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From events in Nice and Amsterdam to Vodafone's full-year results and latest mobile phone figures, it's been a rollercoaster week in the telecoms world with several indications that the economic situation has improved for the sector compared to a year ago.

As weeks go, it's been a busy one for the telecoms industry. The infamous Icelandic ash cloud did its best to upset travel plans for the TM Forum's Management World in Nice as well as the LTE World Summit in Amsterdam, but news from the events suggested that most people made it in time.

Meanwhile industry giant Vodafone reported full-year and Q4 results on Tuesday, and both iSuppli and Gartner issued latest Q1 figures for the mobile handset market with some interesting developments in the manufacturer rankings. The Indian and German spectrum auctions came to an end, and Interoute, one of the high-profile victims of the telecoms downturn early last decade, reported strong revenue and profit growth in 2009 as it undercut global service providers on cost.

Vodafone got the news wires buzzing early in the week with its full-year results. The company was able to report some very good news on one hand: it exceeded the £4 billion mark for data revenue for the first time, reported a doubling of net profit to £8.674 billion for the full year, and said it achieved £1 billion in cost savings 12 months ahead of schedule. The slightly less good news was that it was forced to make a £2.3 billion impairment charge on its Indian operations; it's clear that the Indian operation is not currently the apple of CEO Vittorio Colao's eye.

But like all other Indian operators, Vodafone has committed to spending yet more in the sub-continent after it bid for and won 3G spectrum for the sub-continent. The tortuous Indian 3G auction lasted 34 days and raised a total of US$14.6 billion. Aircel, Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communications, Vodafone Essar, Tata Teleservices and newcomer S Tel Pvt all won spectrum. However, not one single carrier was able to win spectrum in all 22 of India's circles, so there is no nationwide Indian 3G provider.

The German sale of spectrum in four frequency bands - 800 MHz, 1.6 GHZ, 2 GHz and 2.6 GHz - also ended on Thursday, raising a more modest €4.4 billion. The four operators that took part in the auction, Vodafone, Telefonica O2, Deutsche Telekom and E-Plus, each won a number of the 41 spectrum blocks up for grabs. Vodafone acquired 12, Telefonica O2 11, Telekom 10, and E-Plus eight.

It's also worth mentioning that France finally wound up the sale of its remaining 3G spectrum - a process that has been ongoing since the country sold its very first 3G licences. After the fourth 3G licence was awarded to Free Mobile in January, two blocks of 2.1 GHz spectrum remained. These were finally awarded to Orange France (4.8 MHz) and SFR (5 MHz) this week, at a total cost of almost €300 million.

Mobile issues generally have certainly dominated this week: as well as major spectrum auctions finally coming to an end, both iSuppli and Gartner issued Q1 updates on the mobile handset market that indicated massive strides are being made by Android and Research in Motion. According to Gartner, the BlackBerry make is now one of the top five handset makers in the world, while Android is now the fourth-largest mobile operating system globally after Symbian, RIM and the iPhone OS and ahead of Microsoft Windows.

The good news is that after handset sales declined by 8.6% in Q1 2009, Gartner said sales grew again by 17% year on year to 314.7 million in Q1 2010. Smartphones remain the growth driver, with sales of the high-end phones increasing by 48.7% to 54.3 million units compared to Q1 2009. Smartphones accounted for 17.3% of all mobile handset sales in the first quarter of 2010, up from 13.6% in the same period in 2009.

On a separate subject but also mobile related, Orange announced the first commercial launch of near field communications (NFC) services in Europe along with a number of partners in Nice on Friday. The move means that people in Nice will be able to use their mobile handsets for contactless payments, ticketing, and so on. It's an interesting milestone in the long process to launch NFC services on mobile handsets - a process that was dogged early on by squabbles between mobile operators and banks over who should have control. Agreement was eventually reached to use the SIM card as the main authentication tool.

To end on a non-mobile note, some good news came from a fixed player that was famously a victim of the "build and they will come" mentality that preceded the huge telecoms crash in 2001-2003. Interoute reported this week that 2009 was its best year ever, with EBITDA up by 62% to €40 million and revenue up by 9% to €269 million. The pan-European network operator still makes around 50% of its business from wholesale, but is focusing increasingly on corporate services such as hosting and cloud services.

