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Aircom has released details of a new module for its radio planning tool, ASSET. Called ASSET ACP, Aircom says it has in-built a range of optimisation algorithms, taken from its fully functioning ACP (Automatic Cell Planning)  tool, ADVANTAGE. The new ACP module enables operators to rapidly design antenna subsystem configuration and power settings.

Historically, says Aircom, ACP has remained a specialist art form, requiring laborious set-up by highly technical planning experts. Said to be simple to use, the ASSET ACP module can be used by all planners, amplifying the benefits throughout an operator, allowing expert resources free to concentrate their efforts in more challenging tasks. In less than 10 mouse clicks, users can begin start optimising network plans from within ASSET ACP, achieving typical improvements of around 10% in planning KPIs.

ASSET ACP has been designed to deliver automation with the minimum of manual effort. Using the familiar user interface as ASSET, ASSET ACP is said to be an easy way to add ACP capabilities, delivering 'outstanding' ROI at a low cost.

Containing simple definitions and automated preparation of planning data needed to run optimisations, using ASSET ACP eliminates the risk of data transfer errors and accelerates start times. Automation of these activities can result in improvements on manual designs by over 10% and can increase engineering efficiency by up to eight times. Analysis of results is fully integrated with ASSET, making reporting and analysis of results easy to interpret.

According to Aircom, using ASSET ACP as part of the plan design, one customer has been able to maximise the initial planned performance resulting in measured improvements of 6% in the live network. ASSET ACP can also reduce or eliminate the need for costly drive testing. Using ASSET ACP, a leading European tier one operator has realised measured improvements of over 8%, without the use of any drive test measurements. In the same customer, more than £300m additional revenue was forecasted over an ASSET ACP optimised 3000 site network.

ASSET ACP is ideally suited to maximising the efficiency of day to day radio network planning activities.  For more sophisticated and larger scale planning and optimisation activities, AIRCOM offers ADVANTAGE, our full, stand alone ACP tool that fulfils the most demanding radio plan optimisation requirements.

ASSET is part of Aircom's ENTEPRISE suite of planning and optimisation tools..

Moneybookers, one of Europe's largest online payment systems, and Clickatell, a provider of global mobile messaging solutions, have announced a partnership to offer mobile SMS alerts on transactions for over 5 million eWallet customers. Moneybookers customers can now receive text notifications directly to their cell phone anytime, anywhere, when purchases are completed, goods are mailed or money transfers are wired. This brings an advantage in terms of security, as customers always have an overview of the transfers on the account and can cancel unwanted transactions immediately.
 
"Our customers don't want to be chained to their offices and be required to stay in front of their PCs when transacting on the Internet", commented Nikolai Riesenkampff, Co-CEO of Moneybookers. "We see clear advantages of SMS for fast implementation and inherent ease of use for our customers.  Clickatell was able to immediately incorporate mobile options into our eWallet service and provides us the assurances that our customers will get the information they need when they need it - anywhere, anytime."
 
"Because of our experience with financial services organizations and established global reach, Clickatell is best positioned to deploy mobile money initiatives via text messaging," said Pieter de Villiers, CEO of Clickatell. "With leading brands having already deployed mobile payments, mobile money transfers, mobile banking, and foreign currency exchange solutions, Clickatell is fast emerging as a leader in this rapidly growing market."

DiBcom, a provider of Mobile TV solutions, has announced two new products, the DIB9090 and DIB8090 which both support very low power mobile TV reception of DVB-T and ISDB-T 13SEG signals respectively. The chips also support the reception of DVB-H and ISDB-T 1SEG.
 
Historically, numerous countries have deployed DVB-T and ISDB-T Full-SEG for non mobile applications such as Home Digital TVs and Set Top Boxes/Digital Converters. Since June 2008, mobile phones using DiBcom chipsets have offered DVB-T reception in several European countries. In Japan, where 1SEG ISDB-T has been deployed on mobile phones, more than 30 Million units have already been sold and handset manufacturers are also starting to look at implementing reception of Full-SEG ISDB-T. This will enable them to offer high definition TV on large screen mobile phones.
 
