Friday, February 21, 2014

Deutsche Telekom fleshes its Smart City credentials

ENGLAND, UK: Deutsche Telekom has announced a series of smart city initiatives ahead of the start of Mobile World Congress.

Emeka Obiodu, principal analyst at Ovum comments: “The standout initiative is its pilot project to provide a parking guide system for motorists in the Italian city of Pisa. Deutsche Telekom will integrate a number of parking spaces within a sensor-based parking management system in Piazza Carrara in the city center.

"The co-operation also includes a big data service, which analyzes historical traffic data to optimize the flow of traffic. Similarly, Deutsche Telekom will present the Smart Stadium solution, a connected and integrated concept for large events. The solution aims to create a more intense fan experience and simplify operational processes for major events.

“These announcements show the intensity of developments in the smart city ecosystem and we expect many more solutions to be on show in Barcelona. In our report, “Smart City Case Study: Santander, Spain”, Ovum drew attention to the plurality of available business models, especially with either the city council itself, or a service provider (such as a telco) as the prime customer for a "smart city as a service" solution.

“Deutsche Telekom clearly sees its role as the ‘service provider’ who is helping to nurture the smart city ecosystem. Yet, Ovum believes that there is scope for more, complex and nuanced, business models, especially in those environments where local governments have neither the budget nor the degree of centralized authority to be the ringmaster in a smart city implementation.”

Orange liberates Libon
Orange has announced the next phase in the evolution of Libon, the OTT communications service developed by Orange VallĂ©e that  offers VoIP, SMS and voicemail.

Eden Zoller, principal analyst, comments: “Orange has leveraged its patented OpenChat technology to introduce a new instant messaging (IM) feature to Libon that allows users to IM all their contacts including those with rival messaging services.  All that is required to support a Libon chat session is for contacts to have a mobile phone, tablet or PC with an HTML5 browser.

"Libon users send contacts a chat link that the contact opens to commence an IM session. The chat link is locked to the Libon user’s device. The new version of Libon is available now for iOS devices, with an Android version due for release by the end of March. Orange says the new IM feature signals that the next phase of Libon’s development is all about messaging, and going forward it expects to add video capabilities to the mix. 

"Libon has been in development since 2011, with the first iteration (2012) focused on voicemail while the major innovation in 2013 was on VoIP in the shape of Libon-to-Libon calling, and Libon-out. The introduction of messaging will aim to make the service stickier with the consumer, will complete the communication service and will also help it to grow organically across a large potential subscriber base. Even though Libon’s service offers interoperability across social messaging players and provides a value added VoIP proposition to their users, gaining market share will still remain a challenge in a market inundated with social messaging players with constantly evolving suite of services.

“Libon is available in over 100 countries for iOS and Android devices and its user base is growing , although it is tiny compared to OTT rival WhatsApp that has around 430 million users worldwide. OTT social messaging services are experiencing rapid growth – Ovum’s forecasts show that during 2013 there were a total of 1.2 billion OTT social messaging subscribers generating a total of  27.4 trillion messages. But this growth in OTT social messaging is at the expense of mobile operator offered SMS messaging.

"Ovum estimates that mobile operators have lost $32.5 billion from SMS revenue in 2013. Orange argues that the benefits Libon brings to operators can off-set the cannibalisation impact it might have on network based communication services. Libon will also aim to grow revenue through mobile broadband access subscriptions and grow its presence in the OTT communications space. 

"Orange evidences  the benefits Libon can bring by  pointing  to Sosh, its low cost fixed and mobile brand that includes an international calling plan that incorporates Libon. Orange says Libon has increased Sosh’s in-bound international call traffic by 21 percent, and increased Average Use Per User (AUPU) by 250 minutes, while use of competing services all declined (from less 10 percent for Skype to less 79 percent for Viber) .

“Going forward, Orange is aiming to license Libon to other operators outside of the Orange group that do not have the resources of time to develop their own OTT communications service. Orange says it will be announcing operator partnerships of this kind during 2014. Orange has also announced that it is positioning Libon as the group’s consumer application for all Joyn enabled services across the Orange footprint.
"Orange plans to launch Joyn across its operations and is currently running Joyn trials in Luxembourg, Poland, Romania and Slovakia with more countries to follow in 2014. Libon will replace the ‘Joyn by Orange’ applications available in France and in Spain today. This step allows Orange to continue with their commitments to the RCS platform as well as grow their foot print in the OTT communications space.”

NFC based cloud payments a further boost by card scheme support for HCE
Visa and MasterCard have formally thrown their weight behind Hosted Card Emulation (HCE), a technology for hosting m-payment and digital wallet capabilities in the cloud rather than on the Secure Element (SE) in a device, an approach that is highly disruptive to the SIM centric NFC model favoured by operators.

