IPWireless has announced a solution that it claims allows mobile operators to leverage existing unpaired 3G spectrum to capitalise on the demand for mobile TV and other mobile multimedia.

TDtv combines IPWireless' commercial UMTS TD-CDMA solution and the recently-defined 3GPP Release 6 Multimedia Broadcast and Multicast Standard (MBMS) and operates in the unpaired 3G spectrum bands that are available across Europe and Asia at 1900MHz and 2010MHz.
IPWireless said that operators globally have already committed to pilot the TDtv solution in the first half of 2006.
“Several operators in Europe are expected to announce TDtv trials in their 1900MHz unpaired 3G spectrum during the first half of this year,” a company statement said.
In Japan, IPMobile plans to trial the technology for their services in their recently awarded 2010MHz spectrum. The solution will also be made available to operators in the other frequency bands that IPWireless supports globally, including the 2.5GHz band.
With TDtv, UMTS operators can deliver up to 50 channels of TV for standard mobile phone screens, or 15 higher quality QVGA channels, all in their existing 5MHz of unpaired 3G spectrum.
“Most discussion of mobile broadcasting technology has revolved around broadcast networks, such as DVB-H, DMB and MediaFLO. However, these have a number of disadvantages for mobile operators, including lack of licensed spectrum, the massive cost of building a new network and a potential loss of control of mobile TV services to broadcasters,” said Alastair Brydon, chief executive officer, Sound Partners, an analyst of emerging technologies.
On the device side, IPWireless is partnering to integrate TDtv into existing WCDMA devices at very low cost. Initial two-chip TD-CDMA/WCMDA handsets or larger screen devices will be able to reuse much of the WCDMA RF. Ultimately, TDtv could be integrated into WCDMA chipsets.

IBM and Micromuse have agreed that  IBM will acquire Micromuse in an all-cash transaction at a price of approximately $865 million, or $10 per share. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2006.

Micromuse did great business with its NetCool network management and monitoring suite of products, riding the introduction of IP services in fixed line and mobile networks, providing service assurance information to large enterprise and carrier customers.
Its acquisition by IBM is a sign of the giant IT services company's continuing move into network OSS and monitoring products and services. NetCool will give IBM a rival to HP's OpenView products.
“Today's networks are no longer just pipelines of data -- customers are incorporating data, voice and video into their business operations at an astounding pace,” said Al Zollar, general manager, IBM Tivoli software.
IBM will use Micromuse software to complement its security management software by alerting IT staff and management about attempted network breaches and strengthen the IT service management capabilities of IBM's Tivoli software portfolio.
Micromuse reported a 10% year-to-year revenue increase, to $160.8 million, for the fiscal year ended September 2005.

Roy Bedlow, newly appointed vp EMEA for Palm, has told Mobile Europe that the company will have an increased European focus, with investment in personnel and facilities, to enable its products to be closer to the European market.

Bedlow also said that the company would push on with its plans to develop products based on Windows Mobile OS, as well as its own Palm OS. It would also work with Good Technology, RIM for its Blackberry client and with Microsoft's ActiveSync as it makes mobile email it priority.
Palm has recently opened a facility in Dublin, which Bedlow says is evidence of the company's commitment to put “people and dollars” into Europe.
“It means we will have live access to the networks, rather than operating off a fast pipe from, say, the Orange network back to our R&D centre in the US. It also means we are closer to the services that European operators need handset support for, as we now have a dedicated team here building on the network and service preferences of our European customers.”

The core focus will be on the Treo. The handheld business is still “incredibly important” he said, but is in a “different part of the lifecycle.” He also thought there was a case to invest in the training of users and sales staff in the use and capabilities of the Treo.
One further focus of development will be on 3G phones, as Palm currently has no 3G phones. “We believe the core advantage of the Treo [Palm's flagship smartphone] is that it is a phone and email device combined. We are working with Blackberry Connect and have licensed Microsoft ActiveSync so all users need to get Outlook access is to enter their user ID and password. We are also working with Good Technology to enable behind the firewall applications for our business customers.” The company will also continue to work to support Vodafone's RealMail service, which is based on Vistos's email client.
Bedlow said that the decision to license the Windows Mobile OS accords well with many operators choosing to “follow the Microsoft strategy.” He didn't see the company embracing any other OS platforms in the near future. “I think we have enough to focus on right now,” he said.
There is still plenty of opportunity in the mobile email space, Bedlow said, and he thought Microsoft was really well positioned to take advantage of that “on the IT side.” Palm will build on the Microsoft OS, he said, adding to the ease of use, ”developing above and beyond” the core specification.

