About this weblog

What you need to know: This weblog captures key data points about the global telecoms industry. I use it as an electronic notebook to support my work for Pringle Media.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

One number, many devices

This post is sponsored by the Enterprise Mobile Hub and BlackBerry

An elegant solution to patchy indoor coverage and exhausted batteries.

For most people, so-called unified communications (UC) remains a pipe dream. As they juggle their personal and professional lives, many people still have multiple telephone numbers, email accounts and messaging IDs. That makes life unnecessarily complex.

Soft-launched two months ago by O2 in the U.K., TU Go is designed to change that by enabling you to use your mobile number to make and receive calls and exchange text messages from Wi-Fi-only tablets and PCs, as well as mobile phones. How is it faring in the marketplace? Is it meeting the pent-up demand for more simplicity?

The Brits that have downloaded the app are using it for between 10% and 15% of their communications, according to Stephen Shurrock, CEO of New Business Ventures, Telefónica Digital, who was speaking at the TM Forum in Nice last week. In an interview, Shurrock said TU Go has been “very well received” by the customers invited to use the service. He added that O2 UK will begin promoting TU Go over the summer and the service will also be launched in Argentina. Although Shurrock didn’t give much detail on how the service is being used, his remarks suggest Telefónica believes TU Go has a market.

Stephen Shurrock told the TM Forum that
TU Go is gaining traction
Tu Go isn’t available for business customers yet, but I suspect those British employees working in a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) environment, will bring TU Go into the office, as that is where a cloud-based mobile number could really come into its own.

Circumventing capacity and coverage problems
Capacity and coverage problems can make cellular networks all but unusable in crowded office blocks. But a cloud-based mobile number can overcome these issues by enabling employees to easily use the corporate Wi-Fi network to make and receive mobile calls.  Some 61% of mid-to-large companies in the U.S. and 50% in Germany have had indoor mobile coverage and/or capacity problems, according to a survey commissioned by SpiderCloud Wireless. As SpiderCloud sells indoor wireless solutions it has a vested interest in talking up this issue, but those figures ring true to me.

Although there are, of course, many other UC solutions out there, they have generally been built for enterprises rather than consumers. In the era of the consumerisation of IT and BYOD, the boundaries between work and personal lives have blurred – employees want to use the same UC app at home and at work. If you are stuck late in the office, it would be great to be able to use your laptop to quickly fire off a text message to your spouse or children.

Moreover, in a BYOD environment, being able to use a single mobile number across multiple devices gives employees considerable flexibility. If they are in the field and the battery life on their smartphone is running low, they can use their tablet to make a call, safe in the knowledge that their contact’s handset will recognize their mobile number.  (Some 40 percent of online U.S. adults now have a tablet, according to research released by the Consumer Electronics Association.)

The TU Go concept is particularly well suited to the UK, where the mobile networks are pretty ropey and there is a great deal of public Wi-Fi, much of it free, enabling mobile Wi-Fi calling. BT, the incumbent telco, said recently, that it now has more than five million Wi-Fi hotspots in the UK and Ireland, having added more than 20,000 new hotspots each week over the past year.

For mobile operators, extending the mobile number across platforms and across Wi-Fi is an important strategic play that will help them fend off the competition from over-the-top voice and messaging services.  Seamless support for Wi-Fi needs to be a standard feature of any “mobility as a service’ offering.

Other mobile operators are likely to follow Telefónica’s lead and launch TU Go-style services, ushering in further fixed-mobile convergence (FMC).  And it won’t be long before such services infiltrate the enterprise – CIOs need to start thinking now about what this new kind of FMC will mean for their company and its existing systems and solutions.

Unified communications is about to go mass market.

This post is sponsored by the Enterprise Mobile Hub and BlackBerry

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Vodafone's Revenue Fall Accelerates

Vodafone said its group revenue fell by 4.1% year-on-year on an organic basis in the quarter ending March 31 to 11.28 billion British pounds (17.12 billion US dollars). Revenue was down 1.8% in the previous quarter on the same basis. In the quarter ending March 31, group voice revenue was down 8.5% and messaging revenue down 10.2%, while data revenue climbed 11.9%. Vodafone said it saw mobile usage of Facebook rise 300% in the year to March 31.

Still, Vittorio Colao, Group Chief Executive, was upbeat, saying“I remain very excited about our longer term prospects, as customer appetite for high speed data grows rapidly, and companies look to embed mobility into their corporate strategies. The launch of Vodafone Red has been very successful, providing a solid underpinning for future revenue as customers take advantage of the best of the Vodafone experience. Our new targets for high speed mobile network coverage, announced today, combined with our growing capabilities in next generation fixed line access, strengthen our Vodafone 2015 strategy." source: Vodafone statement 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Android and Windows Phone on the Rise

Android and Windows Phone have both gained ground in the smartphone operating system market, according to IDC. The market research firm said Android accounted for 75% of the global market in the first quarter by units shipped, well ahead of iOS with 17%.  source: IDC statement

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Europe Drags Down Telefonica Again

Telefonica said its revenues declined 1.6% in the first quarter of 2013 on an organic basis to 14.14 billion euros. A 3.4% rise in revenues in Latin America was more than offset by a 5.2% decline in Europe.

