European Communications

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Keep up with all the latest news affecting European telcos from regulation and financial results to developments in network sharing, billing and innovative new content.

Wales & West Utilities connect to 3G through THUS Contract win highlights strength of THUS in utilities sector

THUS has announced that it has signed a deal with Wales & West Utilities to connect it to Vodafone's 3G network.  THUS will connect the gas distribution supplier via SIM cards placed in existing devices.  This is the latest in a number of recent customer wins for THUS in the utilities market, cementing its position as one of the leading communications providers in this important sector.

Under the terms of the deal, THUS will provide Wales & West Utilities with SIM cards to connect remote workers to Vodafone's 3G, allowing employees to send detailed reports from remote locations back into the main network covering 19 depots across Wales and the South West of England as well as the main office located in Newport. 

Wales & West Utilities will enjoy significant cost savings by opting to connect to its managed data service via THUS' solution.  THUS provides economic connection charges and allows Wales & West Utilities to buy data in bundles of 250Mb per user on a tariff suitable to their needs and  generating savings due to THUS' highly competitive, bespoke pricing.

Further benefits include enhanced billing, utilising controls and cost centres on Wales & West Utilities account for up-to-date, online billing.  Managers will be able to log on to their account via the THUS website to monitor usage and charges for the accounts relevant to their respective depots.  THUS' online account management will enable clearer and more detailed billing, drilling down to the usage patters of individual workers.

David Harrison Head of Infrastructure at West & Wales Utilities commented:  "THUS has been able to offer the exact service we needed with well-tailored tariffs.  Wales & West Utilities can now enjoy the benefits of 3G networking without suffering as a result of inefficient data bundles, allowing for a more effective use of resources".

THUS has a strong history of winning contracts with utilities companies - a sector worth multi-million pounds to the operator.  Phil Male, Chief Operating Officer at THUS plc noted:  "THUS has quickly established itself as a dominant force in the Utilities sector, and this latest contract with West & Wales Utilities once again demonstrates our capability.  Utilities suppliers need to have reliable communications if they are going to meet the high levels of service demanded by their customers, and it is a testament to THUS' proposition in this market that it is becoming the supplier of choice to utilities businesses across the UK". 

Russian operator Center Telecom selects Italtel for implementation of broadband and VoIP

Italtel consolidates its relationship with regional operator Center Telecom (Svyazinvest Group), launching the multimedia network expansion project that will provide connections for access to voice services and Fast Internet to over 8,000 users

Italtel, specialist in the development and integration of products and services for next generation networks over IP, has announced it has begun the implementation of the new multimedia communication network for Center Telecom, part of Svyazinvest Group, the incumbent Russian fixed network operator. The solution, based on Italtel’s platform, will allow users to take advantage of voice, video and broadband Internet services in addition to the services already offered.

The Russian market today is very dynamic, with drivers for growth linked to the demand for IP-based value added services, in addition to modernisation of traditional networks through the replacement of analogue exchanges with digital ones. Besides, from 2009, the implementation of broadband services, which is already high in the Moscow area, is expected to accelerate in the other largest areas of the country as well. 

Italtel acts as the reference partner of Center Telecom (which counts 6.8 million installed lines, 6.3 million users in fixed telephony and 3 million in mobile) in the evolution of its network through the development of innovative services, reinforcing the collaboration that began in 2003.
In particular, Center Telecom has started developing, with the collaboration of Italtel, an infrastructure for video/voice communication and broadband wireless that is part of an important national project for the development of new services that address the communication requirements of Public Sector, Universities and Residential users. 

The Italtel solution is based on the Softswitch i-MSS (Italtel Multi Service Solution) platform, which has been integrated in the core of Center Telecom’s network since 2006. This solution is the first step towards Next-Generation Networks (NGN) and the addition of advanced services like video telephony, IP Call Center and Wi-Max.

