European Communications

Last update11:37:32 AM

News

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

VoIP usage in the UK remains low, says Juniper

New report claims Internet Service Providers’ VoIP will be more significant than Skype in the future

JupiterResearch, a leading authority on the impact of the Internet and emerging consumer technologies on business, has revealed today that few UK consumers currently make telephone calls with Skype’s voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) service but that usage of Skype is strong in younger age groups.

JupiterResearch assesses the market opportunity for VoIP services in a new report entitled, 'Skype and VoIP – Quantifying the Hype in the UK'. The reports highlight that just four percent of consumers regularly use Skype, although VoIP services of all types are used by 12 percent of online consumers. Unlike the situation in many countries, Skype faces tough market conditions in the UK as almost all leading broadband ISPs have an existing telephony service to defend or are launching new VoIP telephony services.
 
“While Skype usage is low today across the whole population, in specific groups such as youthful consumers, there is tremendous acceptance of Skype’s VoIP service,” said Ian Fogg, lead author on the report and senior analyst at JupiterResearch. “This mirrors usage of other instant messaging applications that offer VoIP”. He predicts that Skype’s consumer up-take will accelerate with the introduction of new telephone handsets that do not require a PC. Fogg added: “Skype’s VoIP telephony is attractive to consumers because services are digital, free or very cheap, and are flexible.”

Motorola and MTS sign contract to improve quality, capacity and performance of MTS Network in Moscow macro region

Mobile Telesystems, the largest mobile operator in Russia and CIS, has awarded an equipment upgrade and services contract to Motorola to improve the quality, capacity and performance of its Moscow macro region network, MTS' largest geographic region.

The contract will allow MTS to further improve its voice and data quality, and help to reduce operating and capital expenses by introducing new features, improving network usage capacity and optimizing network architecture and topology.

The project includes base station upgrades in the Moscow macro region and the deployment of EDGE on all segments of the macro region's network, which will allow MTS to double the number of potential data service subscribers and increase the speed of data transfer.

Voice and data quality on the MTS network is expected to be improved by optimizing performance, capacity, and deploying new hardware and software functionality, such as AMR voice codec which is designed to improve voice quality while using the same amount of network resources. Comprehensive network optimization, performed using Motorola's Intelligent Design and Growth Planning service, will allow MTS to deliver increased quality of service and soon offer its subscribers new services and applications while expanding the coverage of its existing services.

This project is expected to help MTS significantly reduce operating and capital expenses which will help to drive shareholder value.

"World-leading telecoms companies use advanced high-tech solutions to increase their competitive abilities. MTS' strategy puts a special emphasis on equipment upgrades which are viewed as a long term investment into the company's successful future," says Sergey Aslanyan, CTO and CIO, MTS Group.

"Combined with our innovative hardware and software products, Motorola's network optimization solution will give MTS the deeper insight into its network service and help deliver top-level performance," comments Jose Figueroa, corporate vice president and general manager, Motorola Networks & Enterprise EMEA. "This contract reflects the incredible growth of the mobile market in Russia and demonstrates that MTS and the region as a whole is at the cutting edge of mobile infrastructure investment."

Nokia supports Orange France in launching HSDPA services

Orange France has launched the High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) services in Toulouse and Bordeaux, using Nokia's HSDPA solution. Orange will be able to operate its network more cost-efficiently with the Nokia solution, and offer its customers faster data services and an enhanced service experience.

"HSDPA will offer significant speed and efficiency benefits to us and our customers. We are delighted with the excellent performance of Nokia's HSDPA solution, which supports us in bringing mobile broadband services to the market," says Nicolas Roy, Technical Director, Orange France.

In addition to WCDMA 3G and HSDPA infrastructure, Nokia has provided Orange with radio optimization services for optimal HSDPA experience.

"We are extremely pleased to further contribute to Orange's expansion to mobile broadband services," says Damien Sante, Account Director, Networks, Nokia. "We believe that HSDPA will be yet another improvement to the experience of Orange mobile users, not only in terms of higher bit rates, but also because of a better latency, enhanced usability of current applications and enabling new types of real-time applications, in particular in the enterprise sector. This means, for example, that a typical music song can be downloaded in 20 seconds with HSDPA, while it would last a bit less than two minutes with WCDMA."

Ericsson to provide mobile TV solution to Proximus in Belgium

Belgian operator Proximus has awarded Ericsson a contract for an end-to-end mobile TV solution, including Ericsson's Channel Selector.

Ericsson will provide Proximus with the 'world's fastest' channel selector solution, making mobile TV channel surfing much more convenient - changing from one channel to another needs just one click on the mobile handset. This saves time and brings the mobile TV experience closer to that of a home TV experience, says Ericsson. The launch of the solution is planned in the course of 2007.
 
Related services such as implementation, systems integration and system support are also part of the contract.
 
