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IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) is expected to provide mobile telephone operators with a forecasted $300 billion in extra revenue over the next five years, according to a new study from ABI Research. Major operators such as Sprint, Verizon and British Telecom (BT) will increasingly deploy IMS across their networks in a quickening tempo starting this year.
"Until recently IMS was mainly the province of fixed-line operators," says senior analyst Nadine Manjaro, "but now it is essential to the success of mobile and fixed operators  who are losing revenue from traditional sources. IMS  enables rapid development and deployment of new services."
Some firms - notably Verizon and BT - are facilitating this process by offering an open IMS interface allowing third-party developers easy access, as a way of ensuring a flow of new applications. This means faster testing and deployment of services, which will be critical to their success.
"Operators are forced to look at IMS and similar solutions because they need to start generating more revenue," notes Manjaro. "With recent moves by Sprint, Verizon and AT&T to offer less profitable flat rate services as a way to fight subscriber churn, that need becomes more acute."
One impediment to IMS's success in the past has been the difficulty of proving the business case for it. But Manjaro suggests that planners were incorrectly considering IMS as a service rather than a platform. In fact IMS supports multiple services, and it takes several of them to make a valid business case. To use the hackneyed phrase, there has been a paradigm shift in operators' strategic thinking.
The major remaining challenge for operators is to integrate IMS without seriously disrupting existing services. That need is being met by the major infrastructure vendors such as Ericsson, Alcatel, and Nokia-Siemens, which have been packaging IMS (at additional cost) with the network upgrades they provide to operators. Manjaro points out that, "It's easier to quantify the opportunity for operators because you can look at it in terms of potential revenue. It's more difficult with regard to vendors, because they've been bundling it with the air interface, the base station, the architecture upgrade."

Vyke Communications has upgraded its Mobile Voice over Internet Protocol service, in conjunction with Nokia's Download! store. Vyke users can now download, create an account and start calling directly from their handset via Nokia's on-device 'Download' store. The service will initially be available to customers in the United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

The improved facility includes numerous new features, primarily the focus on secure Vyke account creation which removes the need for users to access to create their account, providing quicker and more simple access.

Vyke's mobile VoIP software is found in the Download store, which is located in the main menu of compatible Nokia mobile phones. Once the download is started, the software installation and set-up process takes approximately 2 minutes to create the user's Vyke account and top it up with $1 of free calling credit.

Jan Christian Berger, CMO, commented: "We are delighted to offer this greatly improved service with Nokia. Our new account creation and top-up features enable any new user to make mobile VoIP calls in just a matter of minutes. With access to our service directly from any The Cloud hotspot and our $0.04 per call and $0.00 per minute pricing for calls to landlines in Western Europe or any number in North America, the value we are creating for users is very compelling."

Ofcom has today confirmed details of plans to auction radio spectrum suitable for a range of services, including mobile television and satellite radio. Ofcom also announced that the provisional deadline for applications is 10 April 2008, with the online auction likely to start at the end of April.

A number of possible uses of the 1452 - 1492 MHz band, the so-called "L-Band", have been identified including: mobile multimedia services including mobile TV which could be deployed using a variety of technologies; satellite digital radio; and broadband wireless access or high-speed internet on the move.

The release of the spectrum in the 1452 - 1492 MHz band is part of a wider programme to release around 400 MHz of prime spectrum. Other awards in the programme include the digital dividend - the spectrum that will be freed-up through the switch to digital television - and the
2.6 GHz band. 

The spectrum, which is available over much of Europe, will be released on a technology and service neutral basis, allowing users the flexibility to decide what technology to use, what services to offer and to change their use of the spectrum over time.  All licences will be tradable.

Ofcom's Spectrum Policy Partner, Philip Rutnam said: "Ofcom's fifth award of spectrum in the L-Band is part of the process of ensuring that the UK's valuable spectrum resource is used as efficiently as possible. This spectrum provides an opportunity for citizens and consumers to benefit from new services and greater competition."

Leading digital TV operators are selecting conditional access solutions from Conax to provide content security for their IPTV solutions. Conax, who already operates in over 70 countries, further solidifies its position in the content security market with prominent IPTV customer projects.

