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Highdeal, the provider of pricing & rating solutions, has announced that Orange Niger, a subsidiary of the France Telecom Group, has deployed Highdeal Transactive as part of its convergent billing platform. The solution has been selected and successfully integrated with other solutions by Sofrecom, a leader in Telecoms consultancy and information technologies and a subsidiary of the France Telecom - Orange Group.

"Our central challenge is to deliver high quality services rapidly and at competitive prices. Holder of a global licence, we have decided to differentiate ourselves and innovate by offering our customers a single invoice. For this reason, and given the ambitious schedule for our commercial launch, we selected Highdeal Transactive for the platform and Sofrecom as integrator. The time-scale for the launch was met and the customer's view of an integrated operator was achieved. The final corrective touches and enhancements are being made in order to reach our target of convergence and the integration of all the application platforms and services so as to maximise productivity for our customers' benefit."says François Brunet, CEO of Orange Niger. 

With a population of approximately 13 million and a mobile penetration rate of less than 8 %, Niger is planning for enormous growth. Recognizing this potential, Orange Niger was looking for a billing platform that combined guaranteed extreme high performance and scalability with comprehensive pricing and packaging capabilities. Orange Niger, 4th operator entering the Nigerien market, launched its mobile, internet and fixed networks in July 2008. Orange Niger is differentiating its services by offering quad-play packages and real-time prepaid, postpaid and hybrid payment plans aimed at families and businesses.

"Orange Niger understands the positive impact that innovative pricing and time-to-market for new services can have on their business. We are extremely pleased that our solution was selected and deployed by such a forward thinking and pioneering telecommunications operator," says Eric Pillevesse, CEO of Highdeal.

 

Mobyko.com has announced the launch of its new online calendar, which is claimed to provide a simple way to keep web and mobile calendars in sync. Mobyko says it already features a synced online address book and photo, video and text galleries, and the addition of the calendar is said to provide a feature rich equivalent of Apple's MobileMe, but for the mobile masses.

Mobile phone calendars have historically been difficult to use, and the new Mobyko calendar is claimed to make it quick and easy to add events to an online calendar and then sync events wirelessly to a mobile handset. This means users can get their life organised on a big screen and then with a single click can move events to a phone for use while they are on the move. All personal data is stored in the cloud, ensuring it is private, secure and always accessible online from anywhere in the world.
 
Julian Saunders CEO Mobyko.com commented: "Our calendar retains the high quality interface that has become the hallmark of Mobyko. Our experience is exceptionally clean and efficient, but the apparent simplicity of the user interface belies the depth of features that can be discovered with minimal interrogation of the highly intuitive design.  All this adds up to a very useful service that is both fast and efficient to use.
 
"We believe that by providing big screen access to the mobile calendar we'll encourage users to make better use of their on device calendar, one of the core applications on any mobile phone, but one that is generally massively underused. We are planning integrations into other calendar platforms and contact stores to bring digital calendars into the 21st century. Unlike MobileMe, Mobyko has created an inclusive experience that works on most phones and networks, providing a platform that offers total freedom for the management of personal data."

ProcessOne, an instant messaging solutions provider with over 35 million registered users in the world, today announced the launch of OneTeam, which is claimed to be the first business-class IM client for the Apple iPhone.  Built on ProcessOne's renowned open-source IM platform, it provides business users with secure and flexible access to IM services.

OneTeam can be downloaded from the Apple App Store on iTunes, giving users access to mobile IM on the iPhone and iPod Touch devices.  OneTeam enables users to reuse their existing IM accounts through server side gateways, meaning they can get in contact with existing contacts on AIM/MobileMe, ICQ, MSN/Windows, Yahoo! and GoogleTalk.

OneTeam is said to be ideally suited for business users as it can be used in a corporate environment with a businesses' own XMPP server.  For the IT department this means they can much more effectively manage IM, ensuring security and compliance, while at the same time giving users the flexibility of using the public IM accounts they are familiar with.

"The iPhone is fast emerging as the device of choice for many business users, many of whom will require instant messaging capability," said Mickaël Rémond, CEO of ProcessOne.  "Our OneTeam client allows businesses to have the best of both worlds when it comes to IM by allowing users to continue to use public IM clients, but also providing the capability for them to be brought under the control of the IT department so they can be managed and maintained effectively."