“Through the wireline and wireless broadband solution provided by Italtel, we are in the ideal condition to fulfill national projects like those called ‘Home’, ‘Education’ and ‘Public Health Services’, stated Ivan Mahov, CTO of the Orel branch of Center Telecom.  “Thus, we will enable a wide range of potential users to access not only to the contents available on the Internet, but also to advanced services in real time like remote training, telemedicine, and video surveillance.”

“We are very happy that a qualified operator like Center Telecom has chosen our technology for the development of its network and for the achievement of communications projects that are part of national programs”, commented Antonio Cassese, EVP Sales Operation International Markets, Italtel. “Furthermore, we are pleased to have further strengthened our collaboration with Center Telecom by providing our consulting services to allow the migration of their infrastructure towards Next-Generation Networks and Services.”

Present in Russia for 15 years now, with two main locations (Moscow and Saint Petersburg) and a qualified local technical team, Italtel has carried out important projects for the development of the telecommunication network of the Svyazinvest Group, installing over one million two hundred thousand telephone lines.

Patni acquires telecoms consulting specialist Logan-Orviss International

Adds telecoms thought leadership, domain expertise and operational transformation consulting

Patni Computer Systems, a leading global IT services provider announced the acquisition of Europe-based Logan-Orviss International (LOI), a leading independent specialist telecommunications consulting services company.

The consideration includes an upfront cash payment on completion of the transaction as well as performance-linked incentive payments on achieving financial targets over a three year period. LOI ended a profitable year with revenues of Euro 11.8 Million in 2006.

The acquisition strengthens Patni’s capability in communications and media practice providing operators thought leadership and operational transformation consulting for mission critical IT initiatives.

Logan-Orviss International will become Patni’s Telecommunications Consulting & Advisory practice, and will be led by Brendan Logan and Colin Orviss, the firm’s co-founders.

Commenting on the acquisition, Neeraj Gupta, Executive Vice President, Patni said, “The LOI acquisition underscores our commitment to global telecommunications and media customers. With this, Patni adds further depth to our pool of telecoms specialists enabling us to provide the best of world-class consulting and global delivery.”

Brendan Logan and Colin Orviss, Co-Founders, Logan-Orviss International, said, “The next generation communications and media service companies will be very different than today. The team of specialists at LOI along with Patni can enable their rapid transformation to developing new revenue streams, next-generation architectures and the best customer experience.”

“This is the age of multi-media content and IPTV,” remarked Keith Willetts, Chairman and CEO of the TM Forum. “Communications providers do not always have the expertise in house to transform their business to address new opportunities or the experience with new information systems architectures and implementation approaches to facilitate a rapid change. The combination of Logan Orviss and Patni skills highlights the growing industry trend of mergers to better serve this important and growing market.”

“This strategic acquisition is designed to offer holistic, multi-level business transformation services to media and communications companies," said Camille Mendler, European research Vice President at Yankee Group. "Patni's IT services portfolio coupled with LOI's deep industry and consulting know-how are a strong combination.”

63% of Service Providers See End-to-End, Cross-Domain Service Quality Management as Key OSS Requirement, Survey Shows

Fault and Performance management ranked top two OSS applications

TTI Team Telecom, a global supplier of Operations Support Systems (OSS) to communications service providers, has announced the results of a survey it conducted at the recent OSS conference and exhibition, TeleManagement World in Nice.  Most notably, the survey results reveal that 63% of service providers see end-to-end, cross domain management as their most significant requirement for service management.  The survey covered several other areas of OSS, as well as recording cross-reference points such as respondents’ plans for IPTV and IMS rollouts, and region.

The importance of Fault and Performance systems was shown to be significantly higher than expected.  Whereas inventory and provisioning are often assumed to be of chief importance, when asked directly about the dominant applications in respondents' currently existing OSS platform, Fault and Performance management came out on top, at 24% and 21% respectively.

When asked separately which NGN OSS application respondents expect to be their top priority by the end of this year, overall the top two results were “Fault and Performance service monitoring,” and “service provisioning or installation verification.”  Interestingly, when isolated by region, “service-level agreements” – which ranked third overall – was rated in second place among European providers, reflecting that providers in this market increasingly see QoS as a key point for differentiation and customer retention.  Similarly, those providers with plans for IMS rollouts in the near future showed a higher-than-average emphasis on SLAs.

