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Ericsson has today announced it has acquired HyC Group, a Spanish company in TV consultancy and systems integration with around 110 employees. The acquisition is said to further strengthen Ericsson's position in the services and multimedia domains as a systems integrator of IPTV solutions.

IPTV offers interactive and personalized broadband TV services to fixed and mobile users and, with the acquisition of HyC, Ericsson says it further strengthens its ability to support operators and service providers in the solution design, installation, integration and operation of IPTV services.

The HyC acquisition follows Ericsson's acquisition of Tandberg Television, the provider in advanced video compression technologies, at the beginning of the year.

Hans Vestberg, Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, and Head of Global Services at Ericsson, says: "Multimedia and services, including IPTV and systems integration, are two strategic areas for Ericsson. I am pleased to announce this acquisition as it will strengthen our ability to support our customers in offering attractive consumer services in a fast and efficient way. HyC's skills and experience fit perfectly with our service offerings in the TV domain and our leading systems integration offering."

Hector Prieto, HyC General Manager, says: "We are proud to be part of the Ericsson Group. Customers will benefit from the combination of Ericsson's global presence and our niche expertise in a blooming technology."

Nokia has announced that Polska Telefonia Cyfrowa, operator of the Era network in Poland, will offer Nokia Intellisync Wireless Email to its business and individual customers. The Nokia Intellisync Mobile Suite software platform is said to offer PTC the opportunity to address the widest market opportunity possible by resetting the cost and ease of use of mobile email and personal information management (PIM) functionality. PTC intends to offer the Era Mail branded service in Q1 2008. Already this month, PTC will offer selected small and medium sized enterprise customers the opportunity, to test the solution.

"We have evaluated several different email vendors in this space and are convinced that Nokia Intellisync Mobile Suite is the best platform to help us bring mobile email to the mass market:  Nokia offers the ease of use and they support a variety of mobile phones in addition to their Nokia Eseries devices", says Mr Klaus Tebbe, Strategy, Marketing and Sales Director, PTC Management Board Member. "Our relationship with Nokia enables us to broaden our current mobile email offering and market a PTC-branded email solution.  We lead in the deployment of innovative business solutions in Poland, and are proud of launching the service as one of the first operators in Central Europe."

For enterprises, the new Era Mail service based on Nokia Intellisync Mobile Suite means that business people can use their resources more efficiently, in real-time, wherever they happen to be.  Moreover, the offering is targeted at companies and consumers who do not have their own mail servers and use widely available Internet email services. Only the login and password to the email account are required to activate the service, which brings email usability extremely easy also to the mass market.

"Nokia Intellisync Wireless Email is just the first step of making work go mobile," says Scott Cooper, senior vice president, mobility solutions, Enterprise Solutions Nokia.  The solution offers a good price-performance ratio, high functionality and in particular is easy to use.  As a result, it will not only bring greater value and flexibility to mobile business users and consumers, but also help to expand PTC's own business opportunity".

Nokia Intellisync Wireless Email is said to work on any environment - ISP, Microsoft Exchange, Lotus Notes or Groupwise and can run on any kind of device platform - Java, Symbian, Windows, Palm or Pocket PC.

Comstar, a leading combined telecommunications operator in Russia and the CIS, has announced that its broadband subscriber base has exceeded 40,000 users in the Russian regions, reflecting a 70% growth year on year.

Digital Telephone Networks South, the largest alternative telecommunications operator in the Southern Federal District of Russia, accounts for over 30,000 of Comstar's broadband subscribers in the regions. Acquired in the second half of 2007 and 100% owned by Comstar, DTN offers telecommunication services, Internet access and Pay-TV in Rostov-on-Don, Rostov region and Krasnodar. Comstar also provides broadband services in St Petersburg, the Samara, Saratov, Tyumen and Orenburg regions, as well as in the Yamalo-Nenets and Khanti-Mansi Autonomous Areas.

Comstar Group companies started offering broadband services in the second half of 2007 based on their own NGN infrastructure in the regions.

