FT.com secured as first customer 

Volantis, the leading supplier of Intelligent Content Adaptation solutions for the mobile Internet, has announced the launch of i-mode Express for O2, a service to help content providers deploy mobile services on O2’s upcoming i-mode platform, scheduled to launch in the UK and Ireland later this year and in Germany next spring.

i-mode Express builds on Volantis’ extensive experience of deploying i-mode services for major brands in France, Spain and Benelux. The service is available immediately for brands wanting to deliver mobile services on O2’s i-mode platform. FT.com is the first customer to sign up for the new package.

i-mode is the world’s most popular mobile Internet platform with 45 million users worldwide. Unlike any other service in the UK, i-mode will deliver the nearest thing to true Internet access through mobile devices – enabling users to access independent web-based resources owned and managed by content providers, not the network operator. This combination of power and flexibility for users and new business model for content providers will make i-mode an important and vibrant new mobile technology for the UK.

Grahame Riddell, Head of i-mode Marketing for O2 UK, said: “We are pleased to be working with Volantis to offer its i-mode Express service to our content providers. The company is world class at delivering powerful and compelling
i-mode solutions across Europe for some of the biggest brands. This service will help our content providers to deploy better and faster services for i-mode when we launch later this year.”

Deploying i-mode services presents significant opportunities for content providers. However, in order to realise these benefits content providers need to understand some of the fundamental differences in developing for i-mode rather than traditional WAP sites.

Some of these differences include:

i-mode has a much richer user interface with stringent style guidelines. For example, i-mode pages typically are composed of multiple colours, font styles and emojiis (special characters pre-built into the handsets) and must adhere to a defined page layout structure and page size to ensure sites are fast and intuitive. These guidelines ensure that customers can enjoy the same quality of service whatever i-mode handset they are using, something not currently offered by WAP.

An enhanced Java implementation gives provider’s more control over applications, and more space to work in. In Japan, i-mode applications can now use 500k from Java memory, allowing content providers to publish applications equivalent to Playstation1 games.

Billing is subscription-based rather than ‘pay per event’ and requires every content provider to maintain a sophisticated user database which automatically reconciles with the operator.

i-mode provides for the first time the same security encryption as the fixed Internet for creating secure transactional sites, ideal for things like banking.
The i-mode browser provides automatic go-back functions, full application access to standby screens and live two-way communications with servers to keep users engaged.

i-mode does not use the usual mark up languages but is based on c-html and therefore is a language accessible to any developer with web experience.

Steven Trew, Head of Mobile Services for the FT, said: “Volantis has delivered FT.com’s successful mobile service for quite some time. With their experience of building and deploying large i-mode sites for big brands in other countries, it was an easy decision to ask Volantis to extend our mobile service to i-mode on O2.”

Ian Meakin, VP Marketing, Volantis, concluded: “With our proven experience and deployments, we understand the significant nuances that i-mode presents and have the proven technology, services and templates that make i-mode deployments relatively simple for organisations that are new to it. O2 i-mode is an exciting proposition for consumers and we can help content providers quickly establish a presence on this platform.”

Link and Morse announce mobileATM

LINK, the operators of the UK cash machine network, and Morse Plc, today announced that mobileATM(tm), their jointly developed mobile banking service, is currently being integrated into a number of UK banks and building societies. The service will be available to consumers before the end of 2005.

mobileATM will provide consumers with real-time, on-demand access to their personal financial information on their mobile handset. It delivers a convenient money management tool on the move, allowing banking transactions, such as balance enquiries and mobile top-ups, to be performed.  The service
has also been designed to replicate the simple interface of an ATM on the mobile handset ensuring a very familiar consumer experience.

To use the service, consumers need only download an application onto their phone. This can be done quickly and easily by sending a text message to a short code or by calling into their local Carphone Warehouse store. As with online banking, once registered and authenticated, consumers will have access to their accounts - wherever they are.

