Greek operator COSMOTE has signed a Letter of Intent with Ericsson covering the initial phase of its  W-CDMA roll out in Greece.

The agreement, which runs until the end of 2004, will see Ericsson deliver the network infrastructure including core and radio equipment and support the 3G rollout with a full range of services. Most prominent amongst these is a commitment from Ericsson to work closely with COSMOTE in developing attractive end-user services in advance of the upcoming 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
"The start of the deployment of our 3G network in Greece is yet another milestone for COSMOTE and confirms once again the company's proven commitment to deliver the highest quality, most user-friendly services to the Greek people," said Evangelos Martigopoulos, CEO of COSMOTE.
"We are very honoured that COSMOTE has selected Ericsson as the main partner for its initial 3G network rollout," said Bill Zikou, president of Market Unit South East Europe at Ericsson. "This Letter of Intent is yet another confirmation of Ericsson's global leadership in providing end-to-end WCDMA solutions and a clear recognition of our competitive local position."

Trams in Warzburg, Switzerland will use TETRA radio for passenger information and voice services. It will serve as the mainstay of a computer-controlled traffic management system, which will keep passengers at central stops up to date with information like departure times and allow tram-operating personnel to have voice communications.

An onboard computer will provide location information to the manage-ment system and tram drivers and other staff will use duplex radio devices. R&S Bick Mobilfunk, working on behalf of Siemens TTS, which was responsible for the traffic manage-ment system, set up the system.
The network will comprise an exchange with an integrated TETRA base station and four other base stations.  It is due to begin operation in March 2004 and be completely synthesized with the traffic management system by the summer of 2004.

Team Simoco, the company born out of the ashes of Simoco Digital Systems' TETRA and Simoco's traditional analogue PMR businesses, has put itself back on a solid business footing, according Team Simoco's general manager, Kevin Paul.

"The aim has been to drive the business back to sanity...It's not about technology, it's about business," said Paul. "We have achieved 12 months of solid trading and have double the budget on the order books for 2003 and have demonstrated to Telecom that this has been a good acquisition for them.
This has been achieved by concentrating on the needs of customers and creating a business that is heading more towards systems integration than a pure systems provider.
Having built the initial success from the analogue PMR business which Paul had been involved in running prior to SDS' collapse, Team Simoco is now looking at ways to add the digital capabilities of TETRA to the company's customer offering. However, Paul was keen to point out that Team Simoco would not move back to the technology-based business of SDS. "We will look to add the digital element but without the risk." The risk has been reduced because Team Simoco is not blazing the TETRA technology trail.
Instead, Paul stated, "This is nowhere near the cutting edge. The plan is to move towards being a systems integrator that doesn't focus on any single technology.
"SDS in its later years was a fantastic free consultant. There was huge commercial benefit to what was being given away free. We are now using that to add value to our offering in the form of the skills and applications that we can offer customers to make their businesses more effective."

Motorola has officially launched the MTH650, its new TETRA two-way radio for the emergency services market, following extensive research with public safety users.

The radio offers greater ease of use and includes features such as a screensaver, programmable keys and a multi-functional rotary knob. The radio, which was unveiled privately to customers two months ago, has already been sold to eight public safety forces.
The product is available globally to all markets that use TETRA and has been designed as "an addition to, not a replacement for any existing product in Motorola's TETRA portfolio," according to Joanne Moore, director of TETRA terminals.
Extensive research was conducted over the last nine months with more than 100 users and research teams.  This identified flexibility, safety, ruggedness, comfort and ease of use as the most important features in a two-way radio.
The ability to personalise the radio is a key feature for the future of radio communications in the emergency sector as the increased functionality means that personnel use the same radio in different way.
To meet this need, the MTH650 includes a top-mounted multi-purpose rotary knob that changes functionality. Officers can use this to switch between functions such as talk groups or use it to scroll up and down the menu. In addition, the radio boasts: programmable keys for one touch access to popular functions; multiple antennae options including a small helical antenna and whipical antenna for increased coverage in fringe areas and dual mic, top and bottom, to ensure optimal audio quality whether the user is speaking directly into the radio or speaking into the top of a radio fixed to a lapel.
It is the only radio to have a screensaver, which provides increased security by preventing private information from being on display, especially when the radio is mounted on the lapel of a police officer.
The screensaver can also be customised to show the organisation's logo or the user's identification number, or even used to promote services such as 'crimestoppers.'
 A "hot mic" function gives handsfree operation in an emergency and this, combined with increased microphone sensitivity, means that a user can stay in contact even if the  radio is dropped.
A Personal Identification Number (PIN) option and Lithium ION batteries add to the package, while the whole screen, including the navigation keys, can be flipped up-side-down so if the radio is lapel mounted it can be read with ease. A vibrate alert and flat bottom which enables the radio to stand upright on a flat surface, complete the package. There is also range of accessories available which include all the usual items associated with the public safety market.
Moore concluded, "We have already had positive feedback regarding the size and weight, and the screen saver option has proved highly popular."

