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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.

New research has estimated that over 2.6 billion mobile tickets will be delivered to just over 208 million mobile phone users by 2011.The report from Juniper Research claims to have found clear evidence that the sector is gearing up for major launches over the next few years. Early trials, mainly led by mobile network operators, are now migrating into commercial services that are controlled by the ticketing issuers themselves.

Benefits for the ticketing issuers include reduced cost, better security to help the fight against fraud and improved environmental footprint by reducing paper. Early use of mobile barcode technology will be gradually complimented by the emergence of NFC (Near Field Communications), in particular for the transportation ticketing sector where there are already commercial deployments in the Far East and important trials in Western Europe and North America.

According to the report, most encouraging for the sector is the wide adoption by some of the major organisations that control the issuance of tickets, such as Ticketmaster, British Airways and Tickets.com. This is coupled with the involvement of the key operators and technology providers such as O2, NTT, DoCoMo, Vodafone, Nokia and Samsung.

Juniper Research illustrates the current and near-future status of mobile ticketing with analysis and interviews from representatives of some of the leading organisations in the growing mobile ticket industry.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Savings for the airline industry of $500 million each year by migrating to mobile boarding passes
  • A total of almost $87 billion worth of mobile ticketing transactions by 2011
  • NFC will start to create traction from 2009 onwards.

The report summarised that 2007 had been an important and groundbreaking year for the sector with trials and commercial deployments expected to continue throughout 2008 and beyond.

ZTE, a global provider of telecommunications equipment and network solutions, has announced that it has finalised a Buyer's Credit Facility arrangement for MobilKom a.s., a leading trunking solutions provider in Czech Republic. As part of ZTE's expansion in the European market, this is said to be the first time that a telecom financing facility from China has been made in Czech Republic as well as the first time a CDMA2000 1xEV-DO Rev.A network has been commercially deployed in Europe.

MobilKom a.s., the fourth largest mobile operator in Czech Republic, collaborates with Penta Investments Group in offering services through its U:fon network. 

China Development Bank, one of China's leading banks in financing infrastructure construction is financing EU€19 million to MobilKom a.s. for the buyer's credit facility arrangement.  The agreement was signed late last year between MobilKom a.s. and China Development Bank, and is now officially made public.

"We are very delighted to see the first CDMA2000 1xEV-DO Rev.A network being commercially deployed in Europe," says Zhang Fan, Managing Director of ZTE Global Finance Center.  "With an established reputation in the financing market, ZTE has developed long-term strategic partnerships with several international and Chinese financial institutions, further strengthening business bonding and enhancing partnerships with our customers."

This latest partnership between ZTE and MobilKom a.s. is expected to create mutual benefits for both companies. ZTE has been providing MobilKom a.s. technical support and through this financing scheme, will further aid the company in enhancing services to its subscriber base in Europe. 

Ericsson has been selected by German mobile operator E-Plus to expand and upgrade its WCDMA network. The deal also includes the expansion and enhancement of the E-Plus microwave transmission network and will provide subscribers with mobile data services in most parts of Germany. 
 
Under the three-year agreement, Ericsson will upgrade E-Plus' existing Ericsson WCDMA base stations and add new 3G base stations to increase network coverage and capacity. Ericsson will also supply microwave transmission solutions, including MINI-LINK TN, to support capacity growth for the transmission network. Ericsson will also provide network technology consulting services.

Ericsson's microwave transmission solutions shift voice and data traffic from the radio access to the core network, enhancing the capacity of the mobile network backbone to cope with increased traffic in the radio network.

Carsten Ahrens, President of Ericsson Germany, says: "We are proud to support E-Plus' strategic initiative with the supply of our advanced 3G and microwave transmission technology. Our leading mobile broadband solutions will allow the E-Plus Group to introduce innovative mobile internet and multimedia services cost-effectively and quickly."

As mobile commerce finally goes mainstream, the network plays an increasingly important role. This podcast was adapted from the "Money in the Bank" article featured in the Winter 2007 issue of Tellabs Emerge Magazine.

Worldwide sales of mobile phones to end users surpassed 1.15 billion units in 2007, a 16 per cent increase from 2006 sales of 990.9 million, according to a report from analyst Gartner. Mobile phone sales at the end of the year were consistent with the yearly trend, as fourth quarter sales reached 330 million units.

"Emerging markets, especially China and India, provided much of the growth as many people bought their first phone," said Carolina Milanesi, research director for mobile devices at Gartner, based in Egham, UK. "In mature markets, such as Japan and Western Europe, consumers' appetite for feature-laden phones was met with new models packed with TV tuners, global positioning satellite (GPS) functions, touch screens and high-resolution cameras."
 
"After another strong year, we expect the growth in sales of mobile devices to end users will decelerate in 2008 and fall to about 10 per cent growth as mature markets become more saturated," added Ms Milanesi. "However, the global mobile devices market will remain relatively immune to a recession in the US and Western European economies as the majority of growth in 2008 will come from emerging markets.  The mature Western Europe and North America markets are driven by operator contract terms and replacement cycles and will account for just 30 per cent of the global mobile devices market in 2008."
 
