Macalla Software is supplying the technology to launch the first mobile phone operated service for voucherless prepaid cash sales in Europe. The service is scheduled to go live in Romania in May with mobile operator Connex.

The Macalla Mobile Top-Up Ver. 4.0 based system will allow Connex offer prepaid mobile phone recharge for cash through an extended network of dealers and agents. It uses the agents' mobile phones as the Point of Sale (POS) terminal for the recharge transactions and removes the need for scratch cards, vouchers, traditional POS devices or landlines to operate the service. The service will be provided via a network of multiple dealers and over 5,000 agents, including many new types of agent.

Nokia has won a deal to provide equipment for a shared public safety TETRA network being installed for the Swedish government by Saab.

The network, known as RAKEL, will be operated by Swedia and designed for use for up to 50,000 users across the country, according to a Nokia spokesperson. Sweden will join Finland and Belgium as countries which have shared public services digital radio networks.
With the contract just awarded, network planning is not yet advanced, so the number of base stations is not known, but the network will cover the whole country, and will cost the Swedish government EUR250,000.
The contract for handset supplier or suppliers is also up for grabs, the Nokia spokesperson confirmed.
The different public safety organisations will each operate a separate VPN type network, but will be able to set up common talk groups if they need to communicate directly with each other. After an incident the organisations can then go back to operating on their own network.
It is not thought that suppliers of rival digital radio technology Tetrapol made a bid for the network.

Cogent Defence and Security Networks, the UK operating company of EADS Defence and Communications System (DCS), has been added to the shortlist to provide the network for Firelink --- the new communications system for the UK Fire and Rescue Service.

The government contract, to be awarded later this year, will provide the UK Fire and Rescue Service with its first national wide-area radio network by the end of 2007.
"A second national network will provide the UK with a highly resilient and secure network, providing absolute redundancy in case of existing network failure," commented Philippe Meleard, director public safety at Cogent.
O2 Airwave, the Tetra based network provider that is supplying digital radio connectivity to UK police and ambulance services, is also on the shortlist to add the fire service to that list.
In an update on Airwave the company said that 50,000 police officers are now using the network, with that figure set to double in the next 12 months as the system nears its dues completion date of mid-2005.

Although mobile email is often seen as the killer application for 2.5G and 3G services, its adoption is still far from widespread.

Blackberry tops the market globally, and made play recently of shipping a million devices. But a million is still not a huge number in this industry. Smartner, an enterprise mobile email system provider, reckons it has top market share in the European market, with about 50,000 users of its mobile email client.
But even though these may not be huge numbers, mobilising email, both from an enterprise and consumer perspective, is re-emerging as a hot area.
Ari Backholm, executive vice president of Smartner, said, "Since October 2003 we've seen tremendous growth in demand from end users and operators. This year the will be the break out year for mobile email."
Backholm says the main driver has been the increase in the number of devices which can support wireless email clients. Backholm also says that the market has become a lot simpler for operators to understand.
"You're beginning to see a few better companies emerging from the hundreds there were two to three years ago. With the downturn the more professional companies have survived. Everyone starts to have their own focus where they are good. "
Backholm namechecked his own company and Blackberry as the only serious players in Europe in terms of operator footprint and device licensing.  Smartner has deals with Vodafone (in Italy) and O2 to provide the email client on their own-brand XDAs.
Like Blackberry, Smartner is keen to see its client licensed in smartphones, and has just recently signed an agreement for the SonyEricsson P900.
But there are other companies trying to make a play in the European market.
Good Technology is a US company that has made good business mobilising US corporate email systems. It has just opened an office in the UK from which to hopes to attack the European market, starting with the European operations of its US multi-national clients. But unlike Smartner and Blackberry, which view operators as a primary channel for getting to market, Good prefers a direct relationship with enterprises.
Good's vp of sales and marketing Sue Forbes said, "On the whole, enterprises like to talk to an enterprise software company about enterprise software." (Mobile operators are "very important partners" Forbes says, providing the devices and the data plans, while Good provides its software to get the email product up and running.)
One of the principle reasons for this, Good says, is security. Backholm echoes that view.
"Security is the first and foremost question for corporates," he said. But another new entrant to the European market, Visto's ceo Brian Bogosian indicates that there may be more lip service paid to security than actual action.
""If they were worried about security, they wouldn't be buying Blackberry," he swiped.  Visto has just signed a deal to support Palm OS, and has support for Windows Mobile and Symbian as well.
  Whichever way companies such as Visto and Good want to attack the European market, one thing that is often raised is what will happen when Microsoft really works out mobilising Outlook, or if a player like Nokia itself could crack the market. Its 2003 release of Exchange, for instance, incorporated mobile functionality.
Backholm accepts that the Exchange 2003 release means that "Microsoft supports Microsoft end to end," but if you want to operate a Symbian device against a Microsoft back-end environment "it is not supported any more."
"The area is not so trivial as you might think. It takes a large time to figure out how it all works. We see that from the Microsoft perspective mobility is not that easy, and for Nokia IT is not that easy. And we are taking advantage of that."
One thing operators probably will be looking for are companies that let them own the customer. Backholm pointed out "it is in the interests of operators that we let them retain the point of control for the customer, so it they change provider they lose the email service."
There is the added advantage that mobile email means more data traffic for mobile operators. Smartner's Duality solution costs around £12 per user per month, on top of their data plan. With 95% of business users using less than 6Mb per month, according to Backholm, that would be somewhere in the £10 per month per user in mobile data costs.

