Location Based Services (LBS) – a pre-bubble technology once touted as the next "killer app" – is poised to make a comeback – albeit without the flash and hype. So-called E112 or E911 legislation – named for the emergency phone numbers – requires the ability to pinpoint the location of a cell phone placing an emergency call in Europe and North America.

According to technology market research firm ABI Research, this legislation, plus commercial success in Asia, is slowly bringing new life to LBS. Stalling adoption of LBS are technical challenges in identifying cell phone callers. Many methods exist, none perfect. Common approaches include using the cellular infrastructure to triangulate a callers’ location, sometimes in conjunction with Global Position System (GPS) satellites but a key limitation of GPS is that the signals do not penetrate buildings and relying solely on the wireless network to triangulate a signal can be costly.
Solutions from companies like SnapTrack and Global Locate provide equipment to combine GPS data with cellular infrastructure data to pinpoint a location.
"While carrier deployments are escalating globally, the real money is in the services," comments Edward Rerisi of ABI Research. "LBS enables a carrier to raise their ARPU [average revenue per user] by offering valueadded location services that will also fuel demand for higher-priced data services. If deployed successfully, it can give a significant boost to the top line."
Total revenue garnered from these services may exceed $3.6 billion by the end of the decade. The largest segment of this will be enterprise services, used to track employees and assets in the field. Navigation, weather and friend/child tracking are among other location based services likely to be adopted by consumers. According to ABI Research, revenue for telematics services, linking a car, truck or trailer to a cellular network, will outpace those for handset-based services. Global telematics revenue will exceed $5 billion by 2009 despite far fewer users than handsetbased LBS.

More information on the LBS market is available from ABI Research in a new report titled "Location Based Service: Analysis of Carrier Spending, Subscribers, Devices and Applications for Handset-based and Telematics Services". The report analyzes the markets for handset-based LBS and telematics, forecasts equipment shipments, A-GPS handset shipments, services revenues, subscribers and deployment spending.

Netsize, Europe's leading mobile solutions provider, has announced the opening of its new subsidiary in Hungary. With more than 7.3 million subscribers and a penetration rate of 71.5% in the first half of 2003, Hungary is the third largest mobile market in the region.

Content providers in Western Europe especially in the UK will benefit enormously by the availability of premium SMS in Hungary giving them one more market to launch mobile services in and to generate incremental revenues. Netsize is already offering premium services in over 18 countries and extension of its services in Hungary is the next step as part of its strategy to further expand its coverage into Eastern Europe. Netsize started its operations in Poland last year.

The Hungarian mobile data market is very well developed; advanced operator solutions are already in place and Premium services are widely used. The market is also very provider-friendly, with its uniform tariffs and the relative ease with which cross-network premium rate numbers can be obtained. Yet despite this, the quality of mobile content on offer in Hungary often lags behind that of its Central and Eastern European neighbours.

"What is missing is a level of quality and maturity that only a large international service provider like Netsize and its partners can bring," said Peter Neuman, newly appointed country manager for Netsize Hungary. "Currently, the Hungarian market is made up of lots of small, local companies. Against this backdrop, Netsize, with its state-of-the-art technology, strong marketing approach and financial stability is ideally positioned to implement internationally-proven solutions and business models here in Hungary."

Additionally, its geographical location means that Hungary can also be a gateway for further expansion into other Eastern European countries like Slovenia, Serbia, Croatia and Romania.

Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications today announced that it has appointed Mr. Miles Flint as the new President of the company. Mr. Katsumi Ihara, President of Sony Ericsson since the forming of the joint venture in October 2001, is appointed Executive Deputy President and Group Chief Strategy Officer and Chief Financial Officer of Sony Corporation in Japan (subject to final approval by the Sony Board of Directors) and will continue as a member of the Sony Ericsson Board of Directors. The changes in Sony Ericsson management will be effective as of June 22, 2004.

"I am very pleased with Sony Ericsson's development and Mr. Ihara has performed a tremendous task in creating the joint venture and steering it to its present position. At the same time, I am looking forward to welcoming Mr. Flint to Sony Ericsson. He is bringing additional experience to secure the company's continued growth," says Carl-Henric Svanberg, Chairman of the Board of Sony Ericsson, and President and CEO of Ericsson.

