Handsets with push-to-talk (PTT) functionality will be the stocking filler of Christmas 2004, but operators need to make sure they have the right network systems in place to support the service, experts in the technology have warned.

Motorola's Charlie Henderson, product manager for PTT in Europe, said that his company's experience of providing PTT services to Verizon and Sprint in the USA had emphasised the importance of understanding the handset and server side of the service.
"Most organisations are at the stage of running applications off a laptop. We've got a fully redundant commercial server that can be configured for up to a million subscribers.
"It's an approach that has given many operators comfort that PTT is now real," Henderson said.
Experience in designing handsets with the right user interface so that consumers readily understand how to use the service is also important, Henderson said.
On PTT standards Henderson said that Motorola was working with the Open Mobile Alliance and 3GPP to "share our wisdom".
"We understand our overall success is dependent on a degree of interaction between competitors," he said.
Motorola will have at least one PTT phone in Europe by the beginning of 2004, Henderson said, with another two models out before the end of the year.

Nokia has announced a proposal that requires enterprises to completely dispense with their PBX and fixed telephones, replacing them instead with mobile phones.

Under the company's Mobile Business Voice proposition, the PBX functionality is handled from within the mobile operator's network.
Incoming calls are transferred by a switchboard attendant to the recipient's mobile phone.
The mobile user is assigned an extension number as if they were part of a fixed network.
All outgoing calls are likely to be charged, even those made to employees in the same business, but at less than standard mobile rates.
Mobile operators must install Nokia's Trio Network Attendant in their core network to route the calls, whilst businesses need only a PC with the Nokia call handling software.
Nokia claims businesses will save by not investing in a PBX, and that will outweigh the additional call charges incurred by making mobile calls.
But even if businesses dispense with their PBXs and welcome this disruptive solution, mobile operators must still deploy it and come up with a pricing structure that is acceptable to businesses.
A Nokia product manager working on the solutions said the product was available in Finland now and would be in the rest of Europe during 2004.

The public wireless LAN business will not take off until international roaming agreements are in place that let users log on to different networks in the same way mobile phone users do today, with the billing controlled by the home network.

This was the message from a stream of delegates at SMI's Public Wireless LAN conference in London in November. But others warned of the market running before it was walking, fearing that long-term roaming agreements signed today may become burdensome in a fast changing market.
"When I step off a plane in Morocco, I turn my phone on and it automatically finds a GSM network," Niall Murphy, technical director at network provider The Cloud, told the conference. "That is what we want with Wi-Fi, where my device will connect to whatever hotspot is nearby and link to it in a way I am familiar."
He said some users just want to log on to collect emails but today it could take three minutes to log on and then you have to buy a minimum of 30 minutes access. "This is a significant barrier we need to get over," he said. "We will see a need increasing for people to be always-on in a hotspot. Roaming agreements are growing but are limited. We want every user to log onto every network and not just authenticate them but give them the type of experience they get on their home network."
But Kelly Odell (pictured below left), vice-president for sales at TeliaSonera in Sweden, said, "If we put the roaming agreements together now, it might be prohibitive to the business taking off. We don't know how the business will take off, so how can we have roaming agreements?"
He said the industry should wait until the business started growing and then make the roaming agreements.
Jonathan Geoghegan, business product manager at O2 in Ireland, though believes it is not possible to make money from public WLAN at the moment. "But when roaming happens from the US, there may be a possibility," he said. "The big change will be when we get seamless roaming, where people will log on just as they do at home without vouchers and without feeding in credit card details."
Philip Coen, chief executive officer at Netario Wireless, added, "You need to give the consumer the ability to get off a plane in the US and use the laptop." He believes that the hotspot model should be scrapped in favour of hotzones covering large areas, even cities.
l T-Mobile USA and iPass have announced a distribution agreement, T-Mobile's first Wi-Fi inbound roaming agreement, that will enable corporations to access the T-Mobile HotSpot network through the iPass virtual network.
In 2003, 14% of iPass' European users travelled to the US. Now the hotspots that are currently available in the clubs and lounges of American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta AirLines in the US will be available to iPass users in Europe that fly with the oneworld, Star and SkyTeam alliances respectively. 
"This new distribution agreement enables corporations to easily connect to our network with the iPassConnect service interface they already use today," said Joe Sims, vice president and general manager of T-Mobile HotSpot. "This agreement with iPass continues to underscore our strategy of focusing on the enterprise market and meeting the needs of enterprise customers."

