Archives: A Week in Wireless

May I interest you in the parts of my body?

Canadian vendor Nortel continued its impersonation of the cow in Douglas Adams’ Restaurant at the End of the Universe this week, offering up for consumption various bits and pieces of its anatomy with a pacific smile and a batting of its long eyelashes.

It’s not you it’s me. Actually, that’s not true. It’s you.

A marriage that had the potential to be one of the most influential matches in the industry has been called off, with the parents of the bride-to-be clearly unimpressed by the quality of her suitor. Indian carrier Bharti Airtel’s attempts to woo African regional specialist MTN have come to nought, with the South African government, MTN’s biggest shareholder, understood to have put the kybosh on the whole affair.

Come into my parlour, said the spider to the fly

There was a report on the news in the UK this morning that this autumn will be a bumper season for spiders in this country. This is terrible news for just about everybody, because spiders are horrible. The Informer once spent a month in Costa Rica, a glorious country, and encountered some of the biggest spiders in the world. But that hasn’t helped him overcome the panic he experiences when even the most unprepossessing common-or-garden UK spider scampers into view.

The goose drank wine

Not content with engineering a large scale merger in the UK with French owned carrier Orange, Deutsche Telekom has now set its sites on some monster consolidation in the US. That’s the rumour, anyway, and as any follower of international soccer-ball knows, you can never discount the Germans.

Together at last

Way back in 1993, in a development of which a young the Informer was blissfully unaware, the world’s first GSM1800 network was launched in the UK under the moniker Mercury One2One. Half a year later, it was joined by a new company called Orange. Each was to make its mark.

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness

It ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings, so they say. And if the ‘it’ in this particular instance is the summertime, then the fat lady is none other than Mama Cass, and she’s crooning that ‘all the leaves are brown and the sky is grey’. It’s autumn. The Informer himself is a seasonal harbinger, of course, and his reappearance, like that of the little robin redbreast, means winter’s on its way.

Musical differences

If iTunes killed the LP, then Spotify’s bringing it back from the dead (the Informer’s afraid there’s nothing we can do for the Radio Star). And if you’re the kind of person that likes the connected side of Abbey Road or anything by Pink Floyd then this is good news. Or it would be if the Beatles’ or Pink Floyd’s music were available on Spotify.

Stress relations

At times, the Informer has often imagined, managing a firm’s communications operation must be about as much fun as a trip to the dentist, when the dentist in question suffers from tremors and dismisses anaesthetic as needless pampering. And as he watched voice-to-text messaging firm Spinvox getting put through the ringer good and proper this week, the thought returned once again.

Poll Position

Here’s a curious little story: Once upon a time (a few weeks ago, actually), after meeting a carrier CEO who predicted that the mobile infrastructure provider market would contract to three players within five years, the Informer decided to run a poll on the website he calls home, He wanted to know which vendors the site’s readers thought would be the three to survive, should the CEO’s prediction come true.

A load of Tosh

There’s been a bit of a Tosh theme this week, and where better to start than with the news that the 1980s ad-theme of “Hello Tosh, got a Toshiba?” can be wheeled out for the mobile phone market. The Japanese vendor’s TG01, unveiled at the Mobile World Congress earlier this year, is now available exclusively on Orange in the UK and France, with the firm planning to sell it in Switzerland, Romania and Poland later on in the year.

The Common Good

Every once in a while this industry produces a decision that is so genuinely sensible that you feel like cracking open a packet of dark chocolate digestive biscuits in celebration. Even if the need for that decision to be taken had been so blindingly obvious for such a long time that contemplating it has actually made you a bit blind, causing you to buy milk chocolate digestives by mistake, leading to a series of tiny but crushing disappointments with every bite you take.

Tina Turner vs Bonnie Tyler

During the 1980s an inferno of socio-political debate threatened to raze the great institution of big-haired power balladry to its very foundations. On one side, shaking her hips super-fast to add urgency to her cause was Tina Turner. An avowed individualist and staunch believer in self-determination, Turner’s rallying cry – “We don’t need another hero” – thundered around the steamy-windowed corridors of power.

The Chinese take away

The Informer met with Tarek A. Robbiati this week who, as some of you will no doubt be aware, is chief executive officer of Hong Kong’s leading operator CSL. He was in town with sole supplier ZTE to sing the praises of his new HSPA+ SDR all-IP network which, he said, is good for speeds up to 21Mbps. More interesting to the Informer, though, were Robbiati’s predictions about the future of the infrastructure supply market.

You will come into some money…

The Informer received an email this week from a man called Russell Grant who, for those of you not from these shores, is a has-been British TV psychic. A chubby, beaming, clammy kind of chap in ruffled paisley shirts, Grant was once a stalwart of the kind of daytime television that requires its viewers to be devout consumers of prescription drugs designed to desensitise the patient to the pain of modern life.


The Informer learned about politics at an early age. At school, in fact. Nail your colours to a mast and you will learn to live with the consequences in perpetuity. At the Informer’s first school, you see, everybody played the recorder. At the next school he went to, playing the recorder was an open invitation to ridicule, humiliation and, in some cases, violence.

A fine time

It’s been a week of pecuniary punishments in the Low Countries, with carriers in both Belgium and the Netherlands on the receiving end of regulatory remonstrations. First up was Proximus, a carrier with a name that makes it sound like a character from the film Gladiator. It’s appropriate, really, as the firm – which is the mobile arm of incumbent telco Belgacom and the market leader – seems to feel as if it’s been stabbed in the back by a petty, power-crazed ruler.

Get Smart

So handset sales have taken a kicking, readers, with analyst firms Gartner and Ovum both vying this week to get their numbers in the news. Q1 shipments were down year on year by 8.6 per cent, Gartner said, to 269.1 million units. “There were some signs of a recovery in markets such as North America and China, but overall sales in the first quarter of 2009 registered the biggest quarter-on-quarter contraction since Gartner began monitoring the market on a quarterly basis in 2001,” said Carolina Milanesi, research director for mobile devices at Gartner.

Voda Fountain

It looks like the news-bots in the Vodafone comms team have had their bonus structures adjusted to incentivise them on a per-press release basis, because the stories have been coming thick and fast from the company’s Newbury HQ this week.

Shakes to Sheikas

‘DT’ can stand for Different Things. In this industry it usually stands for Deutsche Telekom, for example, but in other circles it can stand for Delirium Tremens. And these two have more than initials in common, given that they’re both a bit on the shaky side.

Ups and downs

The Informer keeps seeing these financial crisis-induced marketing emails that say things like: “Now is the perfect time to innovate!” or “Now is the perfect time to implement this cost management solution!”. But it strikes the Informer that what now is really the perfect time for is to be a Chinese equipment vendor. While all the other vendors are loosening their collars and tightening their belts, and shedding staff like a dog sheds hair (unless it’s a Portuguese Water Dog, of course), the Chinese vendors are having a right old knees-up.

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