Mr. Flint is presently President, European Marketing of Sony Europe (Electronics). Mr. Flint has worked at Sony for more than 10 years and has extensive experience in international management and valuable expertise in the world of consumer electronics as well as in the business-to-business environment.

"We are truly happy with Mr. Ihara's achievements and his creation of a solid business platform for the future and continue to have high expectations for Sony Ericsson's performance. I am convinced that Mr. Flint will lead Sony Ericsson to further successes," says Kunitake Ando, President and Group COO of Sony Corporation.

Commenting on today's announcement, Mr. Ihara says: "I am grateful to all the Sony Ericsson employees whose loyalty and hard work have repositioned the company and who are the real creators of Sony Ericsson's success."

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Birdstep, Gemplus and Alcatel join for service continuity offer

Alcatel , a worldwide leader in telecommunications network equipment, applications and services, Birdstep Technology, a global provider of Mobile IP software client technology and Gemplus International, the world's leading provider of smart card based solutions, announced today an alliance to jointly develop, promote and market the industry's most secure solution for seamless service continuity between GSM/GPRS/EDGE, UMTS or CDMA mobile networks and WLAN. This alliance will also apply to emerging technologies such as WiMAX.

This collaboration will enable users of laptops and PDAs to have an "always best  connected"  experience  at  any time, and to seamlessly profit from a smart  card  (SIM)  based  secure  handover  between  heterogeneous  access networks, ensuring the highest data rate, relying on a single subscription.

Alcatel  will  integrate  the  new  Birdstep's intelligent Mobile IP client software into its Evolium multi-access offering. This will enable seamless roaming  across multiple  access networks, with a smart card (SIM) enabled client software designed by Gemplus for secured wireless communications and  transactions. This  unique  combination will provide mobile operators with the best of breed solution for secure mobile broadband service continuity.

All  it  requires  is the client software to be installed on the end-users' Mobile/WLAN  enabled  laptop  or PDA and the SIM card to be integrated in a PCMCIA card inside the laptop. In the near future, the SIM will be in a USB key  plugged onto the PDA, or simply inside a BlueTooth-enabled handset. As soon  as  users  pass  by  a WLAN hot spot, the intelligent client software automatically  notifies  the  end-user  of  broadband services availability directly accessed in a totally transparent manner.

"The  Birdstep Mobile IP client software has evolved to meet the demands of infrastructure  vendors  and  other  component  vendors who want to provide seamless  mobility  with their solutions", commented Jørgen Bredesen, chief executive   officer  of Birdstep Technology. "By jointly creating end-to-end
seamless  solutions  for  operators,  our alliance with Alcatel and Gemplus will  provide  a  one-stop-shop  for  the market in need of secure seamless mobility."

"The Gemplus smart card authentication solution allows service providers to offer a totally reliable and convenient tool for accessing a network, WLAN, GPRS  or  even  3G,  while  providing  the  same user experience", declared Jacques  Seneca,  Executive  Vice  President,  Gemplus Business Development Group. "The partnership with Alcatel and Birdstep establishes a consistent offer for providing a unique experience for seamless mobile data access via a laptop or a PDA."

"Alcatel's  vision  is to consider the end-user at the center of the mobile experience by offering solutions guaranteeing totally transparent access to services from any device, regardless of the access technology," stated Marc Rouanne,  Chief  Operating  Officer  of  Alcatel's  mobile activities. "Our
alliance  with Birdstep and Gemplus supports this strategy and allows us to provide   operators   with   new   business   opportunities  based  on  the complementary  interaction  of  their  mobile  networks  today  with  WLAN, tomorrow with WiMAX."

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$50 million frame agreement with MTS

Alcatel today announced the signature of a USD 50 million frame agreement with Mobile TeleSystems, the leading mobile operator in Eastern Europe, for the deployment of MTS' networks in 11 regions in Russia and the extension of MTS' network in Ukraine.

Delivery of the equipment will be in phases scheduled for completion in the second quarter of 2005.