Mobile operators and independent ringtone providers may have had the grip on mobile portals, but retailer Carphone Warehouse is launching its own portal in competition with its operator suppliers such as Vodafone and O2.

The portal has been launched in co-operation with and with, which has provided the technical backing to the browse and buy experience on the portal.
Anil Malhotra, chief alliances officer at, said, "So far the market has been owned by two sectors. One is the operators, who have been spending time and effort to brand services through their own portals. The other is startup upstarts like MonsterMob and Phunkyphones. Carphone Warehouse have seen a profitable after-market on mobile phones --- and what's happened is phones are bought more and more on what data services they can support. Carphone Warehouse's cost of customer acquisition is actually quite high, so all that lucrative after market is going to the the networks and the independents and they are not getting much of it."
But Backholm did not think that a retailer putting up a rival portal to the O2 Active and Vodafone Live! brands doesn't mean that anyone is losing business.
"Take a customer who has O2 Active pre-programmed into his handset. He's going to go to their portal but he will also have Carphone Warehouse's buyer's guide in his plastic bag, and he can browse that as well. Generally it will be down to which the customer likes best.
But no-one is losing business. It generates traffic and billing events on he operator's network."
Figures show that customers spend 40-60% more if you offer them the browse and buy experience against a model where a user is simply offered a ringtone by text, Backholm said.
"So Carphone Warehouse said how can we build a system that gives us that?They used ours and plus it also allows any customer on any network to shop. is enabling the connection from the phone to the content and the billing."
Bango also provides third party content partner services for Vodafone Live!, carrying out content partner relationship management and technical implementation for the operator.
It also has an agreement with O2 for its Revolution third party development programme, so that those who have signed up with O2 Revolution can then cross-affiliate with Bango.
"The interesting thing this year is that the industry is moving to an off-net content business. It has has concentrated on operator-branded portals, and that has a role to play but there is going to be a hell of a lot of content which is a specialised niche. You can never have them all on a portal so you need a healthy off-net business. It's like premium SMS, when that was opened up. We have been a ley player in that effort and been working at that for five years."

TeliaSonera International Carrier (TSIC) has launched a service for mobile operators to transport video calls across its fibre backbone network

The service, called TeliaSonera 64K Clear Channel, facilitates the delivery of international mobile video calls. Initially, the service can be delivered to 38 countries worldwide and has been developed in cooperation with a number of the leading mobile operators in Europe, including TeliaSonera.
"As a result of the 3G drive, we see an increasing demand for mobile operators to offer services like face-to-face video calling, sending video messages and similar services", Eva Lindqvist, President of TeliaSonera International Carrier, said. "For the mobile operator it is crucial that these services are of first-rate quality. We are now able to support this requirement with the TeliaSonera 64K Clear Channel service." The service provides a transparent 64 Kbit/s clear channel connection between mobile networks, meaning that no echo suppression or bit manipulation is performed, the carrier claimed.

