Friday, February 27, 2009

UK - appeal cuts mobile termination rates

Ofcom’s knuckles rapped over termination rates

The UK Competition Commission has ruled that Ofcom set maximum termination rates for mobile calls too high.

Termination rates are the charge mobile operators make for incoming phone calls

The ruling relates to a 2007 complaint by BT, who said that Ofcom calculated the figures for termination rates based on what the operators paid for 3G licenses, rather than what the licenses were actually worth.

The Competition Commission upheld BT’s complaint, and ruled that the average cost of terminating a mobile phone call should drop to 4.0p by 2010/11.

Ofcom had said the rate should be cut to 5.1p by 2010/11.

Industry experts estimate that the extra rate cuts will cost operators up to £250 million over the next two years.

A statement from Ofcom said the group ‘acknowledges’ the Competition Commission’s ruling.

Meanwhile, the European commissioner for telecoms, Viviane Reding, is campaigning for terminate rates to be cut further.

Reding claims that high termination rates are unjustified, and result in inflated phone bills for consumers.

USA - Supreme Courts rules in favour of AT&T on DSL markets

Supreme Court Rules For AT&T In Antitrust Case
see also Pacific Bell Telephone Co. v. linkLine Communications, Inc.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of an AT&T subsidiary in an antitrust lawsuit that accused the telecommunications company of trying to drive out competitors in the DSL market.

In a unanimous decision, the justices rejected the lawsuit of Internet service providers led by Linkline Communications that claimed AT&T's Pacific Bell Telephone was being monopolistic by engaging in "price squeezing." The ISPs purchase high-speed Internet service from AT&T and resell it to customers, but the complaint said AT&T was offering retail DSL services to consumers at a low price to undercut its rivals.

An antitrust lawsuit was first filed in California courts in 2003, under the claim that AT&T's pricing allowed it to preserve and maintain a monopoly over the DSL market. The court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, as did the 9th Circuit of Appeals in 2007.

But the nation's top court disagreed, saying the plaintiffs were trying to bring a new form of antitrust liability. The Supreme Court drew from a 2004 ruling, Verizon (NYSE: VZ) v. Trinko, which stated that companies with no antitrust duties to their rivals were under no obligation to provide service to them.

"If AT&T had simply stopped providing DSL transport service to the plaintiffs, it would not have run afoul of the Sherman Act," said Chief Justice John Roberts. "Under these circumstances, AT&T was not required to offer this service at the wholesale prices the plaintiffs would have preferred."

The ruling will probably not put the issue to rest, as the other service providers will likely file another antitrust lawsuit in a lower court using different rationale.

"If AT&T can bankrupt the plaintiffs by refusing to deal altogether, the plaintiffs must demonstrate why the law prevents AT&T from putting them out of business by pricing them out of the market," Roberts said.

Recession - voluntary lay-offs at Nokia

Nokia seeks 1,000 voluntary layoffs

Nokia Corp., which announced this month it was planning cut jobs, said Tuesday it will seek up to 1,000 voluntary resignations to further reduce costs amid the global economic downturn.

The world's largest mobile phone maker said it will open a global voluntary resignation package on March 1, and plans to increase short-term unpaid leaves and sabbaticals.

It also appealed to employees to accept holiday time as payments, instead of cash, for overtime work in 2009.

Nokia described as "encouraging" the response from employees and unions in proposing ideas to help reduce personnel-related costs.

"We have considered these and are now announcing voluntary initiatives that could contribute to our efforts to adjust our cost base to the current market environment," said Hallstein Moerk, head of the company's human resources. "If successful, the voluntary initiatives will lessen the need for involuntary redundancies."

Nokia said it will accept applications for the resignation package until May 31, or when 1,000 employees have applied.

Two weeks ago, Nokia said it will close a research center, ax up to 320 jobs and temporarily lay off 2,500 workers in Finland. It also announced some 90 layoffs in global support and new businesses departments.

The announcements came after the company last month warned of cost-cutting measures after its fourth-quarter net profit crashed 69 percent. It also lost market share - falling to 37 percent from 38 percent in the previous quarter.

Deutsche Telecom - financial losses

Deutsche Telekom posts 4Q loss

Deutsche Telekom AG said Friday it narrowed its fourth quarter loss and posted a much-improved full-year profit, with U.S. cell phone customer numbers rising sharply even as Germans continued to turn away from traditional land-line connections.

The Bonn-based company said it lost euro730 million ($927 million) in the October-December period, less than the euro750 million net loss in the fourth quarter of 2007.

Overall revenue in the quarter was 2 percent higher, climbing to euro16 billion from euro15.8 billion. However, revenue in its domestic German market fell 5 percent to euro7.3 billion as a long-term customer exodus from land line subscriptions continued.

Over the whole of 2008, the company lost 2.5 million land lines, at the lower end of its guidance.

Full-year net profit soared, to euro1.48 billion from euro571 million in 2007, helped by bigger cash flows and a savings plan that shaved more than euro4 billion off costs. Telekom's revenue for the year was 1.4 percent lower, at euro61.6 billion from euro62.5 billion.

Rene Obermann, the company's chief executive, said earnings from 2008 and previous years were proof that Telekom is in good shape. "Our 2008 financial year is characterized by stable performance and sound financial figures," he said.

In 2009, the company said it hopes to achieve an operating profit of around euro20 billion, the same level achieved for 2008.

The Deutsche Telekom share was the only gainer on Germany's benchmark DAX market in Frankfurt morning trading. The stock was 2 percent higher at euro9.66.

The mobile communications division -- which has become Telekom's mainstay business -- saw revenues in Europe and the U.S. grow 2.4 percent to euro37 billion in 2008, and 7.1 percent in the fourth quarter.

Mobile communications earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) for the year grew by 6.2 percent to euro11 billion, and grew by nearly 13 percent in the fourth quarter.

Telekom said it gained more than 950,000 T-Mobile phone contract customers in Germany in 2008, while in the U.S. the number of customers increased by a stunning 4.1 million.

Telekom said 1.1 million of those customers were added through the acquisition of U.S. company SunCom in February 2008. At the end of 2008, the total number of T-Mobile customers in the U.S. was 32.8 million.

Telekom said eastern Europe also remained an important growth driver, with revenues increasing 10 percent to more than euro6 billion and EBITDA growing 14.3 percent for the year.

The company said Polish subsidiary PTC improved its customer base by more than 15 percent to 6.3 million subscribers.

Telekom said mobile business in Britain was negatively affected by fierce competition, with revenue falling 2 percent to 3.2 billion pounds ($4.5 billion) in 2008.

The company's broadband and fixed network revenue declined by 6 percent to euro21 billion in 2008 and by 4 percent in the fourth quarter.

Despite the weaker earnings for the segment, Telekom said it was able to add 352,000 digital subscriber lines in Germany in the fourth quarter alone, making the company market leader. The total number of DSL lines now stands at 10.6 million in Germany.

Additionally, Telekom said that in 2008 half a million customers registered for broadband or fixed-network service, switching from competitors. For the first time, that figure was significantly higher than the number of customers Telekom lost to competitors, the company said.

Recession - Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley: down but not out?

The co-owner of Sherwood Partners makes his living by helping the financial backers of start-up firms that fail file for bankruptcy and wind down their operations. This year, he's helped shut down 30 firms -- more than the total number in 2008.

"Business is booming. It's exploding," Pichinson told Reuters from his Silicon Valley offices. "It's sad," he added.

Venture capitalists and market experts expect the pace of firms that shutdown in the tech industry to accelerate this year, potentially rivaling the dot-com crash, as funding dries up. Mergers, acquisitions and IPOs are no longer a reliable exit strategy with capital markets tanking and buyers wary.

So as in 2000, investors are now putting pressure on their invested firms, forcing them to cut back and save, or just cashing out and cutting their losses. Others say they are hunkering down and awaiting a turnaround and a resumption in deal and IPO activity in 12 to 18 months.

Paul Deninger, vice chairman of investment bank Jefferies & Co. in Boston, reckons that about a 10th of the 500 to 1,000 start-ups his institution now tracks nationwide will fail.

"The mergers and acquisitions market is firing on four out of eight cylinders," said Deninger, who runs a team that advises on deals. "Are we in a recession or depression? If 18 months from now we're in the same situation as today, then we have a much more serious problem."

To entice investment from a shrinking cash pool, startups now have to come up with fully realized business strategies.

Next week, many of Silicon Valley's venture capitalists and chief executives gather near Palm Springs for Demo.Com, a conference showing off undeveloped new products and technology. But unlike in years past, organizers expect many products will be tied to fleshed out business plans and market strategies.

"Companies will present a solid business proposition with a clear path to revenues," promised Chris Shipley, Demo's producer.

Last year, many of the start-ups there hoped to "collect a lot of customers and then figure out how to create business value around them. That's not working in the market today."

Silicon Valley got a wake-up call in October, when a private slide-presentation put together by well-known VC Sequoia somehow got leaked onto the Internet.

Entitled "RIP Good Times", it forced an already-nervous industry to mull over declarations like "it is different this time," and "recovery will be long," and "spend every dollar as if it were your last."

Venture capital funding tanked 71 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008, but investment hasn't completely vanished.

This week alone, Apparent Networks Inc of Massachusetts, which designs software to help firms access networks, raised $12 million from venture firms. Aveksa Inc, which tailor-makes security software for corporations, secured $10 million. And private equity investor Good Energies invested $20 million in SAGE Electrochromics Inc., a 20 year-old firm that makes glass-coverings to cut heating and lighting costs.

