Eighteen of Ireland's leading telecommunications companies will be showcasing innovative solutions for the mobile industry at the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona on 13-16 February, 2006.  The Irish pavilion is in Hall 1, stand C56.

Ireland is widely recognised as a centre of excellence for the development of mobile and wireless technologies, and the exhibiting companies are all at the forefront of their respective industry sectors, in areas ranging from mobile blogging and advanced personalisation to dual-mode handsets and multi-party SMS.

With over 3.78 million phones in a population of only 4 million, Ireland is officially Europe's heaviest user of mobile phones.  The Irish also send three times as many text messages as their UK neighbours and several of the global telecommunications giants regularly use Ireland as a test-bed for new technologies.  Indeed, the world's first SMS channel was developed in Ireland in the late 1980s by Logica CMG and Vodafone launched its first European 3G service in Ireland.

Many smaller Irish companies have benefited from the experience and cutting-edge technologies these companies bring, and Ireland is now home to over 60 mobile/wireless technology companies. Supported by the Irish government and government funded research institutions, Irish telecoms companies continue to win substantial deals with tier-one fixed and wireless operators, regional players and cable companies throughout the US, EMEA and Asia-Pac markets.

The Irish pavilion at the show is organised by Enterprise Ireland, the Irish government trade and technology board - go to www.3gsmireland.com for more information.  The following companies will be exhibiting:
 
- ALATTO TECHNOLOGIES (www.alatto.com) is a leading provider of Value Added Service solutions for mobile operators including TRIBES, a powerful Google-type facility compatible with all mobile phones.

- ALTOBRIDGE (www.altobridge.com) is the developer of a software-based communications gateway that enables the use of GSM on aircraft, ships, and in remote communities.

- ANAM (www.anam.com) develops next generation messaging and will be showcasing its unique smart services technology that allows the user to apply functions such as copy to email, divert, auto-reply, anti-spam and personalised blacklisting.

- CAPE Technologies (www.capetechnologies.com) is a leading provider of revenue assurance and roaming management solutions for fixed and mobile operators.

- CELLUSYS (www.cellusys.com) provides a suite of mobile solutions for messaging, digital media delivery, email and IP based voice integration, and will be highlighting a conference call platform that integrates SMS and VoIP.

- CHANGINGWORLDS (www.changingworlds.com) is pioneering the development of artificial intelligence and personalization technologies for the mobile internet.

- CIBENIX (www.cibenix.com) provides smart phone solutions that enable operators to make data services more visible on mobile devices. Cibenix will be showcasing Cibenix Client 3.0 and Cibenix Server 3.0 that allow unique personalisation and customisation of content delivery.

- CICERO NETWORKS (www.ciceronetworks.com) is a leading developer of wireless VoIP solutions and will be showcasing a new version of CiceroPhone, a dual-mode VoIP/Cellular softphone.

- IDIRO (www.idiro.com) develops innovative mobile marketing solutions and will be exhibiting Idiro Customer Intelligence, a unique product that enables mobile operators to utilise an untapped area of customer intelligence - social communities.

- MACALLA (www.macalla.com) will be exhibiting Macalla Mobile Top-Up, a software platform that enables pre-paid top-up, plus other secure transactional applications including bill payment, loan disbursement, ticketing, and gaming.

- NEWBAY SOFTWARE (www.newbay.com) develops mobile media products including FoneBlog, the world's first mobile blogging solution, and Foneshare, an application for legal mobile content sharing.

- OPENMIND NETWORKS (www.openmindnetworks.com) will be exhibiting its SMS Anti-Spam and SMS Personalisation services, and its solution for bringing the SMS experience to IMS networks.

- PRIME CARRIER (www.primecarrier.com) provides software that automates and streamlines carrier-to-carrier business operations, enabling carriers to more efficiently and cost-effectively manage inter-carrier trading relationships.

- ROCOCO SOFTWARE (www.rococosoft.com) is a mobility solutions provider focused on applications for the enterprise customer that enable advanced, converged voice services such as scheduled conference calls and inbound call management.

- TANGO TELECOM (www.tango.ie) will be exhibiting a portfolio of solutions that include its Convergent Charging Node for advanced mobile services and SMgate, an intelligent SMS delivery platform.

- VALISTA (www.valista.com) is a global leader in the provision of multi-channel payments and merchandising platforms, accelerating digital content and premium services adoption for both 'walled garden' and more open ecosystems.

