T-Mobile, Virgin Group and Virgin Mobile have settled all outstanding litigation, and established new agreements, including an enhanced telecoms supply agreement running for a minimum 10 years.

Virgin is also acquiring T-Mobile's stake in Virgin Mobile, although T-Mobile will have the right to receive 25% of any value over £550 million, up to a maximum payment of £100 million, in the event of any future sale or float of Virgin Mobile, within the next two and half years.
The settlement also includes the end of the monthly marketing support contribution paid by T-Mobile. Virgin Mobile will also be able to receive inbound, as well as outbound, call revenues
Brian McBride, managing director of T-Mobile UK, said, "This is a great deal for T-Mobile, for Virgin and for Virgin Mobile. It provides substantial benefits for all parties. It's also been a pleasure dealing with the Virgin team.
"Any disagreements of the past are well and truly behind us, and we all look forward to a long and mutually rewarding relationship."
Tom Alexander, chief executive of Virgin Mobile, said, "This is a new era for Virgin Mobile, one in which it will continue to thrive and prosper through its re-energised network partner and simpler corporate structure. We are delighted to have found a way forward which suits all parties, consigning the distractions of the past to history."

mPower, Mobilitec's leading software product selected by the largest operating group in Europe; Mobilitec's mPower already successfully deployed in seven Vodafone live! countries

Mobilitec Inc, a global provider of integrated software products that enable mobile service delivery, today announced that Vodafone(TM) has selected Mobilitec to enable the flexible and secure wireless download of Java applications.  Mobilitec's mPower product has already been successfully deployed in a number of Vodafone live! countries including Australia, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy and New Zealand. 

Mobilitec's mPower provides the necessary functionality to enable the download of Java games as part the highly successful Vodafone live! service. The relationship between Mobilitec and Vodafone(TM) ensures proven, carrier-grade software, easy implementation and support for any device, network and protocol.  The solution offers flexibility and agility to adapt to emerging standards and functionality.  Through its leading mPower product, Mobilitec is enabling Vodafone(TM) to implement key components for generating revenue and driving data usage through its Vodafone live! offering.

Lee Fenton, Director Global Platforms, at Vodafone Global Products and Services said, "This agreement with Mobilitec enables our customers to seamlessly download Java applications as part of our Vodafone live! offering. We have already successfully deployed the solution in a number of Vodafone live! countries.."

"Our relationship with Vodafone(tm) is testament to Mobilitec's leading position in the market as the provider of the most compelling best-of-breed suite of software enabling mobile service delivery," said Margaret Norton, CEO and President of Mobilitec.  "Vodafone(TM) has been able to quickly and cost-effectively launch a secure, reliable and scalable standards-based suite of integrated products that provide the key component in generating revenue and increasing data usage."

Operators can gain a five times increase in SMS capacity by installing intelligent SMS routers in their network before messages hit the SMSC, according to two equipment vendors in the market.

With an increasing number of SMS spikes around TV, radio and other voting events, dealing with the need for extra SMS capacity is key for mobile operators.
But the current store-forward architecture of SMSCs is unnecessary and hampers operators, according to Jeff Wilson, chairman of Telsis.
"The underlying text architecture was never planned to cope with maximising the kind of SMS revenues operators are now faced with," he said. "SMSCs are not equipped to handle large peaks and there are many examples of SMS network crashes."
Andrew Downing, Telsis cto, said that the ubiquity of mobile ownership makes the store and forward function of SMSCs unnecessary.
"Between 70 and 90% of SMS are delivered first time, yet most operators still have a traditional architecture and can't support seasonal highs. It is also costly to provision and maintain SMSC capacity, and this is limiting growth and revenues," he said.
The answer is to have intelligent SMS routing, Downing said.
"The MSC can't add value to text as it can to voice, it just routes it straight through. An SMS router enables an operator to add value by analysing the message details to intelligently route the message."
The router will decide which messages need to go to the SMSC to be stored, and which can go straight over the network to their destination.
"When a phone is on and available you don't actually need the SMSC. Direct delivery gives a five times increase in capacity," Downing claimed.
For people to machine messages, such as a voting application, the router can identify the application and route the message around the SMSC. The router can also perform load balancing, to share SMS load amongst SMSCs on the network, rather than sending the message to the nearest SMSC by default.