Deployment  of  these  networks will considerably increase MTS' presence in the  Volga  and  Southern  regions of Russia. Alcatel will also deliver its Open Services Platform (OSP) that will be installed in MTS' networks in the North-West,  Urals,  Volga  and  Southern  regions  of Russia. Alcatel will supply  MTS with its Evolium? GSM/GPRS end-to-end solutions, including Base Stations  Sub-systems (BSS) and Mobile Switching Centers (NSS) that will be used  to  deploy new MTS networks in the Astrakhanskaya, Volgogradskaya and
Ulyanovskaya  oblasts,  the  Mari  El,  Chuvashskaya,  Mordovia,  Dagestan, Kabardino-Balkarskaya, Karachaevo-Cherkesskaya  and  North  Osetia-Alania
republics and Stavropolsky krai.

Vassily  Sidorov,  President and CEO of MTS commented: "Alcatel's solutions were chosen after extensive evaluation of other vendors' proposals. We have partnered  with  Alcatel on several projects already and are confident that their  technologies,  combined  with their understanding of our local needs and realities, will enable us to successfully implement this project".

Marc Rouanne, Chief Operating Officer of Alcatel's mobile activities added, "Alcatel  understands  that  the  operator's  need  for appropriate network capacity  is a key factor for successful development, together with on-time introduction  of  new differentiating services. The embedded multi-standard
capability  of the Alcatel Evolium? solution will allow for MTS's potential network  and  services  evolution.  This  new  project  confirms  Alcatel's commitment  to  the Russian market and will strengthen our partnership with MTS".

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ComArch, a global provider of OSS & BSS systems, successfully completed implementation of ComArch TYTAN Mediation Device, Service Provisioning and Interconnect Billing system at JV Mobile Digital Communications Ltd (MDC)—the leading mobile operator in Belarus operating under the trademark Velcom. The systems presently support more than 720,000 post-paid subscribers with forecasts that will exceed 1 million subscribers by year end.

The systems developed by ComArch, TYTAN Mediation Device, TYTAN Service Provisioning and TYTAN Interconnect Billing assist MDC adjust to the rapidly changing market conditions and improve the quality of services rendered by the wireless carrier. JV Mobile Digital Communications Ltd. noted that their operations are growing dynamically, which is why a new Mediation Device and Service Provisioning platform are required to support the expanding networks.

“We strive to maintain leadership in the Belarusian market which means always being first-to-market with new wireless services provided to our customers. This year we will have 7 Ericsson switches distributed throughout Belarus and Velcom continuously expands its base stations installations countrywide. Recently our technical department has expanded our network coverage to more than 95% where the urban population resides and extended the coverage along the main transportation highways. Velcom today is also the only GSM carrier who operates in all underground stations of Minsk. All the changes we are currently introducing will significantly influence the level of traffic in our networks. ComArch TYTAN Mediation Device and Service Provisioning platform turned out to be one of the more advanced products available on the market and nowadays allows us not only to introduce the sophisticated Next Generation services, but also offers technology that does not pose performance limitations which is a critical value for MDC,” said Sergey Zubkov, MDC IT Director

ComArch also deployed the TYTAN Interconnect Billing system, which allows the efficient and accurate billing of MDC telecom partners. “Belarus is becoming an increasingly competitive market”, says Alexander Voytov, MDC Chief Financial Officer. “This project is a critical investment for us to secure the interconnect revenues. That is why we wanted to work with a strong and reputable company that will be around to help and support us in the future. As ComArch is a renowned market leader in OSS/BSS, selecting ComArch TYTAN Interconnect Billing was a logical choice for us as it has already proven the ability to deal with the complexity of next generation interconnect services. It has the capacity to effectively  bill massive volumes of data.”

“We are proud that TYTAN platform performs well for Velcom’s traffic network and operations and welcome MDC as a key customer to leverage our strong position in Eastern Europe. Furthermore, the project proved the competitiveness of ComArch solutions within the telecommunication wireless market,"  said Christophe Debou, VP, ComArch.

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The worldwide market for handheld devices declined in the first
quarter of 2004 due to seasonally sluggish demand and vendor re-focusing. According to IDC's Worldwide Handheld QView, device shipments decreased 11.7% year-on-year in 1Q04 and droppedsequentially 33.1% to 2.2 million units.

While vendor commitment to entry-level devices at lower price points has helped to grow the handheld user base, many  would-be handheld purchasers obtained their devices during the holiday shopping season in the fourth quarter of last year. As a result, despite growth in the European market, the seasonal slump hit vendors particularly hard during the first quarter of this year. The market was also strongly impacted by a number of vendors focusing on trimming down their product offerings and clearing their channels in preparation for spring
product launches.

