Ericsson has signed a seven year deal to manage 3 UK's mobile network and IT infrastructure. Ericsson will manage operate the network as well as supply equipment and related services. 3 Uk will retain ownership of the network and IT assets.

Ericsson has managed services partnerships already in place with 3 in Australia and Italy, where it manages 3's multi-vendor networks and service delivery environments and in Sweden where it manages 3's messaging platform.
This deal will see network infrastructure from Nokia, a major supplier to 3, come under Ericsson's management.
Terms of the deal were not announced but when Ericsson signed a managed services contract with 3 Italy in April 2005 the deal was said to be worth €1.6 billion.
Bob Fuller, CEO of 3 UK said, “We are very pleased to be announcing this innovative partnership with Ericsson. This is an important step in the implementation of our strategy and means we can focus on our core business of providing a convergence of communications, entertainment and information to our customers. 3 will continue to lead the development of 3G services.”
He added, “Ericsson is a managed service specialist and a long-term and trusted partner for 3. This agreement is not just the most efficient way to own and manage infrastructure of this kind, but also the way to deliver the best possible service to our growing customer base. We are delighted that Ericsson will be bringing its extensive management expertise to the 3 network.”
As well as taking charge of the management, maintenance and expansion of 3's network and IT infrastructure, Ericsson will be responsible for the ongoing radio network rollout, the maintenance of the existing 6,300 radio sites and the management of the core network and operations centre.
Over one thousand employees from 3's network and IT functions will be transferred to Ericsson.
The deal is also indication of an increasing strategic focus on Ericsson's part, to increase the amount of outsourced services and systems integration capabilities it offers to operators.
Ericsson Global Services now encompasses around 18,000 of the company's staff. Erik Oldmark, Vice President Strategy and Portfolio Management, said that Ericsson calculates operators' external network operations spend is $55 billion annually, compared to around $135-140 spent internally. $15 billion of that managed services spend is on network rollout services, Oldmark said. Ericsson is addressing this spend by combining its managed services portfolio into a "prime integrator" concept. One win Oldmark already credits to this concept is a deal to migrate Cinglar's network from GSM to HSDPA. Ericsson is also taking over Cingular's site management as part of that deal.
Ericsson currently has 50 managed services contracts, with 47 million subscribers under management.
Managed services is not just about delivering network installation and management, Oldmark says. Ericsson is also using its scale to manage content provider relationships for operators.
“The management focus for operators is on business growth and getting the services right on their networks,” Oldmark said. “We are meeting their marketing demands by hosting a total service management platform. We also have the structure to deal directly with content providers and media companies to take them in a simple way to end users.”
Ericsson has launched an off-portal billing solution letting media companies use the solution without having a direct connection to operators. Ericsson's IPX billing engine interconnects with operators billing in 140 countries, Oldmark claimed.

Evolving Systems has launched Tertio 6.0, the latest version of its service activation solution for next-generation services.

Carriers need to improve the efficiency of their service development lifecycle and minimise the cost of integrating new technologies and equipment. This is especially true as services migrate from conventional  telco infrastructure to IMS  and other next generation architectures. Tertio 6.0 aimed at this need for convergent activation of services.
The new version of the platform includes an enhanced GUI to aid faster application configuration and enhancements to the Tertio Service Composer and Activation Designer graphical tools.

Nokia has presented its expectations for overall industry developments and set out its targets for the next one to two years. The company forecast only slight to moderate growth in the mobile infrastructure market, but faster than expected mobile subscription growth. The company also said its policy of introducing more and more phones (it has launched 56 models this year already) would continue.

Nokia said it now expects::
l mobile device industry volumes in 2006 to grow more than 10% from the 780 million units it estimates for 2005, and the mobile device market to also grow in value in 2006
l the number of mobile subscriptions to surpass three billion in 2008, rather than in 2010 as Nokia stated in February this year
l slight to moderate growth in the mobile infrastructure market in 2006
Nokia's financial targets for the next one to two years were:
l Its operating margin target to remain at 17%
l An operating margin of 17%-18% for Mobile Phones and Multimedia devices combined
l An infrastructure operating margin of 13%, down from 14% as stated last year
l As the company said last year, by the end of 2006 Nokia wants to reduce its overall R&D expenditure to 9%-10% of net sales; reduce its mobile device R&D expenditure to 8% of net sales; and reduce its infrastructure R&D expenditure to 14% of net sales.
Nokia's objective now is to broaden its 3G product portfolio, and it released three new WCDMA phones during the Capital Market Days event. This takes the total number of Nokia models launched this year to 56, including 15 WCDMA models.
Nokia views this increasing range of choice for consumers as key to its brand strategy. “The industry is consolidating around a few key players. At the same time it is increasing in complexity, as both devices and customer demands grow more sophisticated,” said Nokia President and COO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo.

