AirVersent has today announced an extension of its relationship with BT, which will see AirVersent's ServiceNet solution rolled out to 2,000 of BT's own mobile engineering workforce.  In 2006 the ServiceNet managed service platform was chosen to underpin BT's own Mobile on Demand (MoD) field service solution, which has already seen several successful deployments and will now be rolled out to a section of BT's own workforce.

"BT MoD is a very neat mobility platform that fits nicely into the BT Field Force Automation (FFA) suite of applications and services and has been deployed successfully with a number of clients including Northumbrian Water and Sovereign Housing," commented Paul Cleaver, General Manager (FFA) at BT. "The extension of this solution to a section of BT's field force is a logical development and we expect 2,000 of our engineers to be using the solution in earnest in 2008," continued Cleaver.

Under BT MoD, ServiceNet provides the link between customer service systems and a mobile field force. It delivers real time views of workflow, seamless data exchange as well as the tools to create configure and control the field application on the mobile worker's handheld device. Communications are handled via ServiceNet, typically over a GPRS wireless network, enabling the receipt of job instructions, work schedules, including reactive work and real-time updates.  In 2007 a class leading solution from 360 Scheduling was fully integrated into ServiceNet and hence in to BT's MoD solution.  ServiceNet is available as a managed SaaS (software as a service) application or for installation on a customer's own premises.

"We are delighted that BT's MoD powered by ServiceNet has been so successful," said Lindsay Kennedy, AirVersent's UK Managing Director. "BT's choice of ServiceNet for a section of its own field force is a ringing endorsement of our solution which continues to grow in maturity thanks in no small part to the support we have received from BT. With new backing and the growing acceptance of managed service solutions we have high hopes for the further success of the ServiceNet platform across all geographies, continued Kennedy.

GSA, the Global mobile Suppliers Association, says it has confirmed another strong rise in the number of HSPA (High Speed Packet Access) user devices coming onto the market. GSA's HSDPA Devices survey released today reports 275 products launched so far in 2007, lifting the total to 403 HSDPA-capable devices, and almost 5 times the number reported in a similar GSA survey in September 2006 (84 HSDPA devices). The number of suppliers increased from 26 to 80 in the same period.

GSA's related "HSDPA Operator Commitments" survey, published on October 19, 2007 confirms the major trend of network data speed evolution. The survey confirms 147 commercial launches of HSDPA networks in 69 countries.

92 operators (i.e. approximately two-thirds of this figure) have commercially launched or are deploying 3.6 Mbps (peak) data capability in their networks as the first phase of a planned evolution to 14.4 Mbps (peak) for many operators.  147 HSDPA devices support, or can be upgraded to deliver a downlink capability of 3.6 Mbps peak.

25 HSDPA networks have launched 7.2 Mbps (peak) commercial services in 16 countries, and 63 devices have been launched which support, or can be upgraded to, a high-speed downlink capability of 7.2 Mbps peak.

While the majority of WCDMA-HSPA systems and devices operate in the internationally designated 3G/IMT-2000 core band spectrum (2100 MHz), the 850 MHz frequency band is widely used for mobile services in the Americas, and Australia. The survey confirms 121 HSDPA devices launched which operate at 850 MHz to facilitate the further expansion of mobile broadband services in these key markets. The survey also notes at least 75 tri-band 850/1900/2100 MHz WCDMA-HSDPA devices are launched, enabling global roaming.

Alan Hadden, President, GSA said: "These HSDPA surveys by GSA highlight several significant trends.  The rapidly expanding mobile broadband services market, enabled by HSPA, is the catalyst for new product launches, innovation, new business opportunities, and more players entering the market. Demand for higher downlink data speeds is met today with almost 150 devices capable of supporting at least 3.6 Mbps (peak).
And the globalisation of HSPA as the de facto mobile broadband system is facilitated by at least 75 tri-band devices enabling services across the globe."

The products identified in the GSA HSDPA Devices survey addresses all
segments:

199 mobile phones
70 PC datacards (PC cards and embedded modules)
61 notebooks
39 Wireless Routers
30 USB modems
3 Personal Media Players with HSDPA-connectivity
1 camera with HSDPA-connectivity

HSUPA is commercially launched on 19 mobile networks in 16 countries, with a further 23 deployments on-going. At least 33 devices support, or can be upgraded for, HSUPA (High Speed Uplink Packet Access), initially delivering around 2.1 Mbps (peak) on the uplink.

