Sunday, May 31, 2009

USA: newspaper magnates meet to discuss shifting to a per for web content, but did they violate antitrust 101?

[slate] Are newspapers planning an online conspiracy?The newspaper world has temporarily diverted its gaze from its collective navel to Rosemont, Ill. That's where, reports James Warren in the Atlantic, top executives from major papers have gathered to plot the future of their business. Machers from, among others, the New York Times, Gannett, E.W. Scripps, Advance Publications, McClatchy, Hearst Newspapers, MediaNews Group, the Associated Press, Philadelphia Media Holdings, Lee Enterprises, and Freedom Communication Inc. were scheduled to gather for a "discreet" "discussion about content models," including the possibility of charging for Web content. This comes barely a month after a similar meeting in San Diego, where CEOs at the "Newspaper Association of America convention [held] a clandestine meeting to discuss, among other topics, whether and how to start charging readers to view articles and other content online."

likens the Rosemont confab to the Yalta conference or, perhaps, the infamous 1957 mob summit in Apalachin, N.Y. But if the news honchos aren't very, very careful, the more apt analogy may be a 1994 meeting in a Hawaii hotel room at which representatives of agricultural-products giants gathered under the guise of a trade-association meeting to fix prices for a chemical called lysine—a story that ended up with federal criminal convictions and Archer Daniels Midland and others paying hundreds of millions of dollars in fines (not to mention a movie starring Matt Damon).

Collusion Course: Does today's hush-hush meeting of newspaper executives violate antitrust law?

USA: Far ahead of the tech-adoption curve are "extreme techies" tech innovators at the forefront of adoption behavior

[hollywood reporter] A new Nielsen study focused on broadband-media consumers reveals that these folks are hardly a homogeneous group of gizmo geeks. Because who they are and how they get involved with broadband media can help advertisers and producers figure out how best to market their products, Nielsen did a deep dive into data and came up with eight distinct categories of such consumers.

Far ahead of the tech-adoption curve is what the study terms "extreme techies": tech innovators at the forefront of adoption behavior.

Watching as much as 91 minutes of online video content in an average week, they represent 8% of the adult broadband population in the U.S., or 4.6 million viewers. A good majority watch TV online in addition to regular TV viewing (64%) and have specific targets for online video content (60%). They also own an average of four cross-platform devices, such as console gaming systems and cell phones, to view TV or movie content, with 38% also having connected TV sets to their computers.

These extreme techies are chiefly male (63%), with a mean age of 31 and an average annual household income of $67,000. Also, nearly half (47%) are married, and 57% have children younger than 18 at home.

The study was based on respondents' levels of engagement with video content across TV, online and mobile platforms as well as devices used and attitudes toward using multiple platforms. The other groups as defined by the study are modern media mavens, trendsetters, on-the-go time-shifters, TV-seeking enthusiasts, TV-devoted online socializers, all-around traditionalists and entertainment indifferents.

Although each is unique in its behavioral pattern, the TV-devoted online socializers segment stands out as an example of conservative behavior. Compared with extreme techies, consumers in this group are older (mean age 47), skew female (57%), are less financially well off ($49,000 annual household income) and much less likely to stream video (28 minutes per week).

Rather, they are extremely loyal to their TV sets, watching 47 hours of TV each week compared with 21 hours for the extreme techies. Also, one-third are not using alternative platforms for TV or film content. They use other media like the Internet only to send e-mails to friends and family.

"Results of the study can help networks answer the 'how' and 'why' questions behind TV ratings," said Linda LaVigne, senior director of research at the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing, the client for which the study was undertaken.

Titled "Crossing Over: Understanding Television's Multi-Screen Migration," the study surveyed those in Nielsen's MegaPanel to capture a complete range of online behaviors and used a new segmentation model to describe digital consumers in today's fast-evolving marketplace.

Study looks at early adopters: Broadband-media consumers fall into distinct categories
see also Crossing Over: Understanding Television's Multi-Screen Migration

USA: anyone seeking broadband stimulus funds has to file written documentation if speak to officials

[the hill] Lobbyists and government watchdogs are applauding revisions made by the White House on Friday to lobbying restrictions on stimulus funds.

After completing a 60-day review last week, the administration modified the rules to extend a speaking ban not just to lobbyists but to others who contact government officials about specific stimulus projects. But that ban only occurs now after a grant application has been filed for the project.

Those interested in the project have to file their views in writing with administration officials, which will then be disclosed on the Internet. All contacts with lobbyists will still have to be disclosed, though.

The changes were announced in a blog post by Norm Eisen, the special counsel to President Obama for ethics and government reform, on the White House’s website Friday evening.

Originally, the speaking ban on stimulus projects was only for registered federal lobbyists, which led to anger on K Street for being singled out by the White House. The changes seem to have won over some of the administration's harshest critics.

“These new rules put everyone on an equal footing, which is all that we ever asked for,” said Dave Wenhold, president of the American League of Lobbyists (ALL) and co-founder of Miller/Wenhold Capitol Strategies.

“ALL supports transparency and accountability on anyone, registered lobbyists or non lobbyists, petitioning our government,” Wenhold said.

ALL was joined by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in a coalition that campaigned for changes.

One concern of the coalition was that lobbying by those not registered as lobbyists, such as lawyers or consultants, was not being disclosed under the restrictions. That seems to be answered by the amendments, though.

“With this new restriction, the White House has leveled the playing field to ensure that corporate bigwigs and major donors who do not register as lobbyists do not benefit from an inside track unavailable to those less politically influential,” said Melanie Sloan, CREW’s executive director.

Other public interest groups praised the changes as well.

“This policy is designed to ensure that the massive infusion of government funds to stimulate the economy is spent openly, by the books and with the public’s interest in mind,” said David Arkush, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch.

Another worry was that banning speech from a class of individuals created a constitutional conflict. Some groups who lobbied against the restrictions are still concerned that the ban remains in place, though it has been extended to everyone, not just lobbyists, interested in specific stimulus projects.

“Today the White House took a welcomed first step in reforming its lobbying restrictions,” said Michael Macleod-Ball, ACLU’s chief legislative and policy counsel. “It is disconcerting that there must be any ban on oral communications.”

Others said they would need to review the new rules further.

“We appreciate that the Administration listened to input and made some significant changes, narrowing the scope of the direct-contact prohibition and applying it equally to everyone,” said Steven Law, general counsel for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “At the same time, we are concerned that lobbyists still appear to be treated differently with respect to the requirement that officials have to disclose certain discussions with lobbyists that they do not have to disclose for non-lobbyists.”

Law said the Chamber plans to analyze the new provisions and see whether they might have a “chilling effect” on government officials wanting to meet with lobbyists.

According to Eisen, the Office of Management and Budget is working on issuing detailed guidance for the amended lobbying restrictions and is consulting other federal agencies and outside experts to help in its drafting.

K Street, watchdogs praise new lobbying rules

Cloud computing: Sun is creating its own public cloud platform and beginning to roll out services

[eweek] Sun Microsystems, which is in the process of creating its own public cloud offering, is rolling out a host of services designed to help businesses evaluate their readiness for cloud computing, and then to help them build a road-map to reach that goal. The cloud computing services are part of Sun’s $1 billion professional services business. The moves come as Oracle prepares to buy Sun for $7.4 billion in a deal expected to close this summer.

As Sun Microsystems continues to work on its upcoming public cloud computing platform, the company is beginning to roll out services around the burgeoning technology trend.

Sun Launches Cloud Services Portfolio
see also Sun Cloud Computing

Business Continuity Survey: AT&T notes the challenges of social networking and mobility

[PRNewswire] The dramatic rise in social networking and mobility trends is presenting new challenges and considerations to companies' network security, disaster planning and business continuity programs. The good news: businesses are stepping up their technology investment and efforts to meet these challenges despite the economy; and mobile devices are increasingly part of business continuity plans. These are some of the findings to emerge from AT&T's annual study on business continuity and disaster recovery preparedness for U.S. businesses in the private sector.

For the eighth consecutive year, AT&T surveyed IT executives from companies throughout the United States that have at least $25 million in annual revenue to get their views on disaster planning and business continuity trends. Sixty-eight percent of the companies surveyed this year have locations outside of the U.S.

2009 AT&T Business Continuity Study Key Findings:

-- 2009 IT Spending Trends and Investment in New Technologies. Two-thirds
(65%) of all executives indicate that their companies will be investing
in new technologies for 2009. Investment tends to focus on new
equipment and a variety of software, storage and security upgrades.

When looking at IT spending trends for this year, forty percent of
executives surveyed indicated that their IT budgets are expected to be
lower this year than in the previous two years, while nearly one-fourth
(24%) indicated that budgets will be higher. Interestingly, companies
with business continuity plans in place are significantly more likely
than those without plans to anticipate budget increases (32% compared
to 11%).

-- Mobility Considerations Emerge. Sixty-seven percent of executives
indicate that wireless network capabilities are part of their business
continuity plan. Furthermore, nearly half (46%) stated that mobile
devices play a major role in their plan's considerations.

-- Social Networking Heightens Security Threats. Three out of four
executives surveyed are concerned about the increased use of social
networking capabilities' potential impact on network security. Forty-
four percent allow employees access to such social networking sites.
However, hacking still continues to be listed as the biggest security
risk to companies (30% compared with 3% for social networking).

Business Continuity Planning Trends

One-third of companies surveyed have used their business continuity plan that is in place. Nationally, companies are most likely to invoke their business continuity plan due to extreme weather (25%) or power outages at facilities (19%). When looking at the five markets surveyed, companies in Houston and Miami/Orlando/Tampa are significantly more likely to have invoked their business continuity plan (52% and 51% respectively, compared with 36% nationally). These results are not surprising considering these regions have been hit the hardest with hurricanes.

