Celltick Technologies, a specialist in active mobile marketing solutions, has today announced it has won a contract worth over $5.7m with MTS Ukraine. The agreement will bring interactive cell broadcasting to MTS's subscriber base of 19.8m and enable it to drive take up of value added services such as information and entertainment services.
 
"This is a very exciting opportunity for Celltick," comments Stephen Dunford, CEO Celltick. "This gives us entry into one of the largest operators in the world and is the first venture of many that we hope to generate through our strategic partnerships in this rapidly developing and high growth region."
 
Celltick will be working on the deployment in conjunction with SITRONICS Telecom Solutions, a leading provider of telecommunications IT and microelectronic solutions in Russia and the CIS.
 
MTS is the largest operator of cellular communication in Russia and CIS countries. It is the leading operator in Ukraine with over 4,500 base stations but its licence portfolio also includes the majority of regions of Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Combined with the population living within an operative range of its network, MTS has a potential customer base of 230 million people making it one of the largest operators in the world. MTS will be using Celltick's premium LiveScreen Media products in order to help drive take up of value added services and promote mobile advertising opportunities.
 
Celltick's LiveScreen Media platform broadcasts targeted marketing messages across the idle screen of mobile phones, turning the handsets into a series of personal interactive billboards.

3 UK has launched the first ad supported, commercial mobile music video service in conjunction with Sony BMG Music Entertainment(UK). The service, provided by Rhythm NewMedia, is available to all 3 UK customers and is accessed through 3's music homepage.

The new Sony BMG video collection is the latest addition to 3's existing free mobile video service, and is offered to customers with no data charges and is supported by short, targeted video ads. Rhythm NewMedia both sells and delivers a targeted and personalized video ad before the music video based on demographic data collected. The new service is said to complement the existing 3MusicStore, and will also offer links to purchase products.

"We are excited to be offering this first-of-a-kind service to all 3 UK customers. Rhythm NewMedia is a leading force in ad-funded mobile video entertainment, and it is a key part of our mobile strategy to make our artists' music videos more widely available on the mobile platform," said Alex Vlassopulos, Head of Business Development, SONY BMG Music Entertainment(UK).

3 UK Head of on Portal Advertising, Neil Andrews said "We know that our customers want to receive high-quality content on their mobiles and that they're happy to view ads in order to receive it.  This agreement with SONY BMG and Rhythm NewMedia enables us to meet that demand with some of the best music content around.  We were the first to market with an ad-supported mobile video service and now we're building on that with the industry's first mobile music service."

Rhythm Director of Commercial Partnerships, Mike Fletcher said "We're happy to have more great videos to showcase and are excited about the success we've already had to date providing videos to 3 UK customers. It's great that customers have been expressing such high satisfaction with our service, and are happy to watch content which is supported by short video ads."

MYiOTA today announced the availability of its SDK  enabling media companies and content developers to create their own mobile services, quickly and for free. Critically, once developed, MYiOTA will add the service to its existing portfolio of services and make it available to the 100,000 users who have downloaded MYiOTA since its launch last summer.
 
The MYiOTA SDK will appeal to media companies and mobile application developers who  either want to break into mobile or are already residing within the Nokia Forum, Google Gadgets, Nokia MOSH, Widsets and broader Java communities.
 
MYiOTA has been built from the ground up to ensure that content can be adapted quickly and efficiently to mobiles. MYiOTA supports numerous languages (currently available in 107 countries) and is very ‘light’ and efficient on the majority of the world’s handsets.
 
Bruce Eley, CEO, iOTA Sphere, said: “MYiOTA has proved that when you give a mobile consumer access to quick and easily discoverable content, that they consume it and keep coming back for more! With the launch of our SDK we broaden the content we can offer to our 100k plus customer base which in turn fuels the uptake. For media players and mobile developers the SDK is clear and easy-to-use, making content adaptation to the MYiOTA service a real opportunity for anyone wanting to mobilize content to a hungry audience.”
 
