QuickLinks - Mobile and wireless
QuickLinks - Mobile and wireless
Issue no. 384 - 24 February 2008
- Vodafone rejects EU call for caps on data roaming charges
The chief executive of Vodafone, the world's largest mobile operator, rejected a European commissioner's demand that wireless operators cut fees for cross-border text messaging by July or face the possibility of new retail price controls. Arun Sarin, in remarks at the Mobile World Congress here, called the ultimatum by Viviane Reding, the European Union commissioner who oversees the telecommunications industry "inappropriate."
Issue no. 383 - 27 January 2008
- EU - Roaming Regulation: Commission welcomes first implementation benchmark report
The first benchmark report on international roaming has been published today by the European Regulators' Group. This report confirms that implementation of the roaming regulation has generally gone smoothly with a high level of compliance in all EU Member States. The European Commission welcomes the findings of this report and urges national regulators to continue monitoring developments so that all European consumers benefit fully from lower roaming charges when making or receiving calls from abroad.
- EU-Medienkommissarin: "Wettbewerb, Wettbewerb, Wettbewerb"
Die EU-Kommissarin für Informationsgesellschaft und Medien, Viviane Reding, hat die Mobilfunkbetreiber in Europa erneut aufgefordert, die Preise für die Nutzung von Datendiensten im Ausland zu senken. "Die Menschen sollten nicht dafür bestraft werden, wenn sie über die Grenze gehen", sagte die EU-Kommissarin in München.
- UK - Mobile rivals attack Ofcom spectrum plans
Vodafone and O2 have condemned plans by the communications regulator Ofcom to snatch back part of the radio spectrum they have used since the 1980s to provide mobile phone coverage, and sell it to their rivals for 3G services. [Ed: if you don't know what "refarming" means, you should read this article.]
Issue no. 381 - 8 December 2007
- EU - Europe officially chooses DVB-H for mobile TV
The European Commission has officially selected DVB-H as the mobile TV standard in Europe. EU member states endorsed the Commission's three-pillar strategy presented in July, putting in place a joint approach to licensing mobile TV to accelerate rollout of services and encourage innovative business models. See Commission strategy for Mobile TV in Europe endorsed by Member States (Commission Press Release).
- EU - European Commission scientists launch mobile phone application to track your carbon footprint
mobGAS is a new mobile phone application available in 21 European languages that allows users to see how their daily choices impact on climate change. This smart technology, developed by scientists working at the European Commission's Joint Research Centre, allows users to see the implications of the choices they make every day, in terms of the three major greenhouse gases - carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. Information about everyday activities - cooking, transport, lighting, electronic appliances etc. - is put into the application, and calculations made of individual emissions. A user diary of daily, weekly and yearly emissions can be registered on a secure website, allowing a comparison with national and world averages. The application also includes an animation reflecting the user's contribution to the Kyoto Protocol target.
- FR - Orange sees bumper iPhone sales
Mobile phone firm Orange has sold nearly 30,000 iPhones in France, just five days after it was launched. Mobile companies mostly sell iPhones to customers who take out network contracts with them, a point of contention for some consumers. About 80% of the phones were sold for 399 euros on a special Orange tariff plan, with 15% sold for 549 euros on a regular Orange tariff plan. The rest were sold for 649 euros. For 100 euros extra, these can be unlocked.
- Mobile porn to hit $3.5bn by 2010
Revenues from mobile 'adult services' are set to approach $3.5bn by 2010, according to a new report. Juniper Research said that growth will be fuelled by increasing adoption of streamed video and video chat, and a sharp rise in the adoption of 3G services.
Issue no. 380 - 30 September 2007
- Apple iPhone warning proves true
An Apple software update is disabling iPhones that have been unlocked by owners who wanted to choose which mobile network to use. Earlier this week Apple said a planned update would leave the device "permanently inoperable". Thousands of iPhone owners hacked their expensive gadget in order to unlock it for use with other mobile carriers and to run a host of unsupported programs.