Conax technology can be integrated with complimentary technologies from over 300 suppliers worldwide. To deliver optimal security solutions locally, Conax builds alliances with regional partners to provide customers with local expertise and the freedom to select 3rd party technologies in their market.

"We are actively building relations both with new and existing customers wishing to upgrade to IPTV, and also major integration partners to deliver total solutions. Conax is currently working together with Thomson for the delivery of the IPTV platform and implementation of one project, further strengthening our strategy for delivering total customer solutions in local markets worldwide," says Geir Bjørndal, COO & Sales & Marketing Director, Conax.

The roll-out will include Conax's core product, Conax CAS7, and also Conax CAS7 for IPTV's security components to protect content such as geographically-targeted advertising. While partners furnish complementary solutions and integration for customer projects, Conax provides the technology to secure the operator's IPTV pay content and other revenue streams.

Conditional access is a small portion of an overall IPTV solution, yet employing a conditional access solution to secure content streams is implicit for operating a successful, revenue-generating IPTV solution.


A new report from Juniper Research claims to have found that the combination of greater 3G adoption and a marked increase in rich media, made-for-mobile content will drive mobile entertainment revenues to $47.5 billion by 2010.

However, the Juniper report cautions that entertainment service adoption will be retarded unless improvements are made in areas such as the user interface, network coverage and the excessive cost of data services.  It also notes that in some mobile areas - such as gambling, adult content and some social networking services - national and international legislation could either adversely impact on growth, or in some cases prevent any service deployment.

According to report author Dr Windsor Holden, "Traditionally, services such as ringtones and wallpapers accounted for the bulk of mobile entertainment services.  However, usage patterns are changing rapidly with the increasing availability of more sophisticated and attractive content such as streamed and broadcast video, social networking services and multiplayer games, which have been designed specifically for the mobile environment."

Additionally the Juniper report finds that the China and Far East region currently provides the largest market for Mobile Entertainment services and contributes around 41% of global revenues. Despite rapid growth in developing markets, the Asia Pacific region is forecast to retain its leadership through to 2012, when it will still contribute 33% of global revenues.

Juniper Research assesses the current and future status of mobile entertainment market based on interviews, case studies and analysis from representatives of some of the leading organisations in the growing mobile entertainment industry.

Sigma Systems, a specialist in the design, development and deployment of OSS service management solutions, has announced the appointment of Nick Hewitt as Senior Vice President of Sales in the EMEA region.  Before joining Sigma, Nick was with IBM (formerly Vallent Software Systems).

"Nick is an important addition to Sigma's senior sales leadership team," said Alex Salamon, Vice President of Worldwide Sales for Sigma Systems.  "His proven success in leading sales teams and initiatives will be of significant value as we continue to multiply our revenues by providing tailored solutions that enable the triple, quad and all-play services of EMEA's communications operators.  By partnering with Sigma, these leading service providers are able to bring new, value-added services quickly on-board to monetise their networks."

In his role as head of Sigma's EMEA sales organisation, Nick is responsible for driving business success and building on the company's current market leadership position.  This will include growing and winning incremental customers in Tier-1 and Tier-2 service providers in Europe, and subsequently expanding Sigma's business into the Middle East and Africa through both direct and channel sales initiatives.  Sigma's leadership is currently evidenced by more than 50 deployments for communications service providers worldwide (including more than 20 for VoIP and triple/quad play) with a combined total of over 30 million subscribers managed across voice, video, data, ISP, wireless and emerging markets.

Prior to joining Sigma, Nick Hewitt was SVP of Sales, EMEA for Vallent Software Systems/IBM, responsible for sales of performance management and service quality management software to Tier-1, 2 and 3 mobile operators in the EMEA region.  Before joining Vallent, Nick was Vice President of Sales for EMEA and AsiaPac at Granite Systems/Telcordia.  Among his many successes in his roles, Nick was instrumental in securing numerous multi-million-dollar accounts with Tier-1 and Tier-2 operators, and in expanding sales teams across Europe and the Middle East.  He also excels in designing and implementing channel management strategies, and in forging new partnerships with key industry players.

Ericsson has been selected to act as end-to-end IPTV systems integrator, solution provider and business consultant for tier one Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE SA).

