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comScore m:metrics has reported that the use of mobile maps is increasingly popular in the United States and Europe, with 8 percent of American mobile subscribers and 3 percent of European subscribers accessing maps from the mobile phone in the three-month period ending May 2008.  This represents a growth rate of 82 percent and 49 percent in the number of users, respectively and, according to the comScore M:Metrics Benchmark Study, the iPhone is the leading device used to access maps in the United States, although in Europe, the device trails the Nokia N95 and N70.

"The mobile phone as a personal navigation device makes tremendous sense," observed Mark Donovan, senior analyst, comScore. "With the influx of devices, such as the iPhone with GPS, entering the market, Nokia's purchase of NAVTEQ and the growing popularity of downloadable navigation applications, you don't need a map to see where this sector is going."

According to comScore, 73 percent of mobile subscribers accessing maps are doing so via the browser in the U.S., and in Europe, 57 percent. Less than a third of Americans and Europeans are using a downloaded application, which allows even feature phones, with less computing power and often smaller screens, to better render graphic-rich maps and directions.  Despite the ubiquity of SMS usage in Europe, the penetration of consumers accessing maps and directions via SMS is 24 percent; only one percentage point higher than it is in the United States.

The vast majority of mobile map users are seeking driving directions, even in Europe, where public transportation and non-vehicular options are more popular.

While mobile access to maps has surged, online access to maps using the PC shows more modest gains in the United States and Western Europe. In the UK, which posted the highest growth in mobile access to maps at 72 percent, online access via the PC dipped from 45 percent penetration in May 2007 to 41 percent in May 2008. In the U.S., the increase in the number of users accessing maps from a mobile device far outpaced the increase in the number of people who accessed maps via the PC.

3, the 3G-only mobile operator, says it has reached the milestone of one million mobile broadband customers in Europe, showing demand is strong for mobile broadband in all 3's territories, including the UK, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, Denmark and Austria.
 
Christian Salbaing, Managing Director European Telecoms at Hutchison Whampoa, said, "This milestone shows people everywhere want to access our mobile broadband services. Since we launched our offers late last year we have seen phenomenal growth from customers who are using it to both supplement and replace their fixed line broadband. For many customers, it is their first personal broadband connection."
 
However, due to the high wholesale data roaming costs charged between mobile operators in Europe, it remains very expensive for consumers to use mobile broadband while travelling abroad and roaming onto other (non-3) networks.
 
"Mobile broadband's greatest strength is its mobility, yet consumers are rightly fearful of the excessive charges faced when they roam off our networks. Some networks are charging the equivalent of €12 to watch a three minute YouTube clip or up to €180 to download an hour of television, this could inflict serious harm on a growing market," said Salbaing.
 
"Typical retail roaming prices are literally hundreds of times what customers expect to pay domestically. A European consumer might pay around one Euro cent per megabyte at home, yet pay a premium of 360-times that simply to cross a border."
 
European regulators are currently deciding on what action, if any, they will take to  reduce international wholesale data roaming rates, which means that using mobile broadband abroad will remain expensive and at risk of "bill shock".
 
Salbaing adds, "The EC has an opportunity to bring the same clarity and value to data roaming as it did so successfully with voice last year. The difference between domestic and roaming data rates is far greater than with voice, only wholesale action can put an end to charges that are sometimes hundreds of times greater than our customers pay at home. A million connections in a matter of months from a comparatively small business makes it abundantly clear that mobile broadband is already a mass market proposition."
 
3's European networks offer ‘3 Like Home' tariffs allowing customers to roam using their domestic price plans while on 3's sister networks abroad. This means 3 customers pay as little as a fraction of a Euro cent to access the internet abroad. (Elsewhere 3 charges around £3 (€3.79) per megabyte to its customers, based primarily on the wholesale rate charged.)
 
Removing these international roaming costs has increased data roaming volumes between 3 networks by 2500% over twelve months and 96% of 3's data roaming is now between 3 networks. European citizens clearly want to use mobile internet when they travel within Europe, but most can only afford to do so within their own country.
 