Eden Zoller, principal analyst at Ovum comments: “MasterCard has announced that it will publish a specification for HCE NFC payments, while separately (but on the same day -19/02) Visa said it will incorporate support for HCE payments into the Visa Ready program.

“The build up to Mobile World Congress is also seeing technology providers announce their support for HCE based cloud payments, including a solution developed by m-commerce platform provider Proxama and security specialist Cryptomathic. We expect to see further HCE related announcements at main event next week.

“The backing of Visa and MasterCard is a significant endorsement for HCE that without the support of the major card schemes would not be able to flourish.  The technology received another major boost last November when it Google revealed that HCE had been baked into the latest version of the Android OS (Android 4.4, or KitKat). This is highly significant for the future of cloud based digital payment implementations enabled by HCE, as Android based devices now dominate smartphone shipments. 

"Both Visa and MasterCard have readily acknowledged that support integration of HCE into Android was a key motivation in their decision to embrace the technology.  However, even the rise of HCE does not necessarily mean that the future of NFC is guaranteed, as there are wider issues for NFC related to consumer and merchant acceptance. For more details please see the Ovum report Mobile Proximity Payments and the Prospects for NFC.

“The prospect of a mobile proximity landscape dominated by cloud based deployments is not a scenario that operators relish. Mobile operators are driving NFC implementations based on the SE embedded in SIM cards, because this gives them maximum control over service provisioning, the m-commerce business model and revenue flows. The model and terms imposed by operators can be restrictive for third parties, notably the SIM rental model adopted by some operators.

"Under the SIM rental model third parties gain access to operator NFC SIMs in return for a “rental fee”, but have limited control over service provisioning, the user experience or  the customer relationship. The lack of flexibility with models of this kind do not sit well with other m-commerce stakeholders such as banks, application developers, merchants and OTT players, which all want control over their own service destiny. It is a key reason why an increasing number of merchants are shunning operator controlled wallets and are seeking m-commerce solutions that bypass operators.

“This is where HCE come into play. HCE effectively severs the dependency of NFC payments on an SE embedded in an NFC device or SIM card, in preference for a virtual SE on remote servers in the cloud. This implementation supports a more open model for NFC deployments and makes service provisioning much easier for banks, issuers, developers and other third parties. This has the potential to open up the NFC market up to more innovation and competition, but at the expense of mobile operators.”

Thursday, June 20, 2013

BeQuick Software launches full support for GSM-based MVNOs on leading nationwide GSM network

USA: BeQuick Software Inc., which delivers prepaid customer lifecycle and billing solutions to consumer-focused communications service providers, can now support MVNOs on one of the United States' leading nationwide GSM networks.

BeQuick, in conjunction with Prepaid Wireless Wholesale, LLC. (PWW), is part of a small group of mobile virtual network enablers (MVNEs) that has passed the carrier's strict qualification process. The team was selected based on the strength of Fusion, its cloud-based, next-generation MVNE platform.

BeQuick will work in close partnership with PWW, a full service provider and implementer of wireless services. BeQuick and PWW are uniquely positioned to service a new market segment of prepaid carriers looking to add GSM services to their offerings.

The clear advantage of a GSM-based MVNO offering is that it taps into the global economies of scale the GSM standard has enabled. This creates economic advantages in relation to handset procurement for MVNOs as well as bring-your-own-device (BYOD) opportunities for pre-paid customers. Previously, the primary networks for MVNOs have been based on CDMA wireless technologies which, though effective, create some constraints with regard to handset availability and BYOD.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Wi-Fi Alliance selects Marvell's Avastar 802.11ac 2x2 combo solution with NFC and Bluetooth for Wi-Fi CERTIFIED ac test suite

USA: Marvell announced that the Marvell Avastar 88W8897, the industry's first 802.11ac 2x2 mobile MIMO combo radio solution with near field communications (NFC) and Bluetooth 4.0 support, was selected by Wi-Fi Alliance to the Wi-Fi CERTIFIED ac test suite.

Marvell's strong track record of consistently delivering robust, highly-integrated, breakthrough wireless solutions—which include the latest advancements such as  802.11ac, mobile multiple input multiple output (MIMO), near field communications (NFC), FM, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS and Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Miracast and Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Passpoint — have successfully empowered leading service providers and top-tier enterprise and consumer manufacturers around the world.

The Avastar 88W8897 – which pairs today's most cutting-edge technology to bring superior wireless performance to Chrome, Windows and Android ultrabooks, tablets, gaming consoles and smart TVs – is now in production, with consumer electronics featuring Avastar expected by the 2013 holiday season.

The Avastar 88W8897 is the only 802.11ac 2x2 combo radio solution currently available on the market. The low-power, dual-band (2.4/5 GHz) IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac 2x2 combo is specifically designed to support the reliability and quality requirements of next-generation, Very High Throughput (VHT) WLAN products. The 88W8897 is also the only chip that increases throughput with 802.11ac technology while simultaneously leveraging NFC to enable simple tap-and-go wireless capabilities.
Additionally, the 88W8897 offers the highest level of integration available, including dual-band power amplifiers and power management, resulting in significant RBOM and footprint reduction from comparable solutions.

