(RAPDI) Under the Roaming Regulation, mobile phone operators are obliged to offer their customers from 1 March 2010 a monthly cut-off limit of ?50. Customers will receive a warning when they hit 80% of the chosen limit. Until 1 July 2010, customers need to make a deliberate choice in order to benefit from a cut-off limit. Customers who do not make a choice by 1 July 2010 will have the cut-off limit set at ?50 by default as from that date. Thanks to the EU's roaming rules, the price that operators pay each other per megabyte (MB) downloaded has been limited to a safeguard level of 1? per MB, and it will fall over the next two years. These savings should be passed on to consumers and deliver lower prices for surfing the Internet while abroad.
(Networld World) The mobile device and infrastructure industries continued their familiar yet increasingly complex dance at this week's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona: Consumers and enterprises receive ever more devices to choose from, while carriers scramble to figure out how to support, deploy and make money off the mix.
(Guardian) Eric Schmidt has stressed that Google's involvement in mobile is designed to make the operators money, not leave them out of pocket. Google chief executive Eric Schmidt has extended an olive branch to the mobile phone industry saying he is "not trying to run roughshod" over the operators or turn them into "dumb pipes" in the air. Speaking for the first time at Mobile World Congress, the industry's largest trade show, Schmidt faced angry questioning from some in the industry who fear that Google is piggybacking on their massive investment in infrastructure, through ventures such as its Android mobile phone platform, but giving them no return.
(New York Times) In a world where network neutrality has become a rallying cry for advocates of an unfettered Internet, Skype, the pioneer in low-cost and even free online calls, has become a prime example of the limits of wireless freedom. In the United States, Skype is blocked on mobile networks, and the service is available only on the Apple iPhone over Wi-Fi. In Europe, Skype is carried by the company 3 in Britain, Ireland, Austria, Denmark, Italy and Sweden. But many other cellular operators still block its calls, prohibit their customers from downloading Skype's software or outlaw the use of VoIP service in standard sales contracts. Most operators and network equipment makers still perceive Skype and other Internet phone call providers to be potential freeloaders, stealing their customers while they invest billions of dollars to build out and upgrade mobile networks.
(mocoNews.net) Two dozen of the world's largest mobile-phone companies, including Verizon Wireless, AT&T, NTT DoCoMo, Deutsche Telekom, China Mobile and Vodafone, are teaming up to create an "open international applications platform," which is in direct response to Apple's success with its own iPhone App Store. see Release. The announcement was made at Mobile World Congress. In addition to the 24 carriers, the GSMA and three device manufacturers - LG, Samsung and Sony Ericsson - are also supporting the initiative. All combined, the group reaches 3 billion subscribers worldwide, making it easily the largest app-store initiative. However, the task will also be exceedingly complicated because of the massive scope and technological barriers in uniting so many disparate platforms and operators.
(BBC) Facebook dominates the lives of mobile internet users in the UK, according to figures from a mobile industry body. The social network accounts for nearly half of all the time people in the UK spend going online using their phones.
The data, from the GSM Association (GSMA), showed that people in the UK spent around 2.2bn minutes browsing the social network during December alone
(ARs Technica) The real news at Google's event wasn't a phone at all, but a URL: http://google.com/phone. An online storefront that, if successful, could knock one of the major pillars out the current, much-reviled US carrier model and result in faster, cheaper, more flexible service for mobile users. Here's how it works. In short, what Google announced wasn't just the Nexus One, but America's America's first carrier-independent smartphone store; the Google store is now the only smartphone store in the US where, for every phone on offer, you first pick which phone you want, and then you pick a network and a plan on that network.
(Net Family News) If anyone had any doubts about how big the mobile Web will be, Google's release of its Nexus One phone should erase them. It's part of Google's "careful plan to try to do what few other technology companies have done before: retain its leadership as computing shifts from one generation to the next," the New York Times reports. And this shift is computing, shopping, gaming, info-gathering, communicating, photo-sharing, learning, teaching, producing, etc. on smart phones. According to Nielsen, about 18% of mobile phones were smartphones last year (up from 13% the year before, and a projected 40-50% of mobile phones sold this year will be smart phones.
(BBC) A German computer scientist has published details of the secret code used to protect the conversations of more than 4bn mobile phone users. Karsten Nohl, working with other experts, has spent the past five months cracking the algorithm used to encrypt calls using GSM technology. The work could allow anyone - including criminals - to eavesdrop on private phone conversations.
(Ars Technica) Data from Opera's mobile Web proxy servers suggest mobile Web browsing is exploding among users of standard cell phones, thanks in part to demand driven by consumers that expect smartphone-like browsing as well the more advanced capabilities of mobile browsers like Opera Mini.
(BBC) Websites mis-selling mobile ringtones and other services have been forced to clean up their acts, following a European Union crackdown. Some 301 sites were investigated, resulting in the closure of 54 and the correction of 159. The biggest problems were unclear pricing and misleading advertising suggesting ringtones were free. The investigation was a direct response to hundreds of complaints from parents and consumers across Europe. See Commission Press Release.
(BBC) Researchers predict that more than one billion people around the world will be using mobile broadband by 2012. However some European mobile operators claim that current levels of use are already crippling their networks. In Britain mobile operator Vodafone is doubling its mobile broadband capacity to 14.4Mbps (Megabits per second).
The new service rolling out across the UK should give users a realistic peak speed of 10.8Mbps, says the company.
(Reuters) 3G cards or sticks that allow people to get online via the mobile network from anywhere have come to symbolise how a goldmine of surging data traffic risks becoming a nightmare for mobile operators. Dongles are often sold with a flat-rate data plan, or with a subscription allowing a certain number of megabits of data to be used. They are fuelling a boom in mobile data traffic that is so heavy it is putting unprecedented stress on networks. Yet even as traffic explodes, revenues from these new services aren't keeping up because of the intense pressure on prices -- so investment in improvements risks squeezing margins.
(Economist) Mobile phones have transformed lives in the poor world. Mobile money could have just as big an impact. mobile phones have evolved in a few short years to become tools of economic empowerment for the world's poorest people. These phones compensate for inadequate infrastructure, such as bad roads and slow postal services, allowing information to move more freely, making markets more efficient and unleashing entrepreneurship. All this has a direct impact on economic growth: an extra ten phones per 100 people in a typical developing country boosts GDP growth by 0.8 percentage points, according to the World Bank. More than 4 billion handsets are now in use worldwide, three-quarters of them in the developing world (see our special report). Even in Africa, four in ten people now have a mobile phone.
(01net) Pointdecontact.net, le site pour dénoncer les contenus illicites et choquants, est maintenant accessible sur les mobiles. Depuis le 23 septembre 2009, une version mobile est aussi en ligne à l'adresse www.pointdecontact.mobi.
(Reuters) Vodafone launched a Web service meshing social networks, contacts and entertainment in a bid to fend off stiff competition from Apple, Google and Nokia. Vodafone, the world's largest mobile phone operator by revenue, said its Vodafone 360 service would launch on two tailor-made Samsung phones and four Nokia phones in eight European countries by Christmas. Vodafone 360 will allow users to store contacts from social networks such as Facebook and other Internet accounts in one place and will automatically synchronize to users' computers.
(Europa) The EU will invest € 18 million into research that will underpin next generation 4G mobile networks. The European Commission just decided to start the process of funding research on Long Term Evolution (LTE) Advanced technology, that will offer mobile internet speeds up to a hundred times faster than current 3G networks. LTE is becoming the industry's first choice for next generation mobile networks, also thanks to substantial EU research funding since 2004.
(Pew Internet & American Life Project) Teenagers have previously lagged behind adults in their ownership of cell phones, but several years of survey data collected by the Pew Internet & American Life Project show that those ages 12-17 are closing the gap in cell phone ownership. The Project first began surveying teenagers about their mobile phones in its 2004 Teens and Parents project when a survey showed that 45% of teens had a cell phone. Since that time, mobile phone use has climbed steadily among teens ages 12 to 17 ? to 63% in fall of 2006 to 71% in early 2008. In comparison, 77% of all adults (and 88% of parents) had a cell phone or other mobile device at a similar point in 2008. Cell phone ownership among adults has since risen to 85%, based on the results of our most recent tracking survey of adults conducted in April 2009. The Project is currently conducting a survey of teens and their parents and will be releasing the new figures in early 2010.
(Simplifydigital) There is both good news and bad news in the latest announcement from Vodafone's mobile broadband headquarters. The good news is that they have again been pushing the mobile broadband boundaries with news that they are just about to launch a 21Mbs mobile broadband package. The bad news? It's Vodafone Greece not Vodafone UK who are launching the high speed mobile broadband product and there is no news yet on when these speeds are expected to hit UK shores. Vodafone Greece have long been renowned as the pioneers of high speed mobile broadband. Earlier this year residents of mainland Greece were the first people in Europe to be offered mobile broadband speeds of up to 14Mbs
(TechCrunch) Looking over the top 10 paid iPhone apps list, I noticed one called Offender Locator. It's an app to show you registered sex offenders living around you. While all 50 states require that sexual offenders register themselves, and allow anyone to access the information online, most people never look at it. The app allows you to see a list of offenders based on your current location (using the iPhone's location services), any contact's address, or it allows you to manually enter an address. The app then scours the database and lists the sexual offenders based on their proximity to the location you gave. You can click on any of these names to get a picture of the person, their information like date of birth, height, weight, and a picture. And you can also see the specific sexual crime they were charged with.
(RAPID) Europe took an important step towards a new generation of mobile services when the Council of Ministers followed the European Parliament in approving a proposal from the European Commission. The updated GSM Directive now allows the 900 MHz frequency band to be used to provide faster, pan-European services such as mobile internet while ensuring the continuation of GSM services. The renewed Directive will enter into force this October.
(BBC) Donations to UK charities sent via text message will be free of VAT from this week as part of an agreement with the major mobile phone operators. Under the framework set up by the Mobile Data Association (MDA), gifts made to a dedicated short code will have the VAT waived. It means charities of all sizes will be able to receive an estimated 10p in the £1 extra for text gifts of up to £10.
(Associated Press) BlackBerry users in the Mideast business centers of Dubai and Abu Dhabi who were directed by their service provider to upgrade their phones were actually installing spy software that could allow outsiders to peer inside, according to the device's maker. The Abu Dhabi-based mobile service provider Etisalat, which is majority owned by the United Arab Emirates government, earlier sent text messages to BlackBerry customers in the country instructing them to follow a link to update their phones. Etisalat says it has more than 145,000 BlackBerry users in the UAE.
(Pew Internet & American Life Project) 56% of adult Americans have accessed the internet by wireless means, such as using a laptop, mobile device, game console, or MP3 player. The most prevalent way people get online using a wireless network is with a laptop computer; 39% of adults have done this. The report also finds rising levels of Americans using the internet on a mobile handset. One-third of Americans (32%) have used a cell phone or Smartphone to access the internet for emailing, instant-messaging, or information-seeking. On the typical day, nearly one-fifth (19%) of Americans use the internet on a mobile device, up substantially from the 11% level recorded in December 2007. See also Home Broadband Adoption 2009. 63% of adult Americans now have broadband internet connections at home.
(Reueters) Apple said it can't meet current demand for the iPhone 3GS. The 3GS is available in 18 countries and is being rolled out this summer to another 80-plus countries. Overall, the company sold 5.2 million iPhones in the June quarter, ahead of many analysts' estimates. That total includes sales of the reduced-price $99 iPhone 3G.
(ITU) The latest publication by ITU-T's Technology Watch looks into the quickly growing field of mobile applications. Mobile applications (apps) are add-on software for handheld devices, such as smartphones and personal digital assistants (PDA). Between 2008 and 2009, the market for smartphones is expected to grow by 23 per cent, against an overall decline in the total mobile phone market caused by the economic crisis. The availability of a wide choice of applications can be critical to the commercial success of new mobile devices. Even as more smartphones are sold, the creation of mobile applications to run on them is constrained by the fragmentation of the market between different platforms. Mobile Applications describes the mobile application market and identifies initiatives that aim at standards for an open and interoperable mobile environment. Mobile Applications is the first publication in a series of TechWatch Alerts. Alerts are intended to provide a brief but concise overview (3-5 pages) of emerging technologies and trends in the field of ICTs.
(EurActiv) The European Commission is threatening to brandish the new roaming regulation or antitrust rules in order to block plans by major EU telecoms operators to restrict the use of Internet calling services like Skype via their mobile networks. Replying to a written question by a Socialist MEP, Information Society Commissioner Viviane Reding made clear that the new roaming regulation, which entered into force at the beginning of July, is also aimed at avoiding any discrimination between technologies.
(BBC) A third of young people regularly access Facebook and Twitter via their mobile, a new report has found. The study, published by mobile research firm CCS Insight, found that access to social networking sites was driving the take-up of mobile internet services. Facebook is more popular than Bebo, MySpace and Twitter combined, it found.
(Guardian) The days of drawers full of chargers for mobile phones you no longer use could soon be over after manufacturers agreed to use a universal model. Ten companies including Apple, LG, Motorola, Nokia and Sony Ericsson have signed up to offer the charger, which will be based on a Micro-USB connector. Currently, when consumers buy a mobile phone they are provided with a new charger even if the old one still works.
(Siliconvalley.com) Apple's iPhone has already shaken up the mobile phone world. Next, it may shake up the video game industry. In less than a year, the device has become a significant game platform. But its bigger impact could be to help change the way the game industry does business. The iPhone is one of the first widely successful gaming platforms in which games are completely digitally distributed; the only way to get games on the device is to download them. That, along with some other important factors, has already created a new market. On the iPhone, consumers can find more games updated more regularly and at a cheaper cost per game than what they'd find on a typical dedicated game console.
(RAPID) The European Commission has endorsed Slovenia's telecoms regulator's (APEK) plan to require Slovenia's largest mobile operator, Mobitel, to continue to give competitors access to its network at regulated prices. Unlike most other EU countries, Slovenia's market for wholesale access and call origination services on mobile networks is still not effectively competitive. Competitors, for the time being, still rely on Mobitel's network to provide full national coverage and competitive services to their subscribers. Once they have rolled out their own networks, regulation should be withdrawn.
(Economist) Laptops are evolving - and forcing the rest of the computer industry to change. see also Pre conceived Stiffer competition for the smart-phone throne and Tempting fruit A growing hunger to profit from the global market for smart phones.
(RAPDI) The ministers of the 27 EU Member States formally adopted the new EU roaming rules proposed by the European Commission and approved by the European Parliament in April. The new EU roaming rules will lead to further reductions of up to 60% on consumers' roaming bills as of 1 July ? just in time for this year's summer holidays. The new EU Roaming Regulation in particular makes sure that consumers do not pay more than €0.11 (excl. VAT) for sending a text message while abroad in the EU. Consumers will also be able to surf the web, download movies or send holiday pictures with their mobile without experiencing ?bill shocks? back home for having roamed this summer. Under the new rules, mobile operators must also bill their customers for roaming calls by the second after the first 30 seconds ? instead of on a per minute basis ?, which is expected to cut phone bills by as much as 24%. The new EU roaming rules will now become effective as of 1 July in all 27 EU Member States.
(Irish Times) A service allowing mobile phone users to block unwanted messages from other phones will be available from next month. The service, designed to combat bullying on mobile phones is being offered by O2 and is likely to appeal in particular to parents worried about their children?s exposure to such threats. O2's service, called Block It, allows O2 customers to block unwanted text, picture and video messages from other mobile phone numbers.
(Filtering Facts) Last year, Japan announced a plan to provide filters for mobile devices used by minors. Since April 1, cell phone companies have been obligated to provide filters on cell phones sold to youth under 18 years of age. Though parents are not punishable under the law, they are required to inform cell phone companies if a phone they are purchasing is for use by a child. Only one in every three Tokyo middle school students has activated filters on their cell phones that block access to sites considered harmful to youth, a police survey has found. Among the reasons given by students for not activating the filters, "Because my parents have not told me to" was highest at 42.1 percent. Likewise, the top reason for activating the filters was "Because my parents told me to" at 64.6 percent.
(RPAID) A text message sent from abroad in the EU will cost no more than €0.11 as of 1 July, instead of €0.28 today. The times where consumers had to expect "bill shocks" for downloading a picture or a movie with a mobile phone while roaming in the EU are over. The European Parliament, in its plenary session in Strasbourg, today voted by a large majority in favour of new EU rules on SMS and data roaming. The Parliament also voted for further cuts in the price of mobile phone calls while roaming in another EU country. The present cap for a mobile phone call made abroad will progressively drop from €0.46 to €0.35 per minute by July 2011, and from €0.22 today to €0.11 for mobile calls received while roaming abroad. Mobile operators will also be required to bill roaming calls by the second from the 31st second at the latest, which will end the current practice under which consumers are overcharged by up to 24%. As the Council of EU Telecoms Ministers has already signalled its agreement with the new roaming rules, the vote paves the way for an entry into force of the new rules just in time for the summer holidays. European consumers are expected to save up to 60% on their bill for using a mobile phone abroad in the EU.
(RAPID) The European Commission today called on mobile operators to do more to keep children safe while using mobile phones by putting in place all the measures in the voluntary code of conduct, signed by 26 mobile operators in 2007. A report just published by the GSM Association, the trade body of the mobile phone industry, showed that national self-regulatory codes based on the framework agreement brokered by the European Commission now exist in 22 Member States, 90% of them in line with the 2007 agreement, and 80% of operators have put in place measures to control child access to adult content.
(GSM Association) Two years on from the introduction of the European Framework for Safer Mobile Use by Younger Teenagers and Children, Pricewaterhouse Coopers published a report summarising the status of its implementation in the EU. The report shows that the Framework has been transposed into codes of conduct in 22 EU Member States and that mobile operator signatories have taken substantial action to implement these codes alongside other voluntary activities.
(RAPID) More and more European air passengers are being offered the choice to use their normal mobile phone to send text messages, browse the web or even make calls on board airplanes. One year after the European Commission put in place common rules for safe use of mobile phones on aircrafts and for simple and non-bureaucratic authorisations of this essentially cross border service, 27 European aircraft have been equipped to allow the secure use of standard GSM handsets onboard aircraft while flying in European airspace. The number of aircrafts enabled for in-flight use of mobile phones is expected to double by the end of the year
(EurActiv) Prices of mobile phone calls made between EU countries will be further lowered as of July this year, according to an agreement on the EU's 'roaming regulation'. As part of the deal, however, telecoms companies will still be able to subject users to an initial charging period of 30 seconds, which should enable operators to maintain some revenue. According to the text of the final agreement, mobile phone calls passed from one EU country to another will be capped at ?43 cents per minute from July 2009, down from the current limit of ?46 cents. This cap should be further decreased to ?39 cents from July 2010, and to ?35 cents from July 2011. More good news for consumers came with an agreement on a new system to prevent so-called 'bill shocks' for data roaming, which frequently hit mobile Internet users when abroad. The new regulation sets a ?50 limit for data roaming per month (excluding VAT). Once a customer reaches 80% of this amount, the mobile operator will send a warning message, giving details of a procedure to continue data roaming. Should the user fail to respond, the operator must automatically cut the service once the cap is reached.
(Economist) Even industry veterans have been surprised by the rapid take-up of mobile broadband - using built-in receivers or plug-in "dongles" to provide internet access to laptops via high-speed mobile networks. The advantage of this is that it works anywhere - unlike short-range Wi-Fi technology, it is not limited to a few hotspots. In Western Europe alone, the number of mobile-broadband users will grow by 50% to 27m this year. Worldwide, there are thought to be around 100m. The growth, however, comes with a couple of big drawbacks for the operators. One is loss of control. Subscribers can do what they want: the operator is merely a "dumb pipe" to the internet. Next, rates have been falling quickly. see also
Boom in the bust.
(Reuters) Everybody at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona wanted to be the new best friend of the social networks. From the world's biggest phone maker, Nokia, to tiny Irish semiconductor start-up Movidia, delegates to the wireless industry's biggest annual gathering couldn't stop talking about Facebook, MySpace and Bebo. The top executive at MySpace, owned by News Corp, said members reaching the network from mobile phones had quadrupled in the last year to 20 million, out of 135 million unique visitors in total, and Facebook has seen a similar leap. MySpace announced deals at the fair with Nokia and Palm, who will adapt some of their phones to make uploading pictures or video to the social network a matter of a single push of a button. The so-called Facebook phone or Social Mobile made by INQ, a spin-off of Hutchison Whampoa's 3, won handset of the year award from the show's hosts, the GSM Association - and everyone involved was eager to claim a share of the credit.
