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Sonus Networks, a specialist in IP communications infrastructure, today announced that it has been selected by Belgacom International Carrier Services (ICS), the ninth largest wholesale voice carrier, to transform its network with next generation IP technology.  The IP-based network will enable greater capacity and efficiency through centralized routing, multi-media gateways and secure session control. 

Sonus will deliver a next-generation network (NGN) to support Belgacom ICS' strategy for growth throughout Europe, Africa and Asia over the next ten years.  The network will offer greater capacity, scalability and availability for its expanding portfolio of wireless and wireline customers, while maintaining the secure, robust and fully redundant service their customers demand.  The NGN migration, to be completed by the end of 2009, will enable seamless migration to a SIP core while assuring inter-working with the legacy ISUP connections; supporting the multitude of international standards currently in use by Belgacom ICS.

"The IP-based network delivered by Sonus will expand our capacity, open new opportunities for IP peering and reduce operational expense," commented Johan Wouters, Vice-President Service Delivery & Engineering at Belgacom ICS. "We have a diverse group of wireless and wired operators worldwide and chose the Sonus next-generation infrastructure to efficiently connect to all of our customers; some using the newest SIP core and others still with a legacy network.  Sonus offers the best technology and vision to support our objectives to grow our business faster and more cost effectively."

Sonus is deploying a next generation network that will centrally manage policy and routing on the Belgacom ICS network regardless of the traffic type.  The same implementation will concurrently support Belgacom ICS legacy TDM traffic and next generation IP traffic.  As their wholesale customers move to all IP environments, the Belgacom ICS investments in Sonus gateway hardware will transition to IP session border security and media transcoding.

"Wireless and wireline carriers recognize the value of wholesale partners that support next generation IP peering. Belgacom ICS is well positioned to capture this market transition," commented Mohammed Shanableh, vice president, worldwide sales for Sonus Networks. "By moving to an all IP core for Voice services, Belgacom ICS can increase their return on investment as compared to maintaining a traditional network and more quickly get enhanced services into the market; staying ahead of the competition."

The network will be made up of the GSX9000 Open Services Switch, PSX Call Routing Server, SGX Signaling Gateway, the Sonus Insight Management System, as well as Sonus' Network Border Switch (NBS) for enhanced border security and advanced IP peering capabilities.

An inventory completed by IDATE on 30 June 2008 is said to have confirmed that Asia continues to dominate the globe's ultra-broadband market by a healthy margin, but that Europe and especially North America are making real strides. In Europe, countries such as France and Norway were reporting a sizeable increase in FTTH/B subscribers in the first half of 2008.

The globe's FTTx market, which in-cludes FTTH/B, VDSL and FTTLA, represented 28.2 million subscribers as of 30 June 2008. FTTH and FTTB are still the most prevalent network architectures, accounting for more than 90% of the world's optical fibre subscribers. VDSL does appear to be making strides, and accounted for 4.5% of the FTTx market as of 30 June of this year. This is due in part to the state of the European market, and particularly to Swisscom in the Swiss market and Belgacom in the Belgian market. Meanwhile, over the in the United States, AT&T's VDSL base continues to grow as well.

Asia was home to the largest number of new subscribers, but FTTH/B customer growth rates have been highest in Europe (32% growth) and in the United States (38%). The Asian market accounts for 80% of the globe's FTTx subscribers, with Japan still leading the way with 13 million of FTTH/B subscribers.

Europe does appear to be catching up to Asia and the US, but regulators have a key part to play before FTTx markets can really take of, says IDATEf.

The US is still the only FTTx market in North America, and subscriber growth rates there have been considerable: 500,000 new customers for Verizon's FiOS offers and a 137% increase for AT&T (FTTN solution based on VDSL technology).

The latest HSPA Devices Survey conducted by GSA, the Global mobile Suppliers Association, is said to confirm that 1,095 HSPA devices have been launched in the market. This is broadly equivalent to one new device announcement every day since the first HSPA mobile broadband system was launched on October 18, 2005.

692 new HSPA devices have been announced since October 07, representing growth of over 171% in a little over a year. The number of suppliers increased from 80 to 148 in that time, i.e. 85% growth.  The number of mobile phones supporting HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) has increased 126% since October 2007, and the number of HSPA/mobile broadband embedded notebooks increased by 257% in the same period. Excluding notebooks, 671 HSDPA devices (over 76%) support 3.6 Mbps or higher peak download data speeds, including 337 devices which support 7.2 Mbps peak or higher.