GSA also confirms that over 56% of all commercially launched HSDPA networks have also commercially launched GSM/EDGE for service continuity and the best user experience of mobile broadband services. Manufacturers are supporting this requirement, with at least 70% of HSDPA devices also supporting GSM/EDGE functionality.

The move by Vodafone to purchase Tele2's fixed network assets in Italy and Spain for EUR775 million demonstrates the increasing importance of fixed broadband services in the mobile operator service portfolio, according to research specialist, Analysys.

Some mobile operators have considered offering a complete set of fixed and mobile services using wireless technologies (such as HSDPA and WiMAX), but operators will need both fixed and mobile networks in order to deliver a comprehensive range of services to end users, says Mark Heath, Analysys Associate and co-author of the report How to Succeed with Fixed-Mobile Convergence.

"Fixed broadband services could generate revenue for mobile operators, at a time when mobile voice ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) is declining and it continues to be difficult to achieve substantial growth in non-voice revenues," Heath argues.

"Bundling fixed broadband with existing mobile services is an immediate opportunity for new revenue and, in addition, can be an effective means of retaining existing customers. Furthermore, the importance of fixed network access for mobile operators will increase as they start to deploy femtocells (or indoor base stations), which depend on broadband connections for backhaul to their mobile networks."

Vodafone offers DSL services through wholesale agreements with Arcor in Germany, and BT in the UK. Following Vodafone's latest acquisition, it can now offer fixed broadband services alongside its traditional mobile services in four of its major European markets.

"It is highly likely that other mobile-only operators will acquire fixed network assets, or establish partnerships or agreements, with fixed operators. However, mobile-only operators that have begun to negotiate partnerships or agreements with fixed operators may need to consider more radical action in order to achieve service profitability," says Heath.

"Broadband services may provide a much-needed revenue boost, but operators must not lose sight of the need to achieve and maintain service profitability in the longer term. Mobile services can offer significant profit margins, but the margins for fixed broadband services may be small. Mobile-only operators that have wholesale agreements with fixed operators, may be unable to offer low-priced fixed broadband services without damaging profitability. Such operators will need to consider alternatives, such as the acquisition of fixed operators or local loop unbundling," he concludes.

Smartphones cost the mobile industry almost 400% more to support over their lifetime than most mid-range feature phones, according to a new management report from WDSGlobal. While a large percentage of this increase directly correlates to the complexity of some smartphone technologies, WDSGlobal has also identified that their owners have far higher expectations of their mobile equipment, broader uses for them and ultimately engage with support departments far more frequently than users of other mobile technologies.
 
The report, ‘Supporting Complex Mobile Devices', bases its findings on a study of customer care operations in the US, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australasia, with support data drawn from a variety of mobile operators and handset manufacturers.  Findings show that technical support requirements across mid-range feature phones are largely contained to configuration of services such as MMS, Internet access and POP3 email. However, the smartphone segment is driving an increasing number of support requests that include configuration with external products and services; such as PC synchronization, remote modem set-up and push email connectivity. This results in longer calls and a need for skilled support agents; both of which contribute to the 387% hike in the ‘cost to support' (the measure by which an organization can calculate a device type's likely support costs during its lifetime).
 
A smartphone is defined as a mobile device that offers advanced capabilities over a typical mobile phone, often with PC-like tools and applications. 7.9 million smartphones shipped in H1 2007, representing 9% of the global mobile phone market.
 
"Of course, the hope is that while it's more costly to support a smartphone, their owners will deliver far greater ARPU based on more frequent use of higher-margin data services. The question is how to do this more profitably," explains the report's author Doug Overton, vice president of analysis and consulting at WDSGlobal. "It's a growing market segment and must be considered in the planning and development of mobile operator and handset manufacturer support infrastructures."
 
The report maintains that the industry must look at ways to leverage the revenue-generating potential of the smartphone in a more profitable manner without damaging the user experience. More intuitive self-serve applications, on-device tutoring, improved customer care training and even mobile device management technologies are all suggested as a means of mitigating long-term support costs. 
 