Mobile Europe's prediction that Vodafone's purchase of Singlepoint and Project Telecom meant the end of the mobile service provider business model in the UK has been confirmed by the decision of the Federation of  Communication Services to wind up its MISP group.

Vodafone has also indicated that it will not be renewing their agreements with a number of other mobile independent service providers when they expire at the end of the year.
Commenting on the decision, Jacqui Brookes, FCS ceo said, "An industry grouping of mobile phone service providers has been part of FCS since 1989. The end of the MISP group is a sad milestone for competition in this marketplace. The major reduction in the number of mobile independent service providers is bound to have a negative effect on the mobile market as customers will have far less choice."

2003's TETRA World Congress, the sixth in all, was a little different. Almost imperceptible at first glance, the change was none the less there and it was one based on realism and action. Former Mobile Europe editor Catherine Haslam reports from Copenhagen on  the TETRA Community coming of age.

At first glance, the conference programme for the 2003 TETRA World Congress had much in common with the five that had preceded it. Many of the same projects featured once again, as indeed did a number of the speakers. So, had we heard it all before? Well the answer is yes and no. Yes, much had been talked about and a couple of the presentations even featured some of the same materia,l but many avoided the yawn factor by backing up claims of TETRA performance with real examples.
Various emergency service organisations, transport authorities and utility operators around the world can point to the benefits they have derived from fully operational digital PMR services using the TETRA standard. Great news, you may think, and certainly each represents an achievement, but there are two problems. First, these are achievements that by and large have been claimed before and secondly, they do not represent the scale that was originally predicted for the TETRA market.
While the first of these does undermine the achievements that have now been made, the second represents far less of a failure than it does an understanding of the realities of the marketplace.
In the conference, feet were kept firmly on the ground by the increased prominence of users, while the exhibition halls were dominated by conversations about value-for-money and how products had been developed specifically to user requirements.
Nokia's senior vice president, Matti Peltola explained that its new handset and infrastructure offerings were created to deliver the value for money promise. He said, "The cost of ownership is now a point of competition for TETRA vendors." Peltola went on to suggest that as a result operational expenditure, which he put at 50-80% of the total ownership cost, was therefore key. The result of such fiscal focus was products designed to provide more for less. The new TB3 Base Station provides a 5dB uplink gain, according to Nokia, and this in turn can increase the cell radius by 30%, giving a total of 75% possible increase in handheld coverage. The performance improvement can also be used to improve indoor coverage.

Always-on internet access on the move will become a reality this autumn as train travellers between London, Yorkshire and Scotland will be offered a WLAN-based 'mobile hotspot' by train operator GNER.