But investors are getting pickier, scrutinizing every firm as rigorously as they had in the bubble's aftermath.

Michael Kwatinetz of San Francisco's Azure Capital agreed that the era of "fluffy" investments was over -- not a bad thing if healthier and more fiscally responsible companies emerge.

"Get your burn rate under control. Even the best companies are cutting their forward expense rate," Deninger advised.

Telstra CEO Trujillo returns to the USA

Telstra CEO Sol Trujillo to depart company on 30 June

Telstra Chairman Donald McGauchie today announced that the company's Chief Executive Officer, Mr Sol Trujillo, would leave the company on 30 June 2009 to return home to the United States.

Mr Trujillo discussed his intentions with the Board yesterday.

Mr McGauchie said Mr Trujillo and the Board agreed that now was a suitable time for a transition to a new CEO given Telstra's transformation is well advanced and on track.

The Board, through its Nomination Committee, is well prepared with succession planning and will now formally commence a wide-ranging search for a suitable successor. The Board expects to make an appointment by 30 June 2009.

"On behalf of the Telstra Board I would like to congratulate Sol on his outstanding leadership and extraordinary achievements," Mr McGauchie said.

"His vision, strategic direction and commitment to execution have positioned Telstra as a media communications company with a wide range of options for ongoing growth.

"Under Sol's leadership, Telstra has significantly outperformed the market and its global peers, producing world-leading results within the telecommunications sector.

"The Next G™ network is undeniably the world's best national mobile broadband network and stands as Sol's crowning achievement."

Mr Trujillo thanked the Telstra Board and the company's employees for their strong support and commitment since his arrival in July 2005.

He said he would continue to drive the business until his departure at the end of June and work with the Board and senior management to ensure a smooth transition.

"I would particularly like to thank my senior management team and Telstra's employees who are truly committed to bringing world-leading services to our customers. The results we have achieved together over the past four years make me incredibly proud," Mr Trujillo said.

"Telstra is outperforming domestic and global peers in virtually every category. We are well positioned to hit the key transformation targets we set in November 2005 and I have every confidence that Telstra will continue to deliver world-leading results for shareholders."

Mr McGauchie said that Sol's many achievements include:

the integrated Next G™ and Next IP™ networks
a critical role in the successful completion of Telstra's privatisation
driving innovation across the company
migration of seven million customers to Telstra's new IT platforms
the rollout of ADSL2+ to exchanges covering 82 per cent of the population
Market-Based Management and customer segmentation
the launch and rollout of the T[life]™ stores
expansion into mainland China with successful new acquisitions
"In 2005, Sol presented to the Board and the market the performance and financial metrics by which he wanted to be judged. Without question, he has delivered," Mr McGauchie said.

"Sol will leave the company exceptionally well positioned for the future, and we wish him all the best.

"We look forward to Sol continuing to drive the business between now and June 30 and I have no doubt that his leadership of Telstra over the past four years will long be considered a pivotal and critical period in Telstra's history."

Bosnia - privatisations

Bosnia Federation To Sell Off Top Firms

Croat federation will privatize parts of its 11 biggest public companies this year, including BH Telecom, Energoinvest and Hidrogradnja Sarajevo and Aluminijum Mostar, which are estimated to be worth at least 500 million euros, the government decided at its session on Thursday.

The government has officially abandoned its plan for the selection of strategic foreign partners to carry out joint investments in several major development projects, mainly in the energy sector. Instead, these projects will be prepared and carried out by the two entity’s power companies.

The announcement signals the end of a lengthy dispute and battle for control over the most lucrative public companies, which effectively blocked several key privatization deals and development projects.

For the past few years, the two ruling Bosniak parties – Party of Democratic Action, SDA and Party for Bosnia and Herzegovina, SZBH – have divided up control over the biggest public companies: while SDA was in control of BH Telecom, SZBH was in charge of Bosnia’s biggest power company Elektroprivreda BiH.

Disputes started as the SZBH leadership tried to circumvent legal and transparent tender procedures to bring in several international companies with dubious references as key strategic partners for the development of power sector. This move was blocked by the SDA, while the SZBH in return blocked privatization of the BH Telecom, which was planned to take place in 2008.

Meanwhile, the other Bosnian entity, Republika Srpska, has proceeded with its aggressive privatization policy, earning almost 1 billion Euros in privatization proceeds over the past two years. Yet some experts and non-governmental organizations warn that some of these projects have also been carried out in non-transparent way, opening space for corruption and fraud.

Shaken by poor election results in October local ballot, SZBH finally gave up its demands, allowing the federal government to draft a new approach to those privatization deals and development projects, which was finally announced on Thursday.

However, experts and analysts warn that the trouble is not over for the federation and that the real work is just starting as the government and privatization agencies face almost “mission impossible” to decide on privatization methods and then prepare and finalize privatization procedures for all those companies.

This process will be even more difficult in the light of the fact that some politicians now believe that the privatization of these companies should be only a solution of last resort in case of serious social hardship, since the global financial and economic crisis has already significantly reduced interest and prices for such companies. Possible compromise could be the privatization of only a smaller portion of some of those companies.

Because of political deadlocks and delays, Bosnia has already lost billions of Euros, which it could have received has it privatized its most valuable companies in 2007 or early 2008, experts say.
CVC questions 2G spectrum allocation

Unhappy with the reply of the Department of Telecom, the Central Vigilance Commission has shot off another letter seeking clarity on the policy for allocation of spectrum for existing 2G mobile services.

"(The) reply furnished by DoT is not specific about the methodology adopted for assessment of optimum use of allotted spectrum and the precise manner of application of methodology," the CVC said in its letter to the DoT last week.

The CVC wanted to know that whether auction process for2G spectrum is the right choice and desirable at this juncture.

Communication and IT Minister A Raja has been in the line of fire ever since he distributed 120 new telecom licences last year along with start-up spectrum of 4.4 MHz at a cost of just Rs 1,651 crore each compared to its market value running several times of this amount.

While allocating spectrum, Raja had said that since the existing GSM operators have been given frequency at the same terms and conditions, including price, till as late as in 2007 auction cannot be introduced for new players as this may result in numerous litigations.

"DoT's reply is totally revolving around assumptions and conjectures. Appropriate decision of the competent authority is a vague pharse and is non-transparent. This may be clarified", CVC said.

The anti-corruption body is also not satisfied with DoT on its first-cum-first-serve criteria and the two different dates --September 25 and October 1-- as the cut-off dates for receiving USAL applications.

In November, the CVC had sought details of the government policy of allotting spectrum to new telecom firms at Rs 1,651 crore for all-India licence.

The Commission's action had come in the wake of two new firms -- Swan and Unitech -- selling stake in their telecom ventures to foreign players at a huge premium which alleged to have caused massive revenue loss to the exchequer.

The CVC had also pulled up telecom regulator TRAI for not fulfilling its role in advising the Department of Telecom on spectrum allocation process.

Seeking details from the DoT on its spectrum allocation policy, the CVC had said, "The department may follow an auction process for allocation of balance 2G spectrum even though the available spectrum is of meagre quantity."

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Recession - Philippines

Fitch says local telcos to ride out global downturn

CREDIT watcher Fitch Ratings expects the Asia-Pacific telecommunication sector to ride out the global downturn, in the process retaining its "stable" credit outlook for local companies Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) and Globe Telecom, Inc.

"Fitch believes that PLDT and Globe are well positioned to weather the ongoing downturn, noting their dominant market positions and robust balance sheets," the ratings firm said in its "Asia-Pacific Telecoms: Credit Outlook 2009" report released yesterday.

Fitch noted "promising growth outlook for consumer broadband services" and the "benign regulatory regime [that] effectively supports the major operators," even as it also pointed to "higher execution risks as operators develop new growth engines," "industry maturity raising the risk of acute competition," and "increased shareholder focus of major operators."

With 19 out of the 24 issuers bearing a stable outlook, the credit outlook for the Asia-Pacific is stable, Fitch said.

"However, Fitch cautions that the impact of the current downturn is likely to be very different to previous recessions ... The global nature of the current economic downturn suggests that slower corporate activity and rising unemployment will have a negative impact on usage levels and subscriber numbers and tariffs could face downward pressure as operators compete to retain/attract a more price-sensitive consumer," it said.

Fitch noted the entry of PLDT into call centers, which, it said, "represents a significant shift from its core telecom operations."

"On the outsourcing front, Fitch notes that near-term prospects are challenging in view of weak macroeconomic conditions in major end-markets such as the United States. However, longer-term prospects are intact, with the Philippines becoming an important outsourcing destination," it said.

Ayala-led Globe has announced a 16% cut in capital spending for this year, after net profits declined by a tenth. Globe pegged its capital expenditures for the year at about $350-300 million. PLDT has already announced a two-thirds increase in its borrowings for this year to P5 billion. Fitch expects that PLDT will sustain spending at similar levels from the previous year, or about $600 million.

"Both companies generate positive free cash flow, supported by moderate capital intensity, and consequently have limited external funding requirements. Moreover, both PLDT and Globe are beneficiaries of a relatively inactive regulatory regime, which effectively favors the leading operators as it facilitates little change to the existing industry structure," Fitch said.

"With penetration of SIMs (subscriber identity modules) having reached about 71% ... the Philippine cellular market is approaching maturity in terms of addressable market. Although Fitch expects growth to remain modest, cellular services are expected to underpin cash flow stability for the major operators over the medium term," it said.

