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GTS Central Europe (GTS) today announced that it has agreed to acquire Interware Zrt., a provider of data center services in the Hungarian market. The deal is subject to local Competition Office approval and expected to close by the end of the third quarter of 2010. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Interware is a Hungarian alternative telecommunications service provider offering server hosting, collocation, internet and fixed voice services primarily for business customers. The company operates two data centers in downtown Budapest which provide 1,075 net square meters of collocation space and host 3,300 customer servers from the manufacturing, public, media and ICT sectors.

The Interware acquisition follows the recent acquisition of Romanian telecommunications operator Datek and is said to be aligned with GTS's overall strategy of becoming the preferred partner and supplier in the Central & Eastern European (CEE) region for integrated telecommunications solutions for the carrier and corporate market. The acquisition is claimed to establishe GTS as one of the key players in the Hungarian collocation and server hosting market. Together with its existing data center in Budaörs, GTS will provide for its customers a total of 1,490 square meters of data center space.

Given the increasing demand for data storage in the CEE region, GTS announced expansion plans of its data center infrastructure in March 2010. The company currently operates seven data centers in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Romania, providing more than 6,000 square meters of collocation space and capacity for more than 10,000 servers. GTS‘s extensive metro and international fiber network provides collocation customers numerous connectivity/network capacity options from the company's data centers. GTS will expand its collocation capacity with the opening of a new 700 square meter facility in Prague in late July.

"Our acquisition of Interware further solidifies the position of GTS as a significant player in the CEE data center market and a leading market consolidator among infrastructure-based telecomunications operators in the region. The Interware data centers provide our customers additional secure collocation space and expand our capabilities in the server hosting market," said Adam Sawicki, Group CEO at GTS Central Europe. "Furthermore, our Budapest  metro fiber network will provide the Interware data center customers increased connectivity options."

Both fixed and mobile broadband markets will continue growing in revenues, up to $416bn in 2020, but operators face some hard decisions about future business models, according to a new study published by the Telco 2.0 Initiative.

The new report, "Mobile, Fixed & Wholesale Broadband Business Models: Best Practice Innovation, ‘Telco 2.0' Opportunities, Forecasts and Future Scenarios" finds that telecom operators will benefit from both new types of broadband wholesale and more sophisticated direct-to-consumer retail propositions and tariffs. Recent introductions of new tiered and capped wireless Internet data plans are early evidence of this trend.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Global broadband access is forecast to increase from $274bn in 2010, to $416bn in 2020, an increase of 52% in revenue terms.
  • More than half the revenue growth will come from wholesale and "two-sided" fees for improved access capacity and quality.
  • By 2020, mobile broadband will be worth $138bn, or 32% of the total broadband industry revenues.
  • Three new revenue streams are identified: "Bulk Wholesale", "Comes with data", "Slice and Dice".
  • New ‘upstream' customers are forecast to generate over $90 billion in broadband revenues globally by 2020.

Many operators are said to fear the supposed risks of becoming "dumb pipes", but the study suggests the forecast market value means the term "happy pipe" is more appropriate for some. Certain telecom carriers will be able to add further value through enhanced "Telco 2.0" services and platforms, but it is important to note that the basic carriage of data can itself be profitable and a source of substantial growth.

On the conventional retail broadband side, the big winners are fibre-based fixed services and mobile data for smartphones, says the report. ADSL and cable revenues will peak in mid-decade, and then decline with substitution from the progressive deployment of fibre. PC-based mobile broadband retail revenues will grow strongly in the short term, before being impacted by price competition and a shift from user-paid retail subscriptions to new wholesale-enabled models.