The company is now looking to make some acquisitions this year, and hopes to increase its network presence in markets such as France, Germany and the Nordics, while extending its network to markets such as Turkey and Russia.

So that's it for this week folks! Hope you all got back safely from Nice or Amsterdam, and here's hoping that next week will be just as exciting as this one was!

Rohde & Schwarz, a test and measurement specialist, and Blue Wonder Communications, an independent design house and licensor of LTE-IP and system solutions, have teamed up on LTE testing. The companies say they are determined to combine their key know-how and experience to provide leading edge LTE solutions for a fast deployment of LTE worldwide.

The activities address joint testing of LTE-FDD and TD-LTE functionality between Blue Wonder's BWC200 LTE-IP reference solution and Rohde & Schwarz' R&S CMW500. Furthermore both companies will be able to provide new features and functionalities earlier to the market due to exchange of product updates and test results. Especially during the implementation of 3GPP conformance test cases by Rohde & Schwarz a high performance device under test can significantly improve the confidence of the implementation on both sides and ensure successful certification of devices according to GCF rules.

"It is amazing to observe the momentum in the market for a worldwide deployment of LTE - no matter what region in the world. Advanced multimode LTE solutions addressing low power and advanced performance combined with powerful test equipment are key elements to it", comments Dr. Wolfram Drescher, Managing Director at Blue Wonder Communications. "Our partnership with Rohde & Schwarz enables the industry to seamlessly develop and test high performance LTE solutions with highest maturity level and total conformance, bringing a rich user experience to LTE customers. This is key for the wide adoption of LTE technology."

"Certification of LTE mobile devices is an important step into the commercial use of LTE in networks. Rohde & Schwarz has been the first T&M manufacturer to validate test cases with GCF in March this year. Together with Blue Wonder Communications as a testing partner, we will continue to provide high quality test cases to the industry" says Michael Altmann, head of Product Management Mobile Radio Testers at Rohde & Schwarz.

Interoute Communications, owner operator of Europe's largest next-generation network, today announced EBITDA of €40 million for 2009, an increase of 62 per cent on 2008.  Despite the most severe recessionary conditions since the Great Depression, Interoute increased its revenues by nine per cent during 2009 to report €269 million and generated net cash surpluses in two of the last three quarters.  The company says it plans to utilise this liquidity to grow its market share through targeted acquisitions and continued investment in telecommunications service innovation and the continued purchase of cutting edge, efficient and green transmission technologies.

In the last fiscal year, Interoute says it experienced strong demand for both its network centric ICT solutions in the cloud and its IT infrastructure as a service offering. Interoute says its ownership of the largest European next-generation network uniquely enables it to launch new services with virtually no increase in its network and operating costs - firmly positioning it at the forefront of the cloud computing market.

Having the largest duct and fibre reserves across Europe made it possible to double the network's active capacity between 2008 and 2009 in response to the increasing demand from customers that high capacity bandwidth should be the standard.  Interoute's expansion during 2009 also included landing two new sub sea cable systems, East and South Africa's SEACOM cable and North Africa's Hannibal cable. The Company also extended South into Turkey.

Commenting on the results Gareth Williams, Interoute CEO, said, "We have taken what was once seen as an ambitious network project - the establishment of Europe's largest fibre network - and created an asset that enables us to introduce new telecoms offerings and a range of innovative services, with only a limited extra cost to our business.  This vision of a single advanced fibre optic network started to pay off in 2008, when Interoute became operationally profitable for its first full year and we have built on this success to grow EBITDA by 62 percent in 2009.  Looking forward to 2010, we are excited about the opportunities that our growing cash reserves have created for us. We look to focus on acquiring assets that will help us continue to grow our revenues and market share."

Owned by majority shareholder the Sandoz Family Foundation and Tecom, a subsidiary of Dubai Holding, Interoute's £2.7 billion next-generation network, which runs from London to Istanbul and Stockholm to Sicily, has enabled it to meet burgeoning communications demands from enterprises across Europe and into emerging European Union countries, as well as the Middle East and Africa. Capable of rapidly increasing capacity at a low cost due to its ownership of European fibre reserves and investment in new and efficient transmission technologies, Interoute is well positioned to meet the increasing demand for complex network services that require large bandwidth.

