The mobile phone and air travel have long been seen as mutually exclusive but this situation is set to change according to Mike Fitzgerald, ceo of Altobridge.

The company has created a mobile management unit --- a software platform which manages a mini, on-board mobile network made up specially designed base stations smaller than pico cells. Fitzgerald explained that the safety worries about EMC and interference come primarily from the power levels associated with public mobile networks. However, he said, "In GSM, the network dictates the power levels and therefore you need a solution that monitors and manages the RF and that is what our solution does."
Just exactly what power levels don't interfere with the aircraft systems is still unclear.  The standard GSM level of around 2W is banned but Fitzgerald explained, the Altobridge management platform has operated at 100--200mW in tests, a level resulting from the comparatively small area and simple RF propagation involved. Unlike standard GSM, the signal does not need to, and in fact is designed not to penetrate the aircraft's chasis and works on line of sight.
In addition, Altobridge is working with the European and North American aviation authorities to create a system that is safe, something which, Fitzgerald suggested, is not the case today. Many phones are left on in error at the moment causing a safety risk, as could interference from terrestrial networks on the ground which the system also monitors, he claimed. Furthermore, the market is now right for the technology to take off.
The mobile and airline industries have been through the most testing years in their histories and both are looking for ways to increase revenues in mature and competitive markets. According to Fitzgerald, this provides a compelling business case. "The business model is based on the fact that GSM volumes will drive the price down. Initially, the service will be offered in first and business classes, but everyone involved is working on the presumption of diminishing returns as volume increases...the goal is for prices around USD2 per minute."
These rates are significantly lower than those offered by the satellite phones currently installed in aircraft. Although the Altobridge system uses satellite for backhaul, Fitzgerald stated that the volumes GSM offers provides a bargaining position for lower backhaul rates, while the management platform minimises the satellite bandwidth used.
Fitzgerald stated that Altobridge has a clear advantage over competitors looking to provide similar systems as it has a real product ready for trial, while he suggested the business case was fundamentally stronger than those of competitive technologies. "The WLAN connection being trialled by Boeing and Lufthansa is priced at around USD30 per subscriber, while for the cost of installing that system on a single aircraft, 7--10 aircraft could be equipped with our platform."
The system is being trialled in the US and Fitzgerald sees the business jet market in the US as the first target. However, he suggested that there was "no reason to delay entry into the European market," and that the speed of rollout would be dictated by the availability of funding and the regulatory environment.

To meet the demands of a growing mobile content publishing market Nokia has launched an updated Mobile Internet Toolkit (version 4.0).

This incorporates Open Mobile Alliance DRM version 1.0. Including the content publishing feature to protect the intellectual property value of applications and content is in line with a recent report from Zelos Group, which highlights integrated support for digital rights management as a crucial concern for developers and publishers.
Other improvements to the toolkit include an update manager for new tools available through the Forum Nokia website and extra support for non-Latin character encoding for Oriental and Arabic language content creation. MMS wizards also further creation in different modes, including automatic generation from SMIL content and step-by-step part selection. Lee Epting, vp and gm of Forum Nokia, stressed the increased DRM would improve "ability to generate revenues" and "make it very easy to begin developing" content on wireless networks.

One of Scandinavia's largest retail groups, Reitan Group is to acquire the region's largest mobile service provider Sense Communications following agreement by the respective boards on the terms of a final cash offer.

Reitan Group believes it can strengthen Sense Communications' existing share of the Scandinavian mobile phone market, principally by using Reitan's 2,109 stores as increased distribution opportunities and greater branding focus. In addition, Reitan's channels of distribution are expected to reduce customer acquisition costs, while its existing pre-paid services will  now be complemented by a post-paid offering.
Commenting on the offer, Magnus Reitan, Chief Financial Officer of Reitan Group, said, "Sense Communications is an established business with a large and loyal customer base.  Reitan Group is confident that its existing infrastructure will provide an ideal opportunity to further expand the customer base and grow into new markets.  Reitan believes that the deal offers a good commercial opportunity both for Sense Communications shareholders and the Reitan Group. After completion of the acquisition Reitan's mobile customer base will be in excess of 235,000, representing nearly 10% of the Norwegian market."

IN-FUSIO, the mobile games service provider for operators in Europe and China, has announced new user figures that demonstrate the growing importance and the ARPU generating capability of its mobile games services.

IN-FUSIO now has over 3,350,000 players registered worldwide and has accumulated 7,000,000 game down-loads. This means a new player joins every five seconds and one download is made every four seconds. Since its launch in July 2001 these usage figures have been increasing by 15% month on month.
After downloading a game, IN-FUSIO's service allows the player to unlock further game levels, challenge other players or post scores using SMS. As well as delivering all-important interactivity to the games service this has also proved an important revenue stream for operators who have benefited from the 35,200,000 premium text messages that have been sent by mobile gamers to date.
"We have seen a significant shift in the role mobile games play within an operator's armoury of data services. This is probably why a third of all handsets sold in France since the beginning of the year are enabled with IN-FUSIO's games engine client --- ExEn.
Of the 3,350,000 registered players, over 1.1 million were active users last month, making at least one paid interaction in the last four weeks. With almost 700,000 downloads per month this represents "enormous revenue-generating potential," says Gilles Raymond, CEO & founder of IN-FUSIO.

Churn costs European and US mobile operators USD4billion a year, yet the operators themselves spend a large part of their advertising budget encouraging people to switch from one network to another. Steve Rogerson explains.

Mobile phones users may soon find it easier to access real web pages using technology that Nokia has acquired following its USD21million purchase in April of Pittsburgh software company Eizel Technology.

Psion, the largest shareholder behind Symbian, the operating system, has revealed an always-on email solution for the enterprise. The company's aim is to take mobile email from a top executive offering into the business mainstream by providing ease of use and lower cost of ownership. Richard Thurston reports.

Borland Software Corporation, the software development and deployment solutions provider, has announced that its solution is now compatible with Nokia's Series 60 platform.

Delivering business applications has up to now been a compromise --- a choice between synchronisation and browser technologies --- both of which  have limitations. The former struggles to roll-out new applications, while the latter is slow and doesn't allow users to work off-line. This is the view of Peter Mansour, president and ceo of Sproqit, which has created a new approach that overcomes these shortcomings.

Leading wireless vendors have combined forces with the aim of introducing wireless broadband coverage across metropolitan areas Richard Thurston reports.

Content rights issues are set to delay the large-scale rollout of multiple data services unless they are addressed properly. And, according to Core Media's UK Manager Val Karruck, the way to do this is through an integrated platform and using standards created by the Open Mobile Alliance.