DT Jumps on Convergence
Unstrung’s interest in the launch was first piqued following the receipt of a press release from the Fixed-Mobile Convergence Alliance (FMCA), talking up the inclusion of seven new members (see FMCA Releases Requirements). Six of the newcomers were named: Eircom Ltd. (London: EIR), France Telecom SA (NYSE: FTE), Optus Administration Pty. Ltd., TDC A/S (Copenhagen: TDC), Telecom Italia SpA (NYSE: TI), and TeliaSonera AB (Nasdaq: TLSN).
The identity of the seventh carrier was not revealed. “That operator will make its own announcement next month as part of a wider announcement on convergence,” says Ryan Jarvis, chairman of the FMCA. “The unnamed one is very large.”
The unnamed carrier has now been identified as T-Mobile International AG, the wireless subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom. "T-Mobile is developing a new product called [email protected] for the growing number of customers that also want to use their cell phone to communicate conveniently and at fixed-network rates from the comfort of their own four walls," notes the company in a statement (see Deutsche Telekom Spews News). "With this offer, customers can also be called on their cell phone at home at inexpensive fixed-network rates and of course make cheap calls from their cell phone at home to the German fixed network. In addition, voicemail calls made at home are free."
The service is expected to be commercially launched in the first quarter of 2006.
Analysts are unsurprised by a move into the convergence space. “They are an obvious missing player,” says Ovum Ltd.’s Carrie Pawsey. “Fixed/mobile substitution is really big in Germany, so Deutsche Telekom needs to do something quite quickly. They would be foolish not to utilize their fixed and mobile networks, as that’s what differentiates them from the other mobile operators in the German market.”
Such services make Deutsche Telekom the second major European carrier to unveil plans to launch a combined fixed and mobile phone service. In June this year BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) took the wraps off its fixed/mobile convergence offering, a service based on Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) technology (see BT Unveils FMC Service and UMA Gains Ground). Dubbed “BT Fusion,” the service will be commercially available in September via registration on BT’s Website. Approximately 25,000 registrants have so far signed up for Fusion.
France Telecom is also keen for a slice of the European convergence pie, taking its fixed/mobile convergence strategy into Spain recently with the acquisition of the region’s number two mobile operator Amena (see FT Takes on Telefónica).
— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung