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Espial, a specialist in on-demand TV solutions and services announced that Optimus Clix has doubled the usage of its Time-Shift TV Services in the first 5 months of 2010. Optimus Clix is a fixed and mobile telecom operator in Portugal with a national DSL network reaching 1.6 million homes and a FTTH deployment already covering more than 200,000 households.  As part of its triple-play service, customers can subscribe to Optimus Clix TV, its IPTV solution.

"In 2009,  we invested heavily in our TV service to provide better quality, increased content and new On-Demand services",  said Susanna Barbato, TV Director, Optimus. "To achieve continued growth in service revenue we rely on the Espial MediaBase open application interface to simplify introduction of new services. Their intelligent content delivery distribution makes hyper-efficient use of our network and we can easily scale the system with commercial-off-the-shelf servers".

"Optimus Clix is the most innovative IPTV solution in Portugal" stated Robert Hopkins, Managing Director of Espial Europe. "They are achieving excellent growth with great on-demand content and innovative services. We're pleased that Espial MediaBase is powering their success with on-demand video services".

Aculab, a provider of enabling technologies for the communications market, has announced that Nixxis, a global provider of customer interaction solutions for businesses, has selected Aculab's ApplianX brand of IP gateways to provide protocol conversion and connectivity between its IP-based customer interaction/contact centre solutions and legacy TDM networks.  Nixxis is initially utilising the ApplianX IP Gateway in select customer deployments in Western Europe, and plans to expand use of the ApplianX IP Gateway to other geographies in the near future.

Nixxis is said to provide business drivers through a wide scope of IP-based customer relationship management tools and applications, including customer interaction and call centre solutions, advanced call recording and reporting features, management tools, and powerful multi-media agent solutions.

Working in disparate geographies calls for Nixxis to understand and manage various network infrastructures and protocols, particularly in locations where the customer is using legacy TDM technology as its core infrastructure. To help address these challenges, Nixxis is deploying the ApplianX IP Gateway as its lead solution for protocol translation and compatibility issues. The ApplianX IP Gateway supports a wide range of IP and TDM protocols in both enterprise and service provider environments.

"We designed the ApplianX IP Gateway with customers like Nixxis in mind, specifically, communications providers who are looking to use the gateway to solve a particular problem," explained Tim Joint, Commercial Manager for the ApplianX products. "This single purpose philosophy is a very compelling attribute and gives companies like Nixxis the appropriate functionality they require in a user friendly, plug-and-play format that needs little support."

The ApplianX IP Gateway also includes a wide range of routing options for both SIP-to-TDM and SIP-to-SIP conversions, as well as load balancing between endpoints on a round-robin basis, ensuring that calls are automatically routed away from unresponsive endpoints. Reliability features are also built into the gateway, with TDM fallback support enabling the ApplianX IP Gateway to complete inbound and outbound calls and other medias even in the event of an IP network failure.

In addition to comprehensive protocol support, the ApplianX IP Gateway's operational resilience was also appealing to Nixxis. Features like dynamic routing and load balancing give Nixxis customers a number of options to remain online in the event of a network failure.

"Maintaining reliable communications is a critical element for every business, and nowhere is this more essential than in the interaction/contact centre," explains Marc Temmerman, CEO of Nixxis. "Organisations that value their relationships with customers simply cannot afford any downtime in the contact centre. The ApplianX IP Gateway serves a vital role in delivering the reliability and seamless connectivity our customers demand."

"We've looked at a number of competitive gateways, and they've always paled in comparison to the ApplianX products," concludes van der Kraan. "In terms of reliability, functionality, adaptability, scalability, and certainly operating simplicity, the ApplianX IP Gateway exceeds our expectations."

According to new research from Informa Telecoms & Media, femtocell technology is continuing to mature with several tier-one operators deploying the technology using a variety of business models. There are currently 16 service commitments, including 13 confirmed commercial launches and several ongoing trials, while completed trials are now progressing into deployment plans for several mobile operators. This contrasts with eight femtocell service commitments and six commercial launches in November 2009.