The increasing importance of service impact analysis was reflected in the above responses.  Additionally, where 63% of service providers replied that end-to-end service management was of key importance, "linking customers to the service model" came in second at 17%, still more than double any of the remaining options. 

As for the test and monitoring methods used to handle network quality, CDRs and IPDRs from network elements came out on top at 34% of service providers, with KPIs/KQIs from the control plane rated at 24%.

"The results of the survey were surprising at some points, but very logical overall," commented Yaron Eisenstein, Director of Solutions Marketing at TTI Telecom.  "Fault and Performance rated surprisingly high compared with other OSS applications, but this a logical outcome of the functional demands which service providers have indicated.  We see here a high demand for the kind of Service Impact analysis required to link customers to the service model and uphold SLAs, as well as dependable QoS required for IPTV and IMS, and very high demand for an end-to-end service management solution.  All of these require powerful Fault and Performance management systems, and extensive collaboration between the two."
 
When asked about the status of their OSS budget, 60% described their status as "approved" or "in-progress," indicating a high level of certainty and awareness regarding the issues discussed throughout the rest of the survey.

Iskratel is a New Member of the WiMAX Forum

In May, the Slovenian company Iskratel became a full-member of the WiMAX Forum.

The WiMAX Forum encompasses 420 members, mostly operators and manufacturers of telecommunications equipment. The WiMAX Forum is the leading industrial non-profit organization, which was established in order to promote WiMAX technology and confirm the compatibility and interoperability of broadband wireless products. The objective and purpose of the WiMAX Forum is to speed up the introduction of WiMAX systems in markets. Products approved by the WiMAX Forum support the broadband wireline and mobile services. The reason for the close cooperation of the WiMAX Forum with service providers and regulatory authorities is the confirmation that certified systems correspond with customer's requirements as well as with the regulatory requirements of individual countries.

However, the basic objective of the WiMAX Forum is to promote and speed up the introduction of profitable broadband wireless services in the global market. As the exclusive authority for certifying the product interoperability pursuant to the BWA IEEE 802.16, the WiMAX Forum defines and manages the coordination of interoperability tests to ensure the uniform operation of different systems. By joining the WiMAX Forum, Iskratel ensures the highest quality for its wireless broadband SI3000 WiMAX Access product for its customers and final users.

Italtel builds NGN network for new Greek operator, On Telecoms

Italtel, a leading provider of solutions, products and services for Next-Generation IP Networks, has announced the signature of an agreement with On Telecoms, a new Greek alternative telecommunications operator, for the implementation of its multiservice VoIP platform and the development of new multimedia services. On Telecoms offers its business and domestic customers broadband Internet access, innovative VoIP services, and IPTV.

The NGN (Next-Generation Network) solution supplied by Italtel was provided in the space of three months from project approval, enabling On Telecoms to complete the initial stage in the development of the VoIP platform for the region of Attica within the planned time schedule, and to launch its new generation triple-play services, comprising unlimited national and international calls, IPTV, video on demand, and super-fast Internet at 10Mb/s.

Italtel was chosen by the operator for its extensive international experience in the design and rapid construction of complex Next-Generation Networks (NGN) that permit the development and supply of new multimedia and IP telephony services, both for domestic customers and companies.

On Telecoms commenced its commercial operation last January, and it is led by a management team with vast knowledge of the Greek market, and a unique heritage of experience in the start-up of telecommunication operations offering triple-play, such as Fastweb in Italy, Hansenet in Germany and Bulldog in the U.K. The project for the development of an entirely IP network and the provision of Next-Generation Services (NGS) launched by On Telecoms is one of the largest of its type in Greece.

“We are very glad for our cooperation with Italtel Group” said Ruggero Gramatica, CEO of ON Telecoms. “On Telecoms is building a culture of results and our previous collaboration with the Group has proven the excellent quality of its systems and its experience in international projects.”




