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Messaging specialist Comverse's chief marketing officer Benny Einhorn has warned that operators must change the brand image of the phones on their network in order to survive.

Outlining the benefits to operators of Comverse's InSight next generation messaging platform, Einhorn said the key benefit is that creating applications within an IP based modular architecture means operators will be able to design user interfaces to suit their own, and their customers' needs, rather than be reliant on what comes out of the box from a phone manufacturer.
A good example of this, Einhorn said, was Vodafone Live!, which has operated with a relatively limited number of handset vendors, because the concept is still new to the market.
"InSight is practically identical but is more advanced, because Vodafone Live is browser-based versus a handset client model. But no doubt Vodafone will move to a client-based model with network support, which is the same as Insight.
"The likes of Nokia object and their concept is that it should be all on the handset, and the network is a dumb pipe. Operators must fight it because it means they are only left to compete  on price. Nokia does not want operators to brand their handsets but operators must change their phones' brand image to survive."
Eindhorn said Comverse was well placed for this new way of giving users access to applications.
"Up until now different applications have required different clients, MMS, SMS, voicemail, WAP etc have all had different user interfaces and logic of operation.
"We have tried to build one platform across handsets and network servers, allowing a simplified user interface. So it becomes very easy to operate new applications because there are rules and capabilities which contribute to the applications."
Recognising that new business models mean a change of methodology for messaging engine vendors as well as handset vendors, InSight features open application interfaces so an operator can attach applications from other vendors.
"Operators are buying the concept and competitors are presenting similar concepts," Einhorn said
"I believe we have a better chance to win," he continued. "The reason is we had the lion's share of the voicemail market, but voicemail notification is carried out by an SMS engine, so people don't see that but we have delivered an SMS engine to every voicemail we have sold."

Mobile operators need to make sure they have a platform in place that allows them to offer services to multiple wholesale customers, messaging specialist Tecnomen has warned.

With regulation enabling MVNOs beginning to have effect, Vesa Kemppainen, corporate development director at Tecnomen, said that  operators need to have a single back end messaging platform in place that will allow them to offer multiple branded services to a number of MVNOs.
"The traditional value chain has become much more complicated." Kemppainen said. "Operators are being divided between network operators and service based operators. Network operators don't have the tools to support this model and are losing money. They need one installation that can support multiple segments on the value chain.
"A virtual operator has only his brand and must inject that on top of this platform."
To address this quandry, Tecnomen has introduced eZoner, a three part solution consisting of a telephony server, application server and storage system. Each component in the system is equipped with standard interfaces, Kemppainen said, meaning that operators can choose a modular approach, choosing by component.
Kemppainen said that the application server offers a "unique" hierarchical domain model, meeting the need for flexibility, with many MVNOs being unpredictable. The branding for the service is "5", reflecting the five key capabilities of the system. They are; single storage, customer segmentation, universal access, openness and collaboration. 
Kemppainen said that using Open Source means that Tecnomen has opened up its system architecture to operators, meaning they or their own partners can develop their own services using protocols  and standards such as J2EE or VoiceXML.
"This takes the internet publishing paradigm into the mobile world. With MVNOs there will be a demand for much quicker time to market for services, and operators will not have time to go through the testing procedures they have done in the past. This way, if an operator does have a buggy service it won't compromise the whole system," Kemppainen said.

Bill Gates used his keynote speech at ITU Telecom to announce a partnership with Vodafone to jointly develop mobile web services and applications.