Shareholders who had been putting the pressure on ceo Arun Sarin and agitating for a disposal of Vodafone's interest in Verizon had their guns partially spiked by  Vodafone's fourth quarter results.

Of course, it may be fortuitous coincidence that Vodafone was able to hail its US business as one of the positives in the quarter to 31 December 2005 just as it was coming under pressure to dispose of it. On the other hand, decent performance from Verizon may convince those opposed to a global policy that the operator would be due a decent price for its 45% holding in Verizon.
Vodafone announced that it had added 7.1 million customers (well actually it called them “proportionate organic net additions”), which is 30% more than the same period last year. Total additions were 8.3 million.
The operator also said it had sold 3.1 million 3G phones in the final quarter, and had achieved revenue growth of 8.0% and 7% growth in service revenue year on year. However, “on a statutory basis”, ie. according to external principles, service revenue growth was only 4.3%, which will be a slight worry to Vodafone's management.
All of this meant Vodafone is sticking to its predictions for the current year, which includes an EBITDA margin of less than 1%.
The dip in the rate of growth of service revenues was blamed on competition and lower termination rates in mature European markets including Germany, Italy and the UK. But Spain and the US performed well to offset this, the operator said.

Vodafone has agreed to acquire Telsim, the number two mobile operator in Turkey, from the Turkish Savings Deposit and Investment Fund ("SDIF") for $4.55 billion.
Although it has paid slightly over the expected sum, Vodafone has been attracted by the size of the Turkish market (its population will be bigger than Germany's by 2017) and the relatively low level of penetration (53%) compared to other European markets.
It also considered the Turkish operator to have been under-managed and lacking in investment. Vodafone said that it expects that over the short term Telsim will require approximately
$1 billion of additional funding, and it expects Telsim to make net losses in the short to medium term as it invests in the network.
Vodafone said Telsim had achieved 3% revenue growth in the first seven months of 2005 compared to the same period in 2004, bringing its total customer numbers to approximately 9 million.
Commenting on the transaction, Arun Sarin, Chief Executive of Vodafone, said, “We are delighted to have won the tender for Telsim. With a larger population than every European country except Germany, and a penetration level of approximately 53%, the Turkish market represents a major growth opportunity.
“Our extensive operating experience and unique set of products and services positions us to compete effectively in such a youthful market and deliver a superior mobile experience to Turkish customers.”
The transaction is subject to approval from the SDIF Board and Turkish regulatory, legal and competition authorities. Vodafone expects the transaction to close in the

first quarter of calendar year 2006.
Vodafone has taken on none of the liabilities due to Nokia and Motorola, which have been in dispute with the operator, and have received large settlements as a result of the sale.

mobilkom austria, which launched its live, commercial HSDPA service in central Vienna on Saturday 21 January, is selling 300 HSDPA data cards a day, chief marketing officer Hannes Ametsreiter has told Mobile Europe.

The Vodafone-branded Mobile Connect Cards, which are available intially for EUR99 with a 500MB package of EUR39 (EUR29 at launch), have been shifting well since the operator launched its HSDPA service. Free upgrades of EDGE/UMTS cards have also been doing well, Ametsreiter said, with 300 users having taken the option to upgrade over the launch weekend. The price of the HSDPA cards and UMTS cards are the same.
mobilkom austria has used Nortel and Ericsson for its network upgrade, the same companies as supplied its existing UMTS network. Ametsreiter said the upgrade had been "smooth", but added that some other vendors were still catching up on HSDPA.
That said, Ametsreiter reckons there will be other operators offering HSDPA within Austria "within weeks".
Option is providing the data cards. Ametsreiter said he thought there may some other HSDPA enabled devices later this year, but indicated that the operator considered it needed more content to offer to make the value case for HSDPA enabled smart phones. For now, he thought that fast data access and internet surfing for laptop users created a clear value proposition.
mobilkom austria plans to have all Austria's main cities covered by HSDPA the summer of 2006, Ametsreiter said.

...Nemsic steps up

mobilkom austria ceo Boris Nemsic will become ceo of the Telekom Austria Group after current ceo Heinz Sundt steps down in May. Sundt tendered his resignation today in a meeting with the group's supervisory board. Nemsic will become group ceo on 24 May in addition to his position as ceo of the wireless arm of Telekom Austria.