Fitch also expects a steady flow of dividends from PLDT and Globe. "The agency expects that both companies will continue to return excess cash to shareholders in 2009, in the absence of any major M&A activity or sharp deterioration in the operating environment," it said.

Fitch also noted that broadband services, which comprise a substantial portion of PLDT and Globe’s spending for 2009, "are growing strongly off a small base."

Globe and PLDT officials were not immediately available for comment.

Nortel - job losses

Telecoms giant announces job cuts

Telecoms equipment giant Nortel has said it plans to reduce its global workforce by 3,200.

Nortel - which employs around 2,000 UK staff and is a major sponsor of the 2012 Olympics - said the cuts were in addition to the 1,800 reductions still to be implemented from previous plans.

The firm filed for bankruptcy protection last month amid mounting concerns over its future after it reported rising losses.

The Canadian-based firm said the move was part of a "business and financial restructuring plan".

Mike Zafirovski, Nortel president and chief executive, said: "There is nothing more difficult than notifying employees, and Nortel is extremely conscious of the personal financial burden this will cause affected employees and their families.

"Nortel is a company driven by people and innovation. But with the unprecedented economic environment and resultant impacts on revenues, significant changes are required to regain our financial footing.

"Tough decisions are being made to restructure the company and work towards a successful emergence from creditor protection."

Nortel said the reductions to its 31,000 global workforce would be made over the next "several months". A spokeswoman for the company said it would not provide a geographical breakdown of the planned cuts.

The firm has a large presence in the UK, with its European, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) head office based in Maidenhead, Berkshire - where it employs 1,200 staff.

It also has sites in London, in north Lanarkshire in Scotland, Newtownabbey in Northern Ireland and Harlow, Essex.

China Telecom - growing again

Growth Back on Track As China Telecom Records First Gain

­Having seen monthly gains averaging 8.9m in the first six months of 2008, the Chinese market did not manage to post a figure above 7.9m in the second six months of the year. This was because of the impact of Unicom’s sale of its CDMA network: in July-September, Unicom saw monthly declines in its CDMA base, presumably because its imminent sale reduced the need to attract new customers; in October, China Telecom acquired the network and cleaned up the base, with a net loss of 13.3m; and in November and December there were further losses to the CDMA base, presumably due to further rationalisation.

However, this clean-up process now seems at an end, with China Telecom gaining 1.02m customers in January to finish the month on 28.93m. China Mobile recorded a gain of 6.64m, its lowest figure since December 2007, and China Unicom added just 0.84m (compared to 1.43m in January 2008), but Telecom’s performance meant that the total market gained just under 8.50m, the best performance since June 2008 and above the 8.44m recorded in January 2008.

In real terms, China Mobile remains the largest mobile operator in the country and the world with a base of 461.02m. This is equivalent to market share of 73.9%, up from 69.5% a year earlier. Unicom had 134.20m, and market share of 21.5%, down 9.0pp – mainly due to the sale of its CDMA network. Meanwhile, China Telecom had 4.6% of the market, slightly below the 4.7% it claimed at the end of October, its first month of operation.

The total market finished January with 624.16m customers. Barring any dramatic slowdown, it seems highly likely that the market will surpass 650m by the end of Q2 09, and it is possible that 700m will be reached by the end of the year. GSM dominates the market, with 95.4% of the total at the end of January, or 595.23m in real terms.

Lebanon - investments in telecoms

Lebanon's telecom authority looks to attract investment

BEIRUT: The president of the Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRA) Kamal Shehadi said on Thursday the authority was making preparations to establish a national-broadband and local-broadband access licensing process to attract new investment and enable the build-up of new infrastructure that will provide next generation services.

Speaking at a workshop in the presence of Telecom Minister Jebran Bassi, Shehadi said the TRA was also preparing to launch more broad bands in the next few months.

"Our goal is to catch up with other advanced countries in technology and Internet services. Many investors are looking for high speed broad bands," Shehadi told The Daily Star.

He added that Lebanon has good infrastructure and investors can have easy access to these utilities through leasing it from the government.

According to the Use of Public Properties Study, the fundamental component of these new networks would be the use of Lebanon's public properties for fixed and wireless infrastructure, including the use of public rights of way, ducts, poles, towers, rooftops and other related assets and facilities currently owned and administered by the public sector.

Access to the public properties discussed in this study will enable a licensed service provider to build its network infrastructure utilizing public rights of way and existing public passive infrastructure (such as ducts, poles, towers, etc.) thus reducing network rollout costs and shortening the time to introduce needed services to the businesses and population of Lebanon.

"Article 35 of the Telecommunications Law contemplates that all licensed service providers will enjoy unlimited access to public properties for use in connection with telecommunications infrastructure. Lebanon boasts an extensive public property portfolio that, when made available in accordance with Article 35, will greatly reduce the costs to telecommunications services providers in building and operating modern telecommunications networks," according to TRA. - The Daily Star

Recession - Nigeria

Economic meltdown: NCC, operators meet to assess impact on telecoms

As the current economic meltdown continues to affect several sectors of the economy, eggheads in the communications sector will meet in Abuja today (Wednesday) at the behest of the Nigerian Communications Commission.

They are expected to appraise the impact of the crisis on telecommunications in Nigeria.

A statement issued in Abuja on Tuesday by the Acting Head, Public Affairs, NCC, Mr. Reuben Muoka, noted that telecom stakeholders, especially chief executive officers of firms, would deliberate on the impact and possible solutions to the global economic meltdown as it affected the Nigerian telecoms industry.

Apart from the impact of the meltdown on the telecoms industry, Muoka said the forum would also discuss the policy and regulatory environment germane to sustaining and consolidating the growth that had been witnessed in the industry over the past eight years.

He said, “The role, which telecoms can play in mitigating the negative impact of the global economic recession on the other sectors of the economy will be examined.

“Only invited CEOs and chief finance officers of operating companies, telecoms equipment vendors, investment companies, finance and economic experts, and government officials are expected to attend.”

He added that the recommendations of the forum would be forwarded to the Federal Government through the Minister of Information and Communications, Prof. Dora Akunyili.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Communications Commission has ruled out any possible increase in tariffs by telecoms operator in the nearest future.

It also said tariffs in Nigeria were not likely to drop, arguing that it was not the highest in the world.

The Executive Vice-Chairman of NCC, Mr. Ernest Ndukwe, while making presentation at a meeting between the Senate Committee on Communications and the telecom operators, said any increase in tariffs must be approved by the commission.

He also said that there had not been any application from telecom operators for an increase in call tariffs.

He said, “I think it is not going to be in the interest of the operators to increase their tariffs at this time because Nigerians are very discerning and they switch networks if they discover that any operator has increased its tariff.”

Ndukwe said NCC was against any group of telecom operators working against the interest of the subscribers.

He added that although NCC would want tariffs that would be more acceptable to both subscribers and operators alike, there was reason to believe that Nigerians were not paying the highest of tariffs in the global setting.

He said while he would support a better regime of tariffs, to force tariffs downward could congest the network and result in poor service delivery.

On co-location, he said NCC was monitoring negotiations and arrangements for the co-location of operators’ facilities.

The Senate Committee had also sought clarifications on the operators’ compliance with the directive on payment of compensations.

Chairman of the committee, Sylvester Anyanwu, said complaints from subscribers was a were a source of worry to members of the committee.

Chief Executive Officer of MTN, Ahmed Farouq, said MTN had paid N2.6 billion as compensation to subscribers.

According to him, the compensations were paid in line with the NCC guidelines which allows the subscribers to decide how they want the compensation to be paid.

He said MTN was working to expand its operations to give make communication easier for its numerous subscribers.

The Chief Technology Officer of Glo, Mr. Aremu Olajide, said Glo had also paid compensations running into billions of naira to subscribers.

He said his company had made closed alliances with other operators to make calls and tariffs affordable to subscribers.
U.S. Regulator Publishes Wireless Industry Competition Report
see also FCC 13th annual competition report

The 13th Annual Competition Report on the wireless industry has been released by the FCC, providing a wealth of data and analysis for the period up to the end of 2007.

Significance - The FCC has released a wealth of data and analysis on the state of the wireless industry in the United States.

Implications - The industry continues to grow apace with penetration hitting 86%. Consolidation has had limited effect on local competition levels, although this will likely develop in 2008 as several deals have been finalised.

Outlook - The latest data from the carriers shows that growth has slowed while significant changes to the market. such as consolidation and the roll-out of unlimited use tariffs, will have further shaken up the industry in 2008.

The U.S. regulator, the FCC, has released the 13th Annual Competition Report on the wireless industry, providing both an overview and details of the nature of the industry in the United States, including spectrum use, standards, coverage, quality and competition levels, capital expenditures, pricing, subscribership, use, services, convergence and intermodal substation effects.

Coverage and Subscribership

Some 99.6% of the U.S. population lives in a census block, of which there are just over 8.26 million (containing 285 million people, although this is based on the year 2000 census), with at least one wireless provider. One or more providers cover 74.5% of the total land mass of the United States when federal lands are included—or 84% when these lands are excluded from the calculations. Some 95.5% of the population and 40.8% of the land mass is covered by three or more providers. Broadband networks (CDMA EV-DO and UMTS/HSPA) were available in at least part of the census blocks that were home to 92% of the population—EV-DO networks covered 92.2% of the population while the WCDMA/ HSPA network deployment (by AT&T) covered only 53.8%.

