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Andrew, a specialist in wireless communication systems and products, has signed a contract with Alcatel-Lucent Switzerland for providing radio frequency (RF) coverage solutions in the world's longest railway tunnel, the Gotthard Base Tunnel in Switzerland.

Andrew will provision its ION-M multi-band, multi-operator fiber distributed antenna system and RADIAX radiating cables to spread wireless coverage throughout the tunnel. Railway operators and emergency personnel will be primary users of the system with GSM-R and PMR communications standards supported, while public 2G and 3G mobile network customers will also benefit with improved coverage.

"Railway systems rely on clear and constant communication among train engineers and control centers for smooth and safe operation," said Markus Kalt, vice president of business operations, EMEA, Wireless Innovations, Andrew. "Andrew is honored to be chosen by Alcatel-Lucent for supplying the coverage solutions that help ensure such important exchanges."

Unique challenges in supporting railway communications in tunnels include the high-speed handoffs that are required as passengers zip through the tunnel. Gotthard Base Tunnel commuters will travel at speeds of up to 250 kilometers per hour. Andrew's ION-M solution, which includes over 600 remote units for this project, is said to be tuned to handle such quick hand-offs. In addition to the Gotthard Base Tunnel's main carriageway tunnel tubes, the railway system consists of numerous access and service tunnels totaling 153 kilometers in length. Andrew's RADIAX radiating cables will support the entire tunnel system.

The increasing availability of broadband-enabled mobile networks, aided by falling prices of sophisticated handsets and data charges, will underpin continued strong growth in mobile phone usage in Brazil, Russia, India and China - collectively referred to as the BRIC markets - from 1.21 billion in 2008 to 1.64 billion by 2013, according to a report published by Juniper Research.

Aided by the existing strong mutual interdependence and trading partnerships between these four countries - which are tapped to become the largest economies in the world by 2050 - this growth in mobile services uptake will be able to defy the general economic slowdown and recession that is already affecting other markets and regions arguably more exposed to fluctuating capital market conditions.

However, report author Andrew Kitson sounds a note of caution: "Despite rising revenue levels, spurred by increasing service usage, some publicly-listed operators may find it difficult in the short term to maintain investment plans for new network build-out and enhancement projects, due to the limited capital-raising opportunities at this time. Similarly, government-owned utilities may also find finances to be in short supply. Further, debt repayment burdens may weigh heavily on all manner of operators that have achieved growth through heavy borrowing."

This is an important issue, because financing will be a key component of market growth in these four countries over the 2009-2013 period as existing and new operators alike move to build out 2.5G, 3G and 3.5G mobile networks, particularly in Russia and India where low tariffs are behind the rapid user growth rates seen in recent years. Indeed, with billions of dollars needed to establish these next-generation networks, the fundamental challenge faced by market players is in turning a profit from markets that are still expected to have very low GDP per capita levels for decades to come.

Other findings include

  • Revenues from mobile data services will rise from $26 billion in 2008 to $48 billion by 2013, with China accounting for the majority of such revenues
  • Total operator-billed voice revenues for the region will peak in 2010 at $117.1 billion and will decline thereafter
  • The key change in the next five years will be the launch of commercial 3G services particularly in India and China

One of Ukraine's largest wireless operators, MTS Ukraine, has successfully deployed Comverse's Total Call Completion Suite, which is claimed to maximise revenues from uncompleted phone calls and improves the subscriber's overall user experience.

All 20 million MTS Ukraine subscribers now can find out who tried to call them, providing an easy way to return the call. In a similar fashion, another Comverse service can notify MTS subscribers when a previously unavailable person is free to talk on the phone, which eliminates the need for repeat dialing. In both cases, text messaging is used to notify subscribers.

Comverse, the world's leading supplier of software and systems enabling network-based billing and value-added messaging and content services, developed the two services, aptly known as "Who Called" and "Notify Me," because roughly 30 percent of wireless calls go unanswered.

"Our chief goal is to provide our subscribers with telecommunication services of the highest quality, as has been the trademark of the MTS Group," said Vasyl Latsanych, Marketing Director at MTS Ukraine. "The Call Completion Suite allows us to enhance the user experience by giving our customers a richer array of capabilities and control. The new services are available to all of our subscribers, helping them to keep in touch and designed to ensure that they do not miss a single call."

The Comverse solutions are complemented by friendly end-user customisation capabilities, as well as comprehensive reporting tools that provide strategic information to help operators optimise marketing decisions.

"The Total Call Completion Suite is a comprehensive solution whose unified, optimised call flow ensures a coherent user experience that seeks to maximise revenue from all formerly unsuccessful call attempts," said Dror Bin, President of Comverse Products Group.