- XIAM TECHNOLOGIES (www.xiam.com) will be exhibiting its MPOS (Mobile point of sale) solution for mobile operators, which dynamically selects the best content for individual subscribers through analysis of behavioural patterns.

- YQ? INTERNATIONAL (www.yqinternational.com) is a leading provider of self-service payment solutions, providing in-store machine and EPOS based systems for pre-paid mobile phone credit, pre-paid Internet transactions etc.

The GSM Association (GSMA) – the global trade organisation for the mobile industry - has today announced the shortlist of nominees for the GSM Association Awards 2006. Celebrating their eleventh year with a record number of more than 520 entries, the Awards recognise achievement and excellence across the global mobile communications world.

This year, the Awards have been extended and enhanced to reflect the pace of convergence between the mobile and entertainment industries. New categories introduced this year include best ‘made for mobile’ music, gaming, video and sports & infotainment categories. Other categories recognise advances in mobile handsets and devices, mobile applications for enterprise, mobile messaging, marketing and community initiatives, as well as technical developments that underpin the success of the industry.
 
Also new this year is the Mobile Innovation Award, created to encourage and showcase young, small and start-up companies who are developing the new ideas – in the areas of applications, content and technologies - that will drive the wireless industry’s future growth. The Mobile Innovation Award nominee results will be announced separately.
 
“The level of interest and quality of submissions from organisations across the world has made the 2006 awards the most eagerly anticipated and fiercely contested ever,” said Rob Conway, CEO and board member of the GSM Association. “We would like to thank all the entrants – with so many outstanding nominees, the judges’ challenge to decide final winners has never been tougher.”
 
The GSM Association’s awards are an integral part of the world's leading and most successful annual mobile industry event – the 3GSM World Congress – in Barcelona for the first time this year. The awards venue, the National Palace (Palau Nacional) sitting above the Congress location, will be a spectacular setting for the global mobile industry to reflect on another year of fast paced evolution and growth.
 
Award winners will be announced on Monday February 14 at the black-tie Gala Awards dinner in Barcelona. The dinner will be attended by a who’s who of mobile and entertainment industry leaders and representatives from governments around the world. The evening will be hosted by CNBC anchor Ron Insana and feature a guest appearance by MTV’s Entertainment Tonight host, Ryan Devlin.
 
The Awards are judged in two phases by an international panel of independent industry and subject matter experts, drawn from the academic, analyst, media and entertainment communities. Full details of the judges can be found at http://www.gsmawards.com/judges/judges.shtml .
 
To see the full list of 2006 GSMA Awards nominees, please visit http://www.gsmawards.com/nominees.shtml .
 
Intel is once again the Platinum Sponsor for this year’s Awards, with Nokia as sponsor of the Mobile Entertainment category, and Orange the sponsor of the Mobile Innovation Award. Platinum Media Partners include CNBC Europe, Variety Magazine, Fortune and the Wall Street Journal Europe.
 
The GSM Association Chairman’s Award will also be announced at the Awards ceremony in Barcelona. This Award honours the outstanding contribution of an individual or organisation to the development of the GSM industry.


Stand D06, Hall 1, 3GSM World Congress, Barcelona, 13 – 16 February 2006

Anritsu Corporation, a global provider of operational support solutions for advanced and converged networks, will be showcasing a range of products designed for testing next-generation technologies, such as HSUPA and HSDPA at 3GSM 2006; in addition to a broader offering of test and measurement and its award-winning Service Assurance solutions.

Following the recent acquisition of NetTest, the Danish network monitoring solutions company, Anritsu is now one of the few global companies to offer a complete spectrum of wireless communications test and measurement and service assurance solutions that cover the entire network life cycle.
 
HSUPA now available on the MD8480C Signalling Tester
 
Anritsu’s MD8480C Signalling Tester – the industry’s only commercialised platform covering all HSDPA categories, and with full testing capability at speeds up to 14.4Mbps – will debut it’s HSUPA testing capability.  The market-leading 3G Base Station Simulator will offer customers the ability to test UEs from Release99 through to R5 and R6, in one platform. The new HSUPA capability has been achieved based on reuse of software scenarios already deployed on the MD8480 platform, thereby protecting the existing customer investments.
 
