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Vodafone has announced that it has signed a partner network agreement with CYTA in Cyprus.  CYTA, whose mobile division is branded Cytamobile, becomes the thirteenth Vodafone Partner Network and the latest member of Vodafone’s global mobile community.

Under the agreement, Cytamobile will completely re-brand to Cytamobile-Vodafone, and will market Vodafone’s international mobile services within Cyprus, using the existing Vodafone service names, enabling Vodafone to further expand its global services footprint and to leverage the Vodafone brand.  The companies will also co-operate in developing services to international and domestic customers.

Cytamobile-Vodafone customers will be able to enjoy the benefits of Vodafone’s international services across the Vodafone global footprint, while Vodafone and its partners’ customers will have seamless access to Vodafone’s international mobile services while travelling in Cyprus. 

Peter Bamford, Chief Marketing Officer, Vodafone, said, "Vodafone’s Partner Network strategy is going from strength to strength, bringing benefits to both the local operators and Vodafone. The relationship between Vodafone and Cytamobile will make life easier, and offer better value, for our customers in the region." 

Nicos Timotheou, General Manager, CYTA said, "With this agreement, Cytamobile, which is the local operator, becomes a member of the largest mobile communications network. This is very important for a local company of a small country. The agreement with Vodafone will allow us to enrich the product offering to our customers and further support our vision to become the best competitive enterprise in Cyprus."

Following today’s announcement, Vodafone’s portfolio of global services, supported by its global brand, will be available in a total of 13 Partner Network countries.

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Video messaging between video and non-video-supported handsets contributes to superior user experience; Service Creation Environment (SCE) greatly improves operator experience

Comverse, a unit of Comverse Technology, Inc, and the world’s leading supplier of software and systems enabling network-based multimedia enhanced communication services, today announced the availability of Comverse Multimedia Messaging Center (MMSC) Version 2.7, featuring an enhanced user experience and improved operator functionality.

Superior User Experience: Comverse MMSC 2.7 delivers streaming video with advanced content adaptation and conversion to legacy formats, allowing some recipients without video-enabled handsets to view video messages. A recipient with a non-video handset will be able to view MMS video clips presented via animated GIF with synchronized audio. The content adaptation capabilities of Comverse MMS 2.7 ensure that end users get the best presentation their handsets can yield for any given content.

Enhanced Operator Experience: Comverse MMSC 2.7 introduces the Service Creation Environment (SCE), a set of tools that deploys, configures and expands MMS service in a "flexible, fast and friendly" manner, leveraging the benefits of the eXtensible Messaging Framework (XMF) based architecture. Operator benefits include faster time-to-market when deploying new MMS services, without the need to involve their vendor in code-rewrite projects.

"Comverse MMSC 2.7 improves the MMS experience for everyone: users and operators," said Amit Mattatia, VP and General Manger of the MMS Division at Comverse. "SCE makes it easier, quicker and less costly for the operator to deploy and expand enhanced MMS services. Operators can now alter and re-configure the MMSC to incorporate new services within hours, using a friendly graphical user interface (GUI). Users benefit from compelling new services, as well as from the confidence that video messages will get through even to friends and family without video-capable handsets, which should contribute to increased MMS acceptance and usage."

Company positioned for major 2004 activities

AM-BEO LTD., a leading provider of advanced roaming, rating, charging and revenue settlement products, has announced several key organizational and corporate changes.

Following successful implementations of its Rate-Rec products across Europe and in the United States, AM-BEO has aligned its product offerings to best serve the growing demand for data, content and advanced telecommunications services. In support of this demand, AM-BEO will be continuing to expand its product and solution offerings and delivery footprint globally during 2004 from its headquarters in Galway, Ireland.
To facilitate this strategy, AM-BEO has announced that Michael Murphy, currently executive vice president, has been appointed president and CEO of the company. In his new role he will oversee operations for AM-BEO worldwide. Murphy has extensive industry and senior management experience within telecommunications service providers along with product companies and systems integrators. Prior to joining AM-BEO, Murphy was a partner at Andersen Business Consulting, and through acquisition, joined Bearing Point as a managing director in their telecommunications practice. Previously, he was vice president and senior manager at AMS and held several senior positions with US WEST (Qwest).
AM-BEO additionally announced several key executive promotions. Eoin Leahy, currently the company's CTO, will expand his current responsibilities to oversee all product and solution development. He will focus on enhancements to the existing products and the development of new, value-added services, which will be announced later this quarter. Stephen Murphy, vice president of Professional Services, will take on the added responsibility for all software development and engineering, training and customer service. Sinead Donnellan, vice president of Finance, will take on the additional responsibilities for Human Resources, Legal, and Corporate Administration globally.
John Brady, the previous president and CEO of AM-BEO, led the company from its inception through 2003, including numerous awards, customer wins and rounds of funding. Brady will be stepping down to pursue other opportunities while remaining a shareholder in the company.

