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Posts Tagged ‘telecom’

Large-scale cyber espionage attacks coming from India

Monday, May 20th, 2013

lockA large and sophisticated cyber-attack infrastructure appears to have originated from India, says a new report from Norman Shark, the global security leader in malware analysis solutions for enterprises, service providers and government.

The attacks, conducted by private threat actors over a period of three years and still ongoing, showed no evidence of state-sponsorship but the primary purpose of the global command-and-control network appears to be intelligence gathering from a combination of national security targets and private sector companies.

“The data we have appears to indicate that a group of attackers based in India may have employed multiple developers tasked with delivering specific malware,” commented Snorre Fagerland, head of research for Norman Shark labs in Oslo, Norway.

Extreme diversity of sectors targeted

“The organization appears to have the resources and the relationships in India to make surveillance attacks possible anywhere in the world. What is surprising is the extreme diversity of the sectors targeted, including natural resources, telecommunications, law, food and restaurants, and manufacturing. It is highly unlikely that this organization of hackers would be conducting industrial espionage for just its own purposes—which makes this of considerable concern.”

While it’s probably unrelated, here at the TechJournal, we had to block India’s access due to continued and repeated attacks on our WordPress blog (that you’re reading right now). We regret that, because we also received legitimate traffic from India. We also had to block China, Hong Kong and Russia. Anyone else finding continual attacks from these countries?

The investigation revealed evidence of professional project management practices used to design frameworks, modules, and subcomponents. It seems that individual malware authors were assigned certain tasks, and components were “outsourced” to what appear to be freelance programmers. “Something like this has never been documented before,” Fagerland added.

The discovery is currently under investigation by national and international authorities.

The discovery began on March 17th when a Norwegian newspaper reported that Telenor, one of the world’s largest mobile phone operators, a member of the world’s top 500 companies, and Norway’s major telecommunications company, had filed a criminal police case for an unlawful computer intrusion. Spear phishing emails targeting upper management appeared to be the source of the infection.

Operation Hangover

The behavior pattern and file structure of malware files made it possible, for security analysts at Norman Shark, to search internal and public databases for similar cases utilizing Norman’s Malware Analyzer G2 automatic analysis systems.

The amount of malware found by Norman analysts and their partners was surprisingly large and it became clear the Telenor intrusion was not a single attack, but part of a continuous effort to compromise governments and corporations worldwide.

Norman Shark titled the report “Operation Hangover” after one of the cyber espionage malwares most frequently used in this case.

Victims in more than a dozen countries

Based on an analysis of IP addresses collected from criminal data stores discovered during the investigation, it appears that potential victims have been targeted in more than a dozen countries. Specific targets include government, military and business organizations.

Attribution to India was based on an extensive analysis of IP addresses, website domain registrations, and text-based identifiers contained within the malicious code itself.

Despite all of the recent media attention on so-called “zero day” exploits encompassing brand new attack methods, Operation Hangover appears to have relied on well-known, previously identified vulnerabilities in Java, Word documents, and web browsers.

“This type of activity has been associated primarily with China over the past several years but to our knowledge, this is the first time that evidence of cyber espionage has shown to be originating from India,” Fagerland concluded. “Our study, available on the Norman website (www.norman.com) provides assistance in what security teams need to look for.”

Nike has most socially devoted fans on top ten list

Friday, May 17th, 2013
Nike sneakers

Nike Olympic inspired sneakers.

Nike is the U.S. brand to beat for Socially Devoted fans, dominating Socialbakers top ten U.S. list with four different Nike handles in Q1 2013.

Socialbakers, the global leader in social media measurement and analytics, monitors the most responsive brands on social media each quarter.

While @JetBlueAirways, representing airlines, and @NokiaCareUS, for telecom, take the #2 and #4 spots, respectively, they are surrounded by brands in banking, sporting goods, food, cloud computing and, a Q1 favorite, tax prep.

On Facebook, the most Socially Devoted U.S. brands in Q1 2013 were uniformly telecoms and airlines, industries where online customer service has become critically important to their business.

“Twitter enables a certain open conversation, and allows brands to address their customers’ needs immediately and directly.

More brands using social, Twitter

Twitter birdMore and more brands are appreciating the value of utilizing social media, and Twitter in particular, to relate to their customers and address their concerns.  These companies should be celebrated,” says Jan Rezab , CEO of Socialbakers.

Interestingly, @NikeSupport can also be found at #4 on the Worldwide list of Socially Devoted Twitter Brands, which is otherwise all telecom and airline.

Overall, worldwide, there has been an incredible increase in response rates on Twitter since Socialbakers began measuring (see graphic). Although the telecommunications, airline and finance industries tend to always score highly, the fashion and retail industries have been gaining traction too. It shows that companies now take Twitter seriously as a communication channel.

Here are the quarterly results:

Poor social media practices will hurt your business’ bottom line

Friday, February 15th, 2013

social mediaBusinesses can no longer adopt a trial-and-error approach to social media as all-new research finds a link between social media and business metrics such as consumers’ likelihood to purchase or interact with companies through leading social channels, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2013 Social Media Benchmark Study.

The inaugural study is based on responses from more than 23,200 U.S. online consumers who have interacted with a company via the companies’ social media channel.

Fielded from November to December 2012, the study measures the overall consumer experience in engaging with companies through their social platforms for both marketing and servicing needs across more than 100 U.S. brands in six industries: airline, auto, banking, credit card, telecom and utility.

The study establishes performance benchmarks and industry best practices that provide insights to companies to help them maximize their social media efforts.

“This is a unique, comprehensive consumer study that defines consumer expectations in the ever-changing social space and measures companies’ performances against those benchmarks,” said Jacqueline Anderson , director of social media and text analytics at J.D. Power and Associates.

