Orange has announced it has signed a content agreement with leading international sports broadcaster Setanta, to be the first mobile operator in the UK to broadcast Setanta Sports 1, Setanta Sports 2 and Setanta Golf on its mobile portal, Orange World.

The deal positions Orange as the only UK mobile operator able to stream live coverage of every televised match of the Barclays Premier League, by adding all of Setanta’s televised games including Manchester United vs Everton on 23rd  December, Manchester United vs Newcastle United on12th January and London derby - Chelsea vs Tottenham on 14th January 2008.

As well as providing access to additional Barclays Premier League games, Orange mobile customers will now also be able to live stream all Clydesdale Bank Premier League and Blue Square Premier televised games, as well as have access to other great sporting events available on the select Setanta channels which include the PGA Golf Tour and Magners Rugby League.

Steve Wallage, head of sports partnerships & services, Orange, “This partnership is all about bringing customers closer to the game they love. The addition of the Setanta Sports package to our existing football portfolio was essential to ensure our customers don't miss any of this season's action - we're now the true home for 'football on your mobile'.”   

Timothy Ryan, GB marketing director, Setanta Sports, “No serious football fan would risk missing his team's progress this season and the deal with Orange means that need never happen.  As well as exclusive football content from across Europe, you can also watch Setanta Golf on your mobile.  From the PGA Tour to live action from the Premier League, there's no excuse for not being on the ball."

The Setanta package will be available to Orange mobile TV customers with a 3G handset for a subscription fee of £5 per month.

Ericsson has today announced it has acquired HyC Group, a Spanish company in TV consultancy and systems integration with around 110 employees. The acquisition is said to further strengthen Ericsson's position in the services and multimedia domains as a systems integrator of IPTV solutions.

IPTV offers interactive and personalized broadband TV services to fixed and mobile users and, with the acquisition of HyC, Ericsson says it further strengthens its ability to support operators and service providers in the solution design, installation, integration and operation of IPTV services.

The HyC acquisition follows Ericsson's acquisition of Tandberg Television, the provider in advanced video compression technologies, at the beginning of the year.

Hans Vestberg, Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, and Head of Global Services at Ericsson, says: "Multimedia and services, including IPTV and systems integration, are two strategic areas for Ericsson. I am pleased to announce this acquisition as it will strengthen our ability to support our customers in offering attractive consumer services in a fast and efficient way. HyC's skills and experience fit perfectly with our service offerings in the TV domain and our leading systems integration offering."

Hector Prieto, HyC General Manager, says: "We are proud to be part of the Ericsson Group. Customers will benefit from the combination of Ericsson's global presence and our niche expertise in a blooming technology."

Nokia has announced that Polska Telefonia Cyfrowa (PTC), operator of the Era network in Poland, will offer Nokia Intellisync Wireless Email to its business and individual customers. The Nokia Intellisync Mobile Suite software platform is said to offer PTC the opportunity to address the widest market opportunity possible by resetting the cost and ease of use of mobile email and personal information management (PIM) functionality. PTC intends to offer the Era Mail branded service in Q1 2008. Already this month, PTC will offer selected small and medium sized enterprise customers the opportunity, to test the solution.

"We have evaluated several different email vendors in this space and are convinced that Nokia Intellisync Mobile Suite is the best platform to help us bring mobile email to the mass market:  Nokia offers the ease of use and they support a variety of mobile phones in addition to their Nokia Eseries devices", says Mr Klaus Tebbe, Strategy, Marketing and Sales Director, PTC Management Board Member. "Our relationship with Nokia enables us to broaden our current mobile email offering and market a PTC-branded email solution.  We lead in the deployment of innovative business solutions in Poland, and are proud of launching the service as one of the first operators in Central Europe."

For enterprises, the new Era Mail service based on Nokia Intellisync Mobile Suite means that business people can use their resources more efficiently, in real-time, wherever they happen to be.  Moreover, the offering is targeted at companies and consumers who do not have their own mail servers and use widely available Internet email services. Only the login and password to the email account are required to activate the service, which brings email usability extremely easy also to the mass market.

