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As required by regulator

Telekom Austria’s mobile subsidiary mobilkom austria and T-Mobile Austria reached an agreement with regard to the sale of a UMTS frequency package (2x5 MHz). mobilkom austria held a total of 4 frequency packages amounting to 19.8 MHz (FDD) following the acquisition of the Austrian subsidiary of Telefonica Moviles.

In compliance with the requirements of the Austrian Regulatory Authority RTR, mobilkom austria has disposed of one of its packages. Thus, mobilkom austria is the first European operator that has successfully completed a UMTS frequency transaction.

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Telekom Austria

Not many further details as yet

Tapio Hintikka has informed that he with immediate effect resigns as member and chairman of the board of directors of TeliaSonera AB.

Tapio Hintikka has been chairman of TeliaSonera since the combination between Telia and Sonera in December 2002. He was previously the chairman of Sonera.

The board of TeliaSonera will hold an extra meeting to elect a new chairman. Until then the vice chairman of TeliaSonera Carl Bennet, will hold the position as chairman.

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Although the last three years have seen an overall downturn in total BSS sales, one sector is bucking the trend.  Next-generation services require real-time, or at least near real-time, billing capabilities.  Operators are going to have to address real-time billing - but they are more likely to do this by adding a module or adjunct system, or by upgrading their mediation systems. The days of mega end-to-end deals are numbered.

Chorleywood's latest report, GLOBAL TRENDS IN TELECOMS BSS AND BCC MARKET FORECASTS reviews the BSS market and looks ahead to what might happen in this sector over the next five years. The report demonstrates the foothold that vendors, in particular CSG Systems, have gained by acquisition.

"CSG is the company to watch - it has grown hugely by  acquisition to get a worldwide cross sector base.  Its installed base is one of the highest in terms of announced sales in 2003," comments Ann Swallow, Chorleywood Markets Manager and author of the report.

"But TelesensKSCL also grew like that 4 years ago, and it suffered partly because the cost of its acquisitions in a declining market" cautions Ann Swallow.

Purchasing cycles are now longer than ever before impacting vendor revenues. Operators have gradually moved from a 3-4 year lifecycle in the telecom boom years for BCC systems to a current eight year lifecycle. Market share is dominated by a few global players suggesting further consolidation and acquisition among the remaining BSS vendors.

Current market leaders are:
- BCC: SchlumbergerSema (mostly now divested to LHS), CSG Systems and Convergys
- CRM: Amdocs and Siebel
- Mediation: Comptel and Ericsson

Mediation contract announcements show a rising trend over the last three years, in contrast to decline in the other two BSS sectors studied in the report.

Uniquely, the GLOBAL TRENDS report records operators'  satisfaction with key installation-related and  operation-related elements of their BSS. The cycle of purchase and sale of both BCC systems and vendors appears to have distracted some vendors from attending to the ongoing needs of some of their customers. There appears to be a correlation between rapid expansion and change of ownership and user dissatisfaction.

With 3G set for widespread launch in 2004 across Europe, operators are already thinking about the post 3G world and what comes next. According to a new report from mobile industry analysts, ARC Group, the technologies making the largest immediate impact on the post 3G world will be the upgrades to 3.5G and integration of WLAN into wide area networks.

Buoyed by a resurgence in infrastructure spending, industry attention is now focussing on the potential of HSDPA in particular to extend 3G capabilities on the road to an all-IP network and wireless/wireline convergence. Indeed, all the major vendors are now shipping HSDPA-enabled W-CDMA infrastructure and following the lead of NTT DoCoMo, which is planning on launching HSDPA services as early as 2005, all the key players are planning trials for the end of the year.

Against this background, ARC Group forecasts that 3.5G subscribers (including HSDPA, TDD and proprietary technologies like Flash OFDM) will reach 9.1 million subscribers by 2008.

In the run-up to 4G – which is not expected until 2010 at the earliest – operators will look for ways to enhance network performance through  evolutionary upgrades in the same way EDGE and 1xRTT have been used in the 2G world. HSDPA is expected to become the most popular of 3.5G technologies due to its support from major vendors like Nokia. HSDPA uses adaptive modulation and a new shared downlink transport channel type to achieve a two-fold increase in air interface capacity and a five-fold increase in data speeds in the downlink direction.