"As mobile technologies mature, their cost to support often reduces; we've seen that already with generic data services such as MMS and GPRS. However, in the short to medium term we will continue to see a marked difference in the cost to support the smartphone segment. Much of this is associated with the many variables and combinations of mobile technologies, PC hardware, software and infrastructure technologies that users are trying to combine and connect. An example where a user tries to use their smartphone as a remote modem by making a Bluetooth connection to a PC and creating a new dial-up connection is inherently more complex than a user trying to send a picture message. For that reason alone the average call handling time can more than triple."

The Orange Group today announced that Tom Alexander has joined the company as CEO of the UK business. He succeeds Bernard Ghillebaert who will be fulfilling a new group level role as Executive Vice President of Sales and Customer Experience.
 
Alexander will lead the UK business as it builds on its mobile heritage and expands into new territories including the home phone and Digital TV markets. He will report directly to Olaf Swantee, Senior Executive Vice President Personal Communication Services UK & EME for the Orange Group, and will join the company in December 2007.
 
He joins with a wealth of experience in leading big established brands to even greater success. Most recently, he was CEO of Virgin Mobile in the UK from its inception in 1999 until its sale to NTL in 2006. Prior to that he was Deputy Commerical Director of BT Cellnet.
 
Olaf Swantee, Senior Executive Vice President Personal Communication Services UK & EME for the Orange Group, said: "This is an exciting time for Orange. The company built its name by delivering the best in mobile. We now need to build on that heritage and deliver on the promise of total communications to our customers. With his experience leading some of the biggest brands in the industry and guiding them to commercial and financial success, Tom has the perfect pedigree to deliver continued growth in both Orange's traditional and exciting new markets, operating as one company, under one brand with one vision."
 
Bernard Ghillebaert, whose career has seen him fulfil the position of CEO at both Mobistar - the Belgian sister company of Orange - and Orange UK, will be taking a new group level role in Olaf Swantee's executive management team. As EVP Sales and Customer Experience, he will be responsible for optimising sales, and productivity on both the mobile and fixed sides of the consumer business in key European markets.  He will begin his new role following a transition period with Tom in December.
 
Olaf Swantee said: "Bernard has made an essential and lasting contribution to Orange in the UK over the last three years and I look forward to him replicating this success in his new group level role. When he came to the UK in 2004, Orange was a mobile phone company. Over the last three years, while ensuring stability for the business, Bernard has also laid the foundations for the future of Orange as a total communications company. I now look forward to seeing Tom build on those foundations."

Comfone has announced that, together with Spotigo, it has successfully terminated WISPr compatibility testing for Spotigo's Wi-Fi SmartClient on WeRoam's aggregated public hotspot network.

Tests were performed at Comfone's Wi-Fi test laboratories in Bern Switzerland by Spotigo's technical staff in close collaboration with Comfone's specialists for public Wi-Fi roaming. As a result of these tests, Spotigo was able to extend the WISPr interoperability of its software to the WeRoam network and thus simplifying the end-user experience when connecting to foreign access points. All tests could be carried out in a very efficient manner, thanks to the high concentration of hotspots from dozens of WISP's from around the world in one physical location at Comfone's premises.

"It was our intention from the beginning to build up and open our test hotspot facility to third party suppliers and software developers" says Toni Stadelmann, Vice Chairman of Comfone, "thus we are very satisfied to have been able to support Spotigo improving their software. Eventually a uniform login experience at hotspots around the world is beneficial to all involved business partners."

"Spotigo is happy to announce that our market leading WISPr SmartClient is now also supporting the WeRoam network, an important aggregator for public hotspots. Our software makes it easier for network operators to bind and acquire Wi-Fi users by making Wi-Fi usage as simple and convenient as possible. We are convinced that simplifying the connection process for the end-user will increase the use of public hotspots." says Daniel Pruemers, Managing Director of Spotigo.

Truphone, the UK-based mobile Internet network operator, is broadening international public Wi-Fi access for its customers and automating the Wi-Fi login process at these global locations through a new agreement with Quiconnect. This will build on and augment existing public Wi-Fi access already established by Truphone while making it far simpler and faster for its customers to make mobile VoIP calls in public places, both in the UK or abroad. 

Truphone uses the Internet to deliver voice calls for customers without requiring a separate handset to be used,  as calls can be made on mass market Nokia mobile phones. Just like Skype did with PC-based VoIP calling, Truphone is making mobile VoIP a reality today worldwide. Using open source and standards-based software, Truphone calls are routed over Wi-Fi using SIP and RTP. 