However, DVB-T and Full-SEG ISDB-T currently use high level modulation schemes to transmit high bit-rate TV signals (Standard or High-Definition TV) making reception difficult in mobile conditions. The strong channel variations, the Doppler effect related to mobility and the adjacent channels are indeed much stronger when receiving high modulation signals compared to low bit-rate QVGA-size TV signals transmitted by DVB-H or ISDB-T 1SEG. DiBcom released the first Mobile TV DVB-T receivers for the automotive industry back in 2002. Yet it took another six years to reduce power consumption, size, and the number of discrete components to significantly low levels without compromising the high level performance that made DiBcom a leading Mobile TV reference.
 
The new generation of components like the DIB9090 and the DIB8090, has revolutionised the Mobile TV market by offering the highest performance at the lowest possible power consumption in all functional modes (for DVB-T and Full-SEG ISDB-T in particular). These new generation components draw on the successful features of their predecessors in addition to their small footprint.  They therefore provide a very cost effective solution for DVB-T, DVB-H, Full-SEG and 1SEG ISDB-T Mobile TV reception on battery-powered devices. While others claim to provide low power solutions, their disappointing performance makes them unsuitable for DVB-T or Full-SEG ISDB-T reception. High linearity tuners as well as advanced signal processing algorithms implemented on smaller silicon geometries are vital for this performance vs. power trade-off.
 
"We are very pleased to see handsets implementing both DVB-T and DVB-H on the same platforms", says Yannick Levy, CEO of DiBcom. "DVB-T based Free-To-Air TV signals are broadcast in many countries today, thus making it very attractive for consumers to try out TV reception on handhelds. Once users are hooked, they will demand more content and better coverage. In this way, they are more likely to subscribe to DVB-H services and watch more content on 3G. Handset manufacturers now see a real opportunity to create higher volumes compared to the levels that DVB-H only devices can achieve. This new feature is therefore a very attractive one to differentiate their products."

A new analysis of the NFC mobile payments opportunity forecasts that 700m mobile subscribers globally will have phones equipped with NFC contactless technology by 2013. NFC will enable users to make payments with their mobile phones for relatively low value purchases (such as refreshments, tickets and food).  

In the second report in its Mobile Payment Markets series, Juniper Research found that there is a significant opportunity for NFC mobile payment services, chips, phones and supporting services as the market reaches its tipping point over the 2011 to 2013 period.

Report author Howard Wilcox said: "NFC is an exciting and versatile technology that has great potential to make many everyday tasks such as buying small value items as well as tickets much easier. In future, users will also be able to discover new services by holding their NFC phones next to smart posters and advertisements. The Oyster card in London and the recent O2 Wallet trial results confirm the promise of NFC."

Highlights from the report include:

  • Global mobile subscribers with NFC phones will reach 700m by 2013
  • The market is currently dominated by FeliCa-enabled phones on the networks of NTT DoCoMo, KDDI and SoftBank in Japan, where we estimate about 50m FeliCa-enabled phones have been shipped to date.
• North America, Western Europe and Far East & China will be the leading regions by 2013, with each region having annual shipments in excess of 25% of total NFC phone shipments.

 

The report cautions however that whilst the trial results so far have been encouraging, there are two important factors that will determine the speed of market traction in the next couple of years: the availability of NFC phones; and the speed of installation of NFC readers by merchants. The NFC ecosystem needs to deliver: it needs to ensure that the ever growing number of trials around the globe is translated into full service offerings. 

The report provides six year regional forecasts of NFC mobile payments for physical goods and services, providing data on device shipments, subscriber take-up, transaction sizes and volumes as well as detailed case studies from companies pioneering in this market.

The European Union's Telecoms package will give consumers new rights and powers in the modern age of telecommunications, and it will not act as a new copyright enforcement law as some people have inaccurately purported, Malcolm Harbour MEP, Conservative spokesman on telecoms in the European Parliament, said today.
 
The Telecoms package updates 2002 regulations to take account of new technological advancements such as internet-enabled handsets. It will make it easier for consumers to shift contracts to other providers, and gives regulators new powers to intervene to prevent anti-competitive blocking by service providers.
 