In the past quarter alone, Vodafone Spain, AT&T, Softbank and KDDI have commercially launched femtocell services. Vodafone's decision to rollout femtocells in a second European market illustrates the success of their UK ‘Sure Signal' service which has been heavily promoted. AT&T became the first US operator to announce a nationwide 3G femtocell rollout and Softbank became the first operator to offer both free femtocells and free DSL backhaul. Major progress has also been made in the field of femtocell standards with 3GPP2 and WiMAX Forum both announcing specifications. Standardised UMTS femtocell equipment recently underwent interoperability testing in the world's first femtocell plugfest.

"The femtocell market is experiencing maturity with many of the largest operators in Asia, North America and Europe now offering services. Global operator demand for femtocells is undeniable and recent femtocell standards milestones can only enhance this situation further. As mobile data traffic continues to rocket, femtocells look set to become a vital component of next generation mobile broadband deployments and this is reflected in the increasing interest in enterprise, metropolitan and LTE models," said Dimitris Mavrakis, senior analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media.

Informa says it expects the femtocell market to experience significant growth over the next few years, reaching just under 49 million femtocell access points (FAP) in the market by 2014 and 114 million mobile users accessing mobile networks through femtocells during that year. Healthy growth is anticipated throughout the forecast period with femtocell unit sales reaching 25 million in 2014 alone.

The expansion of the femtocell industry is reflected in the growing membership of the Femto Forum, the femtocell industry association, which now includes 67 vendors and 56 mobile operators representing 1.4 billion mobile subscribers worldwide, across multiple wireless technologies (WiMAX, UMTS and CDMA) and accounts for 27% of total mobile subscribers worldwide.

Digi International today announced the integration of the Digi Connect WAN 3G cellular  router into NetCase, an on-board ticketing system with a touchscreen PC from NetControl. The French specialist in on-board computer systems for the tourism industry installed the NetCase in 35 of the buses owned by OpenTour, the Société des Lignes Touristiques created by Cityrama, that offers sightseeing tours in Paris, Nice, Lyon, etc.

The Connect WAN 3G connects the NetCase to the NetControl servers via high-speed data connectivity over standard cellular networks.  Once connected, the NetCase facilitates on-board ticket sales, card payments using payment terminals, the collection of prepaid tickets and vouchers, and the validation of electronic tickets identified by a reservation code (the tickets are validated using a 2D barcode scanner).

"With the recommendation of M2M Design, a French distributor and technical support provider for M2M solutions, we chose this solution from Digi International because it could be implemented almost immediately as it is so easy to connect to our NetCase," says Nicolas Bebawi, Computer Manager at NetControl. "Digi Connect WAN 3G provides high-quality connectivity with built-in management. Furthermore, the fact that Digi products are used by many retailers and well-established companies was very reassuring."

Digi Connect WAN 3G is said to facilitate a rapid, regular and practically guaranteed data transfer. Ticket validation by the server and the transfer of card payment details are carried out in real time, which greatly reduces the time it takes for passengers to board the buses. In addition, the improved data transfer for ticket validation enables the OpenTour Company to protect its system from all types of fraud.

Digi Connect WAN 3G enables data transfer for the complete vehicle fleet management with constant connection to the till for sales analysis and validation. It also allows fleet movements to be analysed in real time by means of data transfer, which provides a record of each vehicle's trips, and offers constant monitoring by surveillance cameras and door sensors in order to improve bus security.

Nicolas Bebawi concludes: "Thanks to Digi Connect WAN 3G's reliability, the NetCase has become an all-round effective piece of equipment for OpenTour as it manages various operational parameters in real time.  Our provision of an on-board computerised ticketing system in the OpenTour buses has become a benchmark for quality and operations in the field of sightseeing tours."

The number of mobile subscribers who use their phones for mobile banking will exceed 400m globally by 2013, according to a new in depth study by Juniper Research.  This equates to double the number of users this year.

