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Business Health Miscellaneous Mobile Phones Networks News

UK Customers Can Switch Networks If They Receive Price Hikes

Ofcom, the regulatory body in the UK have said that people connected to any phone network can switch providers within 30 days of receiving a notice about an upcoming price hike. This is a law now in-place and will be music to the ears of the over 1000 people who had complained to Ofcom about price hikes after providers had signed them up on a fixed-price offer.

Hikes have become common practise in the industry (which includes TV companies), with Vodafone, BT, Sky and Virgin Media all having raised prices recently. The reason being that the companies are passing on the fact that their costs have changed onto the customers instead. However, this has been seen as unfair by Ofcom as the price hikes occur to people who are tied into a contract, with a penalty being enforced if that customer then wishes to leave.

However, now customers won’t incur this penalty if they decide that within the 30 day window, the prices are unreasonable and they’d like to leave. This not only directly benefits customers but will also make the companies involved think twice about pushing up prices in the first place or to what extent.

What isn’t determined, or at least what we can see, is what happens if a customer has a phone that is locked to the original network they’re choosing to cancel the contract with. The phone they have will likely have been subsidised at the time of purchase (often sold for “free” with a 24 month contract) but the value of the phone is then paid for over the course of the contract. With a contract now potentially being cancelled after 9 months for example, would the network then request the phone back?

To find out more, please do keep up to date with the blog and we’ll try to update you as and when we know.

Article By Darren Kingman and Image Source

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Business Health Miscellaneous Mobile Phones Networks News

SMS Revenues Decline For The First Time

A massive turning point in the history of mobile phones has be realised by research company Strategy Analytics, after they found that 2013 saw the first year-on-year revenue decrease for SMS and MMS services. The landscape of mobile phone usage has been changing for the past few years, with the emergence of services such as iMessage and WhatsApp, which are both alternatives to traditional text messaging and instead use the Internet to send and receive instant messages. However, the news of the decrease highlights just how important it is now for mobile phone networks to ensure their data packages are as competitive as possible in order to attract and meet the demands of the modern mobile user.

Deloitte have also been offering their take on the industry and have highlighted that although revenues from text messaging has fallen networks worldwide can still expect to make approximately £50 billion from the service in 2014. They’ve also suggested that networks can respond to the negative figures and instead “create an operator-owned OTT messaging service to rival the existing providers” – much like BlackBerry initially had a huge success with, with BBM.

Geographically the move away from text messaging has and will continue to be more prevalent in the Western world. Countries such as the USA and the UK will push through the average forecasted drop in text messaging of 20% by 2017 with figures expecting to reach nearly 40% instead. As these countries become more reliant on 4G phone services, which can also empower uses to use video calling as a viable out-and-about option, there’s little wonder why phone owners would revert back to a more expensive and slower service.

Article By Darren Kingman and Image Source

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Business Health Miscellaneous Mobile Phones Networks News Political

China To Relax Foreign Investment Restrictions in Telecoms

Now regarded as the biggest telecoms market in the world, China is relaxing restrictions for foreign investors to enter their telecoms industry. This will almost certainly be music to the ears of companies who are itching to get in on the money generated by the 1.2 billion mobile subscribers the country currently has.

The head of the telecom department at MIIT, Wen Ku announced on Tuesday that there will be 5 areas with absolutely no restrictions limiting the amount of ownership foreign companies can control, with 2 being limited to 55%. Services with no cap include apps stores, store and forward, domestic multi-party communication, call centres and home internet access. Companies hoping to operate in these areas will have to set up an office in the Shanghai Trade Free Zone but the services they offer can be spread throughout the whole country. The service areas that have restricted foreign ownership are online data and dealing analysis services.

It certainly appears as a further step towards liberalisation, as China open their doors and start to comply with the WTO. Hopefully the trend continues and this massive market can start to share more information and resources with other countries and vise-versa.

Article By Darren Kingman and Image Source

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Business Health Miscellaneous Mobile Phones Networks News

Vodafone Sale of Verizon Approved

We’d previously written about the pending sale of Vodafone’s 45% share in Verizon estimated at approximately £80 billion or $130 billion, and just a few days ago that sale was approved by the US regulators, the FCC.