The main highlights of the proposals from the Internal Market committee are:

- Where handsets or other terminal equipment are included free, (or at a subsidised price) consumers must be informed about the cost of terminating the agreement early.

- Enhancing the availability of transparent pricing information, and enabling independent companies to use the data for consumer information.

- Operators must inform users, before contracts are concluded, about any restrictions on access to services (such as Skype).

- Making it easier to switch service providers by quicker transfer of an existing number, within a maximum of one working day. 

- Contract lengths will be a maximum of 24 months to avoid consumers being locked into long contracts.

- Disabled users will enjoy equivalent access to communications and special terminal equipment.

Mr Harbour said:
 
"This package is very good news for the consumer, who will have more information and choice, and better service quality.
 
"Unfortunately, the real benefits of this package risk being undermined  by alarmist scaremongering that it will cause certain websites to be blocked, and consumers prosecuted for copyright abuse.
 
"This is not, and has never been, the intention of this proposal.
 
"The directive adopts a light touch to regulation, so that innovation in the telecoms sector can continue to develop according to consumers' demands."

NVIDIA and Opera Software are collaborating to bring the full desktop Web-browsing experience, including support for JavaScript, accelerated vector, and video content, to smartphones and mobile Internet devices. As a result, NVIDIA will offer an optimized Opera 9.5 browser in its suite of pre-integrated, in-house and third-party software for the NVIDIA Tegra family of computer-on-chip Windows Mobile and Windows CE solutions.

"Seamless, effortless Internet access is critical to any state-of-the-art connected mobile device, and the combination of Opera 9.5 and NVIDIA Tegra will deliver the full Web experience into the palm of your hand," said Neil Trevett, vice president of mobile content at NVIDIA. "Opera and NVIDIA are cooperating to create a powerful browsing experience that will truly make the Internet an integral part of the advanced Tegra mobile visual computing experience."

"Full Web browsing is a key feature for mobile phones and mobile Internet devices today. End users are demanding a mobile-browsing experience that mirrors that of their home and work computers," says Jon von Tetzchner, CEO of Opera Software. "Opera 9.5 combined with NVIDIA Tegra will deliver a powerful and visual browsing experience for the next generation of smartphones and mobile Internet devices."

The Tegra family of computer-on-chip solutions integrates high-performance ARM CPUs, extensive media acceleration and integrated GeForce® GPUs that enable Opera 9.5 to provide mobile users a compelling browsing experience with the following features:

Support for full desktop Web content with hardware-accelerated rich media, image and in-page video playback; GPU acceleration delivering a smooth, highly-interactive panning and zooming browsing experience with significantly-reduced battery consumption; Hardware-accelerated 3D touch browsing experience with Opera integration into NVIDIA's OpenKODE-based composition framework using the power of OpenGL ES 2.0.

Devices with the Opera browser powered by NVIDIA Tegra hardware are expected to be available to consumers in 2009.

Visto, a provider of secure and easy-to-use push mobile email, has today announced Visto Mobile 6, a suite of offerings for mobile phones designed to enable end users to connect with friends, family and colleagues in real time in any number of ways including email, social networking, SMS, IM and photo sharing.

"Social networking is fast becoming a powerful communications medium for the consumer, prosumer and business markets, but enterprise and SMB organizations have not had a reasonable mobile solution that addresses both professional and personal needs," said J. Gerry Purdy, Ph.D., VP & Chief Analyst, Mobile & Wireless at Frost & Sullivan.  "The social networking capabilities of Visto Mobile 6, coupled with access to email services give users an excellent example of the integrated mobile access and social networking services they need."

Featuring a "living address book," VISTO Mobile 6 offers end users expanded push mobile email and mobile social networking capabilities. This living address book combines favorite contacts from multiple sources, including social networks, into a seamless user interface.  Visto Mobile 6 utilizes Visto's patented push and synchronization technology to keep users constantly up to date in real time on their messaging and social networking activities.

