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AIRCOM International, an independent network planning and optimisation consultancy, today launched its latest management and engineering tool suite, ENTERPRISE 6.2.

The new features are said to include an upgraded OPTIMA module that is capable of monitoring both fixed and IP networks - essential for operators investing in converged networks. The RANOPT module now includes functionality to incorporate indoor coverage level measurement, which is said to be ideal for operators who want to roll out 3G femtocell home base stations across their network. Meanwhile, for those operators taking the evolutionary path towards LTE, the ASSET module now supports HSPA+.

ENTERPRISE 6.2 delivers a breakdown of network performance by aggregating the outputs of radio planning, drive test analysis, performance and management tools. Any necessary remedial action can then be taken through the suite's configuration management capability. Using this single platform, operators can maximise staff productivity through eradicating the need to input data repeatedly across multiple tools.

Users can purchase ENTERPRISE as standalone products or as part of the total network planning and optimisation suite, allowing them to select the combination of modules to complement their network optimisation requirements.

Commenting on the launch of ENTERPRISE 6.2, Margaret Rice-Jones, CEO of AIRCOM International, said, "The thinking behind ENTERPRISE 6.2 is very simple - better visibility of the network, whether in the planning or application stage, promotes improved situation awareness, so that problems can be identified and solved earlier and more efficiently. We have designed this suite to support operators in every facet of their network planning, now and in the future."

Huawei has announced plans to launch a 56Mb/s HSPA+ (High Speed Packet Access Plus) commercial solution in 2010. Huawei says the solution will enable operators to offer download speeds that are double what is available today.

The 56Mb/s HSPA+ solution, featuring multi-carrier and MIMO (multiple-input-multiple-output) technologies, was demonstrated in Beijing at P&T/Wireless & Networks Comm China 2009.

"Advances in mobile broadband, particularly record breaking data speeds and capacity of HSPA networks, have had a profound impact on the telecom industry and demonstrate the enormous potential of UMTS/HSPA," said Wan Biao, President of Wireless, Huawei. "This 56Mb/s HSPA+ solution will enable operators to maintain their industry leading positions and provide consumers with an evermore attractive mobile broadband experience."

The solution is said to allow operators currently using Huawei's fourth generation and 38xx series base stations to smoothly evolve their legacy networks to 56Mb/s HSPA+ networks via software upgrades alone, and deploy leading edge networks at significant cost savings that ultimately protect their long term investment.

As a provider of end-to-end mobile broadband solutions, Huawei has deployed over 10 commercial HSPA+ network contracts, as of August 2009. In Asia Pacific, Huawei has deployed a commercial 28Mb/s HSPA+ network, and, along with leading operators including Japan EMOBILE, Singapore StarHub, Vodafone Turkey and Hong Kong PCCW, Huawei has launched five commercial HSPA+ networks which support downlink speeds of up to 21Mb/s.

Magdalene has signed a contract with Eurotunnel Group to design, model, pilot and supply a replacement telecommunication solution for the Channel Tunnel connecting England and France. Magdalene will also be providing implementation assistance, training and long-term support services to Eurotunnel for the transition to and maintenance of the new telecommunications infrastructure.

The project scope provides the replacement of existing PDH transmission system equipment with a Keymile multi-service UMUX solution and associated management system. The initial stage will be to design the replacement solution, followed by a modelling and pilot phase with subsequent deployment of around 60 multiplexer nodes. The networks at the land side terminals in Folkstone (UK) and Coquelles (France) will be updated with infrastructure offering SDH capability and a migration path to packet based services for the potential of more extensive deployment and utilisation.

The Channel Tunnel, opened in 1994, is the longest undersea tunnel in the world. The section under the sea is 38km long. The three tunnels (two single-direction single-rail and a service tunnel), each 50km long, were bored at an average 40m below the sea bed, and link Folkestone in Kent to Coquelles in Pas-de-Calais.

New research has found that the Western European mobile phone market recorded another quarter of year-on-year declines in the second quarter of 2009 (2Q09). According to the IDC European Mobile Phone Tracker, handset vendors shipped 42 million units to Western Europe, down 6% from 2Q08. The second quarter results are an improvement on the 14% decrease in 1Q09, but the crisis will continue to impact the region, says IDC.