“This study provides companies with the framework they need to begin effectively integrating social media into their business strategies. It also illustrates the relationship between a positive social media experience and consumer purchase intent.”

Social Media Servicing vs. Social Media Marketing
Student laptopThe study focuses on two types of social media engagements, marketing and servicing, and provides best practices for each. Marketing engagements include connecting with consumers to build brand awareness and affinity, in addition to promoting coupons and deals. Servicing engagements include answering specific consumer questions or resolving problems.

The study finds that social marketing engagements vary by age group. Nearly one-third (39%) of consumers 30-49 years old and 38 percent of those 50 years and older interact with a company in a social marketing engagement context, while only 23 percent of consumers who are 18-29 years old interact with companies.

Vast difference in how age groups use social media

In contrast, 43 percent of consumers who are 18-29 years old use social media for servicing interactions, while 39 percent of consumers who are 30-49 years old use social for servicing needs. Only 18 percent of consumers who are 50 years and older interact with a company via social for a service-related need.

“While there are vast differences among age groups in the frequency of servicing and marketing engagements, there is a consistency in the impact on brand perception and purchase intent through both types of engagement,” said Anderson.

“Companies that are focused only on promoting their brand and deals, or only servicing existing customers, are excluding major groups of their online community, negatively impacting their satisfaction and influencing their future purchasing decision. A one-pronged approach to social is no longer an option.”

Companies need to understand how their consumers use social media and then develop a strategy that addresses their usage patterns.

“If your customers want service and you’re pushing discount coupons out to them while ignoring their attempts to connect with you, you’re going to end up with dissatisfied customers,” added Anderson.

Social media affects purchase decisions

The study finds a correlation between overall satisfaction with a company’s social marketing efforts and consumers’ likelihood to purchase and their overall perception of the company.

Among highly-satisfied consumers (satisfaction scores of 951 and higher on a 1,000-point scale), 87 percent indicate that the online social interaction with the company “positively impacted” their likelihood to purchase from that company.

Conversely, among consumers who are less satisfied (scores less than 500), one in 10 consumers indicate that the interaction “negatively impacted” their likelihood to purchase from the company.

LendingTree AutosThe study also finds that some industries are more successful than others at implementing best practices into their social media engagement strategies than others. When looking across industries,  the auto industry performs particularly well in both marketing and servicing social media interactions, the only industry to do so. Other industries performing well are wireless in social servicing interactions and utility in social marketing interactions.

Industry Performance
Listed below are the companies that perform particularly well in each of the industries included in the study. Companies are listed in alphabetical order.

Social Media Servicing Social Media Marketing
Airline Airline
JetBlue Airways Delta Airlines
Southwest Airlines Southwest Airlines
Virgin America Virgin America
WestJet
Auto
Chevrolet Auto
Ford Cadillac
Subaru Fiat
Toyota Ford
Hyundai
Banking Kia
Capital One/Chevy Chase Lexus
Chase Nissan
Fifth Third Bank Toyota
PNC Bank
SunTrust Bank Banking
Capital One/Chevy Chase
Credit Card Chase
Chase Huntington National Bank
Citi Cards Regions Bank
Discover Card
Wells Fargo Credit Card
American Express
Telecom
Sprint Nextel Telecom
U.S. Cellular AT&T
Cricket
Utility Straight Talk Wireless
Florida Power & Light T-Mobile
Georgia Power Virgin Mobile
Pacific Gas and Electric
Utility
Con Edison
Florida Power & Light

Telecom, banking, insurance top outsourcers last year

Friday, June 29th, 2012

telecom towerTelecommunications Services was the top outsourcer last year, spending $16.5 billion, followed by Banking, with $10.5 billion. Together, the two industries accounted for more than one-third of all spending on outsourcing by Forbes Global 2000 companies. The Insurance sector, with $5.3 billion, was third.

So says the Information Services Group (ISG) (NASDAQ: III),in the Momentum Market Trends & Insights 2012 Vertical Industries Report.

“In 2011, annual spending increased in 15 vertical industries and declined in a dozen, and we anticipate spending patterns will swing again in 2012,” said Paul Reynolds, Chief Research Officer, ISG.

“Spending patterns ranged widely, from a 12 percent decline in the consumer durables vertical to a 53 percent spike in utilities, where operators are seeking help to meet new regulatory requirements.”

Industry responses to key technology trends and developments also varied, ISG research found.

“Cloud computing adoption grew but was sharply divided by vertical,” said Reynolds. “Highly regulated industries and those with strong data protection requirements such as Aerospace and Defense and Financial Services remain cautious, while technology-oriented industries are more likely to invest in cloud-based solutions.”

Reaction to social media is mixed

Reaction to social media and mobile technology is similarly mixed, with consumer-facing industries showing the strongest interest in mobile  solutions.

“Service providers are being called upon to help create the applications, services and infrastructure to support these emerging capabilities.”

One of the most consistent themes to emerge from the report was an increased focus on business innovation, with clients looking to service providers to lead transformation initiatives, increase Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) implementations and speed BPO adoption.

Cost cotnrol the leading driver of outsourcing

Cost control remains a leading driver of outsourcing activity, and more and more clients are willing to forego customization for more standardized offerings from service providers in exchange for lower prices. “This development bears watching,” said Reynolds.

“As cloud computing and self-service technologies become more mature, they will enable more standardized, platform-type offerings.”

On a related note, clients are also demanding increased cost flexibility and service scalability.  “This reflects growing interest in ‘pay by the drink’ utility models that enable effective demand management,” said Reynolds.

Business use of hosted & cloud services grows, price a major factor

Friday, May 18th, 2012

JD PowerAmong business data customers, 18 percent are leveraging remote offerings, such as hosted and cloud-based services, up from 12 percent in 2011, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 Business Data Satisfaction Study(SM) released today.

The report says price is a major factor in the data service provider selected, as it is in just about everything.

Nearly forty percent (38%) of business customers that utilize cloud-based or hosted services cite “lower price” as the main reason for choosing their data service provider. Conversely, only 20 percent of business that do not use cloud-based or hosted services cited price as their main reason for selecting their data provider.

The study also finds that cloud-based services are more popular among larger companies. Twenty percent of large enterprise businesses and 14 percent of small/medium sized businesses use a cloud service, while only 5 percent of very small businesses leverage cloud services.

Cable Providers Surpass Telecommunication Providers in Satisfaction
Across all business segments as a group, cable providers rank higher in overall satisfaction than traditional telecommunications–or telco–providers. Cable providers hold significantly higher satisfaction scores in fairness of contract terms and ease of understanding pricing options.

“For many years, telco providers have ranked higher in customer satisfaction than cable providers, primarily due to performance and reliability,” said Perazzini.

“Cable providers now rank higher in performance and reliability, due to their advantage in the area of data transfer speeds. Additionally, they have closed the gap with their telco counterparts regarding the stability of their data connections.”

The Value of Customer Service and a Single Point of Contact
Business customers frequently cite customer service as a main reason for choosing their provider, as 26 percent of large enterprises and 17 percent of small/medium businesses chose their data provider because of its reputation for providing good customer service. Additionally, the study finds that providing a single point of contact (SPOC) increases customer service satisfaction. Across all segments, overall satisfaction is 68 index points (on a 1,000-point scale) higher among businesses with a SPOC than among those without.

Additionally, the study finds that providing business customers with a SPOC may reduce customer churn and build loyalty. Across all segments, only 16 percent of businesses with a SPOC indicate they are likely to switch providers in the next 12 months, compared with 20 percent of those without a SPOC.

Business Data Satisfaction Rankings
The study measures customer satisfaction with providers of telecommunications data services, such as cable modem, DSL, T1, T3/DS3, Ethernet and frame relay. Providers are ranked in three segments: very small businesses (companies with one to 19 employees); small/medium businesses (companies with 20 to 499 employees); and large enterprises (companies with 500 or more employees).

Six factors are used to measure satisfaction across all three segments: performance and reliability; cost of service; sales representatives and account executives; billing; offerings and promotions; and customer service.

Optimum Business ranks highest in the very small business segment with an index score of 670. Optimum Business performs particularly well in cost of service and offerings and promotions. Cox (659) and Verizon (635) follow in the segment rankings.

Cox ranks highest in SMB segment

Cox ranks highest in the small and medium business segment with a score of 699, and performs particularly well in four of the six factors driving satisfaction: performance and reliability; cost of service; sales representatives and account executives and billing.

Optimum Business (679) and Time Warner Cable (TWC) (668) follow in the segment rankings.

In the large enterprise segment, AT&T ranks highest in overall satisfaction with a score of 686, and performs particularly well in four of six factors: performance and reliability; sales representatives and account executives; cost of service; and offerings and promotions.

The 2012 Business Data Satisfaction Study is based on responses from 5,143 business customers of telecommunication data services at very small, small/medium and large enterprise businesses in the United States and includes evaluations of their data service providers. The study was fielded in October 2011 and February 2012.

Overall Business Data Index Rankings J.D. Power.com Power Circle Ratings
Very Small Business Segment For Consumers
(Based on a 1,000-point scale)
Optimum Business 670 5
Cox 659 4
Verizon 635 4
Charter 623 4
VSB Average 613 3
AT&T 606 3
TWC 604 3
Comcast 603 3
CenturyLink 602 3
Frontier 571 2
Overall Business Data Index Rankings J.D. Power.com Power Circle Ratings
Small/Medium Business Segment For Consumers
(Based on a 1,000-point scale)
Cox 699 5
Optimum Business 679 4
TWC 668 4
Comcast 652 4
Verizon 648 4
CenturyLink 642 3
SMB Average 639 3
Charter 638 3
AT&T 611 2
Overall Business Data Index Rankings J.D. Power.com Power Circle Ratings
Large Enterprise Segment For Consumers
(Based on a 1,000-point scale)
AT&T 686 5
LE Average 679 3
Comcast 677 3
TWC 676 3
Verizon 672 3
CenturyLink 639 2

 

Power Circle Ratings Legend:
5 – Among the best
4 – Better than most
3 – About average
2 – The rest

Source: PR Newswire (http://s.tt/1cb34)

Emerging technologies likely to increase telecom revenue leakage

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

KPMGThe coming data explosion including the shift to mobile commerce (m-commerce) services and other transformative technologies is expected to have a big impact on revenue leakage among the world’s major telecommunications companies, according to a global survey from KPMG International.

See this Wikipedia article for a quick tutorial on revenue assurance and revenue leakage.

Ninety-four percent of operators surveyed expect revenue leakage to increase as a result of these rapidly emerging technology trends and nearly half believe the impact will be significant.

Seventy-four percent of respondents said that the transformation to m-commerce such as mobile banking is the trend most likely to impact the telecoms industry, followed closely by converged services (71 percent).

New, independent revenue will be major leakage source

New independent revenue streams and the associated network and billing systems for these services will be a chief source of leakage, said respondents. Those areas most vulnerable to leakage and fraud are the revenue streams with the largest volume of payments including prepaid, roaming and postpaid plans.

“The pressure on the revenue assurance function to detect and prevent leakages and recover losses has never been greater,” said Carl Geppert, Global Telecommunications & Advisory Lead and a partner in KPMG LLP, the US member firm of KPMG International.

Yet only half of telecom companies globally have tied revenue assurance performance to senior management pay. A fact Geppert said needs to change.

“If we want revenue assurance to be taken seriously at the very highest levels, we must be prepared to incentivize senior executives for targets such as leakage prevention, detection and recovery,” said Geppert.

“Currently, most organizations have established leakage thresholds with the associated key performance indicators at the operational level, but that accountability has yet to be fixed at the management level.”

Survey data for Europe and the Americas, both of which have seen an increase in prepaid and data services, reveals that leakages of over 1 percent of revenues have more than doubled from the 2009 survey, while globally the number of telecom companies reporting that amount of  leakage has declined.

“Currently most revenue assurance teams ultimately report to the CFO, who is a powerful sponsor to get things done,” said Geppert. “However given the volume of fraud and revenue leakage in the industry, the function should also have broader visibility at the very top of the organization.”

The revenue assurance function’s success rate at identifying leakages varies from region to region: 41 percent of respondents saying that they failed to identify more than half of total leakages, with Europe and the Americas ranked highest in spotting leakages.

Asia Pacific was the lowest with 26 percent spotting less than 10 percent of leaks. The rate of recovery is nearly the same with just 40 percent of respondents successfully retrieving more than half of all losses from subscribers and suppliers.

Infographic: One-third of Americans would give up sex before their mobile phones

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011
smartphones

Millennials are the most connected generation and use mobile for shopping, going online and more.

Americans are willing to give up some of life’s greatest pleasures in order to hang on to their mobile phones, according to the results of a recent survey from telenav (Nasdaq:TNAV).

Not surprisingly, smartphone users were more attached to their devices than were feature phone users, with iPhone users leading the pack. In fact, iPhone users were more likely than their Android or BlackBerry counterparts to spend a week without their significant other, exercise or shoes — rather than go a week without their phone.

While 22 percent of all respondents said they would rather give up their toothbrush than their phone for a week, this number jumped to a whopping 40 percent among iPhone users.

Halitosis and other priority quirks aside, 83 percent of iPhone users thought other iPhone users would make the best romantic partners.

Even among feature phone users, however, TeleNav’s survey showed respondents’ strong attachment to their mobile phones. Nearly half of all respondents said they sleep with their phone next to them, including 38 percent of feature phone users and 66 percent of smartphone users.

From differences between iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry users to the snap judgments people make based on the type of phone someone carries, TeleNav’s latest survey sheds light on just how important mobile phones have become in Americans’ lives.

How willing are you . . .

Life is full of simple pleasures, so having to choose between one of those many pleasures — such as coffee, caffeine or even sex — and your mobile phone can be difficult.

  • One-third of all respondents would be more willing to give up sex for a week than their mobile phone.
    • Of the respondents who indicated they would be more willing to give up sex than their mobile phone for a week, 70% were women.
  • 54% of all respondents would be more willing to give up exercise for a week than their mobile phone.
  • So what about our guilty pleasures? 55% of respondents would be more willing to give up caffeine for a week than their mobile phone, 63% would be more willing to give up chocolate, and 70% would be willing to forego alcohol.
  • One in five respondents are more willing to go shoeless than phoneless for a week.
    • iPhone users (43%) were more likely to say they’d go a week without shoes than Android users (27%) or BlackBerry users (25%).

Smartphone vs. Feature Phone

As more Americans jump on the smartphone bandwagon, results of TeleNav’s survey indicate that a person’s choice in phones may impact some of their daily behaviors.

  • It appears the phones we choose may also reflect our manners, as 26% of smartphone users admitted to using their phone frequently at the dinner table, compared with just6% of feature phone users.
  • Some couples may find themselves saying it’s either me or the phone. 22% of smartphone users said they’d rather go a week without seeing their significant otherthan to have to forfeit their phone compared to just 14% of feature phone users.
  • How do we value our phones over other technologies? Smartphone owners were twice as likely as feature phone users to choose their phone over their laptop/computer.
  • Smartphone users were three times more likely to admit that they judge people based on the type of phone they carry.

OS Showdown

Survey results suggest that not only does the type of phone a person uses reflect the choices they make, but also the smartphone operating system they choose.

  • iPhone users were twice as likely than Android users to have spent more than $40 on apps for their current phone.
  • Nearly half of Android users said their phone reflects their overall sense of style — more than iPhone users (35%). 43% of BlackBerry users felt their phones reflected their overall sense of style.
  • While a strong majority of iPhone users (83%) thought other iPhone users would make the best romantic partners, and a strong majority of Android users (70%) selected other Android users, only 48% of BlackBerry users thought other BlackBerry users would make for the best romantic partners.

For additional findings and an infographic highlighting the results see: www.telenav.com/about/pr-summer-travel/report-20110803.html

Infographic:

Infographic

Apple the world’s largest smartphone vendor, Samsung knocks Nokia from 2nd place

Friday, July 29th, 2011
iPhone 4

Apple's iPhone 4

Global smartphone shipments grew an impressive 76 percent annually to reach a record 110 million units in the second quarter of 2011. Both Apple and Samsung overtook long-time volume leader Nokia for the top two spots in our rankings.

Alex Spektor, senior analyst at Strategy Analytics, said, “Global smartphone shipments grew a healthy 76 percent annually to reach a record 110 million units in Q2 2011. We had previously reported on Apple becoming the largest smartphone vendor in terms of revenue and profits. Now, just four years after the release of the original iPhone, Apple has become the world’s largest smartphone vendor by volume with 18 percent market share. Apple’s growth remained strong as it expanded distribution worldwide, particularly in China and Asia.”

