Broadband Stimulus Nearly Complete
By Monica Alleven
A few more clues are coming out about the stimulus package and its $7.2 billion for bringing broadband to underserved areas.
The bill no longer includes tax credits for companies like AT&T but includes grants that could help smaller service providers.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will administer $4.7 billion, and the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service will administer $2.5 billion.
One thing that will be key is who ends up heading the NTIA because it controls a big chunk of the funds, says broadband advocate Craig Settles, president of Successful.com. Currently, former Sprint Nextel executive Anna Gomez is serving as acting head of the NTIA and will stay on as deputy assistant secretary after a permanent head is named.
Another significant piece of the measure is it appears to give state and local government control over how they go about implementing broadband projects, and “this is huge in terms of ensuring communities get what they need,” says Settles, who advocates a hybrid approach, such as combining fiber with WiMAX or another wireless technology. It also appears not to favor the incumbents and gives some teeth to open network access requirements.
President Barack Obama’s emphasis on automating healthcare ties into broadband because it can enable the transfer of high-bandwidth documents, Settles says. A lot of things – job training and education, for example – can be delivered more effectively with broadband, he adds.
Report: Nokia Chief Says Large Acquisitions Over
By Matti Huuhtanen, Associated Press Writer
HELSINKI (AP) — Nokia is done making major acquisitions to complement its business and will provide more online services, its CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo said.
Kallasvuo was quoted in an interview published Friday as saying that the Finnish company has “collected all the basic building blocks” and now aims to push ahead with innovations, despite the challenging climate that saw Nokia lose market share last year.
“Now in 2009, consumers must be able to even better realize that the user experience provided by Nokia is exquisite,” Kallasvuo told the Finnish Talouselama business weekly. “We no longer lack the pieces which would require large acquisitions.”
Nokia has been the top global handset maker since 1998 and has gradually expanded to include online services, such as downloads of music, games, maps and the fast transfer of photos and video.
It has estimated the global online market will reach $130 billion by 2010.
“We are in a situation where we have to combine the old … with the new,” Kallasvuo told Talouselama. “We are no longer just the market leader which needs to defend its position. Now, we have the opportunity to attack in a new way.”
Last year, Warner Music Group joined Nokia’s music service, enabling customers to download and listen to thousands of tracks on Nokia handsets, following similar deals with Sony BMG and Universal Music Group.
It also acquired Canadian mobile messaging company Oz Communications to give users better access to instant messaging and e-mails, and joined forces with travel information company Lonely Planet to sell maps and city guides that can be accessed on mobile phones.
In 2007, Nokia spent $8 billion – its biggest deal to date – to acquire Chicago-based Navteq so that Nokia handset users can access digital maps and global positioning systems.
Its foray into Web services, spending more than $3.8 billion on research and development last year, is part of a strong push to challenge rivals, including Apple’s iTunes and iPod.
Kallasvuo concedes Apple’s iPhone served as a wake-up call.
“Of course, I’ve used Apple as an in-company alarm clock, several times,” Kallasvuo said in the interview. “I’ve familiarized myself with it (iPhone), but naturally I don’t use one.”
The global economic downturn has not spared the company. Last month, it warned of imminent cost-cutting measures after fourth-quarter net profit crashed 69 percent to $744 million and its market share dropped to 37 percent, from 38 percent in the previous quarter and 40 percent in the fourth quarter of 2007.
On Wednesday, Nokia announced the closure of an R&D center in Finland with 320 job cuts and said it will temporarily lay off some 2,500 workers.
But Kallasvuo maintains the company is not in crisis, although he acknowledges the market is difficult.
“We are now in the toughest environment ever,” Kallasvuo said. “Nokia is no way in a crisis, but the challenges are huge.”
No Android Phone from Samsung at MWC
By Wireless Week Staff
Samsung is one company that is not expected to announce an Android handset at next week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The head of marketing at Samsung’s mobile device division told The Guardian there will be no Android phone from Samsung at the show.
The company is “planning internally” for a release in the second half of the year, Younghee Lee told the publication. The company is in negotiations with various operators about selling an Android phone.
The Guardian noted there is talk that HTC will announce the next version of its Android phone, the G2, next week.
Samsung did say it will showcase its solar powered full-touch screen phone, Blue Earth, along with its vision for environmental sustainability, at the show. Designed to symbolize a flat and rounded shiny pebble, Blue Earth is charged through a solar panel on the back of the phone. The phone is made from recycled plastic extracted from water bottles. The company did not say which markets would get the phone.
RealNetworks Posts 4Q Loss, Dragged by Charges
By Barbara Ortutay, AP Technology Writer
NEW YORK (AP) —RealNetworks posted a fourth-quarter loss Thursday, hurt by impairment and restructuring charges, as revenue inched lower.
The company, known for its Rhapsody online music service and the RealPlayer media player, posted a loss of $240.5 million, or $1.78 per share, down from net income of $2.7 million, or 2 cents per share, in the same period a year earlier.
The latest quarter’s results included impairment charges of $240.7 million.
Revenue slipped 3 percent to $152.6 million from $156.9 million.
Analysts, on average, were expecting sales of $153.8 million, according to a poll by Thomson Reuters.
Chief Executive Rob Glaser said the quarter’s revenue, while “not extraordinary” relative to what RealNetworks thought at the start of last year, was nonetheless in line with fourth-quarter expectations.
The Seattle-based company did not provide quantitative guidance for the current quarter, saying it expects 2009 to be “a challenging year” for consumer and corporate technology spending and online advertising. RealNetworks did say it expects revenue to decline for the current quarter, both sequentially and year-over-year.
Analysts are expecting sales of $151 million, a decline of 1 percent from the fourth quarter.