In addition, Visto Mobile 6 provides end users the ability to filter updates from their list of contacts; meaning each user has the control to see only the updates they truly care about.  This eliminates the clutter of unnecessary updates and requests.

Visto Mobile 6 email includes Visto Mobile Exchange Direct Access (EDA) which provides full synchronization of email, contacts and calendar entries with Microsoft Exchange. Further, Visto Mobile EDA uses Outlook Web Access (OWA) interface which requires no software behind the corporate firewall and is easy to set up. With Visto EDA, enterprise users, small business users and prosumers who buy their own mobile services can quickly set up secure Exchange access for a seamless user experience.

"As the capabilities and volumes of smartphones and mid-range mobile phones continue to increase and bundled data plans become the norm, individuals are looking to their mobile device and their mobile operator to provide more functionality and value, including timely and secure delivery of mission critical messaging, applications and content.  In parallel, service providers and operators are looking to bring more value to their customers further up the value chain, independent of RIM, Microsoft, Nokia, Apple and others, while providing a consistent user experience across those and other device platform and operating systems, " said Brian Bogosian, CEO of Visto. "Visto Mobile 6 is uniquely positioned to meet these needs."

For end users, Visto Mobile 6 is said to provide a seamless, easy-to-use solution that enables them to stay connected with the people they care about in the way they choose. For mobile operators, it is claimed to provide significant opportunities for customer and revenue (ARPU) growth, not only because of its low total cost of ownership and fast time-to-market delivery, but because it enables the operator to harness the power of mobile communications including social networking and email, to provide their customers with exciting new services.

According to a recent study conducted by the Broadcast Mobile Convergence Forum (bmcoforum), the analysis of practices, as well as country-by-country experience in licensing and regulating mobile TV, highlighted a range of positive solutions. Countries who are about to decide on a particular regulatory framework and business model can pick and choose from these solutions to create their own regulatory framework, says the study.

The bmcoforum report is said to show the effect of regulatory frameworks on the efficiency of commercial launches, in a context where regulatory frameworks for mobile TV across Europe differ considerably. It intends to help the setting of regulatory frameworks for Mobile TV where it has yet to be defined.

According to the bmcoforum findings, all potential players of the mobile broadcast value chain - including broadcast and mobile network operators, mobile service providers, public and commercial, free-to-air and pay-TV broadcasters as well as potential distributors - should be incorporated during the consultation process to enable a wide range of business models.

Consequently any chosen business model should allow for flexible and open partnerships among the different players and promote partnership opportunities without blocking each other.

As done in Austria, the regulator may wish to help to overcome cooperation barriers and so support a faster value chain set-up by asking during the tender process for proposals from complete industrial consortia, which have already established in principle an agreed value chain. However, after license granting the winning consortium should be open to add other players on fair and reasonable terms.
The chosen network approach depends on the available frequency spectra and DTT licensing frameworks. Service competition should be supported either by prescription of a wholesale / shared network approach to enable a set of distributors or by having several networks available together with limited upfront regulatory limitations. bmcoforum supports an approach where a considerable part of the capacity is left for the licensee to meet the market needs of the distributors and users. After the market start it should be in the interest of the cooperation partners to agree on the best content portfolio.

"Regulatory frameworks for mobile TV across Europe vary immensely. With this study the bmcoforum aims to provide guidance for a coherent framework for authorisation regimes across the EU by identifying best practices and promote their adoption", said Prof. Dr. Claus Sattler, Executive Director of bmcoforum.
 
Copies of the full report can be found at www.bmcoforum.org

SITA today announced that it is entering the professional mobile radio market after signing a deal with Germany's third largest airport, Düsseldorf, to deploy a new radio network for 1,200 users in a ten-year $7.8 million deal.

The deal marks a further strengthening of cooperation between SITA and Düsseldorf following a CUTE check-in renewal earlier this year for almost 350 workstations. Although SITA is involved in an outsourcing joint venture for IT at Düsseldorf, the selection of suppliers is totally independent from SITA.

Thomas Schnalke, Managing Director of Düsseldorf Airport, said: "SITA's Professional Mobile Radio is the best private mobile voice solution for airports currently on the market.  The capacity of SITA to offer an integrated and managed service suits our needs perfectly, as do the enhanced security and safety features of the system."

