Fixed-Mobile Convergence?

Tomi Ahonen writes:

…the concept of Fixed-Mobile Convergence…is a bit like running after a train. The mobile telecoms industry ran past the fixed one. It no longer really cares too much about trying to converge with the dying breed, that of fixed telecoms. But it is the fixed telecoms side which is near-desperate to find fixed-mobile convergence, as a lifeline. BT wants the Fusion (formerly Bluephone) to work. BT made a big blunder selling off its GSM/3G operation, O2, and is now desperate to get back into mobile, through this and the MVNO deal with Vodafone.

But why would a Vodafone or any other mobile operator really care to attempt to converge – with fixed. They can pursue convergence with the internet, and convergence with the media/TV, etc. But fixed-mobile? it is not convergence, it is pretending. “Fixed Mobile Pretendence” if you will.

Economist on India’s Economy

The Economist writes in the week that the Indian budget was presented by Finance Minister P Chidambaram:

Rapid growth, underpinned by a savings rate of 29% of GDP and an investment rate of 30%, has been a great help to government finances. His budget was able to include big spending increases and a return to fiscal prudence. Last year, mindful of promises to spend more on relieving poverty and on health, education and infrastructure, Mr Chidambaram suspended efforts towards fiscal correction, though the outcome was not as bad as he feared. The central government’s deficit rose only fractionally, to 4.1% of GDP.

Mr Chidambaram urged parliament to reach consensus so that subsidies can be directed at the truly needy. But in a year when there are elections in a number of states, this will not happen. And, while its finances remain strapped, the government will find it hard to plug India’s infrastructure deficitin roads, ports and above all electricity. Nor will it be able to deliver the improvements it so badly needs in health and education.

Ether and Edgeio

Dan Farber writes: “Ether is a division Ingenio (also Keen.com), which developed pay-per-call over the Web technology. Ether provide sellers with a unique phone number, payment services (credit card for now) and appointment scheduling. Sellers embed the Ether service on their blogs, business card, radio show or Web sites and can charge by the minute, hour, etc for their services pr productsfrom computer help and pyschotherapy to podcasts and photos. Edgeio aggregates listings for products and services from blogs and other Web pages. Here’s the mashup: post listings for services delivered over the phone on your blog, Edgeio aggregates them. On blog pages and Edgeio listing pages, Ether’s phone service and pay-per-call time billing service is embedded. More frictionless commerce”

Nicholas Carr offers an another view on Edgeio.

Mobile Internet

Russell Buckley writes: “One topic we hit on a lot is the degree to which the mobile Internet should be a subset of the wired Internet, or something completely separate, or exactly the same thing, just on a smaller screen. I’ve argued that the answer is somewhere in the middle: I should be able to access just about anything I want from my mobile device, but there’s a huge need for mobile-driven applications developed with an understanding of the fundamental differences between mobile and fixed Internet use (and that doesnt just mean screen size). But when it comes to things like blogging and social networking, the mobile tools need to be tightly integrated with the existing fixed services that people already use.”

Google: Future Expectations

Forbes.com speculates on some services we may see soon:

Google seems near the launch of a long-anticipated calendar program. A link to a product called “CL2: A calendar for you and the world” was discovered over the weekend, though it is no longer accessible. A Web-based calendar program from Google would represent another threat to Microsoft, whose dominant Outlook e-mail includes a calendar feature.

And speculation has spiked again that Google is close to unveiling a personal finance site that could rival Yahoo!’s premier destination. Search Engine Journal found over the weekend that its Web site was getting Web traffic referrals from stock ticker queries that came from google.com/finance, a site that Google doesn’t make available to outsiders.

TECH TALK: 3GSM World Congress 2006: Emerging Markets and Mobiles

Information Week wrote about the growing penetration of cheaper mobiles into the third world.

With a saturated market in Western Europe and North America and a user base adopting costly new third-generation features at a seemingly glacial pace, the mobile phone industry is turning to the Third World and asking the heads of developing countries to lift regulatory barriers.

According to Motorola CEO Ed Zander, addressing a forum at the 3GSM World Congress on Wednesday (Feb. 15), mobile phone penetration is a powerful engine for economic growth. He said, Every time you have ten more phones per 100 people, you have an increase in GDP (gross domestic product) of 0.6 percent.

Zanders company is a leader in providing ultra-low cost (less than $40) handsets to poor countries, shipping at a rate of 31,000 phones a day.

He said, “We stand on the brink of a new world where mobile communications will help people overcome poverty and realize their potential.” But he said that countries that continue to impose taxes on handsets, and other restrictions on mobile operators, will delay or even deny the economic benefits from connecting the unconnected.

Zander struck a theme common to this years 3GSM gathering, where thrift has supplanted the race to add handset features and maximize ARPU (average revenue per user). Zander was among several panelists in a session on developing markets who cited the economic virtue of deregulating mobile telephony in countries like Bangladesh, Nigeria, the Philippines, parts of Russia and dozens of other countries that represent the potential of 3 billion new subscribers by 2010.

This theme was echoed in a story in the International Herald Tribune:

Bringing services to the two-thirds of the world’s population that does not yet use cellular phones, most of whom are in Asia and Africa, is an issue that has been festering for years and that emerged as a central theme at the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona, the biggest industry gathering of the year. It brings together the sector’s top executives, who come to tout their newest products, but also to speak about the future of their constantly evolving business.

“Emerging markets are on everybody’s mind,” Adrian Nemcek, the president of Motorola’s networks division, said during an interview this week. “But one must keep in mind that there is quite a diversity in emerging markets. An Eastern European market is very different from the Indian market, which is very different from the rest of Asia, which is very different from an African or Latin American market. Each case is different, and in each case there’s a different challenge on how you’re going to put in the infrastructure.”

While there are companies for sale and there is no lack of new licenses being issued to cellphone companies by the governments of developing countries, there remain numerous challenges, ranging from the prosaic to the particular. Companies running networks in Iraq pay millions of dollars to protect their workers and infrastructure, and in some cases companies operating in remote parts of Africa and Asia produce their own electricity to supply power to the base stations, the backbone of the network.

Perhaps the strongest brakes on telecommunications development, excessive regulation and cripplingly high taxes, often come from the countries themselves, which are ostensibly trying to encourage investment.

One thing is clear from 3GSM World Congress: the innovation in mobile technology continues. As devices become more powerful and cheaper, and the networks migrate to higher speeds, the impact of mobiles in our lives is only going to increase.

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