Telsis has unveiled what it claims is the world's first and only complete solution for the rapid creation, roll-out and management of custom advanced SMS services throughout their entire life cycle.

Surveys carried out for Telsis in three major European cities are said to have shown up to half of phone users want to do more with SMS and would use and pay for advanced services.

The Telsis new era SMS solution is claimed to offer mobile operators a low-risk, low impact way to meet and grow this demand, exploiting a complete technology and services model to build, roll out and manage advanced SMS services that create differentiation and generate new revenues - and do it in days, rather than months or years, says Telsis.

The Telsis model has four-tiers, first of which is the foundation of Telsis' SMS Router.
Tier two, which Telsis debuted at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last year, is Telsis Advanced Services, an application-hosting platform pre-loaded with a suite of core SMS services and able to run many more. The two new final tiers of the Telsis solution are ServiceCentral, a service creation platform, and FrontRunner, a complete consultancy and technical assistance programme.

ServiceCentral uses the same Intelligent Network service creation technology that Telsis has widely deployed in voice networks. It enables Telsis or its partners to rapidly build the most complex of fully custom service flows, then edit them to smoothly transition applications from live service trials to full roll-outs. Usability is a key element in new service acceptance by subscribers, so ServiceCentral enables a range of options for phone-user control including SMS and Web interfaces, plus dedicated control by external systems for enterprise applications.

The FrontRunner programme lets operators supplement on an as-needed basis in-house marketing, engineering and operations teams with Telsis specialists. Together, they conceive, market-test, build, roll out and manage any number of advanced SMS services, exploiting to maximum advantage, lowest risk and lowest cost the power of the model's technology layers.

"For some time operators have been telling us that they see the revenue growth and churn reduction opportunities offered by advanced SMS, but are fearful of the perceived risk to the stability of their networks and frustrated by the competing demands on in-house resource," says Telsis CEO Simon Brown. "With our new era solution we're showing a practical, affordable and low-risk route to achieving major competitive and bottom line pay-backs through advanced SMS."
Says Declan Lonergan, vice president of Yankee Group's consumer research group: "SMS is a core element in what subscribers look for when choosing a mobile service, but until now operators have only had one lever to pull to make their offer more attractive, and that's price. This is a sure sign of a commoditising product. The net result is that in some markets SMS revenues are flattening off despite volumes continuing to climb. The emergence of more advanced SMS schemes gives operators the opportunity to compete on service, utility and innovation."

The solution will be shown publicly for the first time next month at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Celtro, a  global supplier of switching solutions for the mobile backhaul network, has announced the commercial availability of Virtual Bonding, a technology which is said to enable mobile operators to cost-effectively scale backhaul capacity and peak rate by bonding different transport links into one virtual backhaul pipe. The announcement of Virtual Bonding's availability follows the successful completion of intensive trials at two Tier-1 European mobile operators, where it dramatically improved HSPA service delivery.

According to Celtro, one of the greatest challenges faced by operators in the deployment of HSPA services is the shortage of backhaul network bandwidth and capacity. In order to ensure the highest level of service, operators must be able to maximize the HSPA peak rate capacity available between cell sites and the RNC.

Celtro's new Virtual Bonding technology is claimed to make it possible to bond together different transport links over various infrastructure technologies into one virtual backhaul pipe to transmit HSPA traffic. With Virtual Bonding, any combination of existing links - like ADSL2+, SHDSL, traditional E1 and Ethernet - can be combined to form a single high-capacity pipe. This virtual pipe's peak-rate is equal to the accumulated peak-rates of the individual links.

With Virtual Bonding, operators can cost-effectively boost backhaul network capacity, reducing time-to-market for HSPA service delivery. Virtual Bonding's inherent load sharing further benefits operators with traffic protection against single-link degradation or failure.

"Operators are facing a steep increase in mobile data usage, and need to provide immediate capacity for HSPA deployments. Virtual Bonding provides mobile operators with a unique and innovative means to increase HSPA backhaul capacity at a minimal CapEx, by harnessing existing infrastructure for cellular traffic" said Ron Zor, CEO of Celtro. "This new technology demonstrates Celtro's continued leadership and commitment to developing leading-edge solutions designed to overcome backhaul network challenges and enables mobile operators to deliver the highest level of service to their subscribers," he continued.

Virtual Bonding is available as a part of Celtro's mobile backhaul switching solutions suite, which optimizes TDM, ATM, IP/MPLS mobile backhaul traffic. The first commercial deployments of Virtual Bonding are expected in April 2009. Celtro is an active participant in the establishment of the Bonding industry standard via leading standards organizations such as the IP/MPLS Forum and IETF, together with Tier-1 operators and other leading vendors.

