News From Telecom World

Archive for February 2009

Researchers say a newly tested method for producing super dense, defect-free, thin polymer films is the fastest, most efficient method ever achieved and it may dramatically improve microelectronic storage capabilities such as used in mobile phones.

In the February 20 issue of the journal Science, researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and their colleagues at the University of California Berkeley, report how they designed a new way to guide the self-assembly of the material used to store computer memory, layered block copolymers, and generate up to 10 times more storage space than similarly sized copolymers.

The researchers say they developed a defect-free method that can generate more than 10-terabit-per-square-inch copolymer where other efforts achieved at most one terabit per square inch.

“We can generate nearly perfect arrays over macroscopic surfaces where the density is over 15 times higher than anything achieved before,” said Thomas Russell director of the UMass Materials Research Science and Engineering Center. He co-led the research with Ting Xu, a member of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Berkeley. “We applied a simple concept to solve several problems at once, and it really worked out,” Russell said.

The concept involved stacking atoms more closely together than previously thought possible to produce the highest density copolymer ever achieved, one capable of storing more information than previous copolymers. Researchers used surface ridges of a base crystal to guide the assembly very much like using the corrugations in cardboard to direct how closely marbles can be packed together.

For the copolymer’s base layer, the researchers used commercially-available sapphire wafers, which start out flat. After heating them from 1300 to 1500 degrees Celsius for 24 hours, the wafer’s surface reorganized into a sawtooth topography with an inherent orientation. A thin copolymer film layer then was applied causing the underlying sawtooth corrugations to guide the film’s self-assembly in a highly-ordered way to form an ultra-dense hexagonal, or honeycomb, crystalline lattice.

Additionally, by varying the annealing temperature, the scientists were able to change the angle and height of the sawteeth and the depth of the troughs between their peaks. The result enabled researchers to produce more densely packed troughs, which is where computer memory is stored.

The work was supported by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy’s Office of Basic Energy Science.

“I expect this new method of producing highly ordered macroscopic arrays of nanoscopic elements will revolutionize the microelectronic and storage industries and perhaps others,” said Russell.

He points out most previous efforts to create a well-ordered base material onto which electronic information is stored topped out at 15 nanometers for the smallest achievable pattern size. But “we’ve shattered that barrier and I think we can go farther,” Russell said.

“This research by the teams at UMass Amerherst and Berkeley represents a significant breakthrough in the use of polymer self-assembly to create a high density of addressable locations in a thin film,” said NSF program manager William J. Brittain. “Most significantly, the simple crystalline lattice used as the template may serve as a revolutionary step for a new generation of computer memory.”

Source: cellular news

While reading some interesting articles on ProPakistani last week about the Paisa and VAS War at peak in the Cellular companies’, I came across some very interesting Competition campaigns which starting gearing up earlier this month.

Reportedly, Telenor Pakistan has initiated this campaign in far flung but populous cities of Pakistan, such as Rahim Yar Khan, which is located at the junction of Punjab and Sindh. By the way, Rahim Yar Khan is always considered as the hotspot of many cellular campaigns. Now let me share a NEW SENSE OF COMPETITION initiated by Telenor in this City.

Telenor Pakistan has decided to launch its Mobile Number Portability Campaign in a new way from Rahim Yar Khan, According to the reliable sources and Market Heads, Telenor is conveying a message to their retailers about the competition, which is all about targeting the other Cellular Network users to shift to Telenor. In this Regard they have announced five prizes of motor bikes for its retailers, and 3 motor bikes for its Retail Sales Officers. Company has also announced that Rs. 25 will be given to the retailers for every MNP in addition to the chance to win Motor Bikes.

The retailers will have to register every number they convert to Telenor by dedicated number 668 by sending SMS. In this way Telenor will update the retailer database. In its first phase, this Campaign will start from 25 Feb and will continue till 25 April. Every Frenchise is given a target of converting 30,000 numbers. The suburbs are targeted specially in this campaign where customers are finding difficulties in using other cellular Networks. The Main focus is on the retailers and opinion leaders in the suburbs of the city and neighboring villages which forms a considerable amount of customer base.

Now the catch is that you can’t offer any incentive for converting any number from other network to your network through MNP. But we know that Telenor has been silently convincing customers to get on-board through between the line messages.

It is obvious that going sensible is wiser than to go Aggressive!

