings and capabilities to enable this mobile economy."

A privately held company founded in 1999 and headquartered in Raunheim, Germany, paybox will be integrated into Sybase 365.  As a provider of the broadest mobile commerce offering, paybox is also said to bring Sybase a proven track record and a solid customer base.

"This acquisition is a natural progression of the partnership agreement signed between the two companies in Q4 last year.  paybox and Sybase share the same vision for mobile commerce that is in line with where the market is headed and what customers are demanding from their mobile phones," said Eckhard Ortwein, CEO paybox.  "By combining mobile messaging and mobile payments offerings, it will be difficult for any competitor to match our mobile commerce services."

Shipments of GPS-enabled mobile phones will hit a speed-bump in 2009, but will still manage to post year-to-year unit growth through the current economic downturn, according to a new market study by ABI Research. While global handset shipments are expected to drop by 4-5% in 2009, GPS-enabled phones will climb to 240 million units, an increase of 6.4% over 2008, says ABI.
 
The report says that this surprising performance will be driven by the ongoing demand for feature-rich smartphones. Although slowing slightly in 2009, demand for smartphones, a group that includes the Apple iPhone 3G, RIM's BlackBerry devices, and Nokia N series phones among a growing list, will increase at an average annual unit shipment rate of 19 percent through 2014. During the period, GPS chipsets will continue to penetrate this segment; nine of every ten smartphones will contain GPS ICs in 2014, compared with one in three in 2008.
 
"Falling component prices and increasing consumer awareness of handset location capabilities will keep demand for GPS-enabled phones healthy, in spite of the slumping global economic picture," says senior analyst George Perros. Other factors that will continue the trend toward the inclusion of GPS functionality in handsets include the spread of open source operating systems such as Google's Android which provide application specific interfaces (APIs) that allow software developers to create location-based content for mobile devices, and the continuing emergence of navigation and map-based applications for handsets.
 
"As the quality of positioning technology in handsets improves and the cost of including it declines, GPS location technology will approach the status of a standard device feature," adds Perros. "We are approaching the point where location awareness will be synonymous with smart devices, a point where personal navigation, social spatial knowledge, and location-specific contextual information will be assumed handset capabilities."

SwissQual, the independent Swiss network quality measurement company, has launched a unified and 'evolutionary' network quality measurement system. SwissQual Evolution offers a wide choice of measurement devices, network probes and presentation and analysis software. These 'elements' can be combined in a variety of ways to provide solutions for a wide range of network quality measurement tasks including benchmarking, optimisation and service monitoring. 

Says Salvatore Piazzolla, SwissQual's Head of Product Management: "We have made these developments to give our customers a much more flexible solution. You may well initially buy a network quality measurement system in order to address one specific problem. With SwissQual Evolution you can, of course, still do this. However you will also be able to easily re-task the various elements that you have acquired in a variety of future projects as well. This simple fact means that the SwissQual Evolution system delivers excellent long term value for an operator. It is a strategic choice."

The system also brings economies of scope and scale through other ways. Because the file and data base formats have been unified, data can also be re-used. For example, information captured during a benchmarking campaign can be re-used for a network wide optimisation exercise. The system can even re-use data captured by certain third party network quality measurement systems through data import wizards.

Says John May, SwissQual's CEO: "Over the long term, the SwissQual Evolution system delivers superior value for money. It also delivers a much greater flexibility and a much more rapid response to the emergence of new needs. For operators who take a longer term view when acquiring network quality measurement systems, it is the obvious choice."

OnRelay, a cellular Fixed Mobile Convergence (FMC) provider, has previewed its complete mobile PBX solution, Unified MBX, and opened the Unified MBX beta program to selected customers and service providers.

OnRelay's Unified MBX software provides users with a mobile office communication system (Mobile PBX), without the expense of proprietary telephony hardware or IP PBX licenses. Instead, SMBs and enterprise customers benefit from a low cost, feature-rich open source PBX, fully integrated with OnRelay's proven FMC technology - delivering complete IP PBX functionality to the mobile phone.  