Interoute offers all the elements of modern telecommunications from the ground to the cloud. Starting with the building block elements of modern network services like Duct and Fibre, Interoute's product portfolio extends to the most advanced network centric solutions, including Virtual Private Networks (VPN), security services and voice and content management services. The Company has a strong culture of innovation, the most recent result of which is the launch of Interoute's advanced set of communications tools for enterprises, including service developments for connectivity, communication and computing, called Interoute Unified ICT.

Interoute's network serves as a global bridge between the North and South and East and West. With high-capacity links to the US, an operational point-of-presence in the Middle East and eight subsea landing stations ringing the edge of Europe, Interoute acts as the European link for operators from the Middle East, Africa and North America.

A new bi-annual subscription service from Tariff Consultancy Ltd (TCL) called ‘MNO Trends in Europe 2010' is said to show that the main European markets are still seeing overall growth in mobile subscribers during 2009 in spite of the economic downturn. The service is said to be the first ever service in the market  tracking key metrics of Subscriber Figures, ARPU and Churn in addition to an analysis on the key new product and pricing initiatives launched by the 30 MNOs operating in eight European countries.

As of the end of 2009, MNOs in the eight European countries had over 417 million registered mobile subscribers, which is equivalent to 123% of the population (the figures exclude the MVNO sector).

With some exceptions, the MNOs saw an increase in subscriber numbers during 2009, an increase of over 4 million in total. Pay Monthly subscriptions continued to increase in 2009 by 7 million subscribers with Pre Pay subscribers falling by 2.9 million across the 8 countries.

The research reveals that around 60 per cent of mobile subscribers in the 8 countries have a Pay Monthly account with the highest proportion of 71% in France and the lowest percentage of Pay Monthly users being in Italy with 21%. The UK has seen the largest increase in Pay Monthly services of 2.5 million over the year.

Blended average ARPU levels across all of the countries in the survey have declined by 2.8%.  Blended ARPU rates tend to follow uniform trends in each country. For example, German MNOs have among the lowest ARPU rates and French MNOs have among the highest.  However blended churn rates vary considerably from MNO to MNO in each country.

In the MNO Trends in 2010 subscription service, TCL also highlight the key pricing initiatives launched by country. A number of key trends are taking place throughout all 8 European countries including the launch of new smart phones and HSDPA networks capable of providing theoretical download speeds of up to 14.4Mbps or 21Mbps. MNOs are also providing more bundled services and flat rate programmes.

In October 2009 for example Orange Spain introduced "Module International" , which for a flat fee of 1 Euro offers a 50% discount off the standard rate of making calls to Europe, Latin America, and the USA (to both fixed lines and mobiles).

Observed TCL Managing Director Margrit Sessions, "During 2009 the number of mobile subscribers in our 8 country survey continued to grow despite the economic downturn which is evidence of the resilience of the mobile operator even in a mature market.

Although Pay Monthly subscriptions continue to increase, blended average ARPU declined in all countries with the most savage decline seen in the UK. Operators need to continue to boost the proportion of their Pay Monthly subscriber base and add more pre-loaded services to the smart phone to boost usage.

Pricing initiatives in Europe are geared at promotions (or price cuts) for short term periods, such as the Christmas period," continues Margrit Sessions. "As a result ARPU overall is being reduced only gradually, although MNO's with exposure to Pre Pay customers are exposed to greater churn and reductions in monthly ARPU levels."  

HP today announced a broad set of telecom solutions designed to help service providers transform network operations to reduce complexity, lower costs and deliver a better customer experience.

At Management World, HP also announced three communications service providers (CSPs) that have recently selected solutions from the HP Next Generation Operations Support Systems (HP NGOSS) portfolio.

HP says its NGOSS software solutions provide CSPs with the advanced, highly automated OSS environment they need to complete a successful business transformation. With more automation, CSPs can streamline the two functional segments in OSS - fulfillment and assurance.

By improving the way services are ordered, provisioned and activated, and the way they are managed to meet customer expectations, CSPs can reduce costs and complexity, and ultimately, improve the customer experience.