Celtro will be offering a hands-on, in-booth demo of Virtual Bonding at the Mobile World Congress 2009

Synchronica, a provider of mobile email and synchronisation, has announced that following its Group-Wide Framework Agreement with a Tier 1 mobile operator, it has now won a second order from a subsidiary of the group in Lithuania. 

Carsten Brinkschulte, CEO of Synchronica plc, said: "This second purchase order reaffirms the large demand we see for our push email and synchronisation in the high-growth nations of Eastern Europe."

Shipments of GPS-enabled mobile phones will hit a speed-bump in 2009, but will still manage to post year-to-year unit growth through the current economic downturn, according to a new market study by ABI Research. While global handset shipments are expected to drop by 4-5% in 2009, GPS-enabled phones will climb to 240 million units, an increase of 6.4% over 2008, says ABI.
The report says that this surprising performance will be driven by the ongoing demand for feature-rich smartphones. Although slowing slightly in 2009, demand for smartphones, a group that includes the Apple iPhone 3G, RIM’s BlackBerry devices, and Nokia N series phones among a growing list, will increase at an average annual unit shipment rate of 19 percent through 2014. During the period, GPS chipsets will continue to penetrate this segment; nine of every ten smartphones will contain GPS ICs in 2014, compared with one in three in 2008.
“Falling component prices and increasing consumer awareness of handset location capabilities will keep demand for GPS-enabled phones healthy, in spite of the slumping global economic picture,“ says senior analyst George Perros. Other factors that will continue the trend toward the inclusion of GPS functionality in handsets include the spread of open source operating systems such as Google’s Android which provide application specific interfaces (APIs) that allow software developers to create location-based content for mobile devices, and the continuing emergence of navigation and map-based applications for handsets.
“As the quality of positioning technology in handsets improves and the cost of including it declines, GPS location technology will approach the status of a standard device feature,” adds Perros. “We are approaching the point where location awareness will be synonymous with smart devices, a point where personal navigation, social spatial knowledge, and location-specific contextual information will be assumed handset capabilities.”

SwissQual, the independent Swiss network quality measurement company, has launched a unified and 'evolutionary' network quality measurement system. SwissQual Evolution offers a wide choice of measurement devices, network probes and presentation and analysis software. These 'elements' can be combined in a variety of ways to provide solutions for a wide range of network quality measurement tasks including benchmarking, optimisation and service monitoring. 

Says Salvatore Piazzolla, SwissQual's Head of Product Management: "We have made these developments to give our customers a much more flexible solution. You may well initially buy a network quality measurement system in order to address one specific problem. With SwissQual Evolution you can, of course, still do this. However you will also be able to easily re-task the various elements that you have acquired in a variety of future projects as well. This simple fact means that the SwissQual Evolution system delivers excellent long term value for an operator. It is a strategic choice."

The system also brings economies of scope and scale through other ways. Because the file and data base formats have been unified, data can also be re-used. For example, information captured during a benchmarking campaign can be re-used for a network wide optimisation exercise. The system can even re-use data captured by certain third party network quality measurement systems through data import wizards.

Says John May, SwissQual's CEO: "Over the long term, the SwissQual Evolution system delivers superior value for money. It also delivers a much greater flexibility and a much more rapid response to the emergence of new needs. For operators who take a longer term view when acquiring network quality measurement systems, it is the obvious choice."

OnRelay, a cellular Fixed Mobile Convergence (FMC) provider, has previewed its complete mobile PBX solution, Unified MBX, and opened the Unified MBX beta program to selected customers and service providers.

OnRelay's Unified MBX software provides users with a mobile office communication system (Mobile PBX), without the expense of proprietary telephony hardware or IP PBX licenses. Instead, SMBs and enterprise customers benefit from a low cost, feature-rich open source PBX, fully integrated with OnRelay's proven FMC technology - delivering complete IP PBX functionality to the mobile phone.  

Unified MBX is highly flexible, supporting on-premises deployment, hosting, and distribution as software as a service (SaaS) by OnRelay's partners. The only hardware required is a standard server or VMware instance, dramatically reducing the entry barrier for service providers relative to Centrex. As Unified MBX works over any public mobile network, users do not require WiFi, nor are they tied to one mobile operator or handset provider.
"Unified MBX is the world's first release of a true Mobile PBX - a fully fledged office communication system designed for mobile phones.  Unlike the overly simplified Mobile Centrex approach, Unified MBX has all the user and management features expected from a business class communication system," comments Ivar Plahte, CEO of OnRelay. "We are particularly proud of our new SIP based call flows that allow voice traffic to remain in the public network even for premises based Unified MBX servers."

