Mobile media company Player X has been appointed by Virgin Mobile UK as its official aggregator for all its mobile games and video content.

This is one of the first times that a company has been able to offer operators both games and video aggregation in what is a unique deal for the industry. Player X will sign up all games as well as video partners on behalf of Virgin Mobile UK and execute all portal management including encoding, QA and deployment as well as promoting the content across all platforms.
Under the terms of the deal, Player X will source all entertainment and adult comedy mobile video content as well as choosing games content for the Virgin Mobile portal from its range of content suppliers.

"We searched high and low for a partner that could offer us definitive revenue streams in both games and video. With Player X we have found such a partner and look forward to expanding our relationship with them," said John Conlon, Head of Content at Virgin Mobile UK.

"Bringing together games and video is a first for the industry and the perfect outsourcing deal. Virgin can continue to focus its energy on what it does best - by attracting subscribers with fantastic content and we take all the pain out of it for them by using our new porting and QA facility in India to offer the perfect end-to-end solution," said Tony Pearce, Player X CEO. 
 
The news follows Player X's recent innovative moves in the mobile content market. Towards the end of 2007 the company announced it was bringing Knight Rider to mobile in the form of Retrosodes, signed up with Amobee to deliver ad-funded games and extended its deal with Turner Broadcasting.

2ergo, the provider of convergent mobile communication solutions, has been awarded a five year contract with O2 for the provision of mobile marketing services, underpinned by its recently launched MultiSend interactive messaging suite.

MultiSend will enable the mobile communications giant, O2, to revolutionise the way it engages with its 17.8 million customers using a range of personalised and interactive SMS, MMS and email messaging features, via a single application.

Having already completed a number of successful campaigns, 2ergo's MultiSend suite will be introduced across O2's marketing teams, and plans are in place to use this leading technology to deliver the mobile network operator's core digital marketing programme. 

Andrew Day, Head of CRM at O2, said: "We see real potential in MultiSend, it will allow us to enhance further the O2 experience, communicating and interacting with all of our customers on a truly one-on-one basis.  At a practical level, MultiSend gives us the capability to streamline the many processes involved in delivering multi-media and interactive campaigns to just a single application."

MultiSend will be fully integrated over time with O2's CRM system to maximise automation efficiencies and gain a greater insight into customer demands.  This will free up time for marketeers to devise further interactive campaigns, drive marketing results and build on customer relationships.

Neale Graham, Joint CEO 2ergo Group plc, said: "MultiSend enables companies to quickly and simply target their customers, capture instant responses and achieve the best possible return on their marketing investments.  Whether you have an audience of hundreds or millions, you can personalise each message or response, so that communication can be fast, frequent and incredibly cost-effective.

"It will enable O2 to explore new opportunities in areas such as MMS, and look to automate campaigns to improve the timeliness of messages being sent, as well as enhancing the end-user experience."

Other companies that have already signed up for the MultiSend suite include the travel giant Thomas Cook, the major UK car rental company National Car Rental, and the publishers Reed Business International.

The suite gives organisations the capability to fully automate many of their regular outbound communications and to engage in one-to-one dialogue with their target audience, not only to encourage rapid responses, but to also conclude many forms of business transactions. For example, appointment and payment reminders, membership and subscription renewals, or marketing campaigns and customer surveys.

TextMagic, a provider of easy-to-use online text messaging solutions, has today launched its new and improved web-based SMS service, TextMagic Online. This new generation of online SMS delivery allows businesses and individuals to send text messages directly from any computer, mobile or handheld device without the need to install dedicated software. The online interface lets users send multiple or individual texts, create and manage campaigns and keep in touch with valued customers with just a few clicks, all for just a few pence.

TextMagic Online is said to be a quick and easy way to create ad-hoc awareness campaigns and communicate with customers via their mobiles. Its web-based interface means it's more scalable than a desktop solution and is secure - all personal information is protected with secure data transfer protocol, so consumers can trust SMS messages sent with TextMagic. Mobile contacts can be easily imported from different customer relationship management (CRM) systems and programmes like Outlook, Excel, Salesforce.com and many more.