The GSA survey shows how HSPA devices address all market segments:

- 451 mobile phones

- 16 Ultra Mobile PCs (UMPC)

-  218 notebooks

- 154 USB modems

- 143 PC data cards (PCMCIA cards, ExpressCards, chipsets, embedded modules)

- 101 Wireless routers/gateways

- 8 Personal Media Players (PMP)

- 4 cameras

The number of HSUPA-capable (High Speed Uplink Packet Access) devices has more than quadrupled in just over a year. 153 devices support HSUPA operation (compared to 33 in October 2007), with most delivering up to 2.1 Mbps (peak) on the uplink. However, 51 HSUPA products support, or are upgradeable for, 5.76 Mbps (peak) or higher speed.

Alan Hadden, President, GSA said: "The market adoption of HSPA has been much faster than any other mobile technology, and is driving mobile broadband and the best user experience globally. Network efficiencies and performance, including data throughput capabilities, are increasing. Customers benefit from a vast choice of HSPA-equipped notebooks, USB modems, phones, etc. which continue to expand in number and reach into new market segments." 

GSA recently confirmed that 221 networks had commercially launched HSPA mobile broadband service in almost 100 countries.

While the majority of today's WCDMA-HSPA mobile broadband networks operate in the 2100 MHz band, the use of lower frequencies provides a much larger coverage area, which translates to a significant reduction in the number of cell sites required. A growing number of operators are today deploying HSPA at 900 MHz (UMTS900), typically as a complement to 2100 MHz systems, to extend voice, data and mobile broadband services coverage e.g. into rural areas. Another benefit is improved voice quality. UMTS900 is becoming a standard requirement for devices destined for Europe, MEA, and Asia Pacific markets, especially for data modems, and the 900/2100MHz combination for HSPA is becoming much more commonplace. Similar benefits and efficiencies are obtained using HSPA in the 850 MHz band, as commercially available today in the Americas and Australia, and in parts of Asia.

HSPA devices by frequency (excluding notebooks):

- 816 devices (over 93%) operate in 2100 MHz band

- 393 devices (over 44%) operate in 850 MHz band

- 281 tri-band 850/1900/2100 MHz for global roaming

- 74 devices operate in 900 MHz band (compared to 9 six months previously)

The majority of HSPA operators have deployed GSM/EDGE for service continuity and the best user experience. Manufacturers support this requirement, with the survey confirming that, excluding notebooks, over 82% of HSPA devices also support GSM/EDGE.

GSA says that HSPA is driving new business growth opportunities, and many converged products are emerging, including:

- 246 HSPA devices with 802.11/WLAN, i.e. over 28% of HSPA products (excluding notebooks).

- 189 HSPA devices with positioning functionality (GPS, Assisted GPS, etc.). Excluding notebooks, this represents over 21.5%.

- 80 HSPA devices with mobile TV capabilities (comprising various standards).

Video chat services are expected to be the largest contributors to a mobile adult market worth $4.9 billion by 2013, despite the economic downturn, according to a new report from Juniper Research.

The report found that while such services were utilised by a comparatively small number of consumers, the high spend levels - in many markets averaging several hundred dollars per user per annum - are expected to push the value of the adult video chat market past the $1bn mark by 2011.

The report also found that mobile adult service revenues proving relatively robust despite the global economic slowdown. According to report author Dr Windsor Holden, "We anticipate total revenues for 2008 of around $2.2bn, which are around 3.5% below our previous forecasts. And while in some instances usage levels are marginally lower than we expected, we are actually seeing significantly higher spend per user on video chat and on some subscription-based services."

However, the report also noted that a number of markets - such as Indonesia and Switzerland - had tightened the laws governing the access of adult content, while operators in the US still remained wary of offering such content on their portals. Nonetheless, it observed that elsewhere, and particularly in Europe and parts of Latin America, on-portal adult content - usually managed by third-parties - was becoming far more prevalent.

Other findings from the Juniper report iinclude:

  • Western Europe will remain the largest regional market for mobile adult services throughout the period covered by the report, followed by the Far East & China.
  • Premium content providers are becoming increasingly concerned at the volume of free adult content available via the Internet


BDP, one of the largest interdisciplinary design practice's in Europe, has installed Meru Networks' high performance virtual cell wireless network technology to deliver network data and future voice access in its new 33,000 square foot state-of-the-art design studios, which opened September 1 in Manchester, England.

In selecting the wireless network for its second-largest building, BDP wanted a reliable, high-performance solution that would offer ubiquitous connectivity, while avoiding the difficulties it had experienced previously with the micro-cell architecture that is commonplace in most wireless networks.  "We wanted a wireless LAN for data, and the possibility of running telephony over it as well," said Paul Davies, Special Projects Director at BDP.  Additionally, they also wanted the WLAN to support high speed 802.11n networking when BDP decide to move to this new standard.  Meru filled all their needs.

