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Openet, a provider of Transactional Intelligence solutions for service providers, today announced that mobilkom austria is using its technology to meet the requirements of the new EU-wide Data Roaming regulations. As a long-standing customer of Openet, mobilkom austria has deployed the Convergent Charging product built on Openet's FusionWorks Framework.

With 4.5 million customers, mobilkom austria is the leading mobile network operator in Austria.  In March 2009, the European Union's parliament voted to extend the EU regulation on international telephone roaming charges from voice calls to the data market, within the 27 EU nations.  In addition, operators have to introduce specific measures targeted at improving subscriber transparency to prevent "bill shock."

With the FusionWorks Convergent Charging product, mobilkom austria can manage roaming data usage, in real time, for subscribers, and enforce data volume or monetary caps.  The provider can also notify its subscribers when pre-defined thresholds have been met and offer the option to extend their usage beyond the cap.  This improved transparency for customer data roaming costs will ensure the mandated reduction in instances of "bill shock."

"Using Openet's Convergent Charging product, we are ready to meet the new EU data roaming regulations well in advance of the regulatory deadline," said Johann Pichler, CTO of mobilkom austria.  "FusionWorks real-time capabilities were crucial in our selection of Openet for this function, giving us the competitive edge to manage data balances, trigger notifications and provide subscribers with maximum flexibility when roaming in the EU."

FusionWorks is the platform at the core of all of Openet's offerings, supporting its suite of solutions, applications, and products.  By enabling dynamic business control over networks, solutions built on FusionWorks enable carriers to move beyond access services to create and add value within a wide range of rich, interactive services.

"Openet's Convergent Charging product and Spending Limits solution are designed to easily meet the exact criteria being laid out by the new regulations from the EU," said Niall Norton, CEO at Openet.  "By giving operators a better view of subscriber data, they can not only meet these new regulations, but identify additional opportunities to drive revenue and increase customer satisfaction."

Mobile operators are comfortably and steadily beating the recession, according to the findings of a new report from global advisory and consulting firm Ovum.

Ovum's report - ‘Mobile operators in a recession: lessons and coping strategies' - tracked the performance of mobile operators across all regions in the world for 2008. Overall, operators maintained revenue and customer growth during the period, but the rate of growth is down. While most operators in emerging markets are yet to see any significant pressures on their performance, operators in countries such as the US and across Europe, where the recession has had dramatic impact, operators' revenues are holding out. Indeed, it is not about immunity from the recession per se, but rather, adaptability to the downturn, says Ovum.

"It is comforting that mobile operators have shown remarkable resilience", says Emeka Obiodu, senior analyst at Ovum and lead author of the report. "Whereas other industries have gone to the government with their begging bowls, mobile operators are actually pledging to invest billions to roll out a new high speed mobile network. In fact, after scouring the world, we are yet to find any mobile operator that is calamitously struggling solely because of the recession."

The report projected the three key mechanisms of how the recession affects mobile operators:
·   The threat to the number of revenue generating customers has yet to materialize as operators are generally still growing and adding customers.
·   While the fear that existing customers will reduce their spending is valid, mobile operators have taken steps to avoid or ameliorate drastic impact.
·   The biggest threat to mobile operators is that currency fluctuations reduces the value of the revenue they get. Lower value means it is difficult to maintain repayment on dollar or euro denominated debts and to fund new network investment.

The report warns that going forward mobile operators have to get back to worrying about competition and regulation, as these are the main challenges facing them. "It is no use bickering about the recession when rivals are positioning themselves to outsmart you. Neither is it savvy to fret about the fall in roaming revenues from business travellers when the EU can force roaming prices down easily", says Obiodu. "On many occasions where an operator has complained about the recession, it is possible to show a corresponding non-recessionary force at play."

However, Obiodu warns that the recession will force a change in future direction for operators. "While the short term impact is limited, the recession will ultimately engineer a paradigm shift in strategic thinking across the industry. On the ground, the basics of the industry will surely remain the same, but the approach to service delivery will eventually change."

NetEvidence has partnered with Voiceflex, one of the largest SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) networks in the UK.  Voiceflex will use NetEvidence's Highlight network monitoring service to provide transparency across all its SIP products and to ensure it delivers the highest quality of voice calls over the internet.

