Archive for January, 2009

New technology to manage the use of mobile phones

Friday, January 30th, 2009

A world-first solution to cut business costs has been developed by Australian Company Leopard Labs. The mozone solution means that business owners now have a comprehensive tool to manage the way staff use mobile phones, including the critical issue of internet access from mobile devices.

Business owners will be able to manage the use of internet-enabled mobile devices in the same way they manage the use of PCs. Mozone solves the extremely difficult problem of separating personal and business use of mobile devices.

mozone can:

  • Control what internet content staff access via mobile phones
  • Block access to inappropriate sites such as MySpace, Facebook and those with adult content
  • Restrict the use of camera functions on mobiles within business hours to prevent loss of corporate data
  • Prevent access to expensive premium rate services
  • Protect business networks with anti-spam and anti-virus technology
  • Separate the personal and business use of a mobile phone

The solution is available today through the Try For Free portal where end-users can easily access from Nokia’s Eseries and Nseries range via the Nokia.mobi site.

See also: Global Mobile

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NTC moving to auction 5th 3G licence in Philippines

Friday, January 30th, 2009

The Philippines’ National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) is moving to auction off the fifth and final 3G licence in that country. Although there are some complications looming for the country’s telecom regulator, it nevertheless appeared keen to act quickly on the process, having already issued a draft proposal for the auction and given the local telecoms industry ten days to submit comments on this plan. The new draft was intended to replace the NTC’s so-called ‘30-point’ ranking system used in awarding the earlier licences.

Two years ago, 3G licences were awarded to Smart Communications, Globe Telecom, Digital Mobile Philippines and Connectivity Unlimited Resources Enterprises (CURE). Smart has since acquired CURE. The NTC published a memo in 2008 outlining the proposed new rules covering the tender award for the fifth licence. Under the draft, companies would only be expected to pass legal, financial and technical criteria.

Interestingly, the regulator had gone ahead with its public consulation on the auction plans despite a court order forbidding the award of the licence. The NTC said that it believed that the consultations did not breach the terms of the court order, which had also forbidden the regulator to consider awarding the licence. In a move that is being opposed by the country’s mobile operators, the commission is seeking to bar the existing licence holders from bidding for any remaining 3G spectrum.

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Government policies beyond broadband

Friday, January 30th, 2009

The telecom infrastructure decisions we are now facing have very little to do with developments or the need for services in 2009 or 2010.  They are more related to where the digital economy is taking us in the future. This is well beyond the time needed to kick-start sluggish economies.

While the demand for high-speed broadband to access the Internet (or, as is the case in the USA, HDTV entertainment) is an important factor, the real economic and social value lies in the multiplier effect this infrastructure can create for healthcare, education, energy savings, etc. It is for that reason as much as for high-speed Internet that we need to start building – or at least planning for – FttH.

It has been estimated that over time such an approach could add 1%-2% to national GDPs. In the United States this could lead to 240,000 new jobs and in Australia it could translate to perhaps as many as 100,000 new jobs.

The Australian plans are more ambitious than the US plans and so the economic benefits in Australia could potentially be larger.

Current networks are based on copper and coax cable and these technologies have a limited life (there is international agreement on this). Wireless can fill the gaps but it won’t be the main technology in cities. The question now is how to move from these older technologies towards all-fibre networks.

Incumbent telcos are not driving these developments. Their basic, rather out-of-date, business model has been that if you run a monopoly you want to milk the asset (the old network) for as long as possible. With little competition you can drip-feed the market with new (better services) and charge a relatively high price. As soon as you provide the next update you discount the previous one. In this way you can stretch out the life of the old network for many more years.

Furthermore, the telcos prefer to develop e-health, tele-education and other applications themselves so that they can charge a premium, rather than letting these institutions develop their own applications over the infrastructure.

This is an unsustainable model based on a very short-sighted vision.

The problem is that the telcos’ top-down model is hampering innovation. A key reason is that the incumbent telcos have a stranglehold on the underlying infrastructure. They are not making that infrastructure available to third parties on economically viable prices and conditions.  Their market power is so great that nobody else can enter this national infrastructure market unless massive changes are made to the regulatory environment. Without such regulation there is little or no infrastructure-based competition, and this allows the incumbents to totally control the downstream and upstream markets.

For decades regulators have tried to create a better (more competitive) marketplace through network price and access regulation. However most governments have come to the conclusion that incumbents have so many ways to ‘game’ the system that new forms of regulation are now needed.