MYiOTA addresses the pain points that many mobile consumers experience when trying to find information using their mobile, namely ease of finding information and speed. Technology developed by MYiOTA enables consumers to receive information from websites, WAP, RSS, SMS services, or blogs - in fact any service that is available on the World Wide Web or by SMS - in just a couple of clicks.
 
In addition to finding and consuming content, MYiOTA also allows users to post comments, interact, collate information, and blog all from a SMS style interface.
 
To get up and running on the free MYiOTA service simply type: wap.myiota.co.uk/world into your mobile browser .

Following the recent signing of an agreement with Telefónica that enables the company to offer services as Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO), fonYou has opened up negotiations with potential Spanish and international investors to finance its launch plans. fonYou will start to operate in Spain in 2008 and expand to other European and Latin American markets from 2009 onwards.
fonYou’s service offering will change the way customers use their mobile phones because it integrates innovative, web-based services with traditional mobile telephony. This new business concept made it possible to reach an MVNO agreement with Telefónica, the leading Spanish telecom operator whose mobile network is perceived to be the best in terms of both coverage as well as quality.
“Considering that fonYou’s international expansion is a key element of our strategy, we are even more pleased to have reached an agreement with Telefónica, one of the leading global telecom players and has an important international presence,” says Fernando Núñez Mendoza, CEO  and one of the founders of fonYou.
Through the integration with web-based services fonYou will make the use of its mobile telephony services more convenient and also give more control to its customers. fonYou’s main target segment are internet users. 45% of Spanish households have internet access and there are more than 8 million broadband connections. Around 22 million people in Spain access the internet on a regular basis.
fonYou will operate and control its own core network infrastructure which is why the company will be able to develop and introduce innovative services that do not yet exist in the market. The idea behind these new services is that the customers and not the operator will be in charge by giving the customers complete control over the set-up (including cancellation) of their services. Last but not least, fonYou will take special care to ensure that its customer service is always proactive and of the highest quality.

A new study from ABI Research forecasts worldwide deployment revenues from in-building wireless systems to grow from $3.8 billion in 2007 to more than $15 billion in 2013. Drivers for this tremendous growth include consumers’ growing dependence on wireless voice and messaging communications, as well as an increasingly competitive mobile operator environment. But underlying all demand drivers is a fundamental connectivity issue.

According to principal analyst Dan Shey, “The higher frequencies used by 3G technologies impose limits on wireless coverage inside buildings based on current cell site distributions. The business case is made for deployment of in-building wireless systems because mobile data services are capturing a greater share of subscribers’ mobile services spend.”

But every region and operator has a different set of network technologies, competitive conditions and mobile usage. Fortunately for the owners of in-building systems, which include businesses, operators and building owners, a range of solutions make in-building wireless systems economically viable. System configurations can include passive and active distributed antenna systems, multi-band repeaters and antennas, picocells, femtocells, coax, fiber and CAT-5 cabling.

The range of systems and solutions, however, creates a very complex and competitive supplier environment where product development, pricing and even consolidation will be the important levers for suppliers to maintain growth rates in line with system deployment growth.

In-building wireless systems will also create the network conditions for additional service capabilities including public safety band coverage, alternative broadband and voice network access, and managed services. Says Shey, “In-building wireless networks will become more than simply an extension of the cellular macro network. They will become the basis for delivery of a range of business services that will ultimately change how wireless telecommunications are provided indoors.”

Sky Link Ekaterinburg, a trademark of Uralwestcom JSC, is providing mobile broadband for users in the Ural region of Russia using Nortel´s CDMA 1xEV-DO Rev A solution. Sky Link Ekaterinburg can offer mobile broadband coverage to its expanding customer base with a range of applications that include high-speed Internet and broadband business services and video surveilance. Consumers will benefit from faster web browsing including video and two-way file transfer. Businesses can use VPN services for corporate data access and multimedia communications on the go.

  "Nortel´s 1xEV-DO Rev A solution will enable us to meet growing customer demand for a wide range of broadband real-time wireless services, especially bandwidth-hungry services such as video surveillance and video conferencing," said Valery Molchanov, general director, Sky Link Ekaterinburg, Uralwestcom. "The current project continues our successful cooperation over the past five years with Nortel, whose experience and expertise in mobile technologies have enabled Sky Link Ekaterinburg to take a leading market position with best-in-class broadband coverage and services."