The  study predicts that the wholesale market for broadband will evolve in three separate directions:

  • "Bulk wholesale" is an evolution of today's approach to MVNOs and data roaming in mobile, or loop-unbundling and open fibre access in fixed markets. The report predicts an acceleration of this type of wholesale provision, as governments force greater openness on telecoms licencees, and operators look to alternative partnerships to supply new market niches with capacity. There is also a possibility for parties other than the end-user to pick up the bill for subscriptions - for example, some local authorities are now providing free broadband to disadvantaged communities.
  • "Comes with data" business models have started to emerge recently, with devices such as the Amazon Kindle. Here, a product vendor or service provider contracts for data capacity with the broadband provider, and bundles it in a combined offer - the user does not have a subscription or direct relationship with the telco. The report expects this approach to be important for laptops, netbooks, tablets and various other new device categories.
  • "Slice and dice" wholesale is more complex, and more controversial. This involves operators selling data capacity in fine-grained "parcels" to parties other than the user, who is typically also paying for some level of access. This type of "two-sided" business model could involve deals with device vendors for inclusion of data in bundled M2M offers, or to content/application providers where they pick up the bill for data transmission rather than the end-user.

The incremental revenue opportunity for new "slice and dice" wholesale business models in mobile broadband alone is forecast to be $21bn worldwide by 2020, says the report.

According to Chris Barraclough, co-author of the report and Managing Director of Telco 2.0, "Telco 2.0 is not about throwing away existing operator business models, but about evolving them to generate additional value. In new Telco 2.0 style ‘two-sided' business models, there are ‘upstream' and ‘downstream' customers - upstream customers are typically enterprises or merchants seeking to reach their markets - the so-called ‘downstream' customers."

"As we show in this report, there are many creative ways that operators can add more value for existing downstream customers.  However, it is also clear that those companies providing services over the internet will increasingly seek to mash-up connectivity more tightly with their own offerings, for example by including connectivity as a part of their products.  These new ‘upstream' customers are alone forecast to generate over $90 billion in broadband revenues globally by 2020."

The report's co-author and founder of Disruptive Analysis, Dean Bubley, said "Both fixed and mobile operators need to look beyond the traditional ‘end user subscription mindset', and examine new and innovative wholesale opportunities. At the same time, they need to embrace radical evolution of their retail portfolios - for example, supporting prepaid fixed broadband, or offering innovative tiering and policy structures for mobile Internet access from smartphones and tablets. Whoever coined the term ‘dumb pipe' has cost the industry billions in shareholder value".

NCP engineering today announced the availability of the NCP Secure Client - Juniper Edition, which is specifically tailored to enable Juniper Networks' customers to extend endpoint flexibility and security.  NCP has also joined the Juniper J-Partner  Solutions Alliance Program.  Through this partnership, NCP's IPsec VPN client, which is available for Windows platforms in either 32- or 64-bit versions, will replace the NetScreen-Remote VPN client on Juniper's high-end ScreenOS-based devices.
"Juniper and NCP have teamed up to offer a VPN solution for customers' networks that require remote endpoint access.  Juniper Networks has long been a leading driver of strong, flexible networking, and our ability to extend these tenets to further solve the market's needs is a point of pride," said Martin Hack, executive vice president, NCP engineering.  "A customer, who has held off adopting the latest devices or moving to 64-bit systems, can rethink their remote access and embrace these technologies, while maintaining confidence that their network is secure."

"Our primary focus is delivering the best customer experience with our VPN solutions, led by Junos Pulse and our market-leading SSL VPN remote access solutions.  However, there are customers who still want an IPsec-only VPN client, and NCP's solution serves to meet that need in the market," said Rich Campagna, director of product marketing, Access and Acceleration Business Unit, Juniper Networks.

A new study by Juniper Research forecasts that the value of digital and physical goods that people buy with their mobiles will reach $200bn globally by 2012, compared to just less than $100bn this year. Digital goods include entertainment and tickets, whilst physical goods include groceries, gifts and books.

The new study - Mobile Payments for Digital and Physical Goods - found that the availability of secure, easy-to-use, payment applications and the growing realisation of users that they can make ecommerce purchases by mobile will drive the market.