Alcatel has announced that the UMTS radio and core network it has been deploying for tele.ring, an innovative GSM/GPRS and UMTS mobile operator in Austria, has allowed tele.ring to launch its UMTS commercial service in nine cities of Austria including Vienna, Innsbruck and Graz, corresponding to approximately 30% of the Austrian population.

Based on Alcatel's multi-standard Evolium infrastructure, tele.ring's UMTS deployment started in May 2003. Following this deployment, tele.ring's UMTS commercial service started at the end of 2003.

Alcatel had already supplied tele.ring with its Evolium solution for its GSM/GPRS commercial service. Leveraging the natively multi-standard Evolium design, introducing the UMTS capability in tele.ring's network was carried out as an upgrade of selected coverage areas of the operator's existing GSM/GPRS  network, along with the necessary network densification required by the 3G-specific traffic patterns and usage models.

Building upon Evolium's multi-standard capabilities, tele.ring is therefore one of the first truly multi-standard commercial networks in the world, offering GSM, GPRS and UMTS on the same infrastructure technology.
Furthermore, Alcatel has already shipped standard base station equipment with UMTS "plug & play" capabilities to over 50 networks worldwide, making UMTS possible in a cost-effective manner.

To ensure that its subscribers can enjoy seamless service access, whatever the  access  technology used, tele.ring  proposes a packaged subscription scheme for GSM/GPRS and  UMTS access. Thanks to Alcatel's user-centric solution,  tele.ring's coverage also allows for smooth handovers between GSM/GPRS cells and UMTS cells.

"Since the start of its activity, tele.ring has an innovative approach to answering the needs of the Austrian population. Alcatel's technology precisely meets our strategy to provide our customers with high quality services in a cost effective  manner," declared Michael Krammer, chief executive officer of tele.ring. "Thanks to Alcatel's dedicated expert team and multi-standard solutions, we are ready to start new and useful services at best prices to comply with future demand of our customers."

Jean-Charles Doineau, research director at Ovum, added: "This news comes as a good illustration of Alcatel's strategy. They have been the first vendor to market truly multi-standard infrastructure, which is an approach towards which the industry may converge."

"Austria is a highly sophisticated and competitive market, a real test-bed for the introduction of successful multimedia services in Europe." stated Marc Rouanne, chief operating officer of Alcatel's mobile activities. "As the single supplier of all tele.ring's GSM/GPRS/UMTS network, Alcatel is fully committed to the success of tele.ring's unique technology- agnostic approach. tele.ring is definitely a perfect illustration of Alcatel's capability to provide mobile operators with end-to-end and multi-standard network solutions allowing innovative multimedia services."

Alcatel's UMTS solutions are a reality today, with more than 20 UMTS pilot networks delivered in Europe and in Asia. Evolium SAS, the Alcatel-Fujitsu joint venture, delivers a mobile infrastructure that is 3GPP-compliant, field-proven, future-safe and capitalizes on Japanese 3G technical and field experience.

Drives down wireless power consumption, chip count

Texas Instruments has announced details of a radical new approach to wireless chip design that applies digital technology to greatly simplify radio frequency (RF) processing and dramatically cut the cost and power consumption of transmitting and receiving information wirelessly.

The Digital RF Processor (DRP) architecture has been successfully integrated on two Bluetooth products, as well as a GSM /GPRS digital transceiver in TI’s lab. As mobile wireless products gain color displays, cameras, GPS location technology, local area networking capability and application processors to support digital audio and video, games, and PDA applications, board space and battery life can be greatly extended by the DRP design.

At the prestigious International Solid State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) this week researchers from TI are presenting details of how DRP can reduce power consumption, die area and system board space by up to 50% over traditional analog RF designs.

"The processing of radio signals with digital logic can significantly shift the paradigm for embedding wireless communications by making it easier to implement and to scale," said Dr. Hans Stork, TI’s chief technology officer.  "With DRP, TI is leading the industry toward a future where wireless modules can be integrated into any kind of product, and provide the user with seamless access to a variety of network connections."

TI previously announced it will sample to customers this year a highly integrated, single chip GSM / GPRS product integrating the DRP design using TI’s 90nm process technology.  The GSM / GPRS version of the DRP architecture has already proven fully functional on engineering development silicon now in TI’s lab.  TI has one single chip Bluetooth product in production today with the DRP design, the BRF6100, and another sampling, the BRF6150.

"TI's DRP architecture brings together the company's signal processing expertise and in-house process technology in a fresh approach to RF processing," said Allen Nogee, principal analyst, wireless component technology, In-Stat/MDR.  "By incorporating RF functions digitally, TI provides the potential for modular radio configurations that address new applications and begin leading the industry toward software defined radio designs."