Michel Georgis, CEO of Proximus, says: "We see mobile TV as a strategic and logical evolution of the mobile services we offer to our customers and we will be very happy to offer them the advanced and easy to use solution from Ericsson."
 
Jean-Marc Engels, President of Ericsson Belgium and Luxembourg, says: "We are proud that Proximus has chosen Ericsson as a partner in such a strategic area. Mobile media is a growing area for both Proximus and Ericsson. With this partnership, we will assist Proximus to provide a first-class consumer experience to its customers."
 
Proximus already offers its mobile TV service on the Vodafone live! portal, featuring 25 live local and international channels as well as video on demand clips.

Mobistar chooses Huawei as its IP-oriented core network vendor in Belgium

Huawei to help enhance Mobistar’s 2G/3G network capabilities for its 3 million users

Huawei has announced it has signed a contract with Mobistar, the second largest mobile operator in Belgium, for the deployment of Mobile Switching Centres (MCS) for the unification of 2G/3G Mobistar core network.

The deployment marks the transition of the Mobistar core network from a traditional TDM (Time Division Multiplexing) architecture to a distributed IP architecture and will be implemented over several years. It integrates the Mobile Softswitch R4 solution which was first deployed by Huawei globally in 2003. The transition will support the increased traffic on 2G/3G and ensure the continuity of services provided to its existing customer base of more than three million, and enable future evolution of the networks.

Mobistar is expanding its strategic partnerships in order to retain its leading position in mobile technology and to provide the best quality services for its customers. As a telecom operator, Mobistar also needs to reduce its OPEX and protect its investments amid the increasingly competitive environment.

Mr. Bernard Moschéni, CEO Mobistar said, “The new partnership with Huawei is very promising. It is the first time that Mobistar, a pioneer in the technical VoIP domain, has cooperated with a Chinese equipment provider. Thanks to its strong commitment to R&D, Huawei provides with us timely and efficient, customized services -the Huawei R4 core network solution is perfectly suited to our needs.”

As the pioneer and leader in softswitch mobile solution technology, Huawei shares with Mobistar its profound experience and its ability to respond quickly to customer needs to provide a stable, reliable and high performance network.

Mrs. Zhang Qiyue, The Ambassador of China in Belgium, attended the contract signing ceremony said,“I am very happy that Mobistar has chosen Huawei as the vendor for their core network, which I trust is a win-win situation. I am glad to see Huawei’s leading-edge technologies attracting customers in the European market.”

Mr. William Xu, President of Huawei Europe said, “We are proud of the confidence that Mobistar has in us. Mobistar is known as an innovative telecom operator and we will have the chance to learn from each other. Huawei has also recently set up a new subsidiary in Belgium, demonstrating our commitment to the local market, and work closer with Mobistar.”

Wicom extends IP-contact centre and telephony to new devices and applications

New Wicom CSS 5.5 software is fully compatible with Nokia smart phones

Wicom Communications, a leading European provider of all-IP contact center solutions and VoIP enterprise telephony software, has today announced the latest version of its Wicom CSS software.

Wicom CSS offers the functions of a PBX, mobile PBX and contact center as a centrally managed system, replacing all traditional telephone systems. The software allows enterprise communications to be integrated into everyday business applications such Microsoft Office Outlook software and CRM systems. 

"Fixed-line and mobile phones, e-mail and other communications tools have traditionally been seen as separate silos requiring their own proprietary hardware, software and terminals. Wicom software integrates these diverse communications channels with everyday business tools. Contact center and enterprise telephony are becoming one IT application among others, which enables employees and services to be accessible irrespective of time, place and communications channel," said Jouni Purontaus, Founder and CTO, Wicom Communications. 

Wicom CSS 5.5 is fully compatible with the Nokia S60 and Series 80 mobile operating systems, allowing Nokia smart phones to be incorporated with the Wicom solution. Wicom Smartphone Suite (SPS) software client provides mobile access to Wicom CSS corporate voice services such as directory information, availability management, contact center queues, call recording and least-cost routing. Wicom CSS 5.5 also supports Voice over WLAN calls on compatible handsets, which reduces corporate mobile costs even further. Wicom is a member of Forum Nokia Pro and Enterprise Zone partner programs.

"Typically, up to 80% of expenses of enterprise communications result from people, with hardware, telephone and network charges accounting for only a fraction of the total costs. The centrally managed Wicom software works as a key element of a company's infrastructure, enabling voice communications to be carried out with the best terminal type according to need. This helps enterprises and organizations boost the efficiency of their communications-intensive business processes," said Jouni Purontaus.

The migration to the Wicom environment can be carried out in phases for different users or locations, enabling a smooth transition to the new all-IP technology. The operator-independent solution also allows voice and data connections to be sourced competitively. The software provides extensive integration possibilities for business needs while interfacing seamlessly with other applications. 