"Nokia Intellisync Wireless Email is just the first step of making work go mobile," says Scott Cooper, senior vice president, mobility solutions, Enterprise Solutions Nokia.  The solution offers a good price-performance ratio, high functionality and in particular is easy to use.  As a result, it will not only bring greater value and flexibility to mobile business users and consumers, but also help to expand PTC's own business opportunity".

Nokia Intellisync Wireless Email is said to work on any environment - ISP, Microsoft Exchange, Lotus Notes or Groupwise and can run on any kind of device platform - Java, Symbian, Windows, Palm or Pocket PC.

Ericsson has been selected by Austrian operator mobilkom austria to expand and upgrade its WCDMA network with the latest high-capacity HSPA (High-Speed Packet Access) functionality in the region of Carinthia. The deal builds on earlier contracts between the companies and is allowing mobilkom austria subscribers to enjoy the fastest mobile-broadband speeds in Austria.

Under the terms of the agreement, Ericsson is supplying its latest HSPA technology, enabling high-speed mobile broadband with uplink speeds of up to 1.4Mbps and peak downlink speeds of up to 14.4Mbps, fully supporting currently available end-user devices that allow download rates of up to 7.2Mbps. 

Ericsson's HSPA solution boosts network capacity and cuts response times for interactive services. The upgrade of mobilkom austria's existing network will increase the performance of mobile broadband and enable the operator to expand its mobile broadband offering into Carinthia.

Boris Nemsic, CEO of Telekom Austria Group and CEO of mobilkom austria, says: "With Ericsson's HSPA solution, we are now able to offer the most advanced multimedia services to our 3.9 million customers across Austria, reaffirming our position as the leading mobile operator."

Peter Zehetner, Managing Director of Ericsson Austria, says: "We are proud to continue our long-running relationship with mobilkom austria. This contract highlights Ericsson's ability to provide cutting-edge solutions to one of the most advanced markets for mobile broadband in Europe."

Nokia Siemens Networks and RadioFrame Networks, a provider of femtocell products, have signed a contract for cooperation on 3G Femto Home Access.

The solution is targeted at 3G operators who wish to extend their coverage and service offerings. Nokia Siemens Networks' Femto Gateway and RadioFrame Networks' OmniRadio customer premises equipment (CPE) can help operators reduce costs, increase ARPU with service bundling, and offload the macro network. The solution will improve indoor 3G coverage and quality for consumers.

"Nokia Siemens Networks is driving an open ecosystem that will boost the Femto market. We are happy to play a role in that with our CPE together with Nokia Siemens Networks' Femto Gateway," said  Jeff Brown, CEO, RadioFrame Networks. "Our collaboration will enable operators to realize the full potential of fixed-mobile convergence. Our solutions are designed to help operators roll out mass-market femtocell deployments quickly and rapidly."

"We are pleased to announce our collaboration with RadioFrame Networks. Operators now have greater flexibility and choice thanks to the compatibility of Femto CPEs with our open architecture," said Timo Hyppölä, Indoor Radio Solutions Product Line, Nokia Siemens Networks.

RadioFrame Networks will deliver the Femto CPE directly to operators, while Nokia Siemens Networks will deliver the Femto Gateway as well as required services.

Launched in July 2007, the Femto Home Access Solution from Nokia Siemens Networks introduces open interfaces, boosting the femtocell ecosystem and enabling operators to further enhance their 3G service offering and coverage.

Miyowa has announced that major French mobile carrier, Bouygues Telecom, has deployed its MoveAd Mobile Instant Messaging advertising solution. Miyowa's MoveAd enables operators and brands to include dynamic advertising in their mobile instant messaging services.

Designed to make maximum impact, yet be unobtrusive, MoveAd covers three main advertising features: display on MIM idle-screen, on pop-ups and dynamic tabs, and on virtual contacts. It provides an open and scalable solution that delivers advertising monetisation features on both the client and server sides. As a result, Miyowa is a direct and unique connection for major mobile advertising companies.

