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ST-Ericsson, a specialist in wireless platforms and semiconductors, and Ericsson have showcased the 'first' complete end-to-end TD-LTE solution.  The demonstration is said to follow the successful execution of TD-LTE interoperability testing (IOT) between ST-Ericsson's device platform and mobile network equipment from Ericsson.

LTE has two versions; one for paired spectrum (FDD) and the other for unpaired spectrum (TDD). Designed for use in unpaired spectrum, TD-LTE is set to be deployed widely around the world, says the pair.

At an event hosted by China Mobile in Shanghai, Ericsson and ST-Ericsson demonstrated their complete TD-LTE solution for the first time. Using an USB dongle embedded with ST-Ericsson's TD-LTE chipset, the companies showcased 'super-fast' mobile broadband applications, such as video-on-demand (VOD) and video streaming with a live camera.

Mats H Olsson, President of Ericsson China and North East Asia said: "The successful demonstration today reflects not only Ericsson's undisputed technology leadership in the LTE domain, but also our unwavering commitment to the development of TD-LTE in China and elsewhere in the world. We will make every effort to support China Mobile in bringing revolutionary mobile broadband experiences to tens of millions of Chinese consumers in the near future."

"Drawing on six years of LTE research and development, today's demonstration underlines ST-Ericsson's position as a frontrunner in the rollout of the next-generation of mobile broadband platforms," said Magnus Hansson, Senior Vice President and head of LTE and 3G Modem Solutions at ST-Ericsson. "Through our cooperation with China Mobile and Ericsson, devices based on our chipsets will soon enable people to enjoy the many benefits of super-fast mobile broadband."

ST-Ericsson is said to have been the first in the world to demonstrate a handheld LTE device and to achieve LTE and HSPA mobility with a multimode device. Available next year, ST-Ericsson's next generation modem will support both versions of LTE, in addition to TD-SCDMA and HSPA+/EDGE.

ST-Ericsson and Ericsson's combined offering is claimed to be the only complete end-to-end TD-LTE solution in the industry.

French operator sets out its agenda to improve staff morale, step up network  investment, and boost total subscribers to 300 million by 2015 

France Telecom, which already underwent a major business revamp in 2006 when it merged its mobile, broadband and enterprise services under the single Orange brand, this week unveiled a new five-year plan that it hopes will enable the group reach a target of 300 million users by 2015.

Called "Conquests 2015", the plan has been devised in response to a number of issues in France and elsewhere, such as the huge social problems caused by the group's reorganisation efforts, the changes that lie ahead as more devices are connected to the Internet and more services become available, and the tense competitive and regulatory environment.

According to Stéphane Richard, CEO of the France Telecom-Orange group, the project is much more than a reaction to the crisis the company has undergone in recent months. "It's a response to 10 years of profound change tied to the opening up of the industry to competition, regulatory pressure and, of course, the digital revolution and the arrival of new players should as Google and Apple."

Richard said the project, which was started in March, marks the beginning of a new era for the company and will address employees, customers, shareholders and society in general. Phase 2 will begin on 15th July and will last until autumn.

As well as the target to reach 300 million users by 2015, other tangible commitments have been set. Richard said the group plans to hire a total of 10,000 new people in 2010-2012 in order to regenerate the group and attract talent; provide more motivation to employees and managers; and improve quality of life at work.

Around €2 billion will also be invested in fixed and mobile networks by 2015, and 40% of all households will have access to fibre networks in all regions by 2012 and in all departments by 2015.

France Telecom also reiterated its objectives to generate an organic cash flow of €8 billion for 2010 and 2011, excluding the acquisition of spectrum or licences, excluding the litigation concerning corporate tax, and including the benefits and net expenses of the "conquests 2015" project. All other aspects of the Group's financial policy remain unchanged.

"Put people back in the centre of our organisation, give back to the networks the recognition they deserve, create value and growth, become a genuine multimedia coach for our customers, and extend our international presence," was Richard's final summary of the project.