All the hype in the mobile enterprise market today surrounds data but, according to Lars Svensson, this is only half right as the biggest market with the best potential remains voice. Indeed, he suggested that mobile operators could "double the rate of mobile penetration into enterprises overnight" by installing Ericsson's voice software.

Svensson was talking about voice services with a difference --- integrated voice communications for the enterprise market in which all the services available on the fixed PBX are extended to mobile terminals. This is provided via Ericsson's server-based software which can be added to any existing digital PBX, irrespective of vendor. Not only will this provide standard PBX functions such as call forwarding, group pick-up etc, but also allow the mobile device to be integrated with more advanced functions such as calendar, contacts and the enterprise's internal directory. In the future, there is also the possibility to add such capabilities as listening to email, text-to-voice and voice-to-text.
For the enterprise, the benefit comes in the form of greater control over mobile costs for the IT manager, as well as operational efficiencies that can be achieved by established truly unified communications and messaging systems.
Svensson believes that the growth potential for voice in the enterprise market is compelling for mobile operators. He illustrated this by citing Telia's experiences in Sweden where traffic has increased dramatically and, most significantly, the length of enterprise calls is noted to be six or seven times longer than average. He explained the scale of the opportunity stating, "If Telia can mobilise 10% of PBXs it would create as much traffic as currently exists on the network." This, he suggested, was typical of the northern European market and claimed that the market was "exploding in Germany and Sweden" and Ericsson's next target would be the UK, starting now.
In terms of the investment required by the enterprise to make this work, it depends whether the solution is provided as a managed service by the operator or direct to the customer. When brought as a service the cost can vary from UKP10--100. However, Svensson claimed, "Enterprises shouldn't pay more over all." He pointed to Ericsson's own experience as proof stating, "Our experience was that overall costs fell by 22%." This resulted for a reduction in fixed call backs etc and a better deal on mobile traffic rates.
The only requirement from the enterprise is for all handsets to be configured properly. This is something that can be aided by such products as IBM's device management software. On the operator side, the major consideration is capacity. "It is possible that the increase in mobile traffic this delivers is too much and causes capacity issues. To avoid such problems, both Telia and Vodafone have taken deployment steadily in Sweden," Svensson concluded.

Verilocation, an automatic mobile phone location service, which uses information from the UK's mobile networks to locate users, has gone live and already has over a thousand users.

Accurate to within 100 metres Verilocation allows businesses to have a 'GPS type' location capability without the need for specialist equipment, contracts or software. Provided as a simple pay-as-you-go Web service, companies pay an initial registration fee and thereafter UKP0.20 per search, purchased by buying credits online.
Verilocation is primarily aimed at companies with staff or assets travelling out and about but for whom GPS is not viable.
According to Verilocation, the service offers a 'much more cost-effective solution than GPS.' It links the mobile phone user to the underlying road network and displays the information in an easy-to-understand visual format using the on-screen map. The service is accessed via the web.
The basic service plots the position of the mobile phone, whilst more advanced applications involving resource allocation, automatic despatch, routing and activity analysis, are also under development.

Greek operator Cosmote is gearing up for a major promotional campaign when the Olympic Games come to the country next year.

As it prepares for a mass influx of visitors during the 15 days of the games, the operator has signed 280 roaming agreements in 130 countries and hopes to have GPRS roaming available later this year. 3G services are planned for 2004 in time for the event.
As an official sponsor of the games, the operator is hoping to cash in both on roamers and on increasing the number of subscribers in Greece.
"The Olympic brand is the best known brand in the world," said Katerina Koutsaftike, Cosmote's products expert. "We want to participate actively in all the Olympic activities, including things that have already started."
These include a roadshow touring Greece at the moment with a booth that lets people send SMS messages to the athletes and a contest with top prizes of trips to the games including tickets, travel and accommodation. The operator is also doing co-promotions with handset maker Samsung.
"Though we are doing specific services for the event," said Koutsaftike, "we are concentrating on reusable services. We are putting a lot of effort and we don't want this just operating for 15 days."

Despite its problems, wired equivalent privacy (WEP) can still stop 90% of security breaches in wireless LANs, according to Richard Hollis, chief executive officer of Orthus.