According to IDC, the switch from traditional mobile phones to converged mobile devices continued to be a major trend in Western Europe. Traditional mobile phones declined 12% during the quarter to 33.2 million units, and converged mobile devices (ie smart phones) experienced a healthy 25% increase during the quarter to 8.8 million units, when compared to the same period last year.

"The first six months of the year were very challenging to both vendors and operators in Western Europe. The market was hit hard by the financial crisis, and demand mobile for phones slumped as never experienced before," said Francisco Jeronimo, European mobile devices research manager, IDC. "Since 2Q08 the market has been suffering from negative growth, with the bottom line being hit in 1Q09. Despite the slight improvement in the second quarter of 2009, we will continue to see negative growth throughout the coming quarters, with full market recovery being seen only in 2011."

For the full year, IDC says it believes that the Western European market will decline 10%. Demand for converged mobile devices will continue to grow, but will not be strong enough to reverse the overall market decline as they represent only 21% of total shipments. On the other hand, traditional mobile phones will continue to decline, though at a lower rate, as vendors adjust their portfolios, bringing more features to the low-end devices.

Among the biggest handset vendors, it is important to point out that Korean manufacturers continue to perform better than Scandinavian phone makers, says IDC. For the first time, Samsung and LG together shipped more devices to Western Europe than Nokia. Nokia continues to be the market leader, with 36.3% market share, but the gap to Samsung, the second biggest vendor with 28.9% market share, continues to diminish. On the other hand, LG continues to challenge Sony Ericsson's market position, and the success of its touch screen handsets allowed LG to get 11.5% market share, the highest ever in Western Europe, says IDC.

Nokia Siemens Networks says it recently made the world's first LTE call using commercial base station and fully standard compliant software.

Standard compliant LTE network products and terminals are a precondition for commercial network rollouts and for end users to benefit from a large terminal variety from different vendors. The Nokia Siemens Networks' call was made via base stations with fully complaint software to the 3GPP Rel.8 (March 2009 baseline) LTE standard, bringing LTE trials closer to the behavior of future commercial deployments.

"This call is a significant landmark in building and strengthening our entire LTE ecosystem and shows our commitment to the technology," says Marc Rouanne, head of Nokia Siemens Networks' Radio Access business unit. "We see customers adopting LTE along differing timelines and we stand ready to meet the needs of early adopters of LTE as well as operators with extended migration paths from 3G/HSPA+ to LTE," he added.  

The LTE data call was conducted in Nokia Siemens Networks' R Centre in Ulm, Germany, with its Flexi Multiradio Base Station. The first deployments for LTE services are foreseen for the end of 2009 with volume rollouts of commercial networks in early 2010.

Skype and SIPfoundry, a not-for-profit open source community, today announced that sipXecs, its open source enterprise IP PBX unified communications (UC) solution, has now been certified as interoperable with Skype for SIP. This will enable many organisations running a sipXecs IP PBX solution to save money by directing their outbound calls to mobiles and landlines via Skype, while also enabling them to receive inbound calls from Skype users.

"At a time where small and medium-sized businesses are dealing with tighter budgets, many of them are considering open source alternatives to traditional IP PBX systems," said Stefan Oberg, VP and General Manager of Skype for Business. "By certifying sipXecs as interoperable with Skype for SIP, we continue to demonstrate our commitment to open source and standards like SIP and SIPconnect. Furthermore, we are giving IT administrators the opportunity to leverage a very cost-effective solution, combining the low upfront cost of an open source IP PBX with the low-cost global calling rates that Skype is known for."

Interoperability with Skype for SIP means that businesses which have deployed native SIP or SIP-enabled PBXes, like the sipXecs IP PBX solution, can take advantage of the cost savings provided by Skype's low-cost global calling rates when their employees call landlines and mobiles around the world. In addition, companies running a sipXecs IP PBX can be called directly by any of the more than 400 million registered Skype users who might click on the Skype button that has been placed on its corporate website(s). These Skype calls are then received through the existing PBX and can be handled or directed in the same way as any other inbound caller. Companies can also choose to purchase an online Skype number. This will enable them to receive calls via Skype from business contacts and customers calling from traditional fixed lines or mobile phones.