- AU - Vodafone to block kids from chatrooms
Vodafone Australia will lock children out of its mobile phone chatrooms from early next year in an effort to protect them from sexual predators. The mobile phone carrier has been monitoring its mobile chatrooms to protect children from online predators since late 2004, but it was no longer economically sustainable for the carrier to continue providing the service. The carrier said the chatrooms would be made available only to adults when the company launches its new adult verification system, Parental Lock, which is scheduled to be included on all Vodafone mobile handsets from March next year.
- EU - Globalisation Fund to help 4,000 workers in mobile phone sector
The European Commission has approved two further applications for assistance under the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) from Germany and Finland. They concern redundancies in two companies in the mobile phone sector: BenQ in Germany and Perlos in Finland. Both applications are made against a general trend towards delocalising production for mobile phones and accessories, mostly to Asia. This is not only because it is cheaper to make mobile phones there, but also because of the proximity of technology partners and a fast-growing consumer market.
- Mobile phones ruining children's sleep
Mobile phones are keeping children awake at night, new research has revealed. A study to be published in the September issue of the journal Sleep suggests that mobile phone use after bedtime is "very prevalent" among adolescents, and is related to increased levels of tiredness. The research by Jan van den Bulck, of the Leuven School for Mass Communication Research in Belgium, focused on 1,656 school children with an average age of 13.7 years in the youngest group and 16.9 years in the oldest group.
- UK - Advertisers lure youth market with free calls
Cash-strapped students will be able to save their money for books and more likely beer with the launch of a new mobile service which offers free calls and texts if customers agree to receive advertising on their phone. Blyk, a startup run by the former president of Finnish mobile firm Nokia, is targeting the key 16-to-24-year old market with free texts and minutes of talktime every month. It has signed up 45 brands from McDonald's and Coca Cola to Boots and L'Oreal who want to target this key demographic.
- UK - Mobiles to become digital wallets
The UK's big five mobile phone firms have switched on a payment system that turns handsets into digital wallets. Called PayForIt, the scheme is designed for those buying goods and services with a value of up to £10. The industry hopes it will be used to pay for ringtones, train tickets, parking fees and eventually as a payment system on web shops and sites.
- Unlocking the locked phone debate
Internet law professor Michael Geist gets to grips with the legal implications of unlocking the iPhone.
- US - AT&T offers parental control service
It may be something of a teenage nightmare: limits on when a wireless phone can make and receive calls and to whom, restrictions on text messages and talk time, and set allowances for ring tones and other downloads - all at a parent's fingertips. AT&T will launch a service giving parents that kind of wide-ranging control on almost all of its 63.7 million subscriber lines.
- JP - Why mobile Japan leads the world
A combination of an urban lifestyle and infrastructure advantages mean that the fixed internet is being left behind by the mobile.
Issue no. 379 - 2 September 2007
- EU - Roaming: All mobile operators have now informed the Commission of their new Eurotariffs
Following the Commission's publication of its "name and shame" roaming benchmarking website on 2 August, all mobile operators have since informed the Commission of the Eurotariffs they are offering their customers as required by the EU's new Roaming Regulation. All these Eurotariffs are now listed on the Commission's website. For mobile customers roaming in Europe, the first result is quite positive: In 23 of the 27 EU Member States, there is at least one mobile operator offering roaming tariffs below the regulation's ceilings.
- Conflict over digital content moves to cellphones
Microsoft and Nokia, which both make operating systems for mobile phones and compete for control of that market, are coming together in a rare accord in an effort to take advantage of the expected explosion of the sale of mobile digital content in the coming years. Under the agreement, Microsoft's PlayReady DRM technology - which helps content owners like music companies and service providers deliver digital content while restricting access - will be loaded directly on some Nokia phones beginning early next year.
