Friday, 6 February 2009

Zon Multimedia registers strong growth in Q408 – Portugal

Zon Multimedia, a Portugal-based provider of broadcasting services, announced a healthy like-for-like operational growth for the company in Q408. This also happens to be one of the strongest quarters for the company in the last five years. As of December 31, 2008, Zon claimed 2.83 million Revenue Generating Units (RGUs), an increase of 17.5% year-on-year.

More than 23% of Zon’s customers subscribed to its triple-play services in 2008, against 6% at the end of 2007. Zon Multimedia reached 479,000 broadband subscribers at the end of 2008, adding 28,000 subscribers in the fourth quarter.

Zon Multimedia registered a substantial increase (around 291.8%) in its voice customers to reach 327,000 customers at the end of December 31, 2008. Additionally, the company’s new mobile service (under an MVNO arrangement with Vodafone) signed 7,200 customers in the same period.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Rob Gaskin resigns from Lebara Mobile – UK

According to Mobile Today, Rob Gaskin had stepped down from Lebara Mobile, owing to a clash of ideas and personality with the owners of the company. Rob was acting as the Country Manager for Lebara Mobile UK. It is understood that Gaskin was pushing the company to enter the post-pay market and to launch handsets bundled with pre-pay offers.

Lebara Mobile had seen rapid growth under the leadership of Gaskin with the establishment of a distribution network of around 5,000 outlets (including small stores in areas with large numbers of ethnic minorities).

Commenting on the success of Lebara Mobile, Rob Gaskin said: “The objectives I set out for Lebara have been exceeded. We are one of the most successful MVNOs that has launched in the UK. No replacement has been appointed as yet, but there are plans to take Lebara beyond London and the south-east, and into areas such as Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle.”

Commenting on the decision of Gaskin, Jon Fawcett, Head of Group Marketing at Lebara, said: “Rob Gaskin has made a good contribution to the outstanding success of Lebara Mobile. He now feels the time is right to pursue other opportunities, and we wish him well for the future.”

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Helio are to launch new handset, Ocean 2 – USA

Following on from our reports last week, Virgin’s Helio are going to launch a new Ocean 2 handset. According to unwiredview.com the new device will be available from February 12th for USD 149, with the following specification:

2.6 inch TFT display with 240 x 320 pixels
3G connectivity
GPS with Google Maps
Easy access to Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and Flickr
Stereo Bluetooth
Media player with background mode playback
3.5mm headset jack
Opera Mini
Mail for Microsoft Exchange
File Viewer with document editing capabilities
3D gaming
2MP camera with location tagging and video recording
512MB MicroSD card included in the package

TalkTalk Mobile missing the mobile broadband bubble – UK

top10-broadband.co.uk have published new research stating that TalkTalk and Sky are missing a huge opportunity in the mobile broadband market. Sky are yet to make any offer in the mobile sector but do offer a fixed line service via BT. The research claims that the two companies are missing out on monthly revenues of GBP 36 million (USD 28 million).

Jessica McArdle, Marketing Manager for the site said: “They are allowing companies like 3, T-Mobile and Vodafone, who dominate the area, to steal market share and are even losing out to more recent entrants to the market such as Virgin Media and O2. This is because by not offering a mobile broadband deal they are effectively forcing existing and potential new customers to go elsewhere.”

BT Mobile lets subscribers call free phone numbers for free – UK

BT Mobile, a confusing service made up of the closed BT Fusion service, the closed BT Mobile service and BT Total Broadband, are to allow their subscribers to call 0800 numbers for free. Within the UK 0800 numbers are free to call from a fixed line but MNOs and MVNOs charge users for making these calls.

John Petter, Managing Director of BT's consumer business, said: "We think that mobile customers are irritated by having to pay high rates to call 'free' 0800 numbers, so we have put our own house in order by making it free for any BT Mobile customer to call these numbers."

This could be part of the BT marketing machine kicking into action as there is also talk of BT giving the mobile business another attempt. This would follow on from their selling off BT Cellnet (now o2), the BT Fusion service and the BT Mobile service. Adding mobile to the offering again may be a necessary move for BT as rival Virgin Media now offers quadruple play services (digital TV, fixed line, mobile and Internet) and consumers are increasing ditching fixed line telephony all together.

Mobyland signs LogicStar for network roll-out – Poland

Mobyland has signed an agreement with LogicStar for the roll-out of its GSM/GPRS/EDGE network in Poland. Under the terms of the agreement, LogicStar will provide radio and core network equipment, including mobile soft switching and IP Multimedia Subsystem solutions for fixed and mobile phones.

The agreement also includes LogicStar’s MVNO multi-node solution that enables operational networks to operate within the Mobyland network. The solution will also provide retail and wholesale real-time billing that allows cross-selling between Mobyland’s core network and new MVNOs of Mobyland that operate their network using LogicStar software.

Pepephone reduces call rates – Spain

Pepephone, a Spanish MVNO, has reportedly reduced charges for its standard calls to fixed line and mobile phone numbers. The new applicable rates will be EUR 0.07 (USD 0.09) per minute, instead of EUR 0.09 (USD 0.11) per minute. Customers will be charged a call set-up fee of EUR 0.15 (USD 0.19), while an SMS will cost EUR 0.09 (USD 0.11).