Explaining why SITA has entered this market, Ilya Gutlin, SITA Regional Vice President, said: "Most airports still have legacy systems with basic speech functionality. SITA has developed a Professional Mobile Radio solution based on IP technology, combined with Java-enabled hand-portables.

"The system allows the creation and deployment of air transport specific applications like flight-oriented dialling, the provision of emergency calls from airport mass transport links, flight information queries from airport databases or FIDS (flight information display systems), and many other features that enhance operations at airports. SITA's exclusive focus on air transport and our knowledge and experience of the mission critical applications at airports makes us uniquely qualified to support this."

Full deployment of the system will take several months and will provide the Professional Mobile Radio service to more than 1,200 users.

Some other key benefits include integrity of the radio coverage by constantly checking the radio-links; protection against eavesdropping due to the "signal coding"; and scheduled or ad hoc security programmes and instructions that can be transmitted quickly and efficiently. The RFID-based Guard Control System, which will be used at Düsseldorf, is an application which requires security guards to "swipe" an RFID tag on pre-defined patrol routes using the hand portable. It ensures that guards are following their routes as a supervisor is alerted if any deviations are made.

SITA's Professional Mobile Radio solution can also be integrated with the existing Airport PBX or with SITA Voice Exchange for off-net calling.

Flight-oriented dialling enables the set-up of a temporary group based around the flight number which allows rapid and dynamic communications to all members. This feature contributes to reduction of the turnaround time of an aircraft. 

O2 customers in the Glasgow Subway will soon be the first in the UK to use their mobile phones underground as part of a new deal which will see O2 as the first mobile phone operator in the UK to utilise the multi-user distributed antenna system which enables mobile phones to work underground.

The contract, negotiated with transmission provider Arqiva and Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT), will see O2 services installed in five of Glasgow's busiest Subway stations - Buchanan Street, St Enoch, Kelvinbridge, Hillhead and Partick. The installation will go ‘live' in December 2008 and could potentially provide a benchmark for rollout in other underground stations such as London, in future.

Although initially limited to platforms and station concourses in the Glasgow Subway, the technology installed by Arqiva could eventually be used to provide coverage around the rest of the SPT underground network.

When the service launches, O2 customers will be able to use 2G services including making voice calls and sending text messages as well as 3G services such as video, internet access, downloading and MMS.

Derek McManus, O2 Chief Technology Officer, said: "This new technology will enable customers to make calls, send and receive text messages and access a host of data services while on the subway platform. This is the first time that any mobile phone network in the UK has implemented a service like this and O2 is delighted to be giving its customers the first chance to communicate on the underground.

"Ultimately, this is about providing O2 customers with the best customer experience and if this means that they can continue conversations on underground platforms or can text friends to say that they'll be arriving in five minutes, then we've successfully provided a better service."

Gordon Maclennan, Assistant Chief Executive (Operations) of Strathclyde Partnership for Transport said it was great news: "This has been sometime in the planning but I'm delighted that we can offer this service to our passengers in time for Christmas. It's a first for Glasgow and it opens the door for wider WiFi coverage in the Underground in future. Accessibility and connectivity are key parts of our continuous Subway modernisation programme."

McManus added: "We were delighted when Glasgow won the right to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games and this further investment in mobile technology will further enhance the city's reputation as a leader in technology and communication."

Andy Norris, Arqiva's Customer Delivery Director for Wireless Access said: "Wireless access is increasingly expected in public areas and this is an important development for the citizens of Glasgow. Wireless networks bring benefits to all stakeholders and this is particularly recognised by progressive cities like Glasgow. The infrastructure provided at these stations will support many new services and opportunities."

RAD Data Communications has announced that it has successfully concluded full interoperability testing with Symmetricom for synchronizing Next Generation Networks (NGNs), ensuring precise synchronization between UMTS Base Transceiver Stations (Node Bs) and the Radio Network Controller (RNC).