Speaking at the WLAN Event in London in May, Hollis said more than 90% of hackers were just interested in getting free internet access and nothing more sinister. They won't bother breaking even the simplest security system, and merely go to look for an easier target.
"Hackers select easy targets and use simple attack methods," said Hollis. "They are easily deterred."
WEP has had a bad press since August 2001 when AT&T Labs published a paper showing how easy it was to crack. But though it will not deter a serious technically adept hacker, there is no reason not to use it as part of a security system, said Hollis.
Jenni O'Connell, technical consultant with Global Secure Systems, agreed. She said, "The cheapest and easiest thing you can do with a WLAN is turn on WEP. It costs you nothing, so why not do it?"
But Hollis and O'Connell both stressed that to stop the more serious hackers, or crackers as Hollis called them, higher levels of security were needed.
However, the element of the 802.1x standard that can rotate WEP addresses quicker than they can be cracked is suffering from not being ratified.
"Everyone is doing their own flavours," said O'Connell. "There is no compatibility between 802.1x systems. It is vendor locked at the moment."
She said that for corporates, a firewall built specially for wireless networks was still the best route."

GPRS roaming still has a future despite a slow rollout, initial customer dissatisfaction and 3G on the horizon, believes Jesper Holm Schlichtkrull, roaming manager of TDC Mobil in Denmark.

On top of that, he said there had been problems testing GPRS roaming because it worked differently on different manufacturers' handsets.
"This means the settings and usage can be difficult for the customer to understand," he said. "Customers also don't know which operator in a country provides GPRS roaming, can end up trying on the wrong network and then give up and abandon GPRS roaming."
He said that although GPRS roaming accounted for less than 1% of GSM subscribers, there was a future for it.
"But the rollout is slow," he said, "and it will be even slower if we do not provide the right applications and make them easy to use. We need to kick-start the GPRS services such as MMS to make customers aware of them."
He also said the pricing models had to be kept simple.
John Hoffman, consulting director with the GSM Association in the USA, said there was a danger of some smaller operators being left behind with GPRS roaming. "It is the small independent operators that don't have many GPRS networks up and running that don't have the roaming agreements," he said. "It is fine for the large global organisations such as Vodafone, Orange and T-Mobile."

Rumours about the imminent termination of mmO2's 3G trial on the Isle of Man have been firmly denied by both mmO2 and Manx Telecom. However, Simon Gordon, spokesman for mmO2 said, "The trial will not last indefinitely."

Although no date has yet been set for the end of the trial, the 3G networks being rolled out by mmO2 in Germany and Ireland are expected to supercede the Isle of Man when it comes to providing a learning experience for the group.  According to Gordon, the Isle of Man trial has "been invaluable," but, he suggested, as the German and Irish networks use newer infrastructure equipment they would render the Isle of Man trial "redundant."
In line with licence conditions, a network covering 25% of the German population has to be in place by the end of the year and commercial service is expected around the same time. The experiences of achieving this and early service usage and network behaviour information will then be shared amongst the mmO2 group, as has been the case with the Isle of Man trial.
Similar, although less stringent conditions exist in Ireland, and combined, the real, commercial experiences of these two rollouts will take over, leaving the future of the Isle of Man network in the hands of Manx Telecom. Said Gordon, "This is the benefit of only having solely-owned companies in the group."
The end of the trial will not mark the end of 3G on the Isle of Man as Manx spokeswoman Christine Clucas explained, "The trial is going very well and we are evaluating the situation. There are certainly no plans to terminate the 3G network." Like much of Europe, the Isle of Man is likely to be offered a commercial service comprising both 2.5G and 3G technologies.

Mobile operators have been accused of operating a cartel over roaming prices.

"There is a reluctance to compete resulting in higher charges to users," said Ewan Sutherland, executive director of the International Telecoms Users Group in Belgium.
And he said the situation was going to get worse with 3G: "Some say 3G stands for 'games, gambling and girls', I say it stands for 'gullibility, greed and grief'."
He was speaking at the Mobile Roaming and Interoperability conference held in London.
Looking particularly at call termination charges, he said: "The roaming market looks very much like a cartel. The operators are ripping off each others' customers. It is a wonderful scam. And there is evidence of price collusion."
One of the problems, he said, was the pressure on operators to produce monthly ARPU figures.  A cut in roaming prices would cause an immediate drop in ARPU but might not lead to an increase in usage for six months.
The other problem is that reducing call termination charges benefits customers of operators other than the one cutting prices.
"So everyone is waiting for the regulator to tell them to reduce prices," Sutherland said.
Meanwhile, he said multinational operators such as Vodafone and Orange could reduce prices internationally. Or they could offer "happy hours" during which holiday makers could phone home for cheap rates.
"But they are scared of driving general revenues down," he said.
But Julian Keeley, head of regulation and carrier services at mmO2 in the UK, hit back saying there were already special rates for holidaymakers that could cut roaming process by between 30 and 70% for a month. He said these were introduced as part of a competitive response to Orange and T-Mobile.
He also said that traffic direction would increase competition in roaming prices by removing the random factor concerning which network a handset logs on to. This, he said, would let operators do deals with operators in other countries.
"The inter-operator tariffs did stay high for many years, and that was unacceptable," he said. "This was because it was random which network your handset picked up on."
The delay in introducing this properly will be the time it takes to convince existing users to update their SIMs.
"All new customers get SIMs with traffic direction built in," he said.
Ben Niestadt, director of global sales at Dannet in Denmark, said roaming prices had to be competitive to increase revenues.
"You need to optimise roaming traffic," he said. "If you reduce cost, you increase your market share. The right price plan will increase ARPU, keep you competitive, bring transparency to end users, prevent churn of high-usage roamers and reduce the number of customer call enquiries."