All areas of the business will be affected in all countries, including the enterprise services arm under Orange Business Services. For more details about the strategy for Orange Business, read the face-to-face interview with OBS CEO Vivek Badrinath in the upcoming issue of European Communications magazine.

Telecom Italia Sparkle, the international wholesale arm of Telecom Italia, has announced that its top-tier Internet backbone, Seabone, its latest Point of Presence, is now available in Catania, Sicily.  First to connect to this new IP facility is CYTA, Cyprus's leading carrier.
 
"CYTA has been a long-term customer of Seabone and we value the new development of Catania," said Mr. Photis Savvides, CEO of CYTA.  "Here, in fact, we will continue to enjoy the highest quality of Internet connectivity through Seabone, thanks also to the added redundancy, as well as utilize the reliable backhaul capacity services that TI Sparkle offers via this relevant gateway to Europe/USA. The Catania Seabone Point of Presence is accessed via the MINERVA submarine cable subsystem which forms a direct self-healing ring between Cyprus and Italy, connecting to the rest of Europe and beyond through TI Sparkle's networks."
 
"We are proud to grow and extend our business relationship with a key regional player like CYTA." said Mr. Francesco Armato, CEO of TI Sparkle. "Our goal is to fully satisfy the sophisticated and demanding needs of our current and future customers. To do so, we have moved the Internet's center of gravity southward into Sicily where we host the most popular global content, making Sicily the leading IP hub of the Mediterranean basin and beyond."
 
The Catania Seabone POP is located in the proximity of the new IMEWE cable landing station. IMEWE, the soon-to-be-completed new generation submarine cable system in which TIS holds ownership, will connect India to Europe touching Pakistan, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Lebanon.  
 
With IMEWE in Catania, TI Sparkle's position as a preferred landing partner in the Mediterranean region is reinforced.  By adding to the popularity of Palermo's facilities for the SMW4 cable system community, as well as those of Mazara for SMW3, TI Sparkle is able to offer its customers an unrivalled multiple landing option that translates into top level resiliency and redundancy capabilities, and is therefore able to provide best support to their business - critical objectives.

NextiraOne, European specialist in communications services, has secured a three-year extension to its Managed Services contract with British Waterways. Under the agreement, NextiraOne will continue to provide Managed Services and nationwide support for the British Waterways communications network, ensuring the reliability and availability of voice and data communication services and the long-term health and stability of the infrastructure.

British Waterways is the national organisation that manages the canals and inland waterways of the UK. It supports over 2,200 miles of canals and rivers and a diverse range of leisure, sporting, commercial, industrial and residential activities. The organisation has 15 main offices across the UK from Inverness to Devizes, plus a large number of remote sites along the canal network. The sites depend on the reliability and availability of the communications network for both voice and data services in order to stay connected and to work effectively at all times.

NextiraOne supports British Waterways' communications infrastructure with a comprehensive Managed Services agreement and support contract that delivers end-to-end service. NextiraOne's Managed Services provides remote performance monitoring of the communications infrastructure through NextiraOne's Network Operating Centre (NOC) to provide a clear picture of its performance and any major faults and issues within the infrastructure. A dedicated NextiraOne Service Account Manager (SAM) oversees the smooth running of the system and provides pro-active support. Regular monthly service reviews are held to assess, discuss and review the network and its long-term health and stability.

An Operational Support Agreement covers the day-to-day maintenance and repair of the multi-site, multi-vendor voice and data network and also the long-term monitoring and review of its performance.

The contract, renewed for a further three years, covers the nationwide infrastructure, Local Area Networks and the Wide Area Network and including Alcatel-Lucent voice and Cisco data networking equipment via NextiraOne's Welcome Centre. The Welcome Centre provides a single point of contact which manages the lifecycle of faults, from initial fault logging to resolution.

"We chose NextiraOne because of its nationwide footprint that meant we could expect timely and speedy support for all our locations, even the most remote ones. NextiraOne has become - and continues to be - a close business partner who understands our aims and responds to them. Working with NextiraOne has given us a smoothly running, robust network infrastructure that delivers voice and data communications to support our wide-ranging activities," said Richard Walsh, Head of ICT at British Waterways.