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Tesco Mobile going for market share in the pre-pay market – UK

Brand Republic have detailed a new marketing campaign deployed by ‘The Red Brick Road’ marketing agency, for Tesco Mobile. The campaign sees the firm return to promoting its pre-pay brand after spending much of the past year pushing the new branding for its post-pay offering.

The campaign is due to start this week and offers subscribers bonus airtime and re-emphasises the offerings cheap but cheerful nature, value for money in tough times.

Ex-CEOs launch telecom consulting start-up – India

Four former Indian Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) have started an angel partner firm, the Phi Group, to cater to the needs of both telecom and non-telecom businesses. The CEOs setting up the firm include Pramod Saxena (former CEO of Motorola and Essar Telecom), Ravi Sharma (ex-CEO of Alcatel-Lucent South Asia and Datacom Solutions), B D Khurana (former CEO of Reliance Infocomm) and Sanjiv Gupta (ex-CEO, Coca-Cola). Sanjiv Gupta is currently working as an independent director with state-owned BSNL.

The Phi Group will perform its operations through two subsidiaries, namely Phi Televentures and Phi Enterprises. The subsidiaries will offer advisory and management support to their clients. Phi Televentures will support companies for setting up their WiMAX, 3G, IPTV, MVNO and mobile TV operations, while Phi Enterprises will cater to the needs of other businesses such as defence, electronics, alternative energy, hospitality and infrastructure. The firm will, however, not infuse equity into any of its clients, although they may take equity in return for their services.

Commenting on the new venture, Ravi Sharma, prospective Chief Executive Officer of the new company, said: “We see a good opportunity to start a professional alternative for MNCs who are keen to set up operations in India, and feel that our combined experience of more than 50 years as CEOs will be valuable in setting up and growing operations of our partners. We all have worked with Indian and multinational companies to combine the strength. We feel India is ready for this new concept.”

In addition, the company has also roped in two former heads of global telecom companies for its international operations. Pertti Johansson will join as the Regional Director for Americas. Middle East, Asia and Africa region, while Sylvie Richir has been appointed as Regional Director for the European region.

SoftBank set to partner with eMobile for wireless data services – Japan

According to The Yomiuri Shimbun, SoftBank Mobile is in the final stages of negotiations with eMobile for the launch of wireless data communications services in Japan. According to sources close to the development, if the deal goes through, SoftBank plans to introduce a flat-rate system for the services, utilising eMobile’s network. The new service is expected to launch during Q209.

Post agreement, both the companies will also be better positioned to compete with their bigger competitors such as NTT DoCoMo and KDDI. SoftBank also plans to increase data-transmission speeds and will offer the service for approximately JPY 4,980 (USD 55.58), one of the lowest rates in the Japanese mobile market.

Ortel launches new promotional scheme – Belgium

According to Computerworld.be, Ortel Mobile has launched a new promotional scheme starting February 1, 2009. Under the scheme, the company will provide every second minute free with calls to fixed and mobile numbers abroad. Ortel will charge a set-up fee of EUR 0.15 (USD 0.19) for the service.

Ortel operates as an MVNO in Belgium, Germany and The Netherlands, targeting the international calls market.

Optus goes slow on expansion plans – Australia

Optus, the leading telecommunication company in Australia, has put the brakes on part of an AUD 125 million (USD 78.98 million) expansion of its retail network. Virgin Mobile, Optus’ wholly-owned youth mobile unit, recently put on hold plans to open 50 new stores, significantly impacting Optus’ plans to take on Hutchison 3, its competitor. However, the company will continue work on a ‘white label’ network service, which is expected to be launched within a month. Optus will also go ahead with the addition of around 100 company branded “yes” stores to its existing 103 stores. Each store, costing around AUD 500,000 (USD 315,920), will be a joint venture between Optus and the selected partner.

According to Mike Smith, Optus Consumer Head, the company will continue to add “yes” branded stores, a majority of which are owned by franchisees. Optus was recently hit by the fall of Strathfield Group, one of its largest third-party retailers with 72 outlets and sales nearing 500 new Optus connections per week.

According to The Australian, despite denials by Woolworths on plans to offer mobile services, the company signed a deal with Optus in September last year. As part of the deal, Optus is building and operating the MVNO network through a ‘white-label’ arrangement using Project Reitz, a new software platform. While Optus is building the infrastructure and network systems, Woolworths is finalizing IT systems for customer relationship and billing. The launch has been delayed so far, owing to some integration problems with Woolworths’ IT systems. Woolworths is expected to follow the same MVNO model used by Tesco, by providing attractive discounts on handsets and prepaid charges in lieu of a certain amount being spent at the supermarket.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Uno Mobile launches special scheme for loyalty cardholders – Italy

According to newsmobile.it, Uno Mobile, an MVNO of supermarket chain Gruppo Carrefour Italia, has announced a special scheme for the supermarket’s loyalty cardholders, Carta SpesAmica. Under the scheme, loyalty cardholders will receive a 60% discount on the price of a SIM card. The promotion launched January 29th and will run until February 8th. As part of the promotion, clients will also receive EUR 5 of credit for 3 months upon topping up their pre-paid service each month with EUR 15.

The Uno Mobile service is aimed at subscribers looking for a simple and easy to use service and is sold via the Carrefour retail chain.