Last year, with a deft move that left its competitors fuming, Everything Everywhere became the first UK operator to offer LTE services. This week, as Ofcom’s LTE spectrum auction got underway, Everything Everywhere has become—rather less auspiciously—the first UK operator to slash its LTE retail charges.
Whilst UK mobile operators have yet to fully unveil their plans for a mobile wallet joint venture, dubbed Project Oscar (Weve), the UK’s Payments Council has been quietly working with leading banks and payment networks to roll out a nationwide mobile payments service next year in which the operators appear to have zero input.
I was in a hotel bar in Hong Kong when I got one of my first major tipoffs as a budding telecoms journalist. It came from a well-lubricated telecoms-industry executive whom I never saw again.
“Look, I shouldn’t really be telling you this, but something big is about to happen in China,” he said. “Can you keep a secret?”
“Yes, sure,” I replied.
“Well, this really is top secret, but the deal is almost done so it can’t do much harm now,” he said. “Virgin Mobile is going to launch as an MVNO in Shanghai. Unbelievable, isn’t it?”
The biggest external threat to operators today are the OTT players hooking consumers on devices, platforms and non-operator messaging apps. But as China looks to begin a two-year trial of multiple MVNOs, says James Middleton, local OTT players seem the most likely candidates. Could there be a lesson in here for operators elsewhere in the world?
At the end of last year, Russian operator Megafon announced the launch of high-end Samsung Galaxy S III LTE- smartphone priced at RUB 29,990 ($989). This was a predictable and well planned move suggesting that the operator wants to maintain its first mover position in the LTE segment, helping to increase its brand equity and improve market share.
The annual circus that is the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas has become the most important mobile tech conference outside of Mobile World Congress and a fascinating lens into upcoming trends. With more than 150,000 attendees this year, the event continues to attract an international audience of impressive scope across mobile devices, applications, home media and all measure of things in between. While most of the major announcements focus on short-term product releases, some of the more fascinating details are those with longer term implications. This year’s CES provided a few gems with some truly interesting potential.
The GSMA-backed rich communication service initiative Joyn has split opinion among the industry’s forecasters. Some are encouraged by the strides the service has made, whereas others believe this is too little a step taken too late. Nonetheless, Joyn now seems to be gaining momentum; in recent weeks, Spain’s big three operators have thrown their weight behind the cause as well as SK Telecom in South Korea.
It’s becoming a cliché in TV land that content-rights restrictions, and not technology, are slowing the pace of industry development. At CES, Boxee and Dish demonstrated workarounds that have allowed them to offer two products frequently blocked by rights issues; namely cloud-based DVRs and out-of-home live TV viewing.
Going into 2013, the communications industry will continue its campaign to be the enabler of critical functions for cities and public services. These are challenging markets that demand patient investment. Administrative systems and working practices – not to mention public policy and regulation – take time to adapt to connected environments. Citizens and consumers also need time to understand their more proactive role.
The presence of BT and PCCW – which owns fixed-wireless 4G operator UK Broadband – among the bidders in the UK’s upcoming 4G spectrum auction has put a new twist on the narrative for the country’s mobile market. In the run-up to the auction, which will see regulator Ofcom sell off the 800MHz and 2.6GHz frequencies, the perceived wisdom was that challenger operator 3 UK would pick up the 800MHz block reserved for an operator that holds no sub-1GHz spectrum, and the rest would be business as usual. However, with these companies entering the fray, the picture becomes much murkier.
They sold out of wifi-enabled iPad mini tablets at 8.30am this morning at the flagship Apple store in Regent Street, London. It has been a similar story every day this week. The nice Apple lady in the shop told me that the queues were now starting at around 6.00am.
It took a while, but the spectrum auction in the Netherlands is finally over. The mobile operators are essentially in a position to fully roll out 4G services, and as the regulator had desired, a fourth entrant is poised to come in and shake things up. But it’s worth remembering the old saying that the more things change, the more they stay the same: increasing competition by adding a fourth operator may well result in one of the existing players exiting the market.
Ofcom doesn’t get a whole lot of days like this. I suggested back in March that when you get a bunch of mobile operators in the same room to talk about spectrum, the one thing they’ll be able to agree on is that somewhere, somehow the regulator has dropped the ball. The Finally 4G Westminster e-Forum featured none of that, presumably to the great relief of the Ofcom representatives in attendance.
Bengt Nordstrom, founder of industry consultancy NorthStream, shares a series of predictions for the mobile industry in 2013. In this fourth instalment he says that the managed services market will consolidate next year, down to a three-player market, as competition intensifies.
Microsoft Office 365 is becoming to telco SaaS what the Big Mac is to fast food. That’s not a health warning, but a fact, based on a 38-country study* of 51 communication service providers’ business SaaS portfolios that I’ve just completed. Microsoft powers an astonishing 51% of these CSPs’ productivity and collaboration offers. Want a SaaS [...]