With the advent of WLAN enabled PDA’s and smartphones, there is likely to be more competition from PWLAN providers for broadband mobile revenues. However, rather than compete head on, PWLAN will be subsumed into the network mix, supplementing the 3G/3.5G network for data intensive applications. Despite this, mobile subscribers using PWLAN services over their mobile device will only make up around 50 million users by 2008, less than 20% of total 3G subscribers.

Chris White, Telecoms Consultant at ARC comments: "Too much attention  has been paid to how PWLAN will compete with 3G rather than looking at the benefits of combining both network technologies. Further integration of WLAN into the mobile network mix is one of the vital stepping stones to 4G. The so-called access pyramid model, where multiple networks coexist allowing users to seamlessly switch between the most appropriate network for the device and situation, will not substitute the need for a 4G network. At the heart of everything will be the core network, be it 3G or 4G, which will be supplemented by PAN and WLAN offerings and by network upgrades in the medium-term."

Announcement provides immediate route to market for European mobile content and service providers looking to leverage 150 million US mobile users

Netsize, the global leader for mobile business and entertainment solutions, has announced the launch of its two-way premium SMS offering for the United States. The announcement, made at this week's CTIA Wireless show in the US, opens up the North American market to UK mobile content and service providers looking to leverage the country's 150 million mobile users.

The Premium SMS market in the United States is still relatively new. Common short codes were launched in October 2003, and Premium SMS, currently the only efficient means of micro-payment in the US, recently became available on the networks of all tier one operators (AT&T, Cingular, Nextel, Sprint PCS, T-Mobile and Verizon).

"The US is an avid consumer of infotainment across all media channels," explains Stanislas Chesnais, Chairman of Netsize Group. "And now that mobile penetration rates are quickly reaching a level comparable to Europe, this represents an enormous opportunity for companies who have the right mix of technical know-how and compelling mobile content."

Industry analysts have estimated that whilst the European Premium SMS market will be worth over $4 billion by 2006, this could be eclipsed by a potential $4.5 billion in the US, driven by mobile marketing, downloads and television interaction.

Using the Netsize Multimedia Vending Machine (a carrier-grade content management platform that offers content providers an immediate route to market, managing the hosting, delivery and billing of content) the announcement means that Netsize can now offer a single point of access to a global network of 500 million billable mobile consumers.

This international framework is complemented by a local presence in 18 countries (including the United States) that allows Netsize to customize its solutions for specific markets in order to take into account differences in language, culture, regulations, currencies and technologies.

Orange today launched its first dedicated IT reseller channel partner programme in the UK aimed at delivering on the needs of the medium business market.  The mobile operator is expanding its channel programme to include IT resellers and systems integrators through a concerted recruitment drive, as demand for mobile solutions such as telemetry, email and field force automation continues to grow.

The channel programme team will ensure that IT resellers have easy access to Orange products and services, as well as providing training, product and marketing support to ensure that customers receive excellent customer service. IT resellers will benefit from a flexible approach from Orange that will enable them to deliver their customers with both simple and bespoke mobile solutions. 

Sam Sandercock, head of channel sales, Orange, said, "Companies often have long-standing relationships with particular IT suppliers, and would like to buy mobility solutions from one place rather than having to approach multiple suppliers.  With this programme, our aim is to ensure that Orange is accessible to all companies seeking mobile solutions, no matter what purchasing route they choose."

Criteria for appointing Orange resellers will include: proven experience in deployment of IT solutions to customers, financial stability, a strong customer base, ability to provide technical support to customers and a clear focus on mobility. Orange will also be looking for specialised telemetry resellers to work with this rapidly expanding customer market.  Detailed information on how to qualify for the programme can be found at www.orange.co.uk/channelpartner. 

Orange products will complement existing fixed solutions offered by IT resellers and will enable them to realise additional revenue channels from the growing mobile and wireless space.  Resellers will be able to offer wireless capabilities to their existing customer base, selling the products as either simple access solutions - with repeatable sales providing immediate business advantage, or combine them into more complex bespoke solutions tailored to the individual customer's need.

