Cricket Tunes Into Mobile Music
By Luke Simpson
Leap Wireless International’s Cricket subsidiary and LiveWire Mobile today launched Mobile Music, an online service allowing customers to download music and ringback tones directly to their handsets, personal computers, or both.
The music store, available via the mobile WAP site or Web store, offers downloads directly to a Cricket phone for $1.99, to a computer for 99 cents or to both for $2.25. Alternatively, users can bulk buy three mobile downloads for $5.
Ringback tones also will be available through a subscription. Mobile video is not available through this service.
David MacQueen, an analyst at Strategy Analytics, sees a number of online music stores moving toward this dual-delivery mode. “We found that 81 percent of people surveyed were willing to pay $1 for a conventional download. About 81 percent of the same group was willing to pay $1.20 for the same download directly to their mobile phone.”
Cricket customers must have a 3G handset to use the service.
CSR to Acquire SiRF
By Monica Alleven
The boards of both companies already approved the transaction, which is expected to close in the second quarter.
The companies say their combination will create a global company with significant scale to capitalize on the multifunction consumer electronics market. CSR’s customers include industry leaders such as Nokia, Samsung and LG. “We are excited about the market opportunity,” said Kanwar Chadha, SiRF’s founder and vice president of marketing, in a conference call with analysts.
Asked if the integration of the two companies will present a lag time and opportunities for competitors like Broadcom, Chadha said he doesn’t see that happening and customers are looking for the kind of best-in-class solution the combined company will offer.
SiRF has been working on a cost-reduction plan, including headcount, which is now at 571. For the fourth quarter of 2008, the company reported a net loss of $17.4 million compared with a net income of $0.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2007.
Upon closing of the transaction, SiRF stockholders are expected to own about 27 percent and CSR shareholders will own about 73 percent of the combined company.
Joep van Beurden, CEO of CSR, will lead the combined company as CEO, with the remaining leadership to be comprised of executives from both SiRF and CSR. The combined company will have headquarters in Cambridge, United Kingdom, and SiRF’s San Jose, Calif., headquarters will become the headquarters for CSR’s U.S. operations.
The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and the approval of SiRF and CSR shareholders.
Industry Veterans Join INQ Mobile
By Wireless Week Staff
INQ Mobile, the new mobile social networking-focused handset company, managed to attract some veteran talent from Motorola, Qualcomm and Sony Ericsson.
Joining INQ, an offshoot of Hutchison Whampoa, are Allen Burnes, formerly a director of sales and operations at Motorola; Amit Gupta, formerly with Qualcomm; and Leonardo Poggiali, previously a head of operations at Sony Ericsson.
Burnes will lead global sales operations for INQ, working with operators to develop consumer offerings. Before INQ, he was Motorola’s corporate vice president and general manager of EMEA and India.
Gupta will lead the INQ engineering team. He spent the past 10 years at Qualcomm, where he built the Qualcomm Customer Solutions organization.
Poggiali will join Burnes’ team to oversee the supply chain and global sales operations. Before INQ, he was at Sony Ericsson. He joined when the joint venture was formed and held several executive positions, including director of commercial finance and supply chain for certain global accounts, and head of volume planning for EMEA.
The company launched the INQ1 with 3 in the United Kingdom last year.
Qwest’s Earnings Hit, Posts Job Cuts of 1,700
By Maisie Ramsay
Qwest Communications posted a 49.5 percent drop in net income due to ongoing declines in its residential landline segment and announced larger-than-predicted job cuts.
In late October, the company said it would cut 1,200 jobs after steep declines in earnings. Today, the company announced it had cut 1,700 jobs, or 11 percent of its workforce, and said it would halt cash contributions to pension plans in the upcoming year.
The company also moved 180,000 wireless subscribers to Verizon Wireless. Qwest began to transition its stand-alone wireless customers to Verizon last year.
The company posted net income of $185 million for the fourth quarter, or 11 cents per share, compared to $366 million, or 20 cents per share, in the same period last year.
The company has attempted to offset ongoing declines in residential landlines through building upon the broadband segment and cutting costs, but expansion efforts are going at a cautious pace as the company evaluates ongoing economic turmoil, says Michael Suby, director of research for Frost & Sullivan.
“[Qwest] is going to be depending on bringing bandwidth-dependent services to their consumer market, but they currently only have 1.9 million households passed with their fiber to the node and they only plan on adding 1.5 million in 2009,” he says.
Suby expects 2009 to be a challenging year for the company as residential landline subscribers continue to decline. “Like their peers in the residential landline business, it’s unfortunately a non-reversing trend,” he says.
