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Mobile TeleSystems OJSC, said to be the largest mobile phone operator in Russia and the CIS, has announced the launch of a test zone of its UMTS (3G) network in Uzbekistan and technical readiness for commercial launch in late 2008.
 
Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, became the first city in the region where MTS launched its next-generation network. The company plans to cover the entire city and to announce the commercial launch by the end of the year. Additional cities will be launched in 2009, including Samarkand, Bukhara, and Andijan.

Huawei Technologies was selected by MTS to provide 3G equipment, as well as technical support and employee training.

"MTS is the leading mobile operator in Uzbekistan and plays a key role in the development of the country's telecommunications market. With the launch of our 3G network, we will bring the most innovative mobile products and services to our subscribers along with the high quality of customer service," said Mr. Bekhzod Akhmedov, Head of MTS Uzbekistan. "Given the low penetration level of fixed internet connections, we see great prospects for growth by delivering mobile broadband solutions through our 3G network."

Development of UMTS networks is a cornerstone of MTS' strategy to provide mobile broadband in the CIS. As these markets demonstrate relatively low levels of fixed-line penetration and historic underinvestment in infrastructure, MTS says it views its networks as an ideal vehicle to meet the growing broadband Internet needs of its subscribers through attractive data products and services.

MTS launched its first 3G network in Russia in May 2008 and plans to launch the network in Armenia in early 2009. MTS is currently operating a CDMA-450 network in Ukraine to provide high-speed data access for its clients.

Atos Origin, an international IT services company, and InfoGin, a specialist in web-to-mobile content and functionality adaptation solutions, have implemented a web-to-mobile content adaptation solution for Telefónica de España Mobile Business, the largest wireless operator in Spain.

As the prime contractor, Atos Origin was in charge of providing complete project management services and responsible for overall integration of InfoGin's Intelligent Mobile Platform.

"We are very happy with the outcome of this collaboration, it has enabled us to provide end-to-end services to Telefónica's end users and guarantee the highest quality of service requirements," said Miguel Bravo, Telefonica Executive Key Account Manager, Atos Origin. "The partnership builds on Atos Origin's long track record of successful deployment and management of enhanced critical revenue services at Telefónica."

"We are delighted that Telefónica has joined the list of global tier-1 operators in Europe, through its strategic move to provide mobile users with the best real Internet experience," said Eran Wyler, CEO & Founder of InfoGin. "This will inevitably drive a significant increase in user uptake of these new services over the coming years."

Independent mobile agency RingRing Media, today announced the launch of ‘I'AM', said to be the mobile industry's first mobile advertising network optimisation platform which connects publishers to the largest possible pool of advertisers.

I'AM is said to integrate with a broad range of local and global mobile ad networks (including Admob, Millenial Media, Adshandy, Mkhoj and BuzzCity), automatically routing traffic to the most relevant ad network which is achieving the highest revenue for that particular user, handset and demographic.

Typically mobile publishers appoint an ad network to serve ads into their mobile site. I contrast, I'AM is said to dynamically segment and route traffic to the highest yielding ad network to provide publishers with 100 per cent fill rates.

Harry Dewhirst, Co-Founder of RingRing Media, commented: "Our vision of mobile advertising 2.0 is dynamically selecting from a pool of ads the most targeted and highest revenue generating ad for a specific user.

"With the launch of I'AM I believe we have fulfilled this vision, creating a platform which creates a win-win situation for ad network, advertiser, publisher and user alike. "

Christophe Hocquet, CEO of mobile social networking site Moblr commented: "Having previously worked with Google's Mobile AdSense, our new partnership with RingRing Media's I'AM platform has transformed mobile advertising from a hobby to a viable business prospect for Moblr, helping us to turn our mobile inventory into money at a much faster pace than with any other individual ad provider."