Comstar's Tyumen branch created on the basis of Tyumenneftegassvyaz more than tripled its subscriber base due to the active development of ADSL-based services during the second half of 2007. Tyumen branch is planning to increase its broadband access points by 10,000 ports in 2008. In September, Saratov branch launched an IP MPLS-based NGN network which consists of 22 access points and covers the whole city. The branch also launched the telematic access points network based on ADSL2+ technology which comprises 37 access points and 5,000 ports. It signed up 2,500 subscribers in the three month period and continues to maintain high sales volumes. The management expects that this rollout will allow the Company to increase its market share in Saratov to around 10% by the end of 2007, compared to 1% at the beginning of 2007.

Viktor Koresh, Vice President for the Development of the Group's Operations, commented: "The level of broadband subscriber growth in the regions in the second half of 2007 indicates a strong demand for these services. We view high-speed internet access as the main growth driver of the Russian telecommunications market today. We plan to develop broadband services, based on our own infrastructure, through both organic growth and scale acquisitions of leading regional operators. We aim to increase our share in the alternative fixed-line communications market up to 25%."

Intec, the provider of business and operations support systems (BSS/OSS), has announced  that it has signed and implemented a group license and services agreement for its Intec Interconnect intercarrier billing solution with several VimpelCom subsidiaries. Valued at nearly US$2 million dollars, the new contract will enable Russia's major mobile operator to roll out Intec Interconnect throughout the CIS, with subsidiaries going live with the system by the end of this year in Uzbekistan, Ukraine and Armenia.

The agreement is an extension of a long-term customer relationship between Intec and VimpelCom, which has been a user of Intec's billing solutions since 2003. Intec Interconnect is the the world¹s leading and most advanced intercarrier settlement system with over 250 customers.  It is presently deployed by VimpelCom to support its high-volume domestic traffic as well as its expanding long distance and International license business.

"Our services and licenses deal with Intec is a very significant business decision for VimpelCom as it enables us to maximise our revenue streams from our complex intercarrier agreements in regions with very strong levels of growth," said Andrey Batalov, Head of IT Development in Russian regions and CIS, VimpelCom. "Uzbekistan, Ukraine, and Armenia in particular are countries with large numbers of mobile customers and strategic plans for market expansion.  With relatively low cost we can use the services and licenses agreement to roll out Intec Interconnect quickly and seamlessly and with minimal risk, thereby enabling us to generate a substantial income from these operations on day one and ultimately giving us the competitive edge we need to remain a market leader in these regions."

The Intec Interconnect system is renowned for its flexibility and can support all billing and settlement models. This capability will enable the subsidiaries to handle every kind of traffic, from simple voice to the most advanced content and data services, in one integrated, platform. Once the Intec Interconnect systems go live in Uzbekistan, Ukraine, and Armenia, VimpelCom will continue expansion by rolling out the solution in Tajikistan as well in 2008.

"We are extremely pleased with our new agreement with VimpelCom and we are confident that this will strengthen our existing relationship with the operator," said Gary Burch, VP of sales for Intec in EMEA. "Eastern Europe is a very important region for us in terms of long-term growth and this deal further enforces our position as the leading BSS/OSS provider in the area. To ensure that we remain competitive in Russia and the CIS we will work closely with VimpelCom and its subsidiaries to ensure that Intec Interconnect is running smoothly from the moment it goes live on the network and that income is maximised quickly from our intercarrier billing system. VimpelCom's companies can also rely on Intec's local support team in Moscow for further support. Intec's area specialists will be always be on hand to assist with any new billing challenges that may arise as the region¹s various mobile sectors explore new opportunities for growth."

Ericsson has announced that it has successfully performed interoperability tests for its Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service (MBMS) solution with the leading chipset vendors. The move is said to set the stage for the widespread adoption of MBMS and the availability of MBMS terminals.

MBMS is a scalable, flexible solution that allows operators to broadcast different forms of content in different parts of the mobile network. It helps operators to cost-effectively and quickly launch end-user multimedia services such as entertainment and emergency alert broadcast information services of traffic, weather and news.

MBMS leverages existing network infrastructure to facilitate broadcasting of multimedia services such as mobile TV. It allows an unlimited number of users to use the service concurrently, stimulates the development of new mobile mass-media services and is a cornerstone of mass-market mobile TV penetration.