Steven Skakel, General Manager, NextiraOne UK said: "Our service-led approach and dedicated team is the ideal solution for British Waterways. The combination of day-to-day support for the operational stability of the system, plus our long-term performance monitoring and review through our Managed Services gives British Waterways a comprehensive solution to ensure the health and stability of their voice and data communications."

NextiraOne has a direct sales and service presence in 17 countries, serving more than 60,000 customers.  The company  designs, installs, maintains and supports sustainable solutions - from voice, data and video to mobility, security and applications.

The European Payments Council (EPC), the coordination and decision-making body of the European payments industry, today published the EPC White Paper on Mobile Payments. The White Paper highlights the EPC's initiatives for mobile payments in the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) designed to facilitate implementation and interoperability of user-friendly mobile payment solutions across the 32 SEPA countries. The white paper explores how mobile payment services can be delivered through cooperation between service providers active in the banking industry and the new players emerging in the mobile ecosystem.

The EPC White Paper on Mobile Payments is said to offer an informative read to any party interested in mobile payments, and aims to foster a common understanding between payment service providers and bank customers by using non-technical language. The document predominantly focuses on mobile contactless card payments, where the mobile device needs to be in close proximity to a point-of-sale terminal, while also addressing some aspects of mobile remote payments, where two parties are able to send and receive funds irrespective of where they are located.

Given the proliferation of mobile phones and related service levels throughout the European Union (EU), the EPC recognises that the mobile channel is an ideal launch pad for SEPA payment instruments. Many consumers are already using mobile phones for services beyond the traditional voice calls and short messaging services due to the introduction of packaged offers, including internet access provided by the mobile network operators. As a result, consumer expectations with regard to mobile phone functionality have increased dramatically, with many users eager to embrace new service solutions based on this delivery platform, such as payments. The availability of practical SEPA mobile payments, either account or card-based, would provide a realistic alternative to cash and cheques.

At the same time, merchants demand that new technology translates into cost savings, increased business volume and reduced exposure to security threats such as cash thefts or illicit payments, as well as enhanced marketing opportunities and brand recognition. Mobile phone initiated payments, in particular those using the contactless approach, are very well positioned to generate these benefits for merchants and other stakeholders who are directly providing services to consumers, says the EPC.

Gerard Hartsink, Chairman of the EPC, comments: "The EPC, working together with other stakeholders such as, for example, GSMA, the organisation representing the interests of the worldwide mobile communications industry, is in the process of establishing the necessary standards and business rules with regard to the initiation and receipt of SEPA payments by mobile. The aim is to develop proposals that support collaboration and standardisation and which form the basis for interoperability. Our intention is to establish a service framework sufficient to reach potentially all payers and payees in the European Economic Area and to create a trusted and secure environment for the multiple stakeholders active in the field."

Dag-Inge Flatraaker, Chairman of the EPC M-Channel Working Group, adds: "The EPC White Paper on Mobile Payments responds to changing customer requirements in the payments market and demonstrates how mobile payments can increase efficiency, effectiveness and convenience. This paper creates awareness on how to best combine the benefits of state-of-the art SEPA payment instruments for credit transfers, direct debits and card payments handled through one of the most popular and versatile devices introduced in the past two decades - the mobile phone."

The EPC White Paper on Mobile Payments is available for download on the EPC web site http://www.europeanpaymentscouncil.eu/news_detail_preview.cfm?news_id=117

The EPC plans to publish a second edition of the white paper in 2011 that will focus further on mobile remote payments.

ECI Telecom, a global provider of next-generation network solutions, has been chosen as a strategic partner by Openreach, part of the BT Group, in BT's drive to upgrade the UK's broadband infrastructure.  The network displays a first-of-its-kind architecture, based on state-of-the-art fiber-to-the-premise (FTTP) GPON and fiber-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) VDSL2 technologies. Openreach will deploy ECI's Hi-FOCuS Multi-Service Access Node (MSAN) to roll-out a FTTP and FTTC network countrywide. 

