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Altobridge, the company which provides GSM connectivity on aeroplanes via satellite, has launched a maritime version of the system.

The gateway connects a GSM picocell on board a ship to a satellite network. Altobridge says the system overcomes t he two main barriers to take-up of GSM on-ship solutions, namely capital cost and the overheards of signalling, by keeping signalling down to a minimum.
It sees an opportunities for maritime use in tracking as well as crew and passenger calling.  At present, many tracking systems can operate only when in range of terrestrial wireless systems. With this system, a individual container could be tracked right throughout a journey with an SMS alert sent if, for instance, it was opened mid-journey.
Altobridge says that the cell sites avoid interfering with on-shore sites as  a GIS database embedded within the Altobridge system ensures that it will not operate within coastal waters where terrestrial coverage exists.

The continuing battle for contracts to supply 3G infrastructure to Europe's mobile operators has brought some relief to Motorola, which was able to announce its first UMTS contract.

Motorola managed to oust Nortel from its position as "first round" UMTS supplier to Portuguese operator Optimus to become the sole supplier  in the north of the country.
Optimus' existing 2G supplier in northern Portugal is Motorola, although it chose Nortel in 2001 to provide preliminary UMTS infrastructure in the region, which has Porto as its main city. Ericsson is Optimus' 2G supplier in the rest of the country and currently looks favourite to be 3G supplier as well.
Neither Motorola nor Optimus was willing to release details about the size of the contract, or scope of the rollout, beyond saying that services would be available by the middle of 2004.
Margaret Rice-Jones, corporate vice president of Motorola and general manager, GTSS EMEA, said that although the contract was Motorola's first, Motorola's blank score in the 3G contracts market had not been a millstone.
"We are obviously very excited to win our first contract, but we have been saying we would be ready to deploy at the right time when our customers were ready. This proves what we have been saying for the last two years. They are now ready and we are ready to deploy with them," she said.
Conceding that the market had already made many first and second round contract awards she added, "And you may question why there was the need for second round contract awards."
Rice-Jones also intimated that Motorola has far from given up on future 3G deals. "We are currently bidding on other contracts. The technology will continue to develop. This is an evolutionary technology and that will continue over time as GSM has. It's a long term market."
For its part, Optimus said that ease of integration with existing 2G equipment had been a contributory factor to the decision to go with the vendor. Rice-Jones added that Motorola 3G equipment can stack on top of a 2G base station in the same footprint. This had been especially important in Porto where space is at a premium.
A source at Nortel, who did not want to be named, confirmed that the Optimus contract had got away from the vendor, and said the main issue had been cost.
Elsewhere on the Iberian peninsula Siemens and Ericsson jointly notched up a goal many were hoping to score, with the announcement that they will work together on the second phase of Telefonica's 3G rollout.
The happier partner will be Siemens. The company is new to the operator   and was not part either of the 2G network or of the 1,100 base station rollout made in 2003.
Telefonica has progressed through the roll call of equipment vendors in the search for suppliers. Ericsson, Nokia and Motorola were all initially retained in 2000, whilst Ericsson and Nortel were tasked with the initial rollout in 2001, with Nortel supplying the radio infrastructure and Ericsson everything else. Now, for the push to the finish, as up to 8,000 base stations are installed in a â‚-1 billion programme up to 2006, Siemens has joined the roster.
A Siemens spokesperson was unwilling to comment on project details, but said the company was delighted to win the deal.
Siemens is also taking UMTS into central and Eastern Europe, having been named as supplier to two T-Mobile subsidiaries --- T-Mobile Czech Republic and Poland's Polska Telefonica Cyfrowa.
The deals are Siemens' first and second in Eastern Europe. In the Czech Republic Siemens will deliver radio and switching equipment and in Poland will be turnkey network supplier.
l Greek operator Telestet has launched the country's first commercial W-CDMA network, offering services in four areas, including Athens. The network is built on RAN and core network equipment provided by Nokia after an agreement between the two parties announced in April 2003.

Telia is discontinuing the entrance fee and flat monthly rate its GPRS enterprise customers in Sweden.