(FT) European policymakers are to push through rules to cut mobile phone bills despite opposition from member states. Interconnection fees are the latest front in a protracted battle between mobile phone operators and Brussels. Twelve countries, including Germany, the UK and Spain, voted against plans by Viviane Reding, the European telecoms commissioner, to force operators to cut the amounts they charge each other for carrying calls across their networks. Fierce lobbying by mobile operators meant only five countries supported the Commission's proposal to force them to reduce those charges by over two-thirds, to between 1.5 and 3 cents a minute, by early 2012. Ten countries abstained. But a spokesman for Ms Reding said the plans had "wide support" in the EU and would be adopted by the Commission in early April.
(Reuters) Orange a annoncé sa décision de se pourvoir en cassation après la confirmation par la cour d'appel de Paris de la suspension de son exclusivité sur la commercialisation de l'iPhone d'Apple en France. Rejetant un recours d'Apple et d'Orange, la cour d'appel a en effet validé la décision prise le 17 décembre par le Conseil de la concurrence, à la demande de Bouygues Telecom.
(Heise) Einer Studie der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) München zufolge gibt es keinen Zusammenhang zwischen der individuellen Belastung durch Mobilfunkstrahlung und dem Wohlbefinden von Kindern und Jugendlichen. Das Institut und die Poliklinik für Arbeits-, Sozial- und Umweltmedizin der LMU hatte die individuelle Mobilfunkbelastung von rund 3000 Heranwachsenden (1524 Jugendliche zwischen 13 und 17 Jahren, 1498 Kinder zwischen 8 und 12 Jahren) über einen Zeitraum von 24 Stunden per Dosimeter gemessen und parallel dazu ihr Wohlbefinden abgefragt. Die Studienteilnehmer sollten angeben, ob und wie stark sie unter Befindlichkeitsstörungen leiden, wie Kopfschmerzen, Gereiztheit, Nervosität, Schwindel, Müdigkeit, Angst, Konzentrationsproblemen und Einschlafproblemen. Dabei wurde sowohl das aktuelle Befinden am Untersuchungstag als auch das Wohlbefinden der letzten sechs Monate betrachtet.
(Irish Times) Parents can help protect their children and teenagers from mobile phone-based bullying, according to a new guide produced by the Irish Cellular Industry Association (ICIA). The mobile operators in Ireland - Vodafone, O2, Meteor and 3 - have come together to publish Mobile phones: A parent's guide to safe and sensible use. The booklet warns that young people using mobile phones can be bullied, communicate with people they should not, view online content that is unsuitable for their age and waste money. However, when the owner of an account is a child, operators offer parents a service called "dual access". This means parents can check the numbers their child has been calling and texting, and keep an eye on the amount of money spent. Parents can also ask operators to block certain services.
(RAPID) The European Commission has published a set of guidelines for the authorisation of Mobile TV to accelerate roll-out of the service across Europe. Mobile TV revenues worldwide are expected to reach more than 7.8 billion in 2013. The commercial services launched before summer 2008 in some European countries show that there is an increasing consumer demand: in the Netherlands alone, 10 000 users had already subscribed to the service at the beginning of autumn. Authorisations from Member States for Mobile TV services are needed before any commercial launches by operators.
(OUT-LAW News) EU citizens travelling in other EU countries must be charged no more than 0.11 plus VAT per text message compared to the current EU average of 0.29 if the European Parliament backs a proposal that was approved by telecoms ministers. Data downloads will also be capped at 1 per megabyte for wholesale fees under proposals designed to protect travellers against "bill shocks". The plan also extends the duration of a current cap on voice roaming charges from 2010 to 2013.
(Economist) Not all is doom and gloom in the mobile-phone industry. On the contrary, it is going through two important shifts that promise to generate much growth and profit in the years to come. Sales of "smart" phones - those that allow you to surf the internet, download music and use other data services, as well as make calls and send text messages - are booming. Second, and more important, as handsets get smarter the nature of the industry will change. It will be less about hardware and more about software, services and content. More will be spent this year on such intangibles than on the handsets themselves and a fierce battle between operating systems for handsets has broken out.
(Guardian) Internet giants Facebook and MySpace went head to head again, as they outlined audacious plans for the future at the Web 2.0 Summit, an annual gathering of some of the world's top technologists and investors. In his talk Zuckerberg hinted that bringing Facebook to mobile phones could be a crucial next step for the company - and he is not alone. The chance to make social networking truly mobile, taking advantage of increasingly popular phone technology such as built-in satellite location, is being touted by some as the next big thing.
(Heise) Ein Jahr nach der Unterzeichnung einer Selbstverpflichtung für mehr Jugendschutz durch Mobilfunkanbieter und die Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle Multimedia-Diensteanbieter (FSM) ziehen die beteiligten Unternehmen positive Bilanz. Die vom rheinland-pfälzischen Jugendministerium initiierte Selbstverpflichtung sei erfolgreich umgesetzt worden, teilte die FSM mit.
