The T-Mobile Pulse Mini
BT has folded the Ribbit internet call management service into its Onevoice business offering, combining functionality equivalent to Google Voice with the backing of a proper telecommunications company.
BT bought Silicon Valley-based Ribbit for $105m almost two years ago, but integrating the service into BT's corporate offering has taken a while, during which time Ribbit has only been available to individual beta testers. Now BT plans testing with corporate customers over the summer and a general launch before the end of the year.
Ribbit provides not only a single number for incoming and outgoing calls, integrating with existing VoIP services where necessary, but also an open API. This allows companies to create their own applications for integrating with those cloud-based systems that are so popular these days.
BT also reckons companies can save a fortune by routing calls over VoIP connections when out of the office, and get access to the full exchange functionality too. So no excuses remain for failing to dial into the conference call while travelling.
Ribbit also integrates with mobiles, offering custom applications for the iPhone, among others, and is capable of integrating with any network and handling incoming and outgoing calls on any handset (using call forwarding).
So basically Ribbit Onevoice has everything Google is offering with Google Voice, but it's backed by a telecommunications company which will integrate it with your existing systems. BT also won't listen into your communications for demographic profiling purposes. The catch is that the service costs money. ®
Trust to review corporation's plans for news and sport smartphone apps after protests from newspaper publishersSource: The Guardian
The launch of BBC News and BBC Sport smartphone applications is to be delayed, after the BBC Trust heeded industry calls for it to review the corporation's apps proposals.
Today the BBC Trust has informed the corporation's management that it plans to assess the plans for a series of apps for smartphones including the iPhone and BlackBerry.
The trust said it had also asked for the launch of the first apps to be delayed. The BBC had been planning to launch its BBC News app next month and a BBC Sport app in May. There are also plans for an iPlayer app.
When it unveiled the app proposals in February, BBC management argued that the new mobile content offerings were an extension of existing services and are "plainly not a new content service and therefore doesn't need to tbe regulated as such".
However, earlier this month the Newspapers Publishers Association, which represents UK national newspaper groups, appealed to the BBC Trust arguing that the corporation's apps plans would undermine commercial organisations' ability to establish economic models on smartphones.
"There remains some uncertainty about the potential significance of whether it [the BBC's plans] constitutes a change of service," said a spokeswoman for the BBC Trust today.
The BBC Trust added it had moved to look into the plans "following representations from the industry". The trust will now look at four areas: the financial implications, the impact on "users and others"; how long the activity will last; and the extent to which the change would "involve the BBC in a new area of untested activity".
However, the BBC Trust is not, at this stage, looking to launch a full public value test into the proposed smartphone services.
O2’s CTO Derek McManus on mobile data exceeding voice traffic, the limitations of 3G and the hopes for the data-capabilities of 4G
Could demand for mobile broadband services bring the airwaves to a halt? That is the question on most expert’s lips after it emerged that, for the first time, more data is passing over mobile phone networks than voice.
The tipping point came in December, according to figures from Ericsson, and is being widely attributed to people checking email being joined by social media users sending messages, posting updates and communicating with their ‘buddies’ while on the move.
The potentially alarming point for the mobile phone networks is that this has been achieved with an estimated 400m mobile broadband users around the world, compared to 4bn voice users.
O2’s iPhone experience
Certainly Derek McManus, CTO of O2 confirms that data now exceeds voice on its 3G network and that this has been a long term development he has witnessed through the past two years, pretty much since the network signed a two year exclusive for the iPhone which ended in January this year.
“As the exclusive provider of the iPhone for 2 years, we have unrivalled insight into changing customer behaviour and the impact of intensive mobile applications,” he says.
“We experienced a 20-fold increase in data on our network over the last twelve months. And traffic continues to double every four months.”
This raises many challenges for any network, he points out, and not just in dealing with the extra traffic. One of the challenges is ensuring infrastructure and systems can cope with short, sharp and rapid burst of demands for data which are very different from voice conversations.
“The challenge is not limited to increased demand,” McManus says.
“Data services like Facebook and Twitter generate multiple and concurrent requests to the data network (once every eight seconds) – we call them ‘chatty’ applications.
We are suitably building ahead of this curve by adapting our network and cleverly focussing network investment. The issue of mobile coverage is no longer about simply covering the land mass with mobile masts to meet a percentage target, but rather about depth and quality of experience.
Bigger ‘pipes’ and ‘processes’
Hence, the future, McManus believes, is going to be dominated by the twin challenges of not only moving from 3G to 4G but also developing infrastructure which is suited to the short, rapid burst data requests made en-masse by mobile apps.