3 has demonstrated its commitment to bringing down the price of roaming across the EU by offering Europe's mobile networks a reciprocal wholesale rate of only 25c per megabyte, compared to the current average of nearly €4. This offers even greater scope for compelling retail rates than the European Commission's suggested wholesale level of 35c. Just five networks have agreed to take up the offer - suggesting a clear need for intervention, says 3. 

Nokia CEO hails "positive" agreement

After three years of claim and counter-claim between the two companies, Nokia and Qualcomm have announced that they have entered into a new agreement covering various standards including GSM, EDGE, CDMA, WCDMA, HSDPA, OFDM, WiMax, LTE and other technologies. The agreement effectively means a settlement of all litigation between the companies, including the withdrawal by Nokia of its complaint to the European Commission.
 
Under the terms of the new 15 year agreement, Nokia has been granted a license under all Qualcomm's patents for use in Nokia's mobile devices and Nokia Siemens Networks infrastructure equipment. Further, Nokia has agreed not to use any of its patents directly against Qualcomm, enabling Qualcomm to integrate Nokia's technology into Qualcomm's chipsets. The financial structure of the settlement includes an up-front payment and on-going royalties payable to Qualcomm. Nokia has agreed to assign ownership of a number of patents to Qualcomm, including patents declared as essential to WCDMA, GSM and OFDMA. The specific terms are confidential.
 
"We believe that this agreement is positive for the industry, enabling the market to benefit from innovation and new technologies," said Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, CEO of Nokia Corporation (pictured). "The positive financial impact of this agreement is within Nokia's original expectations and fully reflects our leading intellectual property and market positions." 
 
"I'm very pleased that we have come to this important agreement." said Paul Jacobs, CEO of Qualcomm. "The terms of the new license agreement, including the financial and other value provided to Qualcomm, reflect our strong intellectual property position across many current and future generation technologies. This agreement paves the way for enhanced opportunities between the companies in a number of areas."

NEC has announced that its subsidiary, NEC Europe, has established a strategic partnership with Motive, a provider of Service Management solutions for broadband and mobile data services. The partnership will see Motive's service management software integrated into NEC's Femtocell Access Point Management System.

The Femtocell Access Point Management system is said to form a key element of the NEC Femtocell Solution delivering a plug-in-forget installation and provisioning of the Access Points by the end users. NEC says this is seen as a key driver for mass deployment of the Femtocell technology by operators world-wide. The NEC Access Point Management system is under trials with several operators around the world as part of the end to end trials of the NEC Femtocell Solution. .

Anil Kohli, Director, Femtocell programme, NEC Europe, commented: "While operators are beginning to drive femtocell commercialisation forward, industry collaboration continues to be essential. NEC is committed to enhancing its leadership in this area with the skills and knowledge of trusted, well-positioned partners. Motive's service management software and expertise provides the ideal complement to NEC's Femtocell Solution. NEC is playing an instrumental role in driving femtocell innovation, development and standardisation, and has a number of major operator trials underway globally."

"The near-term growth of fixed-mobile converged (FMC) services requires the existence of reliable home networks," said Bryce Judd, Motive's Head of Global Channels and Business Development. "Mobile and broadband operators are looking for solutions to provide the best platform to offer and manage FMC services to subscribers. Motive's Femtocell Management solution is a great example of how providers can manage complex next generation services today. We are excited to have been chosen as NEC's partner for this important new initiative."

As members of the Femto Forum, the independent industry association that supports femtocell deployment worldwide, NEC and Motive are both actively involved in the development of femtocell standardisation.

B2M Solutions, specialist in managing the mobile enterprise, has signed Logistics International as a certified reseller of its mprodigy mobile management system. Logistics International is also using mprodigy to manage the mobile equipment used by its own Field Engineering team across the UK and Europe.

Logistics International delivers IT and Support Services and works with companies including Hewlett Packard, Motorola, Getronics and Fujitsu Siemens.   Over the last three years, the company has built up extensive experience in delivering Enterprise Mobility Solutions and has successfully deployed and integrated mobile technologies based on Syclo's Agentry platform across a number of customer projects.  The Syclo Agentry platform is also used internally by Logistics International's Field Engineering personnel to track the warehousing, deployment and servicing of IT assets across the UK and Europe.

