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Orange Moldova has today announced the launch of the world's first mobile telephone service offering high-definition (HD) sound. The service is claimed to provide customers with a significantly improved quality of service when making calls.

The launch is said to be the second step in Orange's HD voice strategy, following on from the launch of a high-definition voice service for VoIP calls in 2006. Over 500,000 Livephone devices have already been sold in France and the range will be extended to other Orange countries over the coming months.

The first mobile handset integrating high-definition voice capability that will be launched by Orange Moldova is the Nokia 6720c. The handset integrates the new WB-AMR technology, which is said to be widely expected within the industry to become a new standard for mobile voice communications.

According to Orange Moldova, customers using the device will benefit from the best possible sound quality allowing for a much richer and natural sound that is capable of conveying emotion significantly better than an ordinary handset. Background noise is also faded out to provide clearer voice conversations creating a feeling of proximity between both parties. Market research suggests that 72%  of customers would want their next mobile handset to be compatible with HD voice, and 50%  of VoIP customers are willing to switch operator to get an improved voice quality service.

"High-definition voice is clearly the future standard for mobile communications and is set to vastly improve user experience over the coming years," said Yves Tyrode, Executive Vice President of the Orange Technocentre. "We are very happy to be able to bring this technology to our customers in Moldova, who will be the first in the world to be able to enjoy such a service."

Liudmila Climoc, CEO of Orange Moldova, added: "We are very proud to bring this world premier to Moldova, clearly demonstrating the potential of the Moldovan market. Our teams have worked very hard, in collaboration with the Orange group's teams across the world, to develop the advanced technology that makes this service possible. In addition, the high quality of our 3G network - which already offers coverage for 63% of the population and was recently upgraded to allow for speeds of up to 14.4 Mb/sec - enabled Orange to launch this premium service in Moldova. It is through the launch of innovative new services such as this that Orange is reaffirming its commitment to quality and investment in the future of Moldova."

Orange says it plans to rapidly extend the range of HD voice-compatible mobile handsets across Europe. The Group plans to introduce HD voice services to the UK and Belgium markets by the end of 2010 and believes that the handsets will represent the majority of the 3G handsets sold within five years. At the same time, Orange will also continue its plans to roll out HD VoIP in other European markets such as Poland and Spain.

RGB Networks, a specialist in network video processing, today announced that Volia, a leading Ukrainian telecom provider, has selected RGB's Broadcast Network Processor (BNP) to optimise its video services to its 400,000 strong subscriber base.

Selected after a competitive tender, Volia chose RGB's multi-function BNP to perform concurrent transrating and statistical multiplexing, as well as program substitution.  Through RGB's high-density digital video processing capabilities, Volia will benefit from significant bandwidth savings without impacting picture quality - thus enabling Volia to offer its customers additional services, such as increased high definition (HD) channels at impressively high quality.

The BNP also provides Volia with the ability to seamlessly switch between programs on a single output channel, enabling customised regional program line-ups using external scheduling management.

Volia's system is now live having been rolled out by DEPS, RGB's reseller in the Ukraine.

"RGB's solution meets our needs perfectly," said Valery Salyamov, Director, New Product Development at Volia.  "It allows us to optimise our capex by fitting in more video programs today where bandwidth is always insufficient, without compromising on video quality, and allows us to provide new informational and advertising channels in the future by utilising the BNP's advanced digital overlay functionality."

"Volia's business model, like any operator, depends on being able to continually meet the needs of its customers today, while also planning for the opportunities of tomorrow," said Jeff Tyre, Director, Product Marketing at RGB Networks.  "The BNP solution addresses these issues completely, providing Volia with the capabilities and the tools to deliver high-quality video processing through a platform which can be scaled up over time to meet customer demand."

A new Wireless Intelligence study into multiple cellular connections per user is said to have revealed that individual consumer spending on cellular services is considerably higher than reported Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) implies, particularly in North America. The study is said to be based on primary research and found that users are typically spreading their spend across multiple SIM cards or devices, which is distorting reported industry metrics such as ARPU and market penetration.

In North America, the study found that revenue per real user has actually increased in the region over the last two years despite the macro-economic turmoil. However, in Western Europe, the results show that consumer spending on cellular services is in decline and opportunities in areas such as mobile broadband are not being realised.

