Author Archives: Simon Rees

Joyn, the GSMA’s answer to OTT services, seems to be struggling

Joyn is the GSM association’s attempt to offer a telco-controlled competitor to over-the-top (OTT) services like WhatsApp and Viber. As described in this article, the survey reports that most telcos so not believe it is the answer.

It’s rather sad, but I guess, as the article, points out, any new product that relies on the cooperation of the majority of mobile telcos worldwide is highly unlikely to succeed nowadays. Back in the 1990s, roaming and SMS were implemented across the GSM world – but would the same happen again if they were developed today?

Perhaps the best hope for a telco response to OTT services would be a basic OTT service that worked anywhere but that gave enhanced features & benefits where supported by a participating telco.

Finally, let’s remember that this is a survey of the telcos. Far more important would be the opinion of the market!

So, ATT are eyeing up parts of Telefonica

So, ATT are eyeing up parts of Telefonica – with Carlos Slim sniffing around European mobile operators, the game’s starting to change for European mobile operators.

What will the impact be on Ireland? Probably nothing directly, in the short term. The much-rumoured sale of O2 IE to Three probably won’t be impeded, on reflection, and surely Eircom wouldn’t make the mistake of selling their mobile operator a second time? Mind, there was a story a little while back about AT&T buying Vodafone… scurrilous, no doubt!

Thoughts, anyone?

Study claims as many as 40% of under-35s use IP messaging

This Cellular News article quotes consumer research in Germany, Poland, Spain, the UK and the USA that finds 40% of 18-35s use IP messaging.

Only 40% of under 35 smartphone users using IP messaging services like Whatsapp, Facebook chat, Viber, etc?

OK, that research wasn’t done in Ireland but I’d guess in Ireland the percentage using IP messaging is over 70%… no?

Prepaid mobile – has it peaked?

According to a GSMA Wireless Intelligence report just published, prepaid mobile has peaked. The proportion of mobile customers opting for prepaid plans is forecast to decline as postpaid becomes more popular worldwide, except in the Americas.

This does seem to tally with the facts on the ground as we in Idiro experience them – our mobile operator customers worldwide are finding that their consumer users are switching in larger number from prepaid plans to postpaid.

However, extrapolating this to a long-term trend is not so obvious.

From when Portuguese operator TMN gave us the world’s first real prepaid mobile phone service until the advent of smartphones, the choice of prepaid vs. postpaid plans was, in the developed world, linked to the consumer’s attitude to debt and her ability to get credit. I wrote a thesis (download) on the subject for my MA in marketing back in 1999.

Nowadays, everyone wants a smartphone and a data plan. (Idiro is still reporting high viral contagion of  smartphone purchase among consumers.) And smartphones are expensive – often beyond the reach of the younger consumer. In countries where postpaid handsets are heavily subsidised, postpaid plans offer a way for the less well off consumer to get her hands on a new smartphone, and that seems to be driving the swing to postpaid plans in OECD countries.

But there are problems. Some mobile operators privately report high bad debt rates among new smartphone customers – and attempts by telcos such as T-Mobile USA to unbundle the phone subsidy have run into problems. There are masses of lower-cost smartphones in the pipeline – but it remains to be seen whether these will be cool enough for the consumer in the OECD or cheap enough to be affordable without a subsidy in less advanced markets.

Time will tell whether the postpaid mobile continues to grow at this pace. In my own view the answer is linked to the price of smartphones, the growth of banking and credit checking services in the developing world, and above all to the global economy and its ability to create wealth for consumers.

(A version of this post also appears on Idiro Technologies’ website.)

NFC payment on mobiles in Ireland?

Here’s an interesting article on NFC (Near Field Communications) on smartphones. The latest phones can do it, so will it work in Ireland anytime soon? Maybe it already does & a reader can enlighten me.

A few months ago AIB sent out some new VISA debit cards. They’re supposed to work already for NFC by just tapping the card on the till thingy. When the helpful AIB bank employee explained that I’d be hit for a bank transaction charge each time I used it, my interest in using it instead of cash to buy my paper or my sangwidges evaporated. On such small but important details do product launches fail.

Still, it’s be interesting to hear how usable NFC payments are in practice. Have any readers tried to use a NFC-enabled phone to pay for something, anywhere?

4G LTE coming to Ireland

So, Vodafone Ireland announce their launch of 4G LTE starting with Kilkenny. That’s great news.

One small challenge for the telco marketers is that 4G’s a rather fluid term. This article discusses the issue of everyone naming their fast mobile data offering as ‘4G’. In some other countries, 4G is the term used to market HSPA and HSPA+ services – for example in Jamaica. Here in Ireland, call their Wimax service ‘4G’ – as do Intel.

Not that any of this will bother the average punter, of course – at the end of the day, all the user cares about is how well it works.

Congratulations to Vodafone Ireland – hope the rollout reaches Dublin soon!

Wouldn’t it be great if we could implement mobile money In Ireland the way Turkcell are doing in Turkey?

Turkcell are implementing an ambitious rollout of Mobile Money.

I’ve always had lots of respect for Turkcell as a progressive, well-run organisation – among the best that I’ve worked with – so if anyone can make this stuff work, I’d say they can.  It would be great to see initiatives like that in Ireland.


French regulator sees Skype as a telco – and why not?

ARCEP, the French telecoms regulator,has decided that it wants to regulate Skype as a telco.  See the link here and scroll down to the press release of 15th March.

So, how should a telco be defined? Originating & terminating voice calls? Issuing numbers for receiving voice calls? Deploying switching & billing infrastructure? Market share of calls above x%? Deploying last-mile infrastructure?

Which definition is in the best interests of Sean citizen?  It seems to me that if MVNOs are regulated, then OTT players should be as well.

French SMS traffic slumps in Q3 – an outlier or the shape of things to come in Europe?

SMS traffic volumes in France have slumped in the third quarter of 2012, according to this news report.

Will this happen in Ireland anytime soon? Personally I can’t see it. In the longer term, yes, sure – but just not yet – the penetration of OTT services isn’t great enough – yet. But when it does come, it’ll be irreversible.