"Despite increasingly powerful handheld devices reaching market, the consumer uptake of entry- level devices available from nearly every vendor calls into question the upgrade path and value posed by the high-end devices. If entry-level
devices prove to be the most successful products adopted by consumers, the long-term impact could be acceleration away from hardware differentiation and a further loss of value in the handheld industry," said David Linsalata, analyst in IDC's
Mobile Devices program. "Handheld device vendors must continue to search for consumer and enterprise solutions for their products, such as GPS device bundles, that utilize the range of capabilities contained in a handheld device."

Vendor by vendor

Hit particularly hard by the seasonality of the handheld market, palmOne posted a sequential decline of 38.7% and a corresponding decrease in market share from
39.4% to 36.1%. However, palmOne will announce two Zire handhelds this quarter and, given the fact that the Zire family has surpassed 3 million units in fewer than 18 months, palmOne's shipments are expected to increase in the near

Hewlett Packard
Despite the declining handheld market and a 32.9% sequential drop, HP posted the strongest year-over-year increase among the top 5 vendors with a rise of 24.8%. This increase, based on the strength of an array of devices hitting the entire spectrum of price points, enabled HP to maintain its market share position of 25.7%.

Caught in the middle of a strategy shift to a streamlined set of products and a focus on improved PIM and other core handheld applications, Sony's market share dropped to single digits on a sequential drop of 57.2% and year-over-year drop of 49.6%.

Riding the benefit of a fiscal year-end sales push in January as well as Dell's direct sales model, Dell experienced a 1.1% sequential decline in shipments, the lowest drop among the top 5 vendors. Seasonality did take its toll, however, as the company only increased 2.2% year-over-year, bringing its market share up 4.7% to 7%.

Despite a relatively lackluster first quarter with a year-over-year shipment decrease of 34.1% and a sequential decrease of 48.4%, Toshiba reentered the top 5 vendor list
this quarter. Toshiba, a constant member of the top 5 vendors since Q302, was knocked out of the top 5 vendor list last quarter by newcomer Medion's strong sales. Medion did not, however, repeat last quarter's performance.

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Deal is extension of the framework agreement between Nokia and VimpelCom

Under an extension of an existing framework agreement with VimpelCom, Nokia will supply GSM/GPRS equipment for the implementation and development of the Bee Line GSM network in the North-West and Central Regions of Russia.

Under the agreement Nokia will supply switching and radio equipment to the operator, and also provide the services required for commissioning and operating the network.
As agreed, Nokia has begun the delivery of the equipment for the implementation of the GSM/GPRS network in Murmansk and Arkhangelsk.
Strategic cooperation between Nokia and VimpelCom is briskly developing, and the total of the equipment delivery to the Russian operator will be at least USD 60 million in 2004.
"The most important factors for us in selecting a supplier are the reliability of the equipment and the possibility of a speedy deployment of the network due to the dynamic growth of the Bee Line subscriber base," says Sergey Avdeev, Vice President for Network Development, VimpelCom. "Nokia has time and again proved its ability to meet the parameters set by us, and we are pleased to have them assisting us in the fastest implementation of the Bee Line GSM network in a number of North-West Regions".
"We continue to closely cooperate with our strategic partner VimpelCom," says Jonathan Sparrow, General Director, Networks, CIS Countries, Nokia. "The Russian market is strategically important for Nokia, and we see the basic potential for the growth of the subscriber base and network development precisely in Russian regions where VimpelCom is using our equipment for a strategy of fast paced development of its network. VimpelCom is a major player in the Russian market, and we hope for the continuation of mutually advantageous cooperation between our two companies."

London joins ten other UK police forces in choosing the Motorola MTH800

Motorola today announced that the Metropolitan Police Service has chosen its MTH800 terminal for its officers to use on the nationwide TETRA communications network, Airwave. The Metropolitan Service is Britain's largest policed force, with 31,637 officers covering an area of 620 square miles and a population of 7.2million.

Since it was launched in November 2003, the MTH800 has so far been chosen by eleven out of twelve police forces that have awarded contracts this year in the United Kingdom.