The announcement was seen as throwing the two companies into competition with the Open Mobile Alliance and the Parlay Group, both of which have wide industry backing to carry out similar work.
But Annemarie Duffy, senior marketing manager of Microsoft's Mobile Devices Division, said the announcement should be seen in a similar light to when Microsoft buried the hatchet with IBM to develop web services standards.
"People got confused about what was announced," she told Mobile Europe. "There is a huge challenge for developers and operators at present. If you want to take advantage of introducing new applications it is incredibly difficult to do that today. There are applications available but not in a consistent way that work with the operator. There is no standard for each operator to expose their services.
"It [the announcement] was about the world's largest operator and the world's largest software company coming together to propose standards to address this industry issue.
"We cut a deal similar to that with IBM on web services. Vodafone recognised this needs to be addressed."
Duffy did admit there was a material difference with the announcement, as Vodafone itself is in a non-competitive position with Microsoft, whereas IBM was not.
Even so, the logic for the alliance is clear, and drew an instant conclusion from Neil Macehiter, research director with Ovum. Macehiter said, " In reality, this announcement will be greeted with scepticism. Many will see this as an attempt, motivated by self-interest, to hijack existing initiatives from the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) and The Parlay Group, both of which already have widespread industry support. Microsoft and Vodafone will undoubtedly exploit their position as originators of the framework to ensure they are the first to support it, which will only add to the concern."
The two companies hope to head off such criticism by unveiling their "roadmap" for the web services, before holding a series of workshops in January 2004, at which the industry as a whole is invited to make comments. They will take the recommendations forwards to standards bodies for proposed adoption.
The Roadmap Proposal essentially says the two companies will adopt existing industry-standard Web services architecture for mobile applications development.  Developers can use Microsoft's Visual Studio .NET development tools to build applications for PCs and mobile devices that use mobile Web services.
The proposal includes integrating mobile security and payment services with the Web services architecture, as well as "exposing" location and messaging services.
Sanjay Parthasarathy, vice president of the Platform Strategy and Partner Group at Microsoft said that enabling applications developers to use a consistent, standardised development approach will dramatically increase the number of applications that can access mobile network services from mobile network terminals and PCs.
The companies also released a white paper, titled "Mobile Web Services: Convergence of PC and Mobile Applications and Services".  More information can be found at www.vodafone.com and microsoft.com/mobilewebservices.

In-building GSM subsidiary ip.access provided one of the few bright spots in a sluggish set of results from TTP Communications.

The nano-GSM player, which markets in-building GSM base stations to mobile operators, recorded half year revenues of £924,000 against 2002 sales of £156,000. The business unit turned an operating loss of £2.1million, roughly equivalent to the previous year. Overall TTPCom's results were down 7% to £21.1million for the six months ended September 2003.
Ip.access' built on its revenue growth with the award of a contract from T-Mobile USA to supply its nanoGSM products, including basestations, basestation controllers and management systems, for use in T-Mobile USA's network nationwide.
The solution uses a building's existing Ethernet infrastructure to distribute basestations very easily around the building. The use of IP also simplifies and cost-reduces the backhaul connection.
"The ip.access solution is attractive from a number of viewpoints, not least of which is its use of IP, permitting a variety of cost-effective options for backhaul as well as enabling T-Mobile to improve coverage inside buildings simply and efficiently" said Tim Wong, CTO and Executive VP,  T-Mobile.
Stephen Mallinson, Managing Director, ip.access added, "We are obviously delighted with this contract and see it as evidence of our ability to provide high quality, commercially-attractive solutions to major mobile network operators."
Mallinson told Mobile Europe that the company was gaining some success with carriers who are interested in providing competitive services in a corporate environment, and taking revenue from a fixed line carrier.
"But if mobile doesn't work [in the office] there can't be a service.
"A corporation is not going to give its voice business to a mobile carrier if the phones don't work in the office. And carriers need to have ways of providing coverage and capacity to help them compete and we've got the solution to help them do that. We are able to provide service wherever IP is delivered.  The backhaul costs are a lot of the implementation cost and with increasing broadband connectivity it is making it relatively easy for a company to try the technology out.
"Carriers want to have a product that helps solve difficulties in the market. Indoor coverage is one of those, and we would like to be the dominant supplier," Mallinson added.

SchlumbergerSema's telecomms software activity will not be included in the deal to sell most of the company to IT services giant, Atos Origin.

However, the company did say that its telecoms software business, along with its smart cards business, are still being considered for divestiture or IPO.
SchlumbergerSema, the IT services arm of Schlumberger, was sold to Atos Origin for EUR1.3 billion, just two years after Schlumberger bought Sema for EUR4.5 billion.
Schlumberger will receive around EUR400 million of the deal in cash, with the rest accounted for in Atos stock, enough to give it a 29% ownership of the company. Over time, this will be reduced to a 19% share.
The deal would make the combined group Europe's second largest IT services company behind Cap Gemini Ernst & Young.
Andrew Gould, Schlumberger ceo, said that the sale reflected the phase of consolidation that the IT services industry is going through. The company will also retain its business continuity business and Infodata -- a Swedish database company -- along with its point-of-sale terminals, payment systems, eCity terminals and payphones businesses, although these too are earmarked for disposal.
To emphasise the move away from the parent company, Schlumberger Smart Cards and Terminals, simultaneously announced that it has changed its name to Axalto to bring more visibility and to reinforce its separate image in the smart card  market. The division opted for a name which, it said, reflects its strategy.
"As Axalto, we will continue to lead through meeting the challenges of the international marketplace, developing and deploying high-quality products and solutions and making a visible difference to our customers' businesses worldwide," said Olivier Piou, president of Axalto.