David Hughes, director of BT Mobility, launched an attack on Bluetooth at the WLAN Event recently held in London.

During a presentation on BT Openzone, he said that he "was struggling to know what to do with Bluetooth."
He said, "I'm giving up on Bluetooth. I don't think it will be a competitor with Wi-Fi. Anything that can be done on the internet can be done with Wi-Fi. It is about broadband everywhere."
He admitted though that the Wi-Fi industry was in its "infancy" when it came to pricing policies.
"There are lots of people who will want to pay for broadband access at hotspots," he said. "We will see experi-mentation over payment methods."

Orange retail in the UK has taken the decision to promote the more effective use of existing terminals by the company's subscribers rather than the continual sale of new handsets.

According to Nick Moore, director of Orange Retail, "80% of phone users use 10% of the handset's functions." The three main reasons identified by Orange for this shortfall were that: services aren't seen as being relevant, they aren't usable or the user doesn't know how to use them.  As Moore explained, "Mobile phones are not complicated, they are just misunderstood."
The initiative has taken the form of a UKP10million advertising campaign, promoting the idea of the Orange Academy which trains staff to ensure that customers get the most from their terminals. To back this up 1800 staff across 250 retail outlets nationwide have been reclassified as 'trainers.' Their priority is now to 'train not sell,' in order to encourage people to use their phones more.
Herein lies the motivation for the initiative. Moore explained, "There are some hidden gems within Orange such as our answer service. Once customers personalise their answer service, usage increases by 3%."
In a mature market such as the UK, any increase in revenue is welcomed and the handset is an obvious starting point. Furthermore, it sits well with the operator's handset policy. "Handset subsidies are reducing and prices are increasing which leads to a desire for increased handset life spans. Therefore customers need to be encouraged to use their handsets more."
The initiative has been backed up by a number of concrete steps that demonstrate that this is more than a marketing push. An extensive training programme has been ramped up over the past three months, comprising both in-store and full-day training sessions on particular terminals, supported by manufacturers. In addition, each new terminal is given to a different member of staff to build up the outlet's hands-on experience. Perhaps the most telling move, however, is that commission structures have been changed, meaning that retail staff will be paid commission based on the number of training sessions they undertake, not just the number of handsets.
In addition, and in line with the ease of use theme, Orange has re-launched its WAP portal. The aim, explained Matthew Edgar, from Orange multimedia operations, is to offer services to all Orange's customers in the easiest way possible. He explained, "This is not an exclusive handset offer. It gives people the chance to use all the relevant functionality, irrespective of their terminal. Orange always believes in the mass market." He further suggested that, "Content is not a huge differentiator; the real difference comes with the packaging, the access and the value for money."
To introduce the new look, Orange is offering three month free trials to all pre- and post-paid account holders with the aim of "getting customers in the habit of using these services," according to Edgar. However, the cost barrier has also been attacked by Orange which then offers the services at a fixed fee of UKP4 per month.

The cost of 802.11 wireless LAN equipment is set for a dramatic fall following the announcement that the makers of the key chipsets will cut their prices by about 75% in the next year.

The chipsets cost about USD16 today, but this could fall to only UD4 by this time next year, making the cost of manufacturing WLAN cards cheaper.
John Kirby, vice-president for global wireless at IBM, said the fall in price was being caused by higher volumes rather than any technical innovation.
"If you look at the volumes today they are very small, but look at the volumes you are going to see," he said at the Mobile Enterprises exhibition in London in June. "Prices will halve within 18 months."
However, he said for WLAN to take off, issues such as the different ways to connect in different places had to be sorted out.
"Technically this is not difficult," he said, "We need to get the companies to agree. And to agree whether you pay by time or volume."