 The new CDMA EV-DO Rev A network will support significantly improved speeds of up to 3.1 Mbps for downloading to compatible devices and transmitting of 1.8 Mbps, compared to pre-network upgrade speeds of 2.4 Mbps and 153 Kbps, respectively. These improved capabilities will enable higher speeds for wireless Internet, a wider range of applications and more features for already existing services.

 "Sky Link Ekaterinburg, by utilizing Nortel solutions, has already brought an affordable and powerful mobile broadband experience to the citizens of Ekaterinburg, the major city of the Sverdlovsk region. This new solution from the Canadian vendor, based on 3G Mobile broadband EV-DO Rev A technologies, will now further enhance and extend the true broadband experience to provide always-on, seamless connections to business users and consumers of Sky Link Ekaterinburg across the Ural region," said Mr. Stan Cramton, president and CEO, RTDC.

 "CDMA EV-DO Rev A is gaining momentum across Russia and Eastern Europe as operators migrate to faster, more advanced and cost-effective mobile technologies," said Sorin Lupu, president Eastern Europe, Nortel. "EV-DO Rev A technology is a key enabler of today´s era of Hyperconnectivity, where more and more people and applications want to be connected to the network with a variety of devices. UWC as well other CDMA Rev A customers are very well positioned to leapfrog directly with Nortel to Long Term Evolution, a 4G technology that will support mobile broadband at tens of Mbits per customer, in a very cost effective manner within the next 2 to 3 years."

A survey conducted by Oliver Wyman shows a significant increase in activity across the advanced payments sector in Europe. Advanced payments enable consumers to transact through a variety of non traditional devices, such as their mobile phone, contactless cards and the internet. The survey encompassed 30 of the leading European new players and ventures in this fast growing industry, companies with an expertise and specific focus on advanced payments including Monitise, LUUP, paybox and Margento. 

The survey found that 57% of companies in this sector expect to see strong growth over the next 12 months. Respondents were very confident that the advanced payments industry will make significant progress in 2008/09. This could be attributed to the increasing sophistication and cost effectiveness of the technology involved. This is particularly true of mobile phones, which the survey highlighted as the next big development in payments technology.

A key battleground for the industry will be in the emerging markets. The majority of respondents ranked the Middle East, Asia and Central/Eastern Europe as most critical for their growth, with Asia being cited by 64% of respondents as a key market for the future. These findings are supported by the fact that emerging markets generally have less developed traditional payments infrastructures in place (i.e. bank branches), and therefore are more likely to adopt new technology. One particular area that is attracting the attention of industry players in emerging markets is cross border remittances: the market for transferring money across state borders. Mobile phones can be an extremely useful device to increase reach and reduce costs.

In developed countries, the industry in the near term will focus on competing for the most compelling contactless card payments solutions as well as mobile banking solutions. In contrast, contactless mobile payments will take a much longer time to evolve as they will require collaboration between banks and telecom operators.

Other findings from the Oliver Wyman survey uncovered that the challenges that lie ahead for the industry include stimulating customer demand, with a strong majority of respondents (64%) stating this as one of their primary challenges. Another difficulty is finding a workable business model for many parties typically involved in taking the solution to market.

Paul Mee, Partner at Oliver Wyman said: “The global advanced payments market is evolving fast and undergoing strong growth.  However, we expect that many of these new species will have to be especially fit and strong to survive. Right now, it is unclear who the most profitable players in the industry will be, which makes this an exciting sector to watch.  We expect significant consolidation in due course, with major players buying up firms who have distinctive operating assets, customer traction and capabilities that can adapt rapidly.”

Frequent announcements of new propositions and new trials, often launched by new non-traditional players, make this a confusing market to assess at present.  The diversity of new players in this industry is highlighted in the report.  Examples include Margento, a Slovenian company, offering a mobile payment system which requires no software or hardware change to the handset, and LUUP, a Norwegian company launched in 2002 enabling customers to pay, send and receive money via their mobile phones including international and domestic money transfers.

