News From Telecom World

Archive for November 2008

The global smart phone market is expected to grow 35% in 2009, outpacing the entire handset industry’s growth, as handset makers are sprinting to create high-end devices amid an overall slowdown in demand, a market-research firm Strategy Analytics analyst said Monday.

“Smart phones are driving above-average growth in global handset shipments,” Thomas Kang, a senior analyst at Strategy Analytics, said during a handset industry seminar, organized by Telecoms Korea.

He added,”dedicated smart phone vendors such as RIM, HTC and Apple are all registering higher profit margins than Nokia. Operators in developed markets are willing to subsidize their expensive devices in an attempt to drive their voice data revenue.”

The 35% growth forecast compares with the entire handset industry’s estimated growth of 3% for next year, Kang said.

Still, the handsome growth estimate for the smart phone segment is a sharp slowdown from 100% growth expected for this year, he said. The entire global handset industry is expected to grow 8% this year, he added.

Nokia Corp., the world’s largest mobile handset maker, warned in mid-November that industry device volume will likely decline in 2009 from an estimated industry shipment of 1.24 billion phones this year “as a result of the rapid change in global consumer spending.”

Repeating some pessimistic industry views, Samsung Electronics Co., the world’s second-largest handset vendor, Monday also raised the possibility of industry growth contraction in 2009.

“The global economic slowdown is likely to pull the world’s cell phone market down to single-digit growth, or even toward negative growth (next year),” Samsung said in reply to Telecoms Korea’s survey of vendors on the industry outlook.

It would be the first year that handset shipments fell year over year since 2001 – the last major economic downturn, analysts have said.

Sandy Shen, a Shanghai-based telecom analyst for research group Gartner Inc., said at the seminar that the smart phone will be one of the most powerful growth engines for the market until 2012.

“Western Europe will become the fastest growing market for smart phones, followed by North America,” she said.

Source: Total Telecom

As part of our emerging technology series, this post reviews Femtocells technology, which is expected to join the mainstream in coming years. Femtocells, which improve cell phone coverage, are low-power wireless access points (small devices) that operate in licensed spectrum to connect standard mobile devices to a mobile operator’s network using residential DSL or cable broadband connections.

Femtocells are a cheaper way to improve coverage for the operators and provides another way to offer the elusive fixed-mobile convergence. Why build expensive towers when cheaper devices can be used at consumer homes? For network operators, this allows to shifts the investment to a wider market and could be helpful when considering large investments such as 3G.

These devices need power and that is a challenge in developing telecom markets (such as Pakistan) with unreliable power supply.

A BusinessWeek report describes how the US carriers are planning to introduce the service:

The carriers will ask consumers to pay about $100 for a device slightly smaller than a toaster. The tiny tower will connect with up to five cell phones in the home and carry calls through a broadband Net connection to the telephone network. Subscribers will likely pay ongoing monthly fees for the “enhanced service” as well.

It’s easy to understand why wireless operators like femtocells. The technology lets them shift some of the burden of adding wireless capacity to their customers. Carriers pay for traditional cell-phone towers themselves, of course, and the costs can hit $500,000 per tower.

Carriers are working on ways for the technology to make financial sense for consumers, too. Their most compelling offer may be to make the service cheap enough and reliable enough that it can replace traditional landlines.

Femto Forum provides further information:

Using femtocells solves these problems with a device that employs power and backhaul via the user’s existing resources. It also enables capacity equivalent to a full 3G network sector at very low transmit powers, dramatically increasing battery life of existing phones, without needing to introduce WiFi enabled handsets.

A recent study from ABI Research forecasts that by 2011 there will be 102 million users of femtocell products on 32 million access points worldwide.

Writer: Babar Bhatti

Here are the summarised results from the telecenter operator survey done by LIRNEasia at the weCan workshop in October 2008. Sample was not representative, but large enough to get a general idea about the telecenter operations in Sri Lanka.

Out of a total of 147 operators surveyed, the bulk, 101 were from Nenasalas, the 500 odd telecenter network created under the World Bank funded e-Sri Lanka programme. 10 were from Sarvodaya multi-purpose telecenters and 6 from others (eg. public libraries) 30 have not specified the type of the telecenter.

Do telecenters in Sri Lanka make money? Yes. They report an average monthly income of Rs. 22,119. (=USD 201) This is associated with a relatively large standard deviation of Rs. 21,714 (= USD 197) indicating a variation within a wide range. Not a surprise since some telecenters are running at a loss (presumably temporarily) and few reporting a monthly income of over Rs. 100,000 (= USD 900).

However, providing Internet services ranked only third among telecenter income components (16%). The key sources of income are education and training (43%) and providing fax, photocopy and printing series (21%). They also make money from VoIP (4.5%), bill payments (2.5%) telephone calls (2.5%) selling other goods (2%) and VCD/DVD rentals (1%).

Asked for the preferred income profile, the results were not too different. They still want 33% income from training, 21% from fax photocopy and print services and 17% from Internet services. Is this an indication of being more realistic or less ambitious? You decide.

Average monthly expenditure of a telecenter is Rs. 15,837. (USD 144) This may not reflect the real costs as the Internet charges for Nenasalas are borne by ICT Agency from the money comes from e-Sri Lanka programme. Salaries is the highest cost component (39%). Then comes electricity (25%). About 10% each for telephone and rent.

On average basis a telecenter has 5 PCs and employs four staff members – two permanent, two temporary. Correlation between the income and the permanent staff strength was 0.56; the income and the number of PCs, 0.62.