Dexterra, a provider of software to automate and manage mobile workforces, has today announced the close of 21.5 million USD in funding. New Enterprise Associates led the round with additional investment from the company's existing investors Canaan Partners, Intel Capital, Mesirow Financial, Motorola Ventures and Sigma Partners.  

The round of funding will support the advancement of Dexterra's mobile business platform and applications, partner and wireless carrier ecosystem and future opportunity in one of the fastest-expanding segments in the enterprise software market.  Dexterra's has experienced double digit percent growth year-over-year.

"With this additional round of financing we aim to continue driving the direction of the mobile enterprise software market and reinforce our position as the leading provider of mobile business platform and applications," said Michael Liebow, chief executive officer, Dexterra.  "Reinvestment in the company from the existing investors demonstrates their continuing support in our team, technology, business vision and the overall market opportunity for advanced mobile business software that help organisations maximise their enterprise application investments through mobility."

"Today's challenging economic environment makes deciding which companies to invest in more difficult than ever," said Scott Sandell, general partner at New Enterprise Associates.  "We've been closely watching the growth of enterprise mobility and Dexterra is well positioned as a market leader.  We are impressed by Dexterra's revenue traction in both enterprise and carrier markets, strong suite of products targeted at growing markets and unwavering dedication to product excellence and customer success."

Business Logic Systems, a developer of business intelligence and marketing campaign software for mobile telecoms companies, has launched InTelestage Revenue Optimiser, a new managed service which is said to help mobile telcos increase revenues from pre-paid customers, while building long-term loyalty.

Revenue Optimiser is an automated recharge management and measurement tool that enables mobile operators to incentivise and reward notoriously fickle and hard-to-monitor pre-paid customers via personalised SMS marketing campaigns. As a managed service, it can be funded from operating, rather than capital expenditure, for a fast ROI with little risk.

By enabling marketeers to segment pre-paid customers based on often unused usage data from billing systems, Revenue Optimiser minimises revenues lost through value destructive, scattergun offers and blanket discounts that do not necessarily change customer behaviour.

Subscribers are rewarded for profitable behaviour with bonuses paid, for example, on the value, timing or method of their recharge. As they become more engaged in interactive text marketing, subscribers also become more willing to buy extra services. This enables mobile telcos to significantly increase the lifetime value of their customers.

Because the entire process is automated, multiple campaigns can run simultaneously to different micro segments of the subscriber base.  Offers can be applied directly to subscriber accounts, without any need for manual intervention.

"Revenue Optimiser resolves a huge headache for mobile operators," says Stewart Goldberg, Executive Chairman, Business Logic Systems, "As markets reach saturation, mobile operators must focus on reducing churn while increasing the lifetime value of prepaid customers to sustain revenue growth. To do this in the current economic climate where there is increasing pressure to reduce capital expenditure presents a real challenge to operators.

"Revenue Optimiser is a cost effective solution that requires no up front investment, no technical know-how and empowers marketeers to quickly and easily roll out targeted loyalty campaigns to reward and retain profitable customers."

Set-up is said to be simple. A data collection server is installed on the customer premises and is connected via VPN to equipment located in one of Business Logic Systems' secure data centres. Once the system is up and running, a monthly consultation session can be provided for maintenance purposes. User rights on different levels can be established for increased security.

Mobile TeleSystems, said to be the largest mobile operator in Russia and the CIS, has today announced that it will launch iPhone 3G in Russia tomorrow (October 3). 
 
"We are very excited to partner with Apple to launch iPhone 3G in Russia, a testimony to our success in bringing mobile communications to the largest customer base in the country," said Aleksander Popovskiy, Head of MTS Russia. "MTS was the first Russian operator to develop a pan-regional 3G network, and we are focused on offering our 61 million subscribers the most innovative multimedia content and mobile broadband Internet solutions."