The study measured the number of multiple connections per user to calculate 'real' penetration and revenue per 'real' user rather than using the traditional method of simply dividing revenue (ARPU) or population (penetration) by the number of connections. Based on this methodology, we found that North America has a 'real' market penetration of 71 percent in 3Q09 compared to reported penetration of 92 percent, while Western Europe has a 'real' penetration of 87 percent compared to a reported 128 percent.

According to Wireless Intelligence, the multiple connections issue has also distorted ARPU, which is considered to be falling or flat in most markets based on the usual reporting methods. When calculated in terms of revenue per real user and accounting for multiple connections per user, consumer spending on mobile is shown to be rising in some regions. This phenomenon is particularly visible in North America. According to Wireless Intelligence, reported ARPU (revenue per connection) in North America has been flat at around USD51 since 2006, but the new study reveals that revenue per real user has increased from USD60 to almost USD64 over the same period.

In Western Europe, revenue per connection has been falling by 5.4 percent (CAAG) over the last three years, while revenue per real user is also declining, though by a smaller margin, by 2 percent a year over the same period. The study found that revenue per connection in Western Europe will fall to EUR23 this year compared to EUR24.7 in 2008, while revenue per real user will fall to EUR33 this year from EUR34.2 in 2008.

"The results are striking in North America where we clearly see that consumers are spending more on cellular services despite the backdrop of a troubled macro-economic environment" said Joss Gillet, senior analyst at Wireless Intelligence. "However, while it appears that there is still room for growth in North America, our research suggests we are reaching user saturation in Western Europe. The region is entrenched in a phase where the prevalence of multiple SIM or device ownership is driving connections growth but revenue per real user is falling. This reflects the clear urgency for mobile operators in the region to invest in value-added services and network quality to generate profits."

According to a new report from Juniper Research, demand for improved 3G reception for residential mobile voice and broadband use will be principal driving forces behind the growth of femtocells in the next few years, with subscribers exceeding 15 million globally during 2012.

The Femtocells research evaluated three adoption scenarios, and found that there is significant upside market potential for subscriber growth beyond these levels especially in developed nations. Juniper Research also found that femtocells will begin as standalone units but become integrated into the home wireless router in future, to form a "multi function mix and match" home network services gateway: router vendors are already working towards this.

Femtocells report author Howard Wilcox gave more details: "Surprisingly for some people, surveys such as that by Orange in March show that most mobile usage actually takes place from our homes. Poor indoor signal strength and slow web access are quite common problems faced by users. Femtocells offer an attractive solution - both for users and network operators who themselves can achieve economies through data traffic offload."

Further report findings from the Juniper Research report include:

  • Shipments of standalone femtocells will take off over the 2011/12 period, but integrated units will be larger in value by 2014.
  • The top three regions for femtocell subscribers in 2014 will be Western Europe, North America and the Far East & China.
  • Revenues from new, advanced femtocell services will gain traction as soon as 2011.

TeleWare, a provider of intelligent communication solutions to businesses and service providers, today announced the immediate availability of SMS capabilities for users of its intelligent Numbers, enabling text messages to be sent to a user's virtual number and have them delivered to their designated mobile phone or email inbox.

"We believe we are the first company in the mobile business area to overcome this problem," said Steve Haworth, CEO of TeleWare, "until now, the only approach that allowed full SMS capabilities on the mobile required separate mobile and landline numbers."

The separate mobile and fixed line number solutions compelled every business to issue their staff with at least two numbers for business - the mobile and the fixed line.  This puts call control into the hands of the caller, as they select which number to use.  Perhaps more importantly, it also means that, as employees move between organisations, their mobile numbers often moves with them and so their contact also moves away from the business. 

With the new solution, a single intelligent Number is allocated by the business and the mobile private number can be used for private calls and SMS while the intelligent Number is used for all business calls and business SMS messages.  Both numbers are live concurrently and SMS is fully operational.

This also means that all business calls to the intelligent Number will use the company's existing call control systems, such as auto attendants, corporate voicemail and alternative routing options, ensuring business calls are handled efficiently and cost effectively.