According to analysts, ON World Inc, the mobile VoIP market will see staggering growth with 70.6 million consumer cell-VoIP users expected by 2011, up from 480,000 last year. 

Truphone will licence Quiconnect's Connector software, embedding it into its own solution, so that customers' handsets will automatically be authenticated at public Wi-Fi locations when in range. This means the cumbersome process of inputting login details prior to making calls is avoided as all the credentials and various scripts required for a customer to log onto a network are already preloaded.  Truphone customers can therefore be completely focused on what they really want to do and that is to make telephone calls rather than worrying about access and log in.  
 

As part of the agreement, Quiconnect will create a virtual Wi-Fi network for Truphone so that customers can access the Truphone service from public Wi-Fi hotspots across the world, including the most important, high traffic locations such as hotels, airports, conference centres, coffee shops and train stations. 

Since active interconnections commenced in 2001, Quiconnect has built extensive virtual public Wi-Fi networks for its customers establishing numerous agreements with the world's leading telecoms companies and network operators and connecting them to its platform.  This includes BT, Sprint Nextel, SFR, VSNL, Telecom Italia, Telefonica, various Chinese operators along with numerous network operators globally. 

Over the next 12 months, Quiconnect will be establishing multiple relationships for Truphone with a number of companies, focused on the USA and Europe initially, so that customers travelling abroad can avoid paying GSM roaming charges by making and receiving low cost VoIP calls (where legal) on their mobiles.  Quiconnect is also providing all the necessary financial and clearing house intermediary services to facilitate this. 

Luke Vinogradov, Quiconnect's senior marketing manager, new products, says, "For the first time, we will be adding presence capabilities and creating arrangements with local Wi-Fi operators whereby Truphone customers don't need to have local subscriptions with operators to access their networks.  Presence capabilities means customers will be automatically logged in at Wi-Fi locations but will only pay once a mobile VoIP call is made just like in the GSM world.  This is fundamentally different from current Wi-Fi pricing models, where you start paying when you connect to a hotspot. We expect this new approach to pricing to make mobile VoIP usage explode."

James Tagg, Truphone's founder and CEO, says "Quiconnect does two important things for Truphone: it makes thousands of public Wi-Fi locations worldwide accessible and makes it easy to connect to them. Our customers can now just take their phones out in these public locations and make Truphone calls without even thinking about it."

Truphone selected Quiconnect as its public Wi-Fi integration partner because of its extensive wireless broadband industry expertise, new approaches to support innovative Wi-Fi pricing models, the broad relationships established with service providers and network operators, as well as technologies developed like Connector software.

Ali Khan, Truphone's director of business development says, "Going to each and every network vendor or service provider to establish agreements would be hugely time consuming.  Working with Quiconnect centralises all this and capitalises on what they have already done. This means rapid network creation for us so that users can get pervasive access, plus clearly an opportunity for local Wi-Fi providers to increase revenue from their infrastructure by capitalising on the interest in mobile VoIP."

Truphone is the first company to take advantage of Quiconnect's new range of solutions for application providers to make its services available over wireless broadband.  This includes connectivity tools for automated login of mobile devices on commercial Wi-Fi hotspots (Connector software); network integration and management services to connect large networks spanning multiple operators and geographies; and data and financial clearing services which provide flexible charging models based on the device used and application.

Nokia Siemens Networks Italy has signed a contract for the transfer of the manufacturing functions of its Cassina de' Pecchi and Marcianise facilities to Jabil Circuit Italy, upon completion of the legal asset transfer procedure. Having received European Union (EU) antitrust authorities approval, the agreement will be effective presumably on November 1st; at the same time, the two companies also signed a long term manufacturing agreement.

The Marcianise site employs 336 and its main manufacturing lines are GSM and Edge Radio Access, while the Cassina site employs 276 and manufactures microwave devices for wireline and wireless networks.

Jabil, a global electronic solutions company will take over the management of the two manufacturing units whose activity will continue on the same sites for which Jabil has signed a lease agreement with Nokia Siemens Networks. Jabil is currently a manufacturing partner of the parent companies of Nokia Siemens Networks and will utilize all its manufacturing sites for production of the telecommunication products.

"The signature of this agreement confirms a long-term partnership which will offer Nokia Siemens Networks the opportunity to compete in the highly complex and competitive telecommunication market and optimize overall manufacturing capabilities in a time when global competition results in intense cost pressure," said Herbert Merz, Head of Operations at Nokia Siemens Networks. "Moreover, we are also able to preserve the whole value chain in Italy, securing important high-tech manufacturing jobs while achieving flexibility for our future development."