Alastair Lukies, mobileATM(tm) commented: "The launch of the mobileATM service is an important step in the evolution of electronic banking and is designed with consumer convenience in mind.  The ATM is the most common interface used to  access banking services worldwide.  In order to make sure
that many people benefit from this service we have simply replicated this user experience on the mobile handset."

Richard Kimber, chief executive, First Direct said: "First Direct customers were the first to enjoy text message services back in 1999, following our earlier innovations in telephone and internet banking. We see mobileATM as a further way of extending choice and convenience for our customers".

Tim Yates, chief marketing officer, Vodafone UK said: "Mobile phones are becoming more and more central to our customers' lives - not just for calls and texts, but also for music, games, information and news. Our customers want to top up in a way that's convenient for them. With the increasing
popularity of ATM top ups, it's natural for us to extend this service to the customer's mobile phone."

Kevin Gillan, group director of business development, Carphone Warehouse added: "This launch is an excellent example of how consumers are shaping the future of service provision.  The mobile phone is increasingly the way that
consumers are choosing to receive and manage information, whether that be the latest cricket score or their work e-mail.   The launch of mobileATM is the natural progression of this trend."

Karl Shields, LINK, commented: "This launch gives consumers far greater control of their money, delivering a personal finance tool that literally slips into your pocket. As the operator of the world's busiest ATM network, LINK's unrivalled  experience of providing 'always on' secure mass market
electronic banking services for the consumer will be key in the acceptance of mobileATM. The 'plug and play' functionality will provide all LINK Members regardless of size with the opportunity to participate in the mobileATM initiative, in turn driving mass market take up and positioning the UK at the forefront of this emerging industry."
 
mobileATM also offers an additional level of security to online banking services.  Using its banking grade encryption technology, customers at the point of access to their bank's online service will be able to generate a one-off authentication code via mobileATM.  This removes the threat of ssword theft occurring through 'phishing' or trojan attacks since codes are changed on a use-by-use basis.

Professor Fred Piper, director of information security group, Royal HollowayUniversity of London, pointed out: 'Security in all banking channels is of paramount importance and mobileATM have demonstrated that they take security
very seriously. We have just completed an in-depth security risk assessment of their current service and are impressed with their security specification.  mobileATM has excellent potential for helping to secure internet banking with their two-factor authentication system."

Duncan McIntyre, chief executive of Morse, commented on the launch: "mobileATM is the conclusion of two and a half years of intensive development, leveraging the very high level of technology expertise we have at Morse.

"It is an example of our successful intellectual property development, broadening the range of services we offer and helping us ensure we are well aced to take advantage of opportunities in the emerging mobile commerce market.

"Bringing this solution to market is an important first step for our joint venture with LINK and we look forward to its continued success as we roll out this solution in the UK and, over time, into other geographic markets."

Music phone has TTPCom protocol stack and Intel processor

TTPCom, the leading independent supplier of digital wireless technology, today announces the first volume shipment of handsets to result from its collaboration with Intel. The first phones, launched this month in O2 shops in the UK are based on TTPCom's industry leading protocol stack and Intel’s advanced 2.5 G cellular platform. The handset, called the O2 XM, is a GSM/ GPRS dedicated music device, which includes MP3, 1.3mega pixel camera, progressive download and Java capability.

Ian Clarke, Head of Devices at O2 comments: "We are delighted to launch the O2 XM – our high quality music phone – which takes full advantage of the powerful combination of TTPCom’s industry-leading protocol stack and Intel’s high performance processor technology. We have previously launched many O2 products that use the TTPCom protocol stack – this latest implementation in the O2 XM is the proof that TTPCom’s multi-platform strategy is now a reality.”

Richard Walker, director of TTPCom's software business unit adds: "We strongly believe in delivering choice and efficiency to the industry. This latest handset shipment demonstrates that our warranted software is now also proven on Intel chipsets. Our philosophy, to offer the same proven protocol software across multiple platforms, enables operators to reduce the burden of interoperability testing whilst maintaining diversity of supply.”