Olivier Laury, Director of Content at Bouygues Telecom commented, "This formula is entirely aimed and packaged for advertisers. We have very high hopes for the pilot of MoveAd. A fully-packaged service, it enriches mobile IM by providing a very powerful, mobile-centric advertising solution."

Stéphane Hareng, VP Strategic Marketing & Customer Operations of Miyowa, said: "Miyowa continues to blaze the MIM trail - we are the first to bring advertising services to mobile instant messaging. We truly believe that mobile-centric advertising services are the way forward and a successful pilot such as Bouygues will only reinforce this."

Intec, the provider of business and operations support systems (BSS/OSS), has announced  that it has signed and implemented a group license and services agreement for its Intec Interconnect intercarrier billing solution with several VimpelCom subsidiaries. Valued at nearly US$2 million dollars, the new contract will enable Russia¹s major mobile operator to roll out Intec Interconnect throughout the CIS, with subsidiaries going live with the system by the end of this year in Uzbekistan, Ukraine and Armenia.

The agreement is an extension of a long-term customer relationship between Intec and VimpelCom, which has been a user of Intec¹s billing solutions since 2003. Intec Interconnect is the the world¹s leading and most advanced intercarrier settlement system with over 250 customers.  It is presently deployed by VimpelCom to support its high-volume domestic traffic as well as its expanding long distance and International license business.

"Our services and licenses deal with Intec is a very significant business decision for VimpelCom as it enables us to maximise our revenue streams from our complex intercarrier agreements in regions with very strong levels of growth," said Andrey Batalov, Head of IT Development in Russian regions and CIS, VimpelCom. "Uzbekistan, Ukraine, and Armenia in particular are countries with large numbers of mobile customers and strategic plans for market expansion.  With relatively low cost we can use the services and licenses agreement to roll out Intec Interconnect quickly and seamlessly and with minimal risk, thereby enabling us to generate a substantial income from these operations on day one and ultimately giving us the competitive edge we need to remain a market leader in these regions."

The Intec Interconnect system is renowned for its flexibility and can support all billing and settlement models. This capability will enable the subsidiaries to handle every kind of traffic, from simple voice to the most advanced content and data services, in one integrated, platform. Once the Intec Interconnect systems go live in Uzbekistan, Ukraine, and Armenia, VimpelCom will continue expansion by rolling out the solution in Tajikistan as well in 2008.

"We are extremely pleased with our new agreement with VimpelCom and we are confident that this will strengthen our existing relationship with the operator," said Gary Burch, VP of sales for Intec in EMEA. "Eastern Europe is a very important region for us in terms of long-term growth and this deal further enforces our position as the leading BSS/OSS provider in the area. To ensure that we remain competitive in Russia and the CIS we will work closely with VimpelCom and its subsidiaries to ensure that Intec Interconnect is running smoothly from the moment it goes live on the network and that income is maximised quickly from our intercarrier billing system. VimpelCom's companies can also rely on Intec's local support team in Moscow for further support. Intec¹s area specialists will be always be on hand to assist with any new billing challenges that may arise as the region¹s various mobile sectors explore new opportunities for growth."

Ericsson has said that it has successfully performed interoperability tests for its Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service (MBMS) solution with the leading chipset vendors. The move is said to set the stage for the widespread adoption of MBMS and the availability of MBMS terminals.

MBMS is a scalable, flexible solution that allows operators to broadcast different forms of content in different parts of the mobile network. It helps operators to cost-effectively and quickly launch end-user multimedia services such as entertainment and emergency alert broadcast information services of traffic, weather and news.

MBMS leverages existing network infrastructure to facilitate broadcasting of multimedia services such as mobile TV. It allows an unlimited number of users to use the service concurrently, stimulates the development of new mobile mass-media services and is a cornerstone of mass-market mobile TV penetration.

The interoperability tests were conducted with several leading platform vendors, among them Ericsson Mobile Platforms and Qualcomm. Commercial rollout of Ericsson's MBMS in the 3G networks will start with early launch systems in March 2008 followed by full deployment in September 2008.