The results of Juniper's detailed Mobile Banking Technology Strategies Survey showed that banks are laying the foundations for this rapid user take-up by rolling out services using SMS, mobile web and apps to provide additional channel choices for their customers.

Report author Howard Wilcox explained: "Our survey concluded that banks in all regions are becoming increasingly innovative in their service offerings and provide impetus for user growth. Mobile is becoming a ‘must have' channel for banks."

The mobile banking report, however, stressed that some banks are limiting their options by offering insufficient mobile channel options for users, whilst others have yet to deploy mobile services at all.   On the other hand, there are many banks in Europe, North America and the Far East that are actively delivering and promoting their services by significant above the line marketing campaigns.

Further findings included:

  • Over 80% of banks currently offer some form of mobile banking;
  • Far East and China will be the region with the highest number of users in 2015;
  • Demand for on-the-move bank balance enquiries and advanced alerts will fuel SMS messaging growth.

Huawei has today launched the OSN8800 T16, a next-generation metropolitan OTN (Optical Transport Network) system, at the 2010 WDM & Next Generation Optical Networking event in Monaco. The new transport system is said to accommodate bandwidth-heavy services such as data, video, and storage, and is claimed to significantly reduce operator costs with easy maintenance, energy-efficiency, and space-saving features.

Said to enable operators to handle future bandwidth demands, the OSN8800 T16 achieves 40G/100G transport and offers full-service cross-connection capabilities that support ODUk wavelength and packet cross-connections, offering more flexibility and efficiency in wavelength utilization.  By utilizing OTN cross-connections, which reach 640G and easily upgrade to 1.6T, OSN8800 T16 provides easy maintenance and fast service provisioning, similar to SDH (Synchronous Digital Hierarchy). Additionally, the OSN8800 T16 is designed with industry-leading PID (photonics integrated device) technology, achieving 120G capacity per card and dramatically reducing power consumption and space requirements.

Christian Chua, president of Transport Network Product Line, Huawei, said, "Operators worldwide are focusing on how to achieve fast service rollouts for metropolitan transport, while coping with the impact of high traffic on their live networks. As part of Huawei's All-IP convergence strategy, our OSN8800 T16 addresses these challenges with its advanced features and promises long-term customer benefits with its future-proof designs."

Tektronix Communications, a provider of communications test and Network Intelligence solutions, has announced that interconnect service provider of global voice and data services, Belgium-based BICS, has selected the company's GeoProbe system to monitor and maintain service quality as BICS upgrades their network to better handle the increase in interconnect traffic and next-generation IP/multimedia services.

With increasing competition in the international carrier market, growing international traffic, and new data services on the rise, BICS undertook the task of upgrading some of its legacy equipment at key sites - but not at the expense or risk of sacrificing the high quality of service that BICS customers have come to expect. By comparing baseline quality measurements to real-time KPI's, BICS is able to monitor and proactively react to any changes to the end-to-end quality of service.

"As one of the largest worldwide interconnect service providers, BICS handles billions of minutes of critical voice and multimedia traffic every year," said Pierre Andre Rulmont, chief technology officer, BICS. "We need to prepare our systems for future traffic growth. We have relied on Tektronix Communications' GeoProbe solutions to provide us with the critical insight and real-time information we need to proactively manage our advanced interconnect networks and provide the highest level of quality that our customers have come to expect. This was particularly true in the major infrastructure transition that we have made where Tektronix Communications' tools and support were essential."

"With minutes of use exceeding 25 billion, the GeoProbe monitoring system was able to ensure a smooth transition during this process through the real-time and historical monitoring and trending of interconnect traffic and quality," said Mark Driedger, vice president, Network Management, Tektronix Communications. "By closely collaborating to meet BICS' challenges, we were able to ensure a smooth transition as they future-proof their system by providing support for their legacy systems and new platforms to meet the higher demands of growing traffic."

Espial, a specialist in on-demand TV solutions and services, and Conax, a global content security specialist, have introduced a Hybrid-IP TV solution for cable, satellite, terrestrial and telecom operators.