The Orange reseller product portfolio will consist of products and applications ranging from vehicle tracking, database access, mobile email, field force enablement, remote monitoring and control, and business text messaging.  They will also have early access to new data devices and technologies such as 3G.  A full list of available products can be viewed at www.orange.co.uk/channelpartner.

Next phase of O2 Active launched with additional functionality provided by SurfKitchen's SurfKit Mobile solution

SurfKitchen, the leading provider of access management technology for mobile data services, today announced its crucial role in extending O2 Active, made available to O2 Germany's mobile subscribers from today. O2 Active includes an innovative, full-colour mobile offline client application. This offers mobile users simple access to key services like ringtones, games or even O2's mms2postcard service. In combination with the new UMTS O2 Active online portal the client provides a much better user experience for online data and multimedia services directly from a mobile device.

The launch of these O2 Active features means that for the first time, users can view services on the handset itself without having to go online. Once the desired content is found, the customer can connect directly to the information with just one click. O2 UK's successful launch of the next phase of O2 Active in February 2004 demonstrated that SurfKit Mobile significantly improves the customer experience, making the process of locating and accessing premium data services simpler, more intuitive and more cost-effective.

SurfKit Mobile is the first solution that enables an operator to remotely customise and control information on the user's handset, as its user interface can be managed and updated over the air. This is done by a straightforward, cost-effective platform, which is always present on the subscriber's phone. This provides the capability for O2 Germany to brand and customise the mobile desktop to extend and build its identity.

Lutz Schuler, Senior Vice President Product Management & Strategy, O2 Germany said: "The combination of the SurfKitchen offline client application in combination with our UMTS O2 Active online portal offers "best of both worlds" - offline and online - for mobile data usage. It is an important step in stimulating further adoption of data services in Germany by improving the subscriber's ease of use - SurfKitchen's innovative platform does this very effectively."

Philip Letts, CEO of SurfKitchen, said: "The frustrating aspect of data services for many mobile operators is that they have the high-value content available, but it is not easy enough for the end-user to access and consume that content. Our technology bridges this gap by allowing operators to reach into a device and improve the user's experience. I strongly believe this will drive greater usage of data services and ultimately higher average revenue per user for the operator. Loyalty can also be built and churn reduced through pro-active customer care and increased user personalisation."

CTIA Wireless 2004

Ukrainian Mobile Communications (UMC), a wholly owned subsidiary of Mobile TeleSystems, has chosen Psytechnics to implement a voice quality measurement solution across UMC's network of 3.5 million wireless subscribers.

UMC increased its customer base in 2003 by 97% and required a system to track the quality of service delivered to customers, especially during a time of rapid growth. The company needed an integrated network management system that truly reflected the experience of their customers. Only then could UMC monitor and improve its network.

In response, Psytechnics is providing UMC non-intrusive voice quality monitoring capabilities, through its PsyQ analysis system. This will provide real-time analysis of the voice quality delivered by the network from a customer perspective.

The NiQA and CCI algorithms contained within PsyQ generate Mean Opinion Score (MOS) based assessments and diagnostics. These are gathered by a central network management system and used in the detection of faults, missed revenue opportunities and also fraud.

"We have experienced extremely rapid growth over the past few years and our primary commitment remains the quality of service we provide to customers," said Eric Franke, UMC Chief Executive Officer. "Voice quality is a key consideration for all our users. The Psytechnics solution is unique because it enables real-time monitoring of live customer traffic, effectively maintaining the network from a customer perspective."

"Traditionally, engineering metrics such as radio signal strength and loading have been the only metrics available to measure network performance," said Iain Wood, marketing director at Psytechnics. "The NiQA algorithm enables a new generation of network monitoring tools that target problems which actually affect customers. This can only be achieved using a system that looks at live traffic, giving measurements of user experience where and when they are making calls. The implementation of PsyQ will mean clear, crisp calls for UMC customers across the Ukraine."