Zilvinas Bareisis, Senior Manager at Oliver Wyman added: “Europe’s fragmentation means a lot of ‘pretenders’ are pursuing a niche strategy at present focusing on a particular geography, proposition or customer segment, and to a certain extent it’s land grab time. However, lack of common standards implies that future profits are limited. In order to be successful, the players in the industry will need a sophisticated strategic marketing capability, a workable business model and clear approaches to interoperability. The winners will be those who can break out of their segments and constraints.” 

Western European markets face challenge 

The global mobile phone market is growing at the fastest rate for five years, with 160mn extra units sold. GfK says that sales in Europe and the USA will remain flat, with consumers tied into lengthy contracts, and it is Africa, Asia and the Middle East that will drive growth.
 
Aaron Rattue, GfK Telecoms Director comments “China, India and Africa are of huge interest to Telecoms providers and remain the places to watch in 2008. Penetration in Europe has reached 95%, with 800mn subscribers. Whereas China and India have far lower level of penetration with 39% and 19% respectively. Africa has a growth curve startlingly similar to China and India, but with a notable delay, however penetration stands at 27% with 250mn subscribers.”
 
Block or candy shaped phones comprise over 40% of mobiles sold globally. Slider and shell phones are becoming increasingly popular worldwide, making up over 45% of phones sold in Europe, 28% in Asia and almost 15% of sales in sub Saharan Africa. This will not change too much on a global level but there will be an increase in touch screen phones in Europe in 2008.
 
Camera and music functionality continued to be popular during 2007. The high cost of downloading music in sub Saharan Africa has meant phones with built in FM radio have been the product of choice. Into 2008, 25% of all GPS owned will be via mobile phones in the UK. TV tuners will grow but from a small base.
 
Aaron Rattue concludes “One billion mobile phones we sold in 2007 (equivalent to every sixth person) and GfK anticipates that this will rise by well over 10% in 2008. The global mobile phone market is an area of immense change and development. 2008 will be the year of ‘ultra’ – ultra slim, ultra cheap or ultra fast.
 
“The challenge in the mature markets of Western Europe is how to cater for an increasingly fragmented subscriber base. As the importance of voice and text fall it is our activity on the phone (over the internet, GPS, downloading etc) that will define the success of the market for 2008 and beyond. Already in the UK we are downloading a game every two seconds and sending thousands of emails each minute. We may also see a dramatic increase in the number of items we buy with our mobile phone later this year. The opportunities for the market are huge.”

Motorola has joined the LTE/System Architecture Evolution (SAE) Trial Initiative (LSTI). This industry group is driving the acceleration of commercial and interoperable next-generation LTE mobile broadband systems through the collaborative efforts of leading telecommunications companies worldwide.

“Motorola has significant expertise in OFDM-based technologies and mobile broadband innovation,” said Darren McQueen, vice president, IMS, Cellular and Broadband Network Technologies, Motorola Home & Networks Mobility. “Joining the LSTI supports our commitment from our networks and mobile devices teams to the advancement of technologies that will deliver the media mobility experiences that consumers today have come to expect.”

Motorola is leveraging its success in being among the first to deliver 802.16e commercial systems by reusing a significant amount of its WiMAX research and development, coupled with its rich heritage in cellular networking, Motorola chipsets, network and video head-end solutions, and professional services to deliver its end-to-end LTE solution.

Motorola is among the vendors selected by Verizon Wireless and Vodafone to participate in their joint LTE trials during 2008. Motorola also is planning a number of other field trials during 2008.