Ulf Ewaldsson, Vice President and Head of Product Area Radio at Ericsson, says: "With the large part of handsets based on these vendors' chipsets, together with the proven interoperability of Ericsson mobile networks, both operator uptake of MBMS and the availability of MBMS terminals are secured. This means that MBMS functionality will become a natural and standardized functionality in tomorrow's mobile systems and terminals.

"Operators are increasingly seeking new opportunities to harness their existing infrastructure and partner with content providers to offer end users cutting-edge multimedia services. MBMS will enable the commercialization and deployment of multimedia services for the mass market, allowing operators to tap new revenue streams and meet the future demands," Ewaldsson said.

As the popularity of mobile messaging services continue to grow, research specialist Gartner is forecasting 2.3 trillion messages will be sent across major markets worldwide in 2008, a 19.6 percent increase from the 2007 total of 1.9 trillion messages. Mobile messaging revenue across major markets will grow 15.7 percent in 2008 to $60.2 billion, up from $52 billion in 2007.
 
Although mobile messaging traffic volumes will continue to show strong growth in many markets, operator margins on messaging services have become progressively thinner as a result of competition and market saturation. The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for short message service (SMS) revenue in major markets worldwide from 2002-2006 was 29.8 percent. From 2007-2011, the CAGR for SMS revenue is forecast to be 9.9 percent.
 
"In many markets, there has been strong pressure on operator margins for text messaging services and this has been driven by often intense competition between carriers," said Nick Ingelbrecht, research director for Gartner. "At the same time, consumers have grown accustomed to large or unlimited bundles of inclusive SMS as part of their basic cellular service package. Carriers should plan for a future of much reduced margins on messaging services. They should develop messaging platforms, services portfolios and pricing plans that support the broader objectives of customer acquisition and retention, rather than short-term margin enhancements."
 
Asia/Pacific and Japan are the biggest consumers of mobile messaging. Gartner predicts 1.5 trillion messages will be sent in 2007, and the number will grow to 1.7 trillion in 2008. Volumes of short messages and picture messages will increase, but growth rates are expected to slow in line with the saturation of mobile connections. Volumes of photo messaging will start to stall in the next few years as users increasingly share photos through mobile communities and social network portals rather than sending them directly to one another.
 
Gartner estimates 189 billion mobile messages will be sent in 2007 in North America, and this is forecast to reach 301 billion in 2008. "The market is being driven by increased penetration of users, more frequent usage of peer-to-peer messaging, and unlimited and bucketed messaging plans," said Tole Hart, research director at Gartner. "There has also been some uptake of mobile e-mail via POP3 mailboxes and mobile IM service, but it's very small compared with the uptake of SMS. These services are used primarily as an extension to a PC. However, the market is seeing a number of consumers using BlackBerry and Palm Treo devices to access address books, phone numbers and e-mail."
 
Mobile messaging usage has increased in all Western European countries, and the growth in the number of messages sent is projected to continue until 2010. A total of 202 billion mobile messages will be sent in 2007 in Western Europe, and this is forecast to reach 215 billion in 2008. "However, due to competitive price cutting, an expected increase in international charging regulations and more unlimited bundles, the revenue generated from peer-to-peer messaging is tending to flatten and is even showing some decline from 2007 (this trend is affected by exchange rate variations)," said Stephanie Pittet, principal research analyst at Gartner. "Africa is expected to see sustained healthy growth and the low price of SMS compared with voice calls makes it an ideal service in countries where people have low buying power."
 
Mobile consumer e-mail has become more common, especially in the wake of higher smartphone adoption, improved usability and ease of configuration. Mobile IM will become a mass-market application similar to mobile e-mail in developed markets, initially being adopted by PC-based IM users, who are now able to access their service on their mobile phones, due to partnerships between the operators and the IM providers.
 
"To sustain growth over the next few years, carriers should look to social-networking applications to drive traffic, working where possible with popular established social-networking sites," said Mr. Ingelbrecht. "Mobile search and advertising also offer attractive potential drivers for SMS traffic, although most carriers appear poorly placed to support the end-to-end campaign management and reporting requirements of media buyers and advertisers."
 

