European Communications

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IPTV doubles in the year to Q2 2006

IPTV subscriber numbers doubled during the 12 months to 30 June 2006, according to a new analysis from Point Topic. The total number of people worldwide paying for TV services supplied via Internet Protocol (IP) increased from just under 1.5 million to almost 3 million.

Europe is the most important region for IPTV, with the strongest growth in subscriber numbers during the period. "There has also been a large number of service launches", says John Bosnell, Senior Analyst at Point Topic. "This growth reflects the developed and competitive pay-TV market in many European countries."

Hong Kong's PCCW remains the largest IPTV operator, with 444,000 paying IPTV subscribers, and a total of 654,000 TV connections (not all TV services require a paying subscription). France Telecom had over 300,000 paying customers, whilst Telefonica in Spain grew strongly to 267,000 TV subscribers.

"The picture of IPTV development worldwide remains a complex one", Bosnell points out. "The success of an operator in executing an IPTV strategy depends on many things, among them the competition, the type and condition of the network and the local regulatory environment", he says.

TV Cabo deploys Sigma Systems' all play OSS solution

Sigma Systems’ proven and scalable OSS manages diverse multi-service deployment

Sigma Systems, a premier provider and leader in the design, development and deployment of OSS service management solutions, and TV Cabo, the largest national pay-TV operator in Portugal, with over 1.4 million cable customers, have announced that TV Cabo has implemented Sigma Systems’ OSS technology to provide complete service management support across the country, including voice over IP (VoIP) services, digital video services, pay-per-view, high-speed data (HSD) and WiFi access. Sigma Systems Service Management Platform (SMP) already supports TV Cabo for high-speed data services over digital subscriber line (DSL) and satellite.

“The introduction of these digital services will enhance our customers’ viewing experience. TV Cabo will make sure that each subscriber has all the tools needed to command and control their services. Part of this strategy is relying on the Sigma Systems toolkit for management of all the services in its current and future portfolio,” says Carlos Carvalho, OSS Specialist from TV Cabo.

Sigma Systems, has successfully deployed voice over IP (VOIP), cable HSD, ISP, digital and legacy video services, pay-per-view video, as well as enabling WiFi hot spot access across Portugal for TV Cabo. Sigma is currently managing over 2 million subscribed and prepaid services for TV Cabo. Future deployments will provide end-to-end service management for video on demand (VOD).

At the end of 2005 Sigma Systems deployed a business-to-business gateway to support selling high-speed Internet over DSL and satellite services.  As a result of successful implementation, Sigma Systems was then selected as TV Cabo’s enterprise-wide OSS provisioning platform for all broadband services. 

“Sigma Systems’ configurable and scalable solutions provide TV Cabo with end-to-end automation for a wide range of triple play services for its customers,” adds Tim Spencer, President and COO, Sigma Systems.  “Our SMP Platform and Service Packages are designed to provide the utmost flexibility in packaging, provisioning and managing services that are sought by TV Cabo’s customers, with an OSS infrastructure that can quickly adapt to new technologies and deliver future revenue generating services.”

Using Sigma Systems’ platform, TV Cabo is currently provisioning services for its entire cable TV subscriber base – both analogue and digital, including prepaid services such as pay-per-view (PPV).  TV Cabo is also able to provide high-speed Internet services, including e-mail services and web space for its customers. Sigma Systems’ platform provisions value-added services, such as anti-virus and firewall for TV Cabo’s Internet customers by authenticating and authorising subscribers.

The Sigma Systems Solution set at TV Cabo provides a wide range of technology adapters for triple play services including integration to leading vendors such as Cisco, Siemens, Nagravision, Exsad, Microsoft, Incognito, and Panda Software, along with business support system integration to TV Cabo’s billing (Convergys) and customer care system (Siebel) via a Tibco EAI bus.

Earlier this year, Sigma Systems announced a new UK headquarters in London to serve its expanding European customer base, which is fully supported by the company’s global team of 250 professionals.

“There is a growing interest in Sigma Systems from EMEA-based service providers in deploying triple play services and additional premium content, entertainment and ISP security services,” says Paul Bromley, Sigma Systems Vice President Sales EMEA. “This mirrors the mounting interest worldwide in our solutions and product developments from companies looking to increase their profitability by taking advantage of our experience in managing complex data, voice, video, mobile and multi-media services.”