MasterQuest IP Service KPI for GPRS and UMTS networks
 
Anritsu will be showcasing its award-winning MasterQuest IP Service KPI, a data warehouse-based application that allows wireless operators to monitor, analyse and troubleshoot network and service performance in GPRS and UMTS networks. As high revenues in GPRS and UMTS networks are driven by the large range of services, such as MMS, WAP, HTTP and email, it becomes crucial to quickly detect network issues and make preventive actions before they impact end user services. MasterQuest IP Service KPI is the cost-efficient tool to help operators investigate service quality and optimize the availability of network resources across wireless packet switched networks with historical and real-time visibility while reducing operational expenses as a result of simplified monitoring of complex converged networks.
 
MD8391A Compact RNC Simulator for HSDPA implementations
 
Anritsu will be previewing its new MD8391A Compact RNC simulator, weighing in at <10Kg. The product will bring further cost and efficiency benefits to infrastructure developers, manufacturers, and network operators  who are implementing HSDPA and other features of 3GPP Rel 5 through automated measurement software. Thanks to Anritsu’s extended simulator portfolio, end-to-end network testing, monitoring and loading can now be fully implemented at a fraction of the cost of a live network. This means that customers can dramatically reduce time to market and increase Return on Investment.
 
SGSN Load Generator for HSDPA and HSUPA
 
Anritsu will also be pre-launching its latest solution for cost effective testing of the SGSN portion of the network. The solution utilises the MD1230B Data Quality Analyser Ethernet platform with additional load generation software. With the introduction of HSDPA and HSUPA technologies and the requirement for mobile IP, data traffic is expected to increase tremendously in the next few years. Load testing of this traffic has historically been carried out using the live traffic in the network. Now, with Anritsu’s SGSN load generator, network infrastructure vendors and operators achieve time and money savings, by load testing at the development stage, rather than on a live network.
 

ACE-COMM, the global provider of network business intelligence and advanced operations support systems (OSS) solutions, will be launching two new products at 3GSM 2006 (stand J48, 13-16 February, Barcelona).

The first will be a new GSM enabled module for ACE-COMM's successful Network Business Intelligence(tm) (NBI) suite of products that collects and transforms disparate data into actionable business information for operators to increase revenues and enhance utilisation of network assets.  The new module will extend the current NBI suite to make certain aspects available to operators of GSM networks.  This new capability will increase ACE-COMM's market leadership in this area of OSS, and offer GSM operators a tool for dramatically enhancing targeted marketing campaigns to achieve higher quality upsell and new customers.

The second announcement will be a significant new product to help operators move into or increase subscriber uptake in a traditionally difficult market area.  ACE-COMM expects this product to cause a noticeable shift in the marketing of mobile phone services to the youth market.  It will be fully demonstrated during 3GSM.

ACE-COMM will be exhibiting for the duration of 3GSM, and can be visited at stand number J48.  The following senior executives will be attending the show: John Bennett, company president, Chris Couch, CMO, Brian Herbert, product manager for NBI, and Marcie Weber, director of marketing communications, and will be on hand to provide demonstrations and answer questions about both new products.

ACE-COMM will also be holding a drinks party from 3:00pm on 13th February, details of which will be available on the stand.


A positive swing in the mobile marketplace heralds a wave of change for the industry in 2006, says RFS

At 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona, wireless technology group Radio Frequency Systems (RFS) will launch a new suite of RF technology to support these new directions. This will include the latest additions to the company’s range of environmentally friendly base station solutions, designed to streamline site negotiation as third-generation (3G) network deployments continue to escalate.

“Worldwide subscriptions to 3G mobile networks passed the 30-million milestone near the end of 2005,” said Dr Wolfgang Spahn, RFS Executive Vice President, Base Station Antenna Systems. “This has been brought about by increased accessibility to 3G communications, which in turn fuels their deployment. Half a decade after the first commercial 3G networks were launched, the delivery of mobile data and video services has become an economically viable reality. 3GSM World Congress 2006 reflects this mood of change, this year moving to Barcelona and extending its duration.”
 
Central to RFS’s exhibit will be the company’s expanded range of antenna system cluster configurations. Designed to support any member of RFS’s high-performance Optimizer cellular antenna family with variable electrical tilt, the fully integrated cluster family includes dual-band, ‘side-by-side’, single-band and broadband variants. Providing up to 20 degrees of independent azimuth adjustment in each sector, the RFS integrated cluster range also includes an optional integrated tower-mount amplifier (TMA) and a unique and attractive mechanical mounting system for rooftop sites. This low-profile solution promises to meet the stringent visual impact demands of site owners.
 