Qwest posted fourth-quarter revenue of $3.3 billion, a 3 percent decline from $3.4 billion last year. For the full year, net income was $681 million, or 39 cents per share, compared with $2.9 billion, or $1.52 share, in 2007.
The company posted revenue of $13.5 billion for the full year, a 2 percent decline from last year. Full-year 2008 operating revenue of $13.5 billion declined 2 percent from the full-year 2007.
Ditech Networks Releases Voice Activation Technology
By Andrew Berg
Ditech Networks today announced the launch of mStage, a network-based suite of products for mobile carriers that allows the Internet to become part of a voice conversation. mStage enables mobile subscribers to use their voice as well as their thumbs to interact with Web applications like social networking and IM during a phone call.
“We allow Web services to access the voice stream in real-time,” says Ditech’s CEO, Todd Simpson.
Through its open API, mStage allows Web developers to effectively integrate voice into apps built for the platform, enabling mobile carriers to increase revenue opportunities for mStage-enabled networks.
mStage can be engaged with one word spoken in the midst of a phone call, instantly connecting callers with the Web, where they can interact in a variety of ways, including checking e-mail, communicating with social networks, researching local entertainment or accessing real-time traffic information.
Simpson says the open API leaves the possibilities for the technology wide open. “We actually believe the Web developers will dream up the applications. That’s the beauty of our open API,” he says.
Ditech’s announcement comes during a time when carriers are increasingly dependent on data for revenue. Ditech hopes its technology will place renewed emphasis on voice as a revenue driver by increasing call time.
Google Offers Sync, Thanks to Microsoft
By Wireless Week Staff
Google yesterday announced Google Sync for iPhones and Windows Mobile devices, but that’s only possible because of a patent license from Microsoft covering the implementation of the Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync protocol on Google servers, according to Microsoft.
Apple, Nokia, Palm, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and others are among licensees in the Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync Licensing Program.
“Google’s licensing of these Microsoft patents relating to the Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync protocol is a clear acknowledgment of the innovation taking place at Microsoft,” Horacio Gutierrez, deputy general counsel and vice president, Intellectual Property & Licensing at Microsoft, said in a statement. “This agreement is also a great example of Microsoft’ s openness to generally license our patents under fair and reasonable terms so long as licensees respect Microsoft intellectual property. This open approach has been part of Microsoft’s IP licensing policy since 2003 and has resulted in over 500 licensing agreements of the last five years.”
Google’s support for the iPhone and Windows Mobile comes on top of a tool it released last year for BlackBerry devices to sync Google Calendar and Gmail contacts with pre-installed calendar and contacts applications.
For phones that support SyncML, the tool for iPhone and Windows Mobile devices will allow users to get Gmail contacts onto their phone. The synchronization happens automatically over the air. Google Sync for iPhone and Windows Mobile is being launched in beta.
Late last week, Microsoft let slip that its My Phone feature syncs contact and other information to a password-protected Web site where users can back up and restore data. The application works on phones that run Windows Mobile 6+.
SkyCross, Infineon Pair to Create Handset Architecture
By Wireless Week Staff
SkyCross, a global antenna solutions company, has partnered with Infineon Technologies AG to reduce the bill of materials for ultra-low cost handsets. The handset architecture will use Infineon chips and SkyCross iMAT antennas to eliminate conventional RF components.
SkyCross said the combination will lead to lower cost, simpler integration and space savings without sacrificing performance.
The benefits of the new handset architecture result from consolidating components. The Infineon platform is comprised of one single chip that integrates baseband, power management, RF and two SIM interfaces. When the chip is paired with an iMAT antenna from SkyCross, which offers multiple feeds, each with high isolation, developers can eliminate the switchplexer in the system. The solution also bundles technologies, development tools and customer support specifically designed for high volume production.
“Cost is a main driver in each of the mobile phone segments, but pressure is particularly intense for the rapidly growing, high volume, ultra-low cost segment,” stated Horst Pratsch, vice president of marketing for the Entry Phone Business at Infineon.
The architecture is available now, and future generations are coming soon. The Infineon X-Gold 102 chip already in mass production incorporates the iMAT dual feed antenna into its XMM 1020 platform. iMAT, launched in January 2008, is available today in production units such as the first USB dongle to be certified by the WiMAX Forum.
Cisco Rolls with WiMAX
By Brian Santo, Editor CED Magazine
Following the announcement of its second-quarter earnings (story here), Cisco cleared what looked like a backlog of WiMAX press releases that covered various network implementations in far-flung markets.
