We talk a lot about Femtocells as we are interested to see how they develop in the market place and how network providers can use them to their benefit and ultimately for the benefit of their customers.
We have previously discussed Vodafone’s offering here and it seems they have made some pricing changes and repositioned their product for the market place.
Vodafone has recently relaunched their Femtocell with a large price cut from £160 down to £50. It has also launched a marketing campaign aimed at educating the consumer as to the benefits of the device and at the same time renamed the unit from being the ‘Vodafone Home Gateway’ to ‘Sure Signal’.
Vodafone have not commented on the reason for this new Femtocell enthusiasm, but we have seen reports that make mention of Vodafone’s recent launch of the iPhone and as we know from O2′s experience, this device places high data demand on the network so maybe this is Vodafone’s way to try to offload some of that data traffic onto the Femtocell.
As always we watch this new launch with interest.
More information from the Vodafone site here
We recently saw an article saying that the UK mobile network is 25 years old on 1st January 2010 and it got us thinking about life before mobiles.
We are old enough to remember a time before mobiles and email, we had pagers and the new fangled message pagers where you would get a message saying ‘call the office’ and after pulling off a main road, trying to find a pay phone that worked and if you had change only to be told it was not urgent and you could have called when you got to your destination !!!. Life certainly has changed and we are very dependant on mobiles in day to day life but of course not only for voice but with SMS and data access we are always in touch.
There is an interesting article about this over on the IET website here and the history of how the market has developed is fascinating.
Regular readers will know that we are long time fans of the Nokia N Series Phones and the work done with their SIP Client on the Symbian Operating System.
We are now seeing a lot of press that Nokia may be starting to make a move away from Symbian it seems the good reviews and user response to Nokia’s new N900 has made the company look at whether the Symbian S60 OS is the right platform for future smart phones in its N series range.
Various reports indicate Nokia will move away from Symbian in 2012 and focus on the Maemo platform. All high-end N series multimedia devices will then be running the Linux OS by 2012, but X-series and E-series devices may continue to run Symbian. Before the launch of the N900, Maemo had been used exclusively in Nokia’s range of internet tablets but the processing power of the new N900 has been described as closer to a pocket PC than a mobile phone.
Some observers have pointed to some of Maemo’s present failings as offering Services and Applications that cannot compare to the mature Symbian S60 platform regardless of Maemo’s superior user experience.
One of our personal pet hates and I am sure yours also is the way mobile phone manufacturers use different chargers and headset/earphone connectors. Some manufacturers change from model to model so a family household with a number of mobiles will end up with chargers plugged in all over the house and a range of different headphones left lying around often being searched for in vain.
We are pleased to see the CTIA International Wireless Association is pushing for manufacturers to standardize on 3.5mm jack for headphones/headset and the Micro USB for data I/O and charging. This has to be common sense and will be good for the consumer and for the environment as think of all the spare headphones and chargers in the world that end up in landfill.
If the manufacturers follow the CTIA requirements then we should be in a situation where a charger, data cable and headphones will fit any mobile phone so you will not need to purchase them every time you upgrade your phone.
Press release on the CTIA website here.
We see that a UK manufacturer of Femtocells has decided to make an attempt to go direct to the consumer market rather than the usual business model of via the Mobile Carriers.
Hay Systems Ltd have ignored the regular route of making deals with Mobile Carriers in favour of a straight to consumer sale. The problem they have is they will need to get agreement with the carriers to do this and so have launched a website www.femtonow.com where members of the public can register their interest so they can approach carriers with potential numbers of consumers.
The HSL product has the ability to work with any Mobile Carrier, or even multiple Mobile Carriers, over a regular broadband connection. To achieve this HSL needs to do two things: obtain a radio spectrum in which to operate, and integrate into the mobile Carrier’s back end.
We think HSL are going to face a few obstacles, firstly their Femtocell is 2G rather than 3G and every network operator in the UK is moving towards 3G deployment of Femtocells. Secondly the Femtocell is attractive to a Mobile Carrier as it is a way to lock your customer’s onto your network increasing the ‘stickyness’ of contracts so it is unlikely a carrier would encourage technology that allows customers to move easily from network to network.
We wish Hay Systems well and hope they can succeed in this venture.
See the Press release from HSL here.
SIP has been around for a long time, the origional RFC specifications were around in the late 1990s so what has happened since then ? SIP is now the defacto standard for Voice over IP having overtaken H323 and MGCP as the standard all manufactuers are developing to.
We now see SIP handsets in all shapes sizes and guises on the marketplace and SIP Trunks are growing and set to replace ISDN as the standard way to deliver trunks espescially in a business evnironment. We also see SIP entering the mobile space with many mobile handsets supporting SIP or can easily have an application installed to support it.