NetEvidence monitors over 6,000 DSL connections for its customers and finds this technology is not always suitable for voice traffic.  "Companies that opt to use SIP over un-monitored DSL lines risk destabilising their vital fixed phone communications.  Voiceflex appears to be unique in the market in its desire to offer full transparency to its customers," says Richard Thomas, Managing Director of NetEvidence

Voiceflex is the de facto standard for SIP trunking in the UK.  Customers are adopting the technology as they strive to reduce costs and capitalise on the flexibility that comes from using the internet for voice calls.

As Richard Garner, Sales Director of Data and IP Services for Voiceflex explains, "Our customers want to use new technologies but they expect to have the same consistent and stable telephony services.  The transparency offered by Highlight means we can be confident that we are delivering the best possible call quality over the internet. Highlight's reports will also be available across all our ISP and WAN services ensuring upgrades and quality of service can be anticipated and justified within an organisation."

The easy to understand, business-level reports delivered through Highlight are ideal for Voiceflex users who do not want or do not understand complex network reporting tools.  It provides a full view of the end to end performance and characteristics of the Voiceflex SIP services and the full data portfolio.  If lines are faulty, overloaded or showing poor performance, Highlight reports this immediately with full supporting information.

In this highly cost sensitive market, the fact that Highlight is a Software as a Service (Saas) tool was critical in its selection for Voiceflex. "We needed a system that was infinitely scalable and was ‘out of the box'. Highlight allows us to deliver a comprehensive network monitoring service with minimal up front investment as well as being able to expand as our needs grow," adds Garner.

A poll of SIP vendors, conducted by NetEvidence at London's Convergence World Event in March ‘09, revealed that the majority of vendors did not offer reporting or network visibility across their SIP products.  "This means that these vendors are selling blind as to connection quality, and customers risk disruption to critical communications links," concludes Richard Thomas.

Highlight is available as an integral part of all premium Voiceflex services and as an additional option on the Voiceflex entry level services.

Ekinops, a provider of next generation multi-protocol, multi-reach optical transport, and aggregation solutions, for metro, regional, and long haul networks, has contributed to the deployment of the Altitude Telecom high-capacity, regional optical network between Paris and northwestern France.

The phased project involved construction of a converged TDM and Ethernet 10G DWDM optical backbone using the Ekinops 360 platform.

Altitude Telecom is a full-service operator offering voice, data, and Internet services. With the success of the new Altitude Telecom Data Center, the carrier was looking to increase the capacity of its network. The Ekinops 360 platform offered Altitude Telecom a cost-effective means to extend its network.

"We needed a robust and flexible technology for our core network and for interconnecting with other service providers," noted Bertrand Lebarbier, Executive Director of Altitude Telecom. "The Ekinops solution was selected for its flexibility, reliability and its upgradability. We also liked the small footprint and low power consumption. It will significantly reduce our OPEX."

"The Ekinops platform provides the ideal ‘pay as you grow' architecture, allowing Altitude Telecom to invest in its network incrementally when the services growth justifies it," explains Didier Brédy, Ekinops CEO.

The new infrastructure was deployed in several phases. In 2007, Ekinops was able to implement the first phase in less than a month, compared with the industry typical two-to-four-month implementation timeline.

"We are proud to work with a service provider as renowned as Altitude Telecom and to have won in 2008 the extension to this new converged network," adds Brédy. "Our optical transport solutions enable telecommunications carriers to seamlessly migrate their legacy networks toward a new generation of converged, flexible, multi-protocol and ‘green' DWDM networks."

Among the deployment challenges was Altitude Telecom's need for high bandwidth in a number of point-to-point links, most of which exceeded 150 kilometers (about 95 miles). The Ekinops 360, which enables optical links of several hundred kilometers without in-line amplification, was an ideal solution for this architecture. It allowed for minimal upfront cost and lower ongoing cost due to the elimination of the inline amplification sites.

Ekinops' advanced DynaFEC (Dynamic Forward Error Correction) and DynaMux (Dynamic Multiplexing) technologies also allow for reduced initial cost. DynaFEC, a leading FEC technology, uses software techniques to eliminate errors and push longer distances rather than using more expensive optics to achieve the required distances. DynaMux allows for the multiplexing of any mix of service types over a single wavelength, reducing the required number of wavelengths in converged networks.