3 has launched a service that pays customers to receive calls and texts.

The new pay-as-you-go price service from 3 – called 'WePay' — will see customers rewarded with a cash credit for calls and texts they receive, with 5p per minute for calls received and 2p per text received
Customers claim their cash credit each time they purchase a new WePay Top-up voucher — the credit can then be used to purchase any 3 services, from texts and calls to buying music tracks and watching TV on their mobiles. 3 says the service is designed to boost usage of data services, and also take some of the tariff complexity out of the pre-pay market.
The company is making a big push to persuade customers to port their numbers to 3, and clearly hopes this cash back strategy will be attractive to customers from rival networks. However, the operator has also called for greater ease of portability in the UK. It claims that it currently takes at least seven days to port your number.
Marketing director Graeme Oxby said, “Because the process can be slow, only a fraction of people on PAYG port their number when they get a new phone. Our new reward for picking up calls and texts makes it worthwhile.”

Credit Suisse First Boston's (CSFB) Equity Research Group has taken the view that the $1.3 billion purchase by Egyptian operator Orascom of a 19% stake in Hutchison Telecom International raises the prospect of consolidation between the third and fourth mobile operators in Italy.

Hutchison Telecom International (HTI) is a subsidiary of Hutchison Whampoa, containing the group's 2G assets. Hutchison Whampoa owns 3 Italia in its own right. Orascom's controlling shareholder, N Sawiris, owns third Italian operator Wind. CSFB said that both Sawiris and Frank Sixt, cfo of Hutchison Whampoa, confirmed there was now scope for co-operation between the operators, but the research company warned that substantive cooperation may require a full merger under the terms of EU anti-trust law.
CSFB has taken the view before that the best prospects for an upside for Vodafone in Europe would be more consolidation between its rival operators. TIM has come under strong pressure from 3Italia, leading it to aggressive competitive plays. A merger could bring about less competitive disruption, CSFB reasoned, returning stability to the Italian mobile market, which would in turn be good news for Vodafone.
Considering the rationale for the Orascom-HTL deal, CSFB said it was probably too early to view this as the start of HTL's exit strategy from 2G in emerging markets, meaning some real cooperation in Italy is more likely.
“Hutchison Whampoa has a track record of selling its mature 2G assets (it sold Orange to Mannesmann in 1999) and with Orascom holding a right-of-first-refusal over the remaining Hutchison Whampoa shares in HTIL, the deal could provide an exit for Hutchison Whampoa,” CSFB said.
“However, with penetration levels in many of HTIL's markets (not least of which India) relatively low, it would seem early for a long term investor such as Hutchison to sell out. Hutchison may therefore indeed be seeking to co-operate with Orascom over the medium term, raising the real prospect of some kind of agreement in Italy.
“The timing of this deal, coming ahead of a delayed 3Italia IPO, should also not go unnoticed.”
3 Italia values itself at a similar level to Wind, with revenues an estimated 35% that of Wind. Such a difference between valuations may well be an obstacle to a possible merger, CSFB said.

Operators running two mobile TV trials, using different technologies have both claimed positive results from user surveys in the UK. One trial, being run by BT  and Virgin Mobile uses DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting) frequency, while the other, being hosted by O2 in Oxford, is based on DVB-H.

The collision of the mobile industry and successful internet brands to offer users ISP and search engine-branded  services is now happening at handset level, as the below stories tell. Is it in the interests of the operators to have Yahoo or Google on their handsets? Will it take customers off portal? Does it matter if it does? Is it even primarily about web search, or as much about a recognisable interface for service discovery?  In any case, here are  your starters for what is sure to be a hot theme of 2006.

READY

The collision of the mobile industry and successful internet brands to offer users ISP and search engine-branded  services is now happening at handset level, as the below stories tell. Is it in the interests of the operators to have Yahoo or Google on their handsets? Will it take customers off portal? Does it matter if it does? Is it even primarily about web search, or as much about a recognisable interface for service discovery?  In any case, here are  your starters for what is sure to be a hot theme of 2006.

