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3GSM: Day 1 News Roundup

BARCELONA -- 3GSM World Congress -- Europe's major wireless event kicked off today with news of a national mobile TV deployment in the U.K. by Virgin Mobile Telecoms Ltd. , further service delivery platform (SDP) progress for Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), a demonstration by protesting Spanish carrier employees outside the mobile industry event, and some major vendor infrastructure developments. (See 3GSM: Donde Está IMS?.)

Virgin does TV
Virgin Mobile will tomorrow announce a mobile TV service it has developed with BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) and Microsoft. An executive familiar with the plans confirmed the engagement, but would say only that "it hasn't been officially announced yet."

BT, which last year chose Microsoft as its telco TV partner, has developed a mobile TV wholesale service called Movio (formerly Livetime) that it hopes to sell to all the U.K. wireless operators. Virgin Mobile trialed the service last summer. (See BT Reports on Mobile TV Trial, Microsoft Wins at BT and BT Livetime Pilots Mobile TV.)

Operators across Europe have been testing mobile TV services, currently one of the hottest service developments for wireless carriers, during the past year, in a bid to find ways of generating new revenue streams from their 3G networks. (See Swisscom Tests Mobile TV, TIM Trials Mobile TV, O2 Trials Mobile TV, Mobile TV Faces Tech Battle, Seeing Is Believing, and Mobile TV Gets Turned On.)

Microsoft makes SDP progress
The software giant launched its SDP, the Connected Services Framework (CSF), at last year's 3GSM event, when it had three carrier users. (See Microsoft Pushes Deeper Into Carriers.)

Now, says Michael O'Hara, general manager of the firm's service provider business unit, 13 carriers have taken the service creation platform, with Orange (NYSE: FTE), which is trialing the system, the latest to be unveiled. (See Microsoft Touts SDP at 3GSM.)

In addition, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will also announce Beijing Mobile, part of China Mobile Communications Corp. , as another SDP scalp during a keynote address here in Barcelona on Tuesday. The Chinese carrier signed up about a year ago, says O'Hara, and is now using the platform to launch mobile instant messaging and presence services.

The SDP also underpins hosted mobile email services being launched by Vodafone D2 in Germany and T-Mobile International AG in the Netherlands. (See Vodafone, Microsoft Team and MSFT Pushes Email for T-Mobile .)

Fittingly for an event in Barcelona, Microsoft is also demonstrating a mobile service developed with IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) partner Ubiquity Software Corp. (London: UBQ) called "I'm Lost," designed to help hapless users find their way and show how SDP and IMS systems can work together.

The firm declined to comment on whether it will develop an extended version, "I'm Drunk and Lost," specifically for the 3GSM revelers seen wandering down dark alleys in Barcelona's Old Town Sunday night (with their conference badges on, too...).

3GSM's real demo
Technology demonstrations abound on the show floor here, but 3GSM's Monday morning delegates were treated to a real demonstration by employees from Spanish cable operator ONO , who were protesting against job cuts imposed following the operator's recent merger with fellow cable operator Amena . (See FT Takes on Telefónica.)

One observer noted that few 3GSM visitors were paying much attention to the noisy demonstrators because "this is a wireless show -- unless they're shouting about their fixed/mobile convergence strategy nobody's going to care about them too much." Gracias, señor...

Ericsson, Nokia spew news
Two of the major GSM network infrastructure vendors, Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) and Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK), both sprayed news releases like confetti here at the show.

Ericsson touted its IMS credentials by claiming 18 carrier deals and 37 trials, and announced greater reach and efficiencies for its latest base stations. (See Ericsson CEO Talks Up IMS and Ericsson Touts WCDMA Base Stations.)

The vendor's CEO, Carl-Henric Svanberg, also noted the growing impact of outsourcing deals, where Ericsson runs a carrier's network on its behalf. Revenues from such contracts grew 29 percent in 2005, which the CEO described as "the breakthrough year for managed services." (See Ericsson to Run 3's Network.)

Nokia also boasted of growing outsourcing business during its media presentation, and also ticked off the IMS, mobile TV, fixed/mobile convergence, and network efficiency boxes. (See Nokia Touts Managed Services, Nokia Expands Flexi Base Station, Sony Ericsson, Nokia Team, and Indian Operator Outsources to Finland.)

Other news of interest from 3GSM includes:

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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