- Cost-conscious consumers transform European mobile phone market
Across Europe, growing ranks of cost-conscious consumers are transforming the Continent's mobile phone market by bypassing established networks and forcing big operators to reinvent themselves to stay competitive. The pressure to "go low" is now so great that T-Mobile, the wireless unit of Deutsche Telekom, last month created its own discount brand, Congstar.
Issue no. 378 - 5 August 2007
- EU - Commission proposes to remove restrictions on radio spectrum for innovative wireless services
The Commission has proposed measures to make it easier and more lucrative for mobile operators in Europe to offer and develop innovative wireless technologies. By opening radio spectrum for advanced mobile data and multimedia services (such as 3G services that allow video streaming and fast downloads on a mobile handset), the Commission proposals, if they become law, will increase the number and choice of wireless services available, and will expand their geographic coverage to the benefit of all European citizens. The new EU measures will also reduce network deployment costs for Europe's wireless communications industry.
- EU - Roaming after the deadline: Most operators comply with the law
One month after the EU Roaming Regulation to reduce mobile roaming charges by up to 70% entered into force, the Commission has published a website to benchmark how mobile operators in all 27 Member States have applied the new EU rules. The Commission has found that the broad majority of mobile phone operators comply with the EU Regulation by offering customers the new "Eurotariff". The Commission notes that many operators offered the Eurotariff already at the start of July while others waited till just before the 30 July deadline. Some operators are also offering prices below the EU cap or new roaming packages.
- EU - Start of reduced mobile phone roaming charges
Mobile phone companies have to cut by up to 70% the amount they charge customers for making and receiving calls between EU countries. Under the new EU rules, the companies have to offer customers now a new pricing structure, with cheaper "roaming" fees.
- EU backs standard for mobile TV
European officials have backed a single standard for the rollout of mobile TV services across Europe. Telecoms commissioner Viviane Reding has called on member states to roll out services using the DVB-H standard "as quickly as possible". See also Press Release and Television on the Move (Europa).
- Google sidesteps mobile reports
Google has refused to deny mounting speculation that it is working to produce its own brand mobile phone. Reports suggest that the web giant is developing a series of'GPhones', centred on its mobile services, such as search, e-mail and maps.
- UK - Television is a turnoff for mobile users
Television on mobile phones might not be dead in the UK, but after BT's decision last week to close its Movio service for Virgin Mobile, it is certainly in intensive care - and operators have shovelled a lot of money that they won't recoup into it. Yet it might be rescued by the European Commission, which is preparing to mandate a European standard for mobile TV - just as it did for mobile phones by enforcing the use of the GSM standard.
Issue no. 377 - 5 July 2007
Issue no. 376 - 10 June 2007
- EU - Roaming : Commission welcomes political agreement in Telecom Council
On 7 June 2007, the Council has adopted politically the European Commission's proposal for an EU Roaming Regulation to bring down mobile roaming charges by up to 70%. The EU Regulation will, as from this summer, enable consumers to benefit from a Eurotariff which sets a maximum limit for calls made and received. These price caps will be further reduced in 2008 and 2009.
- EU caps roaming mobile phone fees
The cost of making mobile phone calls in Europe is set to fall substantially after lawmakers backed plans to cap so-called "roaming" charges. The amount mobile customers are charged by local phone operators for using their handsets while abroad should now fall by as much as 75%. More than 150 million people across Europe will be affected by the changes in the pricing regime. But the new charges are not likely to come into effect until later this year.
- Home truths about telecoms
Mobile operators and handset-makers are turning to social scientists, and in particular to anthropologists, the better to understand how telephones are used. Some of their findings are quite unexpected. A typical user spends 80% of his or her time communicating with just four other people. Despite much talk of "convergence" within the industry, people are in fact using different communications technologies in distinct and divergent ways. Even when people are given unlimited cheap or free calls, the number and length of calls does not increase significantly. Private communications are invading the workplace. Migrants are the most advanced users of communications technology.