Openreach's NGA project is being addressed utilizing all the benefits of ECI's 1Net framework for optimized migration to next-generation networks, including: Reduced risk in capital investment choices; Increased scalability to meet ever-growing bandwidth needs; Improved revenue growth by supporting a wide array of business models.

By taking into consideration Openreach's business goals, strategic directives, country regulatory circumstances and the demand for ultra-high-speed access, ECI's 1Net approach is claimed to deliver on the specific challenges being faced as Openreach upgrades its last-mile infrastructure to support communications providers' needs.

"With ECI as a strategic partner for this very advanced carrier-of-carriers architecture, we are able to upgrade our infrastructure offerings to Communications Providers and guarantee the provision of equivalency to all our customers. ECI's offerings are in line with our vision of a straightforward, more integrated and competitive network, simplifying management and supporting the optimization of our next-generation access network in an environmentally-friendly and responsible way," said Steve Robertson, Openreach CEO.

"Through a future-proof network proposition, we partner with Openreach in this first-of-its-kind project to guarantee high-speed infrastructure and a viable business model.  We support Openreach's goal for cost-effective high-speed infrastructure offerings without compromising quality, security or competitiveness in such an open access environment," added Rafi Maor, President and CEO of ECI Telecom.

ECI will deliver to Openreach a next-generation access solution, based on an  architecture for wholesale offerings of FTTP and FTTC.  Openreach will deploy ECI's Hi-FOCuS MSAN, to ensure advanced quality-of-service capabilities, scalability and performance. The solution supports multiple telecom providers through the same access fiber loop and enables Openreach to deliver equivalence to each communications provider for their individual and evolving bandwidth needs. With 'unique' Ethernet aggregation capabilities, Openreach can ensure true physical separation of each communication provider's network, says ECI.  ECI will also provide Openreach with customer premise equipment, street cabinets, and the appropriate service integration and commissioning.

Interoute, owner and operator of Europe's largest next-generation network, has increased its UK footprint with direct connectivity to Equinix's LD4 International Business Exchange (IBX) data centre located on the outskirts of London.  Financial institutions can now utilise Interoute's Fast Trade service to connect to both the major and emerging Multilateral Trading Facilities (MTFs) and trading venues located within the Equinix IBX data centre and other key financial exchanges throughout Europe.

As electronic trading grows, new MTFs have emerged to address the specialised needs of high frequency algorithmic trading.  Equinix's LD4 IBX network-neutral data centre has become a key UK location for these execution venues and is also home to a critical mass of buy and sell side firms, market data and technology providers. This diversity provides firms with maximum choice over which of their peers to partner with and also enables participants to quickly establish operational relationships with one another for the development of new opportunities, latency reduction and to decrease a firm's time to market. 

Financial institutions located in the Equinix LD4 IBX data centre now have the choice to use Interoute's Fast Trade service to quickly connect to numerous exchanges across Europe with guaranteed low latency and stringent Service Level Agreements (SLAs). Interoute's growing pan-European network offers extensive levels of connectivity to the leading MTFs.

"We are already connected to 11 of Equinix's IBX data centres in Europe, as well as many other key facilities. With our on-net presence in 100 cities, we are working to directly connect to as many leading and emerging exchanges as possible," said Lee Myall, UK Regional Director at Interoute. "The increase of algorithmic trading across Europe has been huge and we are matching demand from financial institutions looking to trade across Europe competitively."

Interoute is seeing increasing demand from financial firms for direct, high availability bandwidth into Equinix‘s LD4 IBX data centre. By connecting through Interoute's Fast Trade, organisations are able to benefit from Interoute's premium SLAs. The bandwidth allocated via the Fast Trade product is entirely dedicated to the customer's use and thus maintains consistent low latency. Before it's delivered, each Fast Trade route is tested for its exact round trip delay, to the nearest 100 microseconds, which is then guaranteed in the SLA for that specific service. Financial firms are said to be provided with a predictable high quality, ultra low latency service. Should the service be unable to meet the SLA's guaranteed round trip delay the customer is free to cancel the service without any additional charges.