Gartner says that Nokia achieved its long-term target of 40 per cent market share in the fourth quarter of 2007 when it sold slightly more than 133 million phones across the world. Despite some component shortages, Nokia increased its market share sequentially in all regions except North America, which remains a challenging market for the vendor. In emerging markets, products such as the 1110, the 1600 and the 2630 were in demand by consumers, while in mature markets such as Western Europe high-end phones like the N95, N82 and N73 were sought-after devices. In 2008, Nokia will need to continue to improve its portfolio, offering not only more applications and functions, but also novel designs and improved user interfaces.

In the fourth quarter of 2007, Samsung maintained second position, and although its market share slipped slightly, the gap widened between it and third-placed Motorola. Its success relied on its Ultra and Ultra II family of products. In 2008, Samsung needs to diversify its portfolio further with more form factors and colours so that single products stand out from the overall line-up.
 
The problems that beset Motorola in the third quarter of 2007 continued through the fourth quarter, and it recorded sales of 39 million phones across the world, taking 11.9 per cent of the market. It retained second place in terms of annual sales to end users in 2007, largely thanks to the inventory it disposed of in the first half of the year. Nevertheless, the extent of Motorola's troubles can be seen in the 9.7 percentage-points market-share drop in its fourth quarter of 2007 result from the same period in 2006.
 
Sony Ericsson ended 2007 with another positive performance, growing its market share on a quarterly basis to 9.0 per cent from 8.7 per cent. Its Cyber-shot and Walkman products, such as the K850i, K610i, W910i, K550i and W300i, remained popular among consumers around the world. As Sony Ericsson widens its reach, adding features such as Wi-Fi and GPS, as well as more low-tier products, it will stay competitive in the coming quarters.
 
LG's mobile phone sales totalled 23.5 million units in the fourth quarter of 2007, maintaining its 7.1 per cent market share despite the increase of more than three million in sales volumes. The success of the Viewty, the Venus and the Voyager helped LG gain brand awareness across the world as well as improve its margins. Ms Milanesi commented: "In 2008, LG will need to continue strengthening its high-end portfolio for mature markets as well as its mid tier. In the low tier, LG will increasingly be challenged by vendors such as ZTE, which has already been eroding its market share in key markets such as India."
 
The market saw three new entrants into the top ten in the fourth quarter of 2007. These vendors included Research In Motion (RIM), ZTE and Apple. "On one hand, we have aggressive pricing and a focus on emerging markets (ZTE), and on the other, RIM with targeted functions and Apple with brand and design," said Ms Milanesi.
 
"Phone manufacturers need to continuously adapt their portfolios to respond to operators' demands for open platforms, lower pricing and more personalisation," recommended Ms Milanesi. "They should also try to meet consumers' desires for fashionable, easy-to-use phones."
 
Sales in the Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa region remained strong in the fourth quarter of 2007 and reached 61.8 million units. Mobile operators continued to add new subscribers to their networks, especially in Africa where countries such as Nigeria, Egypt, Algeria and South Africa saw healthy net new additions.
 
In the fourth quarter of 2007, mobile phone sales in Western Europe totalled 55 million units, up 2 per cent from the fourth quarter of 2006. Features such as music players, GPS and cameras proved to be significant attractions. In the same quarter, operators in Germany, the United Kingdom and France introduced Apple's long-awaited iPhone to the market. Although sales have been small, this iconic device renewed consumers' interest in high-end phones, which in most Western European markets are still heavily subsidised by operators.

Newtec, a specialist in the satellite and communications industry, has announced a deal with Greek-Cypriot satellite operator Hellas Sat, to deploy its 2-Way Satellite Multimedia Broadband System, Sat3Play, to residential users throughout Greece and all remote islands, many with a lack of terrestrial DSL.

The new service from Hellas Sat will be provided via Ku-band capacity on the Hellas-Sat 2 satellite, positioned at 39 degrees East. It is set to dramatically improve the availability of broadband services in Greece, where only 19 percent of people currently have access to fast terrestrial broadband services. Sat3Play's advanced modulation scheme and easy to install patent pending "Point&Play" capability make it an extremely cost effective system for both the operator and the end user.

Hellas Sat CEO, Christodoulos Protopapas said, "Hellas Sat understands the importance of broadband connectivity as the only method available today that is capable of establishing cheap internet connectivity anywhere in Greece. Hellas Sat is continuing to enhance the existing satellite broadband services by awarding Newtec the contract for a Sat3Play hub and terminals and continuing to bridge the broadband gap for home users located in rural areas and islands".

Newtec CEO, Serge Van Herck said "Hellas Sat's selection of Sat3Play as its technology of choice for the implementation of its Satellite Broadband Services across Greece, demonstrates that our technology is recognised as the optimum solution available for consumer satellite broadband. Sat3Play's small size, low cost and easy installation makes it consumer friendly - a quality that is very attractive to an operator such as Hellas SAT."