"Achieving interoperability with Skype for SIP means it is now easy for companies that deploy the sipXecs IP PBX solution to route their outbound calls via Skype," said Martin J. Steinmann, member of the board of directors at SIPfoundry. "The ability for the many companies around the globe that are already using a sipXecs IP PBX system to now get the many benefits which Skype for SIP delivers further enhances the ease-of-use and low total cost of ownership of our open source solution."

Skype for SIP is also interoperable with Nortel's Software Communication System (SCS), a commercial version of the SIPfoundry sipXecs IP PBX unified communications solution that is sold with full commercial support through Nortel, as well as Dell, IBM, and other distribution partners worldwide.

Comfone, provider of roaming services to more than 300 operators in over 130 countries, has added TeliaSonera as the newest member of its WeRoam Wireless IP roaming platform with an aggregated footprint of over 60,000 global hotspots. As part of the tie-up, TeliaSonera will bring 3,400 hotspots to Comfone WeRoam's network, thereby significantly increasing WeRoam's reach in Scandinavia.
 
Comfone WeRoam is an open roaming platform that supports username/password and EAP (SIM) certificates based authentication for WLAN Roaming. In the first half of 2009, WeRoam says it recorded a 43% annual increase in WLAN traffic as the market demand for broad WiFi coverage continues to grow. Despite the global economic downturn, fully 80% of Comfone WeRoam traffic in August 2009 was generated by travellers - 72% in hotels and 8% in airports. Combined with a further 12% generated in cafes and restaurants, wireless user trends clearly underscore the critical role that roaming plays for wireless operators.

TeliaSonera's Head of Roaming, Jan Karmakar, commented, "Our customers are continuously increasing their use of mobile broadband and mobile data services both at home and while travelling. Therefore TeliaSonera requires reliable roaming partners like Comfone to substantially increase our access to more wireless hotspots allowing our customers to always be online."

Laurent Freléchoux, Product Marketing Director WeRoam, further explained that with an average WeRoam session time of 47 minutes during the first half of the year, "we are noticing a constant increase in average session time, a clear indication that end users do find value in a WiFi roaming service. Compounded with the roll-out of Comfone's Web Access Portal solution across the footprint, the outlook for traffic growth looks very positive."

Zynetix, the UK-based GSM infrastructure manufacturer, today announced that it has been awarded a contract to deploy and operate its Zynetix softMSC for Cloud9 Mobile, in Gibraltar and on the Isle of Man.

The agreement involves the deployment of the Zynetix softMSC GSM core, including comprehensive voice, SMS and data capabilities, together with Radio Access Network (RAN) components from UK-based ip.access. Beyond supply of the softMSC GSM core, Zynetix will provide full integration and commissioning and once in commercial service Zynetix will provide managed network services on behalf of Cloud9 Mobile.

Building on an existing contract between the parties whereby Zynetix provides managed HLR services for Cloud9 Mobile Wholesale Division, this new agreement spearheads a major expansion of Cloud9 Mobile's activities.

Commenting on the agreement, Cloud9 International Board Member Jean-Christophe Viguier said "The award of this contract marks the culmination of a broad evaluation of GSM infrastructure suppliers.  We selected Zynetix on the basis of their experience, flexibility and their ability to deliver exactly what we need in a timely manner. These networks will deliver improved customer service, both locally and internationally, and increase competition in both locations"

Zynetix CEO Ian Taylor added, "We are delighted to have been chosen to provide our softMSC GSM core for Cloud9 Mobile's GSM networks. We believe that outsourcing the commissioning and operation of GSM infrastructure provides the lowest risk and fastest time to market while delivering a high quality and feature-rich mobile service. Today's announcement is the culmination of months of planning by both companies and marks the start of an exciting new phase in the relationship between Zynetix and Cloud9."

A new report from global advisory and consulting firm Ovum, says that mobile broadband in emerging markets is a very different proposition to that seen in mature markets. According to the report - "Operator strategies for mobile broadband in emerging markets" - low fixed-line and PC penetration provide an opportunity for mobile broadband to become a viable fixed-line alternative. However, Ovum believes that for operators to succeed, ‘pragmatism' must be the watchword in terms of access technology, devices, deployment and market approach.