Recognizing that communications systems, especially infrastructure designed for cellular backhaul, as well as Triple Play services, require exact synchronization to be backhauled over Ethernet and IP packet-switched networks, Symmetricom developed a portfolio of Grand Master Clock solutions to support IEEE 1588V2 to ensure the highest possible level of synchronization over the NGN. RAD's soon-to-be-released ACE-3220 cell site gateway will lock onto the Grand Master Clock to synchronize the system.

The global market for synchronizing communications networks over IP protocol is expected to burgeon as packet-based transport networks replace traditional TDM technology in the backhaul. A number of companies and telecommunications operators around the world are already evaluating the products.

New research commissioned by Velti, a specialist in mobile marketing technology and services, revealed that 79% of UK consumers believe the growth of mobile advertising is inevitable. The survey, which polled more than 1,600 UK mobile phone users about their usage habits, showed that the majority of Britons are starting to accept that mobile marketing and advertising will continue to increase in popularity, but also laid down a clear message for any marketers hoping to make use of the medium: 'we want something in return'.

The results of the study showed that, whilst 80% of UK adults surveyed initially said they did not wish to receive advertising on their mobile phones, 56% of all respondents agreed that they would support mobile marketing and advertising campaigns if it was on an opt-in basis and in exchange for incentives or rewards, ranging from cash, free minutes or relevant special offers from brands.

"This research clearly shows that although consumers expect mobile marketing and advertising to grow in popularity, brands using the medium to communicate with target groups will need to offer consumers added value to be successful," comments Alex Moukas, co-founder and CEO of Velti. "Learning how to incentivise and reward participants is key; consumers understand their value in the chain, so campaigns that fail to offer anything relevant or beneficial will, at best, be treated indifferently and at worst, create negative associations with the brand."

According to the research, cash is king with 50% of respondents admitting that hard currency is the key to securing their buy-in. Next on the consumers' incentive wish list were free minutes, free texts or data, with 40% of respondents citing them as an attractive reward for receiving advertising or marketing messages. Finally, 22% of respondents viewed location based services, such as local restaurant reviews, as a worthy exchange for mobile marketing communications.

Despite nearly 60% of all respondents agreeing that incentivised marketing and advertising campaigns were attractive, 55% of mobile users over 45 were determined nothing would encourage them to engage with mobile marketing. This was in contrast to only 29% of under 24's opposing the use of mobile as a commercial channel.

Chris Kaskavelis, Velti's COO and co-founder, added: "It's understandable that financial rewards such as cash and free minutes are attractive propositions for consumers, but the reality is that great value is also derived from timely and relevant communications. If you receive information that fits with the context of your personal environment, such as location based services, or community oriented communications, it can be just as rewarding. It's true that this can be the case with other marketing and advertising channels, but mobile offers much more direct, round-the-clock access to consumers than all other options. Advertising and marketing on mobile is going to be about 'consumer intent' rather than the number of screen impressions."

Mark Fallows, Director of Digital Content, McCann Erickson, comments:
"Mobile advertising and marketing has opened up a channel for brands looking to engage their consumers in a more contextually relevant manner. It's exciting as it forces agencies and clients to be very precise in the value we offer in exchange for consumers' interaction. The fact that consumers are becoming increasingly open to mobile as an advertising and marketing medium is an encouraging and timely development. This has become evident during recent mobile campaigns for our clients' where results generally exceed expectations."

Velti and Ansible, Velti's mobile marketing agency, recently completed a campaign with Johnson & Johnson (J&J) which engaged with pregnant women by asking them to text their due date to a shortcode. This allowed J&J to send the mothers-to-be only the most valuable information and offers corresponding to the exact stage of their pregnancy. The campaign also allowed mothers-to-be to join a mobile community contributing to a support network for pregnant women in their area. The campaign is said to have achieved great success with an impressive 94% retention rate over six months, with the expectant mums opting back in on a monthly basis.

Vodafone Group has announced a number of changes to its organisational structure and new senior management appointments.
 
With effect from 1st October Michel Combes will join Vodafone as CEO, Europe Region. In this role he will be responsible for all markets currently part of the Europe Region, together with Global Marketing and Global Technology and Vodafone Business Services.  He will also join the Executive Committee.
 