The Digital RF Processor technology combines TI’s years of signal processing architecture expertise with advanced semiconductor manufacturing capability to perform analog functions with low power, digital CMOS logic. Since large blocks of CMOS logic can now operate at multi-GHz frequencies, sampled-data processing techniques, switched-capacitor filters, oversampling converters, and digital signal processors can take over the role of analog amplifiers, filters, and mixers.  Rather than an inefficient implementation of analog blocks in a digital process technology, with the DRP the analog signal is oversampled and processed in the digital domain.  Since radio signals at the antenna are always analog, a small amount of analog processing is included in the DRP between the input and the first sampling function. 

Once in the sampled-data domain, digital signal processing takes over. The RF section of a cell phone can occupy up to 50 percent of the printed circuit board, space that is required for today’s advanced feature sets. Color displays, cameras, GPS location technology, Bluetooth personal area networking, and WLAN connectivity for high-speed local-area data access, as well as application processors and additional memory to support digital audio and video, games, and PDA applications, are increasingly common. In addition to reducing the number of components required to implement RF, a digital design scales readily with Moore’s law and enables simple modification of key RF parameters to enhance performance through software rather than system or IC redesign.

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Texas Instrument

Actix acquires ComOpt to create the premier wireless performance optimization company and the industry’s first end-to-end voice and IP performance engineering solution capability

Actix, the global provider of wireless network performance engineering software, has acquired ComOpt, a leading provider of automated wireless optimization solutions. The combined products of Actix and ComOpt represent the wireless industry’s only end-to-end, vendor independent, performance engineering solutions set. For all major wireless technologies, including 3G, they address every aspect of performance
engineering from systems verification to optimization and troubleshooting, using drive test, protocol and predicted data, across voice and multi-media services.

This acquisition – which brings together two of the leading vendor independent performance software specialists - is a significant development for the wireless industry. Performance engineering is a key part of the operator workflow, where operators are seeking to maximize the return on existing investment, rapidly deploy new services, maximize the use of
available spectrum and bridge the customer experience gap. Performance engineering is complementary to OSS but where performance management hides engineering detail through aggregation, limiting the ability of engineers to 'drill down' and fix specific problems, performance engineering solutions
facilitate analysis and decision making to improve the customer experience of 3G services. This enables operators to proactively make changes based on a detailed understanding of the network and services.

Commenting on the acquisition, Rob Dobson, Actix CEO said: “Actix and ComOpt have created a major new force offering intelligent performance engineering solutions for wireless focused on the key business challenges facing operators today – squeezing more out of existing networks and realizing
service revenues from new technology networks. Like Actix, ComOpt is profitable and growing fast and both management teams are convinced that the synergies will make us both even stronger. Combined, our solutions will enable operators to master the interaction of highly complex new technologies, allowing them to accelerate the rollout of new revenue-generating services and provide a high quality service to their customers.”

Joachim Samuelsson, ComOpt Managing Director, added: “This move will not only accelerate our growth plans, through synergies with Actix’ sales, marketing and global distribution resources, but also provide an excellent product fit.  ComOpt’s automatic optimization solutions are already established market leaders and widely regarded as the best in class.
Together, our products effectively complete the picture for operators seeking an intelligent performance engineering solution portfolio that will help them to achieve performance targets right across today’s network technologies through to next generation service offerings.”

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mBlox acquires WCL to reinforce its position as a provider of SMS infrastructure services

Today mBlox announces that it has acquired WCL Wireless Commerce UK Ltd (WCL), one of the UK's best known premium rate SMS aggregators.

The acquisition once again demonstrates mBlox's continuing strategy to consolidate the SMS messaging industry. mBlox thereby acquires WCL's blue chip roster of clients along with its experienced and highly skilled management team. The agreement underscores mBlox's position as Europe's leading provider of SMS infrastructure services and provides UK customers with an even stronger SMS transmission partner.

Andrew Bud, Executive Chairman of mBlox, said: "mBlox's momentum continues to grow. This is the time of consolidation, and WCL, a quality business whom we have admired for several years, was a great addition to our business. This is excellent news for WCL's clients, offering them more services and geographic coverage from a financially strong provider, whilst maintaining their established relationships with this fine management team."

Bud continued: "We firmly believe that consistent focus on infrastructure and scale will shape the winners in this sector. mBlox started to consolidate the transmission side of the international SMS messaging industry over a year ago. The recent acquisition of Swapcom's SMS delivery capabilities in France and today's announcement are further steps in our plan to be the leading international SMS operator."

Phil Ray, Managing Director of WCL, said "We are delighted to be joining forces with mBlox.  Their transatlantic infrastructure, strong financial base and commitment to this industry makes this an exciting opportunity for WCL clients and management. We are proud of what WCL has accomplished thus far and we look forward to building more success within mBlox."