Unified MBX is highly flexible, supporting on-premises deployment, hosting, and distribution as software as a service (SaaS) by OnRelay's partners. The only hardware required is a standard server or VMware instance, dramatically reducing the entry barrier for service providers relative to Centrex. As Unified MBX works over any public mobile network, users do not require WiFi, nor are they tied to one mobile operator or handset provider.
 
"Unified MBX is the world's first release of a true Mobile PBX - a fully fledged office communication system designed for mobile phones.  Unlike the overly simplified Mobile Centrex approach, Unified MBX has all the user and management features expected from a business class communication system," comments Ivar Plahte, CEO of OnRelay. "We are particularly proud of our new SIP based call flows that allow voice traffic to remain in the public network even for premises based Unified MBX servers."

Unified MBX integrates sipXecs, the leading open source PBX, to provide a scalable voice over IP (VoIP) system.  Based entirely on the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) standard, sipXecs brings an extensive feature set to Unified MBX, including active directory integration, presence and Microsoft exchange support. Customers can flexibly migrate user groups from legacy telephony hardware to Unified MBX, adding the Unified Communications features as required.

Messaging International, a provider of messaging services, has, through its subsidiary, TeleMessage, signed an agreement with Uralsviazinform to launch its Text-to Landline service.  Uralsviazinform is said to be the largest provider of telecommunications services in the Urals region, and is considered as one of the four leading mobile operators in Russia. The agreement to launch Text-to-Landline will allow Uralsviazinform subscribers to send a text message from a wireless phone to any landline phone in the Ural region.

The Text-to-Landline software enables Uralsviazinform wireless customers to create and send a text message to any landline phone in Russia, and converts it to a voice message for the recipient.  The recipient can then respond by voice to the wireless customer, who will receive the reply message in the form of a text.  The wireless customer will also receive a status text message confirming if the message was delivered directly to a person or to a voicemail system.

"Using SMS to Landline, our customers will be able to contact anyone, anywhere using the simple and popular SMS capabilities on their handsets," said Sergey Bershev, Deputy General Director - Director for Business Development of Uralsviazinform. "Convergence is critical to us as a combined fixed line and mobile operator and providing services that combine these two spheres of telecommunications makes a lot of sense to us and our customers."

Guy Levit, CEO of Messaging International, said, "Uralsviazinform is a great example of how a company can use Text-to-Landline to increase customer loyalty by providing an innovative product.  We are extremely pleased that Uralsviazinform has chosen to launch this service as millions of its fixed and mobile customers will benefit from our proprietary technology.  Importantly, through this agreement, TeleMessage will gain exposure and recognition in the rapidly expanding Russian telecommunications market."

Business Logic Systems, a specialist in customer intelligence, marketing automation and customer loyalty solutions for mobile network operators, has announced it will demonstrate its full portfolio of InTelestage products and technologies at this year's Mobile World Congress. InTelestage is said to be the only Customer Lifecycle Management software specifically designed for mobile operators, and is claimed to enable telcos to quickly and easily reduce churn, develop subscriber loyalty and increase the lifetime value of the customer. 

InTelestage allows marketing departments to access, analyse and act upon customer event data in real-time to create a continuous closed loop campaign process.  It delivers the ability to run multiple concurrent campaigns to highly-targeted micro segments, creating an interactive, two-way dialogue with customers, via their preferred communication channel.

InTelestage has been designed specifically to offer easy integration with third-party systems, enabling platform providers and developers to easily create fully-automated, innovative marketing solutions that increase the value of existing IT investments.

"At a time when the depressed economy is causing consumers to re-evaluate their monthly spend, the challenge for operators to retain customers and grow the average revenue per user has never been greater", commented Stewart Goldberg, Executive Chairman, Business Logic Systems.  "With InTelestage, telcos can better understand their subscriber base, reward profitable customers and increase loyalty."