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 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. We've got a live connection not a lab environment. It also means we are closer to the services that European operators need handset support for. The services Vodafone offers are very different to that Verizon offers, so we no 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 stil “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.

So far much of the discussions about mobile content have been about how mobile operators should attract and manage content provider partners. But if mobile content services are to be a true mass market success, users will need to be able to access and pay for content, billable to their mobiles, that sits outside operators’ portals.

The problem for many content providers is that the process of extracting value from the mobilisation of its content is far from straightfoward.
One company that is approaching the market from the content provider point of view is Echovox, which provides a managed service handling the necessary elements content providers need to reach market.
Founder and ceo David Marcus said that to put a solution together content creators would need to talk to a number of different players to address payments, digital rights management, content sourcing and device adaptation.
“One recent example is [TV company] M6 in France which has eight different partners” Marcus said.
“The weakness is that all the platforms and solutions are not integrated into a comprehensive infrastructure.”
Echovox’s i-con network interconnects up to 62 carriers, Marcus said, giving a content partner access to a host of operators.
As well as the carrier connectivity Echovox has built a hosted platform that contains all the elements a content provider needs to address the market. From this base Echovox is launching a range of products, from a self-provisioning mobile content storefront to a self-service premium SMS tool.

Global mobile roaming services provider Roamware has launched a solution to enable operators to offer their pre-paid customers enhanced roaming and “home network” services. Operators can generate substantial revenue by fully enabling non-IN based pre-paid roaming services, the company says.

Roamware’s Prepaid Local Number (PLN) service enables visiting prepaid roamers to sign up to the visited network via their mobile device and be allocated one or more local prepaid numbers. The visiting roamer can then use both their home and visited network profiles in parallel. Additionally, when the roamer is using the Prepaid Local Number(s), incoming calls are free, providing an attractive tariffing opportunity.
Roamware said that, today, 40% of the global prepaid base cannot roam — some 480 million customers. Additionally, 25%(300 million customers) only have limited service. And while prepaid users represent 76% of the total global GSM customer base, only 30% of the existing global roaming customer base is prepaid. There is huge potential to encourage roaming for the prepaid market, and it is from this market that future growth in roaming revenue will be generated, Roamware said.
Prepaid roaming lacks the seamless service of postpaid as only around 30% of operators worldwide are compliant to CAMEL — required to provide intelligent roaming services and real-time billing for prepaid customers. Roamware’s PLN provides an alternative solution.
Mohan Gyani, Roamware CEO, said, “With this unique service we have addressed a key gap in the roaming environment. Operators who do not invest in creating an environment for roamers that provides enhanced services  could jeopardise their roaming revenue.” 

Motricity, a mobile content and solutions provider, has said its research indicates that MVNO activity will peak over the next three years and that content-rich offerings from global brands will dominate the market.

The most challenging hurdle for any MVNO will be convincing an MNO that opening up its network will not cannibalise existing revenue streams (30%).  This appears to be leading MVNOs to avoid the traditionally high revenue business market, instead focusing on the youth (36%) and cost-conscious (28%) markets.
When asked what type of company would dominate the space in two years, 42% said that global content brands such as Disney and Sky would be leaders in the MVNO space. 
50% believed that MVNO activity will peak over the next three years with extensive consolidation leaving fewer MVNOs in five years time.

The French competition authority has fined three operators a total of €534 million for two distinct breaches of fair market practices.