Neil Mawston, director at Strategy Analytics, added, “Samsung overtook Nokia to become the world’s second largest smartphone vendor in Q2 2011. Samsung’s shipments grew a huge 520 percent annually, for 17 percent global smartphone market share. Samsung’s Galaxy portfolio has proven popular, especially the high-tier S2 Android model.”

Tom Kang, director at Strategy Analytics, added, “Having become the first ever vendor to ship 100 million smartphones in a single year during 2010, long-time leader Nokia has slipped two places in our rankings in Q2 2011. The vendor’s 15 percent global smartphone market share is less than half of what it was just one year earlier, as the industry awaits Nokia’s pending transition to Windows Phone 7.”

Exhibit 1: Global Smartphone Vendor Shipments and Market Share in Q2 2011
Global Smartphone Vendor Shipments (Millions of Units) Q2 ’10 Q2 ’11
Apple 8.4 20.3
Samsung 3.1 19.2
Nokia 23.8 16.7
Others 27.1 53.8
Total 62.4 110.0
Global Smartphone Vendor Marketshare % Q2 ’10 Q2 ’11
Apple 13.5 % 18.5 %
Samsung 5.0 % 17.5 %
Nokia 38.1 % 15.2 %
Others 43.4 % 48.9 %
Total 100.0 % 100.0 %
Growth Year-over-Year % 50.4 % 76.3 %

The full reportApple Becomes World’s No.1 Smartphone Vendor in Q2 2011, is published by the Strategy Analytics Wireless Smartphone Strategies (WSS) service.

One of four wireless subscriptions will be pre-paid by the end of 2011

Friday, July 29th, 2011

New Millennium Research CouncilBy the end of 2011, total prepaid/no-contract wireless subscriptions in the U.S. will represent for one out of four such accounts, a new high-water mark reflecting the recent and rapid erosion of consumer reliance on more expensive contract-based cell phone plans.

According to new data released today by the New Millennium Research Council (NMRC) think tank:

  • About three out of five new wireless subscriptions in 2010 were for prepaid cell phone service versus contract-based “postpaid” service – a margin of more than eight million new no-contract prepaid subscriptions versus just under new 4.8 million postpaid subscriptions.   (Source:  J.P. Morgan, May 2011, covering the period from the fourth quarter of 2009 to the fourth quarter of 2010.)
  • While traditional prepaid service subscriptions lost ground from the fourth quarter of 2009 to the fourth quarter of 2010, unlimited prepaid posted strong gains with 7.4 million new subscribers, up 45 percent over that one-year period.   (Source:  J.P. Morgan.)
  • Based on current growth trends, the total non-wholesale wireless market in the U.S. will reach about 290 million by the end of calendar year 2011.   For the first time, non-contract prepaid subscriptions will account for roughly 25 percent of the total wireless picture, moving the U.S. more in line with wider use of prepaid in other nations.   (Source:  Mobile Ecosystem.)

The new prepaid trends are very much in keeping with previous forecasts by the New Millennium Research Council:

  • In March 2009, NMRC was the first to correctly forecast an imminent shift by cell phone consumers from more expensive contract-based cell phone service with often hefty cancellation penalties to less expensive no-contract prepaid service.
  • In March 2010, NMRC reported that – for the first quarter ever — the number of new prepaid wireless phone customers in U.S. eclipsed the number of new contract-based phone customers during the final three months of 2009.
  • Last November, NMRC released survey data showing that one in five U.S. cell phone consumers with contract-based service – an estimated 24.6 million American adults – could switch in 2011 to less expensive unlimited prepaid wireless service with no early-cancellation penalty.

Sam Simon, senior fellow, New Millennium Research Council, said, “NMRC was 100 percent on the money in forecasting that 2010 would be the year of prepaid wireless service.  It now looks like 2011 will be an even bigger year for no-contract wireless as more and more consumers realize the extent to which they can save hundreds of dollars each year with unlimited prepaid service while also avoiding the needless entanglements of restrictive contract-based cell phone service.   This penny pinching will go on even as others are attracted to prepaid by unlimited plans and for connected devices.”

Telecommunications analyst Mark Lowenstein, managing director, Mobile Ecosystem, said: “Prepaid services continue to become more mainstream, as attractive devices such as smartphones are offered by the leading prepaid operators. Also, we are seeing the market for additional connected devices such as iPads becoming a key part of prepaid subscriber growth.”

Wired Wisconsin chides Sen. Kohl for opposing T-Moble, AT&T merger

Thursday, July 21st, 2011
Herb Kohl

Senator Herb Kohl

Wisconsin Senator Herb Kohl has submitted a letter to US Attorney General Eric Holder and FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski expressing his opposition to the proposed AT&T – T-Mobile USA merger now under review by the Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission. Kohl says the merger would result in higher prices for service and a reduction in consumer choice.

His move prompted some in-state opposition, however.

Thad Nation, executive director of Wired Wisconsin, issued this statement in response to the news:

“I am disappointed by Senator Herb Kohl’s decision to withhold his support for a merger that can provide real benefits to Wisconsin residents. As proposed, this merger would enhance and improve access to wireless broadband for Wisconsin residents through private sector investment in critical infrastructure, especially in rural areas.

“Individuals in many parts of Wisconsin often lack access to high-speed Internet, quality cell service and other amenities. This merger would help to change that by providing improved services and access to people throughout Wisconsin. Because of this identified, statewide need, I do not agree with Senator Kohl on this matter and I believe this is the wrong decision for Wisconsin consumers.”