The Reasons behind launching this campaign are:-

* Due to paisa War between Cellular Companies, it is more sensible to get cusotmers of other network than the new one
* Saturation of Cellular Market
* New customers are reluctant to enter due to new PTA SIM Registration Regulations.
* This campaign will not only add your customers, but it will also reduce other network customers at the same time

Objectives of this Campaign

* Increase customers, and hence the revenues
* Converting more registered people to Telenor’s network will play a pivotal role in increasing the Share.

Source: propakistani.com

Now days, the most common word in the market is recession and people are curious about recession’s relation with telecom industry’s growth, which is still unaffected, when compared to other industries. Let us review the market dynamics and to conclude recession’s impact on telecom growth.

* Reduction in purchasing power
* Need and demand shift
* Lay-offs


Reduction in purchasing power

The impact of this phenomenon can affect the mobile operators when people with stop using mobile phones due to shorter funds and hence low ARPU’s and ultimately low revenues, which later on may lead to cost cutting and lay-offs by the companies.

But in Pakistan, especially so far, case is different in a sense, that users are still actively using mobile phones and the most appropriate word for this would be “Addicted” to mobile phone usage that it has not been reduced in that significant manner, or in a manner which could compel mobile operators to initiate any precautionary measures.

Need and Demand shift

This is again very important element for any economy and no doubt it can affect the mobile operators too. Pakistani Handset market is experiencing some decline, as handset market is not having serious customers because need and demand shift has been shifted to more niche needs of society. People of Pakistan (majority of them) are avoiding using expensive phones, especially when very basic needs are yet to be achieved.

Currently, this handset market’s need and demand shift is not impacting cellular companies, but if this continues, cellular companies will have to shift their resources or revamp them.

Layoffs

Well, the most important factor in any recession is layoffs. The increase in un-employment rate, getting fired for no reason and then having very low opportunity in the market for next job; can be worst nightmare of anyone. This element is root cause of above elements as well. So far, we have not seen any layoffs but only some rumors of different mobile operators that they are firing their resources.

As per analysts, we will not observe any layoffs until unless users are providing constant revenues to the mobile operators. Instead we can expect more opportunities in the market from mobile operators in the context of expanding their services, like 789 has already created lot employments for the market. Yes, this could be possibility that mobile operators will stop hiring’s for certain period of time but will not use lay-off as tactic to handle recession.

Source: propakistani.com

In 2008, DTAC saw its annual growth rate drop below 20% for the first time in three years, with a yearly gain of 18.5%. However, given that Thailand’s penetration rate is now beyond 90%, this still represents a reasonably strong result. In real terms, DTAC’s active customer base grew by 2.91m to 18.68m, down by almost 1m on the 2007 gain of 3.90m.

The quarterly gain stood at 0.47m, the second lowest figure recorded since the company began reporting active customer numbers in Q3 06. Prepaid net additions hit a new low of 0.35m, while the contract segment performed well with an increase of 0.12m. In annual terms, prepaid net additions fell from 3.87m in 2007 to 2.51m in 2008, but contract net additions increased more than tenfold, from 0.04m to 0.40m. This took the contract customer base to 2.47m compared to 16.21m prepaid. Despite the improvement in growth in the contract sector in 2008, there was only a 0.1pp increase in the percentage of contract customers to 13.2%. There was, however, a substantial increase in inactive customers during 2008, from 1.28m to 2.18m. This goes some way towards explaining the drop in prepaid net additions, as all inactive customers are prepaid.

ARPUs were also down. Blended ARPU including interconnect dropped 19.5% annually to THB 281, the lowest figure ever recorded. In fact, there has been a decline in every quarter since gross ARPU was first reported in Q1 07. Prepaid and contract ARPUs were also at all-time lows of THB 234 and THB 620 respectively in Q4 08. These falls are largely attributable to a decline in usage, with blended AMPU down to an average of 311 minutes per month in Q4 08, compared to 373 minutes in Q4 07.

The drop in ARPU was reflected in the service revenue figures, with the Q4 08 total down 0.5% to THB 12.72bn. EBITDA was up, however, a 5.1% gain taking the quarterly figure to THB 5.13bn. On an annual basis there was a 3.3% gain in service revenues to THB 51.72bn, while EBITDA rose 10.0% to THB 20.77bn. This implied an improvement of 2.5pp in the EBITDA margin to 40.2%.

Source: cellular news

Reliance Communication’s move to slash its GSM rates by about 50% on Thursday could trigger yet another price wars in the Indian mobile
market.

But, a recent study by Lirneasia deduces that such a move is not likely to make a significant dent in telcos’ existing subscriber base. Lirneasia is a not-for-profit information and communication technology (ICT) policy and regulation capacity-building organisation working in nine South Asian countries.