Orange France has been fined €256 million and SFR €220 million, while Bouygues has been hit for €58 million. The regulator said that the operators had, between 1997 and 2003, exchanged confidential customer information on new sign-ups and cancellations, and that between 2002-2003 the operators had agreed on each's market share. The fines range from between 14.6-18.3% of the operators' 2004 net profits, according to market analyst Ovum.
The competition authority said that the operators had exchanged confidential informaiton concerning new customers and of the number of clients who were leaving their contracts. The authority said that it considered the exchange of such information to reduce the intesity of competition in the mobile market. It found that having such information would be very important in planning their commercial strategies, as well as affecting adversely the commercial strategies of their competitors.
Of the second charge, that the operators agreed on their respective market shares between 200 and 2002, the competition authority found that the operators were colluding to ensure that their market shares would remain stable. This damaged not only rivals' strategies but also the economy, the authority found.
“The existence of this collusion has been established through the recovery of serious, precise and consistent evidence, including hand-written documents explicitly mentioning an ’agreement’ between the three operators,” the Authority said.
France’s main consumer organisation, UFC-Que Choisir, said it planned further legal action to recover damages it estimates at €50-80 per mobile subscriber. UFC filed an antitrust complaint against all three networks in 2002, a year after the antitrust authority launched its own probe.
Orange vowed to appeal against the decision and its €256m fine — the largest of the three levvies.
“Orange France disputes the unfounded and excessive penalty levied against the mobile telephone sector in France,” the company said.
A statement pointed out that it had, since the beginning of the market in 1995, put in place a scheme to map the nascent market and exchange information on sales on a quarterly basis. Orange said it contested the view that the exchange of such information was uncompetitive. The operator also said that it was “unrealistic” to think that it would be possible to fix a market that involved 40 million clients, 20,000 points of sale and an average churn rate of 20%.
SFR, a unit of Vivendi Universal, also said it was “profoundly shocked” by its €220m fine and planned to appeal.
Bouygues Telecom said it had co-operated for several years with the Telecoms Regulator and the Competition Authority and described the decision from the Authority as “deeply unjust”.
Vincent Poulbere, Senior Consultant at Ovum commented, “This is really bad news for the French operators, for two reasons: first, because of the record amount of the fine (from 14.6-18.3% of the operators' net profit in 2004); second, because of the bad press resulting from this decision and the damage it will do to the operators' brands and credibility.
“We were surprised by the competition authority's findings (published on its website) about how operators exchanged confidential information and agreed on market shares. The main justification behind these practices seems to have been the desire to “pacify” the market, i.e. to reduce the uncertainties of future results and lower commercial costs.”

Russian private equity firm Alfa Telecom, which has rebranded itself as Altimo, is facing criticism from a rival investor that claims Altimo has no right to describe itself as 25% owner of Russian operator MegaFon.

Altimo is seeking to position itself as the vehicle of choice for Western telecoms operators looking to gain entry to the Russian and Eurasian mobile markets. But a robust statement from Bermuda-based investment fund IPOC said that if the company wanted to present itself as a suitable partner for Western businesses it needed to prove that it respected Western business practices. IPOC's primary owner is Danish investor Jeffrey Galmond.
At the launch, Altimo said its portfolio included stakes in two of Russia's three largest mobile operators, VimpelCom and MegaFon; a stake in one of Ukraine's three largest mobile operators, Kyivstar, as well as holdings in Russia's fixed line operator, Golden Telecom. This week Altimo concluded another controversial deal to acquire a 13.2% stake in Turkey's largest mobile operator, Turkcell.
That deal, too, is the subject of a dispute with TeliaSonera, which is locked in a legal struggle to gain control of Turkcell, Turkey's biggest operator, and is suing both Turkcell's main shareholder Cukurova and Alfa Group for allegedly wrongfully thwarting its rights to a majority stake in the Turkish company.

An IPOC spokesperson said that Altimo has no right to represent itself as 25% owner of MegaFon, alleging that Alfa fraudulently bought its stake from LV Finance after LV had already sold its stake to IPOC. IPOC is currently pursuing Alfa Group and LV Finance to establish IPOC as the rightful owner of the 25.1% stake in MegaFon. IPOC last month won an order from the Privy Council (in the UK) preventing the Alfa Group from selling or dealing with the disputed 25.1% stake in MegaFon.
“Alfa can empire build across Eurasia to its hearts content, but its plans should not include MegaFon. It is not the rightful owner of the 25.1% stake in MegaFon, and no amount of rebranding will change that.
“Whether it is Altimo or Alfa Telecom, it doesn't matter to us. The respected ICC tribunal in Geneva, upheld by the Swiss Federal Court, exposed LV Finance and Alfa's collusion in seeking to deprive IPOC of its ownership of the MegaFon stake and confirmed that IPOC is the rightful owner.
“If Alfa Group wants to present itself as a suitable partner for western business it needs to prove it is willing to recognise the validity of agreements and the international arbitration tribunals convened to enforce them.
“The principle we are seeking to uphold is a simple one – no matter where you are in the world you can't sell the same stake twice.
“It may have a new name, but a leopard doesn't change its spots. It will still be the same old Alfa Group underneath.”