Business customers will instead pay for the amount of data they send or receive, with prices starting at 3.2 ore per kB. The rate decreases as usage increases.
Telia is discontinuing the earlier price variants of an entrance fee and flat monthly rate as it found it was proving to be a threshold for users when they started using mobile Internet services.
"The previous pricing system made it difficult for our enterprise customers to choose the type of subscription. With the new model, it will be easier for them to get an overview of their costs and we believe more companies will now start to use the mobile Internet," says Erik Heilborn, head of the Business Segment at TeliaSonera Sweden.
With the new pricing model for Telia Mobile Online Work, a normal sized e-mail message, without attachments, will cost about SEK0.10 to send.  This would result in a monthly charge of about SEK32 for 1Mb of data, after which the traffic fee would decrease so that users would pay SEK24/Mb for up to 5Mb of data and SEK16/Mb for up to 25 Mb. Users sending more than 25Mb of data per month would pay SEK 12.80/Mb.

There were several winners and perhaps only one clear loser in the mobile device market over the final quarter of 2003, according to figures from market research firm Canalys.

HP will be best pleased with the result, seeing sales of its iPaq giving it clear leadership of the data centric handheld market. Sales for the quarter were up 167% on the previous year, with 406,420 sold across EMEA.
Palm will be most disappointed with the results, witnessing a 19% drop in year on year sales, and dropping to under 25% market share, against HP's 32.9% share,
There was good news for Nokia, too, as it continued to dominate the smartphone and feature phone market, as defined by Canalys. But Canalys also credited "latecomer" Motorola with "reasonable" first quarter shipments of its MPx200, and Siemens for "finally" getting its SX1 to market. SonyEricsson's P900 is an improvement on the P800, but it is Nokia which is "unrivalled" in this market, analyst Rachel Lashford said.
Corporate spending was also responsible for a boost in volume for both HP and Nokia, Lashford added.
"As enterprise spending on mobile device solutions grows, smart phone vendors will also want a piece of the action," said analyst Rachel Lashford. "Nokia continues to add to its range, and enjoyed a large initial ship out of the Nokia 6600 this quarter --- its most 'corporate' smart phone handset to date."
Senior analyst Chris Jones said that the availability of GPS navigation bundles was making a big difference, and was hurting Palm and Sony, two  vendors without such bundles.
"In some countries, Germany being a prime example, major retailers are now insisting on navigation solutions in preference to standalone handhelds, and the leading vendors are taking advantage of this. Vendors without navigation bundles will find it harder to get shelf space --- Palm and Sony have some catching up to do in this area. It will become more and more difficult to sell such devices purely on the basis of personal information management. Low end handhelds are competing with smart phones offering a similar level of functionality; high end models must offer other benefits to justify their higher price points," Jones said.
Microsoft was quick to hail the results as a success for Windows Mobile, claiming that the figures represented a "shift by the customer towards the Windows Mobile software".
 But the report's authors had good words for Symbian too, as Nokia is set to take the OS further into the enterprise market.
"We expect Nokia to target the corporate mobility solutions segment very hard this year, and the Symbian OS is now reaching the shipment levels needed to make it a contender in the enterprise," Lashford said.
l IDC released its own figures for sales of handheld devices globally, which again showed HP to have done well in a market that decreased overall in the face of strong competition from feature rich mobile phones.
"With a growing number of vendors and products that combine both personal information management (PIM) capability and telephony, consumers are moving away from devices that offer only PIM capability. HP and palmOne enjoyed particular success during the holiday buying season by offering handheld devices with features beyond PIM that cannot be found in a mobile phone," said David Linsalata, analyst in IDC's Mobile Devices programme. "Vendors must continue to differentiate and expand into hot product categories."

Visitors to 3GSM will be made very aware that someone somewhere in the world will very soon become the one billionth GSM subscriber.

By the end of 2003, there were 970 million GSM users, according to the GSM Association, and with on average 15 million joining a month, the billionth user is not far away. The GSM Association would love the number to be breached during or shortly before the 3GSM Congress, which starts on 23 February, as it is planning several events to mark the milestone.
180 million new GSM customers signed up in 2003, with 42 million of those coming from Europe.
Russian operators alone added a combined 16 million users between them.
The largest number of additions came, not surprisingly, in China, where GSM operators signed up 42.8 million customers.

Racal Instruments Wireless Solutions (RIWS) has launched the 6401 AIME/CT ISHO, a system that tests the intersystem handover (ISHO) capability of mobile handsets. 

The system combines the 2/2.5G test capabilities of  RIWS' 6103 GPRS AIME with its 3G protocol test system, the 6401 AIME/CT. RIWS describes the capability to test intersystem handover as a major milestone for the industry in building confidence in the performance of 3G networks and handsets.
 Phil Medd, RIWS product manager for the 3G UE Protocol Test System said, "Intersystem handover has emerged as an issue since there is only a limited number of certified (119 out of 390) 3G test cases, most of which relate to basic operational features of network and system.
Medd said that the testing of calls in the 2G to 3G direction had so far been given low priority.
"The sheer volume is a problem. As such there has been very little work undertaken on areas such as intersystem handover, resulting in poor performance, such as dropped calls. The launch of our intersystem handover test platform gives manufacturers the confidence to deploy handsets," he added.