Spirent Communications, a provider of performance analysis and service management solutions, today announced WiMAX testing capabilities on the Spirent Landslide test system. Built on a mobile packet core test platform, Spirent Landslide WiMAX Performance Test System provides equipment manufacturers and carriers the ability to deliver next-generation wireless broadband networks and services.
The deployment of successful WiMAX networks depends not only on addressing issues related to network capacity and interoperability, but validating the performance of network equipment. The need for comprehensive end-to-end network performance test solutions such as Spirent Landslide WiMAX performance test system is greater than ever. 
“Spirent Landslide is assisting Bridgewater in conducting rigorous WiMAX conformance and quality assurance testing to help ensure that our solutions meet the high standards service providers require for WiMAX network launch,” said Eamonn Garry, vice president of research and development for Bridgewater Systems.
For the first time network equipment vendors, service providers and mobile device manufacturers can ensure that the products, systems and services they deliver meet the quality of experience (QoE) expectation of wireless broadband service subscribers. The Spirent Landslide WiMAX performance test solution delivers a comprehensive set of features and functionality that enable WiMAX protocol and performance testing.
“In a market characterised by increased competition within the vendor and service provider community, Spirent is committed to providing high performance, automated solutions that enable customers to quickly and cost efficiently roll out new next generation networks and services,” said Bill Burns, chief executive officer, Communications Group Spirent Communications plc. “The addition of the WiMAX test capability to the Spirent Landslide platform continues Spirent’s tradition of providing highly scalable, easy to use performance validating solutions that help accelerate the deployment of new technologies.”
The Spirent Landslide WiMAX performance test system supports powerful real-world traffic generation and nodal emulation capabilities. This includes base station and mobile subscriber station emulation that provides user-defined control over all aspects of WiMAX core network performance testing. Furthermore, the test system is capable of testing the ASN-GW in a standalone configuration; the ASN-GW and CSN combined in an end-to-end configuration; or the CSN in a standalone configuration. In each case, Spirent Landslide emulates the devices that communicate with the system under test.
The Spirent Landslide WiMAX performance test system provides the most comprehensive set of measurements and capability available including WiMAX AAA and Data Protocols, per-session and aggregate measurements including latency, throughput, average and peak readouts and scales to meet, up to 32 test servers per system; up to 100,000 emulated MSS per test server; up to 1,000 emulated base stations per test server; and up to 1,000 attaches per second per test server.

Telco services market topped $65 billion in 2007

 Ovum today published 2007 service business results for network infrastructure vendors. The telco services market hit $65 billion in 2007, including product, network, and IT-related service spending. Network equipment providers accounted for approximately 60% of that total.

“The importance of services to telecom equipment vendors is hard to overstate,” said John Lively, Vice President, Network Infrastructure, at Ovum. “The telco services market is larger, and growing faster than optical networking, switching and routing, and broadband access equipment combined, and it’s generating profits. Simply put, services are key to infrastructure vendors’ financial success.”

Key findings of the study include:

  • Worldwide telco services revenues were $65 billion in 2007, up 17% versus 2006
  • Services revenues were more than 20% of total company revenues for top tier network infrastructure vendors as a group
  • Average operating margin on services was 13%, versus 5% for hardware

Lively says the capacity glut of the past several years, combined with the rise of Chinese vendors, with their lower labor costs and relationships with well-funded development banks, have made it difficult for large incumbent NEPs to make money on products. “Meanwhile, service providers are increasingly pulling NEPs into network-related services.”

According to a new study from ABI Research, the market for smartphones will grow from around 10% of the total handset market in 2007 to 31% of the market in 2013. The study projects this meteoric growth to be a product of a number of complex factors including carriers' drives to grow data revenues from advanced services and the general trend to pushing "smart" operating systems down into middle tier devices.
 
ABI Research vice president Stuart Carlaw comments, "Smart operating systems are continually being optimized to run on processors with lower performance. There is a strategic move to support smart OSes in single chip midrange devices in order to unlock more data revenues." Carlaw adds that, "The market is currently dominated by Nokia (52%) and Symbian (65%). However, the coalescence of the framework wars in the Linux environment and the growing stature of Windows Mobile will enable new competitors to put pressure on this established axis."
 
The report says that the iPhone effect is truly filtering through the handset market as other OEMs strive to remain competitive. Features that look set to proliferate and become central to enhancing user interface experiences include touchscreens, touchpads, and accelerometers facilitating tilt and shock sensing, as well as haptics providing tactile feedback.