“In terms of the immediate future of 3G networks, our priority is to re-dimension infrastructure in anticipation of changing customer behaviour,” McManus explains.
“We’re challenging the industry (including our infrastructure partners) to develop solutions that will suitably support the behaviour of mobile apps. It is no longer just about ‘volume’ (making the pipe bigger) but about the ‘process’ of data handling.
“More long term is the evolution of new technologies, such as 4G. We are currently running ongoing 4G (or LTE – Long Term Evolution) trials with Huawei, which offer speeds up to 150Mbps. Incredibly, our modest 4G trial network in Slough already has the data carrying capacity of the entire live 3G network, which illustrates the vast step change expected of this next generation of technology.”
Source: Sean Hargrave for Samknows Broadband)
Google's Android operating system will see the largest growth rate of the three mobile platforms this year, research firm says.
Antone Gonsalves writes in InformationWeek:
As the U.S. smartphone market grows this year, Apple and Research in Motion will see their shares fall as phones built with Google's Android operating system attract a growing number of users, a research firm says.
RIM's BlackBerry will hold on to its leadership position in the U.S. this year, while Apple's iPhone is expected to remain in second place, Canalys reported Friday. Android phones, however, will see the largest growth rate, 169.2%.
Manufacturers will ship 65.1 million smartphones this year, a 38% increase over 2009, according to Canalys. Many consumers buying smartphones for the first time are expected to favor Android phones that are less expensive than the BlackBerry and iPhone.
Lower-priced Android phones will help drive market share of the platform to 18.9% from 9.7% this year, Canalys said. On the other hand, the BlackBerry's share will fall to 43% year over year from 49.2%, while the iPhone's share drops to 21.3% from 23.1%.
Of the major smartphone platforms, only Microsoft's Windows Phone is expected to see a drop in the number of units shipped. That's because Microsoft is not scheduled to ship its upcoming Windows Phone 7 until shortly before the holiday season.
"Windows Phone 7 Series represents a major improvement to the platform that was badly needed from Microsoft," Canalys analyst Chris Jones, said in a statement. "However, the delay between announcement and expected commercial availability in Q4 2010 will make this year a tough one."
Shipments of Windows Phone-based smartphones are expected to fall 1.3% year over year to 4.7 million units. Nevertheless, the devices will account for 10.1% of the market, coming in third behind the BlackBerry and iPhone.
Approval has been granted for the merger of T-Mobile and Orange in the UK by the EU. The approval was conditional on an amendment to the network sharing agreement between T-Mobile and Three as the EU were concerned that the merger could threaten the viability of Three, the smallest mobile network operator in the UK.
The other concession was that the combined network would have to give up 25% of its mobile spectrum within the 1800MHz band. Without doing so, the 60MHz contiguous spectrum held would be significantly larger than any of the other networks giving it the ability to run LTE, the next generation of mobile broadband services, at the best possible speeds within the current spectrum.
In light of these concessions, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) have withdrawn their request to review the case, giving a green light for the merger to go ahead. This will create the UK's largest mobile network with a market share of around 37%.
T-Mobile Broadband has introduced new cut-price roaming packages that let you go online in Europe from just £1.
Research has shown that “40% of customers would take their laptop on holiday with them if they could get connected to the internet easily,” said T-Mobile as it launched its new Euro Broadband Boosters.
The new mobile broadband roaming add-ons allow customers to choose how much data they want, eliminating “bill shocks” by guaranteeing that they never pay more than the fixed price option they have chosen.
Ralf Pearson, senior propositions manager for mobile broadband at T-Mobile, said: “We want customers to be able to get the most from our mobile broadband service. As 40% say they want to take their laptop away with them to stay connected, we’re launching Euro Broadband Boosters so they can do this without having to worry about the costs getting out of control.
“With this proposition, we’re offering these customers a range of better value, worry-free options, built to suit their different on-line needs while they’re in the most popular travel destinations.”
There will be four Euro Broadband Boosters to choose from, going live on 1 March:
- 3MB for £1 with about 15 minutes online checking email
- 20MB for £5 with about two hour’s online usage
- 50MB for £10 with one days use
- 200MB for £40 with 30 days usage
The 3MB, 20MB and 50MB Boosters last for 24 hours each, while the 200MB Booster is valid for 30 days.
The Boosters can be bought through a simple webpage that opens automatically when you open your browser in Europe. Once your allowance has been used up or your data has expired, this webpage will reappear, allowing you to buy another Booster if you want to stay online.