A new company is being launched at 3GSM, offering a different way to integrate, validate and deploy software for mobile handsets. Open-Plug is launching FlexibleWare Suite for software developers, chipset and handset makers and operators. 

The suite applies to both standard code and JAVA, and consists of the FlexibleWaretools and the FlexibleWare framework (a small embedded engine running on the phone). The SDK supports proprietary API's as well as Open APIs (Linux/Java).  The Suite turns any type of software at  code level into isolated executable components, which then run on the phone framework.

French content licensing and management company Wonderphone says it is currently talking to 50 operators about providing mobile video packages.

Spokesperson Marta Thongsavarn said that T-Mobile had stolen a march on the market by launching its TV for mobile service on GPRS, and that Wonderphone had been approached by a multitude of operator looking to implement similar services.
"Everything is going very fast," Thongsavarn said, "There is huge demand because video is right in the middle of operators' strategy right now."
Former French television executive Philip Plaisance, founder of the company, has secured the rights to a million short video clips, as well as exclusive rights to Vivendi Universal Games' licences
Wonderphone says it has signed up SFR for its services, but cannot name other operators as yet. The package includes an architecture to help deliver video clips and games to mobiles, including a multi-format, bandwidth and handset transcoding capability.
"The content provider delivers all data, MPEGs and so on to us and we transcode everything and carry out post production to manage the technical requirements," Thongsavarn said. "For example in Sweden an operator wanted eight minute clips but in France the requirement was for two minute clips. Then we also provide all content animation and deal with all the marketing to refresh and improve content. It's like a TV channel on your mobile," she added.
Operators can fit the platform within their existing brands, such as Vodafone Live!, Thongsavarn claimed. In the case of SFR, the operator has outsourced all sourcing, licensing and billing for video content to Wonderphone in an exclusive deal. Thongsavarn predicted there would be a rash of announcements in March as operators played catch up on T-Mobile and its GPRS TV for mobile announcement.

Who is Kodiak Networks? Mobile Europe was asked by a representative of one of the mobile industry's biggest vendors of push-to-talk equipment after Orange launched its TalkNow service, surprising many in the industry with its choice of technology provider. Keith Dyer set out to get some answers.