Report author Howard Wilcox gave more details: "Our research showed that the purchase experience has been enhanced by improved mobile commerce transaction processes due to faster mobile networks, more powerful devices and much more user friendly Smartphone apps. Amazon Payments for example has recently introduced payment-processing tools for mobile devices, enabling Smartphone users to buy with one click."

However, the Juniper report also underlined that retailers and merchants need to communicate the cost of transactions clearly so that people are not discouraged from buying by mobile.

Further key findings from the mobile payments report include:

  • The frequency of physical goods purchased will be higher than average in developed regions such as North America and Western Europe;
  • Brands, retailers and merchants have a significant opportunity to increase their revenues through highly targeted marketing campaigns, using apps and mobile web payments as a convenience play for users.

Dell'Oro Group, specialist in market information about the networking and telecommunications industries, has reported that PBX market revenues declined sequentially in the first quarter and are forecast to decline year-over-year for 2010. Revenues in the first quarter were impacted by seasonality, weakness in Europe, and customer pause ahead of new releases.

"We believe that PBX market revenues will continue to weaken in 2010 despite a rebound in line shipments, because the market is heavily weighted towards Europe and transactions relying on the Euro," commented Alan Weckel, Director at Dell'Oro Group. "We estimate that a 10 percent decline in the Euro would remove over $20 million in PBX market revenues each quarter this year," added Weckel.

According to the report, vendors continue to migrate their installed base to IP lines. Although the process may take another decade to complete, the top eight vendors (Aastra, Alcatel-Lucent, Avaya, Cisco, Mitel, NEC, Shoretel, and Siemens) accounted for 80 percent of IP line shipments during the quarter.


Huawei and BITE Group, an operator in Baltic countries, today jointly announced that the two companies have reached an agreement for Huawei to provide its SingleRAN@Broad solution and 4G-ready technologies for BITE to modernise its entire mobile network in Latvia.

According to the contract, Huawei will deploy a nationwide 2G/3G/4G mobile network for BITE, including core network and radio access network equipment as well as SingleRAN@Broad solution. The SingleRAN@Broad is a new solution unveiled by Huawei in 2010, which is said to have been developed to 'break down the walls between different standards and technologies (2G/3G/4G)'. The first phase of the project will be completed at the end of 2010. Huawei says that BITE will not only have better network coverage in the entire country, but also environmentally-friendly infrastructure saving at least 30% of the power consumption and providing a much more efficient operation.

"We are pleased to work with BITE," said James Chen, managing director of Huawei Nordic & Baltic, "It's the first big footprint for Huawei in the Baltic countries. With industry leading 2G/3G/4G technologies as well as our abundant experience in network modernisation, we are confident we can provide BITE with a high-quality network, furthermore to improve user experience for BITE customers with future mobile broadband services, anywhere and anytime. We will also expand our office in Riga to better serve our customer and to reinforce Huawei's local commitment."

Fred Hrenchuk, CEO of Bite Group says: "This collaborative project will become the largest mobile communications network modernisation project in the Baltic telecommunications area, and will bring further benefits to our customers. This cooperation would also ensure a high quality network development for Bite in a record time, which is a strategic priority for the success of our company in Latvia. With the support of Huawei's expertise and innovative technologies, we will continue our rapid development in order to provide our customers with the highest-quality services all over Latvia."

It's not just about heavy data consumption: constant signalling between smartphones and networks places a huge burden on mobile networks but represents zero revenue for operators. Vendors such as Nokia Siemens Networks are now providing a solution to help operators deal with this challenge.

Mobile operators are already grappling with higher data traffic on their networks as consumers increasingly use laptops and smartphones to access the Internet, download applications, watch videos, and so on.

Operators also know that the situation is not about to get any easier: latest predictions are that in the next five years, voice traffic on mobile networks will increase by 50%, laptop traffic by 1,000% and smartphone traffic by a massive 10,000%.