Michael Phillips, Broadbandchoices.co.uk product director, said: “Starting at just £1 for 3MB, T-Mobile is offering some of the best value for money on mobile broadband roaming packages.
“However, users need to be aware that these bundles - and the comparative offers from Virgin Media Mobile Broadband and Orange Mobile Broadband - are only designed for light internet use and checking emails. If you start watching YouTube clips, downloading music tracks and uploading holiday pictures and videos to Facebook, you'll use up your allowance in no time,” he warned.
Source: Broadband Choices
From today, Europe's mobile phone networks must work with customers to prevent using mobile broadband while travelling from costing the Earth.
Roaming rules put in place by the European Union's Council of Ministers and the European Parliament in June 2009 oblige O2, Orange, Three, T-Mobile, Virgin Media, Vodafone and others to offer customers of a monthly limit beyond which punters will not be charged.
The EU suggested a €50 (£45) cut-off point, but networks are free to agree any other amount with their customers.
Customers who don't make a choice by 1 July will have a €50 limit imposed upon them.
The legislation was put in place to prevent so-called 'bill shock' where phone users accumulate massive bills while travelling in Europe and accessing the internet on roaming tariffs.
Recently, we reported the story of student William Harrison who clocked up almost £8000 in charges for using his UK Orange 3G dongle in France.
The EU's roaming rules limit the wholesale price of data to €1 per megabyte, though carriers are free to charge their customers more. Most, if not all of them, do.
Some networks charge as much as £5 per megabyte to access the internet overseas. Until today, download an 800MB movie and you'd be billed £4000.
Now, when you reach 80 per cent of your agreed limit, your carrier must warn you that you're nearing your cut-off point. When you hit the limit, data access will stop, but you won't end up with a bonkers bill - at least, not for data roaming. ®
Source: The Register
O2 has responded to the gratitude shown from Vodafone this morning over a recent poll putting the red network on top.
An independent poll commissioned by O2 showed that Vodafone was fastest for mobile phone web access in the most cities across the UK, prompting a message of 'thanks' from Voda's CEO.
But O2's Chief Technology Officer, Derek McManus, has told TechRadar that the survey wasn't just about who was fastest:
'Ambitious claims are made about network speeds but the situation is far from clear cut. Accurate information and transparency are crucial in helping customers make sure they get the best from their mobile network.
In the loop
'We commissioned this survey to make sure no one is misled. O2 offers faster speeds in many cities, and other operators in others.
'We offer an industry-leading 14-day happiness guarantee, so if customers are not happy with the speeds they're getting, they can bring the device back. We urge customers to use coverage checkers before they purchase a phone or mobile broadband dongle.'
We're hoping that Orange, T-Mobile and 3 join in this debate, possibly ending in some kind of mobile speed-based cage fight.
Mobile streaming video startup Qik has landed a significant distribution deal in the UK.
Vodafone UK customers will now be able to record and share videos from their mobile phone via Qik by texting ‘Qik’ to 97886 (free) to receive a link to the relevant app for their handset (standard data charges apply). Vodafone is the number two mobile network in the UK, behind O2 and ahead of Orange.
Once loaded, videos generated on Qik can be posted to YouTube, Facebook and Twitter and users will be able to send video messages privately via SMS and email, or upload videos to blogging platforms like Wordpress, Tumblr and Blogger.
It remains to be seen how many customers will actually take up Qik however. However, live streaming video from a mobile has yet to take off here and it may well a deal like this to kick off mainstream take-up.
Qik is currently on the iPhone, BlackBerry and Nokia handsets, among others.
Rival European startup Bambuser recently signed a deal with Finnish broadcaster YLE.
Google Voice is about giving you more control over your communications, through dozens of features — ranging from call screening to voicemail transcription to the ability to send and receive SMS by email.
While we've heard from users that they love our growing list of features, we're conscious of the fact that Google Voice can seem overwhelming to people trying it for the first time.
So we've created a short video that gives an overview of what Google Voice can do.
In addition, we've created a set of short videos that dive into more detail about ten features of Google Voice:
The videos show why you might want to use each feature and basic instructions for getting started. And each video focuses on just one topic so you can learn about the features that matter to you.
- Voicemail transcription
- One number
- Personalized greetings
- International calling
- SMS to email
- Share voicemails
- Block callers
- Screen callers
- Mobile app
- Conference calls
Finally, we just launched our own YouTube channel at youtube.com/googlevoice. You can view all of the videos mentioned above in a custom video gadget we built for this channel, which will help you keep track of which videos you've already watched.