Motorola has signalled its intent to concentrate on other operating systems with the announcement it would be selling its share of Symbian to Nokia and Psion Software.

The deal, when complete, would leave both Nokia and Psion with just over 30% of the alliance. However, despite the "Motorola quits Symbian" headlines the news sparked, the deal would not necessarily change the landscape of the European market too heavily.
Motorola signalled at 3GSM in February that it would be developing Linux phones, and working heavily in Java, and also that China would be a priority. It is also, of course, becoming deeper and deeper involved with Microsoft.
Nokia is already a de facto dominant player within Symbian, with its Series 60 Symbian platform licensed by Panasonic, Samsung and Siemens amongst others.
It is also not as if Motorola is walking away entirely from the Symbian OS. The company emphasised that it would continue to license Symbian for its 3G phones, and pointed out, quite rightly, that Java and Symbian are not mutually exclusive.
"As a Symbian licensee, Motorola will continue to support the Symbian OS for specific customer and business needs, such as in our 3G  devices. However, our primary software focus for the mass market will stay centered on Java, which is also supported by Symbian. We believe Java is what ultimately provides our customers worldwide with the most optimised and differentiated mobile experiences," Scott Durchslag, corporate vice president of Motorola's Personal Communications Sector, confirmed.
With some irony, the news of Motorola's withdrawal from Symbian ownership coincided with the launch in the UK of its 3G A920 phone, available through operator 3.
Jessica Figueras, senior analyst and wireless software expert with Ovum agreed with the analysis that the decision makes little difference to Motorola's strategy, but argued that it would have a knock on effect to other partners, and to Symbian's ambitions outside Europe.
"Motorola's commitment to Symbian has always been half-hearted, so this development does not come as a big surprise.
"What is more important is Nokia's increased influence in Symbian. The widely-held perception of Nokia as Symbian's back-seat driver has always been a difficult issue for Symbian, and this development will simply confirm many peoples' suspicions. 
"Making Nokia the largest shareholder upsets the balance with Sony Ericsson, which could force it to reassess its Symbian strategy. And losing Motorola's expertise in North America and Asia will not help Symbian in its bid for a presence outside Europe. If it is to retain the confidence of all of its licensees, Symbian now needs to work even harder in demonstrating its independence from Nokia."

Mobile operators will be able to offer subscribers the ability to back up and recover data held on their phone, PDA or laptop with a new service from Attix5.

Attix5 has extended a fixed line remote back up service to work for data held either in the memory of a phone itself or on the SIM card. It is trialling the system at present with one non-European operator that it could not disclose, and is hoping to persuade European operators of the benefit of the value added service.
Client software is downloaded to the phone via a website branded by an operator. This software allows the user to select what data to protect, and how often to back it up. For example, a user could select automatic back up every time there is a change.
Data back up is then made via GPRS for data held on the phone memory, or by SMS for information on the SIM card. Information that could be backed up could range from directory and calendar information up to attachments and MMS messages held in the phone memory.
Ian Van Reenen, director of technology at Attix5, said that the solution would enable operators to automatically increase data traffic. Other benefits would include decreasing churn, increased use of a phone after loss, and the ability to charge subscription revenues for the service.
"There is evidence that when a phone is lost, the user makes 60-70% fewer calls on his replacement phone until he eventually re-populates his phone book. Also, the point of churn is often the loss of a device. If the operator is looking after your data for you there is an extra incentive to stay with them." van Reenen said.
For the part of the application where SIM data is backed up, Attix5 has partnered with SmartTrust, widely used by mobile operators for mobile management. One possible hurdle is that the application will require operators to use SIM cards which have been manufactured with the application written onto the card. But Van Reenen said that Gieseke and Dievrent have already produced a batch of such cards for the operator trial.
"The idea is to get the card manufacturers to write it as a default on all cards," van Reenan said.

The Open Base Station Architecture Initiative (OBSAI), the industry forum of over 40 telecommunications companies creating open specifications for base station architecture, has released  the first OBSAI interface specifications. 