The organisation’s third survey on mobile users at the bottom of the pyramid (Teleuse@BOP3) shows that the most cost sensitive subscriber segment has reached a stage where it is driven more by service offering, brand loyalty and number retention than by price discounts.

“Lirneasia’s findings have always been very credible, and their present study seems to make sense too,” said cellular operatos association of India director general T V Ramachandran.

In the survey, 37% of the BOP respondents in the survey said they would not even consider switching to a cheaper package, while only 15% of them said they would shift. The rest of the respondents remain undecided.

“There could be reasons varying from brand loyalty to pure convenience, for this response. But, it is possible that those factors are gaining importance only because the subscribers take it for granted that their our service providers are bound to follow suit in slashing prices,” said Lirneasia CEO Prof. Rohan Samarajiva. “After all, India has the most competitive mobile market in the world.”

Lirneasia’s senior research fellow Payal Malik had published the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI) – the index for market concentration – in the telecom markets of South Asian countries, last year. Lower the HHI, higher the competitiveness in a market.

India’s turned out to be the lowest at 2000, as compared to Indonesia’s 3400 and Thailand’s 3900. Among the western markets, USA’s stood at 2529 and UK’s at 2309. In fact, India’s competitiveness is close to the US anti-trust guidelines’ threshold for market trustworthiness – a HHI between 1000 and 1800.

“With that level of competition, the assumption that price cut by one telco will be followed suit by all its counterparts in the market is valid,” Ms.Malik said. “So, it can be expected that RComm’s move will mark yet another nosedive in our mobile tariffs.”

But, whether that happens or not the BOP survey indicates that RComm’s target low ARPU segment is not likely to shift from its existing service provider. “But, RComm GSM is likely to create a new subscriber base from the presently ‘unconnected’ lot through their rock bottom tariffs,” Ms.Malik said.

About 40% of the BOP respondents who would not even consider shifting their service provider said that the reason for saying so was that they did not want to change their number. “So, introduction of number portability means the pricing becomes more aggressive and competition more cut-throat,” Mr.Samarajiva said.

Ironically, stiff competition among telcos seems to be breeding customer retention rather than attrition in the Indian mobile market.

Source: Economic Times of India

Next-gen mobile broadband is a key ticket, if not the ticket, out of the global economic slump, according to a GSM Association panel calling for regulators to develop frameworks and spectrum policies encouraging mobile broadband investment.

Development economist Jeffery Sachs, director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University, said at the Mobile World Congress Monday that the current economic meltdown was shaping up as “the most ferocious recession in recent history”, with $35 trillion in paper wealth lost in the last 12-24 months.

He said the mobile industry would play a key role in economic recovery as governments needed to look for new ways to restimulate the economy.

“The mobile sector will be resilient, and will drive important innovation in vital services, energy saving and sustainability,” Sachs said at a GSMA press conference.

Sachs’ comments echoed previous claims by the GSMA even before the current crisis that mobile investment is a key tool that governments can use to boost their GDPs.

At Monday’s press conference, GSMA chief Rob Conway reiterated the industry association’s position that governments must create a favorable regulatory environment for mobile operators, especially in light of the current crisis.

“Economists point to infrastructure spend as a way out of this. Mobile broadband in particular can be an engine for growth if governments set the right framework,” Conway said. “The mobile industry is one of the few not asking for a bailout. We are best able to withstand the downturn, and the best positioned to offer a way out.”

Sachs cautioned that even by the most optimistic standards, “the recovery will not be V-shaped with a dramatic rebound”, and that recovery could take years. But he said that emerging markets will “lead the way out of recession this time”, with China out in front as its drop in exports would be offset from domestic demand.

China Mobile chairman and CEO Wang Jianzhou said that despite the economic slowdown, his company is still adding around 7 million new subscribers a month, and that more people were using mobile for Internet access and music downloads.

“Now that we have 3G licenses in China, rolling out 3G networks will create 300,000 jobs, directly and indirectly, and will stimulate consumption,” he said.

The GSMA’s Conway renewed calls for regulators to rethink their spectrum policies to favor mobile – this time citing a new report from Professor Leonard Waverman and LECG that says release of new spectrum for mobile broadband in 2009 would add the equivalent of $211 billion to China’s GDP and $95 billion to India’s GDP.

Conway urged regulators to grant mobile operators 25% of the 400 MHz of spectrum in the 700 MHz band expected to be freed up by broadcasters around the world moving from analog to digital television.