The company said AsiaBell launched a mobile WiMAX service in central Kazakhstan, based on the company’s Broadband Wireless Solution and including an Internet Protocol Multiprotocol Label Switching (IP/MPLS) network core, which was integrated with the public switched telephone network (PSTN).
AsiaBell’s Aero service is targeting an area with a population of 1 million people, including business and residential customers.
Russian wireless ISP Scartel is also installing Cisco mobile WiMAX technology for its Yota brand service. Yota WiMAX will be available in parts of Moscow and St. Petersburg. Cisco is providing Scartel with optical transport based on dense wave division multiplexing (DWDM), a high-speed IP/MPLS data network and data centre technology designed to support high-quality video distribution.
In the country of Georgia, mobile operator MagtiCom launched mobile WiMAX based on Cisco’s Internet Protocol Next-Generation Network (IP NGN), integrating mobile voice and WiMAX services into a single, converged network. MagtiCom is currently offering broadband Internet via WiMAX in the capital, Tbilisi, as well as in nine major cities across the country.
By the end of 2009, MagtiCom is planning to cover all key cities and regional centers of Georgia with WiMAX broadband services. The solution incorporates the Cisco Broadband Wireless Gateway (BWG), Cisco 7600 Series Routers, Cisco BWX 8300 and 2300 Series Broadband Wireless Access Systems and Cisco Desktop Client Equipment.
Closer to home, Cisco said tw telecom upgraded its IP NGN network by adding Cisco’s ME 3400 Series Ethernet Access Switches to support its integrated, converged services. tw telecom’s IP-based services include high-speed Internet and data products for building and managing enterprise networks, as well as switched and transport services to carry voice and broadband services at transmission speeds up to 10 Gbps.
FirstNews Briefs for Feb. 10, 2009
Companies in today’s briefs: Boost Mobile, RadioShack, In-Stat, Handmark, Intel, UIQ, Texas Instruments, Skyworks Solutions, Mformation, MobileAccess, MIR3, Sybase 365, Netbiscuits, Nokia Siemens Networks, Telefonica Spain, Verizon Wireless, Universal Music Enterprises.
• Boost Mobile expanded its retail distribution into 2,400 additional RadioShack stores, bringing its total presence into more than 4,200 of the stores nationwide. Boost Mobile’s new $50 Monthly Unlimited plan will be available at RadioShack locations across the country beginning Feb. 16.
• In-Stat says it expects to see more infrastructure vendors pull back or leave the WiMAX market entirely. Still, the firm’s research found that WiMAX base station revenues grew by 137.9 percent in 2008.
• Handmark appointed Vincent Guinier to vice president and managing director of its EMEA team. He will play a key role in expanding the company’s London office and strengthening its position as a mobile content provider globally. Prior to Handmark, he held positions at UIQ Technology, m-systems, Intel and Texas Instruments.
• Skyworks Solutions announced that Samsung is leveraging its front-end modules (FEM) and power amplifiers (PA) in its GPRS, EDGE and UMTS handset models.
• About 80 percent of iPhone users use e-mail compared with 39 percent of non-iPhone callers, and 61 percent of iPhone users use backup and restore services compared with just 25 percent of non-iPhone users, according to a study commissioned by Mformation.
• In-building coverage solutions provider MobileAccess reports its 2008 revenues increased more than 55 percent. The company also unveiled its Encover product line, a new brand for its flagship Universal Wireless Network product line.
• MIR3 announced the strengthening of its international mobile messaging capabilities through a partnership with Sybase 365, a subsidiary of Sybase. MIR3 says that with the solution provided by Sybase 365, MIR3’s clients will have access to a stronger, two-way, international messaging platform that will enable users to correspond in the most effective way possible during both urgent and non-urgent situations.
• Netbiscuits is expanding its support of high-end mobile phones, integrating standard modules for location-based services and starting a new partner program. The enhancements will be unveiled at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona Feb. 16-19. Specifically, Netbiscuits will announce expanded support for the iPhone, Nokia Series 60, BlackBerry, Android devices and other high-end mobile phones.
• Nokia Siemens Networks supplied the gear for Telefonica Spain’s 3G network expansion. With the implementation, featuring Nokia Siemens Networks’ Flexi Base Station, Telefónica expects to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 9,500 tones per year, which can be compared to getting 1,800 vehicles off the roads in Spain.
• Verizon Wireless and Universal Music Enterprises (UMe), a division of Universal Music Group, have teamed to provide V CAST Music customers with dozens of classic songs by iconic Motown artists throughout February. V CAST Music will highlight exclusive sets of Motown hits each week.