According to Christian Fredrikson, head of network system sales at Nokia Siemens Networks, by 2015 total data traffic is estimated to be 23 exabytes per day - that equates to the world's population of 6.3 billion people each downloading a digital book in one day.

Smartphones are now expected to become the biggest challenge for operators as devices have become more attractive and user friendly, and also provide access to more attractive content. They are also getting cheaper. According to recent projections from Dr Richard Windsor, global technology specialist at Nomura International, smartphone sales will reach 559 million globally by 2013, up from 255 million this year and 172 million in 2009.

Operators have already experienced well-publicised network problems due to heavy iPhone use, for example: O2 in the UK suffered from dropped calls in the London area late last year, while AT&T has also found it difficult to manage iPhone data demands.

The large network equipment vendors have therefore been developing new solutions to help network operators meet the challenges. As Fredrikson says, the heavy consumption of data is not the only problem: "There is a lot of data," he says, "but as was the case with SMS, what was overlooked was signalling...the smartphones are always on and they are all signalling all the time."

It is this constant signalling between smartphones and networks that often causes phone batteries to drain suddenly or for services to work slowly. Different applications will also have differing signalling burdens, with push email one of the worst offenders because the handset is constantly checking in with the network. Machine-to-machine communications will also present some major signalling challenges when such services take off.

"Signalling is a huge load on networks but it represents zero revenue for operators," says Fredrikson.

He notes that the issue could be resolved by throwing in more hardware to increase capacity. But that is an expensive solution; instead, vendors such as Nokia Siemens Networks are providing software-based services to help operators better plan and manage their networks based on their existing network topology and the devices and applications that are used on the networks.

Fredrikson says if such solutions are implemented, battery life in handsets can be improved by up to 30%, for example. Operators will also be able to make better use of their network capacity, enabling them to support more users and more smartphones and thus generate more revenue.

Fredrikson notes that signalling becomes a problem once an operator has a certain penetration of smartphones: "You're generally ok below 10% penetration," he says. He notes that there is an inflexion point after which signalling becomes a burden, but this will vary depending on the existing network situation and the phones and applications that are being used.

For the mobile operator, any solution has to present a good business case and be cheaper than just throwing extra capacity at the problem.

"We are constantly making efforts to drive down the cost per bit," says Fredrikson, noting that Nokia Siemens now believes it has reduced costs to 3 euros for 2 gigabytes a month per user. He adds that the new radio technologies such as HSPA+ and LTE will also be very important if costs per bit are to be reduced further.

Nokia Siemens has worked with a number of operators and has officially announced a deployment with O2 in the UK to help the mobile operator improve its smartphone network support in London.

Jasper Wireless and VimpelCom (Beeline) today signed a partnership agreement that will bring the first machine-to-machine (M2M) global solution to the Russian market. Beeline's M2M offering will be enabled by Jasper Wireless' complete service platform to profitably connect and manage consumer electronics as well as enterprise solutions.

Beeline's M2M Control Center will enable businesses to design and service embedded mobile devices. The partnership will accelerate market entry for a new generation of electronic devices, including e-Readers, digital photo frames, cameras, personal navigation, mobile internet and gaming devices, but will also bring automation and advanced control to key verticals such as transport and logistics, banking and payment, security and tracking, telemetry and monitoring or e-health care.

"There is a growing demand from international device manufacturers for tailored M2M management solutions so they can easily expand into new markets with high-performing solutions. The Russian M2M market is at an early stage of development and VimpelCom is revolutionising this space by combining its nationwide wireless Beeline network with the Jasper Wireless platform, allowing its customers to profitably connect and manage a new generation of devices and offer value added services," said Cindy Patterson, executive vice president, worldwide sales and marketing, Jasper Wireless.