With the expanded portfolio, HP now provides CSPs with a single source for both fulfillment and assurance, enabling them to transform their OSS environments more quickly and cost-effectively.

"CSPs must now compete for customers who have unlimited choice, and HP NGOSS solutions can help CSPs deliver the winning customer experience," said Philippe Leon, director, Communications and Media Solutions, HP. "HP is now providing CSPs worldwide with both transformation expertise and proven solutions that are needed to modernize OSS environments."

HP NGOSS solutions are supported by a complete portfolio of consulting, delivery and management services.

Aculab, a provider of enabling technology products, has announced that Belgium-based IP Trade, a provider of communications solutions for brokerages, has introduced an IP-based Trading Turret that helps financial services organisations manage the complexities of communicating over disparate networks. Through its Trading Turret, IP Trade provides VoIP- and SIP-based trading solutions that support wide area communications.

In order to ensure seamless communications for its customers, IP Trade relies on Aculab and its Prosody X media processing platform, to enable interoperability between legacy telecommunication networks and its IP-based Trading Turret. Through this collaboration, financial trading houses across Europe, Asia and North America are said to be able to integrate IP- and legacy-based communications into an infrastructure that meets the most stringent performance, reliability and security standards.

"Aculab's media processing boards give us a solid solution to address the compatibility issues of our customers," said Vincent Zander, Chief Technology Officer of IP Trade. "Our clients have intensive operational requirements that must be consistently satisfied within any variety of complex networking protocols. Aculab's Prosody X is a robust, flexible solution that enables us to meet these challenges and implement a fully functional system on a trading floor in as little as one month."

Often, financial trading organisations need to address unique technical requirements as part of their ongoing business operations. This frequently results in requests to integrate and support new protocols. While some vendors may hesitate when asked to implement these changes, IP Trade can easily accommodate most modifications due to its usage of Aculab's flexible platforms.

"Aculab's enabling technologies are particularly well-suited to address the needs of companies like IP Trade," noted Andrew Nicholson, Aculab Product Manager. "We work very closely with our partners to understand their current and long-term needs, and develop adaptable solutions to satisfy these issues. It's this continued high level of engagement that really allows us to serve the strategic needs of our clients, and help them satisfy the requirements of their customers."

Telcordia, a global specialist in the development of mobile, broadband and enterprise software and services, today announced the Telcordia Dynamic Pricing solution, which is claimed to help mobile operators increase revenue by optimizing network usage and  avoiding costly CAPEX upgrades to their network.

The Dynamic Pricing solution can help alter subscribers' behavior by shifting usage to underutilized cell areas or less congested time slots in order to increase network usage and increase mobile network operators' revenue potential.  By offering dynamic discounts, operators can even turn non-customers into customers, increasing overall usage and revenue without compromising existing margins.

"Dynamic pricing is a key asset for operators in highly competitive markets to help them better manage network usage, relieve congestion, and increase revenue from their existing network," said Zach Gilstein, Vice President, Operations Solutions, Telcordia. "For subscribers, it offers better quality of service as well as more flexible pricing models that fit their needs which, ultimately, drives higher customer satisfaction and reduces churn."

The new Dynamic Pricing solution, built on the asset base of Telcordia Service Director, analyzes voice and data network traffic, computes cell-based discounts using a configurable algorithm, and broadcasts the discounts via the cell broadcast center.  Especially helpful in price-sensitive markets, mobile operators can vary their pricing options based on a range of factors, including cell load, time of day, location, and past traffic patterns.

The discount information is available to the prepaid and postpaid billing systems via a real-time or batch interface.  The Dynamic Pricing solution also offers call data record (CDR) analysis capabilities to measure and adjust responses to discounts.

This solution is pre-integrated with Telcordia Real-Time Charging, which enables operators to create and deploy dynamic customer-specific rules for rating, discounting, promotions and settlements, and which, for dynamic pricing, applies the dynamic discounts according to actual usage. The Dynamic Pricing solution also supports an open architecture, making it a vendor-agnostic solution and facilitating integration with other charging applications.

Clarity, a provider of Unified Telecommunications Operational Management solutions, today announced the release of Clarity 11. The product suite is said to incorporate new and enhanced capabilities for service providers to simplify their operations and improve service quality whilst removing cost, risk and time incurred for crucial business processes.