The company will start offering iPhone 3G at midnight on Friday, October 3, in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Vladivostok and Yekaterinburg, followed by other major cities in Russia later that day.
MTS will sell iPhone 3G in around 1,400 MTS-branded retail stores, as well as through its dealer networks.

mobilePeople, a local mobile search company, has today received $8million USD investment from Nordic based venture capitalist firm Via Venture Partners. The funding is said to mean that mobilePeople has the ability to expand its international reach within the global mobile search and advertising space.

Via Venture Partners is a multi stage venture fund investing in companies in the Nordic region. The company invests in internet, communication software and ICT growth companies.

"Via Venture Partners only invests in the best of breed technology and companies and mobilePeople is a case in point. Mobile People has consistently proved that mobile local search and advertising is a fantastic monetisation opportunity and that dedication to customers pays dividends in the long run," said Peter Thorlund Haahr, Senior Partner at Via Ventures.

Jens Andersen, CEO and co-founder of mobilePeople commented on the funding: "This injection of funds will allow us to ensure our global expansion and to focus on the continuous roll-out of innovative mobile services and local advertising solutions for our customers in the directory publishing space."

UK company, Quiconnect, has today announced that it has been selected by DeFi Mobile to establish pervasive wireless broadband interconnection agreements with international telecoms and network operators so that users of DeFi's new voice over Wi-Fi service, DeFi Global Access, can roam seamlessly and get connected at public hotspot infrastructure as they travel worldwide.

A global IP mobile carrier headquartered in California, DeFi Mobile has invested in creating a carrier grade IP platform able to scale to 20 million users to deliver next generation feature-rich voice, mobile applications and services.  DeFi is claimed to be offering an unique solution whereby consumers pay a flat fee of £25 per month to make and receive unlimited long distance calls, have unrestricted data and browser access, all using one mobile device on one robust network.

Jeff Rice, DeFi Mobile's chief executive officer, says, "Our ‘all you can eat' fixed priced package means that global travellers can now stay in touch easily with colleagues, family and friends without paying exorbitant international mobile roaming or web access charges.  As well, companies who use DeFi Global Access can slash their mobile phone and mobile data connections costs, freeing their executives and employees to use mobile communications whenever and wherever they need to."

Supporting the S60 platform, DeFi runs on smartphones which have both cellular and Wi-Fi capability, typically Nokia's E and N series handsets.  DeFi's ‘over the air' provisioning solution programs the network and provisions handsets in real time without any user involvement.

Following a simple login process on DeFi's web site, consumers download the application onto their phones, select local numbers for the countries they want and are ready to go, with the DeFi solution automatically connecting users to available access points whether they be at home, work or in public places. 

DeFi Mobile's Rice explains, "We are unique in offering phone numbers in 30 countries, with our customers able to choose up to three local country-specific DeFi numbers if they wish.  So, for example, if you're travelling to the UK, Spain and Brazil on a regular basis, you could select these countries, be assigned a local number, all of which would ring on your one handset."

This approach means that technology savvy customers who have tried to avoid paying costly roaming charges by having multiple SIM cards and handsets no longer need to do this, nor do people calling them incur high call costs either. 

Rice adds, "With simultaneous ringing and call forwarding features, if a call to a DeFi number is made and the user is not connected to Wi-Fi at that time, calls can still be received via cellular connectivity so the user doesn't miss a call."

Given its heritage offering RADIUS integration services and expertise working with the world's leading telecoms companies and hotspot network operators - some 45 companies since active interconnections started in 2005 - Quiconnect was chosen by DeFi Mobile to assist in getting them connected to quality networks quickly and securely. 

VEX, Latin America's number one Wi-Fi network operator with over 3000 hotspots, and Y5Zone, a leading Hong Kong-based operator with over 800 hotspots in the territory, have been chosen as the first integrations with additional operators coming online over time. 

In 2006, Quiconnect was chosen as the Wireless Broadband Alliance-approved WRIX partner - one of only three independent companies to have achieved this accreditation - which means it is authorised to provide WLAN systems integration services among the WBA membership, comprising 28 of the world's leading telcos, as well as non-WBA companies. 