"The cost of generating an incoming call from a prospect will, typically, be in the region of £300 - £500 per call," explained Steve Haworth.  "Companies are spending money generating sales prospects then risking losing that prospect through changes to sales staff or poor call control on mobile phone numbers.  In the past companies had little choice but to give their employees multiple numbers since SMS is a business tool in today's increasingly mobile market. Today they have the choice, they can both receive SMS messages and have a business number that belongs to the business not the individual," added Haworth.

For employees representing multiple companies it is also possible to have multiple intelligent Numbers for voice calls and mobile calls on a single mobile handset so that they are informed as to which business they are answering for when taking a call.  The SMS functionality is a fully integrated feature of intelligent Number and is part of TeleWare's operating system for their Telephony Server.  It is available for immediate deployment by TeleWare On-premise customers as they upgrade to V11 or deploy a TeleWare Mobility Server and is already fully deployed to all TeleWare Hosted Services customers.

Figures released by Europe's Fibre-To-The-Home (FTTH) Council have shown superfast broadband delivered by FTTH has defied the recession to achieve 18 percent growth over the last survey compiled in late 2008*.  The UK is currently ranked outside of the FTTH Council's top ten European fibre nations and according to Viatel is set to stay there.

Steve Powell, product manager for connectivity and security services  at Viatel, stated: "In the UK we, as yet, have no national published planned roll out intentions for FTTH or Fibre-To-The-Premises (FTTP), other than green field sites with BT, such as Ebsfleet in Kent, or small scale roll outs from companies such as H2O.  As a result the chances of appearing within the Top 10 FTTH countries list are remote indeed."

Powell continued: "One of the main reasons that the UK is so far behind is a result of the levels of competition within densely populated areas for first generation access technologies - DSL services.  Unsurprisingly BT, the UK incumbent, appears to be concentrating purely on wringing the last drop of performance from the last mile copper PSTN network which is already in place.  And who could blame them, they already own this infrastructure."

While it is difficult to criticise BT for taking care of its own interests, the slow transition to FTTH could have a negative impact on UK business competitiveness.  Other European countries are enthusiastic about FTTH because of the economic and social benefits that it provides.  The FTTH Council argues that low latency in high-speed fibre networks is vitally important especially when you consider time dependent applications like personal communications, conference calls or video calls where a delay will cause significant interference.  The council cites separate studies that demonstrate the positive impact FTTH infrastructure can have on local economic output.

Viatel also notes that the provision of super fast broadband provides local enterprise with the means to succeed in challenging times but is not convinced that UK businesses will know what to do with it when it arrives.

"Despite remote working infrastructure being readily available for a while now, it has taken UK businesses a considerable amount of time, and other factors like the swine flu outbreak, freak weather conditions and regulation, to wake up to the benefits of allowing staff to work from home," continued Powell.  "How long will it be before businesses adopt the services that become possible when super high speed broadband connections are available across the UK? Very many years I suspect."

*The Fibre-To-The-Home (FTTH) Council report can be found here: http://www.ftthcouncil.eu/documents/press_release/PR_EU_rankings_Final.pdf

Conax, global provider of content security solutions for digital Pay-TV, has announced that the latest European DTT platforms will include content protection technology from Conax. 40% of the rapidly expanding DTT market already deploys technology from Conax today, including top-tier content security for 13 national DTT platforms in Europe.

Hannu Pro Bulgaria, a daughter company of Hannu-Pro Latvia and a leading system integrator in the Baltic States, has been awarded the tender for the second phase of the forthcoming Bulgarian DTT project. Hannu Pro Bulgaria intends to use a Conax solution for deployment of 3 MUX SFN networks, which will cover 96% of Bulgarian territory by 2015.

Conax will also provide operational content security for services marketed by Eutelsat visAvision. The content security for the DTT platform will be managed by Conax, in Oslo.

"Hannu Pro intends to partner with Conax on the Bulgarian DTT platform based on the positive experience surrounding Hannu Pro's Conax content security solution in our Latvia DVB T operations - a platform covering 99% of Latvian territory, says Gintars Kavacis, Managing Director, Hannu Pro. The new DTT service will include exciting new services and provide security for our content revenue streams."