"Embedded mobile devices in the consumer and enterprise segments represent a vast growth opportunity for our existing and prospective customers. By partnering with Jasper Wireless, VimpelCom wants to capitalise on this market opportunity, offering customers tailored M2M services that are unique in the industry and accelerate market entry of connected devices - including innovative and flexible business models, automated operations, real-time monitoring and diagnostics as well as enhanced customer support," according to Andrey Patoka, vice president corporate business development at VimpelCom.

Alcatel-Lucent says it today 'raised the bar' on optical networking with the announcement of the first commercially available solution to carry a single carrier 100 gigabit per second (100G) on a wavelength through the use of emerging ‘Next-Generation Coherent' technology. With this announcement, Alcatel-Lucent says it is moving the market into the commercial deployment era of 100G next generation coherent technology.

Designed to address the booming bandwidth demands driven by video streaming, web applications, file sharing and high definition movies, next-generation coherent technology is the next step in 100G optical networking, said to offer unprecedented resilience to optical transmission impairments across the network. This enables 100G rates on each wavelength, supporting for example the transfer of over 100,000 MP3 files in 60 seconds or over 15,000 HDTV channels concurrently streamed live.

Single carrier next-generation coherent technology also offers significantly higher integration and longer transmission reach with significantly lower network complexity, operational costs and power consumption. Next-generation coherent technology also delivers unprecedented compatibility between 100G and lower speed transport infrastructures (such as 10G and 40G). 

All of these features make the solution, says Alcatel-Lucent, the ideal solution for carriers who want investment-protection by scaling their backbone and metro networks from 10G to 40G to 100G without performance degradation, or an economically viable platform for new optical networking deployments.

"Driven by increasing network bandwidth demands, service providers are looking for future-proof backbone infrastructures that can effectively scale in capacity and reach without requiring expensive network overbuilds," said Dana Cooperson, Vice-President Network Infrastructure at Ovum. "Infrastructure that can adapt easily to include coherent 100G (and 40G) transmission and scale to multi-terabits, such as Alcatel-Lucent has announced as ready for deployment, is essential to enabling tomorrow's high-bandwidth applications. And as one of only a few leaders in both IP/MPLS and optical infrastructure, Alcatel-Lucent is in a good position to advance the close integration of the IP and optical layers to further optimize networks."

Currently available on the 1830 Photonic Service Switch (PSS), this technology, which leverages innovations from the Bell Labs, Alcatel-Lucent's research arm and in-house developments in optical networking, is also being deployed on all of Alcatel-Lucent's dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) platforms. The 100G next-generation coherent offering is a key element of Alcatel-Lucent's High Leverage Network (HLN) architecture to help service providers offer a differentiated service experience to end-users, while minimizing their total cost of ownership.

Underscoring today's launch, the 100G-capable Alcatel-Lucent 1830 PSS has been selected by SOFTBANK TELECOM Corp. to upgrade its backbone network and is being showcased at the ongoing Interop Tokyo 2010 exhibition, where Alcatel-Lucent is partnering with SOFTBANK TELECOM to provide the network infrastructure carrying live data traffic associated with the event. Additionally, Alcatel-Lucent's next-generation coherent technology has already been successfully tested with Tier-1 customers worldwide, including Telefonica.

"With the availability today of our 100G DWDM solution, Alcatel-Lucent further evolves and differentiates its optical networking proposition to deliver new value and revenue protection to its customers," said James Watt, head of Alcatel-Lucent's Optics activities. "Our in-house innovation capabilities and strategy execution are a new proof of our commitment to partner with service providers for the development of new sustainable business models. This is where bandwidth growth is achieved while minimizing their total cost of ownership, including energy and space savings."

Deep Packet Inspection will lead the field of mobile network test and optimization solutions by 2013 and is expected to generate equipment revenues of $1.3 billion in 2015, according to a new study from ABI Research. Other approaches include client applications on handsets, radio test equipment and radio probes, routing/transport equipment, operation support software, and network-based offloading. Growth rates for all are forecast in the new study.

