Mark Bridge writes:
It's been a funny old week. With the International CES behind us and Mobile World Congress less than a month away, you’d be forgiven for thinking there wouldn’t be much big news until the world’s mobile mavens start arriving in Barcelona.
In fact, you’d be partially correct… but that doesn’t account for what insurance companies like to call ‘acts of God’. Disasters and the like.
One such disaster – at least in a PR sense – befell T-Mobile UK, which decided to align its fair usage policy for data use. Customers who’d previously had up to 3GB of monthly data on their tariffs were being ‘aligned’ down to 500MB. Understandably, some people weren’t happy with T-Mobile’s plans. After a couple of days, T-Mobile changed its mind and said the new FUP (as the fair usage policy was often abbreviated) wouldn’t apply to existing customers. That’s probably removed the risk of legal action and mass-migration, although it all looks rather like a different kind of F-UP. If you know what we mean.
On the subject of data, our most-recent podcast included an interview with Robin Kent, director of operations at Adax Europe, who talked about the challenges facing mobile networks. He reckoned we’d be hearing a lot more about data limits and traffic restrictions in the short-term – and they’re never going to be popular topics with customers.
Also in the podcast was Dave Golding from Cellebrite, introducing a new 7-inch tablet for retailers. It's called the Cellebrite Touch and can transfer a customer's mobile content to a new phone at the point of purchase. We’ll be hearing more from him in next week’s show.
In the US, the week’s big news was the end of AT&T’s three-year exclusive hold on the Apple iPhone. Verizon Wireless will stock the iPhone 4 from next month – and because it’s a CDMA version, some of the side buttons will be in slightly different places. Good news for case manufacturers!
Back in the UK now, and Orange has launched a 'mobile landline' service for businesses. Pocket Landline lets companies and sole traders have a fixed-line telephone number working on a mobile phone. Sound familiar? Well, it’s what Gradwell Mobile were talking about last year – and it’s not dissimilar to a service offered by Orange in the days of Hans Snook.
O2’s also been to the launch pad. It’s creating O2 Unify in partnership with IT service provider 2e2. The aim is to provide IT and communications services to businesses; pretty much a one-stop-shop for ICT.
Having said that, it’s not all been good news at O2, with talk of redundancies and closing a number of smaller stores.
But let’s end on a positive note. Last year the number of mobile broadband subscriptions worldwide exceeded the 500 million mark – and telecoms equipment provider Ericsson has now calculated that the figure will double in the next 12 months, giving the world over one billion mobile broadband connections by the end of 2011.
Of course, the amount of data those people will be allowed to use is another matter completely!