Unified MBX integrates sipXecs, the leading open source PBX, to provide a scalable voice over IP (VoIP) system.  Based entirely on the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) standard, sipXecs brings an extensive feature set to Unified MBX, including active directory integration, presence and Microsoft exchange support. Customers can flexibly migrate user groups from legacy telephony hardware to Unified MBX, adding the Unified Communications features as required.

Messaging International, a provider of messaging services, has, through its subsidiary, TeleMessage, signed an agreement with Uralsviazinform to launch its Text-to Landline service.  Uralsviazinform is said to be the largest provider of telecommunications services in the Urals region, and is considered as one of the four leading mobile operators in Russia. The agreement to launch Text-to-Landline will allow Uralsviazinform subscribers to send a text message from a wireless phone to any landline phone in the Ural region.

The Text-to-Landline software enables Uralsviazinform wireless customers to create and send a text message to any landline phone in Russia, and converts it to a voice message for the recipient.  The recipient can then respond by voice to the wireless customer, who will receive the reply message in the form of a text.  The wireless customer will also receive a status text message confirming if the message was delivered directly to a person or to a voicemail system.

"Using SMS to Landline, our customers will be able to contact anyone, anywhere using the simple and popular SMS capabilities on their handsets," said Sergey Bershev, Deputy General Director - Director for Business Development of Uralsviazinform. "Convergence is critical to us as a combined fixed line and mobile operator and providing services that combine these two spheres of telecommunications makes a lot of sense to us and our customers."

Guy Levit, CEO of Messaging International, said, "Uralsviazinform is a great example of how a company can use Text-to-Landline to increase customer loyalty by providing an innovative product.  We are extremely pleased that Uralsviazinform has chosen to launch this service as millions of its fixed and mobile customers will benefit from our proprietary technology.  Importantly, through this agreement, TeleMessage will gain exposure and recognition in the rapidly expanding Russian telecommunications market."

Business Logic Systems, a specialist in customer intelligence, marketing automation and customer loyalty solutions for mobile network operators, has announced it will demonstrate its full portfolio of InTelestage products and technologies at this year's Mobile World Congress. InTelestage is said to be the only Customer Lifecycle Management software specifically designed for mobile operators, and is claimed to enable telcos to quickly and easily reduce churn, develop subscriber loyalty and increase the lifetime value of the customer. 

InTelestage allows marketing departments to access, analyse and act upon customer event data in real-time to create a continuous closed loop campaign process.  It delivers the ability to run multiple concurrent campaigns to highly-targeted micro segments, creating an interactive, two-way dialogue with customers, via their preferred communication channel.

InTelestage has been designed specifically to offer easy integration with third-party systems, enabling platform providers and developers to easily create fully-automated, innovative marketing solutions that increase the value of existing IT investments.

"At a time when the depressed economy is causing consumers to re-evaluate their monthly spend, the challenge for operators to retain customers and grow the average revenue per user has never been greater", commented Stewart Goldberg, Executive Chairman, Business Logic Systems.  "With InTelestage, telcos can better understand their subscriber base, reward profitable customers and increase loyalty."

The InTelestage portfolio includes products such as: Knowledge Base, Profiler, Reporter, Marketing Manager, Relationship Manager, Loyalty Manager, Reward Manager, Voucher Manager and Lucky Draw; and solutions such as Campaign Management, Campaign and Loyalty Management, Recharge Management, Customer Lifecycle Management and Revenue Optimiser.

Industry leaders from Kabel Deutschland, the BBC, Virgin Media, Walt Disney and Liberty Global are to debate the future of content creation and digital distribution at the 2009 Cable Congress in Berlin

Chairmen and chief executives from some of the world's largest media, entertainment and pay-TV companies will share their vision and strategic ambitions with cable executives at the forthcoming Cable Europe congress.

More than 700 delegates from a business sector serving more than 70m households will hear presentations from leaders including Tony Ball, Chairman of the Advisory Board at Kabel Deutschland; John Smith, CEO of BBC Worldwide and Neil Berkett, CEO of Virgin Media at the premiere event of the European cable industry.

Manuel Kohnstamm, President of Cable Europe, said: "Cable in Europe is growing at an encouraging pace and is at the vanguard of technological innovation. The annual Cable Congress is the ideal forum for our industry to share past experiences and plan future success."

Over three days of cable industry events from 18 to 22 March 2009, Cable Congress will focus on the issues of monetising content in the digital age, the future of cable broadband technology and innovation strategies in a challenging trading environment.
As well as panel discussions and smaller break-out sessions, Cable Congress, held at the Berliner Congress Centre, will feature more than 500 square metres of exhibition space over two floors.


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