Clarity 11 introduces the Clarity Marketplace and Clarity Infrastructure Management suites that build on the fulfilment and assurance capabilities of the Clarity Portfolio, to meet the demands of service providers for end-to-end process-driven solutions to drive profitability and cut costs. Working together, the portfolio is said to offer an integrated, automated and cost effective solution that removes the traditional silos and integration complexities in operations and increases the agility of the operator to embrace new supply-chain business models.

Tony Kalcina, Chief Product Officer at Clarity commented: "Clarity understands the need for service providers to improve their customer interaction experience while reducing overall operating costs. We are making ongoing investment in our product portfolio and expanding from pure OSS to cover a broader OSS/BSS scope of functionality. Our unified solution, with common data and processes, along with integrated workflow and business rules to support key, high-volume business procedures, will help service providers simplify their operations to reduce costs and increase competitiveness, by avoiding the expense and business risk associated with the costly integration and management of multiple, disparate systems."

With the introduction of Clarity Infrastructure Management, service providers now have a consolidated view of the network across engineering, operations and financial groups, with the tools to manage and reduce the cost and complexity of network rollout and planning, estates management, and asset tracking and maintenance. It includes a simplified GIS module to create and visualise assets, and integrates with the Clarity Fulfilment and Assurance suites to support the deployment and operations of assets. With Infrastructure Management, service providers have more accurate information on network assets and sites to improve communications between business units, allowing them to make informed investment decisions and improve regulatory compliance.

Clarity Marketplace is a new suite that simplifies key processes between service providers and their retail and wholesale customers. Marketplace enables market innovation and reduces the time and cost of delivering products to market. It provides a product catalog, with integrated customer, order and revenue management capabilities, and works with the Fulfilment and Assurance suites to integrate provisioning and assurance activities from order capture to network activation.

Clarity 11 also incorporates upgrades to the Fulfilment and Assurance suites, including enhanced reservation and auto-discovery capabilities and better visibility of performance and alarms through Clarity Workbench. It also includes enhanced modelling for next generation networks, such as FTTx, GPON, IPTV, 3G and 3G+, to support faster roll-out of networks and services.

Derdack, a provider of mobile messaging platforms and enterprise notification software, today announced that it had signed a partner agreement with Inovativ, the Dutch Microsoft System Center specialist.  The relationship has already proved successful with the first customer implementation completed at INHolland University of Applied Sciences where message master Enterprise Alert has been deployed to increase availability of critical IT services such as email, and reduce the risk of business interruption.

Inovativ is said to have a well established reputation as a Microsoft System Center expert.  Arthur Nieuwland, Principal Consultant at Inovativ commented, "message master Enterprise Alert offers reliable, scalable and flexible enterprise notification software.  The two-way connector with System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) and powerful multi-modal communication facilities ensure clients can deploy it quickly to enhance SCOM's alert notification capabilities.  Additionally we were attracted to partnering with Derdack as like ourselves they are a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner and also a member of the Microsoft System Center Alliance."

Inovativ and Derdack have already worked together to implement a notification hub at INHolland University of Applied Sciences. message master Enterprise Alert has been deployed to enhance the way in which events and alerts produced by SCOM are managed.  INHolland previously used a limited alerting system that relied on one way ‘fire and forget' voice calls.  However, once it had implemented SCOM from Inovativ, INHolland took the opportunity to review its notification infrastructure.

Robert Beudeker, System Administrator, INHolland University of Applied Sciences explained why it was a straightforward decision to select message master Enterprise Alert, "Derdack's enterprise notification software met all of our requirements.  We were impressed with its use of SMS for notifications, the two-way connector to SCOM, its ability to integrate with Active Directory for provisioning and management of user rights and its capabilities around escalation and ticket monitoring."

If SCOM detects an event in the INHolland's IT infrastructure such as a server failure, then an alert is sent to message master Enterprise Alert.  The notification software sends an SMS notification to the relevant IT engineer on the second line IT help desk according to a schedule of availability. Outside of office hours the SMS is automatically sent to a standby engineer.  If the SMS is not acknowledged by the relevant engineer then message master Enterprise Alert resends the message.