Wired Wisconsin is the Wisconsin-based project of Midwest Consumers for Choice and Competition (MCCC), a non-profit organization of individual consumers interested in technology, broadband, and telecommunication issues with state projects throughout the Midwest region. The project will work to support an environment for innovative technology, high-tech job creation, and economic growth.

So what do you think? Will the T-Mobile, AT&T merger be good for consumers or will it, as Sen. Kohl maintains, result in higher service charges and less choice?

Enterprise IT and telecom spending to rise 6 percent this year, according to In-Stat

Friday, July 15th, 2011

InStatThere has been little good news about the economy lately, particularly on the jobs front. New In-Stat research, however, shows that Enterprise business spending on IT and telecom services, which include cloud computing, wireless, wireline voice, wireline data, and business IP/VoIP, will move in a positive direction in 2011, increasing a healthy 6 percent over 2010.

“There will be positive growth across all 20 verticals with education and healthcare and social services leading the surge with growth of 10 percent and 9 percent respectively,” says Greg Potter, Analyst. “These increases in spending are across all product groups except wireline voice which will decline by about half a percent.”

Additional data includes: 

  •     Enterprise spending on public cloud computing services is set to expand 139% from 2010 to 2011.
  •     Enterprise spending on wireless data is set to approach $17 billion in 2015.
  •     Enterprise spending in the healthcare sector on wireline data will approach 2 billion in 2014.
  •     Enterprise spending on wireline voice will remain flat, with traditional TDM services continuing their decline, only reaching $3.4 billion in 2011.

The In-Stat research, Enterprise Markets for Telecom Services: Wireline Voice, Wireline Data, Wireless, Cloud Computing, and VoIP in 20 Verticals provides forecasts of US business telecom spending for the 2010-2015 period with detailed segmentation by product category, size of business, corporate liable spending, individual liable spending, and vertical market.

Free conference calling services saving consumers $656M a year

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

FreeconferencecallFree conference calling services are currently saving consumers at least $656 million annually. According to TeleSpan Publishing Corp, free toll conference calls are growing at five times the rate of fee-based toll conferencing services that companies like Verizon and AT&T provide. Long Beach, CA-based FreeConferenceCall.com, the largest privately held conferencing provider in the United States, released the analysis.

“People from all over the world – from cities to rural areas, small business executives to non-profit organizations and individuals – are using free conferencing services to do everything from conducting their day to day business to planning family reunions – and they are saving over a half a billion dollars a year,” said David Erickson, Founder and CEO of FreeConferenceCall.com.

“The tremendous growth of the industry is directly tied to these savings, as consumers realize that there is no need to pay extra for a conference call when they can get the same quality and reliable service for the cost of a regular call.”

A recent TeleSpan Publishing Corp report found that last year, consumers spent 9.3 billion minutes on free conference calls and 45.3 billion minutes on paid conference calls. The paid calls cost consumers $3.2 billion a year (an average of $.0706 per minute), which explains why free conference calls are growing at five times the rate of paid calls.

Approximately 15-20 million consumers, including businesses, individuals, non-profit organizations, church groups, government agencies, and other organizations in the United States and internationally, use FreeConferenceCall.com to communicate every month.

Many of FreeConferenceCall.com’s customers migrated from the larger providers that charge for the same services (carriers like AT&T, Verizon, and their subsidiaries or partners). Many other customers would never have made a conference call because of the cost – particularly small businesses, non-profits, and individuals – but now do because of the savings.

We’ve used a variety of these services, such as GoToMeeting.com, among others. Generally they seem to work better than similar services from the phone companies. Many of the firms we interview demonstrate their products using GotoMeeting, which has a free trial but otherwise requires buying the app. People who don’t purchase it can still participate in conferences with those who do.

FreeConferenceCall.com offers consumers a variety of services, including domestic audio conferencing, international audio conferencing, event conferencing, flat-rate conferencing, toll-free conferencing, outgoing call messaging, online conferencing, and voicemail messaging services.

Do you have a conference call system you prefer?

The $10 Billion rule: location, location, location

Monday, June 13th, 2011

Strategy AnalyticsThe recent kerfuffle over Apple tracking an iPhone’s location will barely be a speed bump in the evolution of location based services (LBS) because there is simply too much money at stake, says a new report from Strategy Analytics. The firm predicts consumer and advertiser expenditure on LBS to approach $10 billion by 2016, with search advertising accounting for just over 50 percent.

Consumers want services such as search, maps and navigation, the report notes, while for adverisers, location data lets them target optimized messages to consumers.

Location providers will have to be more transparent about how they use, manage and store location data, the report adds.

The full report is available only to Strategy Analytics clients.

Here’s a Los Angeles Times story on the report.

Travelers using mobile devices for much more than calls

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Trip AdvisorTravelers are using their mobile devices for much more than just making calls these days. A mobile device travel survey of more than 1,000 U.S. respondents with mobile devices by TripAdvisor shows that 38 percent have used their mobile devices to plan a trip and 60 percent of respondents said they have downloaded travel apps on their mobile devices.

While the main reason to bring a mobile phone on trips remains making calls, according to 47 percent, 19 percent cited communicating online through services like chat and email as the most important function.

Phone Plus

Thirty-eight percent said they often use their mobile devices for tasks other than calls when traveling, and 28 percent said they always do.

Other than calls and texting, the top activities travelers use their mobile devices for when traveling include:

  • 65% taking/sharing photos
  • 54% surfing online
  • 52% navigation
  • 48% staying on top of the news
  • 36% games

Mobile for Travel Planning

When asked what parts of the travel planning process they conduct on their mobile:

  • 52% researched restaurants
  • 46% read about destinations
  • 45% read traveler reviews
  • 42% booked or researched accomodations.
  • 34% booked or researched flights

On the Road Activities

While traveling, 62 percent of travelers said they use their mobile devices to research restaurants.  Fifty-one percent check their flight status and 46 percent research attractions. Twenty-eight percent have checked in to a restaurant, hotel or attraction using their mobile device while on a trip.