Increasingly governments want to use the broadband infrastructure to stimulate economic activity. But, as mentioned above, the role of the incumbent as gateway keeper has become the major barrier to enabling healthcare, education, energy and media to use the same infrastructure.

The decision for new infrastructure cannot therefore be based simply on customers’ demand for Internet access.  It should spring more from the need for a long-term national infrastructure planning process for the digital economy. Increasingly governments are seeing it this way and are prepared to make the appropriate regulatory changes to clear the way for FttH infrastructure projects, based on open networks.

Paul Budde

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E-Commerce and M-Commerce growth markets of the future

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

E-Commerce and M-Commerce growth markets of the future

E-commerce is now an important part of the economy, particularly in the developed markets. While e-commerce is still in its infancy in many emerging markets, this is set to change in the coming years especially in China. In 2008 China now has the highest number of Internet users in the world, overtaking the USA. E-commerce growth in the USA remains strong however, with China also offering significant opportunities for those operating in the e-commerce space.

Internet banking has slowly become more popular around the world, with 30% or more of Internet users utilising such services in some markets. However many online banking websites have at least one potential design weakness that could leave users vulnerable to cyber attacks. Improved bank security measures over the last couple of years, such as the introduction of home chip and pin devices is helping to combat this issue.

 

M-commerce incorporates a range of mobile-driven applications, including payments for parking and theatre tickets (increasingly common in Europe) to mobile banking. Financial transactions via mobile phones are set to soar in coming years as banks and mobile operators move into mobile financial services.

 

Mobile commerce is potentially important for a wide range of industries, including telecommunications, IT, finance, retail and the media, as well as for end-users. It will work best in those areas where it can emphasise the core virtue of mobile networks – convenience. However while there are good applications, the technologies and business models to date have not been well suited to mass market applications. The regulatory environment has also held this market up. This is beginning to change as banks and merchants collaborate with mobile operators. Applications around contactless cards using Near Field Communications are also being developed around the world. Focus has also turned to the developing markets, where mobile phones are being viewed as an opportunity to reach the masses that would not otherwise use m-payment or m-banking services.

In countries such as Kenya and India, national mobile banking systems are thriving and they are literally popping up around the world as well. In Kenya, 3 million out of Vodafone’s 10 million subscribers are using mobile banking services and Vodafone is rapidly rolling the service out in other countries as well.

 

IIR’s Telecoms Risk & Fraud conference, running from March 23 2009 in London will discuss the best practice for identifying and combating fraud in telecoms markets today.  The agenda for this event is now available from http://www.iir-events.com/IIR-Conf/page.aspx?id=17323 and is packed full of insightful operator case studies, informative association sessions and interactive debates. It covers crucial areas including the challenges of SIM Box fraud, NFC and m-commerce fraud, SIM cloning, interconnection and subscription fraud and it addresses the intricacies of combining fraud and security operations.  

For more information see – www.iir-conferences.com/fraud

Also see BuddeComm’s research –

2008 Global Digital Economy – M-Commerce, E-Commerce & E-Payments

2008 Global Digital Economy – E-Government, E-Health & Tele-education

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Poland’s incumbent hit with functional separation – 2009

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

Noting the lack of success that existing regulatory remedies have had in ensuring an effectively competitive market, Poland’s regulator has commenced proceedings to introduce functional separation for the incumbent.

The development follows work undertaken by consultants in August 2008 to analyse the legitimacy of applying functional separation. Reporting back to the regulator, the analysis found:

  • A lack of effective competition in the fixed-line telephony and data transmission markets
  • An incumbent uncooperative in relation to its dealings with alternative operators
  • Low quality network access provided to alternative operators by the incumbent
  • A lack of success existing regulation has had in eliminating market entry barriers
  • Wholesale broadband and wholesale broadband priced at levels unviable to provide competitive retail services

Drawing upon the experience of the United Kingdom and New Zealand, the consultants recommended that functional separation should be considered as an effective regulatory measure to eliminate the anti-competitive behaviour of the incumbent.

Based on its own analysis, the regulator found that existing remedies had failed to ensure an effectively competitive market, while the incumbent was circumventing existing regulation through exploiting legal loopholes. Hence competition problems resulting from the incumbent’s anticompetitive behaviour would be solved via functional separation.

While very few incumbents would prefer to give up their existing vertically integrated business models, Buddecomm believes those that fail to implement functional or structural separation reforms will be among the first telco casualties in an increasingly competitive environment. The value in functional or structural separation is that a successful business model is largely about focusing on the core business. For an incumbent this would entail developing, extending and maintaining good quality telecom and IT-based networks and infrastructure.

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