Am-Beo, has launched nRate, the second of three planned product announcements for the 2nd quarter of 2004.

nRate is a next-generation rules-based rating solution designed to price existing and advanced communication and content services. It makes it possible to rate and price complex business transactions, as well as create service bundles, for the expanding range of voice and data services.
"nRate's capabilities far exceed the requirements for advanced rules-based rating, for rating and pricing next generation services," stated Mike Murphy, Am-Beo's ceo.

Mobile enterprise software vendor Sybase has bought device management specialist XcelleNet to add to its iAnywhere line of business.

Rob Veitch, business development director for ianywhere, said that the acquisition was made in response to customer demand for the ability to manage a variety of devices, but also to integrate that with their other enterprise system management tools.
With the aid of investment from Francisco Partners Sybase paid $95.2 million for XcelleNet. Veitch said the XcelleNet brand would continue to be run separately within the iAnywhere business unit.
"We are already ahead in the mobile data and solutions space, in particular in mobile database and synchronisation as well as middleware," Veitch said.
"One of the remaining areas is the management of the applications and ensuring security of devices outside the firewall. And XcelleNet is the leading solution for mobile device management."
Veitch said that although XcelleNet would bring about 2,200 customers to iAnywhere there is not much overlap between the two companies' client list.
Sybase's hope is that companies will be attracted by having a centralised management structure for both their enterprise systems and devices.
"The driving factor is that the acquisition is all about growth and there are fundamental synergies in the areas we operate in," Veitch concluded.
Stephen Drake, programme manager for IDC's Mobile Infrastructure Software Service, said security and device management were becoming increasingly critical for enterprise IT bosses.
"IT decision-makers have been interested in moving critical business applications out to the edge and are focusing on the issues of device management, security and usability of applications," he said.

Although many view it as a post-3G technology that needs to wait its turn in a world that hasn't got to grips with 3G yet, IP Wireless' Chris Gilbert is adamant that TDD is already here, and is part of a growing "ecosystem".

IP Wireless' most recent expansion of that TDD ecosystem is to announce UTStarcom as a licensee for network infrastructure and devices.
Gilbert also pointed to networks in South Africa and New Zealand where TDD was "going gangbusters". New Zealand broadband provider Whoosh Wireless is gaining 50% of all broadband subscriber additions where DSL is the rival technology, Gilbert claimed.
"From a technical point of view we are building different base stations and end user devices, the chipsets are now condensed on fourth generation ASICs. Modems that last year were running on 1.2Mbps are now running at 4.4Mbps.
"From a base station point of view because the radios are software based upgrades are at virtually zero cost and very fast."
For the moment TDD services are data only, but Gilbert said some fixed line VoIP telephones could be utilised soon by service providers. It would be "at least a year" before any mobile phones were available, he said.
In terms of mobile operators themselves adopting TDD, Gilbert said the situation was "very frustrating." "Operators like to keep very quiet. We will be seeing a network in Europe, and Asia is going bananas.
"There are two types [of TDD operator]. The new 'non-mobile' operators from the DSL market whose approach is very different, and the mobile operators who are looking at data as an adjunct.
"The two sides are going to clash."
So far, IP Wireless' main wins have been for service providers providing a fixed wireless-type service. In Stuttgart, Telefonica and Airdata are partnering to offer a wireless broadband service, at peak rates of 768kbps.
But Gilbert defends the technology from those who say implementations of it so far are not truly mobile.
"It is 100% mobile, operating at standard GSM handover speeds."
The mobile breakthrough will come, Gilbert says, when one mobile operator in a market implements TDD.
The data rate is so dramatic compared to UMTS or GPRS that a rival operator is going to feel that.
A recent report from research house ARC Group said that operators are already thinking about the post-3G  world. The technologies  making the largest immediate impact on the post 3G world will  be the upgrades to 3.5G  and the integration of WLAN into wide area networks, the report said..
TDD, along with HSDPA, is one of the "3.5G" technologies that will drive  3.5G subscriber numbers up to 9.1 million by 2008, ARC said.
ARC said that 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.
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 said, "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."

Momote, a platform developer for mobile applications, has launched its Momote MX Platform, which it says  enables the rapid development and deployment of critical applications for virtually any mobile phone or device. 

The MX Platform allows companies to develop applications that enable mobile and remote work forces to access, input and amend information such as delivery status, inventory levels, personnel data, as well as order processing and time and attendance recording.
Momote says that, in contrast to conventional technologies, the platform allows a single application to be developed, deployed and run on almost any mobile device, regardless of its operating system. By using an open, standards based architecture, Momote combines the concept of a user interface language, such as WML, with the programming capability of a scripting language. This results in applications that can be brought to market quicker.

If mobile content is really going to take off, content will have to be accessible to mobile users in many different areas,  including outside the operators' own portals.

To enable that to happen, four operators bonded together a little over a year ago to form what is now called Simpay, and was known before as the M-Payment alliance.
Simpay's aim is to act as the Visa or Mastercard of the mobile digital content world. The idea is, wherever users see the Simpay logo on a website, WAP portal or elsewhere, they will be able to buy the picture, download, clip, or whatever, and be billed directly to their mobile.
The system will also be similar to a bank payment scheme in that there will be a value chain incorporating merchant, merchant acquirer, payment system provider, mobile operator and customer. The ground will be slightly blurred, however, by the fact that
But there the similarity between the credit card industry model and Simpay stops, according to ceo Tim Jones. The principle difference is the margins that the 'merchant", the person selling the content, makes on the sale. In the Visa model a merchant might make a service charge of around 2.5% on a transaction, but in the mobile world content merchants are already used to around a 25-30% margin.
At the moment Simpay is still made up of the four original operators who founded it, Vodafone, Orange, T-Mobile and Telefonica Moviles. Several other operators (including 3, debitel, Elisa (previously Radiolinja), KPN Mobile Group, Mobilkom, O2, Optimus, SFR, TeliaSonera and TMN) have "expressed interest" but nobody else has actually made the step of joining.
Jones attended CTIA Wireless in Atlanta in March with the aim of encouraging US operators to join in. But he remains condifent that other operators will make the step to full membership when they see the technology working. Until its proposed launch in early 2005, Simpay is in a chicken and egg situation.
But the announcement that it has signed up Encorus as its mobile payment transaction processor will help build momentum that the organisation  will achieve its aims. Although Mobile Europe understands that Encorus has been waiting in the wings for a while as preferred partner, its announcement has been put on ice for a few months.
"The history of the mobile phone industry demonstrates that major business volume comes when customers have the freedom to reach across and interact with any network," comments Tim Jones, CEO, Simpay. "Our mission is to deliver that freedom in the field of mobile payments, and our agreement with Encorus is fundamental to achieving this mission"
Anil Malhotra, chief alliances officer at, said it was "no coincidence" that recent interest among operators in off-portal content has met with the run-up to Simpay.
"The revolution here is to say there is a way to pay without going to a mobile operator. The arrival of Simpay is extremely helpful because it takes away our cost of billing. Malhotra said would most likely become a "strong mobile merchant acquirer".

You might think that cutting costs and people are the main reasons operators outsource customer care functions, but when you ask them to supply their own reasons, they deny such base motives.