Also on show will be one of the world’s first end-to-end total tower-top solutions. The new RFS Optimizer Plus features all antenna system components--antenna, tower-mount amplifier (TMA), antenna tilt control unit (ACU) and interconnecting jumpers--in a streamlined design. This means solutions that realize faster and less-costly site base station acquisition, minimize site lease and network optimization costs, and provide a genuine future-proof RF installation.
 
In addition, RFS will provide a sneak preview of antennas in development for WiMAX applications in the 2.5 and 3.5-GHz bands. Featuring four arrays to allow beam steering, the antennas will be suited for adaptive antenna systems (AAS).
 
RFS’s total solution set of passive and active elements along the RF chain will be on display in Barcelona. Visit RFS at 3GSM World Congress 2006: Hall 2, Stand F30, Venue Fira de Barcelona, Montjuic, Barcelona, Spain, 13 to 16 February 2005.

Keeps position as ceo of mobilkom

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.

“The Supervisory Board has accepted the decision of Mr. Sundt. Under his leadership the company was transformed into a modern and successful market player and became an  important factor on the Austrian Stock Exchange. We are pleased to ensure the continuity  of the Group with the appointment of such an excellent successor as Boris Nemsic,” said  Peter Michaelis, Chairman of the Supervisory Board.

Sundt will act as a consultant on the company's expansion into Serbia.

HMRC now owes Bond House £13.2 million VAT reimbursement

Bond House, which challenged the legailty of the UK's Revenue authority in withholding VAT reimbursements, has been awarded a £13.2 million settlement in the European Court of Justice.

Bond House and their advising VAT consultants Bentley Jennison were waiting for the  European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling to determine whether or not the methods of VAT collection employed by HM Revenue and Customs are illegal and contrary to EU VAT Law. The decision was announced in Luxembourg today. HMRC was found to have acted unlawfully, and it is estimated the decision will cost the Treasury hundreds of millions of pounds as other companies make their claims.

David Sweeting, Head of VAT Consultancy at accountancy firm Bentley Jennison commented: “To combat a fraud which has been estimated at costing the British taxpayer between £1.1 billion and £1.9 billion, HMRC took a cruel and punishing stance for innocent business people. Their view that no VAT rebates should be paid to any company innocent or otherwise, that is part of a chain of supply involving a missing trader or hijacked VAT number, simply penalises innocent traders for the actions of criminals and for the failure of Customs to identify the fraudsters.”
 
Ian Prescott, founding partner and director of Bond House Systems based in Castleford, West Yorkshire, said; “For the past three years we have been forced to cease trading after the withdrawal of a VAT refund of £13.2m. We had to make 20 people redundant, myself and the other business directors and their families have suffered terribly as a result of the Customs actions.  It has been a long and painful battle which the team has most ably and effectively fought and we are satisfied with the outcome, although Customs should never have been able to act in this way.”

For details of the case background see the story at www.mobileeurope.co.uk/1765.

BT has said that results from its pilot of its broadcast digital TV to mobile service, BT Movio – formerly known as BT Livetime - have demonstrated clear consumer demand for broadcast digital TV and radio to mobile phones when the service becomes available in the UK later this year. BT claimed that two thirds of its trial customers would be prepared to pay up to £8/month for the BT Movio service on their current mobile network, creating new revenue streams for mobile operators.

Set for commercial launch later this year, BT Movio intends to be the first wholesale mobile broadcast entertainment service to launch in the UK.

The service is broadcast using the Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) network and is navigated through a DAB delivered electronic programme guide (EPG) on a mobile TV phone.

Over the past four months BT Movio, together with its mobile operator partner for the pilot, Virgin Mobile, has been broadcasting digital TV and digital radio via a DAB-IP enabled smartphone to 1000 users in the M25 area. BT reported that the majority of its pilot users said that they would consider upgrading their mobile phone to one which supports the service. 73%t of participants stated that they would be prepared to pay for the service on their current network if the service was priced competitively. 38% were prepared to switch networks to receive this service.

Over three quarters of the pilot users tuned into digital TV and radio on their mobile on a weekly basis or more often, with the average length of TV viewing being more than one hour per week. A large proportion of pilot users stated that they want up to five types of mobile TV channels including a combination of news, sport, comedy, sitcoms and music.

On average users also tuned into the digital radio service for over one and a half hours every week. B

Emma Lloyd, Managing Director, BT Movio said: “It is clear from the very positive feedback we have had from the pilot that BT Movio will be in high demand from mobile users and operators alike. We are in commercial discussions with mobile operators about launching a consumer service after the launch of the wholesale service later this year.”