OneTeam enables users to communicate using the software on their iPhone when connected to WiFi, 3G and Edge networks.

A sea-change in operator attitudes towards mobile gambling services, improvements to handset user interfaces and the gradual introduction of legislation permitting remote gambling in selected markets are among the key factors which are expected to push total annual wagers via mobile phones to more than $27.5bn by 2013, according to a new report from Juniper Research.

According to report author Dr Windsor Holden, "Operators are demonstrably much more open to the idea of mobile gambling than they were even 12-18 months ago, both in terms of offering gambling services on-portal and accepting advertising from gambling companies."

However, the Juniper report noted that, while EU intervention was having some impact on the liberalisation of Europe's gambling markets, little progress had been made in the potentially lucrative US market, where remote gambling services are still prohibited. It argued that commercial deployments in the US were now unlikely until 2010 at the earliest.

Juniper Research also found that mobile sports betting will comprise the majority of annual wagers over the next five years, although mobile lottery services - which are being increasingly deployed in key Latin American and Asian markets - will attain the highest adoption level, with nearly 400m users worldwide by the end of the forecast period.

Other findings from the report include:

  • Global gross win from mobile gambling services will rise from just under $192m in 2008 to $3.4bn by 2013.
  • In terms of total wager, Western Europe will remain the largest regional mobile gambling market throughout the forecast period, although the relative contribution of the UK will decline significantly with the deployment of more services in continental Europe
  • Gambling service providers should deploy text-based gambling services in developing markets to encourage mass adoption

Motorola has announced it has completed the industry's first over-the-air Long-Term Evolution (LTE) data sessions in the 700MHz spectrum using its LTE Radio Access Test Network and LTE eNode-B platform with a prototype LTE device. The testing was achieved in Motorola labs and at an outdoor location in central Illinois.

The sessions included mobile video streaming and various high data rate applications. The demonstrations also included execution of applications priority which guarantees throughput using quality of service (QoS) aspects of the LTE standards.

"This field test shows the progress we've made in preparing to deliver a commercial LTE solution for testing and early limited deployments in 2009," said Darren McQueen, vice president, Wireless Broadband Access Technologies, Motorola Home & Networks Mobility. "We are testing our 700MHz and 2.6GHz products, which are expected for first commercial release  next year, in real-world environments to ensure our products will meet the needs of mobile carriers who want to be first to market with LTE."

The lower frequency bands provide better coverage and in-building penetration, which is a requirement for many mobile operators. In North America, the 700MHz spectrum auctioned earlier this year is part of the worldwide "digital dividend" - spectrum in the 470-862MHz bands that has been freed by the switch from analog to digital TV. The digital dividend is viewed by mobile operators in the U.S., Europe, and much of the rest of the world as a valuable resource as existing and new mobile broadband networks quickly consume current spectrum allocations and operators are pushed towards providing connections to rural areas.

In Europe digital dividend spectrum encompasses the current TV broadcast 790-862MHz bands. It is expected to be auctioned between 2009-2012, coinciding with mobile operators' plans to deploy LTE.

Motorola's LTE eNode-B architecture can be tailored to meet each customer's specific requirements by using frame based-mounted radios and remote radio heads. This design allows many spectrum bands to be supported in the early stage of LTE and accommodates a wide variety of LTE deployment scenarios across newly available spectrum as well as existing GSM, UMTS and CDMA bands. The 700MHz radio head for example, can be modified to operate in 790-862MHz to provide operators a solution to deploy LTE in the "digital dividend" spectrum as soon as it becomes available in the various regions.

Nokia Siemens Networks has said that it now has 200 softswitch clients. Nokia Networks, when it was just plain old Nokia, passed the 100 mark just over two years ago.

The vendor says a number of recent deals - most notably with two large operators in North America - haveput it past the 200-customer milestone, an average of nearly one new customer a week since the solution was introduced in January 2004. 
 
After striking the deal to deploy its next generation wireless network for the North American operators, Nokia Siemens Networks has won even more customers for its mobile softswitching solution, with the total now standing at 207 mobile operators -- over 140 of which are already using the solution to carry live traffic.   
 