STEADY

YAHOO! PARTNERS WITH NOKIA
Yahoo! has signed a deal with Nokia to launch a service called Go Mobile in ten countries across Asia and Europe. Consumers purchasing select Nokia 6630, Nokia 6680, Nokia 6681 and Nokia N70 devices will receive Yahoo! Go Mobile pre-installed.
The deal with mobile carriers in the US (AT&T and Cingular) and with Nokia in the “international market” (ie the rest of the world) brings Yahoo!'s  internet services together in one mobile application.
In the United States, Yahoo! will launch Yahoo! Go Mobile with AT&T companies and Cingular Wireless. The companies also plan a co-branded AT&T Yahoo! Go Mobile service designed to allow new and existing AT&T Yahoo! High Speed Internet subscribers to take their internet services with them on their Cingular Wireless mobile device.
In Europe and Asia the web-client will be installed on “select Nokia 6630, Nokia 6680, Nokia 6681 and Nokia N70 devices.”
Marco Boerries, senior vice president, Connected Life, Yahoo!, said the deal would bring internet services to mobile users, and vice versa.
“Go Mobile is a revolutionary step toward connecting Internet users to their favorite web services on their mobile devices and also making the Internet accessible to millions of consumers around the world who do not have a personal computer,”  Boerries said.
As well as offering existing internet users the chance to mobilise their services, Yahoo! is offering the ability to register for a new Yahoo! ID directly from a mobile device.

GO

Motorola and Google have announced an alliance to enable users access to Google on Motorola handsets.
Motorola will integrate a Google icon onto select devices so that users can connect directly to Google with one click. The mass-market, “internet-optimised” handsets will be distributed from early 2006 to select Motorola customers worldwide.
“Many of our customers have been asking for mobile devices integrated with their consumers' favorite online search services. By featuring Google on Motorola handsets for those customers, we are making it easier for consumers to connect to the information they need when they need it,” said Scott Durchslag ,corporate vp and general manager of global xProducts for Motorola's Mobile Device business. “Our relationship with Google provides an opportunity for us to offer a high quality mobile search experience – one familiar to and loved by millions of users across the globe”
“Access to information is imperative for people on-the-go. Whether checking the local weather or locating the restaurant of their choice, consumers today require personalised search services that are tailored to their needs, " said Nikesh Arora, vice president, European Operations, Google. “With immediate access to Google, millions of Motorola users worldwide will be able to quickly and easily find information that's important to them..”
Motorola handsets with the Google icon are expected to be available to consumers starting in Q1 of 2006.

But hold on a minute...

risks OF brand dilution
Following Motorola and Google's announcement, Mike Brady, senior director of business development at enterprise search company FAST, has warned operators and manufacturers that getting into bed with branded search companies is a risky business.
Brady said, “The mobile industry must seriously think through the implications. Google isn't just a search engine— it's now a global brand right up there with Coca-Cola. By partnering with Google, Motorola is allowing its own brand to be diluted — it might seem a smart move in the short-term, but this will definitely impede future business models and revenue potential.
“A carrier that doesn't want Google on the handset could instruct Motorola to take it off — but in the event that the carrier doesn't care to control the search brand, Motorola has just lost the opportunity to extend their own brand with eg. “Motorola Search” via a white label search solution.
“The power of the Google brand is beginning to threaten the business models of companies in a myriad of industries. Mobile operators have to recognise this threat and deploy a search solution that protects their data services revenues from Google, and provides a user experience more closely aligned with the brand and content of their own business.”

Telefónica has said it will leave the FreeMove alliance, as requested by the European Commission, to enable it to complete its purchase of O2.

A statement from the European Commission said that it was the issue of roaming that had most concerned it. With Telefonica in FreeMove and O2 in the Starmap alliances, the Commission was worried that O2 would in effect be joining the FreeMove alliance, which would leave the UK with no operator not in the FreeMove alliance, other than Vodafone (and, presumably 3, although they seem not to count).

To get the deal through, the Spanish giant said it would leave FreeMove, but will it join Starmap? Starmap has until now been an alliance of smaller operators. The presence of a global player like Telefonica would change its nature radically.

 And there would be a lot of integration and back office changes to turn Telefonica's roaming contracts from Freemove into Starmap.

Additionally, it is fair to ask, what will happen to those FreeMove customers under Telefonica management? FreeMove works by offering corporate multinationals a single point of management whilst offering "seamless" roaming services across it member networks.

We might also ask what the reaction of other FreeMove members and customers will be, now they are denied the automatic reach of Telefónica's territories in their roaming agreements.

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