"We are a project-based organisation," said Davies. "There are times when specialists move from one office to another, and project teams get together for a design session. Wireless access throughout the building means these meetings can take place in offices or meeting rooms with all the staff having the connectivity they need."

Meru's Virtual Cell wireless architecture will enhance productivity, creativity, and collaboration among the 275 professionals in the new BDP location, and will meet the company's aspirations for growth, network demand and the addition of voice over IP.  Meru's single-channel wireless insures seamless and unbroken connectivity plus land-line QoS voice communications over the network for users roaming through the building, something not easy to achieve with legacy micro-cell multi-channel wireless.

An additional benefit for BDP of the Meru wireless LAN was the simplicity of planning and deployment.  BDP wanted the wireless network up and running on Day One.  They did better.  "It was working on Day One minus 20," said Davies.

The Meru solution was recommended and installed by Building Zones, part of the Cordless Group, a specialist in using wireless networks to support creative and productive businesses.  When the wireless network was planned, the building was under construction.  Complex site planning is a prerequisite for a multi-channel mirco-cell WLAN because performance is compromised if adjoining microcells overlap similar radio channels; with a single channel architecture, the Meru wireless LAN did not require a survey. The Meru MC1030 wireless switch and the twenty-five 802.11n-ready Meru AP311 access points worked immediately when installed.

"Meru eliminates a lot of the issues which swirl around providing consistent reliable radio coverage," said Jason Green, Chief technology officer of Building Zones. "We wouldn't install any other wireless vendor in an enterprise."

TM Forum and the Mobile Entertainment Forum (MEF) have announced the launch of a joint initiative to address the estimated $5 billion in annual losses experienced by content suppliers across the mobile content value chain. The losses are said to be attributable to incorrect reporting of revenue, and according to MEF calculations, comprise as much as 25 percent of the $18 billion mobile content services market.

A combined team of TM Forum and MEF member companies will develop and publish work focused on sales reporting metrics.  These metrics will enable service providers, content aggregators and providers to build a common understanding of the quality and quantity of services delivered, which in turn will improve the measure of revenue flows for these services across the value chain. This effort will build on existing MEF work designed to improve trust and profits across the value chain, and on TM Forum work related to business process and revenue leakage issues that reflect service provider perspectives.

Keith Willetts, chairman and CEO, TM Forum commented "We believe this partnership will bring major benefits to both TM Forum and MEF members as well as accelerating cooperation between the content and service provider communities.  The end goal is a win-win where the market for these sorts of services grows, losses are stemmed and profitability increases.  It is critical that all the players in the value chain understand how to work together to tackle these challenges."

According to Suhail Bhat, Policy & Initiative Director, Mobile Entertainment Forum, "MEF's consultation on content sales reporting is designed to a best practice template that can be adopted within the industry. By building this first step on sales reporting metrics together with TM Forum, we hope to address specific issues around timeliness, relevance, accuracy and consistency of reports."

Keith Miller, senior program manager for TM Forum's Value Chains Initiative, added, "The extended reach of MEF to the content, studios and record labels combined with the TM Forum's depth with service providers and suppliers worldwide allows us to build B-to-B interfaces together that will seriously lower the cost of delivering services together across our combined value chain to our mutual customers."

Creating, delivering and monetizing content and digital media services are creating new demands on business models and operations, says the Forums. Together, they says they will address these demands and work with their respective members to address real, bottom-line-affecting issues.

The collaboration of these two organizations will ensure the solutions span the entire value chain. Over the longer term, the TM Forum and MEF will look at the bigger picture of lowering the cost of rolling out content and media services across mobile networks. The aim of this long-term view will be to stimulate the ability of different players to effectively trade together in an automated fashion and grow the overall market by enabling new joint market approaches.

Mobile Broadband pricing is becoming a threat to established fixed line Broadband as the number of flat-rate packages continue to grow and prices fall new report finds.

The report, published by Tariff Consultancy, called 'Mobile Broadband Pricing 2009' is said to highlight the growing importance of Mobile Broadband services in Europe.

Mobile Broadband Pricing 2009 - an analysis  of current Mobile Broadband*pricing in 33 countries across Eastern and Western Europe - details the continued overall decline in price levels over the past year together with the spread of larger user allowance packages with flat rate pricing that is transforming the growth prospects for a number of mobile operators.