“We are extremely pleased that our recent landmark agreements in North America also mark our 200th mobile softswitching deployment,” says Jürgen Walter, head of Converged Core, Nokia Siemens Networks. “This innovative solution has long been a point of pride for us, underscoring our ‘first mover’ mindset in designing a technology that is absolutely key to the continued success of mobile operators. Gaining 200 customers, and beyond, is a strong endorsement of the benefits of our solution, and makes us even prouder.”
 
Mobile softswitching rationalizes the design of traditional circuit-switched core networks, allowing operators to realize significant savings in operating expenditures of up to 70% in transmission, site, and operation and management costs. The solution also brings increased savings in power consumption, addressing a major pain point for large mobile operators. 
 
These savings are made possible by the “split” architecture of softswitching, which separate the essential functions of the core network into two hardware elements: the MSC Server (MSS), for call control, and the Media Gateway (MGW), for voice processing and switching. To date, Nokia Siemens Networks has deployed over 1300 individual MSC Severs and over 2700 Media Gateways for its 207 customers to serve over 800 million GSM/WCDMA subscribers. Shipments during first 9 months this year have already exceeded the shipments for the entirety of 2007. 
 
By separating the MGW from the centralized call control, operators can locate MGWs near traffic hot spots to handle local traffic locally, thus by passing the need to route all traffic through a central site. This translates into reduced costs for transmission and site maintenance. 
 
The use of IP also provides an evolution path to IP multimedia thanks to interworking with IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS).

Qualcomm Incorporated and Amobee Media Systems are working together to offer mobile advertising on Qualcomm’s Plaza solution. Amobee and Qualcomm have completed an integration of Amobee’s ad-serving platform with Plaza that now enables advertising to be fed into Plaza’s ecosystem of widgets.  Operators worldwide will be able to use the combined offering to take advantage of unique mobile Internet opportunities while generating significant mobile advertising revenues.

In May 2008, Qualcomm Internet Services announced Plaza, a platform-agnostic service that provides a framework for the development of mobile widgets – Web-based applications for mobile devices. This new framework will feature catalogues of mobile widgets that will be made available to mobile operators worldwide, allowing them to deliver quick and personalized Internet services to their end-users across all devices. The Amobee Media System will enable operators to monetize the use of these widgets.
“This collaboration between Amobee and Qualcomm gives operators an easy-to-deploy and trusted solution that creates a new revenue stream and the opportunity to boost mobile Internet usage,” said Ziv Eliraz, vice president of alliances at Amobee. “It will also allow developers and media companies to get closer to the promise of the new mobile media.”

With Amobee’s implementation on Plaza, operators can create and sell new advertising inventory to brands and agencies that want to deploy and monitor campaigns across all mobile entertainment and communication channels.  Amobee will dynamically insert relevant ads into appropriate widgets and will measure and optimize these campaigns to yield the highest results.

“Amobee’s mobile ad-serving solution has been deployed by more operators than any other solution to date.  Their proven technology is serving the mobile needs of global operators, as well as top brands that are reaching out to mobile users with targeted advertising,” said Noam Raffaelli, managing director of Plaza for Qualcomm Internet Services. “The goal of Plaza is to let operators provide their users with the platform to personalize their mobile Internet experience and in return drive additional revenue streams.  Mobile advertising is a key ingredient to make this happen.”

ABI has said in a note that the global economic crisis did not appear to unduly affect sales of mobile devices in the third quarter of 2008. 

“Given the traumatic news ricocheting around the financial markets, one would almost expect mobile handset markets to have nosedived”, says ABI Research Asia-Pacific vice-president Jake Saunders. “However 3Q-2008 still delivered 8.2% year-on-year growth.”
 
ABI noted that while mobile phones can be viewed in part as fashion accessories, they also impart other value propositions that are highly valued by end-users. Substantial improvements in key functional areas (e.g. memory, battery life, data speed, processor speed) are being noticed by end-users. Still, many are opting to remain on open contracts rather than upgrade their handsets and lock themselves into down payments for new phones and potentially expensive monthly commitments.
 
