Operator News

A Little Lawsuit Heard Across Europe

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Regional German mobile group Airdata goes against the European Council's approval of the €8.6 billion acquisition of the E-Plus by Telefónica, accusing the EC of failing to protect competition in the marketplace.

TelecomsThe takeover reduces the number of national carriers in Germany from 3 to 4-- namely Telefónica Deutschland, Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone.

According to Airdata any commitments from Telefónica to ensure competition are “totally inadequate to a vibrant competition in the interest of consumers,” and only the 3 biggest companies the power to "dictate" pricing. As such the company is prepared to take the case to the second-highest European court, the Luxembourg-based General Court.


EU: Operators Must Cap Data Roaming Prices

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Positive news for European mobile customers, less so for operators-- the European Parliament puts a retail cap on data roaming within the EU. 

EuropeFrom 1 July 2012 data service costs will have a 70 Euro cents per megabyte cap, before falling to 42c in 2013 and 20c on 1 July 2012. 

Voice calls will also see reductions-- 29c per minute from 1 July 2012 and 19c from July 2014, down from the current maximum of 35c.

"By putting price caps on data we have created a roaming market for the smartphone generation,” Commission VP Neelie Kroes says. 

From 2014 customers will also be able to purchase roaming packages from different operators, while EU citizens traveling outside the EU will get warning messages (via SMS, email or pop-window) when nearing data downloads costing over €50. 

The EC estimates business travelers will save over €1000 through such measures, while families on an annual vacation will save €200. 

While operators are furious over the changes (back at MWC 2012 Vodafone boss Vittoria Colao demanded the stop of cuts), one business will surely gain-- mobile app and content providers. The cheaper mobile internet is, the more users indulge in apps, location-based services and mobile video-on-demand. 

Go New Deal to Cut Mobile Roaming Prices, Including Data Services

Vodafone Buys Into Enterprise, Broadband

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Vodafone acquires Cable & Wireless Worldwide for £1 billion, in a bid to get more enterprise business while running a fixed line network. 

Vodafone CWWWith a history starting from the 19th century (formed from a number of international telegraph assets), C&W has recently fallen into hard times, going through 3 CEOs since starting a restructuring process in 2010. 

The acquisition will turn Vodafone the 2nd biggest operator in the UK, with annual revenues reaching £7bn. Perhaps more importantly it will also open the enterprise market for Vodafone-- enterprise networking services form the core of current C&W business. 

As Vodafone itself puts it, "“the acquisition of Cable & Wireless Worldwide creates a leading integrated player in the enterprise segment of the UK communications market and brings attractive cost savings to our UK and international operations."

Around one-third of C&W revenues come from international operations-- with territories covering the UK, EMEA, India, Asia Pacific and N. America. It currently operates as a wholesale carrier, allowing other operators to use its network for broadband delivery. Will Vodafone retain such a business model or use the network to launch an own broadband operation?

Go Vodafone Acquires Cable & Wireless Worldwide

Mobile Net Neutrality Makes Dutch Law

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The Netherlands become the first European country (and the second country in the world) to adopt net neutrality into national law by approving a bill forcing mobile telephone operators to allow use of communications services such as Skype and WatsApp without charing extra. 

networkOnce passed through senate the Dutch law may become an example for the rest of Europe as one of the strongest net neutrality laws on record-- with analyst saying some European countries might follow the Dutch example. 

Telcos including Vodafone, T-Mobile and Royal KPN NV lobbied against the bill, claiming it might cause higher prices due to limited options in tariff differentiation. 

Last April, KPN announced plans of charging Skype and WatsApp users extra-- a move angering customers, causing politicians to move in the with law. 

Under the law, Dutch operators found violating the law could get fines of up to 10% of their annual sales. 


The Future of Etailing?

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3LiveShop3 Sweden debuts "LiveShop", an e-retail system where customers not only shop online, but also interact with actual salespeople over webcams as they view product offerings. 

For this task, sales staff use a custom-built touchscreen machine, complete with Flash-based interface that could come out of the film Minority Report-- allowing them to drag, drop and scale product images and options on screen for their customers in real time.  

The entire system connects to 3's e-commerce backend, so when done customers can checkout with their purchases. 

For now LiveShop runs only in Sweden, but it will obviously roll out in other European countries should it be successful-- not to mention other retailers' imitating the system in the future. 

Watch 3 LiveShop

Go 3 LiveShop (Swedish)