(RAPID) Mobile phone users can expect the cost of sending text messages from abroad in the EU to be much cheaper next summer. The European Commission has proposed to reduce the price of roaming text messages by 60% as of 1 July 2009. EU citizens travelling in other EU countries should pay no more than ?0.11 per SMS compared to the current EU average of ?0.29. The Commission also wants to improve transparency for surfing the web and downloading data on a mobile phone while abroad: consumers used to cheaper data services at home should be better protected against roaming "bill shocks" that can run to thousands of euro. The proposals will now be submitted to the European Parliament and Council, who must agree before they become law. The EU already reduced charges for making and receiving calls abroad (voice roaming) by 60% in summer 2007.
(BBC) Vodafone has warned that 40 million mobile phone users in Europe might switch off their handsets because of proposed EU reforms to call charges. Cuts in termination rates - the amount one network charges another to connect a call - sought by Brussels could be damaging to the industry, it said. If mobile firms had to raise fees to make up the loss, users could leave in droves, its research showed.
(RAPID) EU Consumer Commissioner Meglena Kuneva has announced the results of an EU-wide investigation into websites offering mobile phone services such as ring-tones and wallpapers. The enquiry, which was carried out on more than 500 websites across the 27 Member States, Norway and Iceland, found that 80% of the sites checked need to be further investigated for suspected breaches of EU consumer rules. Many of the websites target children and young people. Problems found included: unclear price information where prices are incomplete did not include taxes or customers are unaware that they are signing up to a subscription. Large numbers of websites do not provide some of the required contact information about the trader. Other problems relate to misleading information where key information is hidden in very small print or hard to find on a website or the word "free" is used to mislead consumers into a long-term contracts. Companies will be contacted by the national authorities and asked to clarify or correct problems identified. Failure to do so can result in legal action leading to fines or closure of their websites. For cross border cases, national authorities will work with colleagues from other EU authorities. Authorities are asked to report back on their progress in the first half of 2009. See also Frequently Asked Questions.
(Guardian) Orange is to launch a major push for mobile social networking in the UK, introducing a service which aggregates users' accounts across the major social networks.
Launched as a trial in France last month under the name MySocialPlace, Orange has now partnered with the biggest social networks - Facebook, MySpace and Bebo - to introduce the service in the UK in the autumn under the Orange World branded website. UK users will also be able to access the chat service Flirtomatic and the photo-sharing site Pikeo, while Orange customers in France can use the Skyrock community, DailyMotion video site and dating service Meetic.
The 2.5 billion text messages sent every year by roaming customers in the EU cost over 10 times more than domestic short messages (SMS), show figures released by the European Commission. The average cost of a roaming text message in the EU between October 2007 and March 2008 was ?0.29 according to the European Regulators? Group (ERG), but can be as high as ?0.80 for travellers from Belgium. Calls on the industry for self-regulation and voluntary reductions of roaming prices for text messages have not been answered. The Commission will therefore start working on measures to ensure that consumers benefit from a truly single market for mobile text services. The Commission will also seek to put an end to "bill shocks" that can hit roaming customers using a mobile connection to surf the Internet.
(Sunday Times) More than 90% of websites selling ringtones for mobile phones to children and teenagers are misleading them with unclear charges and confusing information, an investigation by the European commission has found. The tactics include signing up users to subscriptions when they believe they are downloading one-off tunes and using free offers to lure them into long-term paid contracts. Brussels is to announce that it will launch inquiries into dozens of British ringtone websites, in addition to many others across Europe. In a further move against the exploitation of mobile phone users, Viviane Reding, the European Union telecoms commissioner, said that operators had adopted a "bunker mentality" by not reducing their international call charges.
(Guardian ) Millions of pay-as-you-go mobile phone customers have been hit with a sharp rise in the minimum price for making a call as networks attempt to claw back lost revenue. O2 and T-Mobile this week doubled the minimum connection charge for many of their prepay customers, while Vodafone imposed a more modest rise last month. In many cases these charges have jumped from 10p to 20p or 25p.
(vnunet.com) New research suggests that global mobile web users will jump from 577 million today to over 1.7 billion by 2013. Juniper Research attributes the growth primarily to surging demand for collaborative applications, and greater penetration of next-generation mobile infrastructure. Accessing social networking, user-generated content, instant messaging and location-based services on the go will drive more and more people to the mobile web, the report claims. However, this shift towards the direct-to-consumer model will put pressure on mobile network operators and handset manufacturers to relinquish some of their control over the value chain by opening up networks and devices to third-parties.
(RAPID) Use of mobile data services within individual Member States is growing much faster than cross border data roaming services, says a Connect2Roam study carried out for the European Commission. This is because mobile operators are introducing aggressive retail rates to compete with existing broadband offers. However, use of data roaming services remains limited as consumers are discouraged by extremely high charges when compared to national prices, as well as a lack of transparency related to the pricing by volume of data (Megabytes) used. High-volume users are susceptible to bill shocks if, for example, they surf the internet for long periods when using their datacard connection on a laptop computer.
(RAPID) The Commission has launched a public consultation on the future regulation of "voice call termination rates" in the EU. Voice call termination rates are the wholesale tariffs charged by the operator of a customer receiving a phone call to the operator of the caller's network. These tariffs are determined by the intervention of national telecoms regulators. At the moment the decisions of the national telecoms regulators result in very divergent rates across the EU. This distorts competition between operators from different countries and between fixed line and mobile phone operators. The public consultation on this proposal will be open until 3 September 2008.