Point-of-interface bi-directional amplifiers for 800 and 900MHz

Wireless technology group, Radio Frequency Systems (RFS) has launched two new band-selective bi-directional amplifiers designed for the 800 MHz and 900 MHz frequency bands. The compact I-BSA800-1 and I-BSA900-1 amplifiers feature finely adjustable frequency bandwidth selectivity via a unique PC-based configuration software tool. The uplink/downlink frequency ranges supported are 824-849 MHz/869-894 MHz and 890-915 MHz/935-960 MHz respectively for the I-BSA800-1 and I-BSA900-1.

“As the new I-BSAs are sub-band selective they are the ideal complements to RFS’s broadband I-BDA bi-directional amplifier family,” said Stefan Lehmann, RFS Area Product Manager Wireless Distributed Communication Systems. Separate gain adjustment for uplink and downlink is achievable while maintaining the same power output in both directions. As a result, the I-BSA is the ideal point-of-interface (POI) for in-building systems founded on external antennas.
 
According to Lehmann, the I-BSAs have been designed to receive and re-transmit signals derived from antennas outside a building, and amplify only the selected bands for in-building distribution. With the RFS I-BSA series providing the building’s primary POI amplification and band selection, localized signal amplification can be provided throughout the building using RFS’s broadband I-BDA units. “Whether you have a strong or weak link from outside the building, regardless of what’s behind the amplifier, the RFS I-BSAs provide a great deal of flexibility in planning and system set-up,” said Lehmann.
 
For the European and Asian markets, the I-BSA900-1 has been specifically designed for global system for mobile communications (GSM) in the 900 MHz band. Similarly, for the American and Asian networks, the I-BSA800-1 is tailored to suit services in the cellular 800 MHz band (code division multiple access (CDMA), time division multiple access (TDMA) and the analogue advanced mobile phone standard (AMPS)).
 
Allowing precision adjustments, the I-BSA800-1 and I-BSA900-1 feature variable frequency bandwidth selection from 0.03 MHz to 25 MHz, and 0.2 MHz to 25 MHz, respectively. “Such fine-tuning is possible just by connecting a laptop to the device,” said Lehmann. The user-friendly programming software--which allows authorized access only, for reasons of security and asset management--provides the ability to configure the I-BSA’s frequency bandwidth, amplification and gain. Uplink and downlink gain is adjustable in 2 dB steps between 20 and 60 dB, while output power is 22 dBm (in both uplink and downlink) at maximum gain.

Siemens has signed an exclusive contract with Airbus to jointly develop a solution for the use of in-flight communication via GSM. Siemens will provide the technology, while Airbus will take charge of its integration in the existing electronics systems. In addition, Airbus will be responsible for marketing the new solution to the airlines and for maintenance. The commercial launch of this new
customer service is planned for mid 2006. This means Airbus will now be able to offer the customers of the airlines full-time availability while in the air.

A decisive factor in Airbus's choice of Siemens as its partner in implementing this interesting service was the expertise of the company in realizing complex projects and innovative,
customer-oriented technologies. With the integration of GSM, airline passengers will in future be able to use their own mobile devices for in-flight phone calls or Internet surfing. During business flights in particular, but on private journeys too, continuous availability is a decisive quality factor for many passengers.

The GSM solution is implemented via a Siemens nano-GSM/GPRS base station on the airplane attached behind the ceiling panel, which allows reception for a mobile phone,
PC or organizer from any seat on the plane. The Siemens nano-GSM base station is the smallest and lightest base station in the world. The product is based on IP and is linked to the terrestrial GSM mobile network with the aid of satellite technology.

An important prerequisite for implementing the solution is the integration of channel selector technology. This technology prevents the end devices from establishing contact with terrestrial networks and hence interfering with the avionics. It therefore ensures that radio communication from the airplane is conducted solely via satellite. The new solution will be modular in structure so that it can be expanded to accommodate more GSM capacity and other technologies such as WLAN.