Psytechnics is demonstrating PsyQ and other voice quality measurement technology at CTIA 2004 in Atlanta, Georgia, March 22 - 24, 2004, Hall B5, Booth 5066.

Orange decides to implement the pioneering WeRoam SIM authentication service

Within the scope of its WLAN strategy, mobile operator Orange has decided for Switzerland to implement the pioneering SIM authentication technology and global roaming service by WeRoam, a service belonging to TOGEWAnet AG. This business partnership with WeRoam will enable Orange to offer its customers access to 8,000 national and international hotspots with immediate effect. WeRoam will also enable Orange's customers to access the wireless Internet  service via SIM authentication on a secure and convenient way. This system does away with the need to use annoying voucher cards, temporary passwords and other time-consuming log-in procedures. All users need is a SIM card and a personal PIN number.

This new WLAN service will complement Orange's existing GSM and GPRS mobile communication solutions. Indeed, in the future SIM authentication is set to make seamless transitions between WLAN, GPRS and UMTS possible.

WeRoam is a global WLAN roaming service and, as a neutral service platform, connects the networks of the leading mobile- phone and telecommunications companies with the thousands of hotspot locations belonging to wireless Internet service providers. The open WeRoam platform offers user's a cost- effective way in to SIM-based authentication, is ready to work with future standards such as EAP/SIM and also supports the RADIUS standard.

London School of Economics research study identifies business requirement for more effective management of wireless assets

London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) today issued a report – ‘Out-of-Sight shouldn't mean Out-of-Mind’ - which investigates the implications of increasing employee mobility and the lost opportunities that result from ineffective management of wireless assets.

The report, which was sponsored by customer self-service leader Netonomy, expresses serious concern regarding the way organizations currently manage wireless usage. While an increasing requirement for a mobilized workforce is driving a steady uptake in new mobile devices and services, the inherent nature of these products and services means that they are escaping the remit of traditional management environments. As a result, businesses are threatened by the unmanaged escalation of direct wireless costs, problems relating to adoption and roll-out of new services and a lack of understanding of how these services are being used. The author maintains that mobile operators must provide enterprises with Wireless Asset Management (WAM) services in order to ensure that wireless costs do not inhibit adoption by corporate customers.
According to the report, these issues could be addressed by implementing an effective WAM strategy. WAM is the processes and tools by which companies can manage and analyze their wireless assets - mobile devices, mobile workers and wireless usage. By tracking uptake and usage, organizations can not only control direct and support costs, and identify obstacles to adoption, but can also understand how wireless services are being used and recognize best practice. This knowledge can then be used to increase efficiency and mobilize business processes in the most effective way.
"Businesses should treat wireless assets and other mobile resources just like any other valuable business asset", comments Dr. Carsten Sorensen, Senior Lecturer in Information Systems at LSE. "By managing these assets more effectively, organizations can enter this era of mobility with confidence. The alternative is to write out a ‘blank check’ for mobile resources and experience questionable value in return - something no company can afford to do."
Businesses are a prime target for high-speed mobile data services. Employees need access to corporate resources and applications whether at work or on the move. As businesses become increasingly mobilized, mobile products and services will become fundamental enablers for the corporate customers' core businesses.
By empowering their corporate customers with WAM tools, operators can ensure faster adoption and uptake of new services and reduce churn by ensuring wireless services become more mission-critical to the organization.
John Hughes, Cofounder and Executive Vice President, comments, "We commissioned this report as we wanted to better understand and communicate the need for operators to provide WAM services to enterprises. This reinforces the huge opportunity mobility offers to enterprises of all sizes if they can manage and maintain their roll-outs in a professional manner."

Harris Interactive Europe six-country survey explores consumer interest/attitudes towards 3G amid pressures on the industry to deliver; reveals four lessons to 3G industry/marketers

European mobile users have dealt a massive blow to the prospects of early mass 3G adoption just months ahead of the widespread launch of 3G services across Europe. Yet there are signs that by following a few simple lessons, the 3G industry can put itself back on track for success.

These are the findings from the latest HI Europe Poll of attitudes towards 3G, conducted online in six key European markets (Great Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Belgium) among almost 10,000 mobile users.