One of the more interesting objects on display at Mobile World Congress this year was one produced by a Swedish company, enabling people in developing countries to charge their mobile phone. But no, this was not a car battery or an electrical generator on a bicycle. This was a small portable fuel cell.
Think about it. Mobile base stations can often now reach far into the countryside, even in some previously remote places in Africa. But actually keeping the phone charged is an issue.
myFC is a small hydrogen fuel cell power source which will still work under extreme environmental conditions. The exterior plastic housing appears to be be very durable and it has no moving parts.
How does it work? The fuel cell silently converts hydrogen into electricity via its “Proton Exchange Membrane”. The only by-product from the fuel cell is a little water vapor. To operate, hydrogen is drawn from a small packet of energised aluminium powder, water added and voila, power comes out. In theory you could stockpile these packets of powder and just use them as needed (though of course there remains the issue of how much they’d cost and how affordable they’d be for people in developing countries).
mFC comes in three different forms. Two for outdoor use and one prototype which could be attached to the back of a laptop screen.
I was pretty impressed. Check out the video above.
Source: Mike Butcher on TechCrunch
Sixty thousand handsets per day are shipping with Android.
That's the astonishing figure revealed by Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who hailed the ecosystem around Android as well as the strength of the Open Handset Alliance during his 45-minute Congress keynote this evening.
'It's our time to be proud of what we have built together,' added Schmidt. 'It's our goal to make mobile the answer to pretty much everything.' He then spoke about how Google was very much a 'mobile first' company.
Senior Product Manager for Android, Erick Tseng, got up on stage to demo Flash on Android, showing us a New York Times image ('all the components are there' – a slight at Apple's iPad launch). The handset was running full-fat Flash 10.1.
Tseng also talked about how smartphones had been crucial to the fund-raising efforts in Haiti and pulled up fresh satellite footage taken after the earthquake.
We also had a translation demo as well as a mashup of translation and the recently-launched Google Goggles, whereby an item in German on a menu was translated into English simply by taking a photo of it (on a Nexus One, of course).
Android is now really on a budget
T-Mobile has announced at a press conference at Mobile World Congress that it will be slimming down its budget Android offering in the T-Mobile Pulse Mini.
The new phone will retail for just £99.99 on Pay as you go tariffs, and will allow more users to sample Android without breaking the bank.
It's not got the worst specs in the world either: 3.2MP camera with LED flash, 2.8-inch resistive touchscreen and a 3.5mm headphone jack (where the original Pulse just had a 2.5mm offering).
The Mini phone has dimensions of 106x57x14mm, meaning it's not the thinnest device out on the market - but at that price we doubt that will affect its appeal.
It's not got a lot else to shout about - 300MB on board memory, a microSD card slot for media expansion and Android 2.1 are the main highlights from the rest of the spec sheet (although we're pleased to see the latter on such a cheap device).
T-Mobile also used the press conference to announce that it will be offering the Samsung Wave - the first smartphone based on the electronics firm's Bada platform - in Europe as well.
The T-Mobile Pulse Mini has been given a UK release date of April this year, so there's not long to start rummaging down the back of the sofa to see if you can afford this Android marvel.
[Spain] With the rise of consumer-facing cloud telephone services, such as Google Voice and Ribbit, the call management services of traditional mobile operators are starting to look a bit long in the tooth. How long, therefore, before they roll out rival offerings of their own?
Not long, hopes Spanish MVNO fonYou, which today announced that it will begin licensing its Online Mobile Telephony solution to mobile network operators.
The company’s platform allows operators to offer their customers the ability to control their mobile phone services online, giving them direct access to call records, text messages and voicemails via a web browser. The degree of control and customization seems quite detailed too, including the option to set different voice mail greeting messages for individual contacts, configure your address book online, re-direct and block certain contacts, and so on. The browser-based user interface also appears to be slick, and presumably can be re-branded for each partner operator.
If my network offered such a service, it would certainly be one more reason to consider staying with them next time my contract is up for renewal. And with customer churn the number one issue which preoccupies the carriers, fonYou’s proposition does seem compelling. Cue a quote from Fernando Núñez Mendoza, CEO of fonYou:
“With Online Mobile Telephony services operators can compete with the new generation of aggressive cloud-based models such as Google Voice, Ribbit or Skype, and get closer to their customers. In this new competitive environment, fonYou will empower operators to quickly launch new ‘sticky’ services, greatly improve the users’ experience, and secure their position in the new and growing online market segments.”
And fonYou’s proposition has already stuck. The company says it’s signed up its first group of mobile operator customers who will launch their own version of the Online Mobile Telephony solution in the next quarter.