Espial and Conax will provide an on-demand services platform for secure delivery of broadcast TV, interactive applications, Video-On-Demand, local and network digital video recording, timeshift TV, over-the-top video services to TVs, PCs and mobile devices. The solution features Espial IPTV Middleware, Espial Video On-Demand and Espial Content Workflow Management products working with Conax Content Security technology.

Espial and Conax plan to offer multiple hybrid-IP set-top boxes and residential gateway units to Pay-TV operators. The solution is commercially deployed by Com Hem in Sweden.  

"Moving beyond digital broadcast TV to deploy Video-On-Demand and interactive services is a challenge. Working with strong partners in the vendor community is essential for success in the  transition to on-demand TV services" said Martin Kull, CTO Com Hem, "We are now rolling out these advanced services to over 1.6 million homes in Sweden. Espial and Conax have been strong partners in delivering our successful Hybrid-IP TV solution."

"With rapidly growing interest in the market for interactive TV, we are very pleased to work with highly capable partners like Espial to deliver best-in-class solutions. Our joint cooperation provides an advanced solution combining Espial middleware and security from Conax. This compelling solution is very influential, as reflected in the achievements and Com Hem platform success," says Geir Bjørndal, EVP Products & Markets, Conax.

"We are pleased to work with one of the global leaders in conditional access to deliver a secure and integrated on-demand TV solution for Pay-TV Operators" said Jaison Dolvane, President and CEO, Espial. "Pay-TV operators will achieve quicker time-to-market with a full set of on-demand TV services. We look forward to working with Conax to deliver more successful customers like Com Hem."

Roamware, a global leader in mobile roaming solutions and financial services, announces the global availability of Cardless ATM. The service enables bank customers to withdraw cash from an ATM without the use of a cash card. Cardless ATM can be used in case of loss or theft of a cash card as well as to send money to friends or family at home or abroad.

Cardless ATM is already in use in Europe. Permanent TSB (PTSB) launched the service in Ireland as part of its mobile banking solutions in 2009. Branded as ‘Emergency Cash', the service allows customers to send €100 to anyone in Ireland simply by sending an SMS. Upon receiving the text message, the recipient may go to any PTSB cash point to withdraw the emergency cash - without the need for an ATM card. Registered customers can request payment five times per month up to a maximum of €500 (€100 per withdrawal). The account holder is charged €2 per withdrawal.

"Emergency Cash is one of the many ways we are differentiated in the market," said Eamon Martin, Online Development and Mobile Banking Manager at Permanent TSB. "And it gives our customers peace of mind - knowing they still have access to cash if their card is stolen."

"There is great interest in this product from banks around the world," said Avnish Chauhan, Executive Vice President at Roamware. "It is particularly of interest in Asia and Africa where banks plan on using it for mobile money purposes, that is to send money to friends and family. This is a cost saving solution that could potentially complement ‘no frills' bank account offering to underbanked and unbanked communities in developing economies," added Avnish.

 

European operator underlines plans to be more than just a telco, stresses it has no plans to ‘become an Accenture', and outlines its cloud services strategy.

Colt said on Wednesday that it is making good progress with its strategy to move beyond the traditional telco role and provide managed network and IT services to its 35,000 enterprise users in Europe.

But in spite of its intentions to move further down the IT value chain and offer hosted network, security and software services, the company stressed that it does not plan to provide fully outsourced services or offer the kinds of services typically provided by systems integrators today: "We are not pretending we are Accenture or IBM," said Adrian Saunders, managing director of Colt's managed services division.

Saunders added that Colt - which has now formally dropped "Telecom" from its brand name - is also not yet looking to "get into bed with an Accenture or McKinsey" but is interested in forming partnerships with companies such as EMC, Oracle and Microsoft.

"We may well start to do more work with systems integrators and consultants," said Saunders. "But our customers are not asking for that yet...unless they are already tactically involved with an SI."