"Being able to use their mobile phones onboard aircraft has long been the wish of many passengers who often travel on business flights and depend on mobile communication
solutions", explained Christoph Caselitz, President of the business segment Mobile Networks at Siemens Communications. "We at Siemens are working hard on mobile
enterprise solutions that carriers and service providers can make available to their customers through wireless  technology. The partnership between Siemens and Airbus will
ensure that this modern service is up and running soon and will open up new sources of revenue for the airlines."

Siemens Communications and Proximus (Belgacom Mobile), Belgium’s largest mobile operator, have just extended their cooperation for the development of Proximus’ network in the long term: Siemens will handle the modernisation and evolution of the operator’s core network towards a release 4 systems  rchitecture,
the latest network architecture standard, allowing optimal  organization of network traffic.

In a first step, Proximus will introduce the Siemens High-performance PowerMSC (Mobile Switching Center). This will enable Proximus to reduce the current number of network
elements. This consolidation will result in substantial operational cost savings for Proximus. In a next step, Proximus will migrate its existing Home Location Register (HLR) base towards Siemens’ next generation HLR innovation platform. The HLR base is the database that contains all the subscriber details, such as phone numbers, accompanying services and the current location. Currently, this base is switch-based. The new platform is server-based: updates or product innovations can be carried out in as short as one night. Similarly, queries e.g. about the usage of foreign mobile networks, will only take a few seconds to be answered. The new system will provide Proximus with superior capabilities for service provisioning and improved customer care support.

In the final implementation phase, Proximus will introduce Siemens’ next generation, ATCA-based media gateway to complete the step-change to a full release 4 architecture.
In this architecture, the existing PowerMSC will evolve to full fletched MSC Servers, centrally handling call control, whereas the actual traffic is handled decentralized by the state-of-the-art ATCA mobile media gateways. In this way, Proximus is taking the first giant step towards benefiting from voice and data network convergence synergies, which are currently creating exciting, new opportunities for hybrid multimedia services.

Besides its innovative products, Siemens will also deliver added value services for installation and commissioning, integration and migration as well as for project management
and support. Laurent Claus, CTO of Proximus said: "Our aim is to maintain leadership in network quality and services in Belgium. And that is precisely why a trusted partner like Siemens - which thinks along with us and which wants to continue innovating - is so crucial for us."

Christoph Caselitz, President of the Mobile Networks division at Siemens Communications, said: “We have been a major supplier of Proximus since the very first day of their operations, back in 1994. We are very pleased that Proximus has acknowledged that we share the same vision on how the core network is set to evolve over the next few years.”

Crescendo Ventures led the round with Atlas Venture, TLcom Capital Partners and TTP Ventures all participating

Cognima, the effortless mobile imaging company, today announced it has closed a $12m funding round. The round was led by Crescendo Ventures. All of Cognima's current investors, Atlas Venture, TLcom Capital Partners and TTP Ventures, also participated.

280 million camera-phones are forecast* to be sold in 2005 (source: Future Image 2004 Mobile Imaging Report) with newer camera-phones having multi-megapixel resolution. These devices will account for the vast majority of digital images captured, but most of these photos remain stuck on the phone. Cognima enables camera-phone users to upload their photos and video clips effortlessly into online albums from where they can be shared and printed. This unlocks the phenomenal potential of camera-phones and enables Mobile Imaging industry players to create significant revenues from this market.

"Crescendo is delighted to lead this investment round in Cognima," said Ian Jenks, General Partner of Crescendo Ventures. "Cognima's technology is uniquely able to transfer photos and videos on and off mobile phones in a completely non-intrusive and totally reliable way, with just a single key press. The technology was designed to deal with the adverse real-world conditions of moving data over mobile networks whilst making the consumer experience effortless."

 "This funding round will enable Cognima to build on its current commercial traction and seize a global leadership position within the mobile imaging industry," said Mark Bole, CEO of Cognima.