Glaser said in an interview he considers the company’s core business, including recurring revenue from consumers, to be “quite resilient.” It is the remaining 20 percent of its business, which includes online advertising, where things are less certain.
He added that the last time the company didn’t give guidance was during the previous recession earlier this decade. RealNetworks, he said, “came roaring out” of that downturn, and expects to do so this time around too.
Revenue at the company’s games division grew 9 percent to $33.7 million and music revenue jumped 8 percent to $43.9 million. At the company’s media software and services unit, sales declined 11 percent to $22.7 million.
For the full year, RealNetworks posted a loss of $243.9 million, or $1.74 per share, down from a profit of $48.3 million, or 29 cents per share, in 2007.
Revenue climbed 7 percent to $604.8 million from $567.6 million.
Got Cash? Clearwire Inspiring Speculation
By Brian Santo, CED Magazine
Sprint’s cash-strapped status continues to fuel speculation that subsidiary Clearwire is in similar straits.
Clearwire CEO Ben Wolff has noted that credit markets are tight, and that prompted an article from Bloomberg that the company might not have access to enough funds to keep to its ambitious rollout schedule.
Part of the attraction of WiMAX is that it is deployable today. If Clearwire were to establish a wide footprint, that could help undermine the prospective success of LTE.
Most of the information so far amounts to the reading of tea leaves. Some look at Nortel’s dropping its mobile WiMAX program and Nokia Siemens Networks’ ceasing production of a WiMAX handset as signs that WiMAX is not going well in the United States, though on a worldwide basis, the technology continues to gradually take hold.
Intel, a prominent backer of Clearwire, suggests concerns about the WiMAX purveyor’s financial situation are overblown, however. The Wall Street Journal quoted Intel Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Sean Maloney as saying: “They’ve got enough money to keep going for quite a while. They’ve got a pretty fat piece of capital to go out and build the network.”
Sun Launches JavaFX Mobile
By Wireless Week Staff
Sun Microsystems this week announced the availability of the JavaFX Mobile platform, which will go up against the likes of Adobe’s Flash and Microsoft’s Silverlight. The platform is designed for delivering rich content and services across a range of mobile devices – from mass market feature phones to smartphones.
Sun also announced that several leading handset manufacturers, service providers and ISVs are working with Sun to ship JavaFX Mobile handsets. Partners include LG Electronics, MobiTV, Sprint and Sony Ericsson.
Sun will be premiering JavaFX Mobile at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, next week.
Sun says the Java platform is available on more than 2.6 billion mobile phones and is supported by 6.5 million software developers.
FirstNews Briefs for Feb. 13, 2009
Companies in the news: VeriSign, Qualcomm, DigitalGlobe, Nokia, Cellebrite, SingTel, Comverse, ABI Research, Shazam, Networks In Motion, Verizon Communications, Mobile Broadband Network Limited, 3 UK, T-Mobile UK, Ericsson.
• VeriSign expects 1.7 billion inter-carrier and a total of 3.5 billion SMS messages to be sent in North America on Valentine’s Day. Calendar year 2008 was a banner year for mobile messaging as VeriSign’s Messaging and Mobile Media Division delivered more than 224 billion messages, which not only shattered its original estimates of 200 billion messages, but it also saw a 134 percent increase in its total messages delivered from 2007.
• Qualcomm unveiled a new family of chipset solutions that expand its HSPA+ product portfolio. The new HSPA+ products include solutions for mobile handsets and data cards and a new Qualcomm transceiver that supports worldwide 3G bands and integrates Bluetooth, GPS, FM radio and necessary codecs to in a single chip. Qualcomm also announced a new Mobile Station Modem (MSM) chipset designed to enable smartphones for under $150. The MSM7227 solution uses HSDPA/HSUPA and can support Android, Symbian S60, Windows Mobile and BREW Mobile Platform.
• DigitalGlobe and Nokia agreed to bring the perspective of high-resolution satellite and aerial imagery to Nokia Maps, both on mobile devices and on Ovi, improving the global driving, hiking and walking navigation capabilities for consumers who use these applications.
• Cellebrite is launching CelleSync, an integrated over-the-air (OTA) and point-of-sale (POS) platform, at Mobile World Congress next week. The solution allows mobile phone operators and retailers to offer both OTA and POS back-up of phone and SIM content, including phonebook, text messages, calendar, images, videos and music.
• SingTel, Singapore’s largest mobile operator, has selected Comverse HUB Mobile Advertising to provide an advertising service that analyzes subscriber information and location and then delivers ads using multiple media formats and channels.
• Shipments of Wi-Fi-enabled cellular handsets will double in volume by the end of 2010 compared with January 2008, and that growth curve is expected to continue through 2013, according to ABI Research.
• Mobile music discovery provider Shazam says it has grown from 20 million users to 35 million users worldwide since September 2008.
• Networks In Motion (NIM) will partner with Ericsson to offer NIM’s location-based services (LBS) for GPS-enabled mobile phones to Ericsson customers worldwide. Mobile network operators will be able to use Ericsson’s network services to offer their own branded versions of NIM’s phone navigation service.
• Mobile Broadband Network Limited (MBNL), the 50:50 joint venture formed by 3 UK and T-Mobile UK to integrate and manage their 3G radio access networks, has selected Ericsson to provide managed services to complete the consolidation of their 3G infrastructure. Under the terms of the contract, about 220 T-Mobile staff have transferred to Ericsson. It is the seventh managed services contract announced in the U.K. by Ericsson.
• Verizon Communications named John Killian to the CFO position effective March 1. He succeeds Doreen Toben, who is retiring. Killian currently is president of Verizon Business.