Vierling and eudisa cooperate in Germany

Rate differences make GSM gateways popular

GSM gateway supplier, Vierling, and eudisa, a service provider focusing on communications solutions and based in Neuching, Germany, have entered into an agreement to cooperate together in the German marketplace. Effective immediately, eudisa will offer Ecotel GSM gateways from Vierling along with the relevant consultation, installation and maintenance services. Through this cooperation with eudisa, Vierling can further expand its network of qualified system houses throughout Germany for Ecotel GSM gateways.

"We believe there exists considerable potential for GSM gateways in the German market due to a mobile radio rate structure that makes such solutions pay off", said Ulrich Diehl, managing director of eudisa. "GSM gateways help to exploit the rate differences between fixed-to-mobile calls and mobile-to-mobile calls in the best possible way. Companies of all sizes can reduce the amount of money they are spending on domestic and international calling. GSM gateways are particularly popular among companies that have offices in other countries due to the huge savings they produce on roaming charges. We find that the combination of high-quality products from Vierling and our services generates true added value for our customers."

eudisa will primarily offer its customers the compact Ecotel GSM gateways with up to eight GSM channels as part of a complete package including consultation, installation and maintenance services. These gateways include their own mobile radio modules and antennas and can be used with SIM cards from any carrier. Once connected to a company's PBX, the GSM gateway works to reduce charges for mobile radio calls by up to 70%. Besides the compact Vierling solutions, eudisa will also offer Ecotel VTM multichannel gateways from Vierling along with the relevant services. These systems are designed for use by large companies and can accommodate up to 32 GSM channels in a 19" housing.

"Our sales & marketing tend to place significant emphasis on the very important German market", noted Wolfgang Peter, managing director of Vierling. "We are working to further expand our network of distributors, system houses and specialized dealers. With eudisa, we have gained another outstanding system house. Thanks to the company's existing customer base and proven consultation expertise and overall dependability, we feel convinced that this venture will  be successful."

Next Generation Network services by Italtel on Tellas IP network

Italtel, a leading supplier of products, solutions and services for next generation communication networks, has announced it has reached an agreement with Tellas, the major alternative telecom operator in Greece, for the supply of a Next Generation Network (NGN) for innovative Voice and IP services and for the deployment of a Metro Ethernet Network.

The NGN solution provided by Italtel guarantees the full interworking with Tellas existing legacy infrastructure for Voice services and enables the delivery over an IP network of new enhanced telephony and rich content services for residential and business customers with complete feature parity with the traditional telephony services.

Italtel will also supply a Metro Ethernet Network with IP capabilities for advanced traffic management to support both Tellas' existing broadband Internet services and the new services managed by the NGN. Also, Italtel will act as overall system integrator to seamlessly integrate the NGN and Metro Ethernet solutions into the operator’s network.

The solution selected by Tellas is based on the Italtel NGN architecture and on the Italtel softswitch (i-SSW) controlling both Access Nodes and CPEs. Network scalability, reduction of operational costs, complete interoperability with the current voice networks, capabilities to easily develop and offer innovative, new generation services for the service provider customers: these are the tangible advantages that the solution offers with respect to other competitive proposals.

The Italtel platform is already in use in domestic and international network infrastructures of several European telecommunication providers, in Germany, France, UK, Spain, Italy, Greece, Belgium, Poland as well as in Latin America and, recently, in the Middle East area.

Openet extends rating functionality with latest product launch

Openet, a leading provider of active billing mediation, charging and rating solutions that enable network operators to maximize the profitability of their network and services, has announced the release of FusionWorks ActiveRate 5.1 with new functionality designed to increase revenue and subscriber loyalty for pre-paid service offerings. The new version is said to add features that enable operators to create pricing models that drive subscriber loyalty while maintaining the product's industry leadership in performance, scale and convergence.

"ActiveRate 5.1 further elevates the FusionWorks product line above the competition in terms of both functionality and performance," said Michael Manzo, Vice President of Global Marketing. "This product enables tier one operators to increase ARPU and reduce churn, while decreasing operating costs by deploying a convergent, network edge rating solution."

Some of the new capabilities and benefits to the Operator offered by ActiveRate 5.1 include:
- The easy creation pricing bundles which can be used by individuals or groups of users. Bundles can be created for any service or combination of services. For example - "$9.99 for 60 minutes of calls and 100 text messages".
- The ability to demonstrate to customers how much they are saving by creating paired rating tables illustrating the customer plan against that of a competitor or previous price plan.
- Effective management of Special Days and Holiday Pricing through enhanced grouping thereby reducing configuration overhead and speeding up processing.

The 5.1 release enhances version 5.0 to provide a world-class fully configurable network edge real-time event rating engine. ActiveRate 5.1 is currently being deployed in three operators worldwide with a number of new deals lined up for the end of the year.