"The SMSC is the main bottleneck, it has limited input capacity, delays on store-and-forward and limited connections to service providers, which are stuck with limited bandwidth," Andrew Bowen, product manager, commercial partnerships, at  Vodafone said. He added that in voting applications the pinch is in getting all the votes down one piece of wire to the application at the end. Even if a network can handle high peaks the response from the application back to the voter is spread out over a long time, which can affect user perceptions of the vote.
"Using the Telsis SDN for the first time we have a true picture of all the votes issuing at any one time. We can put SMS through SMSCs where we do the billing etc. But we can also deliver text directly through, bypassing the charging mechanism. Or if there is over capacity we can start call gapping."
Although Vodafone has not integrated the routing platform with its billing function, and must pass messages through its SMSCs to capture billing data, Telsis says that the router can be integrated with billing mechanisms.
That is also the view of another player in the SMS routing space, Empower Interactive.
Empower's Richard Shearer said the important point was being able to separate applications (eg voting) traffic from person to person traffic.
"The difference is that applications are available the whole time so if we can identify application traffic as it hits the network we can keep it off SS7 and the SMSC and route it into the application, typically via IP.
"This brings huge cost savings as IP is about one thousandth the cost of SS7, as well as huge benefits in network integrity."
Shearer said that in fact 50-60% of SMS messages are delivered first time, but agreed that the separation of the store and forward component was a "big architectural shift".
"The key is that operators don't need to invest in further SMSCs if they have headroom." With the predicted boom in MMS, it will be even more important operators have a scalable architecture, Shearer said.
"Operators haven't invested an awful lot in messaging infrastructure for a couple of years," he said.  "They now need to be looking critically at it and making decisions most appropriate to what they see looking forward."

Lucent Technologies is still betting on its enterprise strategy bringing rewards when operators make their final decisions on 3G infrastructure suppliers.

Speaking to Mobile Europe, Lucent Technologies EMEA president Dave Poticny said that the company would stick with its strategy of trying to leverage its profile with enterprise customers to push its High-Speed Data Solutions strategy.
"We have been pushing High-Speed Data for enterprise customers for two years and as far as we can see it is still the right path. There is a lot of attention from operators on the idea of data cards and High-Speed Data. 3 has primarily targeted consumers so we are still pushing the corporate message with other operators who are interested in the enterprise play.
Poticny said Lucent has tested and optimised its system to be ready to meet the demands of enterprise data users.
"We decided to test and prepare the difficult applications of it [the base station] first. We anticipated that if we had that right then voice would be less complicated.The pilots have proved the point, these being real commercial users with real companies."
Poticny said that the enterprise market is the most difficult for operators to get into, as they are used to selling into consumer markets.
"I don't believe the industry in general knows how to sell high speed data to enterprises," he said. Lucent's knowledge of selling to businesses would give operators a channel to enterprise customers. "It's a long term sell.
"Our whole sales objective is to bring enterprise customers to our customers. So we're helping them with that until they get good at selling to the enterprise itself.
"People say 3G is about selling the base station and it turns out it is about a lot more than that. Ultimately 3G will be a service definition."
Poticny said there is still opportunity for Lucent to pick up 3G contracts in Europe.
"Most companies have picked their first round suppliers. Yet a company like Telefonica didn't even implement its first round supplier and went to a re-bidding process. Other companies are doing the rest of their build out and re-bidding in six months,.
"Some operators are not completely happy with their supplier and are shifting.".

Operators could gain millions of pounds of extra revenue by  activating  services to secure customer loyalty from inbound and outbound roamers.

That, at least, is what two major vendors of value added roaming services have claimed to Mobile Europe. John Hoffman, ceo of Roamware, said, "The industry sort of has forgotten a bit about roaming...especially outbound roaming, which has traditionally been neglected by operators."
Hoffman said operators needed to provide their outbound roamers with services to ensure either that the subscriber stayed on the group network when in another country, or else with his home network's preferred roaming partner.
Hoffman said that services which ensure a call is received with a CLI still in tact, and give a user the same  voicemail functionality as at home, produce a tangible increase in calls.
"Every time a customer is successfully provisioned in a foreign network he will receive three calls and make four extra calls on average. If you are a group operator, by keeping a customer on your network you can make tens to hundreds of millions of additional revenue. At the moment between 40 and 70% of roamers successfully stay on a group network. If all customers stayed on host properties when abroad then it would be worth hundreds of millions a year."
Hoffman outlined three main ways to keep customers on network when roaming. One is the method of sending a text ("which can be irritating"), the second is a "soft redirect" which prompts a user to use a network as a menu item.
The last, and according to Hoffman an area "everyone is trying to figure out right now" is the "fertile ground" of the hard redirect.
This would use an over the air STK application to move the customer over to a network without any action on the  customer's part. It is an approach which requires SIM cards to be provisioned, as well as the operator's own server platform. But it's also an approach being followed by Roamware rival Starhome.
Starhome's Alon Barnea, vp of business development, said that roaming revenues is money that operators are "leaving on the table."
He too claimed that operators can add millions to revenues just by implementing procedures to keep roamers on-net and using their normal services.
For instance, the issue of misdialling from an address book in which numbers are not entered with an international code can be dealt with by a Starhome switch on a mobile network interrogating a database of all the dialling extensions around the world, working out which number the customer is trying to call and then placing the call accordingly.
Starhome has a global IP network with gateway switches from mobile networks to the IP network. This means, for instance, that a CLI can be stripped from a call and transferred across the IP network, synchronised to the call. This is the system used by Vodafone to create its Virtual Home Environment.
Bernea listed other services to extract additional revenues from roamers as optimal routing, in which two inbound roamers on a national network can call each other as a local call, rather than "tromboning" to the home network and back again and the development of Roaming Mate --  a portal which is operator branded for the outbound subscriber.
The portal allows an operator to deliver roaming requirements to the phone, for example travel guides/ special deals etc. Bernea said he expected trials of the service to begin soon.

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.