SIP has opened up many options and can even voice enable a website to allow users to be connected to you using SIP, it can also provide you with prescence information so your calls will follow you wherever you happen to be, you are not tied to a particular line or location.
So all in all SIP has moved on and become a mature technology – we remember the days when you connected two SIP devices together from different manufacturers and nothing happenend i.e. not even a basic call but these days connect two devices together and they will work at say 98% of all features and often 100% out of the box as the manufacturers have learnt to be more forgiving in the SIP syntax used.
A few weeks ago there was real talk about a new directory enquiry service that would allow you to find out mobile numbers for individuals – lots of people were talking about how to opt out of the service so you were ex directory.
The service is provided by 118 800 and it seems the service has been temporarily suspended, we had a look over on their website www.118800.co.uk and there is a statement as follows :
’118 800 mobile phone connection service is currently unavailable
We are undertaking some major developments to our ‘Beta Service’ to improve the experience for our customers. So the service isn’t available at www.118800.co.uk or by phone. We’ll be back as soon as possible .
All ex-directory requests made by people in our directory to date are being processed. There will be no need to resend these requests. And we will take further ex-directory requests when the service resumes. We will not be taking ex-directory requests by phone or text whilst the service is unavailable.’
Rumours on various sites say the service had to be taken down due to a large number of ex directory requests – most people I know did this but it seems to be fair to 118 800 that the service offered is not an open directory but merely a call filtering system, it seems calls are filtered and you can choose to accept a call or not after receiving a text.
It will be interesting to see if this service will be succesful – it looks like general business SPAM calls will not use it as it costs £1-00 to get a number request.
We have recently seen that many mobile phone manufacturers are planning to move to a standard charger which will help with wastage of having a new charger for a new phone, but Nokia have announced they are working on technology that will enable a mobile phone to pick up charge from the ambient radio waves.
The technology collects energy from ambient radio waves emitted by TV masts, Radio Stations, WiFi transmitters, and the like. The technology is a derivative of that used by the RFID devices in stores that allows them to track inventory by the tags powered by radio waves.
Nokia’s aim is to get mobile phones to harness about 50 milliwatts of power, currently the prototypes are able to harness up to 5 milliwatts, but around 20 milliwatts is needed to keep phones running in standby mode indefinitely without the need for a recharge. The Nokia Research Centre has said the technology will take around three to five years to develop.
We like this sort of green technology and it is a good solution to help us use less power.
Regular readers will know we keep a keen eye on Femtocells and their launch into the market place, here in the UK market up until now we have not seen much information from the main operators so it is interesting to see Vodafone making Femtocells (or Access Gateways – their product name) available from all their various sales divisions.
Reports say that so far uptake remains very low, the device has been available for over a month across all of Vodafone’s UK sales divisions, but one London store is reported to have sold only 20 units in the last three weeks. However this is probably due to a lack of serious promotion so far, this is a product the general public will need to be educated on as it is a new concept for mobile users.
In an effort to boost sales Vodafone have been offering potential users a discount on the launch price of £160, or a £30 down payment with £10 per month subscription on a 10 month contract. Consumers contacting a Vodafone call centre have been offered a Vodafone Access Gateway for a £100 one-off payment or £5 per month over two years.
Despite the poor early sales performance, the Vodafone Access Gateway has received a good response from industry and consumer gadget review writers. Setting up the Access Gateway is considered very simple, call quality was excellent, handover to the macro network worked well and Internet browsing throughput was measured at just over 3Mbits.
This feels like Vodafone are putting a ‘toe in the water’ and trying different price structures before making a formal launch of the product and service, they may also need to offer some tariff incentives to catch customers rather than just selling the units as ‘signal boosters’
Get more information over on the Vodafone website here.
We market a range of GSM gateways from Topex and Teles and up until now neither company had a VoIP product that is cost effective in the small business market. We all know that the vast majority of businesses are small to medium so this is a big business sector to sell to and we know Portech are very succesful in this area.
Topex have announced the release of the Mobilink IP gateway – we already market the Mobilink analogue gateway that is a single SIM and connects to an analogue PBX port, the Mobilink ISDN that comes as single or dual SIM and connects to an ISDN2 port of a PBX. The Mobilink IP connects to a PBX or VoIP Server using SIP or H323 and comes as single or dual SIM, there is a big market for this product in the Asterisk IP PBX (and the many derivatives) system market and with other IP PBX. Generally this device will connect without any extra items required on the IP PBX and just set your dial plan to route mobile calls via the gateway and off you go with big cost savings to be made.
The gateway also supports other mobile applications such as email to SMS and SMS to email as well as web to SMS so the user gets many applications for the price of one, the other added advantage is the quality and robustness of the gateway, Topex also manufacture systems for Air Traffic Control so their quality standards are very high and this reflects in the overall reliability of all their products.
Pricing and actual release dates will be confirmed shortly.