Total subscribers numbered 263 million at the end of 2007, up 21.2 million or 8.8% year-on-year (y/y) and taking penetration to around 86.1% of the total U.S. population of 305.6 million at the end of 2007. The top eight facilities-based carriers accounted for 92.8% of the market. The resale sector, which included 40 MVNOs, accounted for 18.4 million or 7% of subscribers, although these are included in the figures below under their home carrier.

Microsoft antitrust case - Google joins

Google Joins EU Antitrust Case Against Microsoft

Google has added its voice to the case against Microsoft as the European Commission probes antitrust charges related to the software giant's Internet Explorer browser.

"Google believes that the browser market is still largely uncompetitive, which holds back innovation for users," Sundar Pichai, Google vice president product manager, wrote in a blog post Tuesday.

Google introduced the Chrome browser last year, which has taken little market share.

The Internet company joins the Mozilla foundation, producer of the Firefox Web browser, and Norway's Opera, a privately held company. Google adds the voice of a significant and well-financed player in the case against Microsoft.

In January, European regulators brought formal charges against Microsoft for abusing its dominant market position by bundling its Internet Explorer Web browser with its Windows operating system, which is used in 95 percent of the world's personal computers.

If the preliminary views expressed in the EC's Statement of Objections are confirmed, Microsoft could be subject to a fine and an order requiring it to cease bundling its browser and operating system.

In 2007, European Union courts upheld the European Commission's finding that Microsoft violated antitrust law by bundling its Windows Media player with the Windows operating system. It also found Microsoft used illegal tactics against RealNetworks real player.

The company has been fined more than $2 billion for its violations and for failing to carry out remedies imposed by the Commission.

In 2000, a U.S. judge decided that Microsoft had broken the law after it combined its Internet Explorer browser and the Windows operating system. The most serious violations of the law were upheld on appeal, but the company continued to bundle its operating system and browser.

Google competes with Microsoft in several markets, including online search engines.

Pichai wrote that the company hopes its perspective in launching Chrome will "be useful as the European Commission evaluates remedies to improve the user experience and offer consumers real choices."

Interveners traditionally provide background information, legal theories and proposed remedies to the Commision in cases.

Europe - lobbying over MTRs

Operators Meet with EU to Block Termination Rates Hike

Europe's key telecoms operators are meeting with the European Commission today, in a bid to halt proposed cuts in termination rates (MTRs) in the bloc, Reuters reports. The report states that the U.K.'s Vodafone and BT, Germany's Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom, Spain's Telefónica, and Telecom Italia will meet with the European Commission over new guidelines, which propose cuts in MTRs of up to 70% within three years. According to sources within the EU, the operators will meet Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding, and Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes, in a last-ditch attempt to block the proposals.

Significance: The majority of Europe's big operators oppose the cuts in MTRs, which can make up to 20% of their revenues. As part of recent proposals to shake up telecoms regulation in the EU, the commission has recommended forcing operators to cut these fees, saying they are artificially inflated and anti-competitive as they favour incumbent and dominant operators. However, the operators have countered this argument, claiming that any erosion of their revenues will put investments in new services at risk—particularly in the current European recession. However, IHS Global Insight believes this is a rather desperate attempt to blackmail the EU as operators will inevitably invest in new services and technologies anyway, if they hope to keep up with their competitors. Although this may not be the best time to cut operator revenue, as European markets stagnate, the recession is likely to hit the smaller alternate operators harder. MTRs have been the golden goose of the European giants for too long—and the boost to competition that these cuts will bring has never been so vital.

NITEL - strike closes of SAT-3

NITEL Workers Take Strike Action, Close Sat-3 Submarine Cable Again

Employees at NITEL and its mobile subsidiary M-Tel embarked on strike action again this week to protest the non-payment of accumulated salary arrears, according to the Daily Independent. The strike resumes industrial action suspended 10 months earlier, and was called by two unions: the National Union of Post and Telecommunications Employees (NUPTE), and the Senior Staff Association of Communications, Transport and Corporations (SSACTAC). The strike disrupts consumers, but NITEL's customers have reduced dramatically and it now only has some 58,750 fixed lines (a 5% share of the total fixed-line market of 1.239 million) and M-Tel has just 258,520 mobile subscribers (a 0.5% share of the mobile market of 55.8 million). To press their protest home, employees have again shut down access to the Sat-3 submarine cable, over which NITEL still exerts exclusivity of access in Nigeria. This will disrupt international voice and data traffic into Nigeria. The Sat-3 cable in Nigeria was shut down by striking employees in April 2008, severely disrupting international voice and data traffc. Although the strike was suspended, the threat of its closure again as leverage by striking employees was brought up.

Significance: Because the Sat-3 cable from Nigeria has become so unreliable, Nigerian consumers are relying on alternative options and waiting for new submarine cables that will land in Nigeria. In addition to strike action, the cable suffered a month-long outage from mid-October 2008 when it was damaged offshore. Suburban Telecom has meanwhile built a fibre network to neighbouring Benin which also has a Sat-3 landing and increased the amount of bandwidth it is selling into Nigeria from 1 Gbps in September 2008 to 2.4 Gbps by the end of 2008. In little over a year, Suburban Telecom will soon have sold more than 10 times as much Sat-3 capacity via Benin that NITEL has in its seven years of monopoly access over the cable. Meanwhile, the Glo-1 cable being built by Globacom is due to enter service in March 2009, and the Main-One cable being built by Main Street Technologies in May 2010.

FTTH - the effects of regulation

Regulation may hinder FTTH

Regulatory uncertainty continues to challenge fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) investment globally, as regulators struggle to find a way to encourage competition without discouraging investors or disadvantaging incumbents, according to a global report issued by the Yankee Group Dec. 31.

While incumbents remain convinced that open access or wholesale models won’t enable them to earn a return on their investment, regulators would prefer open access models, said Benoit Felten, senior analyst with Yankee Group and author of “Fiber to the World: A State of the Union Report on FTTH,” along with co-author Vince Vittore. In the report, Felten advises regulators to be more decisive, choose a model for regulating next-generation access networks and move on, since regulatory uncertainty is almost guaranteed to slow investment in new networks.

“I think the core issue especially right now with [the economic] crisis going on is that the regulators are under a lot of pressure, moral and governmental, not to hit the big guys,” Felten said. “But if you want to ensure competition in a new market from day one, you have to take a tough stand. At the end of the day, a solution is not going to come from regulators, it will come from competition.”

In markets such as Japan, where open access was mandated, NTT built a network designed to allow competitors in, including sizing cabinets to provide access and providing access at multiple layers, including at the passive optical network (PON) splitters, Felten said. In areas such as the US, where no open-access requirements exist for broadband networks, FTTH and fiber-to-the-node networks being built today can’t be easily adapted to enable open access later.

In Europe, competition is emerging from alternate providers and from municipalities, and some regions – namely Scandinavia – are proving that open access FTTH networks can thrive, Felten said.

“Once the competitive pressure is high enough, and it may come from munis – then the incumbent has to act,” he said. For example, Deutsche Telekom can’t afford to lose major markets such as Cologne and Munich to competition, so DT must build its own FTTH networks, regardless of the regulatory scheme at the time. But this model gets harder in tough economic times, where there is less investment money available, Felten added.

“Depending on the countries, it is going to take a lot of time,” Felton said. “A couple of years ago, we could have imagined a lot of players willing to invest, but right now, incumbents look like the only players who will invest. This will be an issue for the next 18 months. I would say to regulators, you have 18 months to find the right solution.”

At minimum, Felten’s advice to governments that don’t want to subsidize FTTH deployment -- as the Japanese, South Koreans and Nordics have -- is to make sure the legal environment aids rather than hinders the network rollout and to make sure that laws regarding in-building wiring, dig-sharing or aerial networking don’t disadvantage potential new competitors. In low-density rural areas where deployment is most expensive, governments may need to consider funding deployment of FTTH, Felten said.

Cisco - second quarter sales

Cisco second-quarter sales, profit fall

SEC, FTC investigating Heartland after data theft Hacking contest to pay $10,000 in cash for smartphone bugs Microsoft wraps up Vista SP2 RC Safari 4 rivals Google Chrome in JavaScript race Google unveils dashboard to alert users to Google Apps downtime British UFO hacker loses another bid to avoid U.S. extradition

Cisco's John Chambers finds optimism in $1.6 trillion Global News Update: Thursday, November 6, 2008 Semiconductor revenue hit by massive slowdown, Gartner says Microsoft invests in R&D as economy slumps Server revenue sees big drop in Q4, IDC says

Cisco Systems Inc.'s revenue and net income for its fiscal second quarter fell from a year earlier as the company grappled with the global economic downturn.

Revenue for the quarter that ended Jan. 24 was $9.1 billion, down 7.5% from the second quarter of fiscal 2008. Profits fell even more steeply, with net income hitting $1.5 billion, down 27% from a year earlier. Cisco earned 26 cents per share, down more than 20% from the earlier quarter.

However, the company did meet Wall Street analysts' expectations for revenue and for earnings, not counting special items. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected revenue of $9 billion and earnings of 30 cents per share.

"Cisco showcased solid financial strength during a period of significant economic challenge," Chairman and CEO John Chambers said in a statement. "We remain comfortable with our long-term vision and strategy as we move into new market adjacencies and prioritize our existing opportunities."