In addition, Altitude Telecom was looking for equipment that took up minimal space and utilized minimal power in each of its network sites. The Ekinops 360 platform is said to be amongst the lowest power consuming systems in the industry.

Central Databank, (CDB), Ireland's channel exclusive B2B utility online offsite backup service provider and Funambol, a provider of mobile cloud sync and push email, today announced a partnership to bring Funambol's sync and backup service to Ireland. The partnership allows CDB to be the first managed service provider for mobile phone data in Ireland and, as a result, CBD is able to wirelessly sync PIM data, between mobile phones, the Internet cloud, and desktop apps.

"There is nothing to compare with the Funambol service in Ireland today. This is truly a unique service," says Dermot Mooney, managing director of CDB. "Mobile phone users, of all hues, can wirelessly sync their data, from SIM card and from the phone itself, onto an online service. Once registered, it only takes seconds to sync the phone and it is done without any cables. No one keeps phone cables anymore and most people save their data on a mixture of SIM and phone. These are the first two operational problems associated with mobile data capture solved in one fell swoop."

"We are applying the same rules to this service as we apply to our online off site back service" says Mooney. Funambol from CDB is hardware and operator agnostic. Set it up on your old phone, backup your data and then set it up on the new phone and restore onto a new phone, all without having to use a PC.

CBD offers its service lines exclusively through the reseller channel and specialist trade verticals of more than 45 IT companies across Ireland and overseas. In this role, companies have sought a solution for their mobile phone data and CDB researched all product offerings until he came across Funambol. "This over the air (OTA) service from Funambol is of the highest quality and matches our professional online backup service," says Mooney. "We expect to have more than 50,000 handsets backed up for business clients by the end of 2009 in Ireland during this phase."

Other equally compelling reasons for reluctance to backup mobile data online have traditionally been cost, security and reliability. The partnership between CDB and Funambol claims to offer an affordable, secure service that is reliable. "We are offering a business-2-business service though our growing reseller network," explains Mooney. "This service is aimed at professionals and is offered with full Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and a properly developed infrastructure to provide online backup. It is a robust and cost effective solution to the perennial thorny issue of mobile phone data backup."

Once users have registered with the CDB service, their data is protected and secure, regardless of what happens to the user's phone or SIM card. If they lose or damage the mobile component, they can still access the same saved data using a newly purchased phone or they can log into the web portal and view and or modify their phone data.

Christian Marsch, Funambol Vice President, also expressed his satisfaction with the new partnership. "For businesses, the security and reliability of mobile data is as important as the service itself. By partnering with CDB, we can offer this extra step, this extra layer of service which is vital for businesses, large and small. They cannot afford not to backup mobile data but they also cannot afford to have it compromised."

TM Forum, the world's premier industry group focused on business effectiveness for the communications and media sectors, revealed today the ground-breaking business transformation solutions that will be demonstrated in the exclusive Forumville innovation zone at the Forum's flagship Management World conference (4-8 May 2009, Nice, France).

Business Transformation is one of six key strategies to combat the economic downturn and prepare the industry for the future. In a world where communications service providers face the continual challenge of maintaining profitability for increasingly competitive and diverse services, TM Forum is leading the way in improving business effectiveness. Through leadership and collaboration, the Forum is delivering the standards and best practices that underpin automation, reduce OpEx and customer churn, and allow service providers to adapt to new business models.

According to Martin Creaner, President and COO, TM Forum, "Forumville brings together leading industry experts in a series of live Technology Catalyst and Content Encounter demos, providing examples of the innovation and rapid solution development only possible through collaboration. Together with business and technical presentations focused on implementation of TM Forum standards, Forumville will offer conference delegates a one-stop-shop for essential transformation tools."

Business Transformation -- Tuning Business for the Road Ahead
The Business Transformation innovation area looks at the big picture of how the TM Forum best practices, business programs, and executive communities can help businesses become more efficient, automated, agile, and customer-centric.  Visitors will see how TM Forum Solution Frameworks have already helped hundreds of companies around the world save millions of dollars by shortening return on development investment, getting new services to market faster and driving down operational costs through a multitude of business process and IT transformation projects.

One of the highlights of the Business Transformation zone is TM Forum's Business Benchmarking Program, which boasts more than 100 service provider participants. The program allows service providers to assess metrics, ranging from operations to finance, and to see how they compare to best in class providers around the world. The data support business decision-making - a crucial need as companies undergo massive operational transformations to support new converged, media-rich services, reduce costs, and provide outstanding customer experience with low levels of customer churn.