LogicaCMG extends strategic outsourcing partnership with InBev into Central and Eastern Europe

Application management outsourcing contract covers 17 European countries

LogicaCMG has announced that it has extended its existing strategic partnership with InBev – said to be the world's largest brewer by volume – to deliver application management services across 17 countries. This extends the original EUR70 million contract LogicaCMG was awarded in June 2006 to manage InBev's applications across eight countries in Western Europe into Central and Eastern Europe.

Under the terms of the 5.5-year contract, LogicaCMG will manage InBev's entire European and Global Headquarters' Business Systems across 12 time zones in Europe (including all of Russia). The contract, which covers InBev's existing application environment in these territories, will streamline InBev's end-to-end application management processes.

The extended contract now covers an additional nine countries, including Russia, Ukraine, Hungary, Czech Republic, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Romania and Bulgaria. As part of the contract extension all affected staff have been offered full employment by LogicaCMG across the areas in which InBev operates.

Commenting on the contract Claudio Garcia, InBev Chief People and Technology Officer, said: "Following the successful transition of our Western European business and application services to LogicaCMG earlier this year, we will now further streamline our application services by also transferring our Central and Eastern European Business Systems to LogicaCMG. This will enable us to have a consistent approach to our application services across Europe and reduce costs while maintaining strong service levels."

Jim McKenna, chief operating officer of LogicaCMG, said: "The extension of our outsourcing contract with InBev is further testament to LogicaCMG's ability to leverage its value-based outsourcing and vertical sector expertise to deliver a comprehensive, high quality service to customers. As a key strategic outsourcing partner for InBev, we are using our expanded global presence and our depth of expertise to improve service delivery and reduce costs for our customer. The InBev employees joining LogicaCMG bring with them a wealth of expertise and we look forward to welcoming them to the Group."

Air France

Exclusive MMS offer delivered To 100,000 Air France Flying Blue members

Sybase 365 has announced France’s first and largest Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) loyalty programme for Air France deployed in partnership with BETC EuroRSCG, France’s premier advertising agency, and French mobile marketing agency, MobileTrend.

As a part of the Air France campaign, Sybase 365 sent MMS push alerts to the mobile phones of more than 100,000 Air France Flying Blue members across the country, inviting them to take advantage of two special limited promotional fares to New York and La Reunion.
“Our objective was to capture mind share, keeping the Air France brand top of mind by communicating to the loyal Flying Blue members in an exclusive and innovative way.” said Julien Veillon, 360° marketing consultant for BETC EuroRSCG.  “Sybase 365 enabled us to do this by providing high quality MMS alerts that added to the level of customer satisfaction and notion of unique rewards for frequent travellers.” 

“It is a logical step for us to offer our clients an attractive and flexible ‘on demand’ alerts messaging system for brand campaigns and promotions,” added Veillon. “It is what brands want from mobile services today.” 
“We are very pleased to be the technical mobile partner in this new initiative—a first for France,” said Olivier Gerhardt, sales director, Sybase 365 France. “Sybase 365 chooses strategic partnerships with advertising agencies such as BETC EuroRSCG, and mobile marketing experts like MobileTrend that we believe are the key to delivering a complete service to local and global brands.”
Sybase 365 is at the forefront of MMS connectivity and deployed the alert service across all three French mobile operators, ensuring that all Air France Flying Blue members received and were able to respond to the campaign.

Ericsson wins WCDMA/HSPA contract with Austria's ONE

Ericsson has been selected by Austrian operator ONE as the sole supplier to expand and upgrade their WCDMA radio network with HSPA.

Under the contract, Ericsson will deliver WCDMA radio access components and HSPA functionality to enhance ONE's mobile broadband capabilities.
The contract period runs for three years and rollout will start immediately. 
In addition to expanding and upgrading ONE's WCDMA/HSPA network, Ericsson will also provide turnkey network deployment and integration as well as related support services. 
The increase of coverage and speed is a cornerstone of ONE's strategy for mobile broadband and entertainment offerings in the competitive Austrian market.
Jörgen Bang-Jensen, Chief Executive Officer at ONE, says: "Ericsson's strong WCDMA/HSPA technology positions us for future growth. In the next two years we will offer our customers a nationwide coverage with mobile broadband"
Jan Campbell, President of Ericsson Austria and Ericsson Central Europe, says: "This deal underlines Ericsson's leading position in the mobile broadband market and we are proud to build on our strong relationship with ONE by supporting them with the latest HSPA technology. This mobile broadband service will strengthen our longstanding partnership in the mobile music market, while high-speed delivery will provide an enhanced user experience."   