The Metropolitan Police Service, whose aim is to make London the safest major city in the world, chose the MTH800 after extensive testing and feedback from officers. As well as being reliable in all sorts of conditions and offering very high levels of encryption, the terminals will enable the Metropolitan Police to take advantage of new technologies to aid the forces responsiveness and efficiency as well as enhancing officer safety.

Ch Supt Peter Goulding, Chair of the Selection Board, said: "This announcement is really good news for all radio users in the Met. The selection process involved police officers and police staff from across the organisation covering operational, support and supply departments.  A lot of work has gone into the last 8 months with manufacturers to develop and select our next generation of radios and deliver them into service. The Met has worked with manufacturers to push the technology boundaries for radios, ensuring that we can make the most of digital services now and in the future."

The Metropolitan Police will use the flexibility of the MTH800 to fit in with their particular operational needs and work with Motorola to develop the features and applications the MTH800 has to offer. Gary Maughan, Motorola's Director of Public Safety Terminal business in the UK said Motorola said, "We listened closely to Met's requirements and developing the terminals capabilities to Met operational needs. This decision in favour of the MTH800 is superb news and represents a dedicated team effort from Motorola.  To be able to announce The Met, Scottish forces, Kent, Norfolk and Northamptonshire in one week is phenomenal and follows an extensive, rigorous and very competitive tender process.  We have learnt a lot during this time including the art of listening more carefully to our customers needs and we would like to thank the Met Police team for their decision."

Colour display has a variety of operational uses
The most recent demonstrations of the MTH800 included the display of images captured on a simple digital camera and transmitted live to the terminal.  The large, high definition colour display on the MTH800 enables a wide range of image types to be displayed with exceptional clarity, including mug shots, incident views, digital maps or specialised graphics such as Force logos.  During Motorola evaluations the colour display performed extremely well in a variety of environments including the typical sodium lighting of city centres.

Additional features with safety in mind have been enhanced with colour. The battery level icon not only shows the state of charge left in the battery graphically but it changes colour as well.  A fully charged battery is shown in green and, progressively, the icon will turn to red when a pre-defined low battery state is reached.

With security continuing to increase in importance, communication within police forces is key. Officers will use the MTH800 to communicate with each other and with the control room. As part of this, the Motorola solution will create over 3,000 talk groups that will be aligned to the Force's operational units, increasing information sharing and speeding up communication within these groups. In addition, a function called 'My Range' will allow individual officers to create their own talk groups to share information - for example with officers who are on the beat in the same area or who are working on the same incident as them.

Location performance
Operational possibilities for the future are further enhanced with another of the terminal's features - the integrated GPS receiver. In the future an officer's location could be accurately plotted by control room staff in order to get a better idea of overall resource deployment.  And, in conjunction with the emergency button that sends a high priority call to the control room, it will be possible to pinpoint an officer's location accurately in order to send backup to the incident.  The sensitivity of the GPS antenna produced excellent performance and location accuracy in tests carried out during recent trials. 

Compatibility with future technology - the MTH800 has been designed to accept new software, in particular Java-based applications.  This will mean that as new applications are developed, the software can be loaded on to the terminals, enabling officers to take full advantage of the latest technology.

Easy-to-carry - the lightweight design of the MTH800 makes it an easy addition to the existing equipment officers have to carry. It can be attached to an officer's uniform or body armour in a variety of ways and the high quality microphones mean the officer's voice will be heard, even when speaking very quietly.  The display on the terminal can be turned 180° so that it can easily be read upside down if clipped to an officer's shoulder.

Long battery life - the MTH800 has very low power consumption, creating a terminal with exceptional battery power that outlasts the usual 'shift and a half' expectation. This is particularly unusual for a terminal with a GPS receiver - most of which consume a great deal of power.

Enables mobile operators to increase revenues from pre- and post-paid subscribers

Megisto Systems, Inc., a leading developer of subscriber services switches, today announced support for real-time and content charging for streaming video services. Megisto's Mobile Services Delivery System (MSDS) Video Streaming solution offers mobile network operators a powerful solution for charging and control of real-time streaming media.  Capabilities include pay-per-volume downloaded, pay-per-time viewed, subscription-based charging, time-sensitive media charging, and flexible service authentication.  Megisto is working with video streaming technologies, such as those delivered by RealNetworks and Oplayo, to deliver broad support across multiple mobile devices.