Jeff Mabe, Quiconnect's vice president, sales and marketing, says, "By connecting directly to our platform, DeFi Mobile avoids going out to each and every telco or network operator and negotiating technical and commercial terms on an individual basis, as we've already done that on its behalf. This means its network can be expanded quickly, with services to DeFi users broadened easily as they work to become the premier mobile voice over wireless provider."

Nokia and OZ Communications have announced that Nokia is to acquire OZ, a privately held company with approximately 220 employees and headquartered in Montreal, Canada. OZ, a consumer mobile messaging solution provider, delivers access to popular instant messaging and email services on consumer mobile devices.

"With OZ, Nokia is renewing its mission of Connecting People by enabling consumers to easily connect and communicate using their favorite Internet communities," said Niklas Savander, Head of Nokia Services & Software. "OZ's team and technology will help Nokia to address the fast growing consumer messaging market."

By acquiring OZ, Nokia will enable easy-to-use, fast access to leading instant messaging and email services, including AOL, Gmail, ICQ, Windows Live Hotmail, Windows Live Messenger and Yahoo!. With more than 5.5 million monthly paid users, OZ's solutions have been deployed by leading mobile operators on a wide array of mobile device platforms.

"OZ has been working closely with Nokia since 2003 - joining forces at this point is a natural extension of our partnership," said Jim Knapik, President and CEO of OZ. "We are excited about taking OZ's solutions to consumers worldwide by leveraging Nokia's devices and distribution scale."
 
The expertise and technology Nokia acquires through OZ is complementary to Nokia's existing portfolio of messaging solutions and will provide a complete portfolio of mobile messaging solutions for Series 40 and S60 devices. Nokia will continue to work closely with OZ's existing original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and mobile operator customers.
 
The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter 2008.  After the closing, OZ will become part of Nokia's Services & Software operative unit.

Shazam, a mobile music discovery provider, has announced a partnership with Samsung which will see the Shazam service embedded into Samsung mobiles, including the latest Beatb (model: M3510) and the Beats (model: M3200) mobiles.  The Shazam application on Samsung's new phones allows users to seamlessly discover music simply by holding their mobiles to the tune for just a few seconds and then go on to buy identified tracks through operators' dedicated music stores.

Shazam fully integrates with operators' music stores to allow users to download tracks directly to their handsets. T-Mobile is the first operator to offer this service from its own music store integrated onto Samsung's new music phones.

Luke Magnuson, International Music Category Manager, T-Mobile International comments: "Discovering new artists and tracks greatly enhances our customer's overall music experience and is a key element to T-Mobile's Mobile Jukebox service.   By seamlessly integrating Shazam's music discovery service on Samsung devices to our fully-fledged music store, we offer an exciting way for our customers to get music the moment they want it."

Samsung and Shazam are actively working together to integrate Shazam's music application into Samsung's variety of lineups - not only for music specialised mobiles but also those in the style categories.

Younghee Lee, VP Marketing at Samsung explains: "We see features like Shazam's music recognition as very important to enhance the consumer's experience for music on-the-go.  Music recognition and purchase will be a core feature of our music phones."

Andrew Fisher, Shazam's CEO adds: "By offering users the ability to immediately purchase music at the point of inspiration, Shazam can turn a specific music moment into a lifelong memory associating a song with the emotions and experiences the individual felt when they first heard it. Shazam is working with its partners to not only simplify purchasing but drive more value through increased music sales and a richer experience."

Mobile messaging including short message service (SMS), multimedia messaging service (MMS) and mobile instant messaging (IM) are making strong gains in Western Europe, according to new analysis from Frost & Sullivan.

According to F&S, SMS still represents the lion's share of mobile data services revenues in Western Europe in 2007. While MMS has failed to replicate SMS' success, many operators are looking on MMS as a medium for delivering user-created content, advertisements and news, which is likely to spur usage and adoption. Value-added features will be key to driving the uptake of mobile IM services.