The integrated IPTV solution for OTE comprises of headend systems from Tandberg Television, part of the Ericsson group, middleware application, content distribution platform and a customized and flexible consumer portal. The solution will also involve complete implementation and integration of tools for operational management.

The IPTV solution will enable OTE to offer new and sophisticated services to its consumers. The initial offer will include a wide variety of broadcast channels, video on demand, electronic program guide, and personal video recorder capabilities.

Jan Wäreby, head of Ericsson's multimedia business, says: "We are proud that OTE has chosen Ericsson. This is a major step for Ericsson and OTE in the new multimedia arena, where IPTV is playing a key role."

Ericsson offers an end-to-end IPTV solution consisting of IPTV middleware, video on demand, network-based PVR, IPTV headends, content protection, IPTV infrastructure, systems integration and IPTV applications such as games. Ericsson has to date signed more than 180 IPTV contracts. Those include commercial contracts, trials, IPTV System Integration projects, IPTV headend contracts and IPTV infrastructure contracts for access, metro transport and IP Edge.

DIGITALK has announced that eTel Austria, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Telekom Austria TA AG successfully started using the DIGITALK SIP Media Application Server.
eTel has provided Voice Prepaid Services on the DIGITALK Multiservice platform since 2000, and will be migrating all DIGITALK applications to the NGN SIP Application Server. eTel plans to optimize its current portfolio by introducing intelligent number services using DIGITALK Service Numbers application.

The next generation DIGITALK Service Numbers application offers both simple number translation services as well as more sophisticated intelligent call routing capabilities all managed by a web self-care interface. Services supported from the DIGITALK MSP can be customised to meet the exacting demands of the business subscriber, enabling service providers to target markets that were previously only possible using expensive and large scale IN solutions.

"eTel's decision to expand the range of services handled by the DIGITALK Platform and to migrate to next generation intelligent networking services for service numbers and prepaid was made easy by DIGITALK's clear roadmap and track record for delivering services rapidly. The Service Numbers application has a strong set of features which has given us great confidence in using DIGITALK," says Ilias Liakopoulos, CTO, eTel Austria.

Mark Ashdown, DIGITALK's Sales and Marketing Director commented: "DIGITALK is delighted to be assisting eTel's value added services. We were up against some well-known competition and this proves that our reputation in this market is going from strength to strength."

The TM Forum, the leading industry trade association focused on transforming business processes, operations and systems for managing and monetizing on-line Information, Communications and Entertainment services, announced today that its Cable Interest Group has organized an industry call on Interactive and addressable advertising. The potential growth of new forms of advertising is seen widely in the industry as the key revenue opportunity to address in 2008, however standardization is required to unlock its full potential.

The Cable Interest Group (CIG) is a committee of global MSOs, within the TM Forum that coordinate requirements for the management of new and existing services for Cable companies and is based on the work of IPDR, now part of the TM Forum collaboration program. With most MSOs now offering full communications services, the relevance of TM Forum's work, such as the business process framework (eTOM), is increasingly being seen as central to their systems architectures. However, new services are driving new requirements, such as Interactive and addressable advertising, and industry consensus is needed.

The TM Forum is promoting their push into the cable industry at a range of industry events. The first of these initiatives is at the IP Cable and the Interactive Advertising Shows, co-located with the IPTV World Forum March 12 - 14th in London, where Cable Sector head Kelly Neiman will be speaking. The second is at the 2008 Cable Congress Show in Madrid April 23-25th, where the TM Forum is initiating a European and US cable industry session to standardize the capturing, distribution, and management of data for use in cable advertising services. This industry meeting will take place in two parts in the "Technical track" on April 25th at 12 noon and 2:15pm.

"The Cable industry is moving very fast," states Kelly Neiman. "With all IP networks starting to have the ability to offer many of the same services as traditional cable networks, it has never been more important to build new revenue streams. To do this successfully, at the right price level and with industry support, a standardization of approach is essential. The TM Forum has as vital part to play to ensure this takes place."

Sicap and T-Mobile Croatia have today announced a deal which will extend Sicap Device Management Center to serve T-Mobile Macedonia customers from the Croatian platform. World leader in Device Management, Sicap has the technological ability to allow global operators like T-Mobile to multiply usage of the platform by subsidiaries.