There has been an explosion in the number of fixed wireless hotspots this year as travelling workers demand access to email and internet away from their office.
But this is the first time a hotspot has been able to move. The user experience should be far better than GPRS because there will be less dropout and higher speeds.
GNER has fitted a series of access points and bridges to one of its trains to give passengers a share of the 11Mbps WiFi connection.
The signal will propagate throughout the carriages to give coverage throughout the train.
Backhaul to the internet is handled by a satellite link connected to the main access point. Some use of GSM and other land-based wireless frequencies are required.
"We've been testing this with GNER, and I think we will see the session hold up 99.8% of the time," said Michael Johansson, chief executive of iComera, which has developed the system.
GNER intended to run its first pilot service as Mobile Europe went to press. "We are looking to offer internet access on all trains in the later part of 2004," GNER's David Mallender told Mobile Europe. Other train companies are expected to follow suit.
"We have found that train hotspot providers have already marked out high speed and Pendolino (tilting) train services as low hanging fruit and are racing to sign exclusive deals with these operators," said Peter Kingsland, a wireless analyst with BWCS.
The main operator of Pendolino trains, Virgin, revealed it is in talks with London-based Broadreach, which is developing a pure-satellite backhaul solution for the train operator.
"We have found a technical solution ... we are very keen on the idea. Broadreach is our partner going forward," said Virgin's Jim Rowe.
Heathrow Express, which runs leaky feeder cables through its tunnels, also said it was looking to identify the right solution, and expected to roll out internet access on its services "in months rather than years".
A commercial service is now in operation in Scandinavia, where passengers travelling between Gothenburg and Copenhagen can use the iComera-based internet access solution. Passengers on the route pay for an additional ticket, which gives them a password for the service. That ticket costs 80kroner (£6). GNER said it had not decided on a pricing structure yet.
Kingsland warned that, despite the successful rollout in Scandinavia, there were still technical hurdles to overcome for UK-based operators.
"Maintaining connectivity at these [fast] speeds and through tunnels is a huge task," the analyst said.Amongst the larger concerns are handover between the different backhaul technologies, and how to stop a session dropping in a tunnel.
Despite this, "we would expect the number of announcements to ramp up considerably over the next 6-12 months," he added.
Johansson said he could see "five companies in the UK which might be interested in this", all of which ran trains with journeys over one hour.

Annemarie Duffy also defended the performance of Orange's SPV, built on Microsoft's Windows Mobile platform, a year after its introduction,

"Orange feel the SPV range has been successful for them in that SPVs generate more data traffic than other handsets," she said. "On average the SPV user accesses the internet five times a day. 60% of SPV users use the phone for email and 80% have synched with their PC."
Early problems with performance and battery usage have been improved with an over the air upgrade to the phones, she said.
Eight operators now have the smartphone, she said, and with Microsoft's alliances with Samsung and most recently Motorola, the company has two of the top three handset vendors on it its books.
"The Motorola alliance  will see a series of Motorola handsets with Windows Mobile and PocketPC." It would also bring Motorola's RF knowledge to the partnership, she added.
Operators can expect a data uplift on ARPU of 275% with the SPV and voice ARPU of 9%, because of better contact availability, Duffy claimed.
"We need to demonstrate the value our platform can provide to mobile operators.  It is the first ever brand from MS which is an ingredient brand, and allows branding region by region with a customisable platform."

Chinese manufacturer Huawei thinks its lower development costs will help it sell its 3G base station equipment and switches to UMTS operators in Europe.

Launching its new UMTS R4 (Release 4) solution at ITU Telecom, the vendor would not give a price for the BTS and switching node solution, which it says is R4, R99 (the previous UMTS release), GSM and TD-SCDMA compliant. But William Xu, executive vice president of Huawei, hinted that the company's low development costs, with labour running at at least one third the cost of European development, would give it a price edge,
Although the company claims to have 20 operators trialling its UMTS solutions, it presence has until now been mainly in it home China market and surrounding Asian territories.
Xu said, "We hope our UMTS system will be in Europe as soon as possible." But he acknowledged the company would have to compete on more than price. The company would have to meet QoS guarantees as well as win customer trust, Xu admitted.

Telefonica Maviles Espana (TME) has launched Oficine MoviStar UMTS, the first pre-commercial UMTS service to be publicly launched by a wireless operator in Spain, along with the company's plans for its 3G project for the next few months.