“The On Telecoms development plan for the Greek market represents a great challenge”, said Marco Filipponi, VP Sales Operations for EMEA at Italtel, “and Italtel is proud to play an active role in its implementation. The large number of successes attained by Italtel in the construction of Next-Generation Networks for other international start-up customers such as FastWeb, Bulldog and Hansenet were without doubt the best credentials in enabling us to win the contract for this important project.”

The network solution selected by On Telecoms is based on Italtel Next-Generation Network (NGN) architecture and Italtel Softswitch (i-SSW) platform, which controls both access nodes and CPE (Customer Premises Equipment) devices. It offers real advantages with respect to other comparable systems in terms of network scalability, optimization of operating costs, complete operational compatibility with existing voice networks, and the possibility of introducing or developing next generation services.

The platform's reliable and robust characteristics make it a fundamental component in network infrastructures of many international operators in Europe, South America and the Middle East.

Envox Communications Development Platform powers "EVA", Quentris's Advanced Automated Speech Attendant

Envox  Worldwide, a leading global provider of IP-based voice solutions, today announced that its Envox Communications Development Platform was used by Quentris, one of Europe's largest voice, data and image convergence specialists, to develop and deploy a sophisticated automated speech attendant persona known as EVA (electronic voice assistant). Positioned as a virtual receptionist and personal assistant, EVA connects internal and external callers to their destination quickly and efficiently, while ensuring a return on investment for enterprise customers of just a few months. Quentris was able to develop EVA in just 2.5 months using the Envox Communications Development Platform.

"EVA is a great example of how the Envox Communications Development Platform is being used by our partners to create compelling voice solutions," said Mark D. Flanagan, president and CEO of Envox Worldwide.
"Quentris was able to respond to their customers' needs and requirements in record time. EVA is a best-in-class solution created by a first class developer"

EVA uses high quality, natural language, multi-lingual speech recognition and text-to-speech technology to communicate with callers in English, French or Dutch. It is able to understand names pronounced in all three languages.  It records callers' language preferences using a 'caller card' system that ensures that all future calls are automatically conducted in the appropriate language.

Callers are able to ask for a department, service or individual by name in a free text format that accepts the use of abbreviations and nicknames. If the requested party is not available, EVA provides a dynamic list of options for each destination, such as transferring the caller to a personal assistant, mobile phone, voicemail or a live operator. If the call takes place outside of working hours, EVA automatically recognises the time of the call and responds with an appropriate message. Thanks to a 'barge-in' function, callers can interrupt EVA at any point to request help, or to opt-out of the system and speak with a live operator.

As a result of its user-friendly, thin-client, Web-based interface, EVA is easy and cost-effective for organisations to deploy and manage. Existing staff directories can be imported into the system to enable immediate operation, and administrators can simply and easily update phonetic information for difficult names to ensure accurate pronunciation in all three languages. Users are able to personalise and change settings such as call forwarding destinations from any phone.

Additional features such as advanced time-of-day management, personalised greetings, customised on-hold music, personal directories, caller announcements and call-back requests are currently being developed. Existing users will be able to access these new features on request.

"From a technological point of view, the Envox Communications Development Platform simplifies the creation of telephony, text-to-speech, and advanced speech recognition solutions," said Peter Edel, advanced technology manager, Quentris. "Working with the Envox platform enables us to focus our attention on the needs of our customers; we do not have to spend our time resolving technical issues and working out how to do things. Furthermore, since Envox offers a wide array of integration features, speech applications such as EVA can be easily adapted to many other standards like LDAP, XML and database access. If we want to integrate EVA with mobile applications and email for example, we can quickly do so thanks to the existing capabilities of the Envox Communications Development Platform."

EVA is already being used by BASF Belgium with full language support. BASF uses EVA in two ways: first, it is their virtual receptionist, handling calls from external callers; and second, as an automated attendant within BASF. EVA enables employees to contact one another simply by saying a name. At the present time, BASF's live operator switches incoming calls over to EVA during lunch breaks, after hours, and at any time when a heavy call load requires back-up.