The analysis 'From SMS, MMS to Mobile IM- Mobile Messaging Markets Gaining Ground in Western Europe', found that SMS revenues generated approximately E16.42 billion in Western Europe in 2007 and this is forecast to decline to E14.59 billion in 2011, with a negative CAGR of 2.9 per cent from 2007 to 2011.

In 2007, MMS and other data applications generated E7.40 billion and this is a forecast to grow to E24.28 billion in 2011, with a CAGR of 34.5 per cent from 2007 to 2011. Growth over the forecast period will depend on interconnectivity issues being resolved between European operators and the reduction in MMS charges.

Mobile IM is expected to co-exist with SMS and other data applications with some operators stating that their voice and SMS revenues have increased between 4 to 8 per cent after the launch of Mobile IM services.

"Operators that offer mobile IM services will have a headstart in marketing and interconnecting their mobile-centric communities with other cellular networks worldwide and also with the Internet IM communities," notes Frost & Sullivan Programme Manager Luke Thomas. "This is imperative if operators want mobile IM to be as successful as SMS on a global basis."

Integrating mobile IM and presence information to the address book will encourage the adoption of sharing contact lists across varied services and client devices, and this could become a requisite for integrated operators having both fixed and mobile assets.

Although mobile IM will cannibalise other types of messaging, particularly SMS, mobile operators can attain greater revenues from all types of messaging services if they skilfully position each messaging service along with careful pricing strategies.

Despite all these value-added features, some operators have not fully accepted mobile IM due to the maturity of market segments as well as concerns of SMS revenues being cannibalised. Nevertheless, mobile IM has the potential to be the next major growth opportunity for mobile operators.

"Mobile operators should encourage the adoption of mobile IM, enabled with presence information by building on their own mobile IM services," states Thomas. "They should also mobilise existing IM communities in parallel, thereby playing a pivotal role in the dynamic environment surrounding them in the world of convergence, by positioning mobile IM as a smooth evolutionary rather than revolutionary upgrade/user experience to SMS."

Once operators extend the existing SMS and voice bundles to include MMS and mobile IM, increased adoption driving individual usage of mobile IM and MMS will be experienced over the forecast period.

A new analysis by Juniper Research of the rapidly evolving market for money transfer and remittances via mobile phones forecasts that in excess of 100m users globally will use their mobile phones to make international money transfers by 2013. These cross border mobile money transfers are currently in their infancy, but are expected to gain traction over the next two to three years, especially on migration routes such as Philippines/Middle East and Mexico/USA.

The report found that there is a significant opportunity for mobile money transfer service providers and vendors, for both national services between mobile users in a single country and internationally. The study explores how mobile money transfer will transform the ability of the ‘underbanked' population and migrant workers to make remittances, using their mobile phones as mobile wallets.

Report author Howard Wilcox explained: "The vast increase in migrant workers globally has fuelled the number of remittances being sent home to friends and families regularly. The mobile phone will become a vital enabler in developing countries because often many more people have phones than have bank accounts. The GSM Association Mobile Money Transfer global initiative emphasises the importance that is attached to this across the mobile industry as a whole."

Highlights from the report include:

  • Mobile international transfers are forecast to grow in frequency as users become more accustomed to the process, exceeding one per month by 2013 on average globally.
  • The opportunity for companies providing national and international money transfer services is forecast to exceed $5bn by 2013.
  • The top 3 regions (W. Europe, N. America and Africa & Middle East) will represent over 75% of the global international mobile money transfer gross transaction value by 2013.

 

The report provides six year regional forecasts of mobile money transfers and remittances, providing data on subscriber take-up, transaction sizes and volumes for both national (domestic) and international transactions. Crucially, the report identifies the incremental ARPU opportunity for mobile network operators, arising from these new services. Case studies and interviews with companies pioneering in this market are also featured.