- Success for Everest mobile effort
A British climber has set a world record by making a mobile phone call from the top of Mount Everest. In the early hours of 21 May, Rod Baber made two calls from the mountain's north ridge. The calls were made possible when China set up a mobile base station with a line of sight to the north ridge.
- Vodafone's new mobile internet customers can access all areas
Vodafone has launched a new mobile internet service designed to make it easy for customers to access websites from mobile handsets. New 'rendering' technology means almost 10 million of Vodafone's UK customers, who already have the right sort of phone, will be able to get onto any website they want and send emails from existing online services such as Hotmail and GMail.
Issue no. 375 - 9 May 2007
- EU - Roaming price cap shelved as negotiations stall
A European Parliament vote on mobile phone roaming charges has been postponed because the three EU governing bodies cannot agree on a compromise deal. The plan would cap voice call charges for calls made within the EU. Two days of talks failed, leading negotiators to cancel this week's Parliament hearing. It will be heard at the next plenary session, which starts on 21st May. While a cap now seems almost certain, mobile operators seem to have won a concession of a three month delay from politicians, which would allow them to operate without caps during the lucrative summer period. Negotiations are also focusing on whether or not subscribers should be placed on the capped tariffs automatically, or whether or not they should have to request the new price structure.
- EU assembly group moves towards lax roaming rules
The European Parliament's biggest political faction is moving closer to backing looser rules on mobile telephone 'roaming' price caps that would not be automatically set for all consumers. The centre-right European People's Party is scrabbling for enough support among lawmakers that would enable it to pass the proposal backed by EU countries and viewed more favourably by the industry, leapfrogging opposition from the socialist bloc.
- US - Phone for tweens and kids
(Net Family News)
Kajeet is a new cellphone specifically aimed at 8-to-16-year-olds (but probably more appealing to, say, 8-to-11-year-olds). It has a "mature look and simple pricing," the Washington Post reports. "Parents can set monthly allowances" for minutes, ring tones, games, and text messaging on the $99 phone's "pay-as-you-go cellphone service" on the Sprint Nextel network. No contracts or cancellation fees. And there's a "wallets" option, so that calls to family members are covered by Mom, for example, but ring tones come out of the kid's wallet. As for kid phones, The Olympian describes popular brands like Wherify, Disney Phone, Firefly, and Tic Talk.
Issue no. 374 - 1 April 2007
- EU - Mobile TV warned to standardise
European Commission telecoms commissioner Viviane Reding has issued a stern warning to those involved in mobile TV to agree on adopting a single technology standard. She said that if the industry did not agree on one, she would do it for them. Ms Reding warned that Europe risked losing a chance to be a global player in the burgeoning mobile TV market. See Mobile TV: Commission urges industry and Member States to develop a proactive European strategy.
- EU - Substantial progress on Roaming
The EU's 27 Telecom Ministers gathered on 15 March at the CEBIT IT fair in Hannover/Germany for an informal EU Telecom Council to discuss the roaming proposal. Substantial progress has been made on this issue. EU Commissioner Viviane Reding attended the meeting. An ambitious EU regulation that will reduce roaming charges by up to 70 per cent for citizens in the EU is now within reach and could be agreed upon in June. This will be achieved by a combination of compulsory caps both at wholesale and at retail level, following the Commission proposal of July last year. The next important steps are the vote in the European Parliament in May and the formal Telecom Council on 6 and 7 June.
- OECD - Mobile Commerce - consumer issues and policy challenges for a promising market
Mobile commerce is a promising market both for consumers and businesses. However, consumer troubles and complaints are increasing and can sometimes become serious, including issues for minors. Member countries' experiences show that we should ensure that consumers benefit. In particular, countries may review their instruments with regard to a more effective scheme for information disclosure, liability protection over SIM and RFID cards, effective notice to excessive consumption, and the importance of consumer education. Businesses may also consider more effective consumer protection schemes. see also Mobile Multiple Play: New Service Pricing and Policy Implications. This paper provides an overview of the evolution in mobile multiple play services (voice, data and video) and raises relevant regulatory and policy issues. The mobile infrastructure is being upgraded as 3G network coverage expands and as mobile broadcasting networks are being developed.