The InTelestage portfolio includes products such as: Knowledge Base, Profiler, Reporter, Marketing Manager, Relationship Manager, Loyalty Manager, Reward Manager, Voucher Manager and Lucky Draw; and solutions such as Campaign Management, Campaign and Loyalty Management, Recharge Management, Customer Lifecycle Management and Revenue Optimiser.

Qualcomm and AMD have today announced that Qualcomm has acquired certain graphics and multimedia technology assets, intellectual property and resources that were formerly the basis of AMD's handheld business. The acquisition is said to enhance Qualcomm's multimedia capabilities.

"This acquisition of assets from AMD's handheld business brings us strong multimedia technologies, including graphics cores that we have been licensing for several years," said Steve Mollenkopf, executive vice president of Qualcomm and president of Qualcomm CDMA Technologies.  "Bringing this technology in-house creates even greater synergy as we seamlessly integrate the best-in-class multimedia performance AMD offers into our system-on-chip (SoC) products."

"With the sale of these handheld technology assets and resources to Qualcomm, we are better able to focus on our core business and leverage our unique position as a leader in both x86 computing and high-end graphics," said Robert J. Rivet, chief operations and administrative officer, chief financial officer of AMD. "We believe the talented AMD Handheld employees will be a great asset to Qualcomm."

Under the terms of the agreement, Qualcomm has extended offers of employment to various design and development teams from AMD's handheld business.  The teams are developing technologies to enhance mobile devices in areas including 2D and 3D graphics, audio/video, display, and architecture. 

The two companies signed and closed a binding agreement on January 19, 2009, having already received required regulatory approvals.  Cash consideration from Qualcomm to AMD, as part of the transaction, is $65 million, subject to adjustments for employee-related expenses and a holdback for certain customary indemnification obligations.  Both AMD and Qualcomm are committed to a seamless transfer of  business assets, as well as a smooth transition for employees.

Telekom Austria Group today announced that its mobile subsidiary, mobilkom austria, has developed - in cooperation with ÖBB (Austrian Federal Railways Group) - the 'first' chip-based end-to-end NFC solution for mobile ticketing in pre-selling conditions.

The new chip-based NFC application is based on the interoperable and high-security international standard VDV-KA (Association of German Transport Undertakings - Core Application) and has been integrated into the mobilkom austria mobile ticketing platform. As this new generation NFC mobile ticketing solution offers enhanced user-friendliness and convenience for both passengers and ticket collectors when buying and managing train tickets, mobilkom austria and ÖBB embarked on a pilot project to test it with the support of Nokia.

Hannes Ametsreiter, CMO mobilkom austria und CEO Telekom Austria TA AG, said: "With mobilkom austria's new, worldwide first chip-based NFC mobile ticketing solution, train tickets are no longer sent via text messages to the customer's handset but are saved in the so-called ‘secure element' of NFC-enabled mobile phones and can be validated by a simple touch."

"Moreover, train tickets will not get lost, even if the SMS inbox of a mobile phone is purged by mistake, and they are always available, even when the phone battery has run out. In addition, tickets can be managed and validated while the customer is having a phone conversation," added Gabriele Lutter, spokesperson of the Management Board of ÖBB-Personenverkehr AG.

Tickets can be validated with a simple touch of the passengers' and the conductor's NFC enabled mobile phone. Therefore, it is no longer necessary to enter a SMS code to validate the transaction, considerably enhancing time efficiency.

The pilot project will involve 100 test customers and 100 ticket collectors, who will trial the new chip-based application on the test routes Vienna-Krems and Vienna-Gmünd, using the NFC-capable handset Nokia 6212 classic for three months. Feedback from test users will be used to improve future NFC services.

Nokia is the only handset supplier which has been able to commercially launch NFC-capable handsets to date. The new Nokia 6212 classic will be commercially available starting from February 2009, and mobilkom austria will be the first mobile operator to offer this phone in Austria. In the initial stage, the Nokia 6212 classic will not be equipped with the new chip-based NFC application developed by mobilkom austria as this solution is still in a trial phase.