According to Henri van der Vaeren, managing director of Colt's UK and southern European business, Colt is keen to stay neutral at present and not tie up with a company that might limit its competitive options.

Saunders commented that companies such as Oracle and Microsoft are happy to talk to Colt about partnership opportunities in the software-as-a-service market because they do not see the company as a threat: "They see us as specialists who are good at what we do," said Saunders. "We are very clearly not trying to become what they are."

In 2009 managed services accounted for 10% of Colt's revenue and the company views managed services and data as its fastest-growing business area. Saunders notes that Colt will still provide pure collocation services where required, but sees more value in its ability to tie together network and IT services in a managed offering.

The company also believes it has a competitive edge over other telcos that are pursuing the IT services route because it owns its entire network as well as 19 data centres in Europe.

Indeed the company has also just announced an extension of its network into Eastern Europe and has added six cities to its footprint: Warsaw, Krakow, Prague, Budapest, Bucharest, and Bratislava.

In the area of managed services, Colt plans to focus on enterprise "cloud" services such as software as a service, platform as a service and infrastructure as a service. Saunders noted that enterprises are looking for advice on how to transform their businesses, but are not about to virtualise their entire operation.

He said Colt's advice to enterprises is that they should start with new, standalone applications, and not with legacy applications that are used by a number of different areas of an enterprise's business such as SAP.

"The concept that everything will move to the cloud is interesting, but it's not relevant to our customers today," commented Saunders. "For example, financial services companies will not want to move their trading platforms outside their own buildings."

In the third quarter of this year Colt also plans to go to market in partnership with EMC and vmware to provide managed storage and back-up services.

Colt is also working with vmware and Oracle to integrate and streamline its OSS/BSS systems in order to provide a more efficient network management system. This system will also be available to customers to some degree to enable them to oversee and monitor their network services: "We want to be able to quaff our own champagne," commented Saunders.

GTS Central Europe (GTS) today announced that it has agreed to acquire Interware Zrt., a provider of data center services in the Hungarian market. The deal is subject to local Competition Office approval and expected to close by the end of the third quarter of 2010. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Interware is a Hungarian alternative telecommunications service provider offering server hosting, collocation, internet and fixed voice services primarily for business customers. The company operates two data centers in downtown Budapest which provide 1,075 net square meters of collocation space and host 3,300 customer servers from the manufacturing, public, media and ICT sectors.

The Interware acquisition follows the recent acquisition of Romanian telecommunications operator Datek and is said to be aligned with GTS's overall strategy of becoming the preferred partner and supplier in the Central & Eastern European (CEE) region for integrated telecommunications solutions for the carrier and corporate market. The acquisition is claimed to establishe GTS as one of the key players in the Hungarian collocation and server hosting market. Together with its existing data center in Budaörs, GTS will provide for its customers a total of 1,490 square meters of data center space.

Given the increasing demand for data storage in the CEE region, GTS announced expansion plans of its data center infrastructure in March 2010. The company currently operates seven data centers in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Romania, providing more than 6,000 square meters of collocation space and capacity for more than 10,000 servers. GTS‘s extensive metro and international fiber network provides collocation customers numerous connectivity/network capacity options from the company's data centers. GTS will expand its collocation capacity with the opening of a new 700 square meter facility in Prague in late July.

"Our acquisition of Interware further solidifies the position of GTS as a significant player in the CEE data center market and a leading market consolidator among infrastructure-based telecomunications operators in the region. The Interware data centers provide our customers additional secure collocation space and expand our capabilities in the server hosting market," said Adam Sawicki, Group CEO at GTS Central Europe. "Furthermore, our Budapest  metro fiber network will provide the Interware data center customers increased connectivity options."

Both fixed and mobile broadband markets will continue growing in revenues, up to $416bn in 2020, but operators face some hard decisions about future business models, according to a new study published by the Telco 2.0 Initiative.