The interoperability tests were conducted with several leading platform vendors, among them Ericsson Mobile Platforms and Qualcomm. Commercial rollout of Ericsson's MBMS in the 3G networks will start with early launch systems in March 2008 followed by full deployment in September 2008.

Ulf Ewaldsson, Vice President and Head of Product Area Radio at Ericsson, says: "With the large part of handsets based on these vendors' chipsets, together with the proven interoperability of Ericsson mobile networks, both operator uptake of MBMS and the availability of MBMS terminals are secured. This means that MBMS functionality will become a natural and standardized functionality in tomorrow's mobile systems and terminals.

"Operators are increasingly seeking new opportunities to harness their existing infrastructure and partner with content providers to offer end users cutting-edge multimedia services. MBMS will enable the commercialization and deployment of multimedia services for the mass market, allowing operators to tap new revenue streams and meet the future demands," Ewaldsson said.

Banverket, the Swedish railway administration, has chosen Nokia Siemens Networks' @vantage commander element management solution as it upgrades its GSM-R (GSM-Railway) system. The solution will help to drive higher efficiency in communication over the Banverket railway network.

With this upgrade, Banverket will achieve higher efficiency in communication by mapping of train telephone numbers to the correct mobile station in real-time. For example, the train controller can call a train number without needing to know the locomotive or the engine driver's telephone number. Banverket is the only license holder for GSM-R in Sweden and has been collaborating with Nokia Siemens Networks since 1998. Under the earlier contract Nokia Siemens Networks is delivering all voice and data switching and radio network systems to Banverket‘s GSM-R network.

Nokia Siemens Networks is the leader in the GSM-R industry and its solutions cover services such as automatic ticketing, cargo tracking, and passenger information systems. It also manages GSM-R networks' lifecycle, from design, implementation, and operation to long-term maintenance.

"Banverket is constantly looking at ways to make its networks efficient and safe. We believe that GSM-R is critical to security, and cost efficiency in railway operations. We have had a long and beneficial relationship with Nokia Siemens Networks and are positive that their solution will help us further maximize operational efficiency", said Curt Cederholm, Technical Manager GSM-R, Banverket.

"The critical success factor for a railway infrastructure provider is the ability to transfer information across network boundaries and international borders at high speeds. As market leaders, we understand and address these needs effectively as our solution straddles both communications and transportation. @vantage is a reliable and flexible solution that helps run service-rich mobile networks," said Jan Hellgren from Nokia Siemens Networks.

Subex, a leading global provider of Operations Support Systems (OSS) solutions for communications service providers, has announced today that it will be deploying its Concilia ä Interconnect Billing System at one of the largest telecommunications providers in Turkey.

The company was embarking on a transformation of its customer care and billing system, including national and international interconnection systems, and also wanted to implement best value routing.   It decided to go with Nokia Siemens Networks as the main systems integrator for the customer care and billing system project after a detailed evaluation period. Subex along with its local partner Gantek Technologies, was included in the overall solution presented.

Sudeesh Yezhuvath, COO, Subex Ltd, said, "We see this deal as a great endorsement of Subex's capabilities to be a trusted partner in important transformational projects.   The Concilia Interconnect Billing solution will allow our customer to quickly transform its systems and processes to enable lean and agile operations for improved competitive advantage."

Subex's Concilia Interconnect Billing system allows operators to quickly and accurately settle interconnect agreements with their network partners and gives operators the ability to adapt to rate changes quickly, enabling them to manage costs and revenues much more effectively.   As a result, operators can reach higher levels of service profitability, maximize efficiency and achieve operational dexterity.

The International Telecommunication Union announced the first set of global standards for Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) today. The standards were built with technical contributions from leading service providers and manufacturers from the information and communication technology (ICT) sector and cement ITU's role as the global leader in IPTV standards development.

IPTV is one of the most highly visible services to emerge as part of the development of next-generation networks (NGN). Indeed, it is seen as both the business case and principal driver for accelerating deployment of NGN.

The new standards were developed by the Focus Group on IPTV (FG IPTV) in ITU's Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T).