"We are delighted to become a preferred supplier to Nokia Siemens Networks and hope to build on this relationship in the years to come," said Maurice Dunlop, Vice President, Global Business Units. "We have enjoyed a long and successful presence in Italy. We believe this agreement strengthens our position in Italy and enhances our global standing as a leading provider of telecommunications infrastructure hardware."

21Net, a UK company specialising in broadband Internet access on board high speed trains, has been selected by the Trans European high-speed train operator Thalys to deliver the 'first ever' true broadband Internet access to passengers travelling between Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and Cologne.

21Net has been selected by Thalys as part of a consortium lead by Nokia Siemens Networks. The consortium will combine satellite, mobile phone technologies (GPRS and UMTS) with wireless networks similar to Wi-Fi Hotspots to provide a continuous Internet connection on board trains travelling at the speed of 300 km/h. The service is expected to be in full operation by 2008.

Initially sponsored by the European Space Agency, Cambridge-based 21Net has worked with leading railway operators such as RENFE (Spain), SNCF (France) and Thalys to develop a "Broadband To Trains" system that is robust and technically mature and applies to all railway standards.

"Our successful trial in 2005 with Thalys put us on the road to where we are today, with our first commercial deployment on their trains," said Henry Hyde-Thomson, Chairman of 21Net."We are all the more pleased to have been selected by Thalys, as it represents an important step towards more high-speed trains benefiting from the opportunity to provide a quality Internet service to their customers".

The 21Net system combines low-profile tracking antennas on the train with two-way "Ku-band" satellite transmission to deliver high bandwidth (2Mbit/s by 512kbit/s) connectivity to a master server on the train.

This unique system puts 21Net in an entirely different class to existing competitor systems, which rely on narrowband (56kbit/s) GPRS connections which are then shared between the simultaneous users on the train.

This high bandwidth can be shared by simultaneous users. On the train, WiFi (wireless LAN) connections are used between the master server and customers with WiFi enabled laptops and PDAs.

Already, 21Net is preparing its next generation of lower profile antennas, using jet fighter technology for maximum strength and even lower profile. "This continuous technological leadership will ensure that our broadband-to-trains service can be implemented cost-effectively by all railway operators, including those travelling across difficult geographies or under low-gauge tunnels like the Channel tunnel", said Jean-François de Lantsheere, CEO of 21Net.

Fast Search & Transfer, the provider of search technologies, has announced that MTS, Russia's largest mobile operator, has launched the first and only operator-branded, Russian language mobile search solution using FAST Active Mobile. Based on the FAST Enterprise Search Platform (FAST ESP), FAST technologies has enabled MTS to create its own mobile search portal to meet the unique needs of the Russian market. The enhanced portal has resulted in a substantial boost in traffic and a 60 percent increase in queries (searches), leading to increased download of digital content in the first three months.

Designed with the unique needs of the mobile subscriber in mind, the MTS mobile search solution takes advantage of FAST Active Mobile's proven search capabilities to provide a superior user experience.  The solution delivers highly relevant results in a format appropriate for the user's device, improving ease of use and customer satisfaction. This not only helps to reduce churn and increase revenues, it gives MTS a distinct competitive advantage, as well as allowing them to explore the new business opportunities that the mobile web provides.

"The FAST-powered MTS mobile search solution enables us to deliver on our commitment to innovative the mobile experience," said Pavel Roytberg, director of products and services department, MTS. "We wanted to leverage FAST's expertise to build our own competitive advantage in mobile search that will be unmatched in the Russian market. MTS will continue to innovate on FAST's solution by introducing new search capabilities that will enable MTS to sit at the center of the user's digital lifestyle."

MTS will also be offering an entirely unique collection of WAP sites with its own search relevance and ranking rules.  This will allow for boosting of specific Russian content for certain searches and creation of unique drill-down capabilities that are missing from standard third-party search engines. The MTS strategy and FAST search technology is designed to facilitate rapid launch of new business models around social networks and user-generated content by creating a platform for the search, storage and retrieval of all forms of digital content (e.g. ringtones, games, pictures, videos, real music, blogs, etc).

