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City of Szklarska Poreba in Poland is Europe's first free HotSpot Zone

free-hotspot.com has announced today that the city of Szklarska Poreba in Poland has become its first "FREE HotSpot Zone" in Europe. This designation means that public Wi-Fi access is made available through a network of FREE HotSpots operating throughout the community. The FREE wireless Internet access is now offered in over 50 hotels, restaurants, cafes and other venues located in the town centre and the surrounding areas.

The development of the FREE HotSpot Zone was achieved with the cooperation the city government. Arkadiusz Wichniak, the Lord Mayor of Szklarska Poreba, described the idea behind the project: "We were looking for a way to make free Wi-Fi available to our citizens and tourist visitors in a way that would also benefit our business community," he said. "However, we wanted to achieve this goal in a way that would not impose a cost burden on the city. free-hotspot.com was able to work with our local business owners to provide FREE Wi-Fi to Szklarska Poreba in a way that meets both these criteria."

"The free-hotspot.com service further enhances Szklarska Poreba as a leisure destination," said Grzinna Biederman, head of the city's Marketing and Promotion Department. "Whether on summer holidays or a winter ski weekend, visitors to our city are now able to email their friends, stay in touch with the office or simply surf the web - all at no charge. We believe that our FREE HotSpot Zone will not only boost our normal tourist traffic, but also help draw visitors to the many festivals and events that we host in our city throughout the year."

Joe Brunoli, Vice President of HotSpot Market Development for free-hotspot.com, described the advantages of the FREE HotSpot Zone programme: "Municipalities across Europe are looking for affordable ways to bring FREE Wi-Fi to their communities," he said. "Szklarska Poreba is the first example of such a solution, namely a joint effort by government and business that delivers FREE Wi-Fi to the public at no cost to the city - and which actually increases revenues to the community."

Cable & Wireless wins business from Virgin

Cable & Wireless Europe, Asia & US has announced that it has landed a three-year, multi million pound contract with Virgin Group to deliver strategic datacomms services.

Cable & Wireless has been providing communications services to Virgin Group for over seven years and currently delivers hosting, security and contact centre services to different parts of the Group.   Under the new contract, it will provide the company with IPVPN services to over 130 sites in the UK, managed security, WiFi and application monitoring solutions.

Virgin decided to build on its existing relationship because of Cable & Wireless' track record of delivering excellent service and managing mission critical services - as well as its deep knowledge of the company.

Cable & Wireless will take responsibility for delivering datacomms services to Virgin Operating companies including Virgin Management, Virgin Trains, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Active.  The increased bandwidth will allow Virgin Atlantic's applications to work more effectively; and Virgin Trains to implement an IT refresh that is fundamental to its business. Virgin Active also has an increasing reliance on real-time systems for operational processes so a robust, reliable, secure and speedy network is essential to its success.

Gareth Lewis, CIO, Virgin Group, said: "We're a complex business, made up of a diverse number of different companies each with very specific requirements - Cable & Wireless gets this.  We also valued its commercial innovativeness and flexibility, as well as its strategic vision for the shared services model. 

"Cable & Wireless has focused on making sure it understands our business, our people and our communications needs.  I have great confidence that our datacomms are in safe hands, allowing us to concentrate on driving our business forward."

Jim Marsh, CEO, Cable & Wireless Europe, Asia & US, said: "Our priority is to know exactly what our customers' requirements are - and deliver a great customer experience first time, every time. This is a fantastic win for us and we're thrilled that we can build our on existing relationship with Virgin Group." 

Orga Systems strengthens long time partnership with CAPE Technologies

Orga Systems, the specialist in convergent real-time billing, has today announced that CAPE Technologies is its preferred partner for roaming solutions.