Malcolm Johnson, Director of ITU's Telecommunication Standardization Bureau said, "Standards are crucial for IPTV to reach its market potential and global audience. They are necessary in order to give service providers - whether traditional broadcasters, ISPs, cable operators or telecoms service providers - control over their platforms and their offerings. Standards here will encourage innovation, help mask the complexity of services, guarantee quality of service, ensure interoperability and, ultimately, help players remain competitive."

This announcement follows the seventh and final meeting of FG IPTV hosted in Malta by the Maltese Ministry for Competitiveness and Communications. Censu Galea, Minister for Competitiveness and Communications said, "The stage of work that sees completion this week lays the groundwork for an area of ICT that some predict could attract up to 100 million subscribers in the next three years. It's easy to see why so many of the world's key ICT companies have been keen to progress this work in ITU. Malta is proud to host this event and play a part in advancing this important technology."

Contained within the documents produced by the Focus Group are the high-level architecture and frameworks needed by service providers in order to rollout IPTV services. ITU's next phase of IPTV work - IPTV-GSI (global standards initiative) - will centre on the speedy preparation of standards based on documents produced by FG IPTV as well as on the detailed protocols required.

The 2006−2007 period has seen numerous physical and electronic meetings and workshops progressing work on IPTV around the world. Twenty-one documents covering IPTV requirements, architecture, quality of service (QoS), security, digital rights management (DRM), unicast and multicast, protocols, metadata, middleware and home networks will be submitted to the ITU-T Study Group charged with progressing and distributing the work. The IPTV-GSI will build on the momentum generated over the past 20 months, and it is foreseen that contributions and participation will continue to increase.

Operators consider IPTV a key element of a triple-play package of voice, video and data services. Standardization is imperative if service providers are to offer high quality products with value-additions, such as video-on-demand services that will inevitably drive the market. A combination of voice, Internet and video services over a single broadband link and from a single provider is foreseen as the ultimate goal of the broadband revolution.

FG IPTV benefited from collaboration with all ITU-T Study Groups and other forums and regional standards bodies, including ATIS IPTV Interoperability Forum (IIF), DSL Forum, the DVB project, ETSI TISPAN and the Home Gateway Initiative (HGI).

The first meeting of IPTV-GSI will convene in Seoul, Republic of Korea from 15 to 22 January 2008.

AT&T has announced today that Omron Europe has selected AT&T to manage its local area network (LAN) environment in Europe. This new agreement is an extension of the existing partnership with Omron Corp., a worldwide leader in automation, sensing and control technologies.

Throughout the past four years, AT&T has been providing Internet Protocol (IP)-based Virtual Private Network (VPN), remote access and hosting services to Omron Europe. Under the terms of this new agreement, AT&T will take responsibility for monitoring and managing Omron's LAN environment at 33 sites located in 17 European countries as part of a full range of network-management services offered to multinational organizations.

Roel Spijker, architect, IT Infrastructure Solutions at Omron Europe, said: "AT&T was the only provider that could demonstrate a workable model on a global level. This, coupled with the fact that AT&T already has a broad view of our business, made AT&T our partner of choice for a fully managed solution of our LAN environment."

Serbia's first mobile operator Telenor d.o.o. has signed a frame contract with Nokia Siemens Networks to build a nationwide 3G radio network as the operator moves to offer high-quality mobile broadband services across the country.

The new advanced radio network, using Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) technology, will allow data to be transmitted at real broadband speeds in both directions - to the user and from the user - thanks to the High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) enhancement. The HSPA will allow Telenor subscribers in Serbia to enjoy mobile Internet as well as rich data and multimedia services with very fast communication speeds, while higher throughput and increased network capacity will enable the operator to expand its service offerings.

Under the agreement, Nokia Siemens Networks will build a WCDMA network across Serbia within four years and it will provide Telenor with a broad range of supplementary services. The deliveries have already begun and the first parts of the new network will start operation in the first quarter of 2008.

"This contract will firmly establish Telenor as a leader in technology for this region. Our wish is to bring as many Serbian households as possible closer to the standards of modern and advanced societies," said Telenor CEO Stein-Erik Vellan.