Instead, "improving customer care" is the number one priority for the UK telecoms industry when outsourcing, according to research conducted by LogicaCMG.
The study reveals that 100% of operators surveyed believe that freeing up resources to focus on customers is vital to their success in the marketplace. 
All operators highlighted the main reason for outsourcing was to help them focus more on customer care in the face of intense competition. When asked to rank the key drivers of outsourcing (mean score out of five) to  respondents noted: increased flexibility through outsourcing offers more ability to keep ahead of the market and concentrate on customers (4.4); improved access to skills to enable operators to develop new products and services faster (3.2); delivering new applications more quickly to maintain a competitive edge (2.6); and delivering higher quality products and services to customers by breaking into new markets (2.6).
The survey of the leading UK telecoms companies reveals that the majority of operators expect to reduce costs by an average of 17-20% through outsourcing, with some looking to cut costs by more than a third. In addition to managing costs in a competitive environment, telecom operators cited a target 5% reduction in time to market for key applications and consumer services.
All operators surveyed stated that the cost savings made through outsourcing would be reinvested back into the business as opposed to using the savings to either reduce debt levels or to place in cash holdings.
Derek Kemp, managing director, of LogicaCMG's UK telecoms business, said, "Contrary to the typical view of outsourcing, the telecoms industry is increasingly seeing this activity as a way of reinvesting in business rather than just cutting costs. With the battle for customers still fierce, outsourcing is being seen as a route to securing competitive advantage by providing the best customer service to reduce churn."
Other key benefits seen by operators in the shift to outsourcing include 40% of respondents noting an improvement of market and brand reputation. The study also revealed that 20% of operators have plans already in place for further outsourcing of various functions over the next two years.

GN Netcom has said it is the first in the industry to qualify a Bluetooth headset to version 1.2 of the Bluetooth specification.

Future GN Netcom office and mobile headset products and the JABRA brand of hands-free communication solutions will be approved to this version of the standard and become available when version 1.2 supported mobile phones and other devices utilising Bluetooth come to market.
"GN Netcom is committed to incorporating the latest technology to provide customers with the full range of capabilities offered by Bluetooth technology," said Leo Larsen, chief technology officer, GN Netcom. "With this qualification, GN Netcom now has the capability to support next generation mobile products that incorporate the new functionality offered by the new specification."
The new version of the Bluetooth specification offers features including Adaptive Frequency Hopping (AFH) technology. AFH minimises interference between Bluetooth and 2.4 GHz-based wireless applications such as WLANS (wireless local area networks) or WiFi operating in the same environment such as in offices or hotspots.
In addition, Fast Connect is supported and allows users to significantly reduce the time required to establish a connection between devices. The new standard is also compatible with Bluetooth v.1.1 products.

Mobile Connect now dual mode

Mobile Europe will watch with interest the market response to Vodafone’s launch of its 3G/ GPRS data card service in the UK. Although Vodafone went for a relatively low-key launch, such is the desperation for renewed signs of consumer interest in 3G there will undoubtedly be a lot riding on how the service is received. We have a reporter at a press briefing being held today so will let you know if anything significantly different from the information below comes out of that.

Vodafone is offering the service to larger business through its own business unit and reseller channel and, but is also offering the cards to individual or SMEs through 64 selected retail outlets. Presumably if there is great demand for the cards this will be extended to more shops.

At the moment there are four pricing bundles, from £10 per month for a 5MB worth of  data up to £85 per month for a "power user", who will get 500MB worth of mobile data. Intermediate prices at set at £20 for 25MB and £45 for 150MB. Business users will get twice the data bundle for their money of they sign up before October 2004. Vodafone says its user profiles are based on "extensive research" carried out with its trial customers. Not that you’d expect them to say, "These prices are a shot in the dark, frankly we haven’t got a clue how much data people are going to use when they start using 3G."

Vodafone’s wording about coverage is slightly obtuse. It says it has, "30% network coverage (equating to 41% geographic areas of the Vodafone UK network where data traffic is currently carried)."

Despite the fact that, theoretically, all of Vodafone’s GSM network can carry data, we take this to mean 40% of its GPRS network is now UMTS enabled. At any rate, these are the areas Vodafone gives as currently having 3G coverage: London, M25, along the M4 corridor (London to Newbury) and in Bristol, Cardiff, Portsmouth, Southampton, Birmingham, Leicester, Nottingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Belfast. 

Vodafone also says that roaming is available in Italy, Netherlands, Japan, Spain and Portugal. This will be on GPRS until Vodafone has 3G services up and running in each of those markets.
Vodafone is also publicising a downlink speed will be a theoretical maximum of 384 kbps, dependent, as Mobile Europe readers will know, on cell conditions and signal strength.

Current GPRS Mobile Connect customers will have to wait until their 12 month subscription runs out before they can upgrade to the dual mode card. So if you want 3G and you’ve signed up for a GPRS Mobile Connect card, bad luck.

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