The main findings from the report include:

-          Mobile Broadband flat rate bundles are now the norm across Europe and are the most common form of price package

-          The average flat rate package bundle provided has doubled over the last 12 months to almost 4GB (based on the analysis of 100 mobile operators)

-          The most common monthly user allowance price point on offer across Europe is now 5GB and 10GB, closely followed by 1GB and 500MB allowances

-          There are at least 20 mobile operators across all countries which are now offering an "unlimited" user allowance for their Mobile Broadband service

-          Pricing in 2008 has fallen by an average of 4% across all countries when compared with the previous year - even though average user allowances have more than doubled

-          80 per cent of Mobile Broadband operators in Europe charge a Per MB out of monthly allowance - for national traffic - with charges ranging up to 3.27 euro per MB although typical rates are between 10 and 20 euro cents.

-          Average Mobile Broadband prices have fallen by as much as 53%, 43% and 35% in Latvia, Austria and the UK respectively over the past year.

-          In Ireland, Germany, Sweden and Spain average Mobile Broadband prices are now significantly lower than the most popular fixed line DSL Broadband service, which is driving customers to the mobile Broadband offer.

-          New offerings include: Prepaid; per day; per week week, per monthly with an "off-peak" or time-limited tariff.

Commenting on the research findings, Tariff Consultancy Managing Director Margrit Sessions said, "Although Mobile Broadband pricing has continued to decline overall, the most striking feature has been the continued increase in monthly user allowances which have more than doubled in the course of a year."

With more mobile operators deploying HSDPA networks - capable of supporting downloads of up to 7.2MB - the increase in flat rate packages is likely to continue.

"Mobile operators have to ensure that they provision the network capacity to meet the demand that flat rate pricing will create and also safeguard against over-selling their service," continued Margrit Sessions. 

Although subscriber number growth is driven by larger flat rate Mobile Broadband packages, it is clear that mobile operators will face a number of challenges if they are to translate user growth to profitability.

"The key to long-term success is for the Mobile Broadband operator to develop a segmented approach to its offer with the emphasis on improving its network coverage (for example by offering a Wi-Fi bundle as well) together with a more transparent pricing scheme," concludes Margrit Sessions.

*(defined as being download access speeds in excess of 384KB)

Traffix Systems  announced today that it will offer a pre-validated, integrated NGN Control Plane solution based on Traffix OpenBloX, the market standard for Next Generation Networks (NGN) signaling, and Intel SOA Expressway, the first service router designed to address the high speed service mediation, transformation, validation, and virtualization requirements of federated SOA deployments.

To simplify NGN deployment, Traffix will integrate the Intel SOA Expressway with the Rosetta Gateway product line. The combined solution expedites NGN deployment by addressing common bottlenecks - it accelerates, secures, integrates and routes services and legacy signaling in a single, easy to manage form.

"Using Intel SOA Expressway, we are able to accelerate and secure the NGN Control Plane, and provide Telco customers with incomparable time-to-market and cost reduction advantages when rolling out their NGN networks," said Lenny Ridel Traffix CTO.

"Intel software technologies are enabling innovation for a broad range of IT infrastructure solutions," says Girish Juneja, managing director for Intel SOA Products, Intel Software and Services Group.  "The combination of Traffix pioneering approach in the Telco Authentication, Authorization and Accounting (AAA) market segment and Intel's high performance service router architecture for SOA backbone processing, sets a compelling new standard for cross network NGN service and Control Plane connectivity."

This new announcement places Traffix's Rosetta Gateway as the first ever SOA based Control Plane solution for the NGN networks.


Airvana and Pirelli Broadband Solutions have today announced that Airvana's HubBub UMTS femtocell has been selected to deliver 3G connectivity as part of  Pirelli's portfolio for fixed-mobile convergence.

Pirelli Broadband Solutions develops products that enable the delivery of services to the connected home and office. Pirelli is a supplier of CPEs for quad-play service providers in Europe, with a portfolio comprising IPTV Set Top Boxes and home and office access gateways for xDSL and FTTx networks.

"Embedding femtocell functionality into our home and office access products is a natural extension of the connectivity options leveraged by our open Epicentro middleware for service creation," said Francesco Schiavinato, Sr. Vice President Sales & Marketing, Pirelli Broadband Solutions.  "Airvana is known both for its innovation and leadership in industry standards that promote interoperability.  These capabilities will help our operator customers deliver a superior service to their subscribers."

Europe has become the first regional mobile telecoms market to feel the impact of the credit crunch, according to a new report from global advisory and consulting firm Ovum titled 'Credit crunch jitters dawn on global mobile market'.

Ovum's report looked at the third quarter financial results of multiple mobile operators in all regions of the world, finding that Europe's top mobile operators are the one that are beginning to feel the hit from the credit crunch. "Unlike other regions where the mobile market has proved resilient so far, the third quarter financial results of Europe's top mobile operators show a marked, credit-crunch-induced deterioration in their performance," says Emeka Obiodu, senior analyst at Ovum and the lead author of the report.