"We are very pleased to expand and continue our good cooperation with Telenor in Serbia," said Finn Erik Hermansen from Nokia Siemens Networks. "We are fully prepared and committed to support Telenor in meeting the market needs to provide a state-of-the-art 3G mobile broadband solution with a network of high speed, capacity and quality."

The contract strengthens the partnership between the Telenor Group and Nokia Siemens Networks, following the agreement to upgrade Telenor Nordic's WCDMA network with High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) earlier this year.

Sicap, a specialist in Device Management and over-the-air SIM management, has announced today that its Device and SIM platforms now interact to trigger automatic SIM updates, uniting device capabilities and service profiles.

Interoperability between Device and SIM operations means that when a customer changes his device, the automatic detection feature of the Device Management Center (DMC) checks its capabilities and subsequently triggers a message via OTA-SIM to update the subscriber SIM with the new service options. The whole sequence is handled seamlessly for the customer and in real time, so that new personalized features become immediately available.  The potential for converged services is claimed to be huge. DMC is already running on affiliate networks of virtually every major mobile operator group. Designed and built in-house on a sustainable framework, a single database can be shared for both Device and SIM platforms, with updates synchronized on the same hardware.

Operators can leverage the SIM to provide user-friendly and device-compatible service options. New self-care aids such as the dynamic SIM toolkit menu are made available through the IMEI tracking applet in a solution jointly developed by Sicap and Giesecke & Devrient, (G&D), the world's second largest SIM card manufacturer. Markus Moser, Head of International Sales Systems and Services at G&D said "For end-users, perhaps the most visible of benefits is the ability to customize phone menus using options such as choice of language or filter settings to block unsolicited information".

The enhanced backup and restore ability of the converged platforms constitutes an additional benefit. Mobile users store address book details for instance either on the SIM, on the device, or split between the two. Merging Device and SIM platform capabilities enables synchronization of SIM and device address books, thereby guaranteeing a complete backup and restore solution in case of loss. Users can also download configurations or applications to both their device and their SIM from the same Web page.

For operators, gaining and maintaining control over subscriber services via the SIM has never been so important. The recent trend of service branding on handset vendor portals has opened up competition for customer attention. Sicap software is totally vendor-independent and works on any SIM card on the market.

Active membership of the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA DM) ensures that Sicap software roadmaps are able to meet and exceed technological challenges. In the near future, the OMA release of application management standards on devices will open up new opportunities for Sicap's converged offer. Application management for instance will be carried out on both the SIM and the device. In terms of marketing opportunities, the current trend to invest in Near Field Communication (NFC) based applications is one that will be largely helped by simultaneous Device and SIM application management.

According to Sicap Director of Product Marketing Achim Korber who is heading the platform convergence drive, "Combining Device Management with SIM Management is the way ahead. We believe that seamless service updates will be the guarantee that customers get the maximum that their device can offer".

Comptel, the vendor of dynamic Operations Support System (OSS) software, announced today that it is opening an office in Moscow, Russia, to support the growing CIS market. The new Comptel office extends Comptel's global presence to a total of 20 locations, serving over 260 customers in 85 countries worldwide. 

The opening of Comptel's Moscow office follows customer successes in the CIS region including, Transtelecom (Russia), VimpelCom (Russia), Comcor (Russia) and Datagroup (Ukraine).

Mr Jussi Heikkilä, Vice President North-East Europe Sales for Comptel, who is heading up the new Russian office, comments: "I am very excited about the opportunity to establish a presence in Moscow. In the last year, we have had significant success in Russia and other CIS countries, most notably with our Comptel Fulfillment Solution. We have also built excellent relations with local system integrators, such as Technoserv, Microtest and i3 Services. Opening an office in Moscow is a logical step for Comptel and reflects our commitment to the region." 

Mr Janne Timonen, Business Development Director for Russia and CIS at Comptel concludes: "I believe Comptel Dynamic OSS provides the right platform for operators and service providers in the region to deliver innovative services faster and more reliably than they have been able to until now. This is why I am very confident of the continuing success of Comptel across the CIS region."

Comptel will be celebrating the opening of the new Comptel office in Russia at the Billing and OSS Telecom Forum Russia, 17-19 December 2007, Moscow, World Trade Center.

    

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