The aim of producing the specifications for internal interfaces between base station modules is to enable the design and manufacture of non-proprietary modules and components for key base station functions.
Non-proprietary modules should reduce the development effort and costs traditionally associated with creating new base station product ranges, giving access to a wide range of technologies.
Jukka Klemettila, chairperson of OBSAI said that having open specifications would help operators overcome the high costs and complexity of bringing advanced mobile services to market.
"The release of OBSAI's first specifications marks an important milestone for the industry. Nothing like this has been achieved so far and we believe that this will help the industry face these challenges," Klemettila said.
The specifications apply to interfaces between a base station's control, transport, and base band functions. Currently, a number of OBSAI members are working on implementing products based on these interface specifications.
According to OBSAI, by 2005 industry-wide adoption of the interface specifications will accelerate the transition towards an open base station module market.
Howard Bubb, general manager of Intel Communications Group said,  "We are excited about the new business opportunities enabled by specifications such as those developed by OBSAI," said.
"OBSAI is an important initiative that helps base station equipment supplier's focus on the areas where they truly add value, the integration of the components into complex system, yielding increased innovation," stated Ken Rehbehn, principal analyst, at CurrentAnalysis
"Availability of two key OBSAI interface specifications is a great milestone, leading to real implementations that benefit ultimately the mobile operators," he continued.
Full details can be found from: www.obsai.org.

External Links

Open Base Station Architecture Initiative

Most GSM operators will deploy EDGE to complement GPRS and WCDAM for the delivery of advanced mobile data services, the Global mobile Supplier's Association has claimed after a meeting of the EDGE Operators' Forum in Rome in September.

With 50 operators worldwide now committed to deploying EDGE, according to the GSA, European operators will start operating services from early 2004.
The association said the complementary role of EDGE with WCDMA is now "widely understood".  In Europe, WCDMA using new spectrum will serve the major population centres, combined with EDGE for serving the rural and semi-urban areas.
Discussions highlighted that the bigger the success of WCDMA, the more that operators will be forced to upgrade their existing networks to EDGE to bridge the speed gap between GPRS and WCDMA with the help of EDGE.
EDGE is already a commercial reality in the United States, following the launch by Cingular Wireless in June, 2003. Deploying EDGE is a business decision for operators, to ensure they have the ability to compete, and to safeguard their investments and assets.
TIM was the first major European operator to confirm plans to deploy EDGE with WCDMA.
"TIM is in the forefront of the technology development," said Mauro Sentinelli, TIM managing director, speaking at the meeting in Rome. "We are glad to be the first operator in Europe to deploy EDGE in its network, thus offering always better and friendly services to our customers. As a matter of fact, EDGE deployment in TIM's network is starting, representing an integration with UMTS at the beginning, and an important ally in its maturity."
Mike Bamburak, vp, technology architecture and standards, AT&T Wireless Services (AWS), also speaking at the event, added, "I am happy to report that AWS confirms that EDGE performance lives up to the advertisements on all fronts."
Several manufacturers speaking at the event underlined the huge industry commitment to deliver increasing numbers and varieties of EDGE-capable devices in the coming year. More companies are coming into the market, and from 2004, EDGE will be a standard feature in all new GPRS phones. 2004 will also confirm the arrival of several dual-mode EDGE/WCDMA phones.

3G operator Hi3G Access AS has won a licence to provide services in Norway.

The operator, which is 60% owned by Hutchison Whampoa and 40% by Investor AB, paid NOK62 million for the licence, under the terms of which it must provide service to 30% of the population within six years.
Hi3G Access AS' Swedish parent company, Hi3G Access AB, already offers 3G services in Sweden, and will shortly be opening up in Denmark. All the services are, or will be, branded 3, in accordance with Hutchison Whampoa's other networks.
"3 brings a strong mobile video communication offering to the Norwegian market. We have started providing services in Sweden and will soon do so also in Denmark, which together with the rest of the global 3 network gives us a strong position to offer innovative services at competitive prices in Norway," Chris Bannister, ceo for 3 in Scandinavia, said.

Greek operator STET Hellas has deployed a LMDS wireless network to provide broadband wireless access and backhaul connectivity for its mobile services.

STET Hellas is using equipment and a management platform from Alcatel, enabling it, in theory, to be able to support TDM, Frame Relay, Ethernet, ATM and IP across the network.
Alcatel has supplied the LMDS basestations, as well as its 7270 service concentrator, which aggregates broadband traffic across the existing network, which already uses Alcatel's 7470 Multiservice Platform.
Michele Gamberini, chief network officer of STET Hellas, said, "The Alcatel LMDS backhaul and broadband wireless access solution will support us in evolving our network towards higher grades of flexibility and cost-effectiveness."
"LMDS represents an exciting opportunity for both fixed and mobile operators to deploy broadband wireless access and backhaul solutions," Marc Rouanne, chief operating officer of Alcatel's mobile communications group, said.