Stephen McCorry, Technical Director at Logistics International says, "We've selected mprodigy as our strategic management platform. With its considerable breadth of capabilities, mprodigy can manage and deploy software to field-based mobile devices in an extremely reliable fashion over numerous transmission technologies including GPRS and WiFi.  We particularly value its ability to enable support-managers to understand in full detail the status of all their mobility assets."

Logistics International's mobile computing practice provides integration services to its enterprise customers in sectors such as finance, retail and facilities management.  "To deliver these services, we use advanced mobile technologies ourselves to deliver best practice and a high level of competence," continues McCorry. 

"Prior to using mprodigy, we were manually updating our estate of mobile devices which incurred high overhead costs.We've now been using mprodigy for the past seven months and it has already proved invaluable, helping us to improve the performance of our engineers."

McCorry concludes: "mprodigy has had a profound effect in both our own and our customer's ability to effectively and efficiently manage the mobile enterprise.  Unlike other technologies we have experienced in this area which provide at best elements of a management solution, mprodigy truly sets itself apart by delivering robust, reliable and scalable management.
It greatly improves the ability to deploy and manage mobile devices across the entire enterprise regardless of scale and geography."

According to Rod Moore, Managing Director at Logistics International, "The mobile market offers considerable growth opportunities.  As our customers strive to develop their mobile enterprises, we can supply highly skilled people across Europe. They deliver the consultancy and integration services that pull together all the software partners to bring a comprehensive mobile solution to the end user.  In this market, the mprodigy platform will become more and more vital to ensure the success of these mobile projects."

Julie Purves, Managing Director of B2M Solutions comments, "B2M's market strategy is to only provide the mprodigy solution through trusted channel partners and Logistics International meets and substantially exceeds all the prerequisites of our partner programme. It's a great pleasure to be working with them."

Devicescape Software and Deutsche Telekom today announced that they have integrated their services to enable easier access for users and more types of devices onto T-Mobile HotSpot networks. To make it convenient for Devicescape members to find and use the more than 10,000 plus T- Mobile HotSpot locations across Germany and Europe, Devicescape now sells service subscriptions and vouchers directly on member's account pages.  By integrating T-Mobile HotSpot access directly into the Devicescape solution Deutsche Telekom can leverage the large base of Devicescape users to drive revenue and increase network usage.

"We have a growing member base of WiFi device owners who enjoy easy and seamless connections from all their devices across Europe" said Dave Fraser, CEO, Devicescape. "By offering a simple and convenient way to purchase T-Mobile HotSpot access from member account pages, we hope to make their WiFi experience even better and to increase the number of Devicescape members who use T-Mobile."

"By partnering with Devicescape earlier in the year, Deutsche Telekom showed its commitment to enabling as many WiFi devices as possible to enjoy seamless and secure access to the T-Mobile HotSpot network," said Andreas Morschhausen, Head of Product Management, Mobile Access, Deutsche Telekom. "Today we have taken a step to make access to T-Mobile HotSpot networks even easier for all Devicescape members and we look forward to future integrations that continue to improve consumer's experience of our service."

The announcement is the latest development in the partnership between the two companies that was made public at Mobile World Congress (Barcelona, Spain) in February 2008 which enables T-Home and T-Mobile users to get automatic wireless access whenever they are within range of a T-Mobile HotSpot.

With the mobile communication market in Europe having reached a saturated and mature phase, mobile premium content services and applications represent a potential source of significant revenues for the mobile industry, says Frost & Sullivan..

Its new analysis - European Mobile Premium Content Markets - finds that the market (including revenues from mobile music, mobile games, mobile video/TV and mobile graphics) was worth €2.68 billion in 2007 and is estimated to reach €11.0 billion in 2012.

"Content is the new horizon for the European mobile industry," notes Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Saverio Romeo. "During the last three years, mobile operators have been observing a slow, but continuous decline in the average revenue per user (APRU) due to the decrease of voice and SMS ARPU. New sources of revenues are needed: content is an excellent candidate."

According to F&S, mobile premium content applications and services are increasingly and significantly contributing to the revenue growth of the European mobile industry. By the end of 2012, total revenues from mobile content will reach €11.0 billion.

Content types such as music, video/TV and games are leading this growth. However, new services and applications such as mobile social networking, mobile searching and location-based services are gaining momentum. All these services, which can be defined as content tools, allow users to personalise, search and share content with other users. Business models are also shifting towards ad-based models.