Geir Bjørndal, EVP Products & Markets, Conax, "In a market where consumers are traditionally not willing to pay for content, German DTT has been available free-to-air thus far. Through this initiative, Eutelsat visAvision will be able to provide a host of innovative new DTT services and applications and a wider selection of choices to viewers. As platform provider for the first client, RTL Group, Eutelsat visAvision will initially make RTL encrypted content available via several thematic channels. Conax will provide the content security for the solution."

Huawei has unveiled its SingleMetro platform, which is said to allow operators to upgrade from triple-play to multi-play services smoothly. The SingleMetro platform is said to be the latest enhancement to Huawei's IPTime (IP Transport Infrastructure for Multi-play Experience) solution, and enables service experience optimization, network capability monetization and TCO (total cost ownership) reduction.

The demand for HDTV (high-definition television), high-speed Internet, mobile broadband and other applications is driving operators to deploy multi-play metro networks. Huawei claims its SingleMetro platform will enable operators to flexibly create new business models with unprecedented user experiences and increased network capability monetization. Operators will also be able to benefit from enhanced QoE (Quality of Experience), improved ROI (Return on Investment) and simplified OAM (Operation Administration Maintenance).

"Service providers are rapidly transitioning to converged metro service architectures in order to effectively support the further evolution of multi-play service delivery. Huawei's new SingleMetro platform combines the traditional service routing functions of an edge router, multiple specialized network devices such as video quality monitoring, and a cost effective metro Ethernet aggregation capability into a single platform flexible enough to support new service models. Emerging service models must include new and innovative ways to help carriers monetize and provision their network infrastructures," said Glen Hunt, Principal Analyst of Carrier Infrastructure, Current Analysis.

SingleMetro's high-precision packet-based clock distribution enables full service operators to provide enhanced 3G and LTE (long term evolution) services. The integrated value-added service engine (iVSE) ensures non-stop HDTV while saving bandwidth significantly with distributed cache. The user-centered operation model designed into the platform supports inline real time service monitoring (iRSM) which is able to visualize network performance for real-time monitoring and rapid trouble shooting. The platform also integrates technologies of IP/MPLS forwarding, service routing, intelligent edge, subscriber management, video engine, content caching, security, deep packet inspection (DPI) and PS core support and other intelligent featuring.

"The upgrade from triple-play to multi-play is more than adding new services. It's about building future-oriented network infrastructure that can support innovative technologies, services and business models. As part of Huawei's All-IP convergence strategy, the SingleMetro platform reflects our long-term commitment to address the challenges and pressures of global operators through our network solutions," said Daniel Tang, Vice President of Huawei Network Product Line.

Huawei has also launched its Metro Services Platform (MSP) CX600 V6, as the first product release of the SingleMetro platform. More product releases are expected to be available to the market by the end of 2009.

The GSMA,  which represents the interests of the worldwide mobile communications industry, today announced that it has endorsed a new 3GPP standard, Integrated Mobile Broadcast (IMB), that will allow its members to accelerate the adoption of mobile data and broadcast services worldwide. IMB is a technology that enables spectrally-efficient delivery of broadcast services, based on techniques that are greatly aligned with existing FDD WCDMA but also allowing deployment in TDD spectrum. This allows for the smooth handover between IMB delivery and existing deployed technology.
 
Operators can use IMB within segments of spectrum already allocated with many 3G licenses, but which have remained unused due to a lack of appropriate technology. Since IMB meets the necessary regulatory and spectral requirements to be deployed in this spectrum, operators can now use this valuable but previously untapped asset. IMB also reuses many aspects of existing, deployed technologies such as UMTS and Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service (MBMS), meaning a short development cycle for inclusion on products resulting in a faster time to market for mobile broadcast services such as mobile TV. 
 
"IMB has been created through collaborative mobile industry effort and offers mobile operators an opportunity to launch new services to their customers," said Alex Sinclair, Chief Technology Officer at the GSMA. "The GSMA is delighted to be endorsing this technology and we look forward to seeing the advanced services the mobile operator community will deploy using this flexible new mobile broadcast standard."
 