Intec, a specialist in business and operations support systems (BSS/OSS), today announced it has completed the initial phase in the implementation of its Intec Convergent Billing technology with Polkomtel, one of Poland's major mobile operators. The implementation of Intec's convergent architecture is said to be a new innovation in the Polish market that will allow Polkomtel to launch new value added and bundle services and to implement marketing campaigns such as special rates for family and friends.The billing implementation project started last year as part of a long-term and extensive partnership agreement.

"Intec has worked with Polkomtel for the past several months to deliver the biggest convergent billing site in Poland through the installation of the Intec Convergent Billing platform," said Konrad Kobylecki - Management Board Member and Operations Director from Polkomtel.  "With Intec's market leading billing and customer management system, Polkomtel will be able to improve offer flexibility and time-to-market due to having all its billing functions on one platform, across pre-paid, post-paid and all other types of customer and product services. We are delighted to be working closely with Intec as we continue our expansion into the Polish market. Intec Convergent Billing will play a crucial role in supporting our billing operations as well as providing us with the flexibility and scalability to launch our highly advanced new services."

Polkomtel S.A. is one of three major mobile operators in Poland, a country with one of the biggest wireless markets in Central and Eastern Europe. The operator has established a reputation as an innovator its field, delivering advanced GSM-technology-based services to its customers ahead of all its competitors. Since the beginning of its operations Polkomtel has been the pioneer in implementing state-of-the-art technological and data communication solutions on the Polish market. The network's customers were the first in Poland to use HSCSD high speed data transmission as well as GPRS and EDGE packet data transmission and also the first to use the full range of services relying on advanced mobile technologies, UMTS included. Plus, one of the brand names Polkomtel operates under, offers the most extensive 3G coverage in Poland. The company currently has over 13 million customers across the country.

Gary Bunney, Intec's Chief Operating Officer, said:  "We are delighted to be working with an operator that has such an enviable record innovating in its market and capturing market share. Moving to convergent billing is now the critical focus as this will enable Polkomtel to launch new market leading product bundles, win new customers and further grow its market share. The selection of the new billing system and supplier partner was therefore of paramount importance and followed an extensive evaluation of  the major vendors in the market"  He adds:  " Polkomtel chose Intec billing because of its ability, proven in every continent across the globe, to power convergent services and support innovative and dynamic tariffs structures irrespective of payment regimes. To support Polkomtel we have established a dedicated team, including local Polish staff, and this will expand to form the core of our  central Europe competency centre providing billing expertise to our customers in Poland and across the wider Central and Eastern European Region". 

Orange has announced the launch of a new advertisement-supported content trial on its mobile internet platform, Orange World. The move will see 800,000 of Orange's 15.6 million mobile customers given the option to download a variety of music content, from four different genres (Urban, Pop, Rock, Dance) to their mobile handsets for free, or a discounted rate, which is said to make it the largest trial of its kind in the UK.

Ad-funded content is said to offer new ways of reaching audiences and the potential to generate new business models within the industry. Beginning this week, the trial will last three months and will allow brands to have their advertising banners promoted prominently during the content purchase process as customers download music, offering them a unique opportunity to interact with a captive audience on their mobile phone.
 
Mobile advertising company ScreenTonic will be managing and delivering the ads for the trial, and is said to have already signed up a number of advertisers to the trial including Paramount Pictures and Ford. Orange customers taking part in the trial will be able to download music either for free, for half or full price. Orange will make over 500 music tracks available on the service.
 
Gavin Forth, head of entertainment, Orange UK said: "We believe this ad-funded content model will drive adoption and usage of services, and deliver better value content to our customers. The mobile is an incredibly personal device, and our ad-funded content offerings give advertisers a great opportunity to reach a new audience".

Theo Theodorou, head of sales at ScreenTonic said: "The ad funded content trial will provide a route into the mobile experience for brands that have previously had little familiarity of the medium. It is an exciting reason for brands to get involved with mobile, as the media develops increasingly innovative solutions to allow advertisers to reach audiences"