Nearly seventy-four percent of businesses surveyed set target recovery times for their key business processes (compared with sixty-seven percent in 2008), an indication that businesses understand not only is it important to have a plan in place, but that plan needs to identify goals and expectations for recovery should it be invoked. In the event of a natural or man-made disaster, these companies have special arrangements for communicating with key executives spanning voice, email and text-messaging.

In addition, the study found that companies have put increased attention to not only their own business continuity plans but those of their key partners and suppliers. One-third of the respondents require suppliers and other vendors to have a business continuity plan in place in order to do business with their company.

"In today's business environment, connectivity cannot be disrupted, which is why business continuity planning and disaster recovery efforts are paramount," said Bill Archer, chief marketing officer - AT&T Business Solutions. "The top three lessons learned by the executives we surveyed who have experienced a disaster include: having a plan in place is critical; increase back-up systems to ensure no data loss; and have multiple means of communication available. AT&T is focused on helping our customers stay connected with their employees and customers no matter if and when disaster strikes."

AT&T offers a wide array of business continuity services, encompassing disaster planning, risk management, recovery preparedness and communications readiness. AT&T Business Continuity Services are comprehensive, providing enterprises with business-impact analysis, risk assessments, hosting and application services, a full continuum of storage solutions, high-availability network solutions and network and IT security solutions.

AT&T also conducts several Network Disaster Recovery (NDR) exercises a year - the next one to be held on July 14 - 15 in Washington, D.C. These events are designed to test, refine and strengthen AT&T's business continuity and disaster recovery services in order to minimize network downtime. By simulating large-scale disasters and network service disruptions, AT&T can apply and refine best practices for rapidly restoring communications to government and business customers.

For more than a decade, AT&T has invested more than $500 million in its NDR program, which includes specially trained managers, engineers and technicians from across the United States, as well as a fleet of more than 300 self-contained equipment trailers and support vehicles that house the same equipment and components as an AT&T data-routing or voice-switching center.

AT&T Study: Business Continuity Planning Evolves With Emerging Technologies
see also AT&T 2009 Business Continuity Study

USA: NTIA chief promise to develop accurate metrics for the $7.2Bn broadband stimulus package

[techdailydose] Larry Strickling, President Obama's pick to head the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, said his agency should develop metrics "to accurately and demonstrably" show whether the $7.2 billion in broadband funds contained in the economic stimulus package are being used appropriately and whether the program is achieving the goals established under the statute. His comments on the program were part of written responses to questions asked by Senate Commerce ranking member Kay Bailey Hutchison after his confirmation hearing Tuesday. The committee approved his nomination and that of Aneesh Chopra, Obama's choice to become the government's first chief technology officer, on Wednesday afternoon.

"There are a number of outcomes that could be used to show that unserved communities benefit from this program, including households passed with broadband service, speed of Internet service, jobs created, affordability of broadband offerings, and adoption of broadband service," Strickling wrote, noting NTIA will require grant recipients to regularly report their progress. In addition to transferring $10 million to the inspector general for oversight, NTIA has pursued transparency through public meetings and by soliciting public comment, he said. If confirmed, Strickling said he would ensure a "robust program of inspection and audits" is implemented and as the program expands, will provide information about applicants and recipients as well as quarterly reports.

Strickling also pledged to work with the committee to "find the most appropriate way to prevent copyright piracy and other illegal activities" in connection with the stimulus mandate that funded networks adhere to yet-to-be-determined "openness" requirements. "Although the Internet has, of course, fundamentally altered our lives for the better, as you know, every year billions of dollars in stolen copyrighted works are exchanged over the Internet," Hutchison warned.

Strickling: Stimulus Will Be Spent Wisely

Uganda: the regulator has decided to delay the introduction of mobile number portability because of the costs

[cellular news] ­Uganda's telecoms regulator, the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) says that it does not see the need for mobile number portability in the market in the near-term future. The regulator was commenting on a study it commissioned last year.

"At this stage, number portability is not something we see as a remedy in this market," Patrick Masambu, the executive director of the UCC, told Computerworld. "We carried out a study into this and we have the conclusion that there is a certain subscriber sum we need before we introduce number portability because of the costs involved."

He added though that once the country has passed the 10 million subscriber mark, then MNP could be viable. Based on figures from the Mobile World analysts, the country ended last year with around 8.5 million subscribers (although that has since passed 9 million), which represents a population penetration level of 28%.

Uganda Wont See Number Portability Until at Least Next Year

Zimbabwe: Powertel will provide a CDMA service in Bulawayo this year

[sunday mail] POWERTEL Communications — a unit of Zesa Holdings — is set to roll out its Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) in Bulawayo before the end of the year.

CDMA is a competing cellphone service technology to Global Satellite Mobile (GSM) and uses a "spread-spectrum" technique whereby electromagnetic energy is spread to enable a signal with a wider bandwidth.

Before, the service was only confined to Harare.

The Sunday Mail Business understands that the telecommunications company has already sourced two base stations that will form the backbone for the service in the country’s second biggest city.

Presently setting up a base station in Zimbabwe costs between US$190 000 and US$270 000 depending on the equipment that is used.

According to Zesa spokesperson Mr Fullard Gwasira, provision of the service is now viable because of the use of a stable currency.

"We are working on the logistics, but we are working at introducing the CDMA service in Bulawayo as part of our national rollout project. We will definitely be expanding to other areas as well.

"It must be considered that we have an obligation to provide these services to the public as a social responsibility and also to break even," explained Mr Gwasira.

Powertel is working to strategically position itself in the telecommunications industry and is leveraging its projects on a strategic relationship it has with ZTE Corporation.

It is believed that availing CDMA in Bulawayo will help business and commerce as it will help to bridge the gap that has been formed by vandalism of TelOne equipment.

Experts note that CDMA’s spread spectrum signal provides the greatest coverage in the wireless industry, allowing networks to be built with far fewer cell sites than is possible with other wireless technologies.

The fewer cell sites naturally result in reduced operating expenses, a development that results in savings for both operators and consumers.

In addition, CDMA allows the largest number of subscribers to share the same radio frequencies, helping service providers increase their profitability, while the spread spectrum technology can provide up to 10-20 times the capacity of analog equipment and more than three times the capacity of other digital platforms.

Most often the technology has been used for "seamless widespread roaming coverage".

In 2005, Powertel Communications signed a US$35 million deal with a Chinese manufacturer for the supply of equipment for its national fibre network rollout programme.

According to the journal African Economic Outlook, mobile telephony operators have generally concentrated their investments on second generation networks in Africa and will now probably recover this money before getting into third generation high-speed networks, even if licences are granted.

In early 2009, there were five million subscribers — with 2,3 percent of the total subscribers in Africa — for services with Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) and WCDMA High Speed Packet Access (HSPA).

Much of the investment has been widely concentrated in South Africa.

In particular, South Africa, Libya and Egypt make up to 82 percent of third generation connections in Africa.

Second generation Global System for Mobile (GSM) communications account for 96 percent of subscriptions and Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) technology is only used by 1,5 percent, but some operators have adopted CDMA because it requires less capital investments.

Problems in the provision of CDMA in the region have been affected by high charges.

Sub-Saharan Africa has some of the highest internet charges in the world.

A survey from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and World Bank estimates notes that the average price of a broadband connection in Sub-Saharan Africa is about US$110 for 100 kilobytes per second.

In Europe and Central Asia the price averages US$20, while in Latin America and the Caribbean it is an estimated US$7.

Middle East and North African countries pay below US$30 per 100 kilobyte per second.

Powertel to introduce CDMA in Bulawayo

Gartner: Wave is potentially a major disruptive discontinuity, a clean sheet design Wave will force others to do new clean sheet projects

[gartner] Google inspires and frustrates, leads and lags, marches to the beat of a different (non-enterprise) drummer and wants everyone (including enterprises) to love and adore it.

What a mix! I have been looking at Google Wave and I am really, really impressed. At the same time, I have serious misgivings about whether Google understands what it needs to do to succeed with enterprises (I have research note that’s about to pop out – probably will appear around 3 June).

Wave is potentially a major disruptive discontinuity, a clean sheet design. It will be darned near impossible for vendors of existing or earlier-generation products to morph their products to effectively emulate this. Wave will force others to do new clean sheet projects.

Unfortunately, the first on the block with an entirely new, disruptive discontinuity, isn’t always the long term winner.

This is *so* refreshing and, if the design gets sticky in the consumer market, its impact will be convulsive in large enterprises. This isn’t just a new product or service. It’s a new way of working. Google’s right to focus this on consumers (not enterprises, not for the next few years).

Will the Google Wave inspire a Revolution?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

McKinsey - CIOs and CTOs should take the lead in explaining how IT infrastructure creates business value—especially in challenging times

[McKinsey Quarterly] The scale of corporate IT infrastructure has increased dramatically over the past decade and a half. At many companies, it has moved from basements with a few dozen servers to sophisticated data centers with thousands or tens of thousands of them. Networked storage hardly existed in the early ’90s but today consumes tens of millions of dollars in large IT organizations.

There are good reasons for this expansion. Infrastructure runs the applications that process transactions, handles the customer data that yield market insights, and supports the analytical tools that help executives and managers make and communicate the decisions shaping complex organizations. In fact, infrastructure has made possible much of the corporate growth and rising productivity of recent years.

Where IT infrastructure and business strategy meet

McKinsey - How CIOs should think about business value

[McKinsey Quarterly] If there’s any issue that routinely frustrates executives in many organizations, it’s how to get a true fix on the value that information technology adds to the businesses it serves. IT is undoubtedly central to creating value and therefore continues to account for a rising share of total investment. But defining, measuring, and maximizing that value remain elusive. To throw light on this crucial issue, McKinsey collaborated with CIGREF to study the best practices of major French and international companies across various sectors.