The survey results among mobile users showed an apparent lack of interest in 3G:

49% agree that 3G is of no interest and that current mobile phone technology completely satisfies their needs (20% disagree)

One of the reasons for this could be that many mobile users want no more than a good voice service while 3G's key advances relate to mobile data:

44% agree that, looking ahead, they can't see themselves using mobile phones for much more than making voice calls (35% disagree)

Recently, though, some operators have started to manage the early hype over 3G by acknowledging the continued importance of mobile voice to future growth.

Another reason for the low interest could be a lack of clarity over 3G's benefits:

52% agree that the mobile industry has completely failed to explain what 3G is all about and why it is worth having (11% disagree)

49% agree that mobile phone retailer staff are poor at explaining new technology (14% disagree)

While retailers are unlikely to be responsible for this perceived lack of clarity in communications, given their involvement later on in the lifecycle (i.e., once products come to market), these findings suggest that retailers represent a potential bottleneck in the process.

On the issue of pricing, there is widespread cynicism, deserved or not, that the industry will overcharge for 3G:

55% agree that 3G operators will overprice 3G to help recoup the huge investment costs on licenses and infrastructure (10% disagree)

All of this evidence underlines the uphill struggle the industry faces in making 3G a success. With billions of Euros invested, mobile operators are under severe pressure to deliver the goods.

Particularly in the light of previous industry failures, such as the WAP launch that resulted in disillusioned consumers, the HI Europe survey gauged consumer reactions related to premature launches:

51% agree that operators who promote 3G services while the service is unreliable will severely damage their reputation (10% disagree)

51% agree that operators who promote 3G services without being able to meet handset demand will severely damage their reputation (9% disagree)

Lessons for the industry
Surinder Siama, associate director within HI Europe's technology practice and author of the study, believes that the findings lead to four important lessons for the 3G industry, particularly for mobile operators but also relevant to handset manufacturers, retailers and content/applications providers:

A targeted approach, such as offering 3G data cards to road warriors, is more likely to bear fruit than the scattergun approach of operator 3 which has, ironically, had to rely on traditional mobile drivers such as price rather than 3G features such as video telephony, to attract many of its punters.

Don't forget voice: The industry has bought into the self-fulfilling prophecy that mobile data is the future and mobile voice passé. But data still represents a small part of mobile spend and the emerging success of Wi-Fi limits the appeal of 3G mobile data. Continued investment in innovative voice solutions, such as Nextel's highly successful Push to Talk product, which will soon launch in Europe through Orange, makes sense.

Communicate benefits, not just features: Steer clear of communicating 3G as a technology revolution (the mistake made with WAP), and instead focus on services and applications that offer genuine quality, productivity or lifestyle improvements.

Get it right: There is nothing worse than buying into a heavily promoted service only to find it unreliable. Yet anecdotal evidence suggests that 3G coverage is patchy and, as our study shows, the market is unlikely to be sympathetic to premature launches.

Market Differences
There are some notable attitudinal differences among mobile users by country:

Great Britain is the most anti-3G, somewhat surprising given it is home to arguably the world's greatest 3G proponent (Vodafone).

The French (57%) are more likely than others to criticise mobile retailer staff for poorly explaining new technology.

At the other extreme is Belgium, notably less critical of 3G. Despite this, Belgians are no more interested in 3G than average-a full 52% say "3G is of no interest to me, current mobile phone technology provides everything I want."

The Germans are the most open to mobile data since fewer (32%) agree that "looking ahead, I can't see myself using mobile phones for much more than making voice calls."

Spaniards (71%) are much more likely to believe that the industry has failed to clearly explain 3G.

Virgin Mobile has announced that it will adopt an 'opt-in' policy around new forms of content on its mobile phones.

Virgin Mobile has been heavily involved with the recently published pan-operator Joint Code of Practice for New Forms of Content, a self-regulatory code, which has been developed in order to establish guidelines around the safe and appropriate access to content on mobile phones by the end of 2004.

Virgin Mobile has taken this position in order to ensure that only those customers who have proven that they are over 18 may gain access to age-restricted experiences. This is to ensure that customers under 18 do not gain access to inappropriate services.