"Video downloads have a shelf-life, depending on the content they contain," said Gordon Saussy, CEO, Megisto Systems.  "Brian Lara's 400 not out or Barry Bonds' 661st home run are record breaking achievements that will stand the test of time, but the value of the video download dramatically decreases within hours.  Mobile operators are perfectly positioned to deliver premium content such as sporting highlights, film trailers and music videos direct to subscribers' handsets. The challenge is charging in a way that reflects both the dynamic value of the content and the multitude of methods in which users can choose to interact with the content.  Megisto's MSDS Video Streaming solution gives operators the flexibility they need to deploy, support and charge for a wide range of streaming video and audio applications, opening up new high value revenue streams."

Andy Bairsto, Principal Analyst at Chorleywood, commented: "As demand for video streaming services begins to grow, mobile operators will need to ensure they have adaptable solutions in place that can offer a range of charging models dependent both on the type of content and its audience. But in order to capture the mass consumer market, these (often complex) charging models must remain transparent to the user so that they enjoy the experience, have confidence in the service provider's ability to charge them correctly for it, and come back to use the service again."

Megisto's MSDS offers a powerful solution for the charging and control of streaming media services. Specifically, the solution offers:
• Broad charging flexibility - The MSDS offers mobile operators broad flexibility in charging and control, including the ability to charge based on volume, event, time, and subscription.
• Single point of control and charging - With the MSDS, mobile operators can control and charge for streaming video services from a single point, working in conjunction with the operator billing and support system (BSS). This alleviates the billing and operations teams of the need to configure charging policies within a collection of BSS, network equipment, and content server infrastructure.
• Support for third party streaming services - With the MSDS, mobile operators can control and charge for not only limited, "walled garden" media services, but also for services hosted by third parties outside of their captive portals. This means they can provision and charge for video delivered by content partners that are already distributing video, hosted on existing technologies, without requiring that these partners port their video to a captive portal.
• Easier integration of multiple streaming servers - The MSDS allows mobile operators to use multiple streaming servers within their environment without having to integrate different mechanisms for control and charging for the services. This provides mobile operators with flexibility to migrate technologies and partners as their requirements evolve.

The MSDS Video Streaming solution supports streaming video content, initiated over WAP 1.x, WAP 2.0 and HTTP, transmitted over multiple channels, formats, and signaling standards - such as RTSP - and industry standard file formats for data compression, delivery and synchronization.

Martin Dawes Systems (MDS), providers of customer management and billing solutions, and ORGA Systems, the leading company for mobile prepaid billing today announced a strategic partnership that will see them bring to market a real-time convergent billing and CRM platform for prepaid/postpaid services and customers. 

ORGA Systems and MDS are both established and experienced players in their respective fields of prepaid and postpaid billing/CRM solutions design and delivery. The companies have joined forces to launch a system to accurately meet the needs of global operators looking to address the market challenge of prepaid and postpaid convergence.

The knowledge and experience from both MDS and ORGA Systems has led to the design of a pre-integrated convergent prepaid/postpaid solution that will allow mobile operators to rapidly realise significant business benefits and financial revenues.

Tony Wilson, CTO at Martin Dawes said: "In today's mobile phone marketplace, operators need billing systems that can handle large, complex data processes, whilst providing operators with the freedom needed to structure product offerings to individual customer segments, regardless of the payment method. Our alliance with ORGA Systems has allowed us to combine our extensive postpaid capabilities with their prepaid knowledge and real-time systems capabilities to deliver the definitive convergent solution. This will enable operators to benefit from the financial advantages and improved operational efficiencies that will come with managing, maintaining and upgrading one unified solution with a single customer database, product catalogue and CRM interface."

ORGA Systems has been providing mobile operators with products and solutions in the prepaid market place for over 20 years and currently support over 80 million subscribers for 40 leading operators across the globe, including Amena, Bouygues, K`Cell, mobilkom Austria, Sunrise, and the TIM-group with its affiliates in Europe and Latin America.

"This alliance represents a totally unique approach to the market and by combining our respective skill sets, experience and systems capabilities we have been able to design the definitive convergent prepaid/postpaid solution. ORGA Systems saw the perfect partner in MDS, they have vast experience in the postpaid operator and billing market and were pioneers in the arena of pre-integrated end-to-end solutions. While other vendors were pursuing best of breed system architectures, MDS were focused on delivering solutions that would drive down costs and manage the complete customer life-cycle. We have evaluated many postpaid billing systems and really found something unique in the MDS approach and system capabilities." Adnan Yaqub, CTO, ORGA Systems.