Cognima licenses its technology to service providers in the Mobile Imaging industry: primarily mobile network operators and online photo portals. Cognima's core value proposition is revolutionising the consumer experience for moving images between camera-phones and online photo albums. For mobile network operators, this drives a substantial increase in data traffic, and therefore ARPU, as consumers transfer their photos and video clips over the mobile network. Online photo portals benefit from capturing a much greater share of the images taken on camera phones, driving revenues from photo prints and advertising.

Anite Telecoms today announced the commercial launch of its first HSDPA test case package. The product, now being shipped to customers, is the result of Anite's continuous collaboration with the world's leading wireless operators and developers, and demonstrates its commitment to offering the best service possible to its customers.

Anite already offers over two years' HSDPA testing experience, and has provided customers with the necessary expertise to assist them in their development of HSDPA-enabled handsets. The 10 test cases now available include tests for RRC (Radio Resource Control) and conformance testing of the MAC (Medium Access Control) protocol layer. Testing of this functionality is of critical importance to handset manufacturers.

Furthermore, customers' test system investment is protected as these HSDPA test cases can be executed on Anite's revolutionary SAT(A)UE multiple-technology testing platform. With no upgrade required, customers are provided with an integrated, flexible testing solution. The SAT(A)UE hardware also supports intersystem handover tests for HSDPA.

Richard Bellairs, Product Marketing Manager at Anite Telecoms commented: "By working closely with operators and developers on HSDPA over the years, we are now in a strong position to provide our customers with the best service as early in the development cycle as possible. Anite continues to support customers through HSDPA design validation and now conformance testing. The launch of HSDPA test cases will essentially ensure customers are provided with the appropriate equipment in preparation for the consumer launch of HSDPA-enabled handsets in early 2006."

40 staff join Ericsson Global Services business

Ericsson has announced the acquisition of the Swedish company Teleca OSS, with around 40 employees, specialized in systems
integration in the area of telecom management.

Ericsson's systems integration offering supports network operators in creating, managing and evolving new consumer service offerings. It is a strategic area in the Ericsson Global Services portfolio and the acquisition of the Swedish company Teleca OSS reinforces Ericsson's focus on growing its services business.

Teleca OSS, a subsidiary to the Swedish company Teleca, has a strong track record of supplying service assurance, network management and operator charging solutions. They provide operators with the necessary tools to improve the quality of their services toward consumers. Teleca OSS customers are mainly large network operators in the Nordic and Baltic region. Around 40 employees will be transferred from Teleca OSS to Ericsson's market unit for the Nordic and Baltic region.

Johan Wibergh, Head of Market Unit Nordic & Baltic, Ericsson, said: "Systems integration is a strategic area for Ericsson. I am pleased to announce this acquisition that will further strengthen our ability to support our customers in offering attractive consumer services in a fast and efficient way. Teleca OSS's skills and experience fits perfectly with our competence and our leading systems integration offering."

First digital mobile TV trial in partnership with Nokia and Abertis Telecom

Abertis Telecom, Nokia and Telefónica Móviles España are starting a mobile TV pilot using Digital Video Boadcasting-Handheld (DVB-H) technology. The project, which is backed by major regional and local channels, is first of its kind to take place in Spain. The pilot is a result of the convergence of mobile communications and TV broadcasting technologies. The pilot will take place in Madrid and Barcelona between September 2005 and February 2006, coinciding with the closing ceremony of the GSM World Congress 2006 in Barcelona.

500 users from Madrid and Barcelona will be able to watch high quality broadcast TV content from Antena 3, Sogecable, Telecinco, Telemadrid, TVE and TV3 on Nokia 7710 smartphones equipped with a special accessory to receive mobile TV broadcasts. With a wide color touch-screen (640 x 320 píxels) and stereo music player, users will also have the opportunity to take part in program related interactive services while watching TV.
 