John Conlon, Virgin Mobile's head of adult services, said: "We want our customers to have access to as wide and as rich a range of content experiences on their mobile phone as possible, but we believe that it is important to protect our young customers from adult content. Therefore we have chosen to apply an 'opt-in' policy to ensure that those under 18 may only gain access to suitable content.

Stephen Timms MP, Minister of State for Trade and Industry, said: "Virgin Mobile's 'opt-in' policy is an excellent example of the mobile phone industry addressing concerns about access to inappropriate material via mobile phones.  Today's move will help protect children and give parents peace of mind, as well as preventing other users from receiving unsolicited material that they do not wish to receive.

"We welcomed the industry's Code of Practice published earlier this year, and are pleased with the continuing efforts of the mobile phone industry to address these issues through self-regulation."

Award-winning mobile email solution now available for business professionals in Italy

Smartner, the European leader in mobile email and office solutions, today announced that it will offer Always-on Mail, a mobile email solution for business users in Italy. Always-on Mail is based on Smartner Duality, a carrier-grade technology platform scalable to serve customers of even the largest mobile operators. The solution is immediately available throughout Italy under an agreement signed by Smartner and Vodafone Italy.

Always-on Mail extends access to Microsoft Outlook and Lotus Notes to the Vodafone Qtek 2020 PDA. It automatically pushes new emails to the device, without any user interaction, and provides users with complete control over their desktop functions while away from their office. Users can access their email and calendar in real-time, with all actions mirrored simultaneously on their desktop.
Companies of any size can enjoy the benefits of Always-on Mail, as the unique technology powering Smartner Always-on Mail enables the solution to be affordably deployed in environments ranging from only a few to thousands of users.
"We are very proud to bring an open-standards push email solution to Italy. Our cooperation with Vodafone enables business users in one of Europe’s largest and most dynamic markets to enjoy the ultimate mobile email experience, one that is easy-to–use, secure, reliable and affordable," said Jussi Räisänen, Vice President, South Europe, Smartner. "The Always-on Mail is a truly global solution to email access."

Now enterprises have a locator product solution with a growth path to other wireless LBS applications

Telcontar, a leading supplier of software and related services for Location-Based Services (LBS), has announced that it has released its all-new Mobile Location Server - Enterprise Edition.  The Mobile Location Server - Enterprise Edition is designed for use by large enterprises with hundreds of physical locations and the need to provide location information, maps and driving directions from their web site.  The Mobile Location Server - Enterprise Edition is a complete solution, including Telcontar’s Drill Down Server and all required map data, data services, integration services and training. The Mobile Location Server - Enterprise Edition also supports a myriad of Telcontar or third-party applications that leverage the same Drill Down Server platform and can enable other applications such as Mobile Resource Management, CRM or asset tracking.

"In some product categories, more than 25 percent of all consumer purchases start with research on the internet, and that percentage promises to grow further over time," commented David Wood, Senior VP Marketing for Telcontar.  "Large enterprises with many physical locations, such as retail, restaurant or hospitality chains and manufacturers who need to enable consumers to find products and services, are beginning to invest more heavily in enhancing the product or storefront locator services available on their web sites. Telcontar, as the leading provider of spatial platform software worldwide, has the expertise, products and resources to offer superior value and one stop shopping to our customers and the initial market acceptance has been very encouraging."
The Telcontar Mobile Location Server – Enterprise Edition is designed to be attractive to enterprises that already purchase high volume locator services from AOL/Mapquest, Vicinity/Microsoft, or other existing ASP location offerings. The product includes a Vicinity "look alike" Web service interface and integration assistance to ensure rapid and low risk conversion, offering buyers reduced cost of ownership, tighter integration with and control over their customer database, improved responsiveness and functionality and a long term growth path to other enterprise location-based services that promise to further improve ROI. 
Important product features include a customizable map look and feel, display of multiple locations of various types simultaneously, searching near a point, route or polygon, and the ability to output customized maps in multiple raster or vector image formats.  Business and management reports, batch or manual geocoding, reverse geocoding, and the ability to provide routing with user customizable direction styles are also standard.