According to a new research report from the analyst firm Berg Insight, HSPA/LTE accounted for 17.3 percent of the total number of broadband connections in Europe at the end of 2009. The number of HSPA/LTE mobile broadband subscribers (connected PCs) grew by 71 percent year-on-year in 2009 to reach 25.0 million and is forecasted to continue to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21.6 percent to 81 million by 2015. The North American market has so far evolved at a slower pace, with mobile broadband accounting for just 7.1 percent of the total number of connections. Between 2009 and 2015, the North American market is forecasted to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 34.8 percent to reach 42 million subscribers at the end of the period.

The levels of adoption of mobile broadband vary significantly across Europe. "Austria is the most advanced market with a penetration rate of over 15 percent, corresponding to 40 percent of all broadband connections in the country. Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Ireland and Portugal have also penetration rates above 10 percent. Belgium, Netherlands and Greece have on the other hand penetration rates of less than 3 percent", said Marcus Persson, Telecom Analyst, Berg Insight. He predicts that mobile broadband connectivity will eventually become a standard feature in portable PCs which will have integrated wireless modems, enabling them to connect to the best available network. "The attach rate of embedded mobile broadband in notebooks was less than 5 percent in both Europe and North America last year. This will change as prices for the embedded modules decrease and an attach rate of almost 45 percent is expected already in 5 years", Marcus concludes.

Huawei has established itself as the world's largest supplier of mobile broadband terminals holding a market share of 53 percent and has a particularly strong foothold in Europe. ZTE is the second largest vendor with clear margins capturing a market share of 30 percent. Berg Insight estimates the total global number of shipped external mobile broadband devices in 2009 to 66 million, with Europe and North America accounting for 24.3 million units and 5.6 million units respectively.

Increased usage of mobile data networks was once the holy grail for mobile operators. Now that HSPA+ has enabled them to offer a service users want, they are starting to suffer the consequences of escalating usage. In CEE, for example, mobile broadband was embraced because of the lack of fixed connectivity. But heavy mobile broadband usage and the consequent deterioration in user experience is now putting fixed back in the frame.

Two reports out this week highlight the growing burden on mobile broadband networks in Europe, as consumer usage escalates. And the situation is not about to get any easier: another report continues to drive home the message that smartphone take-up is still growing, and there is little sign that this situation will change any time soon.

Indeed, the impact this will have on mobile networks is not to be underestimated, as outlined by Nokia Siemens Networks in a recent European Communications article. Nokia Siemens predicts that smartphones will be the far bigger challenge for mobile broadband networks in future, outweighing dongle and PC usage.

Meanwhile dongle and laptop-based mobile broadband has been a hugely successful product in Europe to date, with growth set to continue further.

According to a research note from Yanli Suo-Saunders, senior analyst at Analysys Mason, mobile broadband will contribute almost 10% of total mobile service revenue by 2015. The research and analyst firm forecasts that total mobile broadband revenue in Europe will increase from €6 billion in 2009 to €17 billion in 2015, at a CAGR of 18.7%. Total mobile broadband connections, meanwhile, will increase in number from 32 million in 2009 to almost 120 million in 2015.

This growth is a challenge and an opportunity for operators as they look to drive revenue but also to balance out and manage demand on their networks.

But in certain parts of the European market the situation is getting pretty serious already: according to a report from Andrei Tchadliev, research analyst at Analysys Mason, the continual rise in the number of mobile broadband consumers in Central and Eastern Europe has severely strained network capacity, resulting in a deterioration in the user experience.

"In the first three years after the launch of mobile broadband, a number of markets in CEE are expected to achieve triple-digit annual growth in subscriptions, putting significant strain on network bandwidth," said Tchadliev. "The effect of this on subscribers has important implications for operators. We believe that average mobile broadband traffic per subscriber has already started to level off, as users find that connection speeds are slower than advertised and the reliability of networks is poor."

Now, the reverse of what is happening in Western Europe, where users are tending to at least supplement and sometimes replace fixed broadband with mobile broadband services, is becoming evident in CEE, where mobile broadband was initially popular because of the lack of fixed connections.