The Business Transformation zone will also feature a defense industry Technology Catalyst demonstration on Managing Future Satellite Communications. The Catalyst focuses on operational agility and the real-time management of complex space networks. The defense industry is transforming its management strategies using TM Forum-based standards to create a solution framework that manages across operator boundaries.

As Service Providers implement business transformation projects, one of the complex issues they face is how to migrate key customer data and other records into their new systems. The data must be verified, rationalized, cleansed, formatted and then moved. The Application Data Migration Technology Catalyst addresses the industry challenges resulting from current migration practices and strategies to overcome those challenges. It demonstrates the principles and recommendations using a real-world case study.

Forumville will include two theaters, offering in-depth technology demonstrations, case studies of real-world implementations, and educational presentations. Attendees will also receive free registration to the Forum's new online community, where members can connect to their peers and gain access to the latest industry topics and thought leadership.

The strategies and tactics unveiled in Forumville will be mirrored throughout the Management World 2009 conference, which opens with an impressive keynote lineup on Wednesday, May 6. "Forumville, along with the entire Management World conference this year, focuses on the strategies and tactics service providers need to embrace to survive. The current economic situation presents an opportunity for service providers to transform themselves to support the new business models that will prove to be essential to future growth and profitability for service providers," added Creaner.

According to a new report from Juniper Research, direct and indirect revenues from mobile applications are expected to exceed $25bn by 2014, with growth fuelled by a raft of store launches targeting both high-end and mass market handsets.

The mobile applications report found that, while the overwhelming majority of application (app) revenues are currently accrued from one-off downloads, the increasing utilization of in-app billing to enable incremental revenues from additional mobile content will see value-added services (VAS) providing the dominant revenue stream by 2011. It also noted that many Tier 1 operators would seek to deploy their own app stores in a bid to maintain content revenue share.

However, the Juniper report stressed that in the longer term, the greatest benefits to operators would be derived from data revenues associated with app usage rather than from the retail price of apps and content - providing that the operators rejected the walled garden approach. According to report author Dr Windsor Holden, "Data revenue growth is dependent upon operators embracing policies which enable open access - a policy which also involves facilitating app stores which compete with their on-portal offerings."

In addition, the report noted that, given the fact that app stores currently cater exclusively for smartphones, then operators, developers and content providers would be unwise to ignore opportunities from traditional app and content distribution and monetization channels.

Other findings from the Juniper report include:

      •   Games will remain the largest category in terms of overall app downloads and revenues, although Multimedia & Entertainment apps will attract the greatest share of VAS revenues from 2009 onwards

  • App stores present a significant challenge to traditional content aggregators who may be obliged both to expand the range of their content portfolios and to amend their business models to remain viable


According to Opera, in March 2009, more than 23 million people used Opera Mini, a 12.1% increase from February 2009 and more than 157% increase from March 2008. Those users viewed more than 8.6 billion pages in March 2009 and, since February, page views have gone up 17.4%. Year over year, page views have increased 255%, says Opera.

In March 2009, Opera Mini is said to have served 148 million MB of data to handsets worldwide. Since February, the data consumed went up by 19.3%. Data in Opera Mini is compressed 90% on average and, according to Opera, if this data were uncompressed, Opera Mini users would have viewed nearly 1.4 PB of data in March. Since March 2008, data traffic is up 319%.

Opera says that the mobile Web is booming in Latin America. From March 2008 to March 2009, overall page views in the top 10 countries listed increased 673%. From March 2008 to March 2009, overall unique users in the top 10 countries listed increased 164%. From March 2008 to March 2009, overall data transferred in the top 10 countries listed increased 510%.

Examining the top sites, Google, Live and Facebook all do well in Latin America. Orkut remains the dominant social network in Brazil and Paraguay. Smaller social-networking sites, such as hi5, are also strong in several Latin American countries.

The mobile Web continues its rapid growth worldwide. For the first time, Opera's State of the Mobile Web report profiles page-view and user growth in the top 10 countries, finding triple-digit page-view growth in most countries, with double-digit user increases in all countries. Nigeria is the exception to both as it experienced more than 4,000 percent page-view growth and almost 1,500 percent user growth since March 2008.