Companies can use SMS as an effective way of communicating with customers in a way that is more immediate and effective than email or phonecalls. For example, TextMagic Online allows estate agents to update multiple buyers and sellers on viewings and new properties the moment they come onto the market, all with a single SMS.  Logistics and delivery companies can use text messages to arrange deliveries and confirm good have arrived - potentially ending the problem of never being at home when the delivery van calls!

"More than 1 billion text messages are sent every week in the UK, making text messages the perfect way to deliver personalised services quickly and cost-effectively," commented Priit Vaikmaa, Marketing Manager of TextMagic. With over 70 million mobile users in the UK alone, mobile is the most ubiquitous device we own, and with the increase use of mobile for business, our service provides an essential business tool for companies that are looking for tailored ways to market their services and manage their customer relations."

The rise in musicphones has spurred adoption of mobile music consumption across the United States and Western Europe, according to M:Metrics, the mobile media firm. It reports that sideloading accounts for 83 percent of mobile music usage across France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. Among other methods, sharing music outpaces full-track mobile downloading in the majority of these markets.

With the exceptions of Spain and the United States, more mobile music consumers listened to music that was shared (for example, between phones via Bluetooth), than was downloaded directly to the phone using a music service. France and the UK posted the highest frequency of this activity, accounting for 12.5 percent of those who listened to mobile music in the month.  At the other end of the spectrum was Spain, with only 7.1 percent of mobile music users transferring music between devices.
 
"Mobile music is quickly catching on, and the fact that consumers are sharing music demonstrates its potential as a social, viral phenomenon centered on mobile handsets," said Jen Wu, analyst, M:Metrics. "The proliferation of musicphones is causing a shift in digital music toward the mobile platform, which opens numerous opportunities for music-related content, services, hardware and accessories built to accommodate or enhance these mobile music activities."
 
The measurement firm found that 10.7 percent of mobile subscribers across the six geographies reported listening to music on their mobile device, ranging from 5.7 percent in the United States to 20 percent in Spain.
 
Musicphone penetration has grown considerably in the United States and Western Europe, at an aggregated rate of 50.7 percent growth from November 2006 to November 2007 across the six geographies. The United States is the fastest-growing market, with 63.6 percent growth, from 23.2 million subscribers owning musicphones in November 2006 to 63.8 million one year later. Musicphones include all mobile handsets that are, at a minimum, capable of digital music playback (AAC, MP3, MPEG-2 AAC, MPEG-4 AAC+ or WMA codecs) and storage (greater than 47MB or support for memory expansion) or are a smartphone.

Subex, the provider of Operations Support Systems solutions for communications service providers, has announced the release of Prevea 2.2, the latest version of its credit risk management offering that enables communications service providers to continuously assess and mitigate subscriber credit risk throughout the customer lifecycle.

Designed to help service providers achieve greater operational efficiency and a key component of the Revenue Operations Center (ROC), Prevea tracks credit risk in near real-time, prior to subscriber acquisition, ongoing usage, and recovery. Prevea builds an extensive customer profile consisting of demographics, usage patterns, payment information and other relevant customer information.

Prevea 2.2 brings out the 'true exposure' of the subscriber and enables operators to automatically track credit risk by removing the guesswork associated with the value of service utilization. It creates structures and processes for defining credit risk assessment schemes and customer-specific credit limits, allowing for alert conditions to be configured that track risk variations, such as deviations in customer behavior and payment delays/reversals.

It also raises alerts at the earliest signs of an account problem and provides workflow mechanism to aid investigation. The benefits of deploying Prevea are increased customer profitability, improved collection rates, reduced bad debts and operating costs and improved bottom-line financial performance.