"FAST's heritage is to work with industry visionaries to design the most innovative search solutions in specific markets, and it is particularly exciting to have such a central role in this new and booming trend of establishing best practices for digital content on the mobile device," said Bjørn Olstad, CTO of FAST. "MTS has shown a keen understanding of search's ability to deliver significant strategic and financial benefits, and we are looking forward to expanding the features of the existing the portal. We have worked with mobile search solutions for almost 10 years and are excited to see our customers now being able to fully leverage our capabilities."

With mobile adoption rates higher than PC rates in most markets, the mobile phone is well on its way to becoming the dominant global Internet platform. The race is on to deliver value-added services to the mobile subscriber that will attract and retain them. Leading mobile operators understand that by distributing and monetizing digital content, they can drive new advertising models and enhance customer interaction.

Wayfinder has announced that a pre-installed free map application and voice guiding Wayfinder Navigator upgrade will be available for the Nokia N810 Internet Tablet.

The pre-installed free map application means that N810 users get a quick and handy pocket map where one can position oneself on the map and see the direction and distance to any chosen location. Users can even browse detailed street maps and search for locations like addresses, Wi-Fi hot-spots and points of interests (POI's) and take advantage of associated web links and dynamic information. The map application includes access to free of charge world-wide maps - available and downloadable directly to the Nokia device.

User-friendly functionality is a feature of Wayfinder Navigator where on top of the map application, users also benefit from voice guided turn-by-turn navigation. Available in 15 languages, with two native speakers per language, Wayfinder Navigator has routing capabilities ensuring fast and reliable route calculation giving precise directions on the fastest or shortest way to travel. Users can also choose between car, pedestrian & bicycle routing modes and do route planning without GPS. Additional on-line services, subject to local availability, include real-time traffic information and safety camera updates.

Wayfinder also offers an extended 7 day trial period of the fully featured Wayfinder Navigator, allowing users to test the usability and benefit of the service over an extended weekend or business trip. The premium service is available for direct credit card purchase via the Internet, directly from the device.

"With its large widescreen touch display, full qwerty key board, integrated GPS and extremely fast Internet connectivity, the Nokia N810 is the top purchase for people seeking voice guided GPS navigation and versatile GPS maps. By combining our award-winning Wayfinder Navigator with this innovative device, we can offer a hard-to-match user experience that can compete with any navigation system on the market" says Magnus Nilsson, CEO, Wayfinder Systems.

"Customer feedback about navigation kits for the Nokia 770 and N800 devices has been very positive. Now we wanted to offer even more with the new Nokia N810 by introducing a map application available for our users and offer navigation as a hassle free premium service directly from the device" said Ari Virtanen, Vice President of Convergence Products, Multimedia, Nokia. "The N810 and the map application now take Internet enhanced mapping to the next level thanks to integrated GPS in the device and the Wayfinder solutions know-how, " he continues.

Currently available coverage for the map application and Wayfinder Navigator includes maps with street names and house numbers for North America, Europe, Russia, Australia, Singapore, South Africa and the Middle East.

Vyke Communications has announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Vyke AS, has signed a global agreement with Nokia Corporation to distribute Vyke's mobile Voice over Internet Protocol service, Mobile IP.

Under the terms of the agreement, Vyke has licensed Nokia to distribute the mobile handset software component of the Vyke Mobile IP service. New users acquired via the Nokia on-device content portal 'Download!' will automatically be directed to Vyke's end user communications portal, www.vyke.com and have accounts created simply within the Vyke system.

Nokia and Vyke have identified selected European markets for the initial launch of the distribution channel made available under this agreement.

New users signing up for Vyke's Mobile IP service via Nokia Download! will be awarded $1 of free Vyke calling credit. As calling North America and Western European fixed lines is only charged at ¢4 per call (~2p) with no per minute charges, Vyke's introductory offer potentially provides tens of hours of free international calling from the mobile phone.

Tommy Jensen, Executive Chairman of Vyke stated that: "This agreement is a fantastic step forward for Vyke and its shareholders as it provides a significant new distribution channel. Elements of Vyke's Mobile IP service were originally developed in co-operation with Forum Nokia PRO and we are very pleased to expand upon that relationship through this distribution agreement."

Handmark, a specialist in mobile media, announced today a new version of its Pocket Express mobile service. Pocket Express was developed by Handmark in native Symbian C++ specifically for S60 Third Edition on Symbian OS, and will be featured on Nokia E-series and N-series handsets.