"A mobile phone will be the device most people use to access the Web," said Jon von Tetzchner, CEO, Opera. "As millions of people each month discover the Web through Opera Mini, content providers have an incredible opportunity to seize competitive advantage in this new medium. By simply ensuring their content works on any device, they will open themselves to the next generation of Web users."

The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), a global association for the growth of mobile marketing and its associated technologies, today announced that it has gained 28 more members since February. The new members come from all segments of the mobile marketing industry, from brands looking to incorporate mobile into their marketing strategies to agencies, mobile service and technology providers. The new member companies also represent a diverse geographical range from South Africa, Brazil, Argentina and Indonesia to Europe and North America.

The latest companies to join the MMA include:

  • Adfortel BV
  • Advertising Database, Inc.
  • Banco Citibank
  • Be-Mobile
  • BIG Evolution (ANARESPA S.A.)
  • Breeze Tech UK Ltd.
  • Crispin Porter + Bogusky
  • Discover Financial Services
  • Ez Texting, Inc.
  • Foundation Media Group
  • Indiagames Ltd.
  • InMarkit
  • Media 24: Emerging Markets
  • Mobilize Systems
  • Neo Network USA, Inc.
  • Netcore Solutions Pvt. Ltd.
  • Omniture
  • One2Many.BV
  • PlayNetwork, Inc.
  • PT. Indonesia/
  • Ryan iDirect
  • Sony Pictures Entertainment
  • Synovate
  • Telcordia Technologies, Inc.
  • Xipto, Incorporated

"The solid month to month growth that we've seen serves to demonstrate the desire of all involved in deploying mobile marketing strategies to play an active role in how the industry evolves, and that mobile continues gaining global recognition," said MMA President and CEO Mike Wehrs. "The increase in members from our Middle Eastern, South American and Asia-Pacific regions is also testament to the MMA's global reach."

With application data migration now firmly on the agenda of communication service providers (CSPs) as a key transformation enabler, Celona will present a real-world case study as part of the TM Forum's Catalyst Program at the  Management World Conference 2009, in Nice next month.

This Catalyst project will demonstrate how a new approach to Data Migration is now possible as a next generation enabler for OSS/BSS Transformation with a real-world case-study.  This first phase of the catalyst project showcase demonstrates how to:

    • Build the business case for OSS/BSS migration deployments focusing on business processes and data relationships
    • Deliver early RoI from business-focused migration
    • Reduce risk, costs and business disruption during migration
    • Enable business flexibility and change during migration
    • Meet varied compliance and audit requirements with 360 degree visibility
    • Enable adoption of the TMF operating models (eTOM, TAM and SID and NG OSS/BSS) in Business-Centric Data Migration.

Tony Sceales, Celona's CTO commented: "Traditional approaches to data migration based on scripting and high levels of customisation can result in high risk, expensive and disruptive programmes, and in many cases these tools do not meet the requirements of the 21st Century CSP. Transformation is now a continuous state for operators, not a series of discrete programmes.  Relationships, operations, regulation and compliance must be maintained while data is in-flight between source and target environments, and new business initiatives must be supported with zero downtime and minimal business impact." 

Matt Hooper, Celona's CMO continued: "This first phase of the catalyst project aims to demonstrate how leading TMF companies have re-thought Data Migration as an enabler for this new approach to OSS/BSS Transformation with a real-world case-study and showcase, which looks at the example of Network Inventory Management application data migration."

Attendees of the conference can see the demonstration at regular intervals throughout the show at the TM Forum Catalyst Program Forumville. TM Forum Management World 2009 takes place between the 4th and 8th May, 2009.

TM Forum, the world's premier industry group focused on business effectiveness for the communications and media sectors, and the Entertainment Technology Center (ETC)@USC in Hollywood have established a liaison with the goal of rapidly eliminating the barriers to new distribution revenues for content and communication services providers, it was announced today.

The liaison follows more than two years of informal cross-industry collaboration on content distribution between TM Forum and ETC@USC, who bring together the entertainment, consumer electronics, technology, and services industries to collaborate on opportunities for new consumer entertainment offerings today and into the future. Together with mutual member companies including Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco and TCS, the new partnership will significantly enhance the dialog and collaboration between content owners, media industry suppliers, and communications service providers.  Initial joint projects plan to address content metadata and identification schemes to advance interoperability across digital distribution value chains.