According to Ovum's report findings while operators in other regions showed little signs of feeling the credit crunch, their European counterparts saw their revenue generating prospects shrink. So far, the North American mobile market has withstood the credit crunch and has been helped by the rise in two-year mobile contracts. Meanwhile, operators in the emerging market continued to enjoy generous revenue growth rates, with Africa and Latin America operators reporting double-digit revenue growth rates.

The report is also part of Ovum's ongoing in-depth coverage on the impact of the economic downturn on the telecoms market and is a follow up to an earlier Ovum report titled 'Europes top MNOs unfazed by credit crunch' which looked at the second quarter results of European mobile operators in the region's top five markets.

However, despite the general state of the global mobile industry, Ovum does not anticipate a major slow down for the mobile telecoms industry. Although some operators may become vulnerable, the market remains overwhelmingly buoyant and we expect it to ride out the financial crises.

"Reassuringly, the basics of the mobile market are still intact," says Obiodu. "Mobile services have become the de-facto consumer communication tool of choice, and with an increasing shift to postpaid contracts, plus the opportunities enabled by high-speed mobile data services, there is still money out there to be made in the mobile market."

MERA Systems, the vendor of VoIP softswitches and session controllers for IP communication management,  announces that New World Brands, a major US-based VoIP service provider, has deployed MERA VoIP Transit Softswitch II (MVTS II).

New World Brands searched for a cost-effective solution that would provide both an excellent switching capability and an array of billing features to handle the increased traffic transit. After trying a number of well-known brands, NWB places its current stake on MERA Systems' flagship product MVTS II. This softswitch has been specifically designed to boost the efficiency of VoIP traffic management on large-scale networks.

"A softswitch is the core element of a VoIP network, and we thoroughly searched the market for a reliable switching system", says Noah Kamrat, Chief Technology Officer of NWB, "When we eventually decided on MVTS II, we realized that it was exactly the solution we needed. Its flexible routing policies enable us to implement a wider range of routing scenarios, based on cost, quality, information from ENUM registries, Inter/Intrastate routing options, route capacity, gateway and route load, and many other parameters".

The MVTS II billing abilities (the import of rate plans and invoicing of peering partners) save NWB the cost of deploying third-party billing applications.  And the CDR re-rating feature helps the company avoid possible mistakes caused by rates changes. Codec conversion is another function that NWB finds extremely useful. It guarantees excellent quality of service and seamless connectivity with the company's partner and corporate networks.

Mr. Kamrat also emphasizes the high quality support provided by MERA Systems. "It is my strongest belief that comprehensive customer support is as important as the product quality. I am glad that MERA Systems has the same vision: its technical support team is eager to help and is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week to give professional and effective guidance", he says.

"We are pleased to cooperate with such a fast developing and forward-looking VoIP service provider as New World Brands", comments Konstantin Nikashov, CEO of MERA Systems. "Our solution has allowed NWB to adopt an integral approach to the management of its VoIP traffic flows. The deployment of MVTS II has contributed to the company's continuous success and growth, and we are ready to supply any upgrades as the NWB network further expands."

In stark contrast to much of the entertainment and leisure sector, gambling via mobile phones will perform strongly in 2009, led by the UK market, according to a new report from Juniper Research.

The report found that total wagers on mobile phones are expected to more than double in 2009 to more than $3.6bn, where as user spending on mobile TV and mobile games will be adversely impacted by the global economic downturn.

According to report author Dr Windsor Holden, "Gambling is essentially a recession-proof industry, as while there may be marginal reductions in the level of stakes amongst casual users, the overall appetite for gambling per se will be unaffected. Furthermore, with the growing availability of betting services on-portal, the mobile is an increasingly convenient and user-friendly means of placing a bet."

The Juniper report also noted that the overwhelming majority of leading European bookmakers now offered some form of betting service on the mobile, with several having partnered with leading network operators.

However, the report noted that regulatory restrictions remained a key impediment to mass adoption, even in countries where mobile betting services were permitted, and argued that national and state governments needed to implement a clear and transparent framework governing all forms of mobile gambling services for the benefit of both consumers and service providers.

Other findings from the Juniper Research report include

  • Mobile betting will account for 75% of all gambling on mobile handsets in 2008, with casino-type gambling the second-largest sector
  • The UK alone will account for more than 30% of bets placed in 2008, although this proportion will decline to just 8% by 2013 due to increased deployment of services elsewhere
  • Global gross win from mobile betting services is expected to exceed $1bn annually by 2012



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