“Allocating the spectrum to mobile broadband would provide a bigger boost to the economy than giving broadcasters a few more TV channels,” he said.

That said, Conway recognized that digital dividend spectrum will be a long time coming in many markets, where analog/digital switchovers aren’t scheduled to happen until at least 2011 and in many Asian markets – like China – not until as late as 2015.

“Governments will move at their own time and place, and our operators will work with them to do it in a timely way,” he said. “But we’re laying out a framework in addition to the digital dividend, to encourage regulatory stability, because investments in mobile are dependent on the regulatory standpoint on these issues.”

Source: http://www.telecomasia.net

We have seen Telenor Pakistan’s innovation and creativity for their products, services and advertising campaigns, but it would be interesting for you to know that the company has exercised the same level of creativity in developing their way of work. Telenor Pakistan has successfully invented a unique, new and a workable way to carry forward their operations with a key focus on quality and simplicity, coupled with productivity and output.

I had a chance to visit Telenor Pakistan’s head office as a guest, where I noted following things in specific.

1. Telenor Pakistan seeks performance from its employees by implementing work structures that go beyond the usual forms of bureaucracy and multi-layered channels of communication
2. You feel a true sense of equality at the organization, where the CEO, VPs, Directors, Managers, Executives and Officers all share the same work space, the same privileges and an open level of communication that is applicable at all levels
3. You don’t need to dress formally (as long as you don’t communicate externally), hence the focus is more on getting work done by breeding a casual environment, where comfort is a prime driver for achieving difficult targets. I would say its more of a human approach to managing resources, where their comfort levels are considered as key contributors to their levels of productivity

Besides these findings, let’s have a look at techniques adopted in human resource management functions, or Human Capital management functions, as it is known at Telenor Pakistan:

1. Unique and very well structured Recruitment and Selection methods, driven by competency-based screening
2. Separate Organizational Development (OD) function
3. Revamping the human resource management division name with Human Capital Division (HCD)

Unique Selection & Recruitment Methods

Telenor Pakistan has adopted world class recruitment and selection techniques like the Thomas Personal Profile Analysis to pinpoint the exact personality fit that would work best with the organization. At Telenor Pakistan, recruitment is done at 3 levels, i.e. the Foundation, Development and Growth levels, where each level comes with a desired set of behaviors, some of which are common across all areas, while some are more specific to the required behaviors associated with particular job roles.

In a sense, Recruitment has now become further stringent by spending more time and focus to find the best possible candidates for vacant posts. As Telenor says, we hire for talent, and train for skill… prestigious schools or high CGPAs are no longer the preconceived benchmarks for talent… rather it is now about finding the right person who would be able to contribute better than the next.

I was told that for its talent hunting initiatives, the Recruitment Team at Telenor Pakistan initiated its University Visits 2008 program in January. Banking on its Graduate Employer of Choice status, the activity was foreseen to also potentially provide fuel for fresh graduate requirements as per the 2008 head count. The universities visited included LUMS, FAST, NUST, GIKI, NIMS, IBA, UET Lahore, NED, SZABIST, Bahria and CBM.


Separate Organizational Development Department

Working in a world where change is the only constant phenomenon, most organizations lack a dedicated Organizational Development function. The working of the OD unit as a separate and dedicated function at Telenor Pakistan shows their consideration for achieving a balance between the employees’ and the organization’s goals, bearing in mind the coupling of people development with overall organizational development. The company has been instrumental in being the first player in the Telecom industry to initiate the workings of OD as a separate function of human resource.

While realizing the value and contribution of the human mind, Telenor Pakistan has psychologists available to study human dynamics technically, and to develop an individual’s emotional intelligence. These have been seen to contribute greatly towards overall productivity and growth.

Revamping the Human Resource Management name to “Human Capital Division”

Adapting Adam Smith’s philosophy, Telenor Pakistan has rebranded its human resource department as the Human Capital Division (HCD). As defined, human capital refers to the stock of skills and knowledge embodied in the ability to perform labor so as to produce economic value. Consequently, Telenor’s ideology and realization of the importance of human resources is reflected in the name chosen for its human resource department.

Conclusion:

Telenor has not only initiated new concepts and world class human resource management techniques, but also with its on-campus recruitment seminars and the Telenor Alumni and Ambassador Programs, the company is always on the lookout to maximize its reach in terms of its outward orientation There is also an important point raised that Telenor provides 100% focus on talent… as they say “we hire for talent, and train for skill…”

Source: propakistani.com



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