For the last two years Combes has been Chairman and CEO of TDF Group, the private equity backed French  operator of shared facilities and terrestrial networks in Europe. He previously spent a number of years with France Telecom in senior management positions. Having begun his career in the External Networks division, he ultimately became Senior Executive Vice President, in charge of NExT Financial Balance & Value Creation and member of the France Telecom Group Strategic Committee.  Throughout his career he has been involved in transformational projects combining both growth and operational efficiency improvements.
 
Commenting on the appointment, Group Chief Executive, Vittorio Colao, said "I am pleased that we have recruited someone of Michel's talents and expertise.  I am confident that he will bring significant experience to Vodafone, given his impressive telecoms and entrepreneurial background".
 
Vodafone Group also announces that the EMAPA region will be reorganised into two regions with effect from 1 January 2009: Central Europe/Africa Region; and Asia-Pacific Region
 
The two regional CEOs will join the Executive Committee and these appointments have yet to be announced.
 
In addition, Vodafone's investment in Verizon Wireless will not be part of any operating region and in light of its financial and strategic importance will be managed directly at a senior level by Vittorio Colao, Andy Halford and Terry Kramer.

With immediate effect Terry Kramer will become the Group Strategy and Business Improvement Director.  In this role he will be responsible for strategy development, for the initiatives aimed at productivity and efficiency gains across the Group and, the governance and coordination of the relationship with Verizon Wireless.  Terry Kramer will also continue in his current role as Group HR Director whilst the company conducts a search for his successor in the role.
 
Vodafone Group also announces that Paul Donovan, CEO EMAPA region has decided to leave Vodafone at the end of this year. He will continue in his current position until 1 January 2009.
 
Commenting on his departure Group Chief Executive, Vittorio Colao, said "I want to extend my thanks and appreciation for all that Paul has done for our business and in particular his role in expanding our emerging markets portfolio. We wish him well in the future."

Orange has announced the launch of the world's first 3G unlicensed mobile access (UMA) platform, opening up a new world of multimedia services to its Unik customers.  Launching first with two exclusive Orange handsets from Samsung and Sony Ericsson, UMA and 3G network technology will be combined in one device for the very first time, says the company.

Orange's UMA service (Unik) allows customers to use a single handset to make calls by seamlessly switching from fixed WiFi to mobile cellular networks as they leave or enter their home or office. For the first time Orange will bring together 3G and UMA technology in a move, it claims, that will see customers experience richer content services and faster data speeds on Orange's 3G and WiFi networks more cost-effectively.

"With the launch of the world's first 3G UMA service we are making life as simple as possible for our customers, whilst helping them get more from their mobile phone," says Georges Penalver EVP of Group Strategic Marketing at Orange. "Orange was one of the first to bring the benefits of UMA technology to our customers in 2006 with the launch of our Unik service. Today, with our new 3G UMA platform, our Unik customers will be able to take advantage of 3G's capabilities delivering exciting multimedia services, such as Orange Music, Downloads, TV and Video. We have increased the benefits of this innovative technology, delivering a simple and cost-effective solution to meet our customers' needs. That's why UMA is at the heart of our convergence strategy."

The first 3G UMA handset to launch will be the Samsung P270. This will be followed by the launch of the Sony Ericsson G705u - the company's first UMA handset.  By combining the best capabilities of fixed and mobile, Orange's customers can enjoy continuous access to news, information and rich entertainment applications from a single device.

John Delaney, a Research Director with industry analyst IDC, said: "The introduction of WiFi into high-end mobile phones has been very successful. Users of such phones are taking advantage of WiFi to stream and download multimedia to their phones more quickly and more cheaply than they can over cellular. This usage trend can be supported effectively by making the experience seamless, removing the need for users to think about and switch manually between different access points and network domains."

Orange's 3G UMA service will initially be available in France in October followed by Poland, Spain and the UK. Orange's existing Unik service is currently available to customers in France, Poland (Unifon), UK (Unique) and Spain (Unico).