Telefonica said it will launch the first handsets running the Firefox operating system in the third quarter of this year in Spain, Colombia and Venezuela. It said that five additional countries, including Brazil, will follow in the fourth quarter. "Vendors to launch will be ZTE and Alcatel followed by LG, Huawei and Sony," it added. source: Telefonica presentation 

Sony Predicts 10% Rise in Revenues

Sony said its revenue fell by 3% on a constant currency basis in the quarter ending March 31 to 1.73 trillion Japanese yen (17.45 billion US dollars), as sales declined in its home entertainment and devices divisions. 

However, Sony forecast that its revenues will rise 10.3% in the year to March 31, 2014 to 7.5 trillion yen "primarily due to the depreciation of the yen and an increase in sales in the electronics businesses."

In its mobile phone and computer division, Sony expects sales to increase significantly "primarily due to an anticipated significant increase in unit sales of smartphones and the introduction of high value-added models, as well as due to the introduction of high value-added PCs." source: Sony presentation

Nokia Plans to Sell 100 Million Asha Smartphones

Releasing a new developer platform for its Asha line of smartphones, Nokia said it expects to sell 100 million of the new generation Asha smartphones over "the coming years", beginning with the Nokia Asha 501. Nokia said the new handset will sell for about 99 U.S. dollars before taxes and subsidies from June. Nokia expects the Asha 501 to be available through approximately 60 operators and distributors  in more than 90 countries worldwide. source: Nokia statement

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

DT Sees Light at the End of the Tunnel

Deutsche Telekom said its revenue fell 4.2% year-on-year on an organic basis in the first quarter of 2013 to 13.83 billion euros.  Revenue declined 1.6% in Germany, 6.9% in the rest of Europe and 7.3% in the U.S. (in dollars).

However, DT said it expects service revenues in Germany to return to underlying growth in 2013. It also claimed to have achieved a "significant improvement in customer metrics and postpaid churn" in its U.S. operation. source: DT presentation

Friday, May 3, 2013

Bharti Sees Sales Slowdown

Bharti Airtel, India' leading mobile operator, said its revenues rose 9% year-on-year in the quarter ending March 31 to 204.5 billion Indian rupees (3.8 billion US dollars), a marked slowdown on the 12% growth it achieved in the year to March 31. Bharti's mobile services business grew 7% in South Asia and 5% in Africa during the quarter.

Bharti said it "continued its investments in India on 3G to enhance coverage and quality through roll out of 8,411 new sites. Wireless data revenues grew by 66% to 22,362 million rupees during the year (to March 31), accounting for 5.4% of the total wireless revenues (3.5% in the previous year)." 

In Africa, Bharti said the telecoms sector was impacted by "economic headwinds especially in the Francophone countries which have strong linkages to the euro area, currency movements and inflation, and political unrest in some countries or regions. Competitive intensity was high especially in Nigeria where the market leader dropped tariffs by almost 30%. Price tables were subdued across Africa, and the average ARPU declined from 6.4 US dollars to 5.3 US dollars. Data usage is growing rapidly, but the revenue base is still small to neutralize the impact of voice revenue decline."

Bharti added: "Airtel Africa’s network transformation continued with expansion of 3G networks (ending with 5,676 sites across 12 countries) and improving the stability of 2G networks. The airtel money service is now offered across 15 countries. The company tied up with major device manufacturers to aggressively drive sales of data enabled handsets, especially 3G, and tablets." source: Bharti Airtel statement 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Facebook Posts a Solid Quarter

Facebook said its revenue in the first quarter rose 38% year-on-year to 1.46 billion US dollars. The California-based company said revenue from advertising was 1.25 billion dollars, up 43% year-on-year, while mobile advertising revenue represented approximately 30% of advertising revenue. Payments and other fees revenue was 213 million dollars in the first quarter.

The social network said daily active users rose 26% year-on-year to 665 million on average for March 2013, while monthly active users rose 23% year-on-year to 1.11 billion as of March 31. Facebook also reported that recently-acquired Instagram reached 100 million monthly active users in the first quarter of 2013. source: Facebook statement

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Global Connection Speeds Rise

In the fourth quarter of 2012, the global average Internet connection speed rose 5% quarter-on-quarter to 2.9 Mbps, according to Akamai Technologies. The cloud platform provider said year-over-year, average connection speeds grew by 25%.

Akamai also noted that the fourth quarter of 2012 "saw average connection speeds on surveyed mobile network operators range from a high of just over 8 Mbps to a low of 345 kbps. Eight providers demonstrated average connection speeds in the "broadband" (>4 Mbps) range. Sixty-four more providers delivered average connection speeds greater than 1 Mbps." source: Akamai statement