We interviewed 11 CIOs from French companies over a period from March 2007 to November 2007. The in-depth nature of these interviews provided valuable insights, as it allowed us to draw directly from the experiences of CIOs—many of whose companies have successfully used IT to gain competitive advantage. Analyzing their approaches to information technology helps to show how it can promote economic performance. We complemented these insights with international case examples.

How CIOs should think about business value

Micro-blogging: Is Google Wave a Twitter Killer?

[cio] While the world has focused on Google Wave as a mash-up of chat, e-mail, and document sharing, it's really something else: Google Wave could be the Twitter that everyone really wants. Maybe it's the Facebook, too.

Shown for the first time on Thursday at Google's I/O developer conference, Wave is described as "equal part conversation and document" for its uses as a collaboration tool. But, the leap from what Google says Wave is today to what it can easily become is a short one.

If Google wants to compete, head-to-head, with Twitter and Facebook, Wave is the perfect start. It may not be a competitor when it first becomes publicly available, perhaps because the merging of documents, feeds, photos, e-mail, instant messaging, event planning, and other features is likely to seem so unfamiliar to users.

It will likely take time before would-be users really understand what Wave does and can be used for. How much time? Months, not years.

Then give Wave a more public face--documents, chats, IMs, etc.--to be shared with everyone on your contact list or the world at-large and Wave does everything Facebook and Twitter do. And more.

It is not a foregone conclusion this will happen. Outside its core search business and related tools, Google has faced an uphill battle for user acceptance. However, Wave, by combining so many otherwise separate Google features, could finally provide the compelling experience users seek.

Is Google Wave a Twitter Killer?
see also Google wave

Europe: Traffic data retention Directive being challenged in Sweden

[cio] Sweden is being sued by the European Commission for not implementing a European Union directive requiring network operators to retain details of phone calls and e-mail messages. Instead of hurrying up the implementation process, some politicians view the suit as an opportunity to challenge the directive's consistency with the European Convention on Human Rights.

Sweden would show real European leadership if it were to see to it that the data retention directive is consistent with the European Convention on Human Rights, wrote Camilla Lindberg, a member of the Swedish parliament for the Liberal Party, and Erik Josefsson, a candidate for the European Parliament for the Left Party, in an article for the newspaper Svenska Dagladet.

The two debated whether general data retention is consistent with what is necessary in a democratic society, and say that the current directive is a bad and expensive tool when it comes to protecting citizen freedoms and rights. Lindberg and Josefsson think that the directive goes against the European Convention on Human Rights, and that the European Court of Justice would agree.

The two politicians also underscored the fact that other countries have been slow to implement the data retention law. Austria, Greece, Ireland, the Netherlands and Poland are also late, they said.

Swedish Minister of Justice Beatrice Ask told Svenska Dagbladet that the implementation of the data retention directive isn't her favorite project, but a bill is on the way and will be ready soon.

Anything related to personal integrity on the Internet has in the wake of the Pirate Bay file-sharing trial become a hot-button issue in Sweden. The Pirate Party, which is not affiliate with the Pirate Bay, received about 8 percent of the votes, making it the third largest party, in a recent poll ahead of elections to the European Parliament. The party focuses on Internet-related issues.

Also, on Tuesday Swedish Minister of Culture Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth was criticized for praising the guilty verdict that was handed down against the people behind the Pirate Bay.

Swedish Politicians Challenge EU Data Retention Directive

LBS: Ericsson is courting major banks with a security service to cut down on credit card fraud by using mobile phone location

IDG News Service — Ericsson is courting major banks with a security service the company thinks could cut down on credit card fraud as well as eliminate an inconvenience for travelers using cards overseas.

Banks are increasingly blocking credit card transactions in certain high-risk countries due to increasingly levels of fraud. A business traveler who lives in the U.K. but goes to Russia can likely have a transaction rejected if the person hasn't informed the credit card company of their travel plans. It's embarrassing and inconvenient.

Ericsson's IPX Country Lookup service uses a person's mobile phone to provide a confirmation that a person is actually in the country where the transaction is carried out, said Peter Garside, U.K. and Ireland regional manager for Ericsson's IPX products.

For the service to work, Ericsson's technology must be installed on a mobile operator's network. Once installed, Ericsson will pay the operator a "small fee" every time a bank wants to verify a certain transaction by one of their customer's mobile phones, Garside said. Ericsson will then put a margin on the lookup fee and charge that to banks, he said. The lookup fee hasn't been set yet.

Mobile Phone Location Technology Fights Card Fraud

Enterprise mobility: RIM came out on top of a security assessment

[eweek] Research In Motion came out on top in a security assessment of enterprise mobility solutions.

In a new report on the importance of robust security within mobile deployments from Lopez Research, President Maribel Lopez, a former Forrester Research analyst, offers an assessment of the security offerings from Apple, RIM and Windows Mobile.

Lopez rates each company’s offering by three criteria—device, network and transmission—on a scale of 0 to 4, and finally offers an overall mobile security rating.

Apple met with a goose egg on the device side, with Lopez noting that the operating system can be compromised, on-device encryption is lacking and the iPhone lacks over-the-air updates.

Networking, Apple’s strongest category, received three out of four points. “Uses the same active directory based on authentication methods as Windows Mobile,” Lopez wrote. Overall, however, Apple received a 1 out of 4 rating.

“The original iPhone had numerous security holes that were improved by the July 2008 release, such as remote wipe, password policy enforcement and VPN,” Lopez wrote in her overall assessment, finally concluding that “Enterprises should proceed with caution and limit the use of iPhones, especially for sensitive data.”

Microsoft Windows Mobile fared better, in Lopez’s assessment, with an overall rating of 3 out of 4.

“Microsoft’s solution leverages the existing infrastructure, such as Active Directory, to manage Windows Mobile capable devices, meaning IT can manage the system with familiar tools and capabilities,” she said.

She continued, “It also recently achieved common criteria certification EAL 2+ for Windows Mobile 6.1 in August of 2008. The combination of MDM and a VPN provides a reasonable security solution for firms that would like to use Windows Mobile devices.”

Devices was Microsoft’s lowest-scoring category, receiving 2 out of 4 points for reasons such as supporting OTA updates (good!) but not having on-device encryption (not so good).

The star of Lopez’s assessment was RIM, which scored 4 out of 4 in each category, for an overall rating of the same.

“RIM offers strong security protection across the device, transmission and the network domains through tight control of the device, its software and its application control policies,” Lopez wrote. “While other vendors have stepped up security efforts in the past year, RIM offers the most robust security solution.”

In conclusion, Lopez stated that, in truth, it’s unlikely that firms will use a single mobile vendor or OS for all their smartphones. More important than standardizing on a single platform, she concluded, is attempting to “provide a consistent level of security across platforms."

Research In Motion Tops Security Assessment
See also Lopez Research report

Mobile apps: China Mobile is seeking 50% of sales on its forthcoming mobile market app

[telecomasia] China Mobile is seeking a 50% cut of all sales from its soon-to-launch Mobile Market app store.

“China Mobile wants at least 50% of the revenues and the rest goes to the developer,” a source from Shanghai Mobile, a China Mobile subsidiary, told

By contrast, Apple, Android and Microsoft all take just a 30% cut.

The Mobile Market is now being developed by the China Mobile-controlled Aspire Technologies and China Mobile’s Guangdong branch, the source said.

It is likely to go live in September, almost certainly making it the world’s first carrier-operated storefront. UK-based Vodafone has planned to open a store by year-end.

The Mobile Market will allow developers to post apps for all handset OS except the iPhone. It will be accessible from both GSM and TD-SCDMA phones.

Baoding-based Zhu Lianxing, who leads a team named “139.ME” to develop iPhone apps, said the group would submit two Window Mobile apps – one that provides driver’s license practice tests and the Love Forecast, a personal ovulation calendar.

Zhu said the biggest challenge for China Mobile would be to provide a consistent user experience across different phone models and OSes.

“If we develop an app for Apple, it runs on both the iPhone and the iPod touch. Now we have to develop one app for each OS,” he said.

China Mobile seeks 50% of app store sales

Mobile: coupons to be tried by Unilever for its consumers

[moco] The notion of offering coupons via mobile phones has been bandied about since the earliest days of the wireless web, but now it looks like mainstream brands are increasingly convinced that consumers are willing to give them a try. On Sunday, FMCG giant Unilever will kick off a trial powered by mobile marketing startup that will let consumers redeem coupons by having a supermarket cashier scan their phones. The four-week long test will be conducted at a ShopRite supermarket in Hillsborough, N.J., and if successful, will be rolled out to more stores.

Why now? Unilever director of integrated marketing Marc Shaw acknowledged to the that mobile coupons were “a Holy Grail thing that people have been trying to figure out,” but said that he believed that they were “on target for where consumers’ heads are at right now.”

Still, there are a lot of hurdles standing in the way, even if consumers are more cost-conscious and increasingly more comfortable about using their phones for more than calls. First of all, consumers interested in the coupons must go to’s web site, find the coupons, and then transmit them onto their web-enabled phone. Some, like Andy Murray, head of in-store-marketing agency Saatchi & Saatchi X, believe this is just too big a hassle for consumers to be bothered with. Redeeming also has its issues. Murray told the, “Shoppers have a time budget, a money budget and a frustration budget.”

As for brands, many are still apparently worried about the potential for entry errors and other technological issues. Mobile coupons either require a cashier to manually enter a code shown on the phone, which can be a slow process, while not many stores have the equipment yet to easily scan the coupons by swiping the phone.

Still, if all goes well and a consumer clears all the hurdles and the redemption works fine, cellphone coupons are returning far higher redemption rates than paper ones. Cellfire, another mobile coupon company that works with supermarket chains Kroger’s and Safeway unit Randalls Food Markets, said their coupons had redemption rates in the mid-teens. Paper ones typically have rates of less than 1 percent.