Other Mobile Device Travel Tidbits

  • 23 percent have reviewed a hotel, restaurant, or attraction they’ve visited using a mobile device while on a trip.
  • 38 percent post status updates to social networking sites to keep friends updated on their travels.
  • 47 percent of respondents have used their mobile devices internationally.
  • The greatest frustration with mobile devices when traveling, not surprisingly, is sporadic connectivity, according to 35 percent, while 25 percent identified small screens as their biggest mobile device gripe.
  • 75 percent of respondents said they use GPS devices when traveling.
  • 59 percent of travelers have used the GPS capabilities of their mobile devices

“Smartphone adoption around the world is skyrocketing, and is fundamentally changing the way people get travel advice,” said Mike Putnam, director of mobile product for TripAdvisor. “Whether it is finding the perfect museum or restaurant, booking a hotel or a flight, or sharing advice, it is clear that travelers around the world now rely on their smartphones and other mobile devices to plan and have better trips.”

TripAdvisor recently launched a new “My Saves” feature for its mobile websites and apps that allows travelers to save hotel, restaurant, and attraction pages so they can easily find them again for future reference. TripAdvisor has free mobile apps available for the iPhone, Android, Windows Phone 7, Nokia, and Palm smartphones, the iPad, and a mobile website available for all major mobile devices.

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Nearly one in five smartphone owners use mobile device check-in services

Friday, May 13th, 2011
smartphones

Millennials are the most connected generation and use mobile for shopping, going online and more.

Nearly one in five smartphone owners access check-in services via their mobile device, according to a study by digital measurment service comScore.

The study shows that 16.7 million U.S. mobile subscribers used location-based “check-in” services on their phones in March 2011, representing 7.1 percent of the entire mobile population. 12.7 million check-in users did so on a smartphone, representing 17.6 percent of the smartphone population.

The study also found that check-in service users showed a high propensity for mobile media usage, including accessing retail sites and shopping guides, and displayed other characteristics of early adopters, including a stronger likelihood of owning a tablet device and accessing tech news, when compared to the average smartphone user.

Although still in their relative infancy, location-based mobile check-in services are seeing rather impressive adoption among smartphone users,” said Mark Donovan, comScore senior vice president of mobile. “The ability to interact with consumers on this micro-local level through special offers, deals and other incentives provides brands with the real-time opportunity to engage consumers through their mobile device.”

18-34 Year Olds Account for Nearly 60 Percent of Check-In Service Users

Check-in service users, defined as those accessing services such as Facebook Places, Foursquare and Gowalla, had heavy skews toward 18-24 year olds (26.0 percent) and 25-34 year olds (32.5 percent) in relation to both the total mobile audience and the overall smartphone audience.

They were more likely to be full-time students (23.3 percent) when compared with total mobile (14.6 percent) or overall smartphone users (16.5 percent). Nearly half (46.4 percent) of check-in users were employed full time, slightly less than the percentage of smartphone users who were employed full time (53.3 percent). Both check-in service and smartphone users were more likely to be employed full time than overall mobile users (38.9 percent).

n 4 Users “Checking In” from a Smartphone Device

Of the 16.7 million people using check-in services on their mobile devices, 12.7 million (76.3 percent) did so via a smartphone device. Android accounted for the largest share of check-in service users with 36.6 percent checking-in from an Android device, while 33.7 percent of users checked in from an iPhone, with Apple having the highest representation relative to its percentage of the total smartphone market (Index of 132). RIM accounted for 22 percent of check-in service users, while Microsoft, Palm and Symbian each accounted for less than 5 percent.

Mobile Check-In Service Users Display Strong Propensity for Mobile Media Usage

When compared with an average smartphone owner, social networking check-in users were more likely to access mobile media across a majority of content categories. More than 95 percent of check-in service users used their mobile browser or applications. Nearly 62 percent accessed news. Check-in user behavior was also consistent with that of traditional early adopters, with 40.3 percent of users accessing tech news and 28.2 percent owning a media tablet, both significantly higher than average.

Check-in service users also showed a high propensity for accessing retail-related destinations on their mobile devices. Nearly one-third of users accessed online retail sites on their mobiles, while one-fourth accessed shopping guides. Check-in service users were also more likely to be exposed to mobile advertising, with nearly 40 percent recalling seeing a web or app ad during the month, compared to just 27.5 percent of smartphone users.

Miami-based Net Talk.com rings up $1.5M

Monday, May 9th, 2011

NetTalkMIAMI – Local Exchange Carrier (CLEC) netTALK.com Inc., (OTCBB:NTLK) which sells product and network phone service for VoIP, has nabbed $1.5 million in new funding.

The netTALK DUO is a versatile communications device  with the ability to connect directly to a router or modem (no computer needed) or the computer’s USB port, offering consumers free local and long distance calls to any landline or mobile phone in the U.S. and Canada from anywhere in the world.

Apple iOS platform outreaches Android by 59 percent

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

comScoreRESTON, VA – Apple’s iOS platform, which resides on iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches, has a combined platform reach of 37.9 million among all mobile phones, tablets and other such connected media devices, outreaching the Android platform by 59 percent, according to the comScore MobilLens service.

ComScore’s analysis of the unduplicated audience reach of the Apple iOS platform across iPads, iPhones and iPod Touches revealed a combined iOS installed base of 37.9 million users. The installed base of iPhones slightly exceeded that of iPod Touches, both of which were approximately twice as high as the number of iPads. Interestingly, among the 37.9 million consumers with access to the Apple iOS, only 4 million (10.5 percent) accessed the platform via more than one device.