The GSMA has also collaborated with leading operators such as Orange, SingTel, Softbank, Telstra, T-Mobile and Vodafone to create a white paper on this new standard. The GSMA IMB Service Scenarios and System Requirements white paper covers the technology in greater detail, including spectral requirements for deployment of the service, capabilities that are required to be supported in the operator's network and upon devices, and a range of examples of services that could be implemented using IMB as the underlying delivery technology. In combination with 3GPP specifications, the white paper will allow infrastructure and handset manufacturers to develop common implementations of IMB, which in turn will promote mass adoption through the generation of economies of scale and an IMB ecosystem.
 
The white paper is available to download via the following link: http://www.gsmworld.com/documents/GSMA_IMB_WP_final.doc  

The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) and the German Federal Association for the Digital Economy's mobile division, the BVDW Section Mobile, today announced the launch of MMA Germany as the next phase of their partnership.

MMA Germany has been established to further advance the mobile advertising and marketing industry in the country through local participation from industry stakeholders, as well as to drive the adoption of global standards, best practices and guidelines, as well as the further education of brands and agencies on the mobile opportunity.

The partnership with BVDW is said to offer members of both organizations a greater set of benefits from the increased range and depth of resources and market experience, as well as greater scope for future projects and events.

"Germany represents a major mobile market both in Europe and worldwide and as a result, it is an important area of focus for the MMA," said MMA President CEO Mike Wehrs. "The work that the MMA and BVDW Section Mobile have done so far in introducing and popularizing best practices and usage guidelines has been essential. The establishment of MMA Germany is the most recent example of the MMA creating Local Councils as a means to both support the growth of mobile marketing on a national basis and ensure delivery of benefits to members. We are now looking forward to working more closely with brands and agencies in Germany to make the path to mobile campaign implementation as easy and straightforward as possible."

Bringing together both existing MMA and BVDW Section Mobile members, the new council counts 44 founders and anticipates doubling this in the next 2 years. Members will benefit from association with both the MMA and BVDW at no extra fee; creating a vast network of industry contacts with which to explore market opportunities, share skills, research and knowledge and find new business openings.

Additionally BVDW Section Mobile members will have an accelerated opportunity to upgrade their membership to the regional or global level providing access to MMA's global scope for those companies seeking that level of leadership in the industry. 

One of the first such educational and networking opportunities will be this year's only European Mobile Marketing Forum, which opens today. Held in Berlin as a sign of the importance of the German market to the MMA, the event brings together 12 of the world's leading brand names, as well as agencies, operators, content providers and entertainment and media companies to share new ideas and discuss real world mobile marketing.

The German Local Council represents the MMA's second phase of growth in Germany after establishing a strategic partnership with BVDW Section Mobile in April 2007, and further cements the already close working relationship; building on the federal association's success in introducing and implementing MMA guidelines, and signaling more direct MMA involvement in the German mobile marketing industry.

"As we're seeing from the growing brand adoption of the mobile channel and the response rates being achieved, the climate and conditions are now right for German mobile marketing and advertising efforts to take off," said MMA Germany and BVDW Section Mobile Chairman Mark Wächter. "The industry collaboration and innovation that the MMA's work in Germany engenders will help to move the market on, building its size and potential to benefit the entire ecosystem."

mobilkom austria, the domestic mobile subsidiary of the Telekom Austria Group, has launched jointly with Visa Europe and its wholly-owned A1 Bank a credit card with mobile services in the Austrian market. Starting from today, the A1 Visa Card will be exclusively available for selected mobilkom austria customers. It will be initially offered free-of-charge during a 6 month promotional campaign and will then cost EUR 4 per month.

The A1 Visa Card is designed in line with the A1 brand (the product brand of mobilkom austria) and combines the features of a conventional Visa Card with special A1 mobile services such as A1 mobile points, transaction confirmation by text message for more security, paybox (the Austrian mobile cashless payment system) and a mobile insurance package. Based on the new generation of NFC-capable handsets, A1 Visa Card will also function as contactless payment tool via the mobile phone.
 
"In 1999 mobilkom austria was the first mobile provider worldwide to launch an m-commerce service, turning the mobile phone into a mobile payment terminal. Today, 10 years later, we are opening up a new business area with A1 Visa Card, combining for the first time the benefits of a financial product with mobilkom austria's innovative service portfolio," commented Hannes Ametsreiter, CEO Telekom Austria Group.
 