Do telecenters make a profit? Yes, but perhaps may not in real terms. They record a monthly average profit of Rs. 6,735 (=USD 61) with a large standard deviation of Rs. 9,504 (=USD 86). This indicates the loss incurred by some of them. This is again without considering the cost of the communication link. (The monthly average cost of a 2 Mbps business broadband connection is USD 46 in Colombo. This might be slightly high in rural areas.)

Telecenters operators are rewarded in different ways. Only 33% are salaried. 22% receive a share of profits. 13% receive an allowanced based on performance. 32% receive no personal income. How they prefer to be rewarded? 51% wants a monthly salary; 26% a share of profits and 18% a performance based allowance. Doesn’t sound too entrepreneurial but in Sri Lanka culture job security plays an important role.

Source: Lirne Asia

Naguib Sawiris blames Canadian regulators for lack of foreign mobile competitors.

Egypt’s Orascom Telecom Holding, or OTH, said Thursday it was ready for a price war in Canada after agreeing to launch a new mobile operator in the country.

“We don’t want to invoke a price war, but will if its necessary,” Orascom Telecom’s Chairman Naguib Sawiris said, speaking at the Morgan Stanley TMT Conference.

In July, OTH won the auction for a cellular license along with Canada’s Globalive Communications Corp., the parent company of Yak Communications.

OTH will have a non-controlling interest in the operator, in compliance with Canadian ownership and control regulations.

“Our cost structure is incomparable to the other operators in Canada,” Sawiris said.”You can’t design a distribution worse then theirs… and ours is going surprise the market,” he added.

Sawiris added the lack of foreign competitors in Canada was due to the complicated regulatory framework.

“If we can make money in markets where average revenue per user numbers are around $4, how can we go wrong where they are above $40?” he said.

OTH will take on Canadian mobile incumbent rivals Rogers Communications Inc., Telus and BCE Inc. in a market where mobile penetration levels hover around 60% and customers pay higher tariffs than in most countries for cellular services.

Source: Total Telecom

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has given the BWA services licence to Banglalion Communications Limited (BCL).

BCL Chairman Major (Retd) Abdul Mannan, Bangladesh Finance and Investment Company Limited (BD Finance) Managing Director GM Salehuddin Ahmed and City General Insurance Company Limited Managing Director Md Sujauddin Ahmed received the licence on behalf of the Banglalion at the BTRC head office in the city recently.

Senior officials of BTRC, BCL and other organisations were present on the occasion.

Under the licence, the BCL will be allowed to provide different kinds of services using WiMAX technology.

Banglalion being the highest bidder at Tk 2.15 billion (215 crore) at the open outcry bidding held on September 24 last became eligible for receiving the licence.

Source: Financial Express

The country’s call centres see better future of the business as more banks and financial institutions are seeking their services for cheaper and faster delivery of their products.

“We are getting queries from leading foreign banks and financial institutions to give outsourcing services. This is a good signal for our sector,” Ahmadul Hoq, president of Bangladesh Call Centre Forum said.

He said the financial institutions now need debt collection services, which the local call centres can provide efficiently.

“My company is now in touch with two financial institutions to have a contract to provide debt collection services,” he said.

Sources at the call centres said debt collection services constitutes sending of electronic mails to the customers, especially those who have failed to repay loans.

They said workforce at Bangladesh’s around 350 call centres can easily do the job charging lower rates.

Dr Sikder M Zakir, managing director of Telemedicine Reference Centre Limited, who pioneered in providing health and medicine related customers services through mobile phones, said they see bright prospect of the business considering the cost cut drive by the world’s leading financial institutions.

“We have confidence to do the business as this is the right time to earn trust of the leading multinational companies,” he added.

The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), so far, issued 350 licenses in March last.

A call centre is a centralised office used for the purpose of receiving and transmitting a large volume of requests by telephone.

A call centre is operated by a compnay to administer incoming product support or information inquiries from local and international customers.

Major businesses in advanced and developing nations use call centres to interact with their customers.

Utility companies, banking institutions, non-governmental organisations, shopping malls, telecom companies are major users of call centres.

Source: Financial Express

Google said today it is partnering with LIFE magazine to make more than 10 million images available online from the magazine’s photo archive.

One of the most interesting things about the project is 97 percent of the photographs have never been seen by the public. The collection contains iconic images from the 20th century with works from LIFE photographers Alfred Eisenstaedt, Margaret Bourke-White, Gordon Parks, and W.Eugene Smith.

These images can be found by doing a search on Google.com or on Google Image Search. Users can also search through the LIFE Collection.

The LIFE Photo Archive on Google will be one of the largest professional photography collections on the Internet and one of the largest scanning projects ever conducted. Millions of images have been scanned and made available on Google Image Search and all 10 million images will be available in the coming months.

“LIFE will now reach a broader audience and engage them online with the incredible depth and breadth of the LIFE Photo Archive from serious world events, to Hollywood celebrities to whimsical photographs,” said Andy Blau, LIFE’s President.

All keywords were translated into 16 different languages.

“Bringing millions of never-before-seen offline images online aligns with Google’s mission to organize all the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,” said R.J. Pittman, Director of Product Management at Google.

“The LIFE Photo Archive captures some of the most compelling events, people and places of the past two hundred years. We have enhanced Google Image Search to provide our users with a rich search and browse experience to explore these high quality historical images.”

The LIFE Photo Archive also includes: The Zapruder film of the Kennedy assassination; The Mansell Collection from London; Dahlstrom glass plates of New York and environs from the 1880’s.

Source: Web pro news



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