The combined 37.9 million iOS users is 59 percent greater than the 23.8 million combined Android OS installed base, which includes users of both Android phones and connected media devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab.

“These data clearly illustrate the Apple ecosystem extends far beyond the iPhone,” added Donovan. “Though it’s frequently assumed that the Apple user base is composed of dedicated Apple ‘fanboys’, there’s not a tremendous amount of overlapping mobile device access among these users. This of course has significant implications for the developer community as they consider the market potential in developing applications for different mobile platforms.”

Apple iPad Ownership Extends Beyond Just “Fanboys”

The research also suggests that iPad ownership extends well beyond Apple’s most fervent consumers. Although a perception may exist that iPad owners tend to be those with a very strong affinity for Apple products, an analysis of the mobile devices of iPad owners indicates that may not be the case. While Apple is indeed the most heavily represented OEM among iPad owners, its OEM share (27.3 percent) is only slightly higher than its share among all smartphone subscribers (25.2 percent).

RIM accounts for the second highest percentage of iPad owners at 17.5 percent, but this number is well below its overall smartphone market share of 28.9 percent. Meanwhile, Samsung, LG and Nokia are all significantly overrepresented among iPad owners as compared to their respective shares of the smartphone market. In addition, 14.2 percent of iPad users had Android phones.

Apple iPad Ownership Skews to 25-34 Year Olds

The age profile of iPad users indicated the heaviest skew toward 25-34 year olds (27.0 percent) in relation to the total mobile audience (17.6 percent). iPads also exhibited significantly above average skews in the 18-24 year old and 35-44 year old segments. However, this demographic profile was similar to that of the overall smartphone user base, indicating that the advanced mobile capabilities rather than the device itself might be primary driver behind this age profile.

Grivner resigns as CEO of broadband services firm XO Holdings

Monday, April 11th, 2011

XO logoHERNDON, VA – Carl J. Grivner has resigned as CEO, president and director of XO Holdings.

XO Holdings, Inc. (OTCBB: XOHO) is a leading nationwide provider of advanced broadband communications services and solutions for businesses, enterprises, government, carriers and service providers. Its customers include more than half of the Fortune 500, in addition to leading cable companies, carriers, content providers and mobile network operators.

Grivner said his “decision to leave the company to pursue other opportunities is a personal and difficult one.”

The company’s board is conducting an executive search for anew CEO and will consider both external and internal candidates.

It also formed an executive committee to lead the company in the interim comprised of Daniel J. Wagner, who will continue to lead XO’s Business Services unit, Ernest Ortega, who will continue to lead its Carrier Services unit, and Laura W. Thomas, the Company’s Chief Financial Officer, who will oversee all corporate functions and other business units.

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Miami-based netTALK.com rings up $2.5M debt funding

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

NetTalkMIAMI – The Competitive Local Exchange Carrier (CLEC) netTALK.com Inc., which sells VoIP products and network phone service, has received debt funding of $f2.5 million via a promissory note agreement.

Anastasios “Takis” Kyriakides, chairman of netTALK, said, “The new funding will be used to further grow the company, focusing on sales and marketing, expansion of the DUO telecommunications network, and supporting services and products.”

The netTalk Duo isa versatile communications device with the ability to connect directly to a router or modem (no computer needed) or the computer’s USB port, offering consumers free local and long distance calls to any landline or mobile phone in the U.S. and Canada from anywhere in the world.

TechJournal South is a TechMedia company. TechMedia presents the annual conferences:

SoutheastVentureConference: www.seventure.org

Internet Summit: www.internetsummit.com

Digital East: www.digitaleast.com

Digital Summit: www.digitalsummit.com

Samsung leading mobile device maker, Android leading operating system

Monday, April 4th, 2011

RESTON, VA -Samsung is currently the leading mobile device maker and Google’s Android smartphone operating system strengthened its number one spot, in the most recent data released by comScore’s Mobil.ens service for February, 2011.

For the three month average period ending in February, 234 million Americans ages 13 and older used mobile devices. Device manufacturer Samsung ranked as the top OEM with 24.8 percent of U.S. mobile subscribers, up 0.3 percentage points from the three month period ending in November. LG ranked second with 20.9 percent share, followed by Motorola (16.1 percent) and RIM (8.6 percent). Apple saw the strongest gain, up 0.9 percentage points to account for 7.5 percent of subscribers, on momentum from the release of the Verizon iPhone, the most acquired handset in the month of February.

Smartphone Platform Market Share

69.5 million people in the U.S. owned smartphones during the three months ending in February 2011, up 13 percent from the preceding three-month period. Google Android grew 7.0 percentage points since November, strengthening its #1 position with 33.0 percent market share. RIM ranked second with 28.9 percent market share, followed by Apple with 25.2 percent. Microsoft (7.7 percent) and Palm (2.8 percent) rounded out the top five.

Mobile Content Usage

In February, 68.8 percent of U.S. mobile subscribers used text messaging on their mobile device. Browsers were used by 38.4 percent of subscribers (up 3.1 percentage points), while downloaded applications were used by 36.6 percent of the mobile audience (up 3.2 percentage points). Accessing of social networking sites or blogs increased 3.3 percentage points, representing 26.8 percent of mobile subscribers. Playing games represented 24.6 percent of the mobile audience, while listening to music represented 17.5 percent.

 

TechJournal South is a TechMedia company. TechMedia presents the annual conferences:

SoutheastVentureConference: www.seventure.org

Internet Summit: www.internetsummit.com

Digital East: www.digitaleast.com

Digital Summit: www.digitalsummit.com

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