Beudeker added, "By integrating message master Enterprise Alert with SCOM we have gained the ability to react faster to a broader range of events, improved service uptime and reduced the risk of interruption to our critical services.  By resolving issues more quickly we have also reduced the number of calls to the help desk.  The service that we have received from Derdack and Inovativ has been of a consistently high level and there is scope for the notification hub to be extended in the future, for example to communicate timetable or schedule changes to students."

Matthes Derdack, Managing Director of Derdack concluded, "Inovativ's deep Microsoft expertise mirrors our own and I am delighted to welcome them to Derdack's growing partner network.  The project at INHolland shows the value from integrating message master Enterprise Alert with Microsoft System Center Operations Manager to improve service uptime and reduce the risk of business interruption and I am looking forward to working with Inovativ's talented team on further successful customer implementations. The cooperation is also an excellent example of the benefits that can be achieved by working within the Microsoft partner ecosystem."

Redknee, a provider of billing and charging software and solutions for communications service providers, today announced at TM Forum Management World that it has signed a contract with Telfort, a subsidiary of KPN, to extend its use of Redknee's data monetization platform, NGRC.

Redknee's NGRC platform, in addition to already supporting Telfort's data rating and charging, now also enables the operator to meet EU mobile broadband roaming regulations. Under the latest EU data roaming regulations, operators must enable subscribers to cap their spending while they are roaming as well as provide notifications as subscribers approach their threshold.

Based in the Netherlands, Telfort's extended investment in NGRC comes in response to regulation that came into effect in March 2010 by the European Commission (EC) aimed at preventing situations of excessive charges, or ‘bill shock' occurring while customers are roaming in the European Union (EU). Redknee's NGRC will enable Telfort to provide more than 2 million customers with greater transparency into the services they use and their associated charges while they are abroad. Using NGRC, Telfort implemented a default spending cap and in the future, Telfort can provide meaningful and timely balance notifications to their customers, such as when the balance reaches a certain per cent of their threshold.

Rob de Beer, IT Director of Telfort, comments: "It was imperative for Telfort to comply with the EU regulations for data roaming. Redknee helped Telfort to comply in time by swiftly deploying the required modules on the Redknee's existing IP Charging Gateway. With the success of this service in March, Telfort decided to continue working with Redknee to deliver the required functionalities of the next phase of EU roaming data transparency regulation, which will be implemented by 1st July 2010."

Redknee's CEO Lucas Skoczkowski added: "The launch of the EU data roaming solution is further validation of Redknee's vision to support our customers to be agile and responsive to changes in the operating market and industry now and in the future. At Redknee, we are continuing our investment in solutions that serve the Tier-1 markets of the Americas, Europe and Australia, along with the high growth markets of Africa, the Middle East and Asia Pacific, to support the success of our customers and the execution of our growth strategy."

Redknee's NGRC is a platform for providing next generation data and convergence solutions.  The NGRC platform includes Redknee's core usage management capabilities and standards based interfaces along with data mediation, a standards-based policy engine and subscriber profile repository.  Based on patented technology, the NGRC platform is said to offer operators the flexibility and scalability to launch new services, while creating new revenue streams based on diverse pricing options for both prepaid, postpaid and hybrid-plan subscribers.  Operators can choose to expand the NGRC platform through a variety of available modules such as Rating and Charging, Subscriber Usage Manager and the Promotions Manager. The solution suite enables operators to monetize subscriber usage, better manage their network assets, and drive ARPU growth, while leveraging existing billing systems and network investments.

Ontology Systems has announced the results of research carried out in April this year by Telesperience, the independent telecom and IT analysts. Data misalignment has long been recognized as a chronic problem for CSPs running large OSS/BSS infrastructure and, says Ontology, Telesperience's research reveals just how widespread a problem it is and how difficult it is to solve.

Data misalignment can be defined to mean: "A situation where software solutions either cannot get the data they need when they need it or else cannot rely on the data being accurate, both of which affect the solution's performance".

The highlights of the research are:
  a.. Data misalignment kills CSP efficiency.
  a.. 96% of CSPs surveyed suffer operational or financial impacts from misaligned data
  a.. Customer experience and service management suffer.
  a.. 75% find that data misalignment damages their customers' experience
  a.. Revenue leaks are a direct result.
  a.. 75% need to align their data to improve billing accuracy

Most significantly, 0% of the CSPs surveyed have solved the data misalignment problem: 42% saying it's too expensive, and over 50% saying it's too complex and they can't find effective tools.