Mark Nicholson , Chief Technology Officer, Subex, said, "This latest version of Prevea is designed to enable service providers to easily monitor subscriber risk and improve the bottom-line. These latest product updates make it easier for our customers to optimize their margins and become leaner and more efficient in their operations."

MACH, the global clearing and settlement partner for mobile based transactions, has today announced that Telefónica Spain is using its Data Express and Fraud Protection solutions to achieve Near Real Time Roaming Data Exchange (NRTRDE) compliancy. MACH will monitor and protect Telefónica Spain against roaming fraud.

Manuel Franco, Director of Revenue Assurance & Fraud at Telefónica Spain commented; "MACH has one of the most advanced NRTRDE & Fraud Protection solutions available. As MACH provides Clearinghouse services & NRTDE to other Telefónica Group members as well as other leading global operator Groups it has for both solutions, the right level of expertise to combat roaming fraud."

Lodewijk Cornelis, Head of New Sales & Marketing at MACH commented, "With MACH Data Express and MACH Fraud Protection, Telefónica benefits from a fully comprehensive solution against roaming fraud. The operator will have early visibility of roaming subscriber activity and data intelligence and a global view with fraud 'fingerprint' matches across all networks. MACH also has a specialist 'rapid responsive' fraud protection unit with 24/7/365 surveillance, detection and monitoring of suspicious behaviour. MACH acts as the watch tower and has the capabilities to instantly shut-down roaming fraud."

The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) has announced the results of its inaugural Mobile Attitude and Usage Study for five markets in Western Europe. The study surveyed 1,535 participants in the UK, Germany, Italy, France and Spain and provides actionable insights into the region's consumer mobile usage by demographic group and awareness. The report also identifies usage of mobile phone features and services, and interest in and concerns about specific applications.

The study's key findings are said to include the following:

One in ten mobile users in the Western European markets is highly interested in mobile marketing and another three in ten indicate moderate interest. This level of interest translates into an overall growth opportunity for mobile marketing.

Italian and Spanish consumers are most interested in mobile marketing. Over half of all users in Italy and Spain are at least moderately interested in mobile marketing and similar proportions express potential to opt-in.

2-way text messaging is the most important mobile feature across all age groups. The ability to send and receive SMS was at the top of the list for all age groups except teens, for whom it ranks second to camera functionality. Across the Western European markets surveyed, seven in ten have experience with text messaging, with the most text-savvy consumers in Italy and Spain. Over half of all users surveyed use SMS at least weekly and 37% are daily users. Daily use is most common among 13 - 24 year olds.

Western European consumers poised for an increase in mobile marketing. 15% of all consumers surveyed have had some experience with mobile marketing. Mobile phones are almost universal and most phones are equipped to receive mobile messages. More than half use text messaging at least weekly and 7 in 10 are familiar with the technology.

Interactive voting, receiving ads and product/service information are the most common applications of mobile marketing.  18 - 34 year olds have the highest rate of participation in mobile marketing efforts. However, age is not strongly predictive; interest levels are similar across ages 13 - 54.

Across all regions surveyed, mobile coupons, status alerts about accounts/purchases and special sales have greatest appeal.  Over half the users have increased data usage to some extent in the past year vs. slightly under half reporting an increase in voice usage.

"This study confirms that mobile users in Western Europe already appreciate mobile marketing and have a desire to opt in to receive relevant product and services," said Richard Saggers, MMA EMEA Chairman and Head of Mobile Advertising, Vodafone Global Services. "These results indicate Italy and Spain are significantly advanced users of mobile, and already have the most experience with mobile marketing and are therefore more likely to participate. At least 60% in all age categories surveyed have experience with text messaging, indicating a big opportunity for marketers."

"Western Europe represents a significant opportunity for mobile marketers.  One in three consumers surveyed indicated that their mobile phone is highly important to them and they are very dependent on it.  With consumers acknowledging their mobile is always on them, brands need to begin integrating mobile into their marketing campaigns ASAP. Clearly, mobile is proving its potential value as a marketing tool," said Laura Marriott, President of the MMA.

