EuroWatch: Mobile Carriers Embrace Web 2.0

Europe's mobile operators are adapting to the potential offered by Web services, while it's all kicking off in France

September 25, 2009

3 Min Read
EuroWatch: Mobile Carriers Embrace Web 2.0

This has been a hot few days for mobile service innovation in Europe, with launches of next-generation, Web 2.0-influenced services and strategies.

French affairs, though, have also figured strongly (for the second week running), with new laws, a jaw-dropping triple-play offering, new R&D facilities, and more developments in the suicides tragedy at Orange (NYSE: FTE). (See Photos: Protest & Unrest in France.)

  • Telefónica UK Ltd. is to launch a new MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) called giffgaff, which means (apparently) "to give and receive." The operator is treating it as a separate operation because it has a completely different business model to the rest of its portfolio: giffgaff is a SIM-only service (so no handset options), and won't have high street retail operations. It's based around an online store that will enable self-service and encourage interaction between customers. (See UK to Get Giffgaff MVNO.)

    The move comes just as Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) unveils its own new, group-wide Web services-based initiative, so the U.K. mobile market is currently a hotbed of innovation. (See Vodafone Live! Is Dead!)

  • There's mobile service innovation in Portugal and Italy, too. Telecom Italia Mobile SpA (Milan: TIM) is to launch a service that will allow customers to purchase goods and services using their mobile devices, while Portugal Telecom SGPS SA (NYSE: PT)'s mobile operation TMN has just launched an apps store and a service called Pond that provides users with a single, online access point to multiple multimedia and social-networking services. (See TIM Preps Mobile Payments.)

  • The French National Assembly has passed the controversial "three strikes" law that could see illegal file sharers cut off from the Internet if they repeatedly download unauthorized content. The law proposes that two warnings be sent to repeat offenders, who could then have their broadband connections severed and face a fine if they are caught a third time. See this PaidContent story for more details.

  • A France Telecom executive, commenting as the operator seeks a way to deal with the spate of employee suicides, has warned that increasing volumes of email, and the increasingly 24/7 nature of communications, is putting untold stress on staff, Reuters reports.

  • French cable operator Numericable-SFR has undercut its main rivals France Telecom and Iliad (Euronext: ILD) by a third with a triple-play offer priced at just €19.99 (US$29.10). The operator announced its news in French only, but WSJ has the details en Anglais.

    The privately held cable operator is also developing sophisticated interactive TV services with the help of Kudelski Group company Nagravision SA . (See Numericable, Nagra Whip Up Widgets.)

  • Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. is opening a "center for fundamental research" in suburban Paris. The vendor says it will help "accelerate its fundamental research efforts in the field of wireless telecommunications, focusing on three main areas: advanced algorithmic research for mobile networks, development of industry standards and evaluation of end-to-end mobile services." It might also help it sneak up on Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU). (Just kidding... See AlcaLu/Huawei Rumor Update.)

  • Italian newspaper Milano Finanza reports that the shareholders of Telco S.p.A., which holds a controlling stake in Telecom Italia (TIM) , will meet on Oct.28 to discuss their future collaboration. The newspaper suggests that Telco S.p.A. might be disbanded, with shareholder Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF) looking to hang on to its stake, currently held indirectly, as a direct holding. (See Telefónica Gets Green Light for TI Stake.)

    — Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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