The gloomy results come after a string of major IT companies reported losses or dramatic revenue and profit falls for periods coinciding with the stock-market and credit crash last year.

Cisco sees hard times continuing for the near future, forecasting that revenue for the current quarter will be down between 15% and 20% from a year earlier, Chambers said. Business slowed during the second quarter and was down 20% year over year in January, he said.

"The environment has continued to change dramatically in the last few months," Chambers said. "It is clear now that we are in a global economic slowdown. ... [Cisco] will obviously be impacted."

The company is not considering layoffs today, Chambers said, defining that as a cut of 10% or more of its workforce. But as the company goes through its normal realignment of resources, that could result in job reductions of 1,500 to 2,000 in the near term, he said. Overall, Cisco is ahead of its plan to cut expenses by $1 billion per year.

Funding priority will be going to Cisco's top five opportunities, according to Chambers. Those are next-generation company and customer relations, dubbed Cisco 3.0; collaboration and Web 2.0; video; data centers and virtualization; and globalization, he said.

The company will also continue with its plan to invest in emerging economies, with China and India in the first wave of that strategy and Mexico, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and Russia coming in the second, Chambers said.

The CEO said most executives he talks with don't expect a recovery until 2010, but Chambers noted that he is more optimistic. The U.S. and other governments have generally responded well to the world financial crisis, he said, providing hope for a possible upturn before the end of this year. The recovery will begin in the U.S., and the rest of the world will follow, he said.

"President Obama's off to a great start, and I think his economic team is world-class," Chambers said.

The quarter's results did vary by country, with growth in product orders of more than 10% in Mexico, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and particularly steep drops in orders in the U.S., the U.K., Italy and Russia, Chambers said. Routers were the hardest-hit product category in the quarter, with revenue down about 23%, while video equipment revenue was a bright spot with 18% growth.

In after-hours trading late Wednesday, Cisco's Nasdaq shares (CSCO) were down 72 cents, at $15.12.

Recession - no recovery until 2012

Semiconductor industry will not recover until 2012, says TSMC chairman

The global semiconductor industry will likely experience negative growth in 2009, but will start to rebound at an annual growth rate of 4-5% from next year, according to Morris Chang, chairman of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC). The industry-wide downturn will decelerate the sector's growth until 2012 when total revenues will resume to meet 2008 levels.

TSMC CEO Rick Tsai earlier estimated that the global semiconductor market will decline 30% this year.

The current economic slowdown will follow the more painful L-shaped curve, said Chang, noting that US house prices are a crucial indicator for a complete economic recovery worldwide. Stability in the housing market implies that consumer confidence has improved. Consumer confidence has become the key for semiconductor industry's revival, Chang added. The evolving world has positioned semiconductor items as commodities and customers now possess strong market power, according to Chang.

Chang made the remarks at an industry conference yesterday (Feb 23).

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Shanghai to Launch CMMB in March for RMB 20/Month

Shanghai will become the first trial city to begin commercial operation of the China Mobile Multimedia Broadcasting (CMMB) network in March, reports Sina quoting an unnamed insider. The commercial service is expected to offer seven programs for RMB 20 per month, said the insider. China Mobile (NYSE:CHL, 941.HK) currently charges RMB 10 per month for its mobile TV service.

ILO - job losses in recession

Financial job losses accelerating: U.N. agency

Jobs in the financial sector are disappearing at an accelerating rate, with knock-on effects for the broader economy in financial centers such as New York and London, the United Nations said on Monday.

A report from the U.N.'s International Labor Organization (ILO) for a meeting this week on the impact of the economic crisis on the more than 20 million people employed in the sector said financial services employment is now likely to shrink permanently, in contrast to recent strong growth projections.

Announced financial sector layoffs between August 2007 and February 12 this year totaled 325,000, and close to 130,000 jobs or 40 percent were announced between October 2008 and February 12, indicating a rapid acceleration over recent months, it said.

"As the global economy sinks further into recession, and financial institutions' assets experience even greater impairment, job losses can be expected to rise even faster," the ILO said.

Redundancies are likely to affect all kinds of jobs in the sector, including information technology specialists that were spared in previous waves of job losses, it said.

While the losses are worldwide, financial centers like New York and London will bear the brunt, with the combined New York metropolitan area expected to lose up to 100,000 financial services jobs, it said.

The U.S. securities industry alone shed 17,600 jobs in the last quarter of 2008, a rate exceeded only once in the last decade by the 18,800 jobs lost between November 2001 and February 2002 due to recession and the September 11 attacks.

As a percentage of the workforce, employment in securities is shrinking at roughly twice the pace of U.S. employment as a whole and twice as fast as the broad financial sector, it said.

Citing projections from consultancy Oxford Analytica that London-based financial institutions will have shed 30,000 jobs in 2008 and will lose at least one third more in 2009, the ILO said total jobs in London could fall to 4.51 million in 2010 from 4.71 million in 2008.

"The knock-on fiscal impact of the credit crunch due to a shrinking real economy is expected to be considerable," it said.

As in the United States, the loss of lucrative financial jobs and bonuses would have knock-on effects elsewhere, with the loss of one to two other jobs for each financial redundancy, it said.

"These figures almost certainly understate the real situation, as announcements of job cuts are not always forthcoming," the ILO said of the reported financial job losses.

Financial services employed 5.6 million people in the European Union in 2006, with banking and insurance accounting for 75 and 20 percent respectively, and intermediaries such as hedge funds and wealth managers accounting for the rest, it said.

The sector represented 2.7 percent of total EU employment. That was much less than in the United States, where the equivalent was 4.7 percent or 4.1 million workers, of whom 44 percent were in banking, it said. On a broader measure including real estate, U.S. financial sector employment was 8.36 million.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Nokia - handsets with Skype software

Nokia to Sell Phones With Skype Software

Internet calling company Skype has secured a deal with Nokia under which the world's biggest phone maker will preload Skype software into some of its new smartphones starting from the third quarter of this year.

Skype, whose technology has allowed legions of consumers to make practically free long-distance calls over the Internet on fixed lines, has been moving into the mobile arena with deals with operators such as Hutchison Whampoa's 3.

"We believe that mobile is incredibly important to our future," Skype Chief Executive Josh Silverman told Reuters in an interview at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the industry's biggest gathering.

He said Nokia would install Skype in its high-end N-series phones, starting with the N-97. "The Nokia announcement is really a major milestone. When we partner with manufacturers we are able to deliver a superior experience," Silverman said.

Skype software is also available to download onto mobile phones after they have been bought, but is then less integrated into features like address books, making it less convenient.

Most mobile operators are wary of Skype, fearing they will lose revenue through consumers paying little or nothing for calls, but Silverman said 3 had actually seen its average revenue rise by 20 percent for consumers using Skype phones.

He said subscribers were encouraged to use their phones more by flat-rate data plans -- boosting usage of 3's other services -- and that customer loyalty increased. Skype also has deals with other operators but 3 is its most successful.

Silverman said more than 300 million minutes' worth of Skype to Skype mobile calls had been made so far, with current rates at about 1 million minutes per day. Skype had 405 million registered users in total at the end of last year.

Skype was bought by online marketplace eBay for $4.3 billion in 2005 with the intention of bolstering its PayPal online payments service but it took a $1.4 billion writedown in 2007 and there have been media reports that eBay may sell Skype.

Silverman declined to comment on the speculation. "EBay is very supportive. We are very happy with the support we get," he said. "I spend 100 percent of my time building the world's best communications company."

Mobile TV - forecasts of growth

Half a billion mobile TV viewers and subscribers by 2013, says ABI Research

The approaching switchover to all-digital television broadcasting in the United States and other major countries will create an unprecedented opportunity for the mobile TV market, according to ABI Research. While mobile broadcast TV was pioneered in Japan and South Korea, following the switchover traditional and mobile TV broadcasters and cellular operators in many regions will launch mobile TV services that are forecast to attract over 500 million viewers by 2013.

There is an important distinction to draw between content streamed to mobile handsets over cellular networks, and free-to-air broadcasting to mobile devices equipped with mobile TV tuners. "Mobile TV users have yet to value the medium properly because it has not been validated as an independent product and service," said senior analyst Jeff Orr. "It has been primarily offered at the end of a long list of more preferred cellular services. However, mobile TV will soon be positioned in a more proper role as an extension of traditional broadcast TV services."

"Mobile TV viewing will not solely be on cellular handsets," Orr continued, "but also on MIDs, and automotive infotainment systems. I believe that once the content is available and the services launched, mobile TV will enable more classes of mobile devices that are 'natural fits' for mobile entertainment."

Who will benefit? Content developers and providers; device vendors, especially MID and cellular handset OEMs; and service providers. Other winners include multimedia and security software, semiconductor and network infrastructure vendors. Once mobile TV users adopt the service at high growth levels, advertisers will also climb on board to target the significant number of new "mobile eyeballs."

ABI Research believes the timing of the market's emergence is good. As 2009 progresses, signs of economic optimism may emerge, and allow the fledgling industry to establish a foothold before the holiday shopping season.

Broadband - slump in additional customers

Telco broadband subscriber additions slump in 2008, says iSuppli

The telco broadband market experienced a significant downturn in new subscriber additions during 2008, according to iSuppli.