Operators today are taking a far more pragmatic approach to mobile broadband in emerging markets than in developed markets, says Ovum, focusing more on the service offered (web access) than the technology or device. According to the report, operators are selling mobile broadband services based on everything from GPRS to WiMAX.

That said, HSPA will undoubtedly be the dominant technology in emerging markets for the next five years, accounting for two-thirds of next-generation access connections in 2014, says Ovum.

"The opportunity for mobile WiMAX in emerging markets is certainly greater than in developed markets, but the more rapid adoption of LTE will see the two next-generation technologies almost on parity by 2014", says Steven Hartley, senior analyst at Ovum and co-author of the report.

Ovum states that another crucial practicality to consider is the cost involved in launching and running mobile broadband services, as with all emerging market services.

"It is vital that operators build and then run highly efficient networks to handle the resulting data traffic," Hartley said. "ARPU will be low and margins negligible without a clear understanding of the building and operational costs associated with these services. Nonetheless, costs will not be solely in the network. The additional support needed for more complex services and devices should also be carefully considered".

Pragmatism is also evident in the approach to deployment; however, the competitive landscape will dictate the strategy that operators should adopt.

"Operators should take a more conservative view of technology and service rollouts to ensure demand and profitability before committing too much finance, where competition (or the threat of it) from fixed and mobile operators is limited." This may seem counterintuitive to operators with a mature market background, but those operating in markets with low ARPU and potentially high costs (such as fuel supplies to remote base stations or international connectivity) must be sure that a new service launch is viable. Therefore, operators are best ‘skimming' the most profitable segments of the market if they can. "If competition already exists in the market then they may be forced into a broader, mass-market approach from launch."

As a result of the heightened cost-consciousness and careful deployment of mobile broadband in emerging markets, customer segmentation is critical for success. The services, marketing and pricing for small-screen (handset) and big-screen (PC) devices will differ depending on the customers targeted. And the segments targeted will depend on the strategy adopted.

However, says Ovum, the success or failure of mobile broadband in an emerging market may still be outside an operator's control.

"Governments have a major role to play in providing an environment conducive to success; spectrum policy is the clearest example of this, either through its release to operators or through global harmonisation to benefit from economies of scale", says Daniel Subramaniam, analyst at Ovum and co-author of this report.

Governments also hold the keys to unlock several other stimuli for deployment and uptake.

"Reducing taxes on telecoms services, encouraging competition and boosting investment in power supply and international connectivity could all result in lower prices to end users", adds Subramaniam.

Universal service obligations to bridge the digital divide can also be implemented to boost uptake. These may be less attractive to operators, but could be the stick compared to the carrot of the former measures.

Araxxe, a supplier of monitoring services, has introduced new extensions of its interconnection and roaming control service, Arconnex, that detects routing errors and traffic corruption in networks.

According to Arraxe, the revenue linked to incoming interconnection and to roaming services can represent up to 20% of a mobile operator's margin. At present, new voice over IP transport technologies, increasingly complex roaming architectures and the extension of least-cost routing and roaming steering multiply the risks of routing errors or packet corruption. International actors use methods that are more and more sophisticated (SIM box, SIM multiplexer), even fraudulent (illegal trunks , fraudulent SLA) to run very profitable arbitrations between different traffic routing methods. Whatever the strength and the accuracy of their internal monitoring systems, operators at the beginning or end of the calls are often unaware of what has happened in-between, says Araxxe.

To address the risks, Araxxe says its Arconnex, the monitoring offering for interconnection and roaming, represents an original control approach under the form of a ‘service bureau' based on remotely managed robots deployed across the world. This allows Arconnex to fully monitor routing of any telecom operator in the world, whether for interconnection or for roaming traffic.

The Arconnex service is built upon a statistic sampling method leveraging Araxxe's experience in detecting interconnection frauds around the world. The method has been patented by Araxxe and is said to be key to delivering a pointed monitoring that delivers value.