Unilever To Trial Mobile Coupons

USA: Americans consume video on the best of the 3 screens, watching more mobile video

[nielsen] Americans may choose to consume video on the “best screen available,” yet traditional TV remains the screen of choice.

The recent results of Nielsen’s Three Screen Report - a quarterly analysis from Nielsen’s Anywhere Anytime Media Measurement initiative (A2/M2) - show that the average American watches approximately 153 hours of TV every month at home, a 1.2% increase from last year. In addition, the 131 million Americans who watch video on the Internet watch on average about 3 hours of video online each month at home and work. The 13.4 million Americans who watch video on mobile phones watch on average about 3 ½ hours of mobile video each month.

Americans Watching More TV Than Ever; Web and Mobile Video Up too

Pakistan: The prevalence of GSM networks in Pakistan war-torn regions

[idg] When the international aid group Telecoms sans Frontieres arrived in war-torn northwest Pakistan earlier this month, it found something that isn't usually in the distressed areas where TSF typically works: Five mobile networks.

The networks, which cover parts of the border region where Taliban insurgents are fighting with Pakistan's army, are all based on GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) and offer data services as fast as EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution), according to Oisin Walton, head of the TSF mission. He and other aid workers are able to use the Web and exchange e-mail through tethered phones, though at typical speeds of 27Kb per second, Walton said.

It's a world of difference from the group's relief efforts after the 2005 earthquake in nearby Kashmir, where cellular networks were thin to start with and had all been destroyed in the quake. But that's not to diminish the size or importance of TSF's current task.

An estimated 2.5 million people have been forced from their homes over the past several months in the region, where government forces have been cracking down on the Taliban. Many of these domestic refugees, or internally displaced persons (IDPs), have found hosts within local communities. But about 20,000 families, or 140,000 people, are staying in camps, Walton said. Most of them can't call relatives to exchange news and ask for assistance because, even if they have cell phones, they have no electricity to charge them with.

TSF's mission since its founding about 10 years ago has been to bring communications to people affected by natural or human-made disasters. The group also gives some aid workers voice and data connections in these areas. Its work is partly funded by the United Nations Foundation and mobile operator Vodafone. Walton described TSF as the only nongovernmental organization (NGO) specializing in emergency telecommunications that serves both kinds of users.

The usually dry subject of networking takes on a different meaning in the world where TSF's engineers work. They move around frequently, setting up and tearing down infrastructure depending on local needs and security conditions, and often need to set up satellite systems to reach the outside world on a few days' notice. The conflict in Pakistan has presented some special challenges.

"The difficulty here is that our staff is a target for the insurgents, so we can't take any risks," Walton said. It's not considered safe for anyone who looks like a Westerner to travel in the regions most affected by the fighting, he said. As a result, Walton has reduced his team of four to just two. They arrived in Pakistan on May 18 and haven't yet been able to provide any assistance. Because of security conditions and the availability of the commercial cellular networks, TSF has formed a rare partnership with a local NGO to help out with the mission.

The first step will be an expedition to gauge the level of need and the availability of cellular coverage in the area where the camps are located. That trip has been postponed several times because of security concerns but is now set to begin Monday. So far, TSF has relied on information from relief workers and other sources to find out where coverage is good, unreliable or unavailable, Walton said.

TSF next will set up temporary stations in each IDP camp where people can make free three-minute phone calls. Many of the IDPs have relatives in the Middle East, the U.K. and the U.S. The cost is remarkably low on GSM, about 1 Pakistani rupee (US$0.012) per minute for domestic calls and 2 rupees to the U.S., Walton said. Where cellular coverage isn't available, the group will provide Inmarsat Mini-M satellite phones, which are easy to use and offer digital voice calling as well as fax, e-mail and data transfer at 2400 bits per second, he said. Satellite calls cost about $1 per minute.

After serving the displaced people in the camps, the group will go on to set up services for those staying in homes, who are more likely to have access to phones through their hosts, Walton said.

But the need is likely to be most critical in areas where none of the five cellular networks is available, either because of remoteness or war damage, Walton said. These are the areas closest to the front, where people who have fled their native mountains are living at lower elevations with temperatures above 40 degrees Centigrade (100 degrees Fahrenheit), he said.

"If there's no GSM, they've had no chance of giving news, and they're in a camp, in very difficult circumstances," Walton said.

Pakistan War Strains Telecom Aid Group

Netbooks: Cannibalisation of laptop computer sales by lower-priced netbooks is currently about 20 percent "less than speculation"

[zdnet] Cannibalisation of laptop computer sales by lower-priced netbooks is currently about 20 percent, "less than speculation", Intel's European sales chief told Reuters on the fringes of a company event.

Christian Morales said netbook sales were about 16 percent of all notebook sales globally, and a little higher in western Europe. In Britain and Italy they may account for as much as a quarter of all notebook sales, he said on Wednesday.

Intel has for now cornered the fast-growing market for inexpensive netbooks, made for simple functions such as surfing the web, with its Atom processors. Many fear that that fast market growth may be at the expense of higher-priced laptops.

"We have seen some cannibalisation of Celeron by Atom," Morales said in a presentation to analysts in London, referring to Intel's processors for budget notebooks.

He said Intel's profit margins for Atom were higher than those for the much older Celeron processors.

Twenty percent cannibalisation would mean that 20 percent of netbooks sold would otherwise have been sales of full notebooks.

Stacy Smith, finance chief of the world's biggest chipmaker, said notebooks would be Intel's main growth driver for years to come, propelled by a continuing trend towards mobility.

Morales reiterated that inventories, which had been built up by electronics makers and retailers who had underestimated the impact of the recession, were now seen in balance with demand.

"From an inventory standpoint, we think it is really optimised for current levels of business," he said. "Supply-chain confidence is much higher."

Morales said eastern Europe and Turkey were currently the weakest areas of his Europe, Middle East and Africa patch, although Russia and the other former Soviet CIS states had seen some improvement in the past weeks.

He said he saw greater potential to sell inexpensive netbooks in Africa if the cost of internet access, which he said was more than $100 (£60) a month in most of the continent, could be brought down.

"This is where we are working very actively with governments," he said.

Netbook cannibalisation of notebook market 'at 20pc'

Mobile: Microwave as backhaul is losing ground to Ethernet to support 3G and LTE

[cdn] While microwave will remain the most common last mile link medium, Ethernet is playing an increasing role in supporting backhaul needs for cellular and WiMAX networks. Over half of cellular backhaul capacity will use Ethernet by the end of 2011, reports In-Stat. The transition to Ethernet will vary by region, depending on where mobile operators are in their transition to 3G and LTE networks.

“Backhaul is getting renewed attention as mobile operators plan for a more data intensive network,” says Daryl Schoolar, In-Stat analyst. “The old voice-based solutions can not support the growth in data traffic operators currently face.”

Cellular backhaul provides that crucial link between the mobile operator’s radio access network and its core network. Some of the key findings from In-Stat’s new research are:

90,000 Gbps of capacity in the last mile of the backhaul network will be needed by the end of 2013 to support the worlds cellular and WiMAX networks.

In Asia/Pacific, the cellular backhaul last mile backhaul capacity for LTE will be 2,500 Gbps in 2013.

Scalability is very important for operators when selecting a backhaul solution. Operators want a clear and easy path to increase backhaul capacity.

For voice over Ethernet, operators are starting to focus on IEEE 1588v2 and Synchronous Ethernet.

Over Half of Cellular Backhaul Capacity will be Ethernet by the End of 2011
See also In-Stat research Big Pipes—The Global Market for Cellular/WiMAX Backhaul

Lebanon: HSPA+ to be launched by the Alfa Group bringing mobile broadband

[zawya] Alfa CEO and chairman Samer Salameh said Thursday that Lebanon is going to be among the first countries in the world to launch the HSPA plus technology, which offers over 20 megabits per second data speed over cellular. "By the end of this year, we will be launching HSPA plus in Lebanon, which offers data speed of over 20 megabits per second over cellular. It is 20 times faster than anything available now in Lebanon, and even 50 times faster than what is called high speed today," Salameh told The Daily Star. "Austria and Australia are the only countries that have launched this service so far, and Lebanon is going to be the first to launch it in the Middle East."

HSPA plus is an upcoming wireless broadband standard which provides data rates up to 42 and 11 megabits per second in the downlink and uplink respectively with multiple input, multiple output technologies and higher order modulation.

"This technology is used for watching videos and you can actually walk around and see the person you are talking to," said Salameh. "You can even download an entire movie in less than five minutes," he added.

These remarks came during the 11th annual Arabcom summit held at Habtoor Grand Hotel in Beirut. Arabcom is the only summit in the region where ministers, regulators, operators, investors and decision makers meet to discuss the challenges facing the telecommunications sector in the Arab world.

Salameh believes that Lebanon is so far behind in the telecom sector, and the products and services that are offered in Lebanon today used to be offered 10 years ago in the US.

"In a way, this is bad but in many other ways it is good because we now know what works and what doesn't work. Today the technology is stable, we are able to jump ahead and offer in a very short period of time all the products and services that have taken years and years to mature overseas," he said. "The bad news is that we're very far behind but the good news is that we will be able to catch up very soon," he added.

Amer Tabsh, a professional technical adviser, agreed that Lebanon is far behind other countries when it comes to broadband connectivity.

"Broadband policies in Lebanon should be changed and everybody should be able to have access to fast broadband connectivity and the services that come along," he said. "Other countries have a minimum of 1 or 2 megabit connection speed while in Lebanon we're still using the 256 and 512 kilobytes connections, which are no longer available in other countries," he added.