Mobile operators' network capacity woes have garnered much public attention, and according to mobile networks practice director Aditya Kaul, they will get worse before they get better. "Brute force won't solve this problem," he says. "If you double the number of smartphone users, you can't just spend $10 billion to double the capacity of your infrastructure."

The answer lies in making existing networks more efficient, says ABI. A growing arsenal of equipment and techniques from a variety of vendors aim to optimize different parts of the network and base station (some OEMs are starting to build these tools right into the network's central processing functions, but they are outside the scope of the report, says ABI.)

"These solutions are relatively inexpensive and cost-effective," notes Kaul.

Each operator may have a different set of needs. AT&T, the most publicized example, has two problems: too much data traffic (iPhone video, for example) and also too much signaling traffic - the mechanics of running the network. So, says Kaul, they would need DPI, routing/transport optimization, and maybe some UE client software installed on the smartphone. Other operators may have very different challenges.

To meet those needs, solutions are arriving from a variety of vendors including Tektronix Communications, Anritsu, Agilent, EXFO, Astellia, and a large "other" group of vendors that collectively command a 28% share of the market. It is from that "other" group that much of this segment's innovation will flow. Says Kaul: "This is a wide-open market. It's anybody's game at the moment. There are a lot of small companies with new ideas and a lot of ‘crosstalk' between them."

"Mobile Network Optimization" explores the market drivers and end-user demand for monitoring and optimization equipment related to 3G and 4G networks. It highlights market dynamics leading to new operator business strategies, and includes detailed forecasts.

GTS Central Europe, a telecommunications operator in Central and Eastern Europe, has announced the completion of a contract signed in December last year for the acquisition of Datek, an established player in the Romanian telecommunications market. Datek's strong corporate and carrier data customer base and strong presence in the financial and public sectors are said to be complementary to GTS's Romanian operations.  GTS will add Datek into its existing Romanian operations, creating a combined business with total annual revenues exceeding €25 million. It's said the acquisition will strengthen the GTS footprint not only in Romania, but also in the CEE region. 

"GTS has played and will continue to play a leading role in the consolidation of alternative, infrastructure-based telecommunications operators in the CEE. For us, the Datek acquisition is another step to solidify our position in the region, which translates into increased efficiency and improved service to our customers," said Adam Sawicki, Group CEO at GTS.  "Datek brings to GTS significant network and operations benefits, including over 400 route kilometres of fibre and professional expertise in systems integration.  Datek's profile makes it a perfect fit with our long-term strategy to focus on the corporate, wholesale and public sectors."

In addition to providing standard telecommunications services to its customers, Datek offers data transfer, infrastructure development, systems integration and serves as the main regional partner for numerous global carriers and international financial institutions.  Datek‘s international, data-centric customer base is complementary to the GTS strategy, which emphasizes the sale of data and managed services to target corporate and carrier customers.

"The acquisition benefits GTS  and Datek customers, both of whom soon will be able to take advantage of an expanded, unified service portfolio," said Leonard Lichi, CEO at Datek.  "Meanwhile, Datek services to existing customers will be uninterrupted, and all existing agreements and contracts will remain valid."

The acquisition of Datek is the latest step in GTS's consolidation of the CEE telecommunications market, initiated in 2004 by the acquisition of the Czech operator Aliatel and followed a year later by the acquisition of the Polish company Energis, the Slovak operators Telenor and Nextra as well as the Czech Contactel, Telenor and Nextra.  In parellel, GTS recently completed an operational reorganization, establishing seven customer-focused business units and regional functions, said to have resulted in improved service to customers and increased efficiency, visibility and accountability across the company.

Redknee, a provider of billing and charging software and solutions for communications service providers, has announced the launch of its data charging and policy solution, NGRC, at VivaCell-MTS in Armenia. VivaCell-MTS is part of the MTS Group, which serves more than 100 million subscribers across seven countries.