The robots deployed globally generate all kinds of transactions coming from and going to operators. Then, each transaction is verified to know if it has been correctly routed by checking a number of technical parameters of the call: presence of user name on the calling line, interconnection trunks used, etc. Based on this analysis, Araxxe produces monthly reports that provide detailed information and performance indicators. Routing errors and fraudulent corruptions are detailed so that the operator can identify and fix the problem. Specific reports can be used to support or defend against litigation between the operator and the concerned cheating companies.

The benefits of the service are immediate, easily quantifiable and directly contribute to operating margins improvement by eliminating SIM boxes, increasing international call durations or increasing roaming traffic volumes, says the company.

"As the cheating companies toughen their interconnection frauds, especially in Central America where we operate and where fraud is very high, we had to adapt our detection methods", declared Philippe Orsini, manager of the Arconnex service at Araxxe. "The algorithms for call generation detection are regularly optimized to become more accurate and more discreet".

SGI today announced that Spotify, the digital on-demand streaming music service, has standardised on SGI Rackable C1001 half-depth servers at its Stockholm, Sweden, collocation data centre.  Built-to-order SGI 1U high rack-mount servers support the data delivery demands of Spotify's rapidly growing user base, and the online music service's data and processing requirements.  With SGI's servers, Spotify has realised twice the density in the same footprint compared to its previous server provider and a reduction in energy costs.

With more than five million users in the year since launch, Spotify required a powerful server solution that was easily scalable, and extraordinarily dense and energy efficient to capitalise on limited space and reduce costs for the rapidly growing start-up company.  Spotify chose SGI to expand its streaming, storage and search capabilities and easily scale, as it plans to expand to the United States and China and to enter the mobile phone application market.  Spotify also needed SGI to seamlessly integrate so as to not impact users' ability to access its popular on-demand streaming music platform.

"SGI servers are more space and energy efficient than our previous equipment, and the built-to-order hardware gives us the data centre design flexibility that we need. The servers were also built exactly to our specifications, and arrived pre-racked and pre-cabled, ready for immediate installation," said Emil Fredriksson, Spotify's operations director. "With SGI, we achieved twice the density in the same footprint, which is imperative for our limited collocation data centre space. We have also seen substantial reductions in energy consumption for significant cost savings and more environmentally friendly operations."

SGI's half-depth, rack-mount servers leverage the company's patented back-to-back mounting technique, and feature high efficiency power supplies, memory and processors to reduce data centre power consumption. The servers are available in configurations from 1U to 3U form factors, and offer up to 1,056 processing cores and 864TB of storage supported in a single cabinet. With dual and quad-core x86-based processors, including energy efficient, low wattage processors from AMD and Intel, SGI Rackable server solutions provide optimal computing power for even the most data-intensive applications.

"SGI's C1001 servers provide a vast amount of processing power to Spotify to deliver its popular streaming music services," said Rod Evans, vice president of sales of Northern Europe at SGI. "Given the challenging economy, density and efficiency are key for a growing start-up like Spotify. With the right infrastructure, businesses can now experience extraordinary savings on expensive data centre space and rising energy costs, much like Spotify has with SGI servers."

By December 2009, Belgacom International Carrier Services (Belgacom ICS) says it will have  quadrupled the network capacity available to its international carrier and service provider customers. In order to achieve this, BelgacomICS has appointed Nokia Siemens Networks to upgrade its optical network transmission capacity from 10 Gigabit per second (Gbps) per wavelength to 40Gbps.

"Our customers are witnessing an increased demand for high-speed Internet access due to the increasing use of bandwidth-hungry applications. The 40 Gig network upgrade will help us deliver better services to our existing customers as well as provide enhanced capacity to serve new customers at the most competitive price levels," said Patrick George of Belgacom ICS. "We selected Nokia Siemens Networks for the network optimization as it has extensive field experience in large scale optical networks."
 
Under the contract, Nokia Siemens Networks will optimize Belgacom ICS' Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM) network from 10Gbps to 40Gbps. The optimization consists in the deployment of the long-haul DWDM platform, including optical amplifiers and software upgrades.
 
The transition to an optimized 40Gbps network will be executed smoothly to fulfil the required quality and performance levels with minimum investment. Nokia Siemens Networks is providing its SURPASS hiT 7500 ultra-long haul DWDM platform to the carrier, that allows faster provisioning of services at lower costs and high reliability.
 