"New telco broadband subscriber growth saw a 9.1% decline in 2008 following double-digit gains during the prior five years," said Steve Rago, principal analyst for broadband and digital home for iSuppli. "Hardest hit was North America, with new subscriber additions in 2008 amounting to 3.1 million, down 56.1% from 6.5 million in 2007. The world's developed regions reached broadband saturation during 2008, while developing regions continued to grow. Of these regions, Latin America experienced the strongest growth. While the number of new broadband subscribers declined, global revenues from broadband equipment sales increased 9% on year."

Getting your fiber

Driven by the need to upgrade the broadband access network, new fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) connections grew by 90% and new VDSL connections grew by 54% compared to 2007. In the cable world, many European and American operators introduced DOCSIS 3.0, significantly increasing broadband access data rates.

iSuppli believes 2008 was a milestone in the growth of very high speed access networks. Growth in this segment of the broadband market will continue to accelerate for several years.

Telco TV was a major driver of high-speed access upgrades during 2008. Virtually every telephone company and competitive access supplier deployed or made plans to deploy television services during 2008. Overall telco TV subscribers grew by 8.8 million to end 2008 at a total of 18.5 million.

Telco TV during 2008 transitioned from the early-adopter stage to the growth stage. Global revenues for equipment supporting telco TV ended 2008 at US$5.8 billion. Over the next five years, revenues in this segment will grow at a compound snnual growth rate (CAGR) of 20%, iSuppli forecasts.

IPTV becomes must-see TV

Internet protocol television (IPTV), which is a superset of telco TV, will change the way the world views entertainment both inside and outside the home. IPTV represents one of the most significant paradigm shifts in the communications world since the rise of the handset market.

The battle for the broadband subscriber bundle between the telephone companies, multiple service operators (MSOs) and direct-to-home (DTH) satellite providers picked up momentum during 2008. Regional skirmishes during 2007 transformed into major battles in 2008. North America was the most hotly contested battleground.

MSOs, led by Comcast and Time Warner, added 4.3 million new voice subscribers, most of which were previously telephone subscribers. The MSOs in North America also won the battle for the broadband connection, adding four million subscribers compared to two million for the telephone companies.

The telephone companies countered with a net addition of 3.3 million television subscribers. The broadband subscriber bundle battle will intensify during 2009, even in the face of economic conditions, and will spread to Europe, iSuppli believes.

Broad change for broadband

The broadband equipment landscape also experienced shifts during 2008. Perhaps the largest was in DSL broadband infrastructure port shipments. Alcatel-Lucent, the long-time market leader, saw its share of unit shipments drop six percentage points to 27%, while China's telecom equipment giants – Huawei and ZTE – gained six and four percentage points of market share respectively.

On the cable front, cable modem termination systems (CMTS) leader Cisco increased its hold on the downstream port shipments market, increasing its share by 13% to reach 59%. In contrast, the number-two player Arris dropped 12 percentage points of share, ending the year at 18%. Motorola ended with a 13% share.

Market shares in the cable modem segment were virtually unchanged from 2007 to 2008, with Motorola remaining in the number-one position followed by Cisco, Arris and Thomson.

DSL silicon also underwent changes during the year. One of the early and dominant players in the ADSL market, Centillium, sold its DSL business to Ikanos and then was purchased by TranSwitch, leaving just three major ADSL chip suppliers: Infineon, Conexant and market leader Broadcom. These three suppliers accounted for 95% of the market in 2008.

In the fast-growth VDSL market, Ikanos continued to be the market leader but lost 11 percentage points of share of ports shipped compared to 2007 as new entrants to the market, Broadcom, Conexant and Infineon, made gains.

Mobile - LTE forecast for Asia

LTE deployments to peak in 2010-2011, says Nokia Siemens Networks executive

The global deployment of LTE (Long Term Evolution) networks is expected to enter a peak period in 2010-2011 as many service providers in Europe, Asia and North America have made commitments to the development of the standard, according to Mike Wang, general manager for Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau at Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN).

NTT DoCoMo, which has been cooperating with NSN in regards to LTE, is expected to bring its services to the market in 2010, Wang noted.

In Hong Kong, the administrative government recently released three LTC licenses to Genus Brand, Hong Kong CSL and China Mobile, a move will help accelerate the deployment of LTE networks in the local market, Wang added.

NSN may consider setting up a LTE MSDC (Mobile Service Development Center) in Taiwan to facilitate Taiwan network equipment makers to migrate to the LTE industry if the Taiwan government decides to release LTE licenses, the Chinese-language Commercial Times recently quoted Wang as indicating.

Roaming - Cubic card

Expansion is on the cards formobile roaming firm

Cubic Telecom is to launch a new version of its roaming technology, as the company prepares to expand further into overseas markets. It has just agreed branded Sim card deals with US travel network Dopplr and Roaming sim.

com in Australia, and plans to have 50 such partnerships on its books by the end of the year.

‘‘We are looking to the Gulf next,” said Pat Phelan, founder of Cubic. He added that company revenues were increasing by 20 per cent month on month.

Cubic’s Max roam product is a Sim card designed to help mobile phone users save money on calls while roaming abroad. The Sim card provides users with a Dublin phone number they can only use with an unlocked phone.

‘‘They can leave a voicemail on their normal home account giving out their new number or can seamlessly forward their mobile to that Dublin landline number,” said Phelan.

The company has built a virtual platform that can be adapted to any brand. It offers its services in 200 countries, targeting individual consumers and corporate customers. It plans to expand its service range shortly to include mobile data usage.

‘‘We have solved the roaming voice cost issue,” Phelan said ‘‘Next, we are going to solve the roaming data problem. P eople have come back fromtravelling to find insanely expensive bills, particularly for browsing the web and sending e-mails.In some cases, people have faced bills of between €2,000 to €80,000.”

Investment in Cubic Telecomhas to date totalled €2million raised privately.T he company continues to research mobile andweb-basedmarkets on an ongoing basis.

It employs nine staff at offices in Cork and Dublin, most of whom are software developers, and has just recruited two sales staff to drive sales globally.

Phelan said the company could have up to 20 staff employed by the end of the year.

‘‘A downturn is the perfect storm for us,” he said.’ ‘Our new virtual platform will save companies money. If an organisation has 50 staff, and five are travelling, we can give that company the ability to manage those five accounts through an online portal, providing savings in the region of 70 to 80 per cent.”

‘‘In the US, you can get unlimited voice, internet and SMS for $65 a month, but we spend a lot more than that on our mobile phone bills here. I think this is where we fall behind in Europe, especially Ireland. There is a terrible lack of competition, especially on business tariffs.”

Phelan established Cubic Telecom in February 2006.H e said a new generation of entrepreneurs would emerge from the job losses of the current downturn.

‘‘I would hate to say a downturn is good for us, but we are going to see a lot of incredible start-ups coming out of it,” he said.’ ‘If you look at the lay-offs in the technology sector, those people are going to have to think of start-ups. We saw some great companies come out of Motorola.”

Phelan advised first-time business owners to adopt a careful approach to funding and investment.

‘‘Don’t take money you don’t need,” he said.’ ‘Try friends and family before talking to any venture capital group. Try and do things as long as you can on your own money. A venture capitalist’s job is to get money for the venture capital group.”

Mentoring can be hugely beneficial for start-ups, according to Phelan.

I give advice to six or eight companies started by friends, and any recommendations or referrals I give them are aimed at helping them to avoid any ‘pain points’ I went through,” Phelan said.’ ‘It can be a great advantage, especially on costs, and that’s where the issue lies.”

Cubic Telecom was last month named Cork Chamber/ BT Emerging Company of the Year, alongside overall winner Eli Lilly andNewsweaver, which took first place in the SME category.

‘‘Winning an award in a competition in which the overall winner was EliLilly is an incredible boost,” said Phelan.

‘‘Companies that won this award before have gone on to be extremely successful.”

roaming - the high cost

Mobile Data Roaming Still Costs Too Much

I am heading to Barcelona on Feb. 15 for the Mobile World Congress, where operators from all over the world will talk about how great mobile broadband is, but I bet you they won't use it to surf the Internet while visiting the show, especially if chief financial officers have any say.

The reason is simple: surfing the Internet using broadband while abroad is really expensive. Surfing the Internet using mobile broadband in Spain would cost me 40 Swedish kronor (about US$5) per megabyte, and if I wanted to do the same in the U.S. it would set me back 120 Swedish kronor per megabyte, which is a ridiculous amount of money compared to the 199 Swedish kronor per month I pay for unlimited data.

So, for what I pay per month for mobile broadband access in Sweden, I would get the pleasure of downloading almost 5MB in Spain, and if I go to the U.S. that number would drop to below 2MB.

No one in their right mind would pay those amounts. The huge difference in pricing has resulted in "bill shock" for many subscribers, according to Viviane Reding, the European Commissioner for the Information Society and Media. "It's happened to my own children," she said last year. "One shocking bill and they don't use their mobiles abroad anymore."

Instead, those who want Internet access pick a hotel that offers Wi-Fi access or sign up with a company like Boingo Wireless, which offers a Boingo Global subscription for US$59.00 per month, which gives access to 100,000 hotspots scattered all over the world.

Wi-Fi doesn't offer the ease-of-use and ubiquitous coverage that mobile broadband does and not all phones come equipped with it.

The only thing the current pricing has resulted in is a lot of negative publicity for operators, according to Angela Stainthorpe, analyst and roaming expert at Informa Telecoms and Media. That, in turn, resulted in the E.U. bumping data roaming up on its priority list, said Stainthorpe.

The European Commission is working to put in place a €1 (US$1.29) per megabyte cap on wholesale fees, which is what operators pay each other, as of this summer.