Supporting the launch of VivaCell-MTS' 3G network, Redknee's data monetization platform has enabled it to develop and launch mobile broadband service offerings to suit the different usage habits and needs of its subscribers as it strives to drive revenue and increase its 80 per cent market share against the incumbent and new competitors entering the market.

An example of its targeted mobile broadband services includes the ‘MTS Connect' prepaid and postpaid bundles, which provide the subscriber with a high quality, transparent user experience and allows VivaCell-MTS to provide flexible tariffs and differentiated and targeted price plans according to the subscriber's spend and network usage. Redknee's real-time data rating, charging and policy is enabling VivaCell-MTS to provide transparent and two-way communication with customers so that it can always be assured of the charges that will be incurred, the status of their tariff threshold and also receive real-time promotions, leading to increased customer loyalty and satisfaction.

Ralph Yirikian, VivaCell-MTS General Manager, commented: "The number of VivaCell-MTS' wireless broadband subscribers has grown tremendously since the Company launched its HSPA/UMTS-based 3.5G network, reflecting the intensifying demand for wireless broadband access in Armenia. Therefore, the priority for VivaCell-MTS now is to be able to support future data traffic growth. Due to our extremely competitive market, we are focused on always outstripping our competitors by providing differentiated products that appeal to our customers. Redknee's support has been instrumental to our successful launch of the most innovative mobile broadband services to the people of Armenia."

Lucas Skoczkowski, Redknee's CEO, commented: "The successful launch of VivaCell-MTS' mobile broadband services further proves Redknee's real-time personalization and monetization solutions are driving profitability, growth and market differentiation for our customers. At Redknee, we continue to invest in real-time monetization solutions to support the growth of mobile data and content for wireless subscribers around the world."

A Wales-led European project on digital collaboration ‘DE-LAN' is being launched in Brussels today by Deputy First Minister for Wales Ieuan Wyn Jones and Robert Madelin, Director General for Information Society and Media, European Commission, aiming to explore the economic opportunities presented by online collaboration between business. 

Nine European partners will investigate how digital collaboration can benefit small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) through ‘DE-LAN', which stands for ‘Digital Ecosystems-Learning Application Network'.

The project aims to promote best practice in the development, deployment and exploitation of emerging trends in Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) such as Cloud Computing and social networking.

Particular focus will be put on applications such as Digital Business Ecosystems (DBE), Living Labs and Digitally-Networked Businesses; evolutionary systems which create an online market place to seamlessly connect organisations, companies and individuals that do business together.

Wales is currently digitally networking businesses in sectors including Creative Industries, Marine Science and Construction.

Expected advantages include the wider promotion of products and services, improved innovation, streamlined working practices and increased competiveness and growth in the global marketplace.

Deputy First Minister for Wales Ieuan Wyn Jones, in Brussels for the event, said "When traditional industries dominated the business landscape in Wales and the rest of Europe, the technologies used and the ways businesses traded with each another were tried and tested through years of commerce.

"Fast forward to today and ICT is transforming not just the type of business we do but the ways in which we trade.

"As lead partner in the DE-LAN project, we are excited in Wales by the prospect of working with and learning from like-minded partner regions from across Europe to develop new processes and new approaches to strengthen our standing in the global economy." 

Robert Madelin, Director General for Information Society and Media, European Commission said:  "The recently announced Digital Agenda for Europe illustrates that the European Commission is committed to a flourishing digital economy throughout the EU.   But to build a truly digital society we need partners at all levels, and from all sectors. That is why the DE-LAN project is so important - DE-LAN's work embraces the spirit of collaboration in the Digital Agenda and  will help make ICTs an even bigger part of daily life for millions of citizens.

"I look forward to working with the experienced partner Regions to explore how innovative use of ICTs can help businesses across Europe to meet their challenges.  Projects like DE-LAN can help achieve our ultimate goal of using ICTs to advance job creation, sustainability and social inclusion."

Knowledge and experience will be shared through regular interregional meetings, workshops and conferences.