Nokia has announced plans to discontinue the production of mobile devices in Germany and close its Bochum site by mid-2008. The company plans to move manufacturing to its other, more cost-competitive sites in Europe.

As a consequence of the planned shift of production from Bochum to other European sites, Nokia also intends to discontinue other non-production activities at the Bochum site. In conjunction with the announced plans to close its Bochum site, Nokia is also announcing plans to sell its line fit automotive business and it is in negotiations with Sasken Technologies to sell the Bochum-based adaptation software R&D-entity.

The planned closure of the site in Bochum is estimated to affect approximately 2,300 Nokia employees.

Nokia's decision to discontinue manufacturing in Bochum is based on the lack of competitiveness of the location. Renewing the site would require additional investments but even this would not result in manufacturing in Bochum being globally competitive.

"The planned closure of the Bochum production site is necessary to secure Nokia's long-term competitiveness," said Veli Sundbäck, Executive Vice President of Nokia and Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Nokia GmbH. "Due to market changes and increasing requirements for cost-effectiveness, production of mobile devices in Germany is no longer feasible for Nokia. It cannot be operated in a way that meets the requirements for global cost efficiency and for flexible capacity growth. Therefore we have to make this tough decision."

Nokia will start the consultations with the employee representatives as soon as possible in order to to reach a satisfactory solution for all parties concerned.

The financial costs associated with this restructuring will be determined along with the consultation process and reported in Nokia's quarterly reporting for 2008.

Aeroflex has announced the addition of Wideband AMR (Wideband Adaptive Multi-Rate) support to its 6113 AIME basestation protocol test system.  The new test capability relates to the 3GPP TS45.003 test specification.

The new Wideband AMR codecs (TCH/WFS12.65, TCH/WFS8.85, TCH/WFS6.60) build on existing narrow band AMR technology and their introduction will significantly improve the quality of voice services due to the wider speech bandwidth used.

"Wideband AMR features need to be correctly configured, optimised and maintained if subscribers are to get the full quality of service benefits that the new speech codecs can deliver," said Ross Broadhurst, Product Marketing Manager, Aeroflex Test Solutions Wireless Division.  "The launch of the new Wideband AMR test capability on our 6113 AIME protocol test system is of significant benefit to infrastructure developers who will be able to develop, integrate and test Wideband AMR basestation capabilities, in advance of the mobile handset capability becoming available."

The Aeroflex 6113 AIME basestation protocol tester allows infrastructure developers to create and test new GSM basestation software and hardware features by providing a mobile emulation. Combining the 6113E test set with the 6113E AIME (Air Interface Monitor Emulation) software package, it provides software engineers with a layer 1, layer 2 and layer 3 monitoring and emulation capability for the Um interface. Software engineers can monitor, debug and fault find the layer 1 and protocol interchanges on the Um interface with fully decoded display of layer 2 and layer 3 messages. In addition, the 6113 AIME protocol test system features sophisticated script editing, debugging, execution and automation facilities, logging of all air interface signalling and logging of all traffic frames.

NetHawk has announced the new portable platform TravelHawk for GSM, (E)GPRS, UMTS, HSPA WiMAX and LTE protocol analysis. Based on NetHawk's M5 Analyser, TravelHawk offers high port density and capacity but still it is small enough to go as carry-on luggage on business trips.

The new platform supports multiple interface adapter configurations fitting the needs of different end-user groups. TravelHawk is designed to monitor up to four STM-1 and sixteen E1 links to meet the heavy load testing requirements. It also supports channelised STM-1 and IMA.

"I'm thrilled about this new monitoring tool platform. Knowing how much easier we'll make the lives of travelling engineers, I'm sure that TravelHawk will be a success story. High capacity and versatility in such a small package is something that this industry has never seen before" says Mr. Pertti Paakkolanvaara, Executive Vice President, Analyser Business Unit, NetHawk.