"We're not even using e-government solutions in Lebanon, which provide citizens with services that would facilitate their paperwork with the government and save a lot of time," said Tabsh.

He believes that the telecommunications infrastructure in Lebanon is too small and does not support the huge amount of subscribers. "The telecom infrastructure should be expanded because it is unacceptable to experience a cease in the network's operations when people send a lot of messages on holidays for example," he said. "This does not happen in any other country in the world," he added.

It is also surprising, according to Tabsh, that Lebanon is not using the 3rd generation technology which aims to provide mobile users, wherever they may be, with the same high-speed services offered by broadband. He said that the mobile user can access high-speed Internet, videoconferencing, and basic video/TV services when using 3G technology. "Other countries have started to use the 4th generation technology," he added.

Telecommunications Minister Gibran Bassil signed during the summit contracts with five firms that want to set up international call centers in Lebanon. Among the firms which intend to set up call centers are Carmen Company, Hilmarsen and Speedn.

Lebanon set to launch HSPA plus high-speed Internet

Jordan: TRG needed time to consider 3G bid from JTG

[zawya] The Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) Wednesday said that it needs a "few days" to study a technical offer by the Jordan Telecom Group (JTG), the sole bidder for the country's first Third Generation frequencies licence, before announcing the result of the tender.

The commission was scheduled to announce the results of the tender it floated in March for the 3G licence yesterday, but a TRC source said they needed more time.

"We have to study some documents attached to the group's technical offer, which means we need few days before making a decision."

The source, who preferred anonymity, told The Jordan Times over the phone yesterday that the TRC will open the JTG's financial offer only when it finishes studying the technical offer.

Asked about the delay in announcing the result, the source said the tender authorises the TRC to delay the announcement of the results of the tender or delay opening the offers until it sees fit.

If the JTG's technical and financial offers meet the conditions, the commission will announce the winner of the tender, which entails providing advanced services such as video calls, traditional SMS and MMS as well as high-speed mobile data and Internet access.

If plans go as scheduled, people across the Kingdom will have access to 3G services by the end of this year, according to the TRC.

According to the tender, the reserve price of the spectrum is set at JD25 million for a paired block of the 5MHz spectrum, which will specify the minimum fees of this band and will not include evacuation charges and annual returns. The bidders are free to obtain 10, 15 or 20 paired MHz.

Announcement of 3G tender results delayed

Lebanon: Telecoms Minister has proposed a privatisation plan with the right for citizens to invest in the sector

[zawya] Telecommunications Minister Gibran Bassil proposed on Wednesday a new plan for the privatization of the telecommunications sector in Lebanon that would give the public and the government a controlling share in the country's mobile phone companies. "The new privatization plan should give to Lebanese nationals the right to invest in the telecom sector, while the right to management will be granted to an operator who will be also having a share in the company," Bassil said.

"Privatization does not mean that the entire telecom sector should be sold to non-Lebanese. The state can either be a partial or a full partner in any telecom company," he added.

Bassil's remarks came on the sidelines of the 13th session of the Arab council of the ICT ministers held at Habtoor Grand Hotel in Beirut. Discussions during this year's meeting revolved around several ICT issues pertaining to Arab societies, including promoting the General Arab ICT Strategy and developing information communities with a focus on three strategic aims - creating a competitive market for the Arab information community, ensuring universal access and improving the quality of services through ICT.

Bassil stressed the importance of creating LibanTelecom Company, which will group the entire government-run telecom sector under one umbrella, before going into privatization.

"We are keen on preserving a high income for the Lebanese treasury by adopting the strategy of dividing the profit, and investing the amounts that come out of this operation in sectors that are in need of rehabilitation such as the electricity sector," he said. "The amounts are also needed to reduce the public debt," he added.

The government has previously missed several chances to sell the lucrative cellular sectors to private companies in an attempt to reduce the $47-billion public debt. The previous government was hoping to fetch close to $6 billion from the sale of the cellular networks. However, political turmoil and assassinations in 2007 prompted the previous government to call off the auction.

Bassil emphasized the role that rapid advancements of telecommincations can play in terms of economic and social development, as well as increasing the productivity of the industrial economy.

"This rapid advancement is capable of raising revenues that will reduce the public debt, create more job opportunities and bring back to the country the skilled and experienced Lebanese expatriates," he said.

The new strategy of the ministry in the second half of 2009 aims at reaching 2.2 million cellular lines with 1,500 stations, he said, in order to be able to increase mobile penetration from 32 percent in 2008 to 60 percent in 2009 and 80 percent by 2010. "We are aiming at reducing the cellular billing rates from $74 in 2008 to $55 in 2009, $40 in 2010 to finally reach $20 in the future," he added.

In January, the Cabinet had announced its plans to slash mobile tariffs by 40 percent and calls by 15 percent as part of a drive to increase usage of mobile devices.

MTC Touch posted a subscriber base of 1 million at end-March, up from 836,000 at the end of 2008. Alfa had a subscriber base of 820,000, up from 600,000 at end-2008. The rise in subscriber base has led to a growth in Lebanon's mobile penetration from 37 percent to 47 percent.

"On the internet side, DSL centers increased from 23 in 2008 to 83 in 2009, and we hope to be having a total of 200 centers by the end of 2009 to cover all of the Lebanese territories in 2010," he said. Bassil added that DSL subscribers increased from 45,000 in 2008 to 105,000 in April 2009.

In other remarks at the conference, Jordan's minister of information and communications technology, Bassem al-Rousan, urged the Arab ministers to work on creating a digital regional Arab communication network to guarantee the efficiency and facility of data transfer.

"Arab governments should invest in regional networks and encourage the private sector on investing in such projects by establishing a partnership between the public and private sectors," he said.

Bassil proposes new plan for privatizing telecoms sector

Jordan: Jordan Telecom Group was the only bidder for a 3G licence

[zawya] The Jordan Telecom Group (JTG) was the only bidder to submit technical and financial offers to win the first Third Generation (3G) frequencies licence tender by the May 26 deadline, the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) said.

TRC Chief Commissioner Ahmad Hiyasat told The Jordan Times over the phone Tuesday that the commission will today announce the results of a long-awaited public tender, but it will not necessarily go to JTG.

"Technical and financial offers will be opened Wednesday and if JTG meets the conditions and specifications, it will be awarded the bid," the TRC chief said.

ICT officials have earlier said several regional and international telecom companies have showed interest in bidding for the tender.

Sources at the JTG expressed hope yesterday of winning the tender, vowing to offer state-of-the-art services to end-users.

The TRC decided to float the tender late December 2008; however, it later decided to delay the step following requests by several local mobile operators. It was not until late March that bidders were invited to submit their offers.

If plans go as scheduled, people across the country will have access to 3G services before the end of the year, including making video calls, traditional SMS and MMS as well as hi-speed mobile data and Internet access.

Jordan: JTG only bidder to 3G tender

Mobile payments: forecasts of steady growth to 73 millions this year (Gartner)

[3g] The mobile payment industry will experience steady growth, as the number of mobile payment users worldwide will total 73.4 million in 2009, up 70.4 percent from 2008 when there were 43.1 million users, according to Gartner, Inc.

Gartner predicts that the number of mobile payment users will reach more than 190 million in 2012, representing more than 3 percent of total mobile users worldwide and attaining a level at which it will be considered "mainstream."

“Momentum in the mobile payment market gathered further in 2008 with a number of high-profile launches of mobile money transfer services in multiple markets, participation of major global institutions in near-field communication (NFC) payment trials, as well as new payment solutions entering the market,” said Sandy Shen ( inset above ), research director at Gartner. “However, at the same time, security concerns, an inadequate ‘ecosystem’ and undefined areas in banking regulations remain challenges for mobile payment.”

Gartner defines a mobile payment as paying for a product or service using mobile technology such as a short message service (SMS), Wireless Application Protocol (WAP), Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) and NFC. It includes transactions that use banking instruments such as cash, bank accounts or debit and credit cards, as well as noncarrier stored value accounts, such as travel cards, gift cards or Paypal. It does not include transactions that use mobile operators’ billing systems, such as purchase of mobile content or telebanking by mobile to the service center via an interactive voice response (IVR) system.

“Mobile payment has very different user cases and impact on developing markets to that of developed markets,” Ms. Shen said. “In developing markets, together with mobile banking, it allows people to use financial services in a more-efficient way — and sometimes the only way — at more-affordable costs, and can greatly improve standards of living. In developed markets, mobile is more of an extension of the existing payment infrastructure that allows people to deal with their financial needs on the go and in a timely fashion.”

This disparity leads to the presence of different products in different markets. For example, many services in the U.S. rely on a full browser and credit card, but this won’t work in developing markets, as many people don’t even have a bank account or bank card. On the other hand, Ms. Shen said USSD banking wouldn’t be acceptable in the U.S. as mobile operators have never made use of this for customer services and users may find it very awkward to work with.

In terms of both number of users and transaction volumes, Gartner expects Asia/Pacific and Japan to maintain a larger share of the market through 2012. While mobile payment penetration in Western Europe is expected to rise from 0.9 percent in 2009 to 2.5 percent in 2012, and from 1.7 percent to 3 percent in North America; penetration in Asia/Pacific and Japan will rise from 2 percent in 2009 to 3.8 percent in 2012. Mobile payment penetration in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and Latin America is also expected to exceed 3 percent by 2012.

“The most profound impact of mobile banking and payment services is that they provide the nonbanking population with access to modern financial services, giving them tools to improve their living standards,” said Ms. Shen. “For mobile operators, mobile payment can help attract and retain users and generate new revenue streams. For financial institutions, mobile payment is an opportunity to reach users who may have been previously unreachable, due to a lack of retail infrastructure.”