Convergys Corporation, the global leader in integrated billing, employee care, and customer care services, announced today its financial results for the first quarter of 2004.

Total revenues increased 2 percent to $573.9 million compared to $560.4 million reported in the first quarter of 2003.  Operating income and operating margin were $54.9 million and 9.6 percent, respectively, versus $68.5 million and 12.2 percent in the prior year.  GAAP net income was $32.5 million or $0.22 per diluted share compared with $34.9 million or $0.22 in the first quarter of 2003.  On a pro forma basis, excluding the legal settlement by Convergys' cellular partnership, net income and diluted earnings per share were $41.3 million and $0.26 in the prior year.

"Our first quarter clearly proved that we are winning in the market across our businesses.  Our strategy for returning our Information Management business to growth in revenue and profit continues to be validated.  In the last few months we reaffirmed our long-standing relationship with AT&T Wireless, established a new relationship with Verizon Wireless, expanded and extended our relationship with Sprint, extended our relationship with Insight Communications, and signed five new international license agreements," said Jim Orr, Chairman, President, and CEO of Convergys.  "Our Customer Management Group is continuing its pattern of growth supported by a strong pipeline in both Customer Care and Employee Care."

M2M Connect rolled out across UK, France and Belgium

Orange today announces the next phase in its machine-to-machine offering, the launch of its M2M Connect platform, and strategic partnerships with Wavecom and Alcatel.

Orange is launching a first for Europe; M2M Connect, a combined network and data platform that will make machine-to-machine solutions more cost-effective, and easier to implement and use.  Intended for local, national or pan European usage, the M2M Connect platform is today available in the UK, France and Belgium and will be extended to other countries during 2004. 

Machine-to-machine, or 'telemetry', is the automatic or programmed transfer of data between two machines across a wireless network that facilitates remote monitoring and controlling.  Machines such as fire alarms, parking meters, vehicles and vending units can communicate with a central computer, returning data that can be used in a number of ways such as in usage monitoring and temperature control.  In addition, businesses can analyse buying patterns and personal preferences though the analysis of real time stock control. This business data can then be used to identify trends that can help develop targeted loyalty programmes and improve marketing communications.

Other more basic machine-to-machine solutions currently available simply offer a SIM card and a telemetry tariff.  The M2M Connect platform combines these with a data gateway based on an internet interface, on which vertical applications can be developed and supported.  It is the first and only combined network and data platform for machine-to-machine solutions. To date, building even a simple machine-to-machine solution has been a difficult and complex task, involving a variety of different partners.  The M2M Connect platform removes that complexity, and makes the whole process of building and managing machine-to-machine solutions simpler, quicker and cheaper.

The roll out today of M2M Connect in UK, France and Belgium offers those businesses operating across Europe a single point of entry into the Orange network with centralised reporting and monitoring, and a unified European pricing approach.  In addition customers will benefit from a single service level agreement and centralised account management at Orange.  This service, developed for multi-national companies, is currently not provided by any other operator in this market. 

Machine-to-machine, is a growth market; Frost and Sullivan suggests that as many as 13 billion devices across Europe have the potential to communicate. A wide range of vertical market sectors is being seen as driving uptake: transport, vending, utilities, home security, and commercial equipment (such as photocopiers and franking machines). 

Below are some examples of vertical applications that can be achieved through the M2M Connect platform:
Vehicles: Keep track of a fleet; inform customers of where their delivery is; receive alerts when vehicles need servicing or cross country borders

Office equipment: Copiers, coffee machines and air-conditioning units call out their own engineers; broken or stolen machines trigger an alarm

Meters: Cut the cost of home visits out completely by getting electricity and gas meters to read themselves, get ticket machines to reveal when the cash needs emptying

In the UK, M2M Connect is helping trains to run more effectively. Bombardier Transportation, the global leader in rail equipment, manufacturing and servicing has been using the M2M Connect platform with great success.  On board machine-to-machine systems are used to transmit details of how individual carriages are performing and when they will need maintenance. Factors such as wheel adhesion levels, door closing times and engine performance are monitored and then passed to train maintainers enabling them to fix faults as soon as they occur.