According to Jim Warner, vice chairman and head of content media and advertising, TM Forum, "The liaison with ETC is a perfect fit for both parties and is related very much to our highly-successful content sector and value chains initiative.  Initial work will focus on the interactions between content owners and communications providers in order to radically simplify the creation, distribution and monetization of digital media services.  Aligning the major players from these two key industries not only sends a powerful message, it will eliminate much of the ‘friction' in today's distribution chain - driving down operating costs while improving time to market."

KC Blake, director of business development ETC@USC said "We look forward to working with TM Forum in the effort to streamline the delivery of content across platforms.  We feel that this collaboration is a valuable step in ensuring that consumers have access to their content anytime and anywhere."

Following the announcement, over the next three months the two organizations plan to create a roadmap that spells out the specific deliverables, milestones and actions needed to achieve the shared goal of enabling seamless and profitable Digital Media services. This will include looking at digital video distribution value chains model issues, standards gaps, and solution trends in the current content metadata landscape, particularly in identification and descriptive areas and the monetization and profitability implications to both content owners and service providers.

According to a new study from Ovum, the global economic downturn depressed valuations and dealmaking in the telecom sector in 4Q08. Based on Ovum's report, Financial Deals Industry Insight - Telecommunications (4Q08 edition),M deal count was 129 in 4Q08, from 192 in 4Q07, with only four deals valued above US$1B, from 10 in 4Q07.

Public stock offerings dried up, from 14 deals in 4Q07, to just two in 4Q08: both from carriers based in the relatively robust Middle East  Africa region. Private placements also fell, from 25 deals in 4Q07 to just six announced in 4Q08: five small ones, and a large one in Asia Pacific: Telenor's $1.2B for a 60% stake in India's Unitech Wireless. Venture financing was flat year-over-year in 4Q08 (deal count and value), with most funds targeting US-based vendor start-ups.

Matt Walker, Ovum principal analyst and author of the report, says "the financial market turmoil resulted in the acceleration of some deals, but uncertainty was the dominant factor. While this uncertainty lasts, there is incentive to sit and wait, until expectations and valuations stabilize. Preliminary analysis of 1Q09 results confirms this view, but finds activity picking up in some areas."

Noting that telecom is a huge industry worldwide, with service revenues of roughly US$1.4 trillion in 2008, and network capex of $200 billion, Walker says it was inevitable that the industry be impacted by macroeconomic conditions. However, he adds, "Telco financial health is stronger than several years ago. The industry has a variety of funding mechanisms available, and it is still perceived as central to economic growth".

Further, in several large markets - such as China, the US, Germany and Australia - telecom players are receiving government support (e.g. direct subsidy, tax breaks, and so on) aimed at offsetting the recession's impact on telecom's fortunes.

3 UK is opening up its network to allow anyone with a 3 SIM and a compatible handset to have unlimited Skype-to-Skype calls and instant messages without ever having to pay.  From 1 May, there will be no data charges or top-up fees for either contract or pay-as-you-go customers who use Skype on 3's UK network.

Anyone with a 3 Skype-enabled handset will be able to buy a 3 SIM and talk as much as they want to other Skype users without ever having to pay another penny. During the summer, 3 will expand its offer making it possible for anyone with a compatible unlocked 3G handset in the UK, to take advantage of free Skype calls, whether or not their phone is from 3. Anyone that wants to talk on a mobile for free will be able to use a Skype-enabled 3 SIM to make and receive totally free Skype-to-Skype calls and to use Skype's instant messaging (IM).  By removing these key barriers to Skype-to-Skype calls, 3 UK is creating a compelling reason for new customers to join 3 and to enjoy all the products and services available on the UK's biggest mobile broadband network.

Kevin Russell, Chief Executive Officer of 3 UK, said:  "Communication through the internet is exploding. Internet calling or VoIP, social networking, instant messaging and email are used by millions in the UK every single day. They are open to all on their PCs and laptops. We want people to be free to communicate from their mobiles in the same way as they do from their PCs. "In future you will be able to buy a 3 SIM for unlimited Skype-to-Skype calls for less than the price of a cup of coffee and talk for as much as you want without ever paying us another penny. We won't ask you for a top-up or a monthly commitment. If you want to talk on a mobile for free, just join us and give it a go. This is for everyone." 