Mobile broadband is really taking off, and the phone makers are trying to integrate applications such as social networking into their phones. But the promise of the technology will not be realized unless users can be connected anytime, anywhere.

Prices have started to come down, operators have started to offer various packages and safeguards against large bills and the E.U. has moved to regulate pricing, but more is needed. Operators still have an opportunity to take charge of this market, and in the end make more money, Stainthorpe said.

Since they will all be in the same place, perhaps CEOs including Vodafone's Vittorio Colao, Telefónica's César Alierta and AT&T Mobility's Ralph de la Vega should be locked in a room in Barcelona and not be let out until they have solved the issue once and for all.

Malaysia - unlimited data roaming

TM launches unlimited data roaming plan

PETALING JAYA: TM International Bhd’s (TMI) subsidiaries and affiliate have launched an initiative to enhance customers’ data roaming experience by offering a daily unlimited data roaming plan.

In a statement yesterday, TMI said the service, the first of its kind for Malaysian consumers, was currently the cheapest in the region, offering a daily “capped rate”.

Under the service, travellers can use the Internet and data browsing services without worrying about escalating call charges when roaming within TMI’s network of mobile operators in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Cambodia, it said.

Roaming - mobility pass

MobilityPass Launches New International Roaming Mobile Broadband Internet Access Service For Road Warrior and Business Travelers
see also Mobility Pass

Are you Abroad? In a Business Trip? get "High speed Internet on the Move," the new 3G international high speed mobile Internet service from MobilityPass (, provides travelers and business Internet users a way to instantly and safely connect wirelessly everywhere in 66 countries.

Presented at the mobile World Congress 2009, MobilityPass' new 3G UMTS Mobile Broadband service is a perfect solution for international business travelers and road warriors frequently on the move and in constant need of mobile broadband Internet to access in order to manage their email and mission critical information. Operating at incredibly fast connection speeds of up to 7.2 MB,

High speed Internet on the Move
Ready to use with any unlocked Mobile Internet phone and any laptop, MobilityPass Mobile Broadband offers a plug and play solution that includes an International 3G / UMTS / GPRS / HSPDA / EDGE USB modem and the MobilityPass Sim data card to connect users from continent to continent while matching any standard.

MobilityPass makes use of dial-up, toll free, and WiFi to offer users the most comprehensive global Internet service that expands to over 160 countries ( In order to significantly optimize mobile broadband usage, MobilityPass gives Mobile Broadband users access to worldwide high speed WiFi when at any of the 130,000 hotspots around the globe in major Hotels, Airports, Bars, Trains, Restaurants, Petrol Stations, etc.. making roaming Internet connections very "efficient."

Wouldn't it be great if you could stay in touch and manage your current e-mails securely wherever you are? Maintaining security online is especially imperative when using wireless Internet access. For this reason, MobilityPass insure your privacy and confidentiality with an extra layer of data encryption to secure the unified communication suite that include, SMS, push e-mail, fax, Internet telephony, files and emails backup and all other online and remote communications.

With MobilityPass Anytime, Anywhere internet access, travelers experience the ultimate freedom to roam the Internet. Not only does the 3G Mobile Internet access connect internationally, there is no contract, monthly fee, setup fee, or maintenance fee, and there is absolutely no billing for service not used, which means that users are able to truly pay as they go. MobilityPass also allows users to control costs by paying as they go and managing credit available on their data Sim cards.

From the United States to United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Portugal, Greece, Japan, Hong Kong, Israel, and multiple other locations, MobilityPass is the ideal choice for conveniently and securely checking email, surfing the web, using instant messenger, video conferencing, and more, from anyplace in the world.

Saudi Arabia - roaming

Mobily subscribers roam free with 100 operators in 56 countries

All of Mobily’s subscribers, prepaid and postpaid, can receive calls for free when roaming in 56 countries, the company said on Friday. Mobily made this possible through “Tejwali”, the world’s largest roaming deal with 100 global mobile operators. Subscribers to Mobily’s elite package Raqi get one – or rather six – better: in addition to those 56 countries, they can receive calls for free while roaming in six more countries – Lebanon, Morocco, the UK, Spain, Austria and Germany. Those 56 countries include the UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, Jordan, the Sudan, Libya, France, Switzerland, Japan, Finland, Denmark and Norway. This unprecedented advantage allows Mobily subscribers to receive national and international voice calls and SMS messages for free with any operator in 51 countries. However, they can roam for free with only specific operators in the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, the Sudan and Jordan. Humoud Al-Ghobaini, Mobily’s Senior Manager of Corporate Communications, said that Mobily is working to add more countries to the list, adding that this depends on how promptly the other international operators respond to the negotiations. Ghobaini said that Mobily ultimately wants to make this advantage available to all of its subscribers all over the world. He added that Mobily caries the entire costs of call reception in those countries, without the subscriber having to pay anything, which make the advantage completely free. These agreements are the widest-reaching in the world, in that they are not only confined to Mobily’s sister companies in the UAE and Egypt, but also allow subscribers to hop from one network to another for free or select specific networks to roam with.

Malaysia - roaming fraud

Digi suffered roaming fraud worth RM15m

Digi suffered roaming fraud that caused an RM15 million impact on EBITDA in the fourth quarter of last year. Excluding the fraud, EBITDA margins would have expanded quarter-on-quarter by 45 per cent in the Q408. The losses accumulated from roaming fraud was however mitigated by cost optimisation initiatives, a pullback in staff bonuses and lower advertising and promotion expenditure.

OSK Research said this after its analyst had a conference call with Digi management. “The fraud creates a loophole where users can roam for free,” says the analyst. “Therefore Digi sees it as a cost item. But they are trying to address it.”

Digi also says that the syndicate perpetrating the fraud also affects other telcos.

OSK has downgraded Digi to neutral from buy as earnings are expected to decline 7-8 per cent in the next two years as margin pressure from starting up its 3G business starts to build up and it also faces the possibility of a tariff skirmish with other telcos.

The target price for Digi shares has been lowered to RM21.30 from RM24.10.

“Digi closed FY08 on a decent note, turning in a respectable set of figures despite challenging economic conditions in the second half of last year with the advent of number portability and price competition,” said OSK in a research note. “While we note that Digi should still deliver on dividends going forward, its earnings appear to be slowing faster than expected.”

FY08 core net profit was RM1.14 billion which represents a 7.3 per cent growth year-on-year. The final dividend of 53 sen per share put the full year dividend at RM1.88 per share which represents a nine per cent yield.

Starhome - forecast of roaming growth

Starhome Predicts Data Roaming Usage Increase - Average of 35-45 Percent

­Roaming services provider, Starhome has predicted that solutions that stimulate roaming traffic and add new data subscribers will be in high demand in 2009. These solutions will increase individual mobile operators’ revenues by up to 40 percent, and operators offering this solution can increase their data roaming usage by an average of 35-45 percent, said Starhome personnel.

Based on discussions with approximately 30 leading operators, its experience in the field and a thorough analysis of data, Starhome has concluded that a strategic shift to an emphasis on mobile roaming data is already underway.

Industry leaders support Starhome’s vision, with Marc Furrer, the Head of Roaming and Interworking at Swisscom, stating that solutions offering flat rates and/or bundles for mobile data roaming will be the “hot solutions for 2009.”

An explosion in mobile roaming data usage is predicted for the immediate future. “Demand for internet access is booming and mobile customers are increasingly focusing on sophisticated handsets and of course the internet,” said Maurizio Martucci, Director of Marketing for Telecom Italia Mobile (TIM Italy). “Our customers want to access the Web’s rich content for many reasons, regardless of whether they are home or abroad.”

In addition to the predicted upsurge in usage, mobile operators are focusing on mobile roaming data due to expected governmental regulations of this new technology, especially in Europe.

Starhome expects the transition for mobile operators to more effective management of mobile roaming data to be fairly straight forward, since the major pieces are already in place. The shares of sales for Advanced/Open OS global handsets are predicted to increase every year until 2012 and feature phones are also proliferating.

“The explosion of the iPhone onto the mobile scene has triggered a massive increase in mobile data usage, both domestically and in the roaming market,” said Furrer. “Many iPhone roamers don’t understand that roaming rates are significantly higher, and they experience ‘bill shock’ when they return home. Transparency and simple pricing schemes are a must for today’s operators.”

The mobile operators who succeed in 2009 will deploy Roaming Control solutions that provide a bundle of services to satisfy all of the users’ data, voice and messaging roaming needs, while helping the operators comply with all relevant regulations, said Amit Daniel, Vice President of Marketing for Starhome. Operators who deploy such a solution will be able to provide flat fees and packages, and notifications with prices, to the end users.

Roaming - with WiMAX

WiMAX Forum announces launch of Global Roaming Program
see also WiMAX Roaming

The WiMAX Forum® today announced the launch of its Global Roaming Program that allows operators and vendors to easily obtain the information required to establish WiMAX™ roaming services. The program is now live and can be easily accessed through a link on the WiMAX Forum public web site at or directly at .

Roaming capabilities are vital for mobility as roaming allows subscribers to access WiMAX and other services while traveling outside their home network geographical coverage area. The WIMAX Forum Global Roaming program includes several documents for WiMAX Forum member companies implementing roaming services, including technical specifications, a test plan, a roaming contract template and a guide to follow when implementing roaming.