The positive news, ABI said, is that handset vendors are reporting input costs for handsets are on a downward curve. Vendors have also refreshed their handset portfolios and have strengthened their mid-tier and low-tier handset line-ups to appeal to end-users on tighter budgets.
 
4Q-2008 will be a vital quarter for handset vendors and mobile operators. Expect to see aggressive marketing and promotional activities from operators and vendors alike as they strive to lure end-users to upgrade their handsets before the year’s end.
 
ABI Research has revised its expectations for 4Q-2008 down to 7.5% growth from 10.4%. Year-on-year annual growth is therefore likely to be between 10.5% and 11%, to close out the year at around 1.27 billion.
 
“There are winners and losers in 3Q-2008”, notes research director Kevin Burden. “Nokia stumbled slightly to see its market-share shrink to 37.7%. Motorola and LG were also net losers (total market-share: 8.1% and 7.4%) respectively. Winners include Samsung (16.6%), Apple (2.2%), and RIM (2.0%). Smartphones are truly capturing the imagination of the buying public which is benefitting vendors with highly desirable smartphones.”

ABI felt that Nokia may well claw back some of its lost market-share as it now has stronger products in the smartphone category. Nokia would have fared worse were it not for its strong line up in the mid-tier and low-tier handset segments, which is where LG and Motorola felt the impact. Despite some "barraging" in the media, SonyEricsson managed to keep market-share constant at 8.2%, ABU said.

comScore reports that the mobile marketing landscape in Europe is evolving as fewer consumers say they are receiving advertisements for mobile products and services while more receive adverts for consumer goods such as food, fashion, restaurants, travel and financial services. 

Over the past year, the number of people receiving SMS adverts for mobile products and services fell nine percent in Europe, while the number receiving offers for non-mobile consumer goods and services climbed 15 percent. Overall, slightly fewer Europeans report receiving an SMS ad, with a decline from 112 million in August 2007 to 110 million in August 2008.

The fastest-growing category of SMS advertising since August 2007 is food, at a rate of 53 percent, followed by clothing/fashion at 38 percent and restaurants at 37 percent. Advertisements for restaurants and food also boast the highest level of response, with 16 percent of those receiving an advert for a restaurant responding and 13 percent of those receiving an offer for food, such as grocery coupons, responding. 

Meanwhile, the number of consumers responding to an offer for a mobile product or service remained flat, at four percent.


“While the majority of SMS adverts are still for mobile products and services, the mix is beginning to shift toward consumer goods and services,” observed Alistair Hill, analyst, comScore. “Mobile advertisers are beginning to show a higher level of sophistication in their targeting efforts, as the targeting criterion is no longer ‘has mobile phone’ but is based on knowledge of consumers’ tastes and behaviors. Clearly, consumers are responding as the quantity of SMS ads decreases and the quality increases.”

Vringo has announced an agreement with Avea to provide Turkey's first video ringtone service. In addition to bringing Vringo to a potential universe of millions, this deal also represents a first for the video ringtone market:  the first carrier-led video ringtone subscription model.

Vringo and Avea are launching the service via the carrier’s popular youth platform Patlican, bringing Vringo’s video ringtone application and 4,000+-clips-and-counting video ringtone library exclusively to Patlican members. Members will receive a 60-day free trial, followed by a monthly subscription fee of 4 SMS/8 counters, which includes the application, access to a number of video ringtones and free data for downloading Vringo. Members will be able to reach these services and contents from patlican.vringo.com.

Vringo also brings to Patlican members a library of pay-per-clip premium video ringtones, culled from the company’s relationships with international content owners such as leading music aggregator INGrooves and local Turkish content partners. These video ringtones will range in price from 10 to 16 SMS, with a 50-percent discount for Patlican members.

“Analysts estimate that 50 percent of ringtone revenues will come from video ringtones as early as 2010; it’s our mission to make that a reality,” said Jon Medved, CEO, Vringo. “Turkey is an ideal market to begin selling Vringo’s unique service:  it’s a country where mobile content, particularly ringtones, is incredibly popular; its digital media industry continues to grow; and our carrier partner Avea has developed a world-class social community of young people that matches up perfectly with our brand.”