Telefonica Maviles will distribute UMTS PCMCIA cards to its corporate customers, enabling them to access all UMTS 'Oficina MoviStar' data services (internet, intranet and e-mail) from a laptop PC at speeds of up to 384 kbit/s.
These cards will be given out in specific areas of the 40 cities where Telefonica Maviless currently has UMTS coverage.
In this way, Telefonica Maviles claims it is meeting the strategic commitment made with the Spanish government last December, whereby the pre-commercial launch of the first UMTS service was set for the last quarter of 2003 and the commercial launch of 3G services was scheduled to begin in 2004, subject to handset availability.
Telefonica Maviles Espana  plans to invest around Euro1 billion in 3G infrastructure between 2003-2006. The company's target is to have coverage in the 52 provincial capitals of Spain by the end of this year and between 7,000 and 8,000 UMTS base stations in 2005.
The 'Oficina MoviStar UMTS' pack includes the PCMCIA UMTS card;  software; a users' manual containing information on the services offered and how to use both the device and the software; and, lastly a USIM  card.

Qualcomm has said it is ramping up support for its BREW application development platform in Europe, as 3G networks based on WCDMA are rolled out across the continent.

Traditionally, if unofficially, company non grata in Europe, because of its role as prime cheerleader for CDMA, Qualcomm is positioning itself as a supporter of all the CDMA-based 3G technologies being implemented across the world. This includes WCDMA.
It will do this by producing multi-mode chips with capability to support phones which can be used over CDMA200, 2xEVDO, WCDMA and GPRS. As an example, the first commercial phones from Samsung offering dual mode CDMA2000/ GPRS capability will be introduced to support China Unicom, and its GSM1x network, ceo Irwin Jacobs claimed.
BREW is an application development environment which is added onto Qualcomm chips. Mobile Europe saw a live demonstration of a BREW gaming application running over GPRS at ITU Telecom in Geneva, as Qualcomm sought to prove BREW was a non-air interface specific environment.
"The BREW layer is put on top of the chips, Jacobs said, "And the phone manufacturer puts the UI 9user interface) on top of BREW - customised to the operator. Operators are then able to download the UI to the phone customised to their subscribers."
To support this vision Qualcomm has increased its European presence, opening assigning a dedicated BREW developer team to its London office and bringing in Johan Lodenius as senior vice president of European Business Relations to lead the European BREW team.
Lodenius talked up the potential for BREW in Europe. "Qualcomm is making a long term commitment to work closely with operators, developers and handset manufacturers in Europe with the goal of helping them realise the results already being experienced with the BREW solution in other parts of the world," he said.
European developer partners for BREW include Swiss player Esmertec, which is working on a Java Virtual Machine based solution for BREW devices. Swedish company Teleca has a browsing and messaging solution for BREW and Italian company Interzen has a traffic information application and weather station application, both for BREW. Other partners include Webraska and Macrospace, a mobile games provider.

IP Wireless has achieved the first European commercial deployment of its UMTS TD-CDMA technology, a variation of the 3G standard.

German communications provider Airdata has launched services built on IPWireless' "Mobile Broadband" technology in Stuttgart.
Branding the service PortableDSL,  Airdata  has built the network over the last few months, using the IPWirelesss Mobile Broadband system, which is based on the TD-CDMA variation of the worldwide IMT-2000 standard. 
The network enables connectivity beyond distances covered by WLAN hotspots, creating instead much larger 'hotzones,' which are comparable in size to mobile phone coverage areas.  As the network is SIM based, users do not need subscriptions with multiple providers, nor do they have to pay any additional usage fees that hotspots can require.
Set up for the service is achieved by inserting a SIM card into a modem, connecting the modem to the computer, and entering the user name and password.  There is no need to connect to a phone outlet, and there is no additional hardware or software. 
"After an extensive and successful trial deployment, we are pleased to power Airdata's new commercial PortableDSL service in Stuttgart," said Chris Gilbert, CEO of IPWireless.  "Airdata understands that subscribers want the speed, freedom, ease, and convenience that IPWireless' technology enables.  With spectrum licenses in all major areas of Germany, Airdata is well-positioned to offer the most advanced broadband services in Europe."
Charges for the NGI PortableDSL 768 (768kbps) are Euro19.95 for the Internet flat rate and  Euro24.95 for the monthly connection fee.

The UMTS Forum will be helping 3G operators push for flexibility in their licences, president Jean-Pierre Bienaim has said.