The announcement highlights the flexibility of the Sicap DMC and the satisfaction of T-Mobile with the performance of the software, implemented early 2006 by T-Mobile Croatia to deliver device settings to customers.

Sharing the benefits of DMC with sister company T-Mobile Macedonia adds a new cost-effective dimension to Sicap software as an enabler for cross-network systems within operator groups.

In the near future, T-Mobile Croatia will upgrade to Sicap DMC version 3, containing the "Device Knowledge Center" database developed and maintained by Sicap. For the operator, the advantages are clear. No other software on the market has such comprehensive data on virtually every mobile device on the market. Around 250 features are available for each of the 800 plus devices in the base, making it a great multimedia marketing tool.

Sicap Sales Manager Maxence Drevon-Balas who orchestrated the initiatives said "The beauty of Device Management Center is that it is built on a robust and modular in-house platform. This means that operators like T-Mobile can be sure that their investment will evolve with network technologies and marketing opportunities. We are delighted that T-Mobile has recognized the opportunities".

According to Nikola Margetic, work unit Head of Development and Service Management department in T-Mobile Croatia, "Today, the seamless service activation provided by T-Mobile Croatia boosts the credibility of the country's leading operator and contributes to its success in gaining and retaining customers. We trust Sicap Device Management Center to offer the same services to our sister company in Macedonia and enable us to capitalize on resources within the group."

Mobile Interactive Group (MIG), the UK multimedia mobile interactive services provider  servicing the mobile and digital interactive markets, has been appointed by Flirtomatic for the provision of payforIT services, for mobile payments within the Flirtomatic mobile internet portal - said to be one of the largest mobile portals in the UK.

Flirtomatic signed up for MIG's payforIT solution, MIGPay, in August 2007 and the consultative approach that MIG have taken with Payforit has enabled Flirtomatic to deliver a seam-less billing solution for the their users.

Rob Weisz, Director of Wholesale Services, MIG said:  "We are truly delighted to be working with Flirtomatic. At MIG pride ourselves on our knowledge and understanding of the mobile market and have worked closely with operators, and our clients, to offer the industry the flexibility it requires to ensure MIGPay offers key features in-line with consumer needs.

"With market statistics confirming that more and more consumers are purchasing content via their mobile phone, M-commerce will remain high on the agenda throughout 2008, underpinning the need for a mobile payment solution consumers can trust."

Mark Curtis, CEO, Flirtomatic said, "Flirtomatic is one of the largest off-deck WAP portals in the UK, therefore it's essential to integrate with the new payforIT payment scheme to increase consumer confidence when purchasing products and services via mobile.  MIG and Flirtomatic have worked closely over the past three months to refine the service and to ensure Flirtomatic customers are happy with a unified cross network purchasing experience."

Orga Systems, leading provider for convergent real-time billing, has introduced new charging and billing mechanisms for context-dependent mobile services within the scope of the European research project Local Mobile Services (LOMS).

At CeBit, two examples for context-dependent mobile services were demonstrated. One is a mobile service for receiving latest news depending on the location of the user (Latest News Service) and the other is a mobile information and maintenance service to assist mechanics for repair works. Visitors to the booth configured and launched both services live and tested them with a mobile end device (cell phone, PDA, etc.) right away.

The ten most innovative research projects were selected for the Information and Communication Technology section at the BMBF's joint booth - including LOMS, in which Orga Systems plays a significant role as the leader of the German subproject.

The LOMS project presents innovative methods and tools allowing local service providers to launch context- dependent mobile services through an open service platform, even without deep technological know-how in terms of telecommunication and value-added services. As part of this platform, Orga Systems offers charging and billing services for context-dependent online charging of mobile services. For the first time, context-dependent service charging takes place over a multilayered, SOA-based service platform, which has been prototypically implemented by the LOMS project. Enhancements of international standards, such as IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) and Parlay X, define the newly created interfaces in Orga Systems' charging and billing services.

The research project LOMS is conducted as a part of the pan-European ITEA program (Information Technology for European Advancement) and sponsored by the German Ministry of Education and Research. The goal is to simplify the development and deployment of context-dependent (e.g. location-based) mobile services. This increase in efficiency greatly reduces all efforts and expenses of developing context-aware mobile services, making such a business viable for smaller and medium-sized companies.


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