Created in the UK, the all-new release of Pocket Express for Symbian OS offers free mobile access to a powerful handset client, featuring essential BBC news, global weather and minute-by-minute score reports for UK and European footballer fans from STATS.

A suite of premium services is also provided in this new release of Pocket Express for Symbian OS, including updates from global financial markets, flight status for more than 75,000 international destinations from over 3,500 airports, cinema show times throughout the UK, and fast access to the authoritative New Oxford Dictionary of English and companion Oxford Thesaurus. Pocket Express combines these services with the world's first mobile live personal assistant, MobileCierge. With one tap, customers can speak to a live assistant who can help solve almost any personal, travel, medical, or emergency-related request anywhere in the world.

"Pocket Express is an essential and trusted source of information and services for mobile professionals, and we're pleased to bring the service to an even larger audience of Symbian smartphone users," said Douglas Edwards, Handmark co-founder and chief marketing officer. "Pocket Express for Symbian OS represents the latest development in our strategy to bring Pocket Express to mobile professionals around the world."

"Symbian smartphones provide users with the most powerful applications and services that help them stay connected and manage their busy lives - all part of the emerging smartphone lifestyle," said Jerry Panagrossi, vice president, U.S. operations, Symbian.

"This new release of Pocket Express for Symbian OS delivers a wealth of benefits to harried business professionals who rely on Symbian smartphones for a growing list of everyday needs."

The complete Elite Edition of the service is available for a one-time annual payment of £70 GBP or for £7 per month. A free version of the new Symbian Pocket Express is also available.

There is significant enthusiasm for mobile banking services among consumers worldwide, according to research released by Sybase 365, a subsidiary of Sybase, the specialist in messaging interoperability and mobile content delivery.  Surveys conducted in the Americas, Europe and Asia-Pacific regions are said to have shown a burgeoning demand for mobile banking among users, though this is tempered by concerns about security and lack of awareness.

Europe appears most eager to take advantage of mobile banking, with 61 percent of mobile users interested in mobile services if offered by their bank.  This compares to 40 percent in Asia-Pacific, and 37 percent of those surveyed in the Americas (including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and the US), who would like to be able to interact with their bank via a mobile device.  In fact, in each of the regions surveyed, more than a quarter of respondents would consider switching banks if an alternative provider offered them free mobile banking.

While the study points to a strong interest in mobile banking, it also reveals that mobile banking is still in its infancy around the globe.  As would be expected, the service is almost twice as prevalent in Asia-Pacific, with 15.4 percent of those surveyed in the region reporting to have used a mobile phone to check their bank balance in the prior three months.  This compares to just 8.7 percent in the Americas and 7 percent in Europe, which shows there is a disparity between the demand for mobile banking services and the availability of services. 

Underlying the worldwide enthusiasm for mobile banking is a trend that has been coined by the survey as ‘nano-economics,' or a near obsession by consumers with managing their finances to the cent and by the minute.  In both the United States and Europe, 40 percent of those surveyed claim to know exactly how much money they have in their bank account at all times and 41 percent check bank balances on a daily basis.  Mobile banking services cater to this trend, offering the option to check account balances, transfer funds, and make payments or validate transactions, among other capabilities.

Mobile banking is an opportunity for banks to offer a value-added service as an incentive for new customer acquisition and customer retention, and promotion of mobile banking services will have a direct impact on consumer adoption of the technology.  Of concern, nearly half (49 percent) of European respondents did not know if their bank offered mobile banking services, and that figure grew to more than half in Asia-Pacific (51 percent) and the Americas (56 percent).  It seems as if financial organizations are missing an opportunity by not promoting mobile banking services in an effective manner, which - given the high levels of interest among non-users - could become a lost opportunity.

Security is often seen as another barrier to the adoption of mobile banking, with 47 percent of respondents in Asia-Pacific and 44 percent in the Americas citing security as a concern.  European consumers show the least concern over the security of mobile banking, with only 25 percent of respondents citing it as a reason for not using mobile banking services.

"Consumer adoption of mobile services is positioned for rapid growth once financial institutions realize the perceived value and hidden demand for these services," said Raj Nathan, CMO, Sybase.  "Banks need to more actively promote mobile banking services by highlighting the benefits to their customers.  As demonstrated in this survey, there are a number of consumers likely to welcome another tool to support their financial fastidiousness in a more immediate and flexible manner than the Internet can afford."