The partnership agreement builds upon the existing relationship between the two companies. Under the terms of the partnership, CAPE's roaming solution, RoamBroker, is integrated with Orga Systems' convergent billing solution, OPSC Gold. Following requests from clients to include roaming in their product portfolio, Orga Systems performed a detailed analysis of the solutions available in the market and selected RoamBroker, allowing them to strategically expand their business offering and provide a "one-stop-shop" solution to their clients.

The RoamBroker solution will offer a wide range of new roaming benefits to Orga Systems' clients, including real-time cost control, management of all aspects of billing for inter-operator roaming and control of their roaming business. This agreement further strengthens the existing alliance between CAPE and Orga Systems. 

OPSC Gold enab­les operators to unify convergent billing processes for all voice and data services - whe­ther they are prepaid in real-time or postpaid - into a single system. The RoamBroker web interface allows for effective management of roaming administration tasks thus maximizing the ease-of-use for the end-user. 

RoamBroker assists the operator in reducing third-party roaming costs, while at the same time maximizing roaming revenues. The solution complies with a range of GSM Association specifications, including TD57, simultaneous support of multiple TAP and RAP file formats and HUR reporting. With its integrated reporting suite, RoamBroker also provides traffic, financial and high-usage reports to the end-user.

"We selected CAPE as a preferred partner to meet the increasing demands of our customers for a billing system with integrated roaming functionality," said Rainer Neumann, CEO, Orga Systems. "By implementing CAPE's RoamBroker roaming solution, we can now offer our customers true unified rating within our OPSC Gold billing solution."

Philip Sharpe, President and CEO of CAPE, commented: "We are delighted to be working with Orga Systems and we are confident that the features in RoamBroker will meet their requirements in the areas of roaming for convergent billing. This partnership is another great endorsement of RoamBroker which is used by leading operators around the world as a comprehensive solution for managing all aspects of billing for inter-operator roaming."

Ericsson is new WCDMA/HSPA network supplier for Elisa in Finland

Ericsson has been chosen by Finnish operator Elisa to deliver WCDMA/HSPA network equipment, taking the longstanding relationship between the two companies to a new level. The expansion will virtually double the coverage and capacity of Elisa's existing WCDMA/HSPA network.

Under the contract, Ericsson will more than double the number of radio base stations in the Elisa network over the coming year. By the end of the year, more than 120 towns and cities will have 3G coverage, strengthening Elisa's position as a leading Finnish 3G/HSPA network operator and service provider. Elisa chose Ericsson for the expansion project following a successful pilot that concluded earlier this year.

Ericsson's High-Speed Packet Access (HSPA) solution provides increased data speeds by introducing enhancements in the uplink and the downlink. The advanced technology boosts network capacity and cuts response times for interactive services, increasing the performance of mobile broadband.

The contract also covers support services, deployment, integration and educational services.

Veli-Matti Mattila, President and CEO at Elisa, says: "We have seen a dramatic increase in the demand for 3G services in Finland. According to recent surveys, internet, e-mail, maps and local services are soon to be found in every pocket. We must be able to offer 3G solutions that are easy to use and help day-to-day living. Our decision to provide flat-rate mobile services reinforces our commitment to Elisa and Saunalahti customers. Ericsson's technology will help us achieve that goal."

Janne Laitala, President, Ericsson Finland, says: "We are proud to be selected by Elisa to expand its HSPA radio network, and in this way contribute to bringing faster mobile broadband to a greater number of Finnish consumers. This contract further emphasizes Ericsson's leadership in broadband."

VimpelCom acquires cellular operator in Irkutsk region

VimpelCom has announced that it has acquired Corporation Severnaya Korona, which holds GSM 900/1800 and D-AMPS licenses covering the Irkutsk Region.

The Company acquired 100% of the shares of CSK for approximately US$ 232 million. The sole shareholder of CSK was Tele2 Sverige AB of Sweden, a member of the telecommunications holding company Tele2 which operates in the Nordic and Russian markets.