JupiterResearch finds high value consumers reject ISPs

JupiterResearch, a leading authority on the impact of the Internet and emerging consumer technologies on businesses, has warned ISPs not to antagonise consumers by supplying faster, prioritised, Internet access only to a select group of websites that pay ISPs for this improved performance.

In the report, entitled ”Net Neutrality in Europe: Navigate through future Internet access and distribution models”, JupiterResearch finds that 29 percent of consumers desire flat-rate broadband pricing without usage limits. This group are poorly served by the numerous European broadband packages that include data volume caps, or by the broadband packages that charge by the minute.

In addition, 16 percent of consumers desire a guarantee from their ISP not to restrict access to third party websites. This ‘Net choicer’ segment will increase in size as broadband quality debates become more common in the media, and as the difference between actual broadband speeds, and the speeds advertised by ISPs become more apparent.

“Net choicer’s are important as they are both heavy Internet users and are great prospects for the sale of digital content by ISPs or other Internet companies,” said Ian Fogg, Research Director at JupiterResearch. “Net choicers are more than twice as likely to pay for Internet video, games or digital music than mainstream consumers.”

“ISPs that wish to increase their broadband revenue must be clear about the benefits of each of their broadband packages: which are restricted, and which are truly unlimited,” said Fogg. “Otherwise consumers will be unable to identify which broadband packages are higher quality and so are worthy of a premium price. If ISPs remain opaque in their broadband marketing, the decline of per customer broadband revenue will continue.”

Telecom Slovenia rolls out advanced enterprise VoIP service on BroadSoft

Existing Business Customers will migrate to BroadSoft-based Network

BroadSoft, a leading provider of VoIP application software, announced today at VON Europe 2007 that Telecom Slovenia, the leading telecommunications carrier of Slovenia, has deployed a next-generation voice service for its enterprise customers. The new service offering, called Centreks, is based on BroadSoft’s BroadWorks VoIP application platform, which was supplied by BroadSoft partner Iskratel, a leading Eastern European provider specializing in fixed and mobile communications solutions.

Launched in April, Telecom Slovenia's Centreks will supersede the company's existing Centrex service. The tens of thousands of Centrex end-users are expected to be migrated to the new BroadWorks-based service this year. Iskratel's integrated solution was customized according to Telekom Slovenia's requirements, making it possible for the Slovenian operator to provide its business users with the most advanced IP-telephony services.

The new hosted service is intended to meet the fast-growing demand for business telecommunications services in Slovenia and neighboring markets. Centreks delivers to small, medium and large enterprises a simple-to-use, flexible and feature-rich telephony service. Productivity-enhancing features available through BroadWorks include integration with Microsoft Outlook contact lists and simultaneous ring, which allows an end-user to set all their phones to ring when receiving a call on the desk phone.

“Moving to BroadSoft for our next-generation service offering was an easy decision,” said Željko Puljič, Member of the Management Board of Telekom Slovenia. “We were looking for a platform that was proven with many other Tier-1 players in our market and could be quickly integrated with our network. BroadSoft offered us a solution that allows us to deliver more value to our enterprise customers.”

The new Centrek service offering required the complete integration of the IP Centrex into the existing Centrex of Telekom Slovenia.

According to Mitja Jelnikar, Iskratel's Sales and Marketing director, “The solution is completely prepared for a transition to the IMS architecture. Iskratel implemented the solution by using the most recent technology and products.  On the basis of many years of experience, we integrated Telekom Slovenia's service into a unified solution that will provide customers with an extensive range of user services.”

BroadSoft's BroadWorks platform has been deployed by many of the leading European telecoms operators.

“Telecom Slovenia is proving its dedication to providing its customers with the best telephony services possible by undertaking this major migration effort,” said Michael Tessler, president and CEO of BroadSoft. “By choosing to work with BroadSoft and Iskratel, Telecom Slovenia has experienced partners who will assist them in growing their next-generation voice business.”