The new report, "Mobile, Fixed & Wholesale Broadband Business Models: Best Practice Innovation, ‘Telco 2.0' Opportunities, Forecasts and Future Scenarios" finds that telecom operators will benefit from both new types of broadband wholesale and more sophisticated direct-to-consumer retail propositions and tariffs. Recent introductions of new tiered and capped wireless Internet data plans are early evidence of this trend.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Global broadband access is forecast to increase from $274bn in 2010, to $416bn in 2020, an increase of 52% in revenue terms.
  • More than half the revenue growth will come from wholesale and "two-sided" fees for improved access capacity and quality.
  • By 2020, mobile broadband will be worth $138bn, or 32% of the total broadband industry revenues.
  • Three new revenue streams are identified: "Bulk Wholesale", "Comes with data", "Slice and Dice".
  • New ‘upstream' customers are forecast to generate over $90 billion in broadband revenues globally by 2020.

Many operators are said to fear the supposed risks of becoming "dumb pipes", but the study suggests the forecast market value means the term "happy pipe" is more appropriate for some. Certain telecom carriers will be able to add further value through enhanced "Telco 2.0" services and platforms, but it is important to note that the basic carriage of data can itself be profitable and a source of substantial growth.

On the conventional retail broadband side, the big winners are fibre-based fixed services and mobile data for smartphones, says the report. ADSL and cable revenues will peak in mid-decade, and then decline with substitution from the progressive deployment of fibre. PC-based mobile broadband retail revenues will grow strongly in the short term, before being impacted by price competition and a shift from user-paid retail subscriptions to new wholesale-enabled models.

The  study predicts that the wholesale market for broadband will evolve in three separate directions:

  • "Bulk wholesale" is an evolution of today's approach to MVNOs and data roaming in mobile, or loop-unbundling and open fibre access in fixed markets. The report predicts an acceleration of this type of wholesale provision, as governments force greater openness on telecoms licencees, and operators look to alternative partnerships to supply new market niches with capacity. There is also a possibility for parties other than the end-user to pick up the bill for subscriptions - for example, some local authorities are now providing free broadband to disadvantaged communities.
  • "Comes with data" business models have started to emerge recently, with devices such as the Amazon Kindle. Here, a product vendor or service provider contracts for data capacity with the broadband provider, and bundles it in a combined offer - the user does not have a subscription or direct relationship with the telco. The report expects this approach to be important for laptops, netbooks, tablets and various other new device categories.
  • "Slice and dice" wholesale is more complex, and more controversial. This involves operators selling data capacity in fine-grained "parcels" to parties other than the user, who is typically also paying for some level of access. This type of "two-sided" business model could involve deals with device vendors for inclusion of data in bundled M2M offers, or to content/application providers where they pick up the bill for data transmission rather than the end-user.

The incremental revenue opportunity for new "slice and dice" wholesale business models in mobile broadband alone is forecast to be $21bn worldwide by 2020, says the report.

According to Chris Barraclough, co-author of the report and Managing Director of Telco 2.0, "Telco 2.0 is not about throwing away existing operator business models, but about evolving them to generate additional value. In new Telco 2.0 style ‘two-sided' business models, there are ‘upstream' and ‘downstream' customers - upstream customers are typically enterprises or merchants seeking to reach their markets - the so-called ‘downstream' customers."

"As we show in this report, there are many creative ways that operators can add more value for existing downstream customers.  However, it is also clear that those companies providing services over the internet will increasingly seek to mash-up connectivity more tightly with their own offerings, for example by including connectivity as a part of their products.  These new ‘upstream' customers are alone forecast to generate over $90 billion in broadband revenues globally by 2020."

The report's co-author and founder of Disruptive Analysis, Dean Bubley, said "Both fixed and mobile operators need to look beyond the traditional ‘end user subscription mindset', and examine new and innovative wholesale opportunities. At the same time, they need to embrace radical evolution of their retail portfolios - for example, supporting prepaid fixed broadband, or offering innovative tiering and policy structures for mobile Internet access from smartphones and tablets. Whoever coined the term ‘dumb pipe' has cost the industry billions in shareholder value".

    

@eurocomms