WCL clients will be seamlessly migrated to mBlox's transmission platform and will continue to receive their existing services. They will benefit from access to mBlox's comprehensive suite of international premium and standard SMS services including mBlox's recently announced US premium-rate SMS service. Q Advisors LLC of Denver, CO (www.qllc.com) acted as financial advisor to mBlox in connection with the acquisition.

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BA to bring BT Openzone to 80 executive lounges

BT today announced that it had struck an exclusive global deal with British Airways to install BT Openzone access points in 80 of its main customer lounges around the world.

The contract, which reinforces BT’s leading position in the UK for public Wi-Fi, will mean travellers can experience the benefits of BT Openzone wireless broadband in British Airways executive lounges across the UK,  Europe, United States, Africa, South Africa and India. The first ones will be working by the end of April.

     Hundreds of thousands of business and leisure  travellers pass through British Airways’ prestigious executive lounges every year. Connecting to the service will give them the chance to maximise every minute of their working days, even ‘waiting time’ in airport lounges.

     Airports have proved to be among the most popular locations for customers to enjoy the benefits of wire-free, high-speed working away from the office. During Wireless Broadband Week, when BT opened up access to its network free of charge, the company’s existing airport access points at Heathrow and Gatwick were in the top ranks of the most popular sites.
 Steve Andrews, managing director, BT Mobility, hailed the British Airways contract as a major success. He added: “BT has again led the way in the public Wi-Fi arena by signing this global deal with British Airways.
     “This will be another huge benefit to our customers and shows that we are delivering on our promise to establish a widespread network of premium sites for BT Openzone.
     “We see airports and airport lounges as perfect locations for BT Openzone access points. Flying, whether for business or pleasure, usually means spending some time waiting. Now customers have the opportunity to wirelessly log on to their company intranet to download the latest version of a presentation cost effectively at broadband speeds, or to catch up on their emails, or simply surf the web making them as efficient as when they’re in the office.” 
 The deal is the latest in a string of recent major contract signings for BT, including a roll-out in McDonald’s restaurants across the UK. It means that businessmen and other passengers will be able to log on wirelessly in the comfort of British Airways’ lounges and terraces, initially at London Heathrow and London Gatwick.
     Other BA lounges across the UK are also due to be covered, including Manchester, Birmingham and Newcastle in England, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen in Scotland and Belfast in Northern Ireland.
     But the footprint of the coverage will also cover major European cities, such as Amsterdam, Rome, Berlin, Copenhagen and Athens, as well as all the major destinations in the United States and locations in Africa, South Africa and India. A full list of sites is available at www.btopenzone.com.

Paul Coby, chief information officer at British Airways said: “We are delighted to have signed an agreement with BT to have wireless LAN systems installed in more than 80 of our main lounges across the world in the next few months.
   "The wireless facilities will give instant internet and email connectivity to the hundreds of thousands of customers who use our lounges every year. We know many of them already want to make best use of their time whether it's on business or leisure either before or just after a flight.
   "Our lounges have always aimed to strike a balance between giving customers enough time, space and comfort to relax as well as making enough computer areas or connection points available to those who want to work by checking their emails or relax by surfing the web.
   "The beauty of having wireless technology is that the customer can start up a wireless-enabled computer wherever they want to sit rather than having to use a dedicated area to have live internet access.
  "This ground breaking agreement is a major breakthrough between British Airways and BT - two British global companies going forward in wireless connectivity around the world."

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BT Openzone

More flexible 3G Radio Access Networks

NEC Corporation has announced that it will start marketing 3G Node Bs based on the recently developed CPRI specification.

Partnership is a result of increased demand for mobile public safety solutions

Emblaze Systems, part of the Emblaze Group and  provider of mobile media solutions for wireless networks, today announces that it has entered into an OEM agreement with Orsus Solutions, provider of mobile workforce applications.

Danes love texting

Mobile messages using pictures, text and sound have proved immensely popular with Danes. MMS is primarily used for sending humorous messages and for pure entertainment.

Anam has announced its Fair Pay pricing models for its Eclipse series of Messaging Delivery and Content Management Platforms.

In a radical departure from industry vendor norms, Anam's Fair Pay approach is non-transaction based and allows operators to plan their service expansion on a fixed cost basis.

Tecnomen is introducing its NGM Video Mail service at
3GSM World Congress. This service allows video callers to
leave video messages for one another when the recipient
is busy, not replying or unavailable.

The basic functionality of Video Mail service is very
similar to Voice Mail. The unanswered call is forwarded
to the Video Mail service and the caller sees the
subscriber's personalised video greeting and can leave a
video message. However, advanced services and
capabilities, such as personalisation, enhance its
usability beyond traditional messaging.