"In order to exploit the variety of revenue-generated business opportunities, the industry has to face some critical challenges," cautions Romeo. "Consumers will use content on mobile devices if the industry is able to offer high-quality content with an excellent user experience at affordable prices."

Icomera, the supplier of Internet connectivity to trains, has agreed to acquire UK-based Moovera Networks, the manufacturer of fixed and mobile communications systems. As a result of the merger Icomera AB says it will become the foremost provider of in-vehicle, industrial-grade Internet access technology - encompassing trains, buses, coaches, trucks and ferries - with a global customer base including many of the world's largest transport operators.

"The market for Internet connectivity on public transport is developing at a very rapid pace," said Ola Sj?lin, Chief Executive Officer at Icomera. "Whether for Wi-Fi hotspots, CCTV monitoring, vehicle tracking or streaming entertainment, real-time connections to buses and trains are increasingly in demand. Moovera has acquired a strong reputation in the industry as a developer of innovative yet price competitive technology and has established an impressive customer base that in many instances overlaps with our own. It was a natural progression for Icomera and Moovera to combine forces to offer a complete range of solutions from low-cost bus products to high-end systems certified for the railway industry. Moving forward we will continue to build on Icomera's position as the dominant force in on-board vehicle communications."

Icomera currently offers high-reliability, backhaul-agnostic communications gateways supporting concurrent satellite, cellular and trackside networks in a single in-vehicle system that - using patented technology - automatically switches to use the best wide area network without session interruption. With the acquisition of Moovera Networks, Icomera will add Moovera's multi-radio Moovbox product family to create the most advanced portfolio of fixed and mobile broadband gateways on the market. In addition to vehicular applications, Moovbox gateways have been used increasingly for public safety and outdoor municipal wireless applications, and by cellular network operators seeking to expand into Wi-Fi hotspot services.

"For some time now Moovera and Icomera have been addressing the same markets from different directions," said Jim Baker, CEO and founder of Moovera. "While Icomera has focused on sophisticated and complex rail systems, we have been targeting the broader market for Internet connectivity on road transport and outdoor networks. Many of the world's largest transport operators like National Express and First Group own rail and bus networks and are already deploying both Icomera and Moovera solutions; the merger of our two businesses will create a single supplier with the best possible range of solutions for our customers worldwide."

Following the acquisition, Icomera will adopt the Moovbox brand for its new combined product line and leverage Moovera's worldwide network of Channel Partners who sell and support Moovbox systems in their regional markets. Moovera's Kent-based operations and its nine employees will become Icomera's UK office, bringing the total workforce in Sweden and the UK to over forty people. Moovera CEO Jim Baker will take up the post of Chief Marketing Officer at Icomera. The financial terms of the acquisition have not been disclosed.

THUS has announced the launch of its mobile product portfolio aimed at improving the management of remote and field based staff and will also help companies reap the benefits of anywhere, anytime device agnostic connectivity.  THUS says that its  Workforce Management, Messaging and Multimedia Communications and Location Based Services will combine to benefit businesses through increasing access to management information, improving customer service and reducing operating expenditure.

The workforce mobilisation solution will offer customers a one-stop shop for their fixed and mobile networks, applications, hardware, support and installation.  The combined suite allows customers to take an integrated approach to mobile job dispatch and service, mobile messaging and vehicle tracking. The flexibility offered through anywhere, anytime connectivity to the corporate network and systems, is something that is on the wish list of an increasing number of employees. According to THUS, the mobile workforce solution will deliver what staff want, but also what employers need in terms of cost savings, improved productivity and organisational efficiencies.

The product portfolio can be provided within a fully managed and hosted environment, or managed within a customer sited environment depending on the particular needs of the organisation. THUS has combined products, technologies and networking into a package that streamlines operations and reduces costs, offering customers an improved quality of service.

Nigel Stevens, Product Director at THUS plc, commented:  "Increasingly, workers and employers are reaping the benefits of mobile working; flexibility, efficiency and productivity and one number, device agnostic connectivity. THUS's workforce mobilisation product portfolio will add value to businesses by providing an intelligent and dynamic way of assigning jobs to workers in the field, tracking progress and delivering accurate information to their customers.