"Up to 70% of datacard users in Poland are considering supplementing their mobile connections with fixed broadband offerings," noted Tchadliev.

In other words, it looks like mobile broadband in CEE is finally starting to face some real competition from fixed providers: "The easing of regulatory restrictions, and the subsequent increase in competition, has helped to accelerate investment in broadband networks, improving coverage and exerting downward pressure on tariffs," said Tchadliev. "The speed and price of Internet packages from some providers in CEE now rival those of packages available in Western European markets. Between 2006 and 2009, residential broadband penetration in CEE rose from 10.3% to 27.1%."

In Europe as a whole, while users have adopted mobile broadband in their droves, Analysys Mason still expects most users to retain their fixed services at home.

But the company adds: "There is still a substitutive threat for fixed telcos, as mobile-only households in Europe will rise to 7.3% of total broadband households by 2015. Some markets, such as Sweden, have experienced strong growth in mobile broadband, while fixed broadband penetration has stagnated. The ongoing roll-out of LTE in Europe will improve the user experience, increasing the appeal of mobile broadband."

The greater challenge for operators in future will be to manage the growing usage of smartphones as devices proliferate in the market: AT&T and O2 UK have already introduced capped pricing for smartphone use, for example. According to a recent report from Frost & Sullivan, consumers are increasingly seeking well-designed devices with innovative features and applications such as touch screen technology, WiFi and location-based service (LBS).

The company said by the end of 2008, 147.8 million smartphones were shipped in North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America. "This is expected to grow to 442.9 million by 2014. By 2014, Asia Pacific is likely to ship 161.9 million smartphones, with Western Europe accounting for 85.4 million devices," said senior industry analyst, Saverio Romeo.

Romeo added that users are moving towards a complex and rich mobile experience made of communication, entertainment and productivity services. "The smartphones are the right devices for this experience," he commented. "Their role will increasingly become vital in the mobile communications market driving diffusion of new services and applications."

But smartphones are only the half of it: Ericsson, for example, is predicting that 50 billion devices ranging across all sectors of the consumer electronics space will be connected to networks by 2020. The vendor will be discussing the impact on networks of mobile broadband services and multiple device connectivity in the forthcoming broadband special report in the next issue of European Communications magazine.

The Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) has released a set of update reports confirming the rapid development of mobile broadband and its evolution.

The path to mobile broadband began with 3G/WCDMA, which is now commercially available on 357 networks in 148 countries. Its first evolution, High Speed Packet Access (HSPA), boosts capacity and user data speeds, and reduces latency to improve the user experience. This upgrade has now been implemented by approaching 99% of all WCDMA operators. GSA says it confirms that HSPA has now been commercially launched on 353 networks in 147 countries and, when this figure is added to other networks currently in deployment or planned, it takes the number of operators committed to HSPA network investments to 401 in 154 countries.

The majority of networks, currently 58%, support a peak data rate of 7.2 Mbps or higher on the downlink. Almost 1 in 5 networks have deployed HSPA Evolution (HSPA+) technology. Sixty-three HSPA+ networks are launched in 35 countries:

* 53 commercial HSPA+ networks support a peak downlink data speed of 21 Mbps
* 7 commercial HSPA+ networks support a peak downlink data speed of 28 Mbps
* 3 commercial HSPA+ networks support a peak downlink data speed of 42 Mbps

GSA says it anticipates that 95-100 HSPA+ systems will be commercially launched by end 2010.

Several operators have confirmed plans for further network evolution steps to support 42 Mbps and 84 Mbps peak on the downlink.

Uplink speeds are also increasing. The GSA reports confirm more than one third of HSPA operators have commercially introduced HSUPA (High Speed Uplink Packet Access). A total of 118 operators have launched HSUPA in 60 countries, with a further eight networks currently deploying the technology in an additional four markets. Forty-one HSUPA systems support a peak uplink data rate of 5.8 Mbps, and two networks have confirmed the capability to support 11.5 Mbps peak.