Teresa Cottam, Research and Publications Director at Telesperience who carried out the research comments: "The overwhelming message from the research was that CSPs told us solving data misalignment would help them tackle their key revenue management, service management and customer experience goals, yet no CSP in the sample had solved the data misalignment problem citing cost and lack of available tools as the main barriers." 

The research reveals the following data misalignment trends:
  a.. 96% of respondents said they suffer operational or financial impacts resulting from data misalignment
  b.. 75% said data misalignment damages customer experience
  c.. 75% said it prevents or delays full automation
  d.. 63% said it drives up customer complaints
  e.. 96% said solving the problem would have a positive impact on their customers
  f.. 58% said they are continually trying to fix it...
  g.. ...yet no CSP in the sample has solved it to date, with:
  a.. 58% saying it is too complex a problem
  b.. 54% saying tools they have tried aren't effective
  c.. 42% saying it is too expensive
  d.. 37% saying they spend more than USD500,000 on tackling it

Cottam noted: "The extent and impact of data misalignment upon CSPs' business was worryingly high with 96% of respondents saying they did suffer either operational or commercial impacts from poorly aligned data." Cottam continues:  "Interestingly, those spending the most on fixing data misalignment were not the biggest CSPs, but instead those with 1-10 million subscribers who accounted for 56% of those spending more than USD500,000".

Benedict Enweani, Ontology's CEO, comments: "The research highlights the scale and size of the problems caused by misaligned data and the challenges that CSPs face trying to unleash the value in their OSS/BSS data." Enweani continues: "From the get go, we knew that traditional tools and approaches would be costly to deploy and ultimately have very little impact.  For this very reason, when we developed OSS/CAD, we turned to the field of semantics and ontologies as the only cost-effective and capable method of tackling data misalignment in complex systems such as OSS/BSS."

Enweani concludes: "Today, experience with our customers who use OSS/CAD's semantic engine to fix data misalignment and tackle OSS/BSS complexity, shows that they are able to align data and keep it aligned, stop revenue leaks and find stranded assets, manage services with confidence, and accelerate and unblock failing transformations.  They are managing it with unprecedented speed and, according to the results of the survey, at a fraction of the cost of other CSPs."

Openet, a provider of Transactional Intelligence for network service providers, today announced that Orange France has selected FusionWorks Policy Manager to enable a wide range of solutions designed to deliver better network resource control and new business models.

In the first phase of this deployment, Openet is helping Orange identify out-of-contract use and prevent subscribers from violating the terms of their wireless service contracts by connecting laptops to the mobile network by using their mobile phones as modems. This "tethering prevention" ability will enable Orange to limit bandwidth congestion and reduce revenue loss.

Orange France will also be rolling out Openet's Parental and Content Controls solution, which will allow Orange to offer parents and guardians the ability to set limits on children's wireless usage based on time of day and type of service.  Built on Openet's Policy Manager product, the Parental and Content Controls Solution also provides controls to prevent access to inappropriate content and services.

"As mobile devices increase in sophistication, it has become our responsibility to implement cutting-edge network controls that protect our subscribers-the children from inappropriate content and the adults from exorbitant fees and a bandwidth-congested network from illegal modem use-while also allowing us to extract maximum value from the network," said Frederic Marx, operations director, Orange France. "With Openet, we're able to enact these business-critical missions and stay ahead of the curve as bandwidth demand continues to rise."

Openet's FusionWorks Policy Manager product will be integrated with the Deep Packet Inspection solution from Openet partner Cisco Systems. Orange France selected Cisco's Content Services Gateway (CSG) in conjunction with its purchase of Policy Manager from Openet. The integrated network control and monetization solution will enable Orange France to control its network resources based on complex rules based on subscriber, service or usage context.