"Mobile technology is hugely important in helping businesses keep track of their mobile resources and improve customer care by being able to better communicate with field-based workers while they're onsite or in transit.  This workforce mobilisation solution will enable our customers to enjoy these benefits and efficiencies through a converged fixed/mobile solution based on our industry-leading next-generation network."

The offering is said to provide a secure method of connecting various mobile devices to THUS's fixed MPLS network, delivering data convergence to further reduce costs. As a result of the way in which the solution has been designed, THUS says it can provide highly competitive SLAs, due to owning the fixed network and interconnecting with the Vodafone network to provide mobile connectivity. 

The data mobilisation solution is claimed to equalise access to the internal corporate network for mobile workers and improves the efficiency of central corporate office systems. The solution will also contribute to ensuring the safety and security of lone workers. GPS-based live tracking and dynamic job allocation serves the needs of security, but also adds to the pool of real time management information allowing performance to be measured and productivity increased.

Boingo Wireless and free-hotspot.com have announced that Boingo customers will now be able to roam at all of free-hotspot.com's Wi-Fi locations. Boingo users will not be required to view advertisements to connect to free-hotspot.com's network of more than 3,500 locations in 18 countries throughout Europe.

free-hotspot.com quadrupled its network size in 2007 and expects to have 5,000 hotspots by the end of 2008, making it one of the fastest growing networks in the world. Boingo, which provides access to the 'world's largest' network of Wi-Fi hotspots, has aggregated more than 100,000 hotspots across the globe, all accessible via one single account.

"We are pleased to extend our reach by partnering with a dynamic company like free-hotspot.com. Their rapidly growing network is a great complement to our business and personal traveller user base and will provide our customers with more choices and options as they move around Europe," said Luis Serrano, Vice President, Network Strategy for Boingo.

"We are excited about teaming up with a worldwide market leader such as Boingo," said Brandon Meyers, free-hotspot.com's Vice President, Marketing. "Their large established user base can now use hotspots across our entire European footprint, which includes previously underserved areas in Eastern Europe such as Poland, Romania and the Czech Republic."

Meridian Group and Opera Software have today announced a partnership to pre-install Opera Mini Web browser on Meridian Mobile's new Fly E310 handset.

The Fly E310 handset is available in the United Kingdom, Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), with a pre-installed Opera Mini browser available in all the local languages.

"We are pleased to further our partnership with Meridian Group and bring the best mobile Web experience closer to our customers in the UK, Russia and the CIS," says Jon von Tetzchner, CEO, Opera Software. "We have witnessed a significant growth in mobile Web browsing in those countries and work hard on making it even easier for people to get online."

"We aim to provide our customers the best services available," says Andrew Collinge, Member of the Board of Directors, Meridian Group. "When it comes to offering our customers a fast, secure and cost-efficient Internet service on a mobile phone, the popular Opera Mini browser offers the user an outstanding experience. Accessing the Web could not be easier, as Opera Mini brings the Web to our customers in local languages."

ROAMSYS, a provider of RAEX solutions to the wireless industry, has announced a referral arrangement with the VeriSign Communications Services division, a US based wireless clearing agent. Under the terms of the agreement, ROAMSYS will provide RAEX solutions to VeriSign customers.

ROAMSYS easyRAEX is is said to be an affordable, integrated roaming agreement management solution designed to help wireless operators streamline operations and achieve better visibility and control over their roaming relationships. It is based on the new GSM Association endorsed standard RAEX.

By connecting with ROAMSYS easyRAEX solutions, VeriSign's clients will be able to address issues such as poor quality of roaming related data, high labor costs when handling roaming agreements and slow distribution of roaming related information inside and outside their companies.

"ROAMSYS is always seeking innovative new ways to drive down the operational and infrastructure costs of customers' roaming management environments and at the same time increasing data quality" said Alexander Gross, CTO, ROAMSYS.

Barry Metz, Product Manager for GSM Data Clearing Services, VeriSign, added, "With this easy- to-use software, our customers will enjoy a comprehensive solution for managing roaming information while achieving RAEX compliance. The easyRAEX service complements VeriSign's existing suite of analytical tools and VeriSign's commitment to fulfilling the roaming and clearing needs of the GSM community."