Amdocs, a provider of customer experience systems, has today announced that mobilkom austria's newly founded subsidiaries in Serbia and Macedonia, known as Vip mobile and Vip operator, respectively, have deployed Amdocs Billing for convergent voice and data billing. Amdocs Billing is said to have enabled Vip mobile and Vip operator to set up billing operations quickly and ensure time-to-market advantages for current and next generation wireless services, including multimedia messaging services (MMS), video streaming and mobile commerce transactions.

Over the past decade, mobilkom austria has deployed Amdocs Billing across its Austrian, Liechtenstein and Slovenian subsidiaries. The operator has extended its relationship with Amdocs to support its new business needs in Serbia and Macedonia. The deployments in Macedonia and Serbia are the first Amdocs deployments in these regions.

"Amdocs Billing is helping us to achieve business excellence and to offer a compelling customer experience to the Serbian marketplace. In Macedonia, we were able to deploy Amdocs Billing in less than four months and rapidly grow Vip operator's market offerings and subscriber base," said Walter Goldenits, IT Director, mobilkom austria. "With mobilkom austria subsidiaries standardizing on Amdocs Billing, we can promote a consistent brand experience across the different regions while keeping operational costs low."

Amdocs Billing incorporates one rater for voice and data, and provides a single customer view across offerings.

"mobilkom austria is leveraging its existing investments in Amdocs Billing to support its regional expansion and establish group-wide common business processes in order to deliver a unified and intentional customer experience," said Charles Born, vice president of corporate communications at Amdocs. "This is a classic example of how a service provider can evolve its operating environment with our Customer Experience Systems Blueprint while driving low-risk deployments and cost of ownership advantages."

Tanla Mobile, a specialist in wireless application development, mobile billing and messaging solutions, has announced it has been selected by the European based mobile company Mliven, to provide a mobile billing platform for the imminent launch of several of Mliven's mobile services in the UK.  Mliven is a world leader in mobile application and product development and has over 100 different mobile applications launched across Europe.  Mliven will immediately work with Tanla Mobile to launch several mobile gaming portals in partnerships with global mobile game publishers.

"Mliven has a proven track record in Europe and we are keen to create an official presence in the UK," explains Jan Rezab, President of Mliven. "In order to offer our services and applications to local consumers, we wanted to implement a flexible billing platform that enables us to monetise content and mobile internet search traffic. Having spoken to several suppliers, we chose to work with Tanla Mobile to deploy Payforit because they displayed
unsurpassed technical knowledge, combined with a collaborative approach and an enthusiastic team."

Payforit is the new payment service, supported by all licensed UK mobile operators, designed to make it easy to pay for low cost services on the mobile phone. First announced in March 2006, the Payforit scheme has been developed by the operators to promote a trustworthy and consistent standard for paying by mobile, so that consumers can buy with confidence when they are making one-off payments or setting up subscription services via their phone. Tanla Mobile is one of the first Trusted Payment Intermediaries to offer PayForIt across all UK networks. It provides a complete PayForIt solution that helps digital content owners maximise revenues from content sales and increase consumer trust.

"Tanla Mobile is delighted to help innovative companies such as Mliven establish themselves in the UK market. Payforit represents the first step into mobile commerce, creating a whole new marketplace for mobile content," adds Gautam Sabharwal, Business Development Director, Tanla Mobile."Our Payforit platform will enable brands such as Mliven to actually convert customer interest and traffic on their mobile portals into customers' transactions, providing a simple, transparent billing mechanism that makes delivering cutting edge content painless."

O2 has today announced that it has won a coveted contract with Network Rail, which owns and operates Britain's rail infrastructure, to provide voice, BlackBerry and other mobile data services. The deal is O2's largest corporate customer win and one of the UK's largest ever port of numbers with 23,000 connections transferring from Vodafone to O2. The win overturns industry-wide perceptions that large corporates see the risk of changing suppliers as too daunting.

Network Rail was looking for a step change in the delivery of its mobile services and saw O2 as a great cultural fit, providing fresh thinking and the opportunity for true partnership. Key to O2's selection were its dynamism, best of breed solutions and differentiating brand.

Working closely with Network Rail, O2 will be developing and streamlining mobile solutions to help Network Rail maintain, renew and enhance the railway. O2 will help Network Rail identify areas of the business that will benefit from mobile technology to enhance efficiency and flexibility for the workforce and put in place systems to achieve both bottom-line and customer benefits.

As this relationship evolves, O2 will work closely with Network Rail to develop bespoke solutions which will set a new benchmark for mobile services in the rail industry as a whole.

Ben Dowd, Business Sales Director, O2 UK, said of the deal: "This is an incredible win for O2 and provides us with another great example of how we are changing the face of the mobile marketplace. We genuinely believe that customer and employee satisfaction are intrinsically linked to business success and together with Network Rail, we believe we can help the company achieve its objectives".

Network Rail's Director of Information Management, Catherine Doran, said: "We are delighted to enter into this relationship with O2. We are keen to embrace new ways of communicating with our people and suppliers and changing the way we work by using new technology. O2 has demonstrated the same passion and drive to help us achieve these bold targets, by showing great innovation, good customer service and commercial capability."

    

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