Two-thirds of Austrians do not have a credit card and with mobilkom austria's customer base of 4.6 million, there is strong growth potential for the new product. The A1 Visa Card will only be issued to mobilkom austria customers through registration and a copy of an identification document sent to the A1 Bank. A1 Visa Card will allow payment transactions at over 24 million POS-terminals and at roughly 1.4 million ATMs worldwide.  
 
Kurt Tojner, Country Manager for Visa Europe in Austria, added: "Mobile phones are nowadays not only a lifestyle tool but an indispensable commodity in every-day life just like the Visa card. We are delighted to be able to offer an innovative payment solution jointly with A1 and provide card owners with a combination of state-of-the-art mobile technology and the extensive Visa acceptance network. This step will pave the way for the further development of mobile payment services such as, for instance, the contactless technology Visa payWave."
 
SMS Security Package & Mobile Points
An additional service - a SMS security package - will allow card owners to monitor the payment transactions they have made: customers will be informed about the amount and the recipient of the payment by text message and will be able to pro-actively retrieve their account balance any time. A1 Visa Card owners will also profit from a mobile insurance package including theft, purchase protection and travel insurance. Moreover, with each purchase made with the A1 Visa Card, customers will be granted mobile points that will be added to other loyalty points for the purchase of a new handset. 
 
The collaboration between the leading mobile provider in the domestic market and the largest electronic payment retail network creates unparalleled potential synergy. "Going forward, we plan to bring A1 Visa Card as a contactless payment solution to the next generation of NFC-capable handsets with a view to allowing our customers a completely new breed of convenient, cashless, mobile and secure payment services," said Hannes Ametsreiter highlighting the area's development potential.
 

The Broadband Forum today announced the latest broadband and IPTV statistics in a press conference at Broadband World Forum-Europe. Based on data provided for the Forum by industry analysts Point Topic, global broadband grew by 12.9 million lines in the second quarter of 2009 to reach 445 million, while IPTV growth remained strong at 11 per cent - reaching 26.9 million.

In the past twelve months, broadband subscription in Europe grew 13 per cent overall, to reach 135 million, which included an impressive growth of 29 per cent in the Eastern European territories.  Europe is the second largest broadband region in the world, and holds four of the top 10 country spots as detailed below.

Top 10 broadband countries

 

Country

2008Q2

2009Q2

Total

Total

China

75,768,350

93,549,000

USA

74,440,195

86,227,582

Japan

29,584,700

31,085,500

Germany

21,420,702

24,086,250

France

16,601,286

18,324,300

UK

16,718,400

17,838,200

South Korea

15,061,659

15,876,992

Italy

11,534,230

12,855,463

Brazil

8,490,400

10,469,755

Canada

9,005,181

9,618,107

                        Source: Data provided for the Broadband Forum by Point Topic

 

Europe continues to lead the IPTV success story with 13,631,074 subscribers, a 51 per cent growth over the twelve months leading up to July 2009.  In the second quarter 2009, there was a healthy six per cent growth in Western Europe - where France remains the "champion" IPTV country with more than seven million subscribers - and 12 per cent in Eastern Europe, where new services in countries such as Poland, Czech Republic, Slovenia and Russia are in demand.

 

IPTV subscriptions per territory in thousands

Region

2008Q2

2009Q2

Western Europe, Middle East and Africa

8428

12416

North America

2718

5018

South and East Asia

2512

4375

Asia Pacific

2817

3835

Eastern Europe

655

1215

Latin America

14

53

 

Source: Data provided for the Broadband Forum by Point Topic

In terms of technology, fiber and wireless broadband continue to gain access technology market share.   Consumer demand for IPTV seems to be driving the rollout of higher bandwidth options.

"This report shows that, while broadband adoption is not immune from the state of the world economy, the technology continues to move forward and I believe this year has shown that broadband expansion is not limited to the top industrialized countries, but is a key factor in assisting developing nations to gain a foothold in today's tough market," said George Dobrowski, Chairman and President of the Broadband Forum.

"The Forum continues to drive broadband innovation, and with our latest work around IPTV network and service assurance, we continue to ensure that the industry has all the tools and specifications it needs to optimize networks and to capture the full potential of broadband and IPTV worldwide. We have also undertaken several initiatives in areas such as energy efficiency this year, which will help facilitate network energy savings as broadband growth continues across the world."