When paired with tablets and ultrabooks, the 88W8897 is designed to enable an Always On, Always Connected (AOAC) wireless experience, keeping e-mail, social media and digital content up-to-date even when a device is in standby mode – a capability lacking in legacy mobile computing products.

By coupling Marvell's full Wi-Fi offload solution with Windows 8 features such as Wake On Wireless functionality and Connected Standby (CS), the Avastar 88W8897 is expected to meet the demands of today's connected consumer and deliver the AOAC computing experience.

Convergence of social networking and M2M to play key role in Internet of Everything

ENGLAND: A new study from ABI Research finds that integration with social networks will add significant value to enterprises’ M2M strategies in the coming years.

Initially, this trend will concern companies’ internal social channels, such as Salesforce.com’s Chatter, which is forecasted to be actively used by 60,000 enterprises at end-2013. Going forward, the emphasis will shift towards Facebook and other consumer-facing networks, which ABI Research forecasts to cover 2.9 billion users by end-2018.

Senior analyst Aapo Markkanen describes: “There’s an intriguing intersection developing around social networks and M2M services. At this stage the activity is nascent, but over the next five years we expect the relationship between the two to become increasingly synergistic. The innovations it results in will add a strong social ingredient to the decade’s true megatrend: the Internet of Everything.”

The immediate form of this is the mixing of machine data with CRM processes. Salesforce.com has been notably active in this field, having already teamed up with M2M players Axeda and Digi International to provide such “social M2M” convergence. Meanwhile, there are also early signs of taking the reverse approach to this convergence – and using social data to interact with machines.

Most of these interactions stem currently from the maker movement and are enabled by open-source Arduino microcontrollers. The most commercially prominent example is a marketing stunt that Brazilian drink brand Guarana Antarctica ran last year, featuring a campaign car that could be driven towards its destination only if there were enough “likes” and comments on its Facebook page.

In the future, we should expect to see also two-way flows of social and machine data. According to practice director Dan Shey: “Today, social M2M is about informational silo-busting in enterprises and novelty experiments in the consumer space, but the concept has enough potential to enable use cases that still seem futuristic. The day when we could use Facebook as a dashboard of home automation systems is closer than you might first think.”

CANARIE expands 100G research and education network with Ciena

USA: Ciena Corp. announced that CANARIE, Canada’s Advanced Research and Innovation Network, has deployed Ciena’s 6500 Packet-Optical Platform equipped with third generation WaveLogic Coherent Optical Processors to support the 100G (100 Gigabits per second) upgrade and network expansion of a route connecting Montreal and New York.

The new ultra-high-speed network link will sustain the “big data” streams used in today’s advanced academic and scientific research. For example, the 100G link can allow a full two hour HD movie to download in 4/10ths of a second.

Given today’s increasingly data-intensive and global environment, it is vitally important that CANARIE work with cutting-edge equipment, such as that provided by Ciena, to support their bandwidth requirements.

Verizon Wireless and Discover Financial Services join the NFC Forum as principal members

USA: The NFC Forum announced that Verizon Wireless and Discover Financial Services, LLC have become members at the principal level.

In addition, SMARTRAC has upgraded its membership to Principal, and 13 other organizations have joined the Forum since March. Overall membership now stands at more than 190 companies and non-profit groups.

The Principal level is the next-to-top tier of NFC Forum membership, and it includes significant participation opportunities. Principal members may designate individuals to run for Forum leadership positions, and they may appoint one voting representative to each NFC Forum Committee and Working Group. Other privileges include proposing Forum initiatives and participating in the NFC Forum testing and certification program using their own in-house test labs.

Knowlarity selects Voxbone Numbers to extend cloud-based VoIP services

BELGIUM: India’s VoIP market will grow 27 percent annually over the next five years, some analysts estimate, as the government and service providers invest heavily in wired and wireless broadband expansion.

To capitalize on that growing installed base, Knowlarity Communications will use Voxbone DID numbers to provide cloud-based VoIP services to small and medium businesses throughout India and the rest of the world.

Consistently ranked as one of Asia-Pacific’s fastest-growing companies, with funding from Sequoia Capital, Knowlarity cloud services enable businesses to reduce communications costs, improve customer service and enhance their competitive position.

Knowlarity will use Voxbone international DID numbers to  link incoming calls all over the world to its hosted PBX system “Super Receptionist.” The service replaces legacy branch exchanges for small and medium businesses and adds functionalities such as intelligent call routing and CRM integration.

Knowlarity is the latest Indian service provider to select Voxbone numbers. Other customers include Sify Technologies, which has used Voxbone since 2011 to provide worldwide geographical and toll-free telephone numbers.