Alan Hadden, President of GSA said: "The rapid shift to HSPA+ which is occurring will ensure its position as a mainstream technology this year, enabling operators all over the world to deliver higher data capacities and a compelling mobile broadband experience in fast expanding and highly competitive markets."

While HSPA+ is the current trend, LTE is the main direction for the industry. GSA recently confirmed that 110 operators in 48 countries are investing in LTE, comprising 80 firm network deployment commitments and 30 additional pre-commitments technology trials and study programs. GSA anticipates that up to 22 LTE networks will be in service by end 2010, and at least 45 are expected to be in service by end 2012.

Ovum has analyzed the size of the European wholesale market based on the 24 leading telecoms carriers' latest annual results. Both domestic and international European wholesale revenues fell between 2008 and 2009, in both the voice and non-voice markets. And, says Ovum, European wholesalers should re-evaluate the effectiveness of their business models in light of these declines.

According to Ovum, the European wholesale market was worth more than $48.8 billion in 2009, down 9.8% year-on-year. The total wholesale revenues of the top 24 telcos that were studied declined by 7.8% between 2008 and 2009; their European retail revenues declined by 8.4%; and their total revenues declined by 3.9%.

European wholesale voice revenues in 2009 reached $23.3 billion, while wholesale revenues from all non-voice services totaled $25.5 billion. In Ovum's previous analysis (2007-08) voice represented 60% of total European wholesale revenues, while in this analysis voice revenues were only 48% of the total. This is the first time that European wholesale voice revenues have been exceeded by non-voice revenues, and Ovum expects that this difference will grow in the coming years as wholesale voice prices continue to fall and wholesalers increase their data service portfolios.

Ovum says it found that 17 carriers with a European domestic arm have decreased their dependence on voice services in their domestic wholesale markets. Additionally, in the European international wholesale market, players' reliance on revenues from wholesaling voice services also fell between 2008 and 2009.

Over the past few years, there has been a lot of noise made around international non-voice service launches and network upgrades to deliver these new solutions, says Ovum. There is much greater opportunity for innovation and differentiation in the non-voice arena than there is in voice it says, and many carriers have already expanded their non-voice services portfolios. Now it is time to push them even further. This is particularly important in the European international wholesale market, where competition is intense and prices are expected to fall further as the impact of VoIP increases, it says.

However, Ovum believes that carriers struggle to estimate the real demand for these more profitable non-voice segments. It is essential that players ensure their portfolios of international wholesale non-voice services match their customers' needs, and carriers need to be more attentive to their customers' changing requirements, responding with more innovative and imaginative non-voice services and service packaging, says Ovum.

BT is dominant in more European wholesale markets than France Telecom, Telecom Italia, or Deutsche Telekom

Both BT and Telecom Italia saw their European wholesale market shares fall in 2009 even though they held onto their number 1 and 3 rankings in terms of total European market share. BT was the only player that held significant share in all wholesale markets, except for international voice. France Telecom held significant market share in both domestic wholesale voice and non-voice markets, while Deutsche Telekom and Telecom Italia held significant market shares in one wholesale market (domestic voice and international voice, respectively).

The number of mobile VoIP minutes carried annually on 3G and 4G networks will rise from 15 billion minutes in 2010 to 470.6 billion by 2015, according to a new report from Juniper Research.

Mobile VoIP traffic will see steady rises in all regions over the forecast period, but particularly in developed markets, due to the increasing ubiquity of 3G networks, says Juniper. The US will account for 135 billion mVoIP minutes in 2015, it says.

"There are several flavours of mobile VoIP," says Anthony Cox, Senior Analyst at Juniper Research, noting that operators fear losing traffic to WiFi networks most: "WiFi mobile VoIP is potentially the most damaging of all VoIP traffic as it bypasses the mobile networks altogether," he says. "We forecast that mobile VoIP over WiFi will cost operators $5 billion globally by 2015," says Cox.

Other options for mobile VoIP carriage are via carrier alliances with mobile VoIP providers, or though an app downloaded to the handset or smartphone.