Bienaim told Mobile Europe that there should be room for "dialogue" between operators and regulators on 3G licences. Examples for negotiation could be keeping the same lunch date targets, but extending the duration of the licences. This would make the business model "more interesting and sustainable", he said.
"Also in terms of coverage and the degree of coverage there is scope to be more pragmatic in the rhythm of coverage," he added.
Bienaim  also said the Forum views network sharing as a something it would support on a voluntary, case-by-case, basis. "There is a strong case for site sharing and RAN sharing allowing a significant decrease in the costs of investment."
A good example, Bienaim  said, is in Sweden where a partnership between Tele2 and Telia had led to a "significant decrease in RAN investment." Such flexible thinking, he added, would make the business sustainable in the long term.
"UMTS is a seven year payback period --- it is not a short term investment."
Bienaim also defended the roll out records of incumbent and new entrant 3G operators.
"2003 is the year of the real beginning of 3G in Europe and in 2004 there will be many more. There is now interoperability of the handsets, between the handsets and the network, between networks themselves and handsets availability is better. Most incumbents will launch 2004.
"Suppose most networks are launched by the end of 2005. By comparison with 2G is not a delay comparable with the length of time to 2G.
Bienaim  also said that the Forum will be making sure it continues to promote a "common vision" of UMTS development as further licences re awarded in Eastern Europe. 
"We will bear the message of global harmonisation of spectrum and the IMT 2000 rules as ratified by the ITU," Bienaim  said. These rules must be repeated by new licensing processes, and the Forum will guard against using other spectrum to achieve "back door" 3G like services, particularly in the often unused 450MHz waveband.

Mobile operators are to be offered a boost to their network performance with the introduction of improved antenna technology from Sigma Wireless.

Sigma's Aua iVET technology, which stands for integrated variable electrical tilt antenna is designed to reduce antenna downtime, by giving operators remote control, by laptop or PDA, of their base station antennas.
The technology has been used by two European operators rolling out 3G networks, but could also be of use being retrofitted to 2G and 2.5G networks.
It works by offering a dynamic range within 8° of tilt. eg from 2-10° and so on. Control software is based around the newly-defined ASIG standard.
Joseph Moore, managing director, said,

By Alison Campbell

Messaging specialist Comverse's chief marketing officer Benny Einhorn has warned that operators must change the brand image of the phones on their network in order to survive.

Outlining the benefits to operators of Comverse's InSight next generation messaging platform, Einhorn said the key benefit is that creating applications within an IP based modular architecture means operators will be able to design user interfaces to suit their own, and their customers' needs, rather than be reliant on what comes out of the box from a phone manufacturer.
A good example of this, Einhorn said, was Vodafone Live!, which has operated with a relatively limited number of handset vendors, because the concept is still new to the market.
"InSight is practically identical but is more advanced, because Vodafone Live is browser-based versus a handset client model. But no doubt Vodafone will move to a client-based model with network support, which is the same as Insight.
"The likes of Nokia object and their concept is that it should be all on the handset, and the network is a dumb pipe. Operators must fight it because it means they are only left to compete  on price. Nokia does not want operators to brand their handsets but operators must change their phones' brand image to survive."
Eindhorn said Comverse was well placed for this new way of giving users access to applications.
"Up until now different applications have required different clients, MMS, SMS, voicemail, WAP etc have all had different user interfaces and logic of operation.
"We have tried to build one platform across handsets and network servers, allowing a simplified user interface. So it becomes very easy to operate new applications because there are rules and capabilities which contribute to the applications."
Recognising that new business models mean a change of methodology for messaging engine vendors as well as handset vendors, InSight features open application interfaces so an operator can attach applications from other vendors.
"Operators are buying the concept and competitors are presenting similar concepts," Einhorn said
"I believe we have a better chance to win," he continued. "The reason is we had the lion's share of the voicemail market, but voicemail notification is carried out by an SMS engine, so people don't see that but we have delivered an SMS engine to every voicemail we have sold."