The Federal Communications Commission have now rubber stamped the deal, prompting Vodafone shareholders to make decisions about how they’d like to move forward with their Verizon holdings. Simply because it makes up such a large part of a Vodafone shareholders portfolio, they are being requested to fill out a “Dealing Form” to notify Vodafone how they should proceed on their behalf. Vodafone acknowledge that this is more than slightly confusing, prompting them to create a useful guide.

The deal will be amongst the biggest in history, with Vodafone set to have £27.6 billion left over to “play” with. This is important news for those looking to remain Vodafone shareholders, as the company will continue to pay the dividends they have been accustomed to. A large portion (£6 billion) of the sale will also go towards improving their current service, including erecting more masts around Europe. This will be great news for already existing Vodafone customers and possibly to those coming to the end of their contracts.

Article By Darren Kingman and Image Source

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Business Health Miscellaneous Mobile Phones Networks News Political

Jump Ship If Your Network Raises The Price

The UK for the past few years has been rife with the argument surrounding rising electricity prices and the cost of living going up. This has even been the main bone of contention that the Labour party use as their angle to ensure the Conservative party don’t come out smelling of roses from any Parliamentary debate. However, rising electricity prices aren’t the only rising cost that is going up year upon year, there’s also the telecoms industry to take into account.

This was the subject of a recent policy change pushed forward by Maria Miller, Culture Secretary. Under the new policy telecoms company will be obligated to inform customers at the start of a contract if the price will increase during their agreed period. Customers will also be able to cancel a contract half the way through if the prices are becoming too much, without fear of incurring a penalty. Ms Miller said:

“This agreement with the telecoms companies will deliver real benefits to consumers and help ensure people are not hit with shock bills.”

As part of the agreement between the Government and various telecoms giants, including BT, Sky, EE, Three and others also states that data roaming charges will be abolished by 2016. This will allow customers to use mobile data without the fear of £8 per MB charges.

The hope for consumers will be that these changes and the freedom being afforded to customers will reduce the likelihood of mid-contract price hikes – as customers will almost certainly jump ship as long as the process is made simple to follow through on.

Article By Darren Kingman

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Business Health Miscellaneous Mobile Phones Networks News

4G Licenses Rumoured To Be Coming To Chinese Networks

Rumours have been circulating over the past few days that the Chinese authorities will allow their major networks to start using the 4G spectrum for customers. These rumours have gathered prominence after it was revealed by a company insider that China Mobile’s departments for 4G have been “unusually busy” lately. Liu Dalong, director of the mobile internet research centre in Beijing also told the Global Times that China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicorn are all doing a large amount of preparation at the moment, hinting towards the networks being informed that the 4G licenses are looming.

The investment that 4G will bring into an already booming telecoms nation is unprecedented. Industry analyst Xiang Lagang estimates the initial launch to generate $82 billion, largely caused by the rush of consumers to adopt 4G price plans and upgrade their existing handsets to be 4G compatible. Over the next few years this level of investment is predicted to surpass $164 billion, which is entirely possible for a country with over 700 million subscribers on one network, making it the largest network in the world.

China Mobile are already trying to get an advantage on their competitors by allowing a set number of people in 8 of the countries most popular cities to try the service for free. This is in an attempt to persuade customers that 4G really is worth it, as Liu Dalong suggest customers won’t immediately stray from 3G services, with many believing it already serves their needs. However, an affluent middle class with likely be quickly swayed by streaming movies and data hungry games whilst on the move.

Article By Darren Kingman and Image Source

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Business Health Miscellaneous Mobile Phones Networks News

Following Super Typhoon Haiyan calls from the UK to the Philippines increased by 300%

Studying our data, we saw that callers from the UK using both the DialToSave InstantTalk and CreditTalk services to phone the Philippines made 300% more calls on Friday November 8th, hours after Typhoon Haiyan, compared to the average call numbers for the previous 4 Fridays. This trend continued on until Saturday November 9th, which compared to the previous Saturdays before saw a 187.5% increase.

The storm hit the Philippines at 05:30 on Friday the 8th of November, which was 21:30 on 7th November UK time. However as radio and mobile signal went down almost immediately after the storm struck, calls to the Philippines were being blocked. News of the unexpected magnitude of the storm quickly spread, resulting in the huge increase in calls vastly beyond anything we’ve seen for the Philippines in the past.

Most of the calls were made in the morning of the 8th, from 7am onwards, as the UK awoke to the news of the previous night’s storm.