The first technical pilots prior to the actual consumer pilot will start in June 2005. The consumer pilot will allow the three companies to test the feasibility of DVB-H technology and new mobile TV services. It will also be a chance to assess new business opportunities as well as refine the user experience. The pilot will assist in possible market research that would enable Abertis Telecom, Nokia and Telefónica Móviles to measure public interest in mobile TV services. Another important objective is to test the quality of the signal and broadcast in- and outdoors, in order to determine the best technical parameters for the viability of DVB-H based services.
 
Under the terms of the agreement, Telefónica Móviles is responsible for customer support, invoicing and interactive services. Abertis Telecom will broadcast the programs in Madrid and Barcelona and are also handling any technical issues with DVB-H signal. Nokia will provide the Mobile TV solution and smartphones that will be used for the pilot.

Martin Dawes Systems says Q1 profits up 100%

Martin Dawes Systems, provider of CRM and billing solutions to telecom operators and resellers, has announced strong growth for Q1 2005, with revenues increasing by over 50 per cent compared with the comparable period last year coupled with a significant increase in profitability. 

The growth in demand for its CRM, billing solutions and  services has spurred Martin Dawes Systems to recruit 40 new employees in the Warrington and Limerick areas, with further expansion already planned.  Managing Director Dewi Thomas says that the new appointments will be focused on continuing
Martin Dawes Systems' momentum in the market through further enouncements to its billing analysis tool, Analyser, and a continuing roll-out of its Virtual Network Enabler (VNE) service powered by dise3G.

"Analyser is proving to be successful with the market as the need for billing and cost analysis becomes more important to corporates," commented Dewi Thomas, managing director. "

The emergence of MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) is also a key factor in Martin Dawes Systems' increasing success.  The company's enabler (VNE) service offers the system infrastructure and back office expertise to help companies, typically with strong brands but limited telecoms
experience, to enter new communications markets without having to invest in costly IT systems and support staff. 

Thomas explains, "As a fomer MVNO ourselves, the company has huge technical and operational expertise in bringing communications services to market. The VNE service portfolio takes away many of the day-to-day demands of managing the back office and allows MVNOs to concentrate on their core
business of promoting and selling their branded services.  The dise3G solution is already used by a number of the major operators in the UK, including O2, Vodafone and Opal Telecom (a subsidiary of Carphone Warehouse), and the market as a whole is increasingly recognising the operational benefits that our end-to-end solution delivers."

SRH3000 series

Sepura announces the introduction of the SRH3000 series of hand-held TETRA radios. The series includes the SRH3500 and the SRH3800 ranges.   

In addition to the features and functions from the award winning 2000 series of TETRA radios, the SRH3000 series platform provides significant advances and innovations in TETRA radio technology. These changes focus on the operational usability of the radios, security and users’ safety.

The SRH3500 range is the first family of radios on the TETRA market to include a 16 shade greyscale screen with a definition capable of displaying maps and images.

The SRH3000 hand-held series introduces a faster processor and increased memory.  All radios are provided with an End-to-End encryption hardware platform incorporating a dedicated, tamperproof microprocessor and a smart card connector for End-to-End encryption use, with the support of TETRA Encryption air interface Algorithms TEA1, TEA2, TEA3 and TEA4.
 
The User Interface of the SRH3500 and SRH3800 ranges can display ISO 8859-2 and ISO 8859-5 character sets including English, Italian, Swedish, French, German, Spanish, Dutch and Cyrillic; it can also display the ideographic character sets of Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Korean and Arabic.

Both ranges incorporate the ultra-sensitive and fully-integrated sGPS device, unique to Sepura in TETRA, winner in May 2005 of the British Security Industry Association (BSIA) award for the best new communication security product.

Graham Matthews, Managing Director for Sepura commented: “We have updated and extended Sepura’s hand-held radios portfolio to meet the growing international market demands for TETRA radios. During the last three years, Sepura has brought to market eleven different TETRA radios and associated advanced management tools. The introduction of these new products is a response to our continuous monitoring of user requirements and is ample proof that we listen to our customers; it also reinforces our long-term and long-standing commitment to the market place”.