On top of the modular TravelHawk hardware platform end-users can take advantage of the intelligent data analysis options of the NetHawk M5. The Call&Session Analysis application for multi-interface call tracing enables correlation of real-time data from several interfaces simultaneously reducing total time needed for root-cause analysis of the network. The Call&Session Statistics application is utilised to provide an overall view of quality of service of the monitored network. For increased data rates in today's networks, the NetHawk M5 Analyser provides excellent filtering options. Focusing on absolutely necessary information is crucial when handling gigabits of data from multiple sources. Counter and KPI results in a clear graphical UI makes monitoring of the network performance easier than ever. Because of the growing amount of IP data transfer in mobile networks verification of IP quality of service has to be conducted carefully. The Quality of Service application provides throughput, delay, and jitter measurements with a few mouse clicks. The versatile applications of the M5 Analyser make the TravelHawk an effective tool for several purposes both in live networks and laboratory environments.

Telefónica has announced a package of pricing propositions that will offer its European customers major reductions in the cost of using mobile data services whilst travelling.  Consumers in Spain, the UK, Germany, the Czech Republic and Ireland will benefit from cuts of more than 40% in data roaming prices, while the cost of sending a text message home from anywhere in the European Union falls to a maximum of €0.32 + VAT.  For business travellers who wish to stay connected while abroad, a new roaming bundle provides worldwide access to data at a price equivalent to €1 per megabyte (MB).  These changes form an important part of the company's continuing drive to increase the transparency and simplicity of mobile charges.

O2 businesses and movistar in Spain will implement a range of new data roaming tariffs aimed at consumers travelling within Europe ahead of this year's summer holiday season in July.  These will include both significant reductions in the per-MB price and the introduction of time-based charging principles, such as daily rates.  The resultant savings for customers will be anything between 42% and 80% over November 2007 prices.

Recognising the ever-increasing popularity of text messaging as a way of staying in touch, both prepay and postpay consumers will, starting from early February, pay no more than €0.32 to send an SMS from any EU country - representing a reduction of up to 49% on current prices.  The new rate will apply to all customers by April.  It will cost nothing to receive a text. 

O2 and movistar business customers, who typically have much heavier data access and download requirements, can take advantage of a highly competitive new data bundle.  For a flat monthly fee of €50, business travellers may use 50MB of data on any roaming partner network worldwide.  At €1 per MB, this is particularly attractive to multi-national customers, as it allows them to benefit from a single tariff wherever they travel.  The package is available now in Spain, the UK, the Czech Republic and Ireland and will be introduced in Germany in the second quarter of 2008.

Matthew Key, chairman and CEO of Telefónica O2 Europe, said: "This initiative follows similar innovation by Telefónica in voice roaming, with the introduction last year of our highly successful My Europe roaming price plans - the first to completely remove charges for receiving calls abroad.  Today's announcement honours the promise we made to customers at that time that, having reduced the cost of calling whilst abroad, we would bring down the last barrier in roaming charges - data.  Importantly, it also addresses the issue of transparency where, for too long, customers have been confused by a plethora of tariffs and fees.  The published rate will apply across the board - regardless of the mobile network used."

"We remain absolutely committed to delivering the best value to our customers and are proactively looking to further reduce the wholesale inter-operator tariffs (IOTs) in order to pass on additional benefits to users."

Telefónica says it also intends to increase the transparency of data roaming prices and reduce the possibility of bill shock by combining its simple tariff schemes with a range of usage monitoring tools.  From March 2008, mobile laptop users will be able to monitor their data usage in real time via their 'Connection Manager' software, while all roaming customers will automatically receive a text message containing SMS, data and voice pricing information.  In addition, O2 and movistar customers will not incur penalties if their phone selects a non-preferred network - removing any potential concerns about hidden charges.

Private Mobile Networks, the UK provider of private GSM network technology, has today announced it will be running a public demonstration of its Rapid Deployment Unit (RDU) to deliver a secure private GSM network at the upcoming GSMA Mobile World Congress. 