In launching the first "international" push-to-talk service, and the first cellular push-to-talk service in Europe, Orange has not chosen any of the major vendors currently getting excited about the technology. Not Motorola, with its experience in the USA, nor Nokia, with its efforts to push forward under the Push to Talk over Cellular (PoC) standard. Instead Orange has chosen a system from new player Kodiak Networks.
A few facts about Kodiak. First, the company is not part of the prevailing orthodoxy of PoC providers, who are grouping around the nascent PoC standard. PoC players include Motorola, Nokia, Siemens and Ericsson. Kodiak's biggest difference is that it uses the voice channel to provide PTT, rather than running over GPRS data channels. For establishing presence, the system uses SMS, rather than SIP, with phones automatically sending and receiving low payload SMSs. Calls are managed through Kodiak's Real-Time Exchange (RTX), a switch which sits above the transport layer of a network, interconnecting with multiple MSCs. Kodiak says this gives it big benefits to do with latency, quality of service and speed of call set up.
So who, or what, is Kodiak? Well the best explanation comes from ceo and founder himself, Craig Farrill.
Farrill is well-known to the mobile industry. He has stints as a former cto of Vodafone under his belt, designed D2's network in Germany and also knows CDMA inside out after senior development roles with AirTouch and PacTel. Farrill himself says, "Those that know me think of me as 'the CDMA guy.'"
Also on the management team is Kris Patel, who lead the development of Motorola's iDEN network technology in the 1990s. This, of course, gives Kodiak a rather large insight into the inner workings of the technology behind their main rival in the push-to-talk market.
Kodiak has been around as an entity since 2001, operating in what Farrill terms "stealth mode". Currently Farrill claims to have NDAs signed with 20 operators, including some European players, who are testing or trialling the technology. The company has CMDA and GSM compliant push-to-talk systems and is backed by venture capitalists behind some of the biggest names in networking.
"Financially we're in good shape --- despite what Nokia says about us," says Farrill, displaying some touchiness about being regarded as a start-up.
Farrill is bullish in the extreme on the need for more advanced voice services, and the ability of his company to meet that need.
"It's time for a renaissance in voice. And the most important thing to be added is PTT, allowing the ability for conferencing, messaging and talk," he says.
To illustrate the value to operators of a push-to-talk system, Farrill cites Nextel's experience in the US. Nextel, of course, offers customers a direct connect service on top of its cellular services, and, Farrill claims, the lifetime value of a customer to the network is twice the industry average. Churn is also at about half the industry average. Push-to-talk generates 50% more voice minutes than cellular telephony, and with more than two people on a call, more call legs mean more revenue.
So the value of PTT is established, Farrill says, but Kodiak can help customers do it even better.
The reason for this is using the voice channel rather than a voice over IP (VoIP) session. The Kodiak pitch is that VoIP sessions have three second latencies, and a two second "chirp wait"  as packets are segmented, re-assembled and multiplexed. Kodiak offers "real time voice volleys at 150 milliseconds "wait". The effect of the latency means a VoIP call is 2.7 times longer than the Kodiak version
Farrill also claims that the Kodiak system offers a host of functionality that will not be offered by GPRS VoIP services. These include providing quality of service on a shared channel, as well as the ability to upgrade the call to a full duplex call (ie a normal cellular call) and bill for it. Kodiak's system also allows operators to bill on a per leg, per call basis. Kodiak even allows for PTT roaming, both on an operator's group assets, as Orange is offering, and onto other networks.
It's quite a list, but Kodiak faces two main problems. The first is that it is virtually a lone player versus the prevailing orthodoxy of the PoC standard. Ericsson, Motorola, Siemens and Nokia are all pushing the PoC specification through the Open Mobile Alliance, and have specified PoC services on the 3GPP's IP Multimedia Subsystem requirements.
The second is about handsets. Getting the Kodiak client onto handsets manufactured by providers of competing infrastructure technology is  not going to be easy.
For Farrill they are two related points.
"The three essentials for operators  are handsets, billing and reliability. For handsets we have a partnership agreement with Handspring for its Treo600 [GSM] and a CDMA phone with Kyocera. Our software can go into existing phones as a software download, at point of sale or be embedded into the phones themselves.
"The other guys are developing a standard but their intention is to lock people into their handsets. Motorola, Nokia and Siemens are developing a "standard", leaving the rest of us on the outside. It's just another way of controlling the market."
Indeed Farrill claims that the standard will not ensure interoperability between equipment and that the only way of "betting on reliability" today is to use the voice channel.
In any case, Farrill can now point to the Orange contract. He claims that Orange will have Kodiak-enabled 12 handsets by the end of the year. After that he says Orange is going to "put Kodiak in every phone" which may come as a surprise to the handset vendors.
Despite a reluctance among vendors to see their phones equipped with client technology allowing users to take advantage of rival infrastructure, Farrill claims that he wants to "sell through all these guys...I'd rather OEM through them than fight them in the market."

T-Mobile added a total of 7.1million customers globally during 2003, the operator said, with almost half of that number being accounted for by T-Mobile USA. There was also a strong contribution to customer numbers from UK MVNO Virgin Mobile with whom the operator has finally settled outstanding legal action.

The operator added roughly the same number of customers as in 2002, giving it an overall total of 61 million customers,
In Europe, the operator's home market proved as important as ever, with 705,000 additions (441,000 contract) in the fourth quarter taking total numbers up to 26.3 million, an increase of 1.7 million customers over the year. 
In the UK it was slightly different story. Although the operator reported an overall increase of 1.2 million customers in 2003, an increase of 9.7% on the 2002 figure, much of this was accounted for by MVNO Virgin Mobile, which balanced the effect of T-Mobile's "extensive streamlining" of its direct UK customer base in 2003.
Virgin added 1.26 million customers itself during 2003, with 506,448 of them joining in the final, Christmas, quarter. Virgin Mobile had 3,644,795 customers at the end of 2003. T-Mobile UK had 13.6 million in total, including the Virgin numbers.
In the Netherlands there was a 13.2% increase in subscribers to just over two million customers, whilst in the Czech republic 400,000 people joined the operator, taking the total to just under four million. T-Mobile Austria showed flat numbers at around two million.
It was in the USA where most headway was made. Despite the high level of churn, T-Mobile USA increased  customers by 51.5% compared with the previous quarter to 1.02 million customers. Throughout all of 2003, the number of customers increased by over 3.2 million to over 13.1 million.

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.".