CSK's GSM-900/1800 and D-AMPS licenses cover a territory with a population of about 2.5 million. According to the Company's estimates, the CSK subscriber base as of the end of June 2007 amounted to over 571,000 subscribers (including more than 3,000 D-AMPS subscribers), which accounts for 21.5% of the entire cellular market in the Irkutsk Region. According to independent surveys, the penetration level of cellular telecommunications in the region is about 107.6%.

Commenting on today's announcement, Nikolai Pryanishnikov, VimpelCom's Executive Vice-President and General Director for Russia, noted: "We are happy to announce our entry into one of the most important regions of the Far East and Siberia. The acquisition of CSK substantially enhances our position in Russia and expands the communication options available to existing and new subscribers. We plan to integrate the acquired company into VimpelCom's network as soon as possible and offer the local population Beeline's high level of service."

Following the acquisition of CSK, VimpelCom's operating area covers 75 regions of the 85 administrative regions of the Russian Federation.

Ericsson sole supplier of Pannon's WCDMA/HSPA network in Hungary

Ericsson  has announced a new contract in Hungary. Telenor-affiliated operator Pannon has signed an agreement for the expansion of its mobile network, including deployment, integration and support services.

Pannon, which has more than 3 million subscribers, is Hungary's second-largest mobile operator. It recently reached an agreement with Ericsson to expand its WCDMA radio network, and deploy and integrate mobile broadband services using HSPA (High-Speed Packet Access) technology.

With this contract, Ericsson maintains its position as sole supplier of Pannon's 3G radio access network and will support the operator in its continuing evolution towards advanced HSPA-based services.

Ove Fredheim, CEO of Pannon, says: "We have chosen to establish a long-term partnership with Ericsson to deliver advanced mobile broadband services to our customers. Ericsson's leadership in WCDMA and HSPA is a strategic advantage for Pannon."

As part of this new, two-year agreement, Ericsson will provide turnkey rollout of the new network, including supporting services.

Gábor Éry, President of Ericsson Hungary, says: "This is a strategic contract for Ericsson, further strengthening our cooperation with Telenor. The extended agreement with Pannon takes our partnership to the next level."

Orga Systems billing platform powers Kazakhstan's first mobile entertainment community

Kazakhstan's largest mobile operator GSM Kazakhstan (Kcell) has launched a new youth-orientated mobile service initiative using Orga Systems' real-time billing solution suite.

The new service - called VClub - is set-up, charged and managed by a powerful suite of real-time billing products provided by Orga Systems. The new community charging functionality was especially developed to meet Kcell's advanced requirements. It enables the operator to divide its prepaid subscriber base into dedicated groups. Group members receive special rates and discounts when communicating with each other.  

For its mobile entertainment club Kcell uses Orga Systems' OPSC Prepaid Billing System, complemented by the Orga Bonus Management System (OBMS), a flexible marketing tool for special promotion and customer loyalty campaigns, and the Orga Service Manager, enabling the administration and real-time charging of value-added services based on subscriptions.

The VClub is Kazakhstan's first mobile entertainment community and free to join for all subscribers to ActiV, Kcell's prepaid mobile brand. Members of the VClub will benefit from free and discounted mobile entertainment services and will be able to participate in exclusive campaigns, contests and lotteries offered by Kcell's promotional partners. Services will focus on music, film, technology and mobile entertainment.

The launch of the VClub community, enabled by Orga Systems‘ suite of billing soultions, is a landmark event in Kazakhstan mobile communications that will allow Kcell to attract new subscribers, reduce customer churn and lift ARPU.

Users fed up with receiving marketing spam from mobile service providers, claims new survey

Results of a GfK NOP survey commissioned by Pontis, a provider of Marketing Delivery Platforms, amongst 752 mobile phone users in the UK reveals a deep dissatisfaction amongst the public with the way that mobile service providers are currently marketing their voice and data services.  70% of mobile phone users consider the marketing offers they receive not to be relevant to them and 64% of these confess to being annoyed by them.  Just 11% of those surveyed had ever purchased an item, or signed up for a special promotion or bundle as a result of an online promotion or offer from their mobile service provider.