In the second stage of deployment, Openet will enable Orange France to meet EU roaming regulations for enterprise users. With Openet's EU Roaming Controls solution, Orange can offer its corporate customers the ability to monitor and control employees' mobile usage, thereby enabling Orange to act in accordance with the regulations designed to protect subscribers from excessive roaming charges. For the final stage of deployment, Orange France will roll out Openet's Fair Usage solution, which gives Orange the ability to manage network resources via fair usage policies to control network congestion and ensure quality of service for all subscribers.

"With its selection of FusionWorks Policy Manager and the solutions developed on the platform, Orange France has continued to recognize Openet's ability to deliver innovative services on the network's edge," said Mike Manzo, CMO at Openet. "With these solutions, Orange is ensuring both long-term network controls-from enabling compliance for subscriber network access and fair usage policies, to the meeting of EU regulations by enterprises and consumers-while also securing its business model and QoS for subscribers."

This is the latest deployment in a long-standing relationship between Openet and Orange Group. Openet has provided mediation and charging products for Orange Group in multiple countries since 2001.

Tektronix Communications, a provider of Network Intelligence and communications test solutions, has today unveiled its Iris Performance Intelligence (IPI) solution. Designed for teams that are responsible for network, service and IP performance, the IPI solution provides end-to-end analysis and reporting capabilities coupled with a KPI/KQI modeling engine that allows operators to better link desired business outcomes to events that occur at the network level.

"Realizing that every customer and every network is different, Tektronix Communications developed its Iris Performance Intelligence solution to enable specialized user workflows for unprecedented speed and efficiency in proactive network management and root cause path analysis," said Mark Driedger, vice president and general manager of Tektronix Communications' Network Management business. "IPI provides multiple departments within an operator the ability to monitor and report on applications that provide the highest return on investment by ensuring the successful launch of end user services in a proactive and efficient way. This addition to Tektronix Communications' Iris suite of products further strengthens the company's unparalleled offering of Network Intelligence solutions to simplify operators' business and operational objectives."

IPI is a real-time and historic KPI dashboard solution that provides operators the capability to identify network, service and IP performance issues, drill-down to their root cause, and proactively fix the issue before customers are even aware there is a problem. IPI allows multiple departments within an operator to develop their own Key Quality Indicators based on the industry standard categories of accessibility, retainability, integrity and performance.

NEC Eastern Europe announced today that it has signed a contract with Antenna Hungária to build a national enterprise access network in Hungary. It will enable Antenna Hungária to provide high-capacity, high-quality data connections to large enterprises, including banks, as well as offer backhaul capacity to mobile operators.  NEC has built the network using VectaStar, a Point to Multipoint (PMP) microwave solution from Cambridge Broadband Networks.

The PMP microwave architecture allows networks to be built and extended rapidly and cost effectively.  VectaStar delivers further efficiencies by making best use of available spectrum, which is a valuable and finite resource, by aggregating and statistically multiplexing packet data over the air.

Zsolt Árki, Head of Engineering and Implementation at Antenna Hungária, said, "Through our long-standing relationship with NEC and its collaboration with Cambridge Broadband Networks we now have a network in place that will give us the performance we need to continue offering our customers the bandwidth they demand in the timescales we guarantee. We have found VectaStar to be extremely quick and easy to deploy with a typical installation taking just half a day.

Antenna Hungaria is using VectaStar in the 26GHz frequency band to deliver network coverage in the big cities across Hungary. To date, the network comprises several VectaStar aggregation hubs in Budapest delivering more Gbits of multi-service capacity to the area. Enterprise users of the network will benefit from improved services including high-speed internet access, fast LAN2LAN connections, leased lines and telephony and hosting.

"Antenna Hungária is a customer we know well having worked together successfully since 1976.  We have provided solutions such as the ultra-compact microwave communications system Pasolink, a trunk microwave system and television transmitter.  In this case, we identified PMP microwave as the technology to best meet the needs of Antenna Hungaria," said Toru Koishi, CEO, NEC Eastern Europe. 

Graham Peel, Chief Executive Officer of Cambridge Broadband Networks said, "NEC has a strong and respected presence in Central and Eastern Europe, regions where we see a substantial opportunity for VectaStar. Data capacity demands across the region are growing rapidly and VectaStar enables operators to capitalise on this growth. Working in partnership with NEC on the Antenna Hungária deployment has been a success in every respect and we look forward to continuing the partnership through future deployments."