Following the completion of several beta implementations within the construction industry and within the military services, the RDU will be demonstrated within the exhibition highlighting its ability to deploy in any environment.

"We first starting talking about the concept of a ‘GSM in a box' when we exhibited at Mobile World Congress last year," comments Dean Parsons, Managing Director of Private Mobile Networks Ltd.  "12 months later, we have product which passes all the required certification standards; a number of early adopter customers and a couple of very large projects that we hope to be announcing shortly," added Parsons.

The GSM rapid deployment unit is a plug-and-play solution; it takes less than 5 minutes to power up and provides coverage using a standard GSM phone within a 500m omni-directional radius.  The GSM traffic can also be used to communicate with other sites over any IP network connections.  The unit is either battery or mains powered with over 4 hours standby and links back into the public network can be made through the PSTN, satellite or line-of-sight equipment.  The unit also contains an FXO Gateway as standard with an optional satellite router.

"Mobile World Congress this year is a chance for us to show that we deliver on our promises and that ‘GSM in a box' is productised and generally available to the open market," comments Parsons.   "Although Barcelona is less challenging then a North Sea oil rig or isolated construction site, having the RDU simply on our stand for anybody to examine and interact with is part of our vision that the unit should be simple, rugged and foolproof, which is something we hope to prove during the event," he concluded.

Arqiva has today announced a contract with Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT), Scotland's biggest regional transport partnership, which will see Arqiva's Wireless Solutions division design and deploy a combined cellular and WiFi network across 15 Glasgow Subway stations. Deployment of the network will begin later this month, with initial testing at Buchanan Street Subway station.

The new network will enable customers to use the Internet and mobile phones when at these stations, and provide public access to WiFi services.  SPT is the owner and operator of Glasgow's unique Subway system. The organisation is undertaking a programme of Subway modernisation and efficiencies. It also sees great potential in WiFi technology to migrate some of its existing applications and services onto the network such as ticketing and CCTV. 

Gordon Maclennan, Assistant Chief Executive of Strathclyde Partnership for Transport, commented: "This is a real milestone for SPT as the state-of-the-art technology employed will realise our ambition of continuous improvement to services on the Subway. Accessibility and connectivity are vital in today's fast moving technology environment and I'm delighted that SPT has enabled Glasgow to set the standard of being the first city to provide both 2G & 3G phone and WiFi coverage on the subway. The new network should also reassure our customers that we are regularly responding to changing passenger needs. Any application which enhances passenger safety and delivers better services is high on our agenda."

Howard Williams, Business Development Manager for Arqiva's Wireless Solutions division, added: "As the UK moves closer to wirelessly-enabled areas, the benefits that wireless networks can provide are being recognised and cities need to capitalise on this. In its entirety the network is not just about meeting the needs of the general public; it is also about generating cost savings and efficiencies for the organisation and its counterparts."

At last years' show, Actimagine unveiled Mobiclip, a video codec that promises truly exceptional performance for mobile phones. Mobiclip reads and displays DVD-quality videos, without compromising battery life.  This year at the upcoming Mobile World Congress 2008, Actimagine will present the world preview of mobiclip.com.

Mobiclip.com is a web portal that enables users to manage their videos and watch them instantly in high definition format on the mobile phone. With just a few clicks users have access to their videos anytime, anywhere, and on any mobile phone model independently of wireless telecom network coverage.

Video on demand, live television, Internet video downloads, personal videos and webcam videos are all available. Now it is possible to manage any video content via Mobiclip.com and view it anytime, anywhere on a mobile phone. As soon as the user accesses a 2.5, 3G, or Wi-Fi telephone network, the video content that is selected and stored on the Mobiclip.com portal is immediately synchronised with the mobile phone and is available for viewing. Video content can also be downloaded directly from the web portal to mobile phones at any time by simply connecting it to a PC with a USB cable, eliminating the need to access a Wi-Fi or telecom network.