BT Movio also likes to position itself as complementary to 3G based mobile TV offerings, allowing unlimited users access to live broadcasts on multiple digital TV and radio channels.

Emma Lloyd said: “As the popularity of mobile TV grows, the UK will need a broadcast delivery mechanism. Delivered via the UK’s only national commercial DAB network – available right now - BT Movio will be the first “one to many” broadcast service to deliver live TV to UK mobile users.”

Lloyd's point is that the other front runner for mobile broadcast  - DVB-H - does not at the moment have spectru allocation in the UK.

Graeme Hutchinson, Sales & Marketing director of Virgin Mobile, said: "We're really excited about digital mobile TV. It offers consumers the opportunity to stay tuned to their favourite programmes - wherever they are - and to watch them in a new, convenient and exciting way.

"Digital Mobile TV is one of the most consumer-friendly developments ever seen in the mobile industry - everyone watches TV - and with BT Movio, Virgin Mobile can offer a service that includes all that's brilliant about modern digital television, such as a personal electronic programme guide, on a mobile phone."

The European Court of Justice is dut to deliver its verdict tomorrow on whether UK mobile phone companies are eligible for millions of pounds of VAT repayments from the UK government.

The decision will be the latest chapter in a long running story, which has been ongoing since the UK government cracked down on traders who were buying phones duty free from an EU memeber state and then selling the phones on through a circle of firms in the UK, claiming VAT repayment from the government on the sales.

Fraudlunet firms would then disappear without accounting for the VAT repayments that received. Some estimates are that this cost the UK revenue and customs (HMRC) billions.

To stop this fraud the HMRC made it difficult for all companies trading mobiles to claim back VAT. Companies that considered themselves legitimate and unfairly caught up in the crackdown challenged the process in a test case in 2003. But the challenge (Bond House vs The Commissioners of Customs & Excise) was unsuccessful.

The challenge was then taken to the European Court of Justice.
A decision to overturn the UK court verdict could leave the Government looking at a bill for millions of unpaid VAT returns.

Some of the companies also consider that they were deliberately targeted by HMRC, rather than the known orchestrators of the fraud (known as carousel frauds). A spokesperson for DLA Piper, the lawyers acting for a number of the companies claiming they were unfairly treated by HMRC, said thre is likely to be a number of claims on this latter issue, for greater amounts than the VAT repayments.

When the judgement is delivered, Mobile Europe will have a statement explaining its impact for the mobile phone market from Hartley Foster, tax investigations expert at DLA Piper.

Will it join Starmap?

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, presumambly 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.

Below is the European Commission statement.

"The Commission's market investigation identified concerns closely related to the functioning of the alliances of network operators created to improve international roaming services.

"Telefónica is currently a member of the so-called FreeMove alliance, where it co-operates with the other three largest incumbent network operators in the EEA (France Télécom, France; Telecom Italia, Italy; and Deutsche Telekom, Germany). O2 participates in the Starmap alliance, where a range of smaller telecommunication companies co-operate under a similar but albeit more loosely structured framework.

"The Commission found that the merger would therefore give rise to competition concerns on the market for international roaming services. At the wholesale level, telecommunication companies buy international roaming from each other in order to allow their mobile telephony subscribers to make and receive calls while travelling abroad. In particular, the FreeMove alliance was founded in order to concentrate the exchange of international roaming business among its members.

"The Commission’s market investigation showed that following the proposed transaction, O2 would in the normal course of events be expected to move from the Starmap alliance to the FreeMove alliance, or align its behaviour with that of the latter, as a consequence of its dependency on Telefónica. As a result, O2 would in all probability be less ready to exchange international roaming traffic with non-FreeMove members. This would imply significant cost increases for those companies, in particular in the UK where no international roaming provider independent of FreeMove would remain after the transaction (except for the fully integrated Vodafone group)."

Commitments
"To address the Commission's concerns and in order to avoid an in-depth investigation, Telefónica committed itself to leave the FreeMove alliance as soon as possible and not to re-enter that alliance without the Commission’s prior consent in the coming years. With the termination of its alliance membership the serious doubts outlined above are removed and the Commission can approve the merger."

In the meantime, the Commission is continuing its own-initiative inquiry, opened in 2004, into Starmap and FreeMove to ensure that that they are compliant with EC Treaty rules on restrictive business practices (Article 81).

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