The survey highlights how mobile operators are failing to capture the imagination of the baby boomer generation, with 75% of 45-54 year olds and 78% of 55-64 year olds viewing the marketing offers they receive as irrelevant to them.  Surprisingly though, even teenagers and young adult are less than enamoured with the ability of the operators to promote services which might interest them: 57% of them feel that the services they are offered today are irrelevant.  Of all the respondents, this age group also declared itself to be the most irritated by receiving marketing spam, with a whopping 72% of 25-34 year olds who do not find offers relevant claiming to be annoyed by this practice.  However, within this same age group 47% of all mobile users are also willing to change operators to one that can provide them with marketing offers and services more tailored to their lifestyles.

Guy Talmi, senior marketing director at Pontis said, "These results are proof of the fact that the mass marketing approach most operators still take today is not working.  The findings represent both good and bad news for the service provider community: on one hand it shows that their inability to tailor services and content to the individual user's interests and situation is not only failing to attract new revenue streams but - even worse - it's alienating their customer base.  On the other hand, it clearly points to a major opportunity for those operators who can harness vital information about a user's interests and behaviour and offer them relevant services at the right time,, as a large number of users would be willing to change suppliers for just such a service."

Emma Mohr-McClune principal analyst for wireless services at industry analyst Current Analysis comments,, ""We can't keep burying our head in the sands on this issue. Today's spam-weary consumer is heartily sick of poorly-aimed and irrelevant campaigning. The 'one size fits all' promotion model is outdated. This report flags up a growing need for better tailored and personalised campaign techniques, and a higher level of commitment to customer micro-segmentation going forward."

Alcatel-Lucent deploys HSUPA solution for mobilkom austria in Austria

Alcatel-Lucent has today announced that mobilkom austria has deployed Alcatel-Lucent's HSUPA (High Speed Uplink Packet Access) solution in all Alcatel-Lucent NodeB's of its Austrian network.  This enables mobilkom austria to offer its customers mobile broadband service with an uplink of up to 1.4 Mbps, which is five to ten times faster than previously available and helps solidify Alcatel-Lucent's position as a major supplier of advanced mobile broadband technology.

mobilkom austria, a part of Telekom Austria Group in Vienna, Austria, is the leading mobile operator in Austria and follows the principle of always being on the leading edge of wireless technology.

HSUPA is designed to improve uplink transmission rates to reach peak speeds of 5.7 Mbps.  Alcatel-Lucent's HSUPA solution gives users continuous coverage on the move and allows them to upload large files such as presentations and videos easier and faster.  It  provides end-users with excellent quality for peer-to-peer interactive multi-media applications, such as voice and video over IP, file sharing, interactive gaming,  push-to see, video sharing.

Alcatel-Lucent implemented the rollout for mobilkom austria with its local partner Kapsch Carrier Com.

"Alcatel-Lucent has been chosen as supplier of HSUPA equipment for mobilkom austria because Alcatel-Lucent's technology is one of the most advanced on the market and has proven its reliability in a test phase in Graz," stated Ulrich Rokita, Head of Network Planning, mobilkom austria. "mobilkom austria is strongly relying on Alcatel-Lucent's capability to deliver and support leading edge wireless technology in order to help mobilkom austria to maintain and even extend its position as one of the most advanced mobile operators in Central and Eastern Europe."

"Alcatel-Lucent's dedicated goal is to assist our customers in their effort to provide top quality services by delivering the latest technology, and Alcatel-Lucent's HSUPA solution fully meets this demand," added Philippe Keryer, President of Alcatel-Lucent's GSM/W-CDMA/WiMAX activities. "mobilkom austria's decision is another positive result of our acquisition of Nortel's 3G UMTS access business, and it provides further proof that this acquisition will help us gain momentum in the telecoms market."

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