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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.

Although proponents of mobile WiMAX are positioning it as the best choice for a next generation network technology, IMS Research has said it believes that it will struggle to gain traction with operators, and will ultimately remain a niche mobile technology.  

Many in the WiMAX community however are quick to emphasize the time-to-market advantage that 802.16e has over LTE, says IMS.  While it is true that mobile WiMAX networks already have subscribers logging on to 802.16e networks around the world, and LTE networks are still at least three years away from commercial deployment, this time-to-market advantage will not tip the scales in favour of mobile WiMAX.  Network operators are just now beginning to see a return on their 3G investments as increasing numbers of consumers take advantage of mobile data plans, it says. 

IMS says that the fact that LTE won't be ready for another two to three years may actually turn out to be an advantage for LTE as the timeframe will allow mobile operators to get as much life as possible out of their existing 3G networks. Incremental upgrades to enhanced 3G technologies such as HSPA+ and EV-DO Rev B will allow for almost the same data rates as the initial LTE deployments. This will effectively set the stage for large scale LTE commercial rollouts in 3-4 years. 

While it is certain is that, while both standards will achieve some level of success, the road to mass adoption for mobile WiMAX will certainly be more challenging than that of LTE. This is further evidenced by the fact that the 3GPP has already tabbed LTE as the 4G standard for the GSM evolution path and the fact that the majority of cellular networks around the world are GSM does not bode well for mobile WiMAX supporters. This lack of wide-spread adoption will leave little incentive for mobile device manufacturers to develop products that support mobile WiMAX applications, says IMS. 

According to IMS Research Analyst Bob Perez, "The truth is that WiMAX is a very robust technology that has been quite successful in many parts of the world as a fixed broadband solution and will continue to do so, especially in underserved markets."  He continued by saying that, "although mobile WiMAX networks are already going live thanks to Sprint/Clearwire and Korea Telecom the prospect of additional mobile WiMAX networks from Tier 1 operators are looking pretty grim." 

The market for both fixed and mobile WiMAX is examined in detail in the new IMS Research report, "The Worldwide Market for WiMAX & Competing Products - 2008 Edition".

All five emerging markets saw double digit growth in 2007 due in large part to continued strong uptake of mobile services, says a new report published by OSS Observer, a global telecoms software analyst house and part of global telecoms adviser Analysys Mason. 

The report - CSP Strategies Market Review - details how Africa, Middle East, Eastern Europe, Emerging Asia-Pacific and Central/Latin America all had 20% or more growth in mobile revenues, in sharp contrast to mature markets in North America, Western Europe and Developed Asia-Pacific, where only North America had more than 10% growth.

The global market for telecom services is dominated by large incumbent CSPs in mature markets. However, the growth rates varied widely among the leaders, with those with significant presence in emerging markets, like Telefonica, having much stronger growth at 7% than did those, like NTT with a 1% decline, which derive most of their revenues in mature home markets.

"While revenues in mature markets continue to make up the bulk of global revenues, emerging markets are seeing faster growth rates, and are increasingly important to the large tier-1 CSPs," says the report author, Roz Roseboro, Senior Analyst at OSS Observer. Certainly investments are still being made in mature markets, especially for mobile data, but the growth potential in emerging markets is too great to ignore, as CSPs struggle to increase top line revenue."

Key findings from the new report include:

  • Total global revenues were $1.8 trillion in 2007, and are forecast to grow at 5% CAGR to $2.3 trillion by 2012.
  • Mobile data, helped by increases in mobile content, will grow from 19% of mobile revenues in 2007 to 32% in 2012--which translates to nearly $370 billion.
  • North America, which lags its peers in deploying higher-speed mobile networks, will grow twice as fast as other mature markets, at 5% CAGR from 2007-2012Globally, all CSPs will be focused on reducing opex, with those in mature markets seeking to maintain margins in an atmosphere of slow growth, while those in emerging markets seeking to be profitable in markets with severe pricing pressure

Neomobile, the Italian player in the mobile entertainment D2C Sector, and Spain's Arena Mobile, the global B2B mobile content provider, have announced the signing of an agreement that will lead to the creation of the Neomobile Group.

Operating in the market since 2004, Neomobile is said to have achieved a prominent role in the Italian market. The experience gained in Italy, considered to be one of the most advanced and competitive mobile entertainment markets, has allowed Neomobile to successfully set-up operations at international level in Turkey, Spain, and this year in Brazil. Neomobile markets directly to consumers (D2C) a wide variety of content and services. It is claimed that, in 2007 alone, more than 2.5 million unique users downloaded Neomobile digital contents.

Commenting on the transaction, Gianluca D'Agostino, CEO of Neomobile, said:  "This deal represents a key milestone in Neomobile's global growth strategy allowing us to accelerate our penetration in high potential markets, especially in Latin America and Asia Pacific regions and to bring a new B2B offering in those markets in which we have gained great expertise, such as Italy and Turkey. Arena Mobile has in the past proved to be an invaluable partner to Neomobile, and through this acquisition we look forward to establishing a tighter relationship between our complementary offerings and operations. I am confident that the synergies between the two companies will prove instrumental to further growth, allowing us to garner together the best business opportunities in the global scenario."

Josep Anton Aliagas, CEO of Arena Mobile, added: "Neomobile is the partner we have been looking for to strengthen our business model and service offerings. We bring to the table a solid reputation and proven success story, having been a pioneer of the Mobile Entertainment Industry since 2000, edging technology and content, and serving global customers.  Arena Mobile will be able to leverage Neomobile's exposure in the global B2C market and contribute to improving its offering to operators.  I have no doubt that this important move will benefit all parties involved and drive value generation. Current shareholders including myself will remain with the new Group, and are confident that this operation will add much value and contribute to the Neomobile Group becoming one of the leaders in the global mobile entertainment market in years to come."

Blyk, the free mobile network for 16-24 year olds funded by advertising, has chosen Nokia Siemens Networks to host its core network as it expands into the Netherlands and Belgium. Prepaid charging, messaging systems and device management will also be hosted for those two countries. .
 
Blyk runs an advertising funded mobile service aimed at young people. It provides free text messages and calls to young subscribers funded by advertisements delivered directly to their phones. Blyk started its service in the United Kingdom in mid 2007.
 
The centrally hosted solution provided by Nokia Siemens Networks will help Blyk to expand its service simultaneously to the Netherlands and Belgium quickly and cost-effectively. Recently in September, Blyk announced having doubled its member base in the UK to 200 000 from last autumn.
 
"At Blyk we want to be pioneers in this industry. The company's strength lays in its innovative idea and business model. The telecommunications industry, however, is incredibly competitive and leadership in the youth segment requires continuous business and service innovation," said Blyk's CEO and co-founder Pekka Ala-Pietilä. "Our collaboration with Nokia Siemens Networks provides us with the opportunity to focus on our core business, with the confidence that the service operations are in good hands."  
 
Under the two turnkey service deals, Nokia Siemens Networks will provide the infrastructure, prepaid charging and messaging systems, software and operations to Blyk as a fully managed, hosted service to Belgium and the Netherlands. The hosting service is delivered remotely from the Nokia Siemens Networks hosting center in Vienna.
 
"This agreement further reinforces collaboration between Nokia Siemens Networks and Blyk, a true innovator in the mobile industry," said Patrik Sallner, Global Head of Hosting Services, Nokia Siemens Networks. "With these agreements, Nokia Siemens Networks will demonstrate the benefits of its shareable multi-country mobile virtual network operator platform. The centrally hosted model allows the companies to quickly and cost-effectively deploy services across multiple countries without the need for significant numbers of local staff or investments," he added.