Celltick, a provider of idle screen mobile marketing, has announced the launch of livescreen.com, claimed to be the world's first web-based ad server which allows local and global advertisers to purchase idle screen advertising in all markets where Celltick's LiveScreen Media platform is operational. The platform was built in collaboration with BidVertiser an international ad network using a proprietary ad serving platform.

Celltick's LiveScreen Media allows millions of users around the world to receive entertainment, news, sports, business and lifestyle teasers, as well as advertising and operator promotions, direct to the idle screens of their mobile handsets. The content broadcast to each customer is segmented according to their historical responses, geographic location, the time of day and individual demographics - ensuring that all content is relevant to the person who receives it. 

This announcement is part of Celltick's stated media strategy. The first phase was to shift its business model from selling technology to managing a media channel for operators. These services have already achieved critical mass in their respective markets and are currently covering over 20 million users.

LiveScreen Media allows advertisers to place idle screen advertising campaigns prompting an immediate response from interested consumers.  Advertisers who have already taken advantage of this unique media channel include Coke, America Express, Unilever and Honda. With the launch of livescreen.com, long tail advertisers will now be able to participate in idle screen promotions as well.

A recent survey conducted among LiveScreen Media users indicates that 19% of customers were exposed to advertising on the idle screen during the last 3 months.

- 43% of LiveScreen Media users are between the ages of 25-35, 40% are between the ages of 14-24.

- 65% of LiveScreen Media users are male, 35% female.

When examining users' attitudes towards advertising, the majority (57%) indicated that the most appealing proposition by advertisers on the idle screen is a discount on the advertised service or product.

Stephen Dunford, CEO of Celltick, said: "Celltick is proud to be launching a global ad network specifically for the idle screen.  The idle screen represents one of the biggest mobile advertising opportunities in the coming years, and we are already well placed to serve ads to millions of mobile customers around the world.  livescreen.com provides a central hub for advertisers of all sizes to interact with customers on a local, personalized and timely manner." 

Aircom International, an independent mobile network planning and optimization consultancy, today announced its new Aircom IQ optimization service, a platform that is said to analyse and optimize cellular network performance, detects network problems and limitations, and reduces capital expenditures for network growth and 3G (third generation) migration.

As telecommunications operators grow their networks to meet rising customer demand, Aircom IQ addresses the need for efficient optimization and management of their network infrastructure. The key components of the Aircom IQ toolset include: a hardware audit that analyzes network and planning data and consolidates datasets, identifying missing and incomplete information; a measurement collection function that uses customer mobile measurement reports to characterise network performance and build analysis; an automated and flexible analysis toolset that detects network problems (e.g. swapped sectors, faulty transceivers, etc.); and automatic optimization that enhances performance by improving the configuration of the network.

"With 2G technologies still generating most of the revenue for operators and these networks requiring continuous optimization to respond to subscriber growth, Aircom IQ offers an ideal solution to reduce network-oriented operational expenditures through increased optimisation efficiency, capacity gains and better traffic management," said Marty Smuin, president of the Americas for Aircom International. "By creating efficient services that guarantee 2G performance improvements, operators can focus their operating expenditures on 3G and 4G technologies, new service offerings and network infrastructure growth."

Changes in business conditions, such as spectrum refarming and sharing, mean that 2G networks need to be revisited quickly and efficiently. Aircom IQ uses mobile measurement reports to determine 2G network performance as seen by terminals and for all users, both indoor and outdoor.  Using a combination of switch and probe measurements, the Aircom solution provides optimisation that is both accurate and simple.

"We can help operators reduce churn by addressing pockets of poor efficiency and weak performance, delivering an optimized view of network performance as their customers perceive it," said Smuin.  "Aircom IQ offers a complete, vendor-independent solution that utilizes customer generated measurements to ensure real network improvements."

While the initial functionality of Aircom IQ is geared toward 2G networks, future enhancements will include 3G and 4G optimization, antenna reconfiguration, capacity management that leverages traffic information to provide new insights on user locations, parameter optimization and LTE/HSPA+ optimization.