a week in wireless

Very big numbers

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the richest of them all?

According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index released this week, Microsoft founder Bill Gates has just edged past Mexican mogul Carlos Slim, who’s lost more than a few pounds since Mexico’s government passed a bill that could quash America Movil’s market dominance.

Gates’ net worth is up 16 per cent year on year to $72.7bn, while Slim’s dropped a similar amount to $72.1bn. The Informer’s mind cannot fathom what it must be like jockeying for position with those sort of numbers, but this week Korean vendor Samsung has been racking up some unbelievable numbers of its own.

According to numbers crunched by analyst house Strategy Analytics, Samsung captured 95 per cent of profits from Android devices during the first quarter of 2013. The crystal ball gazer put global operating profits from the Android device market at $5.3bn for the quarter, with Samsung accounting for an astonishing $5.1bn of the total. In second place, fellow Korean player LG took three per cent of the market, which probably doesn’t even get you onto the rich list. Saying that, the 100th richest billionaire, Russian steel giant Alexey Mordashov, has a tidy $10.9bn to his name.

Samsung really is benefitting from Google’s hard work in the Android space, and Android itself accounted for 43 per cent of total smarpthone industry operating profit for the quarter, which Strategy Analytics estimated at $12.5bn.

Still, Google has got its hands full with other projects at the moment. On Thursday a Bi-partisan Congressional Privacy Caucus, established by US Congress sent Google CEO Larry Page a letter with several questions examining core privacy concerns raised by Google Glass.

“Because Google Glass has not yet been released and we are uncertain of Google’s plans to incorporate privacy protection into the device, there are still a number of unanswered questions,” said Joe Barton, co-chair of the caucus.

The questions focus on how Google would deal with getting consent from non-users who might have information collected by Glass, how facial recognition would work and what kind of personal information would be stored on Glass itself. Google has been given until June 14 to send a response.

It was the Google I/O conference this week in San Francisco and product updates for various Google services made an appearance. Google Talk has been discontinued on Android in favour of Hangouts. Except US carrier AT&T got subscribers’ backs up almost immediately by blocking video calling over cellular in the Google Hangouts app. This is a repeat of the fiasco AT&T started a year ago when it blocked Apple’s Facetime over cellular. Although the company later backed down if users bought a specific data package.

Meanwhile UK MP Margaret Hodge branded Google “devious” and “unethical” as a UK Commons committee continues to haul the firm over the coals for avoiding UK tax, despite allegedly making sales in the UK.

On the social media front, Google Plus is also being upgraded with a more insightful analytics layer to try to get user more engaged and to interact with more content across their networks. It’s an awful lot of Big Data crunching, which is something Google is good at, so expect to hear more on this front in the near future.

Canadian vendor BlackBerry was trying to drive engagement for its own social network too, finally promising to make its popular BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) application available on iOS and Android platforms later this year.

In the first version of multi-platform BBM, iOS and Android users will get access to instant messaging; multi-person chat; voice note sharing; and BlackBerry Groups of up to 30 people able to share calendars, photos and files.

BlackBerry claims more than 60 million monthly active BBM users of which more than 51 million are daily active users connecting with friends or colleagues an average of one and a half hours every day. The firm also claims that BBM users send and receive more than ten billion messages each day, which is nearly twice as many messages per user per day as compared to other mobile messaging apps (it says) and almost half of BBM messages are opened within 20 seconds of being received.

Mozilla was also looking to generate a buzz around its Firefox OS mobile operating system, by releasing handsets to developers ahead of the commercial launch of the platform later this summer.

The firm has launched its Phones for Apps for Firefox OS programme to encourage developers to build Firefox apps or port existing Chrome, webOS, Blackberry WebWorks, or the PhoneGap apps to the Firefox platform. Developers with interesting plans will get their hands on a Geeksphone Keon ahead of the game.

A game of another kind entirely was afoot in Europe this week as the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) began a public consultation on draft guidelines in relation to regulated retail roaming services.

The latest set of regulation proposals will bring fundamental change to the structure of the European roaming market, requiring European mobile network operators to open their networks to providers of voice and data roaming services acting as MVNOs, from July 2014.

Domestic service providers would be required to enable their customers to access regulated voice, SMS and data roaming services provided as a bundle from any alternative roaming provider.

Thing is, although the proposals lay the foundation for an intensifying of competition in the European roaming market, there is little appetite among telecoms and non-telecoms firms to enter the market as roaming MVNOs. Still this might change as we get closer to the July 2014 deadline and Paul Lambert, Senior Analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media, notes that operators will also have to decide if they see a benefit in extending their reach into other European markets by setting up their own roaming MVNOs.

While some are redefining roaming, others are redefining voice. Speaking at the TM Forum Management World in Nice, Dean Bubley, founder of analyst firm Disruptive Analysis, said that mobile operators should cease to measure voice services in terms of minutes used, as it no longer reflects how humans communicate.

Bubley argued that voice is a 130 year old product that has seen little innovation in its lifespan and as a result, the industry is using an outdated metric to measure its core service. “Voice allows you as a human being to achieve something, whether it is to make a sale, to contact family members or for customer service needs. But it does not represent how we as humans communicate – we can do better now.” Over time, voice services will become fragmented into silos, creeping into new areas, such as gaming or smartphone apps such as taxi-hailing apps, and this is a trend operators should embrace, he said, “because it adds value to their offerings. Services need to be tied to human behaviour and that is what makes them successful. For example, Facebook is successful because it appeals to a specific human behaviour – showing off.”

On its Facebook page, Vodafone Group was busy showing off its shiny new carrier services business unit, formed out of the acquisition of Cable & Wireless Worldwide in 2012. The new unit within Vodafone Group Enterprise, dubbed Vodafone Carrier Services, aims to deliver economies of scale and giving CSPs a single interface to Vodafone, with cost savings and efficiencies for both parties when buying and selling.

Meanwhile in Germany, Vodafone was playing nice with local fixed line operator Deutsche Telekom, using the latter’s fixed network to deliver high speed broadband and IPTV nationwide. Vodafone will be able to offer its customers connection speeds of up to 50Mbps from the outset, rising to 100Mbps once DT has deployed vectoring technology.

Finally, the Big Three in the infrastructure space, Nokia Siemens Networks, Ericsson and Huawei, have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to collaborate with a view to reducing Operations Support Systems (OSS) integration costs for carriers and enabling shorter time-to-market for new services.

The OSS interoperability initiative (OSSii) is designed to facilitate multi-vendor interoperability ‘up front’ between the OSS products of all three vendors, simplifying operations, reducing the overall integration costs as well as speeding up the time it takes to roll out new services. The reciprocal agreement will cover fault, performance, configuration and basic network event and trace management for the northbound interfaces from Radio Access, Circuit Core and Packet Core network management systems.

Commenting on the deal, Peter Patomella, head of operations support systems (OSS) business at NSN, rightly points out that the OSS marketplace is a patchwork of standards and proprietary interfaces that are controlled by the IPR owners. “With cross-license agreements, we want to help operators take full advantage of the best available products in our industry. Openness and fairness have been the guiding principles in the agreement of the OSS Interoperability Initiative,” he said.

Stay standard and take care,

The Informer

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