Americans lag behind Europeans in smartphone adoption, says research

European smartphone owner demographic moving beyond the traditional business profile

European consumers have been faster to adopt ‘smart’ mobile phones than their American counterparts, according to Telephia, the provider of syndicated consumer research to the telecom and mobile media markets.

In Q3 2006, smartphone penetration in Western Europe was 8.8 percent among recent device buyers; more than double that of the U.S. which was 3.8 percent. A smartphone is a class of handsets with a mobile operating system such as Symbian, Microsoft OS, RIM or Palm.

Telephia's European Subscriber and Device Report highlights significant differences between European countries. Italy has been at the forefront of driving mobile development and penetration in Europe and is also leading the adoption of smartphones by far. More than 95 percent of all Italians own a mobile phone and almost one in five buyers of new phones in the last six months (19.2%) bought smartphones. Recent phone buyers in Spain and the UK are also choosing smartphones with penetration rates of 9.5 percent and 7.5 percent, respectively. France trails with 3.5 percent of recent phone buyers upgrading to smartphones. This is only slightly less than the U.S. where the proportion of these devices among recent buyers was 3.8 percent in Q3.

“High speed networks like 3G were available earlier in Europe than in the U.S. To get the best out of these faster networks, mobile consumers were motivated to purchase more advanced devices like smartphones which provided a better experience with data applications,” said Reza Chady, Telephia's Managing Director for Europe. “On a country-by-country level, it's not a surprise to see Italy lead in smartphone adoption, as Italians consistently spend the most on devices and data usage as compared to the other European countries. Moreover, Italian Internet penetration is less than the UK or Germany for example and smartphone devices with advanced capabilities provide an excellent opportunity for content owners to entice Italians accessing the Web using their phone.” 

European smartphone consumer demographic moving towards mainstream

A new wave of stylish and sleek smartphones launched recently in Europe and the USA is positioning the market to move beyond the traditional business-user niche. Telephia data shows that shift is already happening in Europe. Young professionals in Europe aged 25-34 were the largest group of smartphone owners in Q3 2006, followed by 35-44 year olds. Young professionals accounted for 27 percent of all mobile users, but posted a higher penetration rate of 34 percent among smartphone users. However, the gap has closed between smartphone and the general mobile user profile among all other age groups in the latest quarter. In addition, the proportion of women smartphone owners is increasing although they currently still seem to be predominantly owned by men in most countries.

“Devices like the Blackberry Pearl, Sony Ericsson's P990i or Nokia's E61 in Europe and Moto Q, Palm Treo 680 or LG enV in the USA represent a breed of smartphones that are designed to cater to the mainstream mobile user—touting consumer-friendly features like music players and cameras, while maintaining the software applications and other functionality championed by business users,” added Chady.

Steria and Kabira sign European Partnership Agreement

Steria brings systems integration expertise to the deployment of
Kabira's industry-specific transaction processing solutions for the European telecom market

Kabira Technologies, a leader in high performance transaction processing software for global enterprises, and Steria, a leading end-to-end European IT services provider, have today announced the signing of a systems integration partnership agreement.

With the agreement, Steria joins the Kabira European Alliance Program as a Gold Partner and Kabira becomes a Steria Preferred Partner.  The companies have already successfully collaborated on opportunities in high-performance environments. The alliance is expected to enable both companies to deliver innovative high performance Transaction Processing and Operational Support Systems in Europe.

“We see this alliance with Kabira as a strategic decision to provide our clients with world class solutions in service activation, provisioning, and service delivery platform.” says Gilles Graziani, Director of the Steria Telecom and Media business unit in France.  “Together, we will enable our telecommunications provider clients to optimize network performance, response time, and throughput, reduce cost through single provisioning process for 3G voice and data services, and shorten time-to-revenue by rapid deployment of third-party content providers. This partnership brings real value in our Operational Support Systems set of solutions and we are excited to work with Kabira across Europe.”

Philippe Lavigne, Director of Kabira Alliances for Europe, said, “When we introduced our Alliance Program last June, we stressed our commitment to working with partners that will bring our industry-specific transaction processing solutions to market.  We are delighted Steria shares this commitment and has joined our Alliance Program as a Gold Partner and we look forward to working closely with them to achieve incremental business.” Lavigne continued, “We believe that Steria has the core competencies and the delivery capability to address, with excellence, the demanding requirements of our target customers with a Kabira-based transaction processing solutions.”

Ericsson and Napster announce two firsts with O2 Ireland

Ericsson and Napster have today announced the first European launch for Napster Mobile, with Irish mobile phone operator O2 Ireland. O2 Ireland is also the first operator to launch Napster Mobile in i-mode. 