(ZDNet.co.uk) T-Mobile has announced a cut of 80 percent in its European data-roaming charges, in time for the 1 July deadline imposed on operators by the European Commission. Information society and media commissioner Viviane Reding told operators in February that they would have to make their data-roaming rates more reasonable by the start of July, otherwise the Commission would consider proposing strict new regulations on such charges. T-Mobile said its data-roaming charges within Europe would, as of 1 July, drop from £7.50 per megabyte to £1.50 per megabyte.
(Informa Telecoms & Media) European operators have raised the price of roaming calls into the European Union as much as 163% since the introduction of the Eurotariff to compensate for the loss of roaming revenues within Europe. For example, the average price of a call home to Italy made by a subscriber roaming in Russia has risen 25% since the Eurotariff came into play. A German mobile user outside the EU has seen a massive 163.7% price increase since 2006 for a call home from Africa.
(Economist) In the next few months, the number of mobile phones in use will exceed 3.3 billion, or half the world's population. No technology has ever spread faster around the globe: the mobile phone took less than two decades to reach this degree of penetration. But the ever-restless wireless industry has already set its sights on getting the other half connected. Two recent reports analyse how to add the "next billion" to the subscriber list.
(Economist) By any measure ? revenues, employees, customers ? it is the largest industrial reorganisation ever. And, reflecting how business is done in China, it was announced in the most modest way, with a posting on a government website on May 24th. The country's telecoms industry, with nearly 600m mobile subscribers, 360m fixed-line customers and $244 billion in revenue, will be reconfigured. Six companies will be collapsed into three, each spanning mobile, fixed and broadband services.
(Register) KPN will become the first operator in Europe to launch a nationwide mobile TV service when it begins broadcasting 10 channels across DVB-H next month. The Dutch operator's service kicks off from June 5 and it will offer TV-hungry customers two handsets, the LG KB620 and the Samsung P960, which can receive the broadcasts.
(FT) Cheaper overseas text messages, lower surcharges on mobile phone calls, a shake-up of the EU's radio waves - this striking "to-do" list marks the latest quest by Viviane Reding, the EU telecoms commissioner. She has repeatedly clashed with the industry over her regulatory efforts and while much of the Brussels machine has slowed in the final year-and-a-half of the European Commission's mandate, Mrs Reding seems determined to make the most of her remaining term.
(RAPID) the European Commission invites feedback by industry, consumers and other interested stakeholders to review the functioning and effectiveness of the EU Roaming Regulation, which entered into force on 30 June 2007. According to the provisions of the Regulation, the Commission must report to the European Parliament and the Council in 2008 about the functioning of the new roaming rules and their effects. The public consultation aims to gather responses from mobile operators, businesses, consumer associations and any interested party by 2 July 2008.
(BBC) New monthly mobile price plans from Vodafone will offer unlimited internet access as a standard feature in a bid to meet the growing demand for access to email and social networking on the move. Facebook, Google and the BBC are the top three internet sites on the Vodafone Mobile Internet, according to the company.
(BBC) Developers are being asked to devise applications for mobile devices so users can "access it, mix it up, save it, and store it". The plea to harness the creativity of the internet and apply it on mobile phones was made by Mitchell Baker the chair of Firefox developer Mozilla.
(FT.com) Two of the world's largest mobile phone operators signalled their determination to profit more from the growing popularity of wireless internet. Vodafone, the world's largest operator by revenue, and China Mobile, the largest by number of customers, announced a research project aimed at speeding the roll-out of mobile internet services. Softbank, Japan's third largest mobile operator, is also part of the project, to be known as the joint innovation lab.
(Reuters) Google has seen an acceleration of Internet activity among mobile phone users in recent months since the company introduced faster Web services on selected phone models, fueling confidence the mobile Internet era is at hand. Early evidence showing sharp increases in Internet usage on phones, not just computers, has emerged from services Google has begun offering in recent months on Blackberry e-mail phones, Nokia devices for multimedia picture and video creators and business professionals and the Apple iPhone, the world's top Web search company said.
(Forrester) Thirty eight percent of cell phone users in Western Europe will use mobile Internet services by 2013 according to a new five year forecast by Forrester Research. The growth in adoption means that 125 million Europeans will access the Web regularly from their mobile phone ? triple the number that do so today. One of the key drivers will be the proliferation of 3.5G-enabled devices, which will overtake the number of GSM-only and GPRS phones by 2010. By 2013, one in four consumers will own a 3.5G-enabled phone. Forrester Research Analyst Pete Nuthall said "Deploying high-speed mobile networks and rolling out advanced handsets are not enough to spark demand - our data shows that less than half of 3G phone owners use the 3G capability on their phone. To drive the mobile Internet, operators will need to push flat-rate data plans, increase the number of relevant services and applications, and introduce new devices that provide a better user experience."
(RAPDI) The Commission has added the Digital Video Broadcasting Handheld standard (DVB-H) to the EU List of Standards, which serves as a basis for encouraging the harmonised provision of telecommunications across the EU. The addition of DVB-H is a new step towards establishing a Single Market for Mobile TV in Europe that will enable all EU citizens to watch TV on the move.