Ms. Shen said that overall, the market will see fragmentation in both technologies and business models, meaning that services need to be adapted for individual markets — even when deployed with the same partners — and that long lead times will be needed for deployment. This, together with the time required for creating user awareness, leads Gartner to believe that mobile payment is at least three years away from entering the mainstream market.

Mobile Payment Users Worldwide to Increase 70 Percent in 2009
see also Dataquest Insight: Mobile Payment, 2007-2012

forecast: by 2013 broadband subscribers will grow by 72% to over 700 million, wireless Internet subscribers to 2 billion

[telegeography] New research released by TeleGeography shows that while the global recession has dampened growth in many markets, this is a short-term phenomenon. GlobalComms Insight forecasts that by the end of 2013 the number of broadband subscribers across the world will have grown by 72% to over 700 million, while wireless subscriptions will have grown by well over two billion, an increase of 60%. The death of traditional fixed line phone services has been much talked about, but its demise has been greatly exaggerated: the number of fixed lines will fall over the next five years, but the decline will be gradual and will be offset by continued strong growth in both broadband and wireless customers. In aggregate, GlobalComms Insight predicts that by the end of 2013 there will be no fewer than 2.5 billion net new subscribers or revenue generating units. That represents a CAGR of almost 8%.

GlobalComms Insight shows that the Asia-Pacific region will continue to dominate the global market in terms of subscriber numbers, but the story is very different when considering market value. In 2013 the region’s 50% share of global subscribers will account for only 28% of global market value. Conversely, while the relative size and importance of the North American market continues to diminish, in 2013 its 7% of subscribers will still account for 23% of global market value.

2.5 billion new subscribers by 2013: who? what? where? when?

Africa: The Seacom undersea cable has been landed in South Africa from India and is undergoing tests to become operational at the end of June

[business day] Tests have begun on the undersea telecoms cable Seacom with its switch-on only 29 days away.

The cable has been brought ashore at Mtunzini near Durban as the 600m project stays on schedule. Tests under way will ensure all the connections in the 17000km cable are fully operational and optimum traffic flow is achieved before its commercial launch on June 27.

The cable links India to SA and runs up Africa's east coast to the Middle East and Europe. It promises to end the dearth of bandwidth that has kept prices high and data transmissions down for African countries.

"It's a huge impact for SA, but it's a much bigger impact for east Africa," said CEO Brian Herlihy yesterday. "Communities in Africa are all depending on information and communications technology infrastructure as a catalyst for development."

Herlihy said originally its bandwidth would be 90% cheaper than existing supplies. But price cuts as operators prepared for the Seacom threat will make its savings closer to 40%-50% now.

The cost to consumers will also depend on the profit margin operators buying Seacom bandwidth, including Vodacom and Internet Solutions, want.

Seacom expects a return on its investment in five years -- conservative if consumers quickly demand more bandwidth to enjoy new applications such as video conferencing and movie downloads. Africa's only other submarine cable runs up the west coast, but its owners, including Telkom , have charged high fees.

Seacom bandwidth would be sold at far lower prices, said Herlihy. With the system substantially completed and testing under way, it was close to delivering on its commitment and becoming the first cable to provide eastern and southern African retail carriers with open access to inexpensive bandwidth, he said yesterday.

Neotel would run the landing station in SA and deliver capacity nationwide. Landlocked countries would benefit from Seacom's "cheap and plentiful" bandwidth, Herlihy said. It was working to ensure cross-country networks were built to carry its capacity inland. Those backhaul cables were being laid to Johannesburg, Kampala, Kigali and Nairobi.

Heavy investment by SA's cellular networks in a new national backbone were probably triggered by Seacom's arrival as their networks needed upgrading to benefit from the huge international capacity about to arrive.

While several other undersea cables are being planned, not all may materialise due to the enormous costs involved. Some government-led projects risk being sunk by the complexity of trying to include many governments in the initiatives.

Seacom was initiated by US-based Herakles Telecom. It diluted its own stake down to 23,75%, to bring in outside funding and comply with SA's demand for any cable landing in the country to be majority African owned.

Local investors are Venfin with 25%, Shanduka Group with 12,5% and Convergence Partners, with 12,5%.

Seacom on Track for Its Switch-On

Iraq: Govt is deciding among bidders for the fourth mobile licence

[ame] Awaiting government approval, Verizon Communications Inc., Turkcell Iletisim Hizmetleri AS and Etihad Etisalat Co. are vying to bid for Iraq's fourth mobile phone license, Bloomberg has reported. bids will be opened for all Arab and foreign companies, according to Iraq's communication minister, expecting the approval within the next three months.

Iraq set for 4th mobile license

USA: The Whitehouse has published its review of cyberspace policy, conclusing the infrastructure is neither secure not resilient

[whitehouse] Cyberspace touches practically everything and everyone. It provides a platform for innovation and prosperity and the means to improve general welfare around the globe. But with the broad reach of a loose and lightly regulated digital infrastructure, great risks threaten nations, private enterprises, and individual rights. The government has a responsibility to address these strategic vulnerabilities to ensure that the United States and its citizens, together with the larger community of nations, can realize the full potential of the information technology revolution.

The architecture of the Nation’s digital infrastructure, based largely upon the Internet, is not secure or resilient. Without major advances in the security of these systems or significant change in how they are constructed or operated, it is doubtful that the United States can protect itself from the growing threat of cybercrime and state-sponsored intrusions and operations. Our digital infrastructure has already suffered intrusions that have allowed criminals to steal hundreds of millions of dollars and nation-states and other entities to steal intellectual property and sensitive military information. Other intrusions threaten to damage portions of our critical infrastructure. These and other risks have the potential to undermine the Nation’s confidence in the information systems that underlie our economic and national security interests.

The Federal government is not organized to address this growing problem effectively now or in the future. Responsibilities for cybersecurity are distributed across a wide array of federal departments and agencies, many with overlapping authorities, and none with sufficient decision authority to direct actions that deal with often conflicting issues in a consistent way. The government needs to integrate competing interests to derive a holistic vision and plan to address the cybersecurityrelated
issues confronting the United States. The Nation needs to develop the policies, processes, people, and technology required to mitigate cybersecurity-related risks.
Information and communications networks are largely owned and operated by the private sector, both nationally and internationally. Thus, addressing network security issues requires a public-private partnership as well as international cooperation and norms. The United States needs a comprehensive framework to ensure coordinated response and recovery by the government, the private sector, and our allies to a significant incident or threat.

The United States needs to conduct a national dialogue on cybersecurity to develop more public awareness of the threat and risks and to ensure an integrated approach toward the Nation’s need for security and the national commitment to privacy rights and civil liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and law.

Research on new approaches to achieving security and resiliency in information and communications infrastructures is insufficient. The government needs to increase investment in research that will help address cybersecurity vulnerabilities while also meeting our economic needs and national security requirements.

Cyberspace policy review: Assuring a Trusted and Resilient Information
and Communications Infrastructure

USA: survery finds Wi-Fi security vulnerabilities at 26 airports and seven financial districts

[Marketwire] Over the past 14 months, AirTight® Networks issued the findings from its studies of wireless security vulnerabilities at 26 airports worldwide and seven financial districts which indicate that many organizations have WLANs that are poorly protected against the risks posed by the proliferation of WiFi enabled devices and appear to lack visibility into wireless threats which would allow them to enforce wireless security and compliance policies.

President Obama recognized in his speech today the serious homeland security threats posed by cyber criminals not only to government organizations but also to the economic health of the United States. The President referred to the world of cyberspace that we depend on every day saying, "It's the broadband networks beneath us and the wireless signals around us, the local networks in our schools and hospitals and businesses and the massive grids that power our nation."

In its continuing series of studies, AirTight has set out to understand the risks to businesses and their corporate networks of data leakage while employees are sending sensitive information using unsecured, mis-configured or rogue wireless access points and circumventing corporate guidelines for the use of WiFi. The studies continue to find troubling results regarding the security posture of private Wi-Fi networks as well as the rapid spread of viral Wi-Fi networks.

"In this time of heightened security concerns, we were surprised to find core systems such as ticketing and baggage handling at major airports still using a broken encryption system such as WEP or open access points (APs)," said Pravin Bhagwat, CTO of AirTight. "And in light of some rather spectacular data breaches involving financial information in recent years -- both wired and wireless -- in financial districts we expected to find well protected and configured networks, open or guest access isolated from corporate networks and strict enforcement of Wi-Fi security policies. What we found instead is that the airspace in these financial districts is dominated by open or poorly encrypted WEP wireless APs. Many of these APs were using ineffective security practices such as hiding the SSID, and personally identifiable information was leaking out."

"These findings should give pause to security administrators working in industries with highly sensitive information such as financial services or who are charged with protecting critical services. It is time for all of these enterprises and government agencies to recognize the risks and implement WiFi security best practices," continued Bhagwat.

Studies of Airport and Financial District WiFi Risks Reveal Continuing Pattern of Poor Wireless Security Practices
see also AirTight Networks

Friday, May 29, 2009

Roaming: T-Mobile UK takes advantage of a weaker pound to raise it roaming charges

[zdnet] T-Mobile is to raise its per-minute charges for making voice calls while abroad in Europe from 38p to 44p, the mobile operator announced on Tuesday.

Voice-roaming charges have been steadily falling for the last two years, following price caps set by the European Commission. However, T-Mobile said it would raise its charges from 29 June because of the fall in sterling's value against the euro.

"The yearly price cap set by the EU Commission is set in euros," read an advisory note on T-Mobile's website. "Due to the current economic climate and the relative weakness of the pound (GBP) against the euro (EUR), the cost of supporting using your phone abroad has increased. We've changed the rate to reflect the increased costs we've faced over the past year and continue to face now. But we're still complying with EU regulations."

The advisory note was flagged to T-Mobile customers via text message on Tuesday, alongside other changes to T-Mobile's terms and conditions.