Josh Silverman, President of Skype said:  "Demand for mobile access from our users has never been higher. The introduction of unlimited Skype-to-Skype calls and instant messages across all 3 price plans is a really exciting move from a key partner. 3 UK clearly understands the desire for people to use Skype wherever and whenever they want. This is the first mobile network to show this kind of innovation to enable their customers to access Skype. 

"We believe this is how the future looks for the Internet on mobile. With this bold move 3 UK has again shown their willingness to be the customer champion for mobile services in the UK." 

Currently, 3 UK's growing Skype community is claimed to enjoy 1.5 million minutes of free Skype-to-Skype calls every day.

The launch of the first 3 Skypephone in October 2007 really kick-started the growth of free internet calling on the 3 network. With over 433 million people registered on Skype worldwide, the new free Skype-to-Skype offer from 3 opens up a world of free calling.  Two years experience of providing open access to Skype-to-Skype calling has enabled 3 and Skype to better understand the behaviour of mobile Skype users. Success with an easy-to-use Skype experience on more specialised internet-enabled handsets, such as the INQ1 and the 3 Skypephone collection; has proven to 3 that enabling customers to make free Skype calls to other Skype users on their mobiles or PCs is a real benefit.  3 UK has found that regular Skype users: 

  a.. Are less likely to churn than non-Skype users
  b.. Use more traditional voice minutes than non-Skype users in addition to calling their Skype contacts
  c.. Use Skype IM, but also send more SMS than non-Skype users
  d.. Are more likely to browse the internet on their mobile
  e.. Are higher margin customers
  f.. Are twice as likely to access social networking sites as non-Skype customers

"Today we are moving in a clear direction towards making Skype-to-Skype calling available to all UK mobile consumers," said Mr Russell. "We know that Skype users are instinctive communicators, keen social networkers and mobile internet users. They love the things that we are building the UK's biggest mobile broadband network for.  "Our network is built to deliver the benefits of the internet to the mobile. That's why we're removing the conditions and restrictions from our current Skype offer and opening up the opportunity to try free internet calling to all UK mobile users, whether they are currently with us or a competitor network." 

TM Forum, the world's premier industry group focused on business effectiveness for the communications and media sectors, announced today that a high-powered group of executives are confirmed to meet at the T8 World Summit, part of the Forum's Management World conference (Nice, France, May 4-8th). The invitation-only summit will bring together C-level executives from major players in the communications, media, advertising, banking and web sectors to discuss how to generate new sources of revenue through innovative business models.

The approach - sometimes called a ‘two-sided business model' - involves providing business-to-business services to other service providers, leveraging investment in IT infrastructure by reselling services based on core competency. For example, Amazon have expanded beyond their original online retailing position to become an early market leader in cloud computing, web services and opening their platform to 3rd party retailers. Amazon's CTO Dr. Werner Vogels will brief the summit on progress they are making in this area.

With many markets approaching saturation point and the world in the grip of a global recession, new business models offer a unique opportunity to deliver new and innovative services without significant investment. The Summit will look at how web, communications, media and advertising companies can work together to leverage their individual expertise, offering new profitable services which in turn hold the potential for economic growth.

"Downturns in the market can be very productive at getting people to innovate new ideas," said Keith Willetts, chairman of TM Forum. "The aim of the T8 World Summit is to uncover the issues the industry needs to solve to make these services a practical reality. We intend this initial meeting to kick-start a significant new industry group within TM Forum that complements our work in enabling profitable communications, media and advertising services."

The T8 World Summit will be moderated by former AT&T Chief Transformation Officer, Dr. Hossein Eslambolchi along with Eric Pulier, chairman of SOA Software. "We are delighted that such a prestigious group of executives from all sides of the digital marketplace will gather in Nice to kick-start a whole new chapter for web-based ‘cloud' services. This initiative brings together previously separate industries to identify the opportunities and challenges new business models present," commented Willetts.

The T8 World Summit builds on an already impressive backdrop of the Forum's flagship Management World conference, which will explore many similar topics through an impressive keynote line-up and presentations from more than 200 industry experts. The conference exclusively includes Forumville, offering live demonstrations of TM Forum's Technology Catalyst work, including two projects which utilize Amazon's cloud computing environment. "The Forum's not just talking about these issues, our members are already working together to address them at a practical level," added Willetts.