 Belgacom ICS has very high standards with respect to service availability and operational simplicity. Nokia Siemens Networks' automated DWDM platform supports BICS' goal to keep costs low. With its user-friendly DWDM planning tool, TransNet, which offers a high degree of automation, Nokia Siemens Networks can simulate the whole rollout.
 
"As 40G is now becoming more widely available, carriers such as Belgacom ICS are carefully selecting their suppliers. Besides selecting a partner with a mature and stable 40G product, it's essential to ensure that the vendor has a proven track record in rolling out high-speed DWDM networks," said Michael Finkenzeller, Strategy and Portfolio Manager at Nokia Siemens Networks. "This extensive field experience will allow us to support Belgacom ICS to face the challenge of higher bandwidth requirements now and in the future."

Advanced Technologies & Services and WeDo Technologies have announced a Global partnership for their core business: the Telecom Revenue Assurance market.

The partnership will allow the two companies to leverage their combined experience and technologies to expand business activities across their core market. It is expected that this will generate new revenues for both companies and support growth plans in new geographies.

ATS' flagship product, SimCall, is the industry's leading tool to ensure network integrity by validating the accuracy of switch translations. SimCall is unique in that it simulates every dialing combination possible in a fraction of the time it would take to generate such calls.

WeDo Technologies' Business Assurance RAID, the leading Revenue Assurance and Fraud System in the Telecommunications industry, has been implemented across the five continents and has very strong references in Europe, Asia, Middle East and Central and South America.

ATS has been a leader in Revenue Assurance in North America for the past 14 years. Its customer base includes tier 1 Carriers in the United States, Canada, and Caribbean islands as well as many tier 2 providers and other competitive carriers.

"We are very excited to expand into the international telecom market," says Randall Guthrie, ATS' President. "Ensuring network integrity and revenue optimization for our customers have always been our core strengths and we look forward to expanding these trusted partner relationships to WeDo Technologies' clients around the world. We are already working with WeDo technologies' technical and marketing teams to develop exciting next generation tools for carriers here in the US and abroad."

WeDo Technologies has implemented its solutions in more than 65 different countries and has offices in 12. With over 100 customers worldwide, WeDo Technologies offers a very impressive financial track record and a strong shareholder base, providing the additional comfort that the market expects.

Rui Paiva, WeDo Technologies' CEO, added: "We share Randall's excitement. From the start we felt there was a great partnering opportunity. ATS can complement WeDo Technologies' worldwide offer and leverage our approach to the Northern American Market where we started to invest early on this year. Our clients, our teams and our products will have a lot to gain with this joint work".

According to new analysis from Juniper Research, consumer demand for environmentally sustainable mobile devices will be the primary driver behind the growth of green handsets, which could see global shipments grow to 485 million units by 2014.

The scenario-based forecasts within Juniper Research's new report - ‘Green Mobile Handsets & Applications: Strategies, Scenarios & Forecasts 2009-2014' -  also suggest that even with an incremental attitude shift by consumers, numbers will still grow from a quarter of million shipments in 2009 to over 105 million by 2014.

Dr. Windsor Holden, Principal Analyst at Juniper Research and lead author for the report, commented; "With manufacturers only now beginning to introduce green handsets, shipment volumes are relatively low in all cases. Moving forward, we should not expect to see production lines of completely ‘green' phones, but a gradual move to introducing green elements throughout devices."

The average mobile user is responsible for around 25kg of CO2 emissions per year, a collective total of 93Mt (Megatonnes) of CO2 globally at the end of 2008. With a number of challenges facing vendors and operators, such as the Kyoto Protocol, a concerted effort is required by companies across the industry to reduce these average emissions by a far greater extent over the next five years.

Further findings from the Juniper Research Green Handsets report includes:

  • Network operators and handset vendors should increase their promotion of handset take-back initiatives, and increase their take-back targets
  • Eco-applications offer the potential for the mobile industry to reduce CO2 emissions above and beyond its own direct and indirect emissions by exerting a positive influence on consumer behaviour

The report, launched globally today, contains comprehensive six year forecasting for all the key market parameters including maintaining stable CO2 footprints, electricity costs, no-load CO2 emissions and recycled/refurbished handsets.