Large companies on the Corporate Plan or Business 1-Plan will not be affected by the rise in voice-roaming charges, although smaller, non-corporate business customers will see their charges rise.

T-Mobile to raise voice-roaming charges
see also T-Mobile advisory note

USA: Nielsen finds "extreme techies" stream online video content up to 91 minutes per week against 44 minutes average broadband user

[Marketwire] New research conducted by The Nielsen Company reveals the "Extreme Techies" segment stream significantly more online video content, watching up to 91 minutes (1.5 hours) per week, compared to the mean of 44 minutes for all broadband viewers. Representing eight percent of the total adult 18 and older broadband population, which equals 4.6 million viewers, this group is the most advanced of all segments in consumption of online video. Furthermore, they are technology innovators, with 38% connecting their computers to their televisions via devices such as a Media Center PC or direct connection to view TV and movie content.

This comprehensive study, "Crossing Over: Understanding Viewer Multi-Screen Migration," was commissioned by the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM) and is based on a complex, multi-dimensional segmentation analysis developed by The Nielsen Company.

"The research is unique in that it compiled a variety of Nielsen assets to provide marketplace assessments of today's digital media consumers," said Christie Kawada, Vice President of The Nielsen Company's Custom Television group. "Specifically, what they watch on TV, online and on mobile phones, using both attitudinal and behavioral data."

The study profiles Extreme Techies as exhibiting the following attitudes and behaviors:

63% are male, with a mean age of 31 and an average annual income of $67,000.
47% are married and 57% have children in the home under the age of 18.
74% report accessing video content over their computers using the Internet.
64% (vs. 30% for the total sample) say that watching TV shows online adds to their regular TV viewing.
60% (vs. 33% total sample) report they typically know what they want to watch online before they sit down at their computer.
55% (vs. 23% total sample) report they have found shows online and watched them on TV.
Highest ownership of cross-platform devices used to view TV or movie content, with an average of slightly over four devices (compared to average of two for the total sample).
Highest viewership on devices such as console gaming systems (46%), cell phones (33%), and set top media boxes (17%).
26% report planning to add to their television service (e.g. additional channels or services) in the next six months.
They see themselves as ambitious, adventurous, tech-savvy and spontaneous.
"Looking closely at the behavior of the Extreme Techies sheds new light on how much content is being consumed online and by whom," said Char Beales, CTAM President and CEO. "We now have critical insights that go far deeper than any existing research to explore how these elusive segments may shape the future of content viewing and multi-platform adoption."

The Segments and Technology Adoption Curve

The study identified eight distinct broadband user segments, determined by their levels of engagement with video content across TV, online and mobile platforms, the devices they used to consume content and their motivations for and attitudes toward using multiple platforms. These segments can be overlaid on the traditional adoption curve to illustrate those leading the trends, pushing behaviors to the mainstream, or unlikely to adopt in the near term.

Strategy and Methodology

"Crossing Over: Understanding Viewer Multi-Screen Migration" consisted of an online quantitative survey fielded using Nielsen's proprietary MegaPanel, which captures all online behavior including Web site visitation, streaming behavior and overall minutes spent online. A hierarchical multi-dimensional segmentation model was also developed during this study in order to more comprehensively explore the distribution of digital media consumers within the current three-screen marketplace.

The survey was fielded from January 23 to February 9, 2009. The total sample consisted of 750 adults (18 years or older) who subscribed to cable, satellite or television service from a telephone/RBOC company, watch at least five hours of television per week. Respondents owned and used a computer with a high speed connection and have seen any video content (thirty seconds in length or longer) online in the last 30 days.

8% of Broadband Users Are "Extreme Techies" Watching Online Video 1.5 Hours a Week

India: 3G auctions are top priority for the incoming minister

[times of india] The Department of Telecom (DoT) has made 3G auctions a top priority item for the telecom ministry as soon as the new telecom minister
takes office by next week.

A senior DoT official told ToI that this matter will be discussed with the new minister immediately on his taking charge. "3G auctions will definitely be held this year and sooner rather than later", he said.

Confirming this, DoT secretary Siddharth Behura told ToI, "3G auctions also carry the all round support of policy makers, including the finance ministry which needs to bridge the fiscal deficit, one of the biggest drawbacks in India's balance sheet".

Since the government can't raise taxes sharply during the slowdown or cut expenditures it is highly likely that the finance ministry will push for an early and global 3G auction to be held within the next few months. The interim budget has already factored in revenues of Rs 20,000 crore from 3G auctions, just half telecom minister A Raja's projections of Rs 40,000 crore in August 2008.

Average pan-India 3G spectrum is expected to rake in over Rs 4,000 crore. The government plans to auction 2x5 MHz of spectrum in varying proportions except Rajasthan and North East.

This time, 3G auctions also carry wide-ranging support from the industry. T V Ramachandran, director general, COAI, said, "3G auctions will definitely take place this year. It is a strong way of alleviating the spectrum crunch faced by GSM operators".

"It is clear that 3G will be a priority for the new government as the auction framework is already in place and there is increasing interest from the mass market with 3G phones at less than $100/set hitting the market by 2010," said Manoj Kohli, CEO & Jt MD, Bharti Airtel. At present only 6% of mobile phones in India are 3G capable.

3G will also contribute significantly to mobile value-added services (VAS), which has been growing at nearly 40% every year as against the overall annual telecom revenue growth of 20%. This will prop up the rapidly declining average revenues per user (Arpu) of telcos.

"It is critical for operators that 3G auctions are held quickly as with mobile number portability and new operators, better quality 3G networks offering both better voice quality and VAS will be the only differentiator to prevent high end customers from switching to competing networks", says Kunal Bajaj, MD of consulting firm BDA India.

3G is an attractive policy move even for rural development by being a strong potential catalyst for e-Education, remote health care and m-Banking. RBI is currently reviewing the regulations for m-Banking, especially keeping in mind the needs of rural India.

The success of the 3G auctions will depend upon the speed, transparency of process as well as the government's ability to put out non-discriminatory auction terms for the existing 14 and potential new global operators.

Earlier in the year, the government released an information memorandum, appointed auctioneers and held pre-bid conferences in the run up to the proposed 3G auction in January 2009.

However, since neither industry nor the political environment favoured 3G auctions, India had to miss its date with what is perhaps the most high profile auction of a scarce national resource in this decade.

For telecom minister, 3G top priority

Netherlands: Telfort has been fined EUR 5M for failing to under-utilisation of its 3G spectrum

[cellular-news] Dutch mobile network, Telfort has been fined EUR5 million for failing to meet its 3G license conditions. ­In a statement from the Dutch Telecom Agency, it was said that the operator had under-utilised its 3G radio spectrum.

The regulator has threatened to impose further fines if the network operator does not improve coverage within the next three months. If the operator continues to fail to use its allocated radio spectrum, the regulator has the power to confiscate some of the capacity and resell it to the other operators.

Telfort was formed in 1997 as a joint venture between BT and the Dutch Railways. In 2000, BT acquired the company - but its O2 division sold the company to Greenfield Capital Partners in 2003. It then reverted to the Telfort name. In July 2005 Telfort was sold to KPN.

Following the purchase, KPN delayed the two networks 3G networks to study how it could cut costs by integrating their networks. Telfort's network was supplied by Huawei, while KPN had contracted with Ericsson for its network.

Last year, KPN sold the Telfort tower network to Dutch tower operator, Novec for an undisclosed sum.

Telfort Fined for Missing 3G License Obligations

USA: Pentagon plans to create a new military command for cyberspace, stepping up preparations by the armed forces to conduct both offensive & defence

[Reuters] The Pentagon plans to create a new military command for cyberspace, stepping up preparations by the armed forces to conduct both offensive and defensive computer warfare, the New York Times said on Friday.

The military command will complement a civilian effort President Barack Obama plans to announce on Friday that will overhaul the way the United States safeguards its computer networks, the newspaper said on its website.

Citing Obama administration sources, the Times said the president will detail on Friday the creation of a White House office that will coordinate a multi-billion-dollar effort to restrict access to government computers, protect systems that run U.S. stock exchanges, clear global banking transactions and manage the air traffic control system.

The Times said the civilian office would be responsible for coordinating private sector and government defenses against thousands of cyber-attacks mounted every day against the United States, largely by hackers but sometimes by foreign governments.

Administration sources said the president would not discuss the Pentagon plan on Friday. But Obama is expected to sign a classified order in the coming weeks that will create the military cyber-command.

The need for improved U.S. cyber-security was driven home in April when the Wall Street Journal reported that cyber-spies had penetrated the U.S. electrical grid and left behind software programs that could be used to disrupt the system.

The Times said the United States already has a growing number of computer weapons in its arsenal and must prepare strategies for their use as a deterrent or alongside conventional weapons in a wide variety of possible future conflicts.

Reuters has reported that companies in the cyber-security market range from security-software makers Symantec Corp and McAfee Inc, to traditional defense contractors such as Northrop Grumman Corp and Lockheed Martin Corp, to information technology companies such as CACI International.

The Pentagon had been working on a cyberspace strategy for several months. It was completed weeks ago, but was delayed because of ongoing arguments over the authority of the White House office and budgets for the entire effort, the report said.

Pentagon plans new cyberspace war command: report

Palestine: spectrum for a second operator has not been released by the Israeli authorities putting loans at risk

[Reuters] Western-backed loans to support the launch of a new Palestinian mobile phone operator are in jeopardy because Israel has yet to release needed radio frequencies, the company told Middle East Envoy Tony Blair.

In a letter to the former British prime minister obtained by Reuters on Wednesday, Wataniya Palestine said some $85 million in loans to help build the network could be "cancelled". An arm of the World Bank said in a separate letter that it was concerned about the company's ability to meet its obligations because of the withheld frequencies.

