September 29, 2010 17:09 dmercer
Lack of ambition would presumably not be the most obvious failing of a new company which styles itself under the label “Everything Everywhere” (EE for sake of brevity). The name was chosen to represent the combined UK operations of both Orange (France Telecom) and T-Mobile (Deutsche Telekom), which now form a 50-50 joint venture and which announced their first results at an investors meeting in London yesterday. It would be a tad unfair, given the company’s core network technology assets, to assume that EE would be branching out into home pizza delivery any time soon, even though casual observers might assume “everything everywhere” might encompass all manner of exciting goods and services. Nevertheless, it was perhaps a little disappointing to discover from EE’s tagline – “Creating a new mobile champion” - that the network will apparently only serve network-based communications and applications to customers who happen to be moving around at any given time. Taglines are tough to get right, of course, and inevitably cannot please everyone. As the management presentations progressed, it became clear that mobility was not after all an absolute requirement for any future products and services which EE may choose to emphasise. Indeed, although they remain well hidden beneath the inevitable deluge of mobile phone and wireless network-centric commentary, fixed broadband and IPTV (for big screens) are very much alive and kicking as key elements in EE’s strategy. Executives even went as far as to designate IPTV as a “key part of a converged play” and that fixed broadband was “strategically hugely important”. This should come as a relief, perhaps even a surprise, given that fixed networks have played no part in T-Mobile’s UK business to date, and have been losing money (£80m in 2009) from the few customers Orange alone had managed to acquire. Given this performance the new venture might have been forgiven for abandoning fixed network businesses altogether as a lost cause. Instead we were assured that Orange’s broadband profitability was “already improving”, and that the recently announced deal to outsource network, IT and customer service to BT will have the desired impact of returning “Home” EBITDA to positive territory by 2012. Specifically EE will increase targeting of home broadband to its existing Orange mobile customers initially, and also introduce it to T-Home customers during 2011. Marketing will also encourage take-up of fixed voice by Orange and T-Home customers, since EE claims that the BT deal means that acquiring fixed voice customers would no longer have a negative margin impact on overall performance as was previously the case. The company is planning for 80% of new broadband customers to include fixed voice as part of their package. Potentially even more significant will be EE’s plans for IPTV, once they are finally confirmed. The company announced that it is looking at IPTV opportunities, including Canvas, the BBC-led over-the-top initiative. It would not join Canvas as a shareholder, but is considering affiliate membership. Whatever decision is eventually made on IPTV, EE will not become a major content player, which will come as a relief to shareholders and a disappointment to content rights holders looking for new competitors in the distribution market in order to boost values. EE even has the UK’s long-awaited fibre rollout on its radar. Its agreement with BT allows for access to the new fiber network by EE, although no specific plans have been agreed. Other emerging opportunities on EE’s radar include M2M (machine-to-machine), in which the company includes connected home devices and home automation as specific “high growth” verticals. M2M is a broad concept which may certainly one day lead to services and applications which approach “everything everywhere” capability. In the meantime, EE has probably has enough on its plate just to meet its growth and profitability targets in its core mobile and broadband businesses. Client Reading: Global Broadband Forecast 1H2010 Add to Technorati Favorites

December 8, 2009 17:12 bpiper
We’ve just published our European Broadband Tracker for Q3, focusing this month on the happenings in the UK market—a market that witnessed a significant change in landscape in the third quarter.  With its acquisition of Tiscali for a “fire sale price,” Carphone Warehouse now finds itself in the number two slot in the UK.  Three providers in the market now claim over 4 million subscribers; however, BT Retail still maintains a commanding 780,000 subscriber lead ahead of its nearest competitor.  Sky remains the fastest growing broadband service provider in the UK, though the company’s quarterly growth has slowed down from double digits a year ago to half of that this quarter. Nonetheless, Sky is poised to potentially approach three million subscribers by the end of 2010. While Orange’s subscriber loss in the UK market persists, we believe that the impending Orange and T-Mobile merger—reported to be on fast track from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) –could potentially help to stave off further subscriber churn, through a combination of multiplay bundling and innovative service deployments. Indeed, we  expect to see accelerated M&A activity in the UK market in the upcoming year, with Carphone Warehouse a potential acquisition target.

November 1, 2007 18:11 dmercer
I am sure we all have our own favourite hotspot horror stories. One of my more recent experiences, about which I penned but never published several angry paragraphs, concerned an attempt to use T-Mobile's hotspot service at Chicago's O-Hare airport back in the summer. As usual with T-Mobile, I was required to run round in circles several times before performing double backflips, creating user accounts and trying to retrieve unretrievable and forgotten usernames and passwords before finally giving up and depriving the company of its measly $6, which it no doubt did not miss. I do wonder if the designers of these systems, or indeed the senior managers responsible, ever actually put themselves through the experience they expect their customers to suffer. That time I was using, or failing to use, a laptop PC, which no doubt accounts for 95% of hotspot usage today. But hotspots will also support a growing number of other wireless devices, and I have at one time or another also successfully used Nokia's N95 and N800 tablet at different locations. Nintendo's DS is the obvious mass market example of a WiFi-enabled device that might benefit from wider WiFi availability, but there are many others waiting in the wings. Not least, of course, Apple's iPhone, which by all accounts has woken up the US industry to the fact that people really do want WiFi (ie wireless broadband) capability on handheld devices. One thing is for sure, though: the hotspot experience has to improve, and that's where Devicescape hopes to step in. We met with David Fraser, the CEO, yesterday, and the company seems to be rapidly building a lead in what should become an important market as 2 billion wireless home devices are sold over the next 6 years. Devicescape's database and application essentially stores details of the vast number of WiFi hotspots around the world, as well as the login details of registered users, saving the device owner the hassle of logging in every time he reaches another hotspot. It can also work with home wireless LANs, so that the user's friends and relatives can be registered as approved users. Devicescape claims that their software is already in 10% of hacked iPhones, demonstrating that Apple's enthusiast customers are determined to make WiFi a more pleasurable experience. The company also suggests that cellular operators are beginning to change their attitude towards WiFi, which they may previously have seen as unnecessary or even competitive to cellular, but now recognise (not least because of the iPhone's success) as a way to boost customer satisfaction and revenues. We will see. My first trial today did not go well - standing near Oxford Street in London, my N95 found the BT Openzone well enough, but Devicescape claimed I was not authorised to log in, even though I had registered my account. I will check the details and report back. But in principle there is no doubt Devicescape is trying to solve a genuine problem, and they appear to be getting the more forward-thinking operators on-side, which can only be a good sign. Add to Technorati Favorites