Huawei Technologies has today announced the launch of the industry's 'first' 3G / 2G Software Defined Radio (SDR) Single RAN product. The base station has been developed in close cooperation with technologists from Vodafone who are said to be exploring how to enhance the customer experience in a more cost-effective and energy efficient way.

The product enables mobile operators to seamlessly switch from 2G to 3G or use both simultaneously, with the potential to offer total cost of ownership savings to operators. The development is one of the first products from Huawei and Vodafone's Radio Mobile Innovation Centre based in Madrid, Spain.

Using Huawei's latest Remote Radio Unit, Huawei's Single RAN solution aims to provide greater cost efficiencies for operators in the areas of power consumption, transmission expense, footprint and maintenance costs when compared with traditional BTS solutions.

In either 2G, 3G or mixed mode, the solution is designed to enable operators to make significant CAPEX and OPEX savings because they only need to deploy a single Radio Access Network base station, compared to the costs involved with two independent 2G and 3G networks. Paving the way for technology evolution as well as protecting operators' network investment, Huawei's Single RAN Solution is also capable of seamlessly migrating to LTE.

"Vodafone has played a key role in helping to develop this innovative technology, which aims to deliver greater flexibility in terms of both running and planning increasingly cost effective networks in selected markets," said Andy MacLeod, Global Networks Director of Vodafone. "The ability to switch between different radio access technologies is designed to deliver a range of business benefits such as enabling the more efficient management of network capacity in appropriate markets. This technology also aims to reduce carbon emissions from base stations."

"Huawei is happy to have been able to collaborate closely with Vodafone to achieve this important industry milestone," said Wan Biao, the President of Huawei Wireless Product Line. "Over the course of its strategic partnership with Vodafone, Huawei has proven its significant track-record combining technological expertise with its customer-driven service capability. This strengthens Vodafone's leading market position as well as allowing Huawei to further build on one of the broadest product portfolios in the industry."

A study into the potential impact of unlimited music download mobile packages has unveiled a UK market worth £1.6 billion a year.

Last week's statement by Sony Ericsson that it will partner with Omnifone to offer its PlayNow plus service is the latest in the race to bring unlimited music downloads bundles to market - kicked off by Nokia's recent announcement that its ‘Comes With Music' package will be available from next month. Research specialist TNS believes this latest concept could revolutionise the mobile marketplace - with over a quarter (26%) of consumers interested in buying into this offer.

The impact of millions of users switching to unlimited music downloads would be huge, says TNS. With consumers estimating that they would download 64 tracks per month on their phones, TNS identifies a potential for British buyers alone to download 2.1 billion tracks a year via their mobile phones - equating to £1.6 billion worth of music. With legal UK music downloads in 2007 standing at just 1.5 billion across all channels, the step-change that unlimited mobile downloads could bring will mean big business for mobile operators.

The study also indicates that the new bundled music download services could shift consumers' music habits away from older CD and PC-based technologies.  45% of CD buyers in Britain claim that they would buy fewer CDs if they adopted Nokia ‘Comes With Music', while 47% of PC music down-loaders would expect to reduce their PC downloading.  And of significant interest for the music industry, 38 per cent of those who currently download pirated music would expect to reduce their illegal downloading activity following adoption of Nokia's service.

Amy Cashman, Managing Director of TNS Technology comments: "This research clearly underscores the powerful latent consumer demand for mobile music availability - which if successfully fulfilled will transform the way that people buy music as well as reducing illegal downloads.

"History indicates, however, that the execution against this demand has not always been ideal for consumers.  For example, incompatible file formats, download restrictions and lack of choice have all conspired in the past to act as barriers against consumer take-up of digital music platforms.  No doubt the industry will be watching closely to see if Nokia and Sony Ericsson will be able to move the goalposts substantially forward."