Wataniya Palestine appealed to Blair to intervene on behalf of the World Bank- and U.S.-supported project, asserting that future foreign direct investment in the Palestinian economy was at stake.

Israeli officials had no immediate comment.

Wataniya Palestine is owned by Kuwait's National Mobile Telecommunications Co., a unit of Qatar Telecommunications Co. (Qtel), as well as a holding company for Palestinian public assets.

Earlier this year, Wataniya Palestine secured the $85 million loan package. One of the major lenders was the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank's private sector arm.

International financial support for Wataniya Palestine was touted as a vote of confidence in developing the economy of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Western-backed government is based. Abbas supports peace talks with Israel.

"We would like to express our concern about the delay in the allocation of the frequencies and in the launch of commercial operations, as these could adversely impact the realisation of the agreed business plan," Mohsen Khalil, IFC director for global information and communication technologies, wrote in a May 15 letter to Wataniya Palestine.

Khalil added that "failure" to obtain the frequencies and to roll out the network "could potentially have a material adverse effect on the company's ability to meet its obligations under the finance documents".

Blair has long pressed Israel to grant Wataniya Palestine the promised frequencies.

The company aims to challenge a monopoly long held by Palestine Telecommunications Co. (PalTel). Mobile Telecommunications Co. (ZAIN.KW) (Zain), Kuwait's largest mobile operator, took a majority stake in PalTel earlier this month.

"This delay now jeopardises the entire second mobile operator project in Palestine," Wataniya Palestine's chief financial officer, Brent Muckridge, wrote to Blair on Tuesday.

Citing the IFC letter, Muckridge said: "If Wataniya did not receive the necessary frequencies as soon as possible, the IFC would see this as a material adverse effect, which would cause the US$85 million loan to be cancelled".

"Failure of this project would not only mean a loss of jobs, tax revenues for the Palestinian Authority but also impact the local banking sector, as they are the largest lenders to Wataniya. This will ultimately have an impact on future and to some degree on current foreign direct investments in Palestine," Muckridge wrote.

Israel and Abbas's government signed an agreement last year to release the frequencies. But Wataniya Palestine said it has yet to receive all of them, delaying the launch of commercial services in the West Bank, which was scheduled for April.

The company said it aims to begin those operations by the end of July, but Western officials said it was uncertain.

In addition to support from the World Bank, the U.S. government's Overseas Private Investment Corporation provided loan guarantees for the Wataniya Palestine project under a programme created to help small- to mid-sized businesses.

Loans for Palestinian mobile operator in doubt

Servers: global sales fell by a quarter in the first quarter, agains the same period in 2008

[bbc] Sales of servers worldwide fell almost 25% in the first three months of 2009, against the same period a year earlier, according to market research firm IDC.

Global sales were $9.9 bn (£6.14 bn), IDC said, the lowest figure since the firm started monitoring the computer server market 12 years ago.

Dell was the vendor hardest hit, with server revenue falling 31.2%.

IDC said they expected the situation to continue, although they predicted some recovery by 2010.

Big drop in global server sales

Australia: competition authority will not oppose the merger of 3 and Vodafone

[accc] The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will not oppose the proposed merger of Vodafone and Hutchison’s Australian mobile operations, after concluding that it is unlikely to substantially lessen competition in the relevant markets.

The ACCC undertook an extensive investigation over 3 months, which included scrutiny of a substantial number of internal company documents from the merger parties and their competitors.

The ACCC had regard to the changing nature of the mobile telecommunications industry and the increasing need for mobile network operators to have sufficient scale to be able to continue to make significant investments in their network capabilities.

In reaching its decision the ACCC considered evidence which showed that absent the merger, the parties are unlikely to sustain the significant investment in their mobile networks to provide competitive high speed data services, such as mobile broadband.

"Ongoing investments are needed to meet the increased customer demand for bandwidth-hungry data services, including mobile broadband. In this respect, the ACCC considers that mobile voice and data services will continue to converge in the future," ACCC Chairman, Mr Graeme Samuel said.

The ACCC is required to balance its concerns against the likely competitive position if the proposed merger were not to proceed.

A key consideration in the ACCC’s investigation was whether increased concentration in the mobile sector would result in reduced pricing pressure for retail mobile telecommunications services. It considered evidence which suggested that, individually, without this merger, the parties would not sustain vigorous price competition in the longer term. Accordingly, the ACCC concluded that the proposed merger would not result in a substantial lessening of competition in the retail mobile telecommunications market.

"The pricing commitment issued on 25 May 2009 by the merger parties has not had any bearing on the ACCC’s decision. Behavioural measures, such as this, are generally viewed by the ACCC as an unattractive merger remedy. Such measures are not likely to be considered acceptable by the ACCC to assuage competition concerns," Mr Samuel said.

ACCC not to oppose proposed merger of Vodafone and Hutchison

Africa-India: Bharti is to acquire 49% of MTN, limited by regulations in South Africa,

[FT-Lex] Talk about threading the needle. The structure of the proposed partnership between Bharti Airtel and MTN announced this week demonstrates the lengths the mobile operators are willing to go to avoid regulatory obstacles that have dogged so many other emerging market mobile deals.

Just over a year ago, Bharti walked away from a deal that would have seen it take a 51 per cent stake in its South African counterpart. Lurking behind the collapse were South African regulators’ and unions’ concerns about foreign control of “national champions”. More recently, the country’s telecoms regulator was goaded into opposing Vodafone’s attempt to secure a controlling stake in Vodacom, a rival South African operator, by union groups that objected to potential job losses.

Be that as it may, realising the full benefits of a tie-up between the two companies may only be possible in the context of a full merger, which both Bharti and MTN say they want. For Bharti and MTN to get the all-clear on the limited deal currently under discussion is one thing. But if they really want to create the world’s third biggest emerging mobile operator, sterner regulatory tests await.

Bharti Airtel/MTN

Europe: Telcos hit by the recession were already struggling with saturated and competitive markets

[guardian] The deep recession hitting Europe has compounded problems in the already saturated and highly competitive mobile market and will force operators to seek strength in numbers and cut more costs.

"In Europe, every five-year-old has a phone," said a telecoms manager, who declined to be named.

"Margins have steadily been declining all over Europe... in the UK and Spain they are eroding to nothing rapidly, Germany is still flat and there is some growth in the Czech Republic, Macedonia," the manager added.

Vodafone, the world's largest mobile phone company by revenue, for example has seen margins in the UK shrink to around 22 percent from around 33 percent three years ago. Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile UK had to digest a margin decline of more than 40 percent to 15 percent in that time.

So far, operators have adapted by expanding into emerging markets, which are seen driving global mobile revenue growth to $855 billion by 2012 from $700 billion in 2008 according to advisory firm IDC.

They have also begun to offer data services to encourage customers to spend more by enabling them to search the Internet, listen to music and share photos with friends.
"That means European mobile revenue growth increasingly depends on how much the operators can stimulate additional use of existing services and promote uptake of new services," IDC said in a study of the European mobile market.

"So far, their success in both respects has been steady but not spectacular."
Under normal circumstances those measures would be sufficient to keep margins steady, but with the impact of the global recession and increased regulation designed to lower cell phone tariffs, mobile operators will have to do more.
"Even without the credit crunch, all signs indicated that the industry was reaching saturation," Daiwa analyst Michael Kovacocy told Reuters.

"We've now had an erosion of voice (revenues) driven by maturity of that industry, competition and adverse regulation, and this is not going to alleviate itself once the macro economy comes back," Kovacocy said.


"We can do three things in our industry, cut costs, consolidate and share networks," the telecoms manager said, explaining that cost cutting could entail outsourcing of anything from call centres to IT development.

"But when you outsource IT development you are really cutting into the meat of the business and you relinquish control over innovation," the telecoms manager said.
Network sharing has already begun to catch on: In March Vodafone and Telefonica agreed to share network infrastructure in four European countries to meet demand for mobile broadband, while saving hundreds of millions of pounds.

Vodafone, which also has deals in other countries, said it could save up to 10 percent in costs through passive sharing deals such as the one agreed with Telefonica.

Consolidation is a trickier issue.

Analysts and executives agree that consolidation in Europe is needed but said it was hard to tell when it would start.

France Telecom's finance chief Gervais Pellisser told the Reuters Global Technology Summit the environment was difficult because financial markets lacked the stability to provide funding, and he noticed signs of increased protectionism.
On recurring rumours that France Telecom's Orange brand could buy T-Mobile UK, Pellissier quashed speculation saying there was no interest because with a competitive market such as the UK, you could not guarantee holding on to the customers.

Companies could opt for a consolidation in kind by combining two businesses instead of a takeover as it would not require cash or a premium and save costs by shutting down one network, closing excess shops and cutting jobs.
"Business needs to get really ugly though before companies agree to that" the telecoms manager said.

But despite the three-pronged response, pressures will continue as smaller rivals have a field day, offering simple voice plans which do not include subsidised handsets.

Stan Miller, the head of Dutch operator KPN's international mobile business, told Reuters that operators would have to lose their fixation with average revenue per user (ARPU).

"ARPU schmarpu... You can have 100 euros ($138) ARPU, but what happened to the margin you actually make, what happened to your cash flow?" he asked at the summit.
KPN has enjoyed huge success in Europe since it launched the first of its many no-frills offerings four years ago.

France's number two broadband player Iliad has said it also sees the chance to offer cheap mobile deals and will bid for the fourth licence, which is expected to come up this year.

On top of competition pressures, operators will also have to confront new challenges after the European Commission adopted guidelines to slash the cost of routing mobile calls, known as MTR rates -- an important revenue stream for large carriers which has also acted to prevent new entrants to the market. ($1=.7254 Euro)

Europe telcos desperately seeking steady margins