Further findings from the report include:

  • Competitive and regulatory pressure will mean that traditional operators in developed markets will increasingly "bury the hatchet" and forge partnerships with VoIP providers.
  • Operator revenues from circuit switched voice will continue to diminish over the next five years, though the rate of decline will not accelerate.
  • The market opportunity for high definition voice and advertising-based mobile voice services will be limited for the foreseeable future.

That Mobile VoIP is reaching the top of the agenda for mobile operators is borne out by the recent launch of Skype over 3G networks and its deal earlier this year with US operator Verizon, says Juniper. Operator sentiment varies however: "Even though a major operator, 3UK, touts the benefits of mobile VoIP, it will take some time for many operators, particularly in emerging markets, to accept it, since it represents loss of control over their own networks," says Cox.

Openet, a provider of subscriber optimisation software supplying Transactional Intelligence for network service operators, today announced the launch of its Radio Access Network (RAN) Congestion solution. Supported by Openet's FusionWorks Policy Manager product, the RAN Congestion solution supplies policies where needed to leverage technology for network congestion forecasting, to enable operators to make real-time traffic management decisions.

According to Openet, wireless operators need to manage the subscriber experience to ensure optimal service and performance. Continually adding capacity does not address the underlying problem as subscribers typically change their behaviour to consume whatever bandwidth is available. As a result, operators need to manage data transmission bottlenecks from the radio network to the IP network. This challenge of managing data plane bottlenecks is difficult to solve, because user traffic profiles and usage patterns are continuously changing.

Openet's RAN Congestion solution is said to combine network forecasting with key policy management capabilities. This functionality allows operators to determine what resources are allocated appropriately to subscribers, to ensure a higher-quality experience in congested areas, and this proactive approach is said to enable operators to mitigate the effect of performance issues on subscribers before they occur. Enabled by Openet's Policy Manager product, RAN Congestion augments topology awareness and advanced forecasting functionality to ensure optimised network performance, it's claimed.

"As the demand for mobile data continues to increase, wireless operators have a real challenge on their hands with regard to avoiding network congestion," said Mike Manzo, CMO of Openet. "Openet's RAN Congestion solution, using our proven Policy Manager product, brings proactive management to wireless networks via traffic forecasting and real-time troubleshooting. This enables operators to deliver a better quality of experience for every subscriber, while prioritising revenue-generating transactions-a win for everyone involved."

HP today announced that it is helping SFR, a leading French telecom operator, to generate new revenues by extending the advantages of cloud computing to its business customers.

HP and SFR have built a complete cloud services platform designed to enable SFR to offer IT infrastructure as a service (IaaS) with utility-based pricing to French companies.

The HP Cloud Services Enablement (CSE) portfolio for Communications Service Providers (CSP) integrates HP software, hardware and services for cloud services deployments. For IaaS, the compute services offering includes HP Aggregation Platform for SaaS, HP Cloud Service Automation and HP BladeSystem Matrix.

Business benefits for SFR customers are said to include predictable operating costs, less capital investment and decreased risk in new technology adoption.

By simplifying the launch of private-public cloud hybrids, HP says it is enabling SFR to accelerate growth in its enterprise business that already serves 150,000 companies. SFR is also said to have selected the HP CSE portfolio primarily for one of its key capabilities, namely rapid time to market.

In addition to its business customers, SFR serves 30 million consumers.

"Cloud services represent a major opportunity for both SFR and our business customers," said Paul Corbel, general manager, Business Team, SFR. "HP's cloud expertise and proven technology will help SFR become the trusted provider for a wide range of ‘as a service' offerings."

The HP offering, which is tightly integrated with SFR software enablers, is hosted within SFR data centers.

By leveraging the capabilities of the HP portfolio, SFR can evolve its offerings beyond IaaS to include additional cloud-based services, such as communications as a service (CaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS).

"SFR is providing French companies with cost-effective IT infrastructure and, at the same time, building an attractive business with cloud services enablement from HP," said Erwan Menard, vice president and general manager, Communications and Media Solutions, HP. "SFR is demonstrating the powerful multiplier effect customers enjoy when advanced HP hardware, software and services are integrated into a complete solution."

    

@eurocomms