MWC Daily Round-up: Day Two

Principal Analyst, Dario Talmesio provides a round-up of the day’s big stories from the second day of Mobile World Congress 2013, in Barcelona.

Embrace the enemy: it’s not an option, it’s your destiny
Virtually everybody in the telecom world is scratching their heads and trying to find out how to grow, how to change, how to innovate. This year more than ever at MWC, it is becoming obvious that operators, vendors, service providers, device manufacturers and all the other players are looking at coopetition and cooperation.

OTT meet telco meet OTT
During the second day of MWC, Talmon Marco from Viber Media, an OTT player leader in VoIP and messaging services, announced a partnership with the Indonesian operator Axis. Viber, which only launched about two years ago, now has 175 million users and is looking at ways to monetize its customer base.

At the same time – and on the same keynote panel on the future of communication – René Obermann, CEO of Deutsche Telekom AG agreed that operators should be looking at more ways to cooperate with their partners – including the OTT competitors – in order to generate business models that create revenues streams for both. We believe that some time will pass before business models settle but at least the operators and OTT players are now sitting at the same table and discussing their common future. However, some black eyes will be seen before the wedding is consummated.

BlackBerry follows Samsung with a mobile payment debut
BlackBerry’s instant-messaging service, BBM, will have person-to-person payments added to its capabilities in a pilot that the handset maker is launching in Indonesia in collaboration with PT Bank Permata and Monitise, the mobile-money-platform provider. This announcement is the second at this year’s MWC of a major handset maker debuting in the mobile payment space. Yesterday, Samsung unveiled a deal with global payments network Visa to launch contactless payment services around the Samsung-controlled secure elements embedded in its devices.

With BBM Money, users will be able to create and access a mobile-money account from their BlackBerry devices and make real-time payments to other people who are also signed up to the service. They will also be able to use the account to buy airtime credit and transfer money to bank accounts.

Like Samsung, BlackBerry has been embedding secure elements into its NFC-enabled devices, so it’s probably just a matter of time before BBM Money is also extended to contactless payments in bricks-and-mortar stores. Just like last year, mobile payment is shaping up to be one of the main themes of the show.

M2M Alliance grows bigger
The M2M Alliance has added the Middle East’s largest operator, Etisalat, to its group of carrier members looking to introduce a single worldwide SIM card via a Web-based platform for M2M services. Etisalat becomes the eighth member of the alliance joining KPN in the Netherlands, Japan’s NTT DoCoMo, Rogers Communications in Canada, Singapore’s SingTel, Telefonica in Europe and Latin America, Australia’s Telstra and VimpelCom in Russia.

According to Informa Telecoms & Media research, at the end of 2Q12, there were 132 million active cellular M2M connections globally and this total is forecast to reach 217 million by end-4Q14, displaying a global CAGR of 23%. That means that approximately 39% of all cellular M2M connections at that point will have been activated between 2Q12 and 4Q14: The cellular M2M market is clearly growing steadily, but not as rapidly as some companies have projected.

Bharti highlights TD-LTE coverage issue at 2.3GHz
Speaking at the Global TD-LTE Initiative’s LTE TDD/FDD International Summit, which was held during MWC2013, Sunil Mittal, Chairman of Bharti Airtel, said that coverage for TD-LTE in the 2.3GHz band was proving challenging, and said that the operator was working with suppliers including Qualcomm, ZTE, Huawei , NSN and others to improve the situation. Mittal said that the cell radius was nevertheless going to be “rather tight” and warned that the problems could mean that base station numbers for its TD-LTE commercial rollout, which began six months ago, could be in the hundreds of thousands, rather than the tens of thousands.

Also at the Summit, China Mobile announced eight new TD-LTE devices, including own-branded devices and products from LG, HTC, Huawei and ZTE that it plans to introduce on its TD-LTE network later this year. China Mobile is currently trialing TD-LTE in 15 cities across China.