“Our young subscribers, registered to our youth platform Patlican, are among the most cutting-edge and creative mobile users, and we’re committed to develop new services which will enable them to express themselves and enjoy benefits of technology” said Avea Chief Marketing Officer M. Ilker Kocak. “Working with Vringo to bring video ringtones to our members has not only been an exciting venture, but an effortless process, thanks to their content partner relationships and hands-on support.”

Avea and its youth platform Patlican are supporting the Vringo launch with a robust marketing campaign, including out-of-home, TV, print, Web and mobile advertising. The carrier plans to roll Vringo out across its broader subscriber base later in the year.

Global mobile network operator Truphone today launched a beta of its mobile internet telephony service, Truphone Anywhere, for BlackBerry smartphones. Truphone Anywhere brings simple, easy and cheap international calling to up to 40 million BlackBerry users across the world.
Truphone Anywhere works in 33 countries worldwide. It saves BlackBerry users from those countries money on the international calls they make from their home country. The service works alongside domestic service providers, but reduces international call costs to as little as £0.03/$0.06 per minute.

Truphone works with the user to save them money. Instead of requiring the user to remember what to do, Truphone Anywhere simply asks whether he/she wants to make a Truphone call whenever an international number is dialled. The user simply accepts, and Truphone connects the call.

“There’s no GSM business tariff that gets close to the prices we can offer BlackBerry users with Truphone for international calling,” said Geraldine Wilson, new CEO of Truphone. “And in these days of financial belt-tightening, businesses are looking at every means of cutting costs, which is an opportunity for us. Truphone is a genuine alternative carrier for international calls, with the potential to reduce annual mobile bills for the largest companies by many millions of dollars,” continued Wilson.

Aaron Simpson is the BlackBerry-using chief executive of Quintessentially, a private members' club that provides a 24-hour global concierge service and is part of the world's leading luxury lifestyle group. He stated: “Quintessentially has offices all around the world and, as CEO, I’m in constant contact with all of them. I’ve been using Truphone on my Blackberry and its low call rates have enabled me to make those calls at a fraction of the cost of using my mobile provider.”

In technical terms, Truphone Anywhere works by connecting to a local Truphone server, which then connects the long-distance part of the call over the internet. Because most BlackBerry users are contract customers, the local connection to Truphone is, typically, free because it uses bundled minutes from the customer’s usual cellular service provider.

Truphone for BlackBerry smartphones is available to download for free from www.truphone.com/blackberry. Alternatively, Handango users may also download Truphone from www.handango.com. There are no monthly subscriptions or other charges.

Synchronica has announced Synchronica SimpleMail, a consumer push email (CPE) solution that, it says, brings mobile email to almost 100 percent of handsets in use today. Based on technology from the recent acquisition of former competitor AxisMobile and available immediately, Synchronica SimpleMail extends the addressable market for push email to even the most basic handsets, making it an ideal service for mobile operators in emerging markets.
Synchronica has already signed license agreements for the new technology with two mobile operators in emerging markets and has received an expansion order from a mobile operator in Russia / CIS for additional licenses.
Synchronica SimpleMail includes email-to-SMS and email-to-MMS gateways and a clientless solution for WAP / XHTML browser access. It also features the patented Optimizer transcoding gateway which reduces the size of pictures and allows a large variety of attachments, such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents to be displayed on feature phones that would otherwise be unable to support this functionality. Users can register for the service from their mobile handset rather than having to register via a PC - a key benefit in emerging markets where broadband connectivity is rare.
Carsten Brinkschulte, CEO of Synchronica, comments: "There are more than 3.5 billion mobile users and more than two billion mailboxes in use worldwide. Our mission is to bring mobile email to the mass market on the widest range of devices. Synchronica SimpleMail which is based on technology from our recent acquisition of AxisMobile extends our reach from smartphones and feature phones right down to even the most basic of handsets. This is a key proposition for emerging markets and has already brought us two new mobile operator customers, one in Africa and one in India."
Forecasts point to emerging markets as a breakthrough area for mass market mobile email. Informa predicts that there will be 4.81 billion mobile phone subscribers by 2012, with the next billion subscribers coming predominantly from emerging markets where PC and fixed-line penetration is low.