O2 Ireland customers will be able to search, browse, preview and purchase full-length songs from Napster's immense catalog and enjoy Ericsson-aggregated personalization content via their i-mode, WAP and Java-enabled wireless handsets.

The service also features a recommendation engine which makes content recommendations based upon each consumer's musical taste, and dual delivery, a feature that sends a copy of the content purchased on the handset to the customer's PC. Napster Mobile gives customers access to Napster's expert programming on the handset, including featured artists and top tracks of the day.

Gerry McQuaid, Commercial Director, O2 Ireland, says: "We are delighted to be the first mobile operator in Europe to launch Napster Mobile. The Napster brand is instantly recognisable as one of the world's biggest music brands with 2 million tracks available immediately for our i-mode customers. Our customers have asked us for on-line music brands and we are delighted to provide the Napster catalogue as part of our i-mode service."

John Hennessy, country manager, Ericsson Ireland, says: "We believe that O2 Ireland's subscribers will find this a very attractive service to use. Music is an important area for telecom operators and now Napster Mobile service with i-mode functionality opens up possibilities for other i-mode operators." 

Brad Duea, Napster's president, says: "We're incredibly excited to be partnering with O2 Ireland on the European launch of Napster Mobile and are confident that the mobile service will prove as successful as its online counterpart. With over 3 million available tracks, Napster Mobile gives music fans the freedom to explore the biggest mobile music catalog whenever and wherever they want, making it the perfect extension of Napster's existing service."

Ericsson will host, integrate and manage the round-the-clock-operations of the service for O2 Ireland under a managed service agreement.

Intel Core Microarchitecture-Based Processor Line-Up Expands to Communications Solutions

Intel Corporation has announced building blocks for communication servers that deliver enhanced performance, value and choice for telecommunications equipment manufacturers and computing tasks such as call control, mobile location services and subscriber billing.

“Today’s new products, based on the revolutionary Intel Core microarchitecture, expands the Intel portfolio of modular communications building blocks and turbo charges Moore’s Law for communications,” said Anthony Ambrose, general manager, Intel Modular Communications Platform Division. “Intel now offers the broadest choice of high-performance, standards-based building blocks for communication servers with the price and feature flexibility equipment manufacturers require.”

The Intel NetStructure MPCBL0050 blade server, powered by the new Dual-Core Intel Xeon processor LV 5138, delivers almost three times the performance per slot of the leading competitive blade server, which enables service providers to deliver new, revenue-generating services with fewer blades. It runs Carrier Grade Linux operating system and offers significant performance improvements for compute-intensive and database-access applications, including IP Multimedia Subsystems (IMS), wireless control plane and IPTV. Additionally, it is designed to be the first blade server to comply with the proposed Communications Platforms Trade Association (CP-TA) 1.0 standard to improve industry interoperability.

The Dual-Core Intel Xeon processor LV 5138 and 5128 combine the benefits of a dual-core processing with dual-processor capabilities, providing four high-performance cores on a single platform. The LV 5138 offers telecommunication customers robust thermal profiles and a low Thermal Design Power (TDP) for solutions that require compliance with ATCA form factor and NEBS Level-3 thermal specifications.

“HP works closely with Intel to incorporate the latest high-performance ATCA processor blade technology into comprehensive solutions that include hardware, software and worldwide services and support,” said Stephen Low, marketing director, carrier grade platforms, Business Critical Systems, HP. “With solutions based on ATCA blade servers such as the HP bh5700 series, HP can give its customers a time-to-market advantage.”

“Motorola is committed to adopting multi-core technology such as the Intel NetStructure MPCBL0050 Single Board Computer in our Centellis and Avantellis series AdvancedTCA servers as it will enable us to deliver more cost-effective and energy-efficient solutions to meet network equipment provider requirements for compute-intensive applications,” said Wade Campbell, senior director, Strategic Marketing for Motorola’s Embedded Communications Computing business. “We believe this technology will allow us to increase the capacity on existing applications and will enable our industry-leading communications servers to address a broader range of next-generation applications.”

The Intel NetStructure MPCBL0050 Single Board Computer will cost $5,169 and the Intel Carrier Grade Server TIGW1U starts at $1,550. Both products will be available in the first quarter of 2007. The Dual-Core Intel Xeon processor LV 5138 and LV 5128 will cost $617 and $412, respectively, per 1,000 units, and will begin shipping in the fourth quarter of this year.