According to IPOC, LV Finance signed two option agreements in April and December 2001 with IPOC to sell to IPOC 100% of Transcontinental Mobile Investment Limited (TMI), itself the sole owner of CT Mobile (CTM), which holds 25.1% of MegaFon, the third largest Russian mobile operator. In essence, IPOC is arguing that LV Finance and Alfa Group knowingly struck a deal to try and sell the MegaFon stake twice.
IPOC said it has won the only substantive final ruling in the MegaFon dispute to date. The International Chamber of Commerce in Geneva, in a ruling upheld by the Swiss Federal Courts, found that Alfa and LV Finance had knowingly engaged in an illegal scheme to deprive IPOC of its rightful ownership of part of the shareholding in dispute. The ICC has so far found that IPOC does have a claim to its first tranche of options (5.575%) and is due to deliberate on the additional 19.4% stake as a separate matter.
However, IPOC initiated proceedings against Alfa and LV Finance for fraud in the British Virgin Islands, where the three Alfa subsidiaries which currently hold the MegaFon stake are based. IPOC's initial claim was rejected on jurisdictional grounds, with the BVI court claiming it had no jurisdiction in the case, and this was upheld on appeal.
IPOC is currently seeking leave to appeal directly to the UK Privy Council, whose injunction has already prevented Altimo from dealing or selling the disputed 25% stake . The hearing on this application will now take place on 17 January 2006.
An Altimo spokesperson said that it considered IPOC's statement to be "not worthy of a reply". When asked why the company would not address any of the issues raised, the spokesperson said, "I don't have to tell you why. We are not making any comment."
Alfa Telecom has said before that it considers it bought its stake in good faith from LV Finance
At the re-branding launch, Altimo's (ex-Alfa Telecom) chief executive Alexey Reznikovich said, “Altimo is the leading private equity investment firm in Russia and the CIS. My vision is to be the premier partner of choice for global telecoms companies seeking to venture into new and emerging markets across Eurasia. We will achieve this by sticking to our ethos of pursuing and creating value: in our investment, for our partners, and in the companies in which we invest.”
Altimo said its market capitalisation assets exceeds US$8 billion. The company's subscriber footprint totals 95 million across Russia and the CIS.
Altimo sees immense opportunities in the future for development in its markets. The Russian telecoms market alone is forecast to exceed $22 billion by the end of 2005 whilst the markets in the CIS and Eurasia remain under penetrated and poised to develop rapidly.
Mobile subscriber rates in Russia alone will have risen from 40 million to 60 million this year and similar growth levels are predicted for the CIS and other emerging markets.
Reznikovich, celebrating the recent Turkcell deal, said, “I believe that a partnership between Altimo, with our expertise in telecoms investment in these markets, and a global telecoms company, with expertise in telecommunications operations, would be an immensely profitable partnership”.

HTC, the developer and manufacturer of Windows Mobile based devices, has announced its plans to attack the European market directly, as well as build on its ODM activity.

HTC is investing millions to build a senior sales and marketing team based in Berkshire, UK and position itself closer to the European market.
 The new European-based operation is intended to bring HTC closer to the local market, so it can offer existing partners, including Orange, T-Mobile, O2, Vodafone and Telefonica, as well as new affiliates, a quicker route to market and a better understanding of local nuances.
HTC’s ODM business model allows it to offer operators differentiation through form factor, materials, finish, colours, software and applications. HTC said its status also enables it to help its partners to take advantage of new growth streams such as digital music, photography and portable business applications.
 Peter Chou, President of HTC says, “Strengthening our presence in Europe is a key milestone for HTC; it clearly demonstrates our strong commitment to delivering the very best-of-class products to our partners.” 
 The new European team is headed up by Florian Seiche, whose job title is vp of HTC Europe. Seiche was formerly Director of Devices for the Orange Group and VP and General Manager for Siemens Communications, North America. He said that 3G will offer  broader adoption of smartphones in Europe.
“The flexibility of the Windows Mobile platform combined with the opportunities of 3G means that they are no longer the preserve of mobile enterprises but have the potential to hit the broader consumer market. Our European operation and commitment to driving product innovation, as well as dedicated partner support, means we're able to fulfil the challenging needs of a changing and exciting market,” says Seiche.
HTC’s Window Mobile 5.0 phones  include the Qtek 8310, a GPRS/EDGE capable smart phone with QVGA screen, mega-pixel camera and optional WiFi and the Qtek 9100, a GPRS/EDGE capable compact messaging PDA with a slide-out keypad and mega-pixel camera. The flagship device, the Qtek 9000, is an executive-style 3G capable PDA with a high resolution twist and fold VGA screen, megapixel camera and WIFI built in.
As well as offering partner support, HTC has also set up distribution partnerships with Dangaard and Brightpoint to retail its own products through the Qtek brand, giving it a dual ODM/ OEM feel, similar to Israeli developer Emblaze Mobile.