(New York Times) Children increasingly rely on personal technological devices like cellphones to define themselves and create social circles apart from their families, changing the way they communicate with their parents.
(New York Times) Bright new "kiddie" telephones have begun appearing on the market that can speed-dial grandma and grandpa with a click of a button. The MO1 - developed by Imaginarium, a toy company, and Telefónica in Spain - prompted some parent groups in Europe to demand a government ban on marketing to children. In France, the health minister recently issued a warning against excessive mobile phone use by young children.
(BBC) Children are at the cutting edge of the mobile internet revolution and both teachers and the phone industry can learn from them. We were using a group of 12 and 13 year olds to investigate how children used - and abused - mobile phones and they were knowledgeable, articulate and very demanding of the technology.
(Pew Internet & American Life Project) 62% of all Americans are part of a wireless, mobile population that participates in digital activities away from home or work. Not only are young people attuned to this kind of access, African Americans and English-speaking Latinos are more likely than white Americans to use non-voice data applications on their cell phones.
(New York Times) Social networks may be nothing new to habitués of the Internet. Several years of competition among Facebook, MySpace and Friendster have generated tens of millions of members. But now the market is teeming with companies that want to bring the same phenomenon to the cellphone. There are so many "mobile social networking" upstarts, in fact, that when New Media Age magazine in Britain tried to identify the "ones to watch," it ended up naming 10 companies.
MeetMoi hopes to revolutionize social networking with the first truly location-based mobile dating service. So whether it is a bar, an office, or a restaurant, users can open their cell phones and use MeetMoi to browse, chat, flirt with and meet people near them. Using groundbreaking technology, MeetMoi looks for people in a specified location and helps its users find local matches. Since MeetMoi values safety above everything, no one's actual location is ever revealed.
(BBC) Microsoft has launched a bid to capture a segment of the growing market for rich web content on mobile phones. The software firm has signed a deal with handset manufacturer Nokia to bring its Silverlight platform to millions of mobile phones. Silverlight is seen as a competitor to Adobe's Flash, which is already used by popular websites such as YouTube.
(IHT) The chief executive of Vodafone, the world's largest mobile operator, rejected Tuesday 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."
(RAPID) Speech by Viviane Reding, Member of the European Commission responsible for Information Society and Media, GSMA Mobile World Congress, Barcelona, 11 February 2008. Data roaming: I want to see the end of these artificial borders between networks and nations which are both preventing private consumers and business customers to benefit fully from the single borderless market we have created between 27 EU countries so far. The objective is clear: Sending text messages or downloading data via a mobile phone while in another EU country should not be substantially more expensive for a consumer than sending text messages or downloading data at home. If the mobile industry responds to the need for attractive packages of data services offered to their customers, with a credible Eurotariff for data roaming in all EU Member States, I will applaud your action. However, if I see no such single market offers for data roaming evolve by 1 July of this year, I will have no other choice than to propose regulatory intervention again.
(BBC) Thousands of young people have been sent fake scam text messages by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to warn them about con-artists. The campaign saw 25,000 mobile phone users aged between 18 and 24 receive a message telling them they might have won £1,000 in cash. But a second message arrived soon after informing them that the message was a fake and warning them about scams.
(BBC) Mobile firms from across the world have launched a new alliance which aims to block paedophiles using phones to send or receive child sexual abuse images.
The GSMA, the global association for mobile firms, has launched the Mobile Alliance, and says it is vital to act as web access via phones improves. Among planned measures will be a block on mobile phone access to websites which host abusive content. There will also be hotlines to report services carrying inappropriate images. The Alliance has been founded by the GSMA, Hutchison 3G Europe, mobilkom austria, Orange FT Group, Telecom Italia, Telefonica/02, Telenor Group, TeliaSonera, T-Mobile Group, Vodafone Group and dotMobi.
(Guardian) Vodafone has became the latest mobile phone operator to try to head off a clash with regulators over the cost of using the mobile internet abroad by cutting its data roaming prices. EU telecoms commissioner Viviane Reding is expected to use her appearance at next week's mobile world congress (MWC), the industry's annual get-together in Barcelona, to accuse the operators of overcharging customers to send texts and access the mobile internet while overseas.
(BBC) Mobile phone use does not raise the risk of brain tumours, a Japanese study suggests. The research is the first to look at the effects of hand set radiation levels on different parts of the brain. Tokyo Women's Medical University found no increased risk of the three main types of brain cancer among regular mobile phone users. The study, comparing 322 brain cancer patients and 683 healthy people, appears in British Journal of Cancer.
(IHT) The mobile phone is now the world's best-selling portable music device - even if most people don't play tunes on their phone. An MP3 player is almost standard on any midrange or high-end phone coming to market these days. Orange is about to open digital music stores in a half-dozen countries. The Orange stores will not be just for phone users, however. They will be on the Web, and anyone with an Internet connection can buy. In addition, Orange customers will be able to get their downloads from either their computer or their phone. Internet access is key for music on phones. Nokia said that 75 percent of customers were "sideloading" music from their computers to their phones via a cable, while 25 percent were downloading the tunes over the air.