Mobile operator 3 is announcing the launch this week of its 3 Skypephone handset in Sweden, Denmark and Austria. This follows the introduction of the handset in the UK, Ireland, Australia, Hong Kong and Italy and means free mobile to mobile international Skype calls are available to 3 customers across eight countries.

The handset enables free calls to and from computer users of Skype and free mobile to mobile Skype calls. The 3 Skypephone is a fully-featured 3G Internet phone with free internet calling built-in.  In addition to Skype calls the phone makes conventional calls and can be used to access 3's broad range of internet services.

Kevin Russell, CEO 3 UK, comments: "The 3 Skypephone has brought the worlds of home and mobile broadband together. Our customers are now able to enjoy the same Skype experience at home as on the move. The rollout across our international business underlines our commitment to offer innovative services that challenge the status quo." 

Openwave Systems, a specialist in software enabling revenue-generating personalized services which converge the mobile and broadband experience, has today announced the Openwave OpenWeb and Secure Content Management (SCM) solutions have been selected by Vodafone Spain. Part of Openwave's next generation service management portfolio, these solutions will enable Vodafone Spain to provide its subscribers with rich, device-formatted content from websites to any mobile device.

"Openwave is committed to working with operators to create the best possible Internet experience on mobile devices, and unlock new service and merchandising opportunities that rapidly drive usage, adoption and new revenues," said Hari Haran, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Field Operations, Openwave. "Our OpenWeb and security solutions are building on our unparalleled mobile access gateway expertise, market leadership and strong relationship with Vodafone."
 
Openwave OpenWeb is an open Internet browsing solution designed to enable operators to offer consumers a broader range of content choices by delivering full Internet web pages in a user friendly and intelligent format to any mobile data enabled device. OpenWeb ensures that the most relevant sections of the website are delivered in the first or second segmented deck so that users receive the most important data from the website faster their mobile device.
 
Openwave SCM (Secure Content Management) delivers a multi-protocol, multi-service defense across messaging, browsing and downloads against the rapidly growing variety of threats to mobile services.
 
Openwave OpenWeb and SCM are part of Openwave's suite of next generation service management solutions, which are designed to support the dramatic increase in http-based traffic, and act as middleware to enable the delivery of new applications and new services, including merchandising and advertising opportunities.

Serbia's first mobile operator Telenor d.o.o. has signed a frame contract with Nokia Siemens Networks to build a nationwide 3G radio network as the operator moves to offer high-quality mobile broadband services across the country.

The new advanced radio network, using Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) technology, will allow data to be transmitted at real broadband speeds in both directions - to the user and from the user - thanks to the High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) enhancement. The HSPA will allow Telenor subscribers in Serbia to enjoy mobile Internet as well as rich data and multimedia services with very fast communication speeds, while higher throughput and increased network capacity will enable the operator to expand its service offerings.

Under the agreement, Nokia Siemens Networks will build a WCDMA network across Serbia within four years and it will provide Telenor with a broad range of supplementary services. The deliveries have already begun and the first parts of the new network will start operation in the first quarter of 2008.

"This contract will firmly establish Telenor as a leader in technology for this region. Our wish is to bring as many Serbian households as possible closer to the standards of modern and advanced societies," said Telenor CEO Stein-Erik Vellan.

"We are very pleased to expand and continue our good cooperation with Telenor in Serbia," said Finn Erik Hermansen from Nokia Siemens Networks. "We are fully prepared and committed to support Telenor in meeting the market needs to provide a state-of-the-art 3G mobile broadband solution with a network of high speed, capacity and quality."

The contract strengthens the partnership between the Telenor Group and Nokia Siemens Networks, following the agreement to upgrade Telenor Nordic's WCDMA network with High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) earlier this year.

Sicap, a specialist in Device Management and over-the-air SIM management, has announced today that its Device and SIM platforms now interact to trigger automatic SIM updates, uniting device capabilities and service profiles.