We did expect to see an increase in the number of calls to nearby island nations like Malaysia and Indonesia, but surprisingly no such increase occurred.

We wish all the best to those affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan. For those wishing to donate in order to help the relief efforts, Christian Aid and the British Red Cross have set up online appeals.

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Business Health Miscellaneous Mobile Phones Networks News

EE Launch World’s Fastest 4G

Speaking at the Huawei Global Mobile Broadband Forum in London, CEO of EE Olaf Swantee announced the launch of the company’s LTE-A signal, (theoretically) capable of 300Mbps download speeds. The launch has only so far been limited to Tech City in London, with the aim of rolling the service out commercially in mid-2014 when LTE-A devices are readily available for consumers.

These numbers eclipses the 40Mbps download speeds of current 4G technology, of which 1 million people currently use provided by EE themselves. The adoption rate of 4G in the UK is expected to climb rapidly in the coming months as other leading networks such as Vodafone and Three launch theirs. However, EE are aiming to remain ahead of demand, a decision seemingly driven by the advantage purchasing a years head-start in the 4G market has earned them.

Giving an insight into the knowledge EE have been able to extract from their plethora of data, Mr Swantee said “Our analysts predict that data usage will grow significantly over the next three years. In fact, our trend-mapping shows that data usage is set to rise by 750 per cent in that period, as consumers and companies conduct more of their business and lives on-line”. He was also able to disclose that since launching their high-speed service, EE have also seen upload speeds exceed download speeds particularly at live sporting events and a third of all traffic being attributed to video services such as streaming and video calls.

With the anticipated growth and clear demand for data-hungry services, LTE-Advanced could further change the way people live mobile lives. EE have already acknowledged that since using their service, over half use fewer or no public Wifi spots at all, demonstrating how powerful mobile services have become. This is a societal change that EE clearly want to spearhead.

Article by Darren Kingman and Image Source

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Business Health Miscellaneous Mobile Phones Networks News

Golden Age of Telecoms Nearly Over For All But A Few Remaining Markets

For the past 20 years the telecoms industry has seen its “golden age”, even growing fast enough to catapult its most powerful figure, Carlos Slim, to the head of the Forbes Rich List. This growth is now beginning to slow and industry analysts Ovum predict that by 2018 the market will see its first decline. Until then, new phone connections will continue to grow by approximately 4% per annum, rising from 6.5 billion to 8.1 billion – more than today’s worldwide total population. Revenues won’t rise nearly as much as this, likely due to the lower incomes of the few remaining markets that telecoms companies will target in the meantime.

Myanmar has previously been highlighted as one of those markets and this week it emerged that the Myanmarese government would be inviting both Orange and Vodafone to pitch to them with the idea of a leading telecoms company partnering with their state run mobile phone operator, MPT. The idea behind inviting these particular network operators to the party is based on Orange coming second in the previous round of bidding for spectrum space in Myanmar and Vodafone now being on everyone’s lips after signing the 3rd largest deal ($130b) in telecoms history.

Both companies offer exciting opportunities to quickly capitalise on the fact Myanmar only have a current mobile phone subscription rate of 9%. To put that into perspective, neighbouring Thailand has a subscription rate of 110%.

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Business Health Miscellaneous Mobile Phones Networks News

Alcatel-Lucent Employees Protest Companies Plans To Cut 10,000 Jobs

Alcatel-Lucent have been a company in decline since 2006 according to Michel Combes, CEO of the ailing business. That was the last time the company made any money, prompting the company to announce that they will be cutting 10,000 jobs in an effort to reduce costs by €1 billion. This has sparked protests by company employees who are now facing a similar fate to those that BlackBerry employees faced during September 2013, just 1 month previous.

The protests caused a stir in the French capital on Tuesday October 22nd as 1,000 of the companies employees wore black bin bags with crosses on during their march to the Eiffel Tower and then on to the Alcatel-Lucent headquarters.

The company itself is the second in as many months to post troubling losses, as another pioneer on the mobile phone industry, BlackBerry, announced a fire sale in an effort to remain in existence. Both have been reported to have made catastrophic decisions over the past few years, deciding against including technologies that most consumers in 2013 see as a necessity. This has caused profits to dry up and all but disappear. The ultimate fate of the business could mean Michel Combes fears come true and Alcatel-Lucent disappear altogether. A sad ending to a story of once such a pioneering company in an industry many of us grew up with.

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