Issue no. 372 - 25 February 2007
- EU - Mobile operators deceitful on charges, says EU consumer group
Mobile phone operators could easily afford to lower roaming charges to less than what the Commission is asking for, but are engaged in large-scale collusion to keep prices up. Mobile phone operators are "twisting the truth" when they claim to have cut the price of making phone calls abroad, according to a study on roaming charges published on 20 February 2007 by the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) and French consumer group UFC-Que Choisir.
- Mobiles make content their king
Five short films, made especially for mobile phones and commissioned by Robert Redford's Sundance Film Festival, were screened this week at the global mobile industry's annual shindig: 3GSM in Barcelona. After close to a decade of paying only lip service to mobile content, the booming mobile industry this week embraced it. With bundled and subscription pricing for voice taking hold of the industry, new revenues must now come from data services. Many operators are finally starting to tear down their walled gardens. The mobile industry had been trying to create a separate mobile internet but users want to access its sites and services from fixed and mobile devices alike. This is something the mobile industry is finally admitting.
- Phone makers cash in on location services
In a bold move to accelerate the adoption of location services for mobile devices, the world's two largest handset makers have each introduced their own navigation services, a move that could pit them against mobile operators. Nokia and Motorola, the number one and number two handset makers in the world respectively, each introduced new products at the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona. In addition to adding new hardware products that will be able to receive signals from satellites to fix a subscriber's exact location, the companies have also introduced their own navigation services, which they plan to sell directly to consumers.
- Ringtones will always be bigger than mobile smut
Ringtones and music will always take a bigger slice of the mobile content market than games or erotica. An adult content aggregator said the introduction of age verification systems had made it easier to sell what the industry calls 'erotica' or adult content - and you'd call mobile porn - in Europe.
- Sound future for music on mobiles
Music phones are emerging as the quality players in mobile entertainment. Some of the models on show at Europe's largest mobile phone show, 3GSM, already look slick enough to nudge MP3 players off the shelf. The secret of their success is that phones can now become mass-storage devices, using tiny, removable memory chips many gigabytes in size that can take thousands of tracks. Some have embedded memory that can hold yet more.
- Vodafone inks mobile deals with web giants
Vodafone has secured deals with three of the web's highest-profile brands to enable Vodafone Live customers to access mobile versions of MySpace, YouTube and eBay. Applications can be downloaded to existing handsets, and future phones will have the software embedded.
Issue no. 371 - 28 January 2007
- IQ - How one mobile phone made Saddam's hanging a very public execution
The final image of Saddam Hussein was on jerky unedited footage filmed by an anonymous onlooker standing at the foot of the steps beneath the gallows. The footage was filmed on a mobile phone.
- Mobile firm 3 drops international roaming charges
Mobile operator 3 has announced that it is dropping most international roaming charges, and has challenged the rest of the industry to end what it calls the 'international roaming rip-off'. Under the new 3 Like Home pricing policy, subscribers will be able to make calls from abroad at no extra charge, so long as 3 has an arrangement with a local operator. Agreements are now in place in Ireland, Italy, Austria, Australia, Hong Kong, Sweden and Denmark.
Issue no. 370 - 3 December 2006
- EU - Commission and Berlin team up to bring mobile charges down
Germany supports the Commission in its quest to bring down the prices of cross-border mobile phone calls, but the Merkel government wants more far-reaching reductions sooner. Germany wants the caps to come into force during the 2007 summer-holiday season. Operators would not be allowed to tie customers to any tariff model for long periods.
- The phone of the future
The phone has had a splendid 130-year history. What will it look like in future? Will it even be called a phone?
Issue no. 369 - 5 November 2006
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