Interoperability between Device and SIM operations means that when a customer changes his device, the automatic detection feature of the Device Management Center (DMC) checks its capabilities and subsequently triggers a message via OTA-SIM to update the subscriber SIM with the new service options. The whole sequence is handled seamlessly for the customer and in real time, so that new personalized features become immediately available.  The potential for converged services is claimed to be huge. DMC is already running on affiliate networks of virtually every major mobile operator group. Designed and built in-house on a sustainable framework, a single database can be shared for both Device and SIM platforms, with updates synchronized on the same hardware.

Operators can leverage the SIM to provide user-friendly and device-compatible service options. New self-care aids such as the dynamic SIM toolkit menu are made available through the IMEI tracking applet in a solution jointly developed by Sicap and Giesecke & Devrient, (G&D), the world's second largest SIM card manufacturer. Markus Moser, Head of International Sales Systems and Services at G&D said "For end-users, perhaps the most visible of benefits is the ability to customize phone menus using options such as choice of language or filter settings to block unsolicited information".

The enhanced backup and restore ability of the converged platforms constitutes an additional benefit. Mobile users store address book details for instance either on the SIM, on the device, or split between the two. Merging Device and SIM platform capabilities enables synchronization of SIM and device address books, thereby guaranteeing a complete backup and restore solution in case of loss. Users can also download configurations or applications to both their device and their SIM from the same Web page.

For operators, gaining and maintaining control over subscriber services via the SIM has never been so important. The recent trend of service branding on handset vendor portals has opened up competition for customer attention. Sicap software is totally vendor-independent and works on any SIM card on the market.

Active membership of the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA DM) ensures that Sicap software roadmaps are able to meet and exceed technological challenges. In the near future, the OMA release of application management standards on devices will open up new opportunities for Sicap's converged offer. Application management for instance will be carried out on both the SIM and the device. In terms of marketing opportunities, the current trend to invest in Near Field Communication (NFC) based applications is one that will be largely helped by simultaneous Device and SIM application management.

According to Sicap Director of Product Marketing Achim Korber who is heading the platform convergence drive, "Combining Device Management with SIM Management is the way ahead. We believe that seamless service updates will be the guarantee that customers get the maximum that their device can offer".

Vodafone Germany is the first operator to put Ericsson's new Base Transceiver Station (BTS) Power Savings feature in place. The feature, which is commercially available, is claimed to significantly reduce energy consumption in mobile networks and therefore makes an important contribution to cutting carbon-dioxide emissions.

During periods of low network traffic, the feature effectively puts those parts of the network that are not being used in standby mode - overcoming the traditional practice of having radio equipment continually turned on, which can result in energy being wasted.

Depending on the network traffic pattern, this innovation can save between 10 and 20 percent of the energy per BTS when a base station is in use, while still providing the same services and quality to end users.

The feature is compatible with all Ericsson GSM radio base stations introduced since 1995.

Vodafone Germany will install the energy-saving software upgrade across its base stations by the end of 2007. This initiative is part of the operator's strategy to cut energy consumption in its mobile networks. Installing this software is expected to reduce energy usage and corresponding carbon-dioxide emissions.

Ulf Ewaldsson, Vice President and head of Ericsson's radio network business, says: "Reducing energy consumption is a key area where the telecommunications industry can make a positive contribution to international efforts to respond to climate change. At the same time, reducing power consumption also reduces operational expenditures for operators, so it is a win-win."

Hartmut Kremling, Chief Technology Officer of Vodafone Germany, says: "Our initiative with Ericsson shows that Vodafone takes its responsibility for the environment seriously. We have a leading role in this field in the telecoms sector."

If deployed across the 1 million GSM Ericsson base stations globally, the power-saving feature could mean a collective energy saving of 10-20 percent in the radio access networks, which could result in a reduction in carbon-dioxide emissions of 1 million tons. This highlights that sustainability and cost reductions can go hand in hand, says Ericsson.

Ericsson's BTS Power Savings feature is the latest in a series of energy optimization developments that Ericsson is driving to help reduce total cost of ownership, while at the same time improving the environmental performance of mobile network growth worldwide. In 2006, Ericsson reduced the power consumption of its latest generation of WCDMA base stations by 35 percent and has pioneered the introduction of alternative energies, such as biofuel and solar power, to make mobile telephony economically and environmentally sustainable in emerging markets.