“Member companies have yet another tool to facilitate the advancement of their WiMAX technology innovations and make 4G a seamless experience for customers,” said John Dubois, Global Roaming Director of WiMAX Forum. “We are already beginning to see how WiMAX technology will drastically improve the next-generation of broadband applications and services, and this roaming readiness program is another example of how the WiMAX ecosystem is working to extend the availability of services to subscribers.”

The Roaming Program documents were developed by WiMAX Forum members with input from over twenty WiMAX operators and the support of several roaming exchange, clearing and settlement providers including Accuris Networks, Aicent, Comfone, I-Pass, MACH-Cibernet, QuiConnect, Syniverse and Verisign. According to Ali Tabassi, Senior Vice President, Global Ecosystem and Standards with Clearwire, “The Roaming Program provides operators with a much needed set of common specifications and processes to follow in establishing roaming services.” Mr. Sang Ho Ough, Deputy Director of KT Corp’s Mobile WiMAX Business Unit Planning Department, indicated that “KT plans to establish roaming services in 2009 using the specifications and processes provided by the WiMAX Roaming Program.”

WiMAX Forum Certified™ devices contribute to the success of WiMAX global roaming. In order for users to access WiMAX services outside of their operator’s WiMAX network coverage area, devices must be interoperable across other WiMAX networks and between various vendors’ equipment. The WiMAX Forum certification process is important to ensure interoperability of devices across different operators’ networks.

The WIMAX Forum Global Roaming Program includes:

· A “how-to” manual to understand and launch WiMAX roaming services.

· Roaming specifications that include a breakdown of the technical specifications for operators and help to define how operators exchange information to track usage, create invoices, and perform financial settlements.

· A contract template that operators may use when entering into roaming agreements.

· A pre-launch roaming test plan that operators can follow in testing roaming services with other operators when establishing roaming services.

With more than 407 WiMAX deployments in 133 countries, the availability of these critical roaming tools at such an early stage provides extra value to service providers.

A WiMAX Forum mission is to facilitate the adoption of Mobile WiMAX™ by operators across the world and ensure that the products used are interoperable through its certification programs. Toward this end, the WiMAX Forum has been organizing PlugFests since August 2005. Record participation in Mobile WiMAX PlugFests signals of product vendor’s endorsement of fundamental WiMAX equipment functionality to make cost-effective network deployments. WiMAX Forum roaming trials and a Mobile WiMAX /Interoperability Testing (IOT) PlugFest is planned for 2H 2009.

Roaming - Balkans

MobilTel Customers Talk at Low Cost across Balkans

The customers of Bulgaria’s first and largest GSM operator, MobilTel, are offered new low-cost roaming packages M-Tel Balkan Talk and M-Tel Business Balkan Talk. While roaming the Balkans, the users of these two packages will enjoy the lowest possible prices for incoming and outgoing calls in the networks of the following mobile operators: Vip mobile (Serbia), Vip operator (Macedonia), Vodafone (Turkey) and VIP net (Croatia).
M-Tel Balkan Talk with included 60 minutes talking time costs 79 levs (VAT included) and the calls in the networks of the abovementioned operators cost 1.32 levs per minute (VAT included). The business clients of M-Tel who use M-Tel Business Balkan Talk have 60 minutes talking time in roaming for 59 levs (VAT excluded monthly subscription fee). A minute call time in the above listed networks costs 0.98 lev.

Roaming - least cost routing

Professional Roaming Solution, with Intelligent Least Cost Routing
see also CallGSM

Today’s tough economic world demands professional and economic solutions to operate as productive as the market demands. This means that executive and business travellers can't operate with loads of different numbers for contacts and customers to reach them. The clear fact is that if a customer have difficulties to reach a supplier, he will soon go elsewhere to get his demands sorted.

The economic situation for most business sectors also demands more economic control in all departments.

CallGSM Global Ltd. Has solved most of these issues with their new technology, The Global Roaming Phone, with integrated Intelligent Least Cost Routing Solutions. The phone will know when you're trying to do expensive international calls, and then use the best solution to set your call up through tier 1. carriers. The CallGSM Roaming Phone will, either you travelling or doing the “lazy man solution “ to call your international contacts from your office to your international contacts using your mobile, find the best and most economic way to set up your call hassle free and dummy proof.

CallGSM Global have created the first real functional roaming solution for the modern business world, where you operate with your regular business contact number even if you're using their intelligent least cost routing solutions.

It also allow the business finance department or the business owner to hold a much better control over expenses related to telecom, as it can be operated through One Account. Not as other solutions/operators where you would need one account for each country or state.

So to put things simple – Key benefits using CallGSM’s Global Intelligent Roaming Solution

· You keep your regular local business mobile number
· Your reachable through that number through low cost intelligent forwarding
· You can do international calls at very low costs
· You can do phonecalls when travelling at very low costs.
· You have access to voicemail and other shortcodes globally.
· You can download mail and check internet through global low cost GPRS
· And lot of other benefits.

Zain - ending roaming charges for Malawi

Zain assures Malawians of reduced roaming costs

Zain Malawi has assured Malawians who often travel abroad that the costs incurred in communication with people back home, due to exorbitant roaming costs, would soon be a thing of the past as the telecommunications company strategizes to buy out ten more internationally-acclaimed mobile service providers by 2010.

Zain Malawi Marketing Director, Enwell Kadango said in an interview at the end of the K70 million Zanyatwa promotions, some sectors of society had complained of high international communication costs when using the Zain network, a problem he attributed to lack of the company's offices in other up-market areas.

"But this will be a thing of the past very soon because our parent company plans to buy out, at least, 10 more internationally-acclaimed mobile service providers in a bid to increase our global coverage. This will be done by 2010," said Kadango.

He assured customers that the company would continue to offer advanced services, citing the Zanyatwa promotion as a benchmark.

He said no telecoms company had ever run an initiative worth K70 million, and distributed 5000 mobile phones and 10 million airtime vouchers as has happened with the company.

"We have 1.2 million subscribers when other providers have less than 500,000. It really shows that we are ahead of the game, and, with plans to buy out more renowned companies, international costs for communication will be reduced drastically," he added.

Saudi Arabia - roaming offers

Telephone operators offer new sops to lure customers

Telephone operators continue to attract consumers by offering sops through promotion campaigns. Every few days a new promotion campaign is launched with attractive offers.

In order to promote business, these operators often join hands with other commercial establishments and jointly offer attractive offers.
Saudi Telecom (STC) and Jarir Bookstore this week jointly announced the launch of promotion campaign offering ‘free Internet connection for one-month on purchase of a laptop.’

The promo goes like this “free Internet chip with free monthly Internet subscription at all Jarir branches.”

STC, the largest mobile telecom operator in the Middle East and the largest Internet provider in the region, is offering the internet packages in cooperation with Jarir Bookstore, a press statement said.

It said the offer enables customers to receive a free Internet chip without installation or monthly fees in addition to a monthly Internet subscription of Internet package including 1 GB to 5 GB and an open package on purchasing any laptop from Jarir Bookstore.

The offer is unique, it says because it runs without monthly fees facilitating the users to go online anywhere by using the highest speed and technology enabling web-browsing, e-mail access without any restriction.

STC operates the largest and most advanced network covering 98 percent of the Kingdom’s inhabited area in addition to having the most advanced 3G network in the Kingdom. Due to this expansion, STC is considered as one of the fastest growing telecom company in the world, the press statement claimed.

While Mobily, the second mobile-phone license holder announced giving away SR500,000 prizes (SR100,000 each to its five winners) for participants in its roaming competitions during the recent Haj season.

“Mobily gives away five SR100,000 prizes to five winners in its international roaming competition, which the company had launched during the 1429 Haj season,” a press statement said.

The five winners were Ahmed Salem Al-Jaberi (UAE), Maysaa Abbas Ayyoub (Egyptian), Khaled Mohammed Al-Halabi (Qatari), Saeed Hassan Ba-Mashmoos (Yemeni) and Mohammed Yousef Nibi (Indonesian). The five winners were announced at a ceremony attended by a number of Mobily officials and a representative from Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Khalid Al-Kaf, Mobily’s CEO congratulated the winners of the roaming competition and thanked them for using Mobily’s network during their visit to the Kingdom.
He said that Mobily signing of hundreds of roaming agreements with several operators across the world played a crucial role in publicizing “Mobily and making it the network of choice for the Kingdom’s visitors.”

Mobily had announced the international roaming contest in November for Haj 1429 season. Visitors to the Kingdom, whether on Haj, tourism or business that used Mobily’s network were automatically enrolled into the competition

Roaming - Ryanair opens planes for roaming charges

Ryanair Introduces In-Flight Mobile Phone Calls on 20 Planes

Ryanair Holdings Plc introduced technology allowing passengers to make in-flight mobile phone calls, becoming the first discount airline in the world to offer such as service, the Irish company said today.

Voice calls, text-messaging and e-mails will initially be possible on 20 aircraft operating mainly out of Ryanair’s base in Dublin, the carrier said in a statement. The service will be extended across the 170-strong fleet in about 18 months.

Ryanair is betting that the technology will allow it to boost so-called ancillary revenues, the money that it makes aside from ticket sales. Passengers will make and receive voice calls at non-European Union international roaming rates of 1.50 pounds ($2.16) to 3 pounds a minute, according to the statement. Texts will cost 40 pence and e-mails using phones and other devices will cost as much as 2 pounds per message.

“This service will allow passengers to keep in touch with the office, family or friends,” Chief Executive Officer Michael O’Leary said. “We expect demand to grow rapidly.”