Vincent Smedley, Engineering Director, New Products at Bombardier Transportation Services comments: With reliable, timely and accurate data, we can now supply the rail industry with business critical information.  The Orange M2M Connect platform is helping us to plan our daily maintenance schedule more efficiently, which allows us to smooth the workload for our staff and target issues much more accurately."

Orange's initial partners in the delivery of vertical applications based on the M2M Connect platform are Wavecom and Alcatel, and further partnerships will be announced during the year.  Wavecom has been a leader in the machine-to-machine market for many years, and will be providing wireless modules with built-in connectivity to the M2M Connect service. Working with Alcatel as a systems integrator, Orange will be able to tackle even the most complex business problem to find the right machine-to-machine solution.

Philippe Bernard, VP of Orange Business Solutions, says "The launch of M2M Connect represents a huge step forward in machine-to-machine.  Together with our partners, we are creating the standards for the machine-to-machine market and making it easier for businesses to take advantage of its benefits. 

"M2M Connect is a tangible example of Orange's commitment to building partnerships that deliver relevant, easy-to-use wireless solutions to meet our customers' strategic and operational needs.  It also demonstrates Orange's wider strategy to move further up the value chain with the delivery of tailored, end-to-end solutions that can operate seamlessly across borders.  This is critical for serving multi-national companies."

Pierre Piver, VP of Wavecom's Vertical Applications business unit, says: "We are proud to be a preferred partner to the Orange Group in the M2M market, working to give customers all the tools they need to transform potential into business. Together, we will provide an easy-to-use, viable and cost-effective platform with the guarantee of quality and level of service that customers are entitled to expect from two industry leaders, and thus help accelerate market expansion."

Jean-Michel Cornille, President of mobile solutions activities at Alcatel says: "As a partner, we know that Orange understands the value of marrying expertise to deliver true end-to-end solutions. Our common approach is particularly consistent for business customers with specific and complex needs for their vertical applications. In the field of machine-to-machine solutions, that represent a huge market opportunity, we will initially focus on delivering end to end solutions to the vending machine industry."

Commenting on the launch, Lars Vestergaard, Research Manager at IDC states : "Machine-to-machine is an exciting growth area for telecoms.  Where it previously was a complicated niche application, we are now seeing it emerge in many cases as an easily-deployed solution relevant to all sorts of businesses. IDC is seeing tremendous activity from various players in the machine-to-machine market.  Combining competencies through partnerships such as this one will provide the optimal situation for the development and implementation of future solutions.

External Links

Orange Business

3000 PMR users at Paris airports to get Tetra system

Aéroports de Paris (ADP), which manages the largest air-traffic zone in Europe, has chosen Nokia to provide its digital TETRA professional mobile radio (PMR) system for ground services.  ADP is responsible for an area that encompasses all the civil airports within a 50-kilometer radius of Paris, including the Charles de Gaulle, Orly, Roissy and le Bourget airports.  The system is already operational, and the migration from the previous analogue system is progressing smoothly. 
ADP Telecom, the ADP subsidiary that provides secure IT and telephony services for Paris airports, fully understands the needs of professional airport radio users for high reliability and security in radio communication.  ADP Telecom's over 3000 PMR customers include public safety and security services, airlines, French public-administration agencies and several car rental companies.
"Security was one of the main reasons behind our choice of TETRA to replace the analogue radio communication system," says Joël Dumontet, Marketing Manager, ADP Telecom.  "We also appreciated the Virtual Private Network solutions, the flight-specific application, and the ease of integration that Nokia's TETRA could offer".
ADP Telecom provides complete Virtual Private Network services to the organizations operating within the Aéroports de Paris area.  With VPN, the organization has access to voice and messaging communications, and it can still maintain its privacy - not only are its communications secure, but the organization can also manage its own subscribers and groups.
"ADP's radio communication requirements are a challenge to any PMR system," says Olivier Sauquet, Marketing Manager, Networks, Nokia.   "However, Nokia's TETRA is more than equal to this challenge.  With the Nokia TETRA, the PMR users at Paris airports will benefit not only from the latest digital radio technology, but also from the wide variety of Nokia TETRA services.  And all at the low cost that shared infrastructure brings". 

External Links

Nokia Tetra