Personalised ring tones for the called party are old hat, but European Computer Telecoms has launched a service which will let operators offer subscribers the chance to substitute the normal ring tone a caller hears with a personal tone.

For a monthly fee the service will allow a user to change the normal national ringing tone heard by callers to his phone with a personal announcement, music or ringing sequence.
The applications is already being used by an ECT customer in Asia, and has now been made available to European operators.
ECT said that besides the surprise and fun effect for private subscribers, the ringback tone service also fulfils a business requirement for privacy. If, for instance, a German businessman is in England and receives a call via GSM roaming, the caller hears the UK ringing tone and thus knows where the businessman is, even before he answers the call. With the ringback tone service, the businessman could have all callers always receive the German ringing tone, regardless of the country in which he is currently using his mobile, ensuring privacy on his whereabouts. In Asia, the ringback tone service is already being offered successfully to business subscribers as a profitable premium service with a high monthly fee, ECT said on the launch of the service.
"Our application for ringback tone service offers mobile carriers a completely new feature to differentiate their service and supplement their income per subscriber. We are proud to be the first technology provider to enable this service and are looking forward to it becoming an important trend and moneymaker for our mobile customers," Dr. Christian Kühl, chief sales officer of EC, said.
The ringback tone service is based on ECT's AutoCarrier softswitch and includes a Web-based interface that allows the subscriber to upload his own messages, music or tones as Wav files and then activate his own personalised ringback tone. The subscriber can also change the ringback tone using interactive voice response.
SK Telecom in South Korea was the first in the world to launch personalised ring-back tones, and consumers are estimated to have spent EUR80 million in 2002 on the service, with the figure expected to increase sharply in 2003. SK Telecom now has 16 million subscribers signed up to personalised ring-back tones paying roughly EUR1.75 per month.
l Sicap, a wholly owned subsidiary of Swisscom mobile, has also launched a ring back tone service for the European market, called Tones4U.

Concern over the misuse of camera phones has led one company to introduce technology that disables the imaging functionality of a phone or wireless device when it is within a certain building or area.

Iceberg Systems' Safe Haven is designed to allow businesses, schools or any other establishment to prevent the use of the camera part of a phone when it is within their boundaries.
Safe Haven works by sending a wireless node sending a signal to the phone delivering the message that this is a privacy zone. Software on the phone then disables the imaging functionality, leaving other uses active.
Once a user leaves the zone the imaging function is automatically reactivated.
For the system to work it relies on phones either having been built with the Safe Haven application integrated into the handset, or alternatively have had the application installed as a Java download.
The system is currently in beta tests with handsets and will be marketed by audio IP licensing company Sensaura, which said it is in talks with handset manufacturers about implementing the technology.
Neil Mawston, senior analyst, Global Wireless Practice, for Strategy Analytics says; "Privacy and security issues surrounding camera phones are a growing concern for consumer and corporate users. Using technology to diminish localised privacy and security risks is a proactive option."
"Camera-embedded devices like camera phones represent a considerable step forward in technology. However, at times, they are prone to misuse," Patrick Snow, managing director of Iceberg Systems, said.
"Safe Haven solves the serious threat to security and privacy presented by such misuse in a simple, controllable manner."
The technology can also prevent the use of other types of wireless imaging devices including digital cameras, camera equipped PDAs or laptops, in a wireless privacy zone.

Israeli start up Mobixell, which specialises in adapting real time mobile multimedia content to the specifications of the device for which it is intended, has attracted a $5million investment from a group of investors.

The investors, who number Siemens ICN subsidiary Siemens Mobile Acceleration, private equity company Apax Partners, Comverse and Optibase, have backed the company's Mobixtar RMSC (rich media message centre). This is a tool which transcodes images, animation, audio and video and adapts it for the different devices, whether it be for screen sizes, colours, memory, processing power or camera quality.
"Mobixell Networks has potential to become the leading product for adapting and delivering mobile multimedia content in cellular networks, since it is the most attractive solution in this segment. The company's product line creates a superior user experience, enabling mobile operators to create new revenue streams," said Dr. Dietrich Ulmer, ceo of Siemens Mobile Acceleration.
"Securing funding from these leading partners is a major vote of confidence," Amir Aharoni, president and ceo of Mobixell, said. "The investor-group represents an ideal partnership to assist us in penetrating and realising the growing markets of mobile multimedia adaptation, optimisation and delivery."