Archive for the ‘CARRIERS SERVICE PROVIDERS’ Category

TRY THIS $150,000 MOBILE PHONE BILL FOR SIZE

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

A staggering unbelievable $147,908 for a mobile phone bill. WOW..!!

And it’s not the only one that seems too staggering to believe, according to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman. He says some phone customers travel overseas, only to find a phone bill more expensive than their trip upon their return.

After the ombudsman got involved, the bill was reduced to reflect Australian charges only – $1147. But other consumers have also complained to the ombudsman’s office about bills of $38,000 and $18,000.

Have you received a shocking bill? Email us.

The six-figure bill near $150,000 belonged to a woman who went on a nine-week trip to Europe. She told ombudsman Simon Cohen that she had arranged a special plan while she was away, but it failed to come through in time.

The three bills were among $8 million worth of disputed global roaming charges between July 2011 and last September.

The figures are revealed in the ombudsman’s quarterly report, released on Thursday.

The number of complaints has decreased, Mr Cohen said.

Many are about mobile services and bills of more than $5000.

The number of new complaints decreased by almost 19 per cent, he said, between April and June this year, and fell another 11 per cent between July and September.

“Complaints about customer service, complaint handling and billing have reduced, which is good news for consumers and service providers alike,” Mr Cohen said in a statement.

“The challenge will be to keep up this positive trend over the summer months, when demand for new services and products is high.”

Mr Cohen’s office reported that the postcode with the most complaints was Docklands in Melbourne, with 4.9 for every 1000 people. Parramatta in Sydney followed, with 4.7 complaints per 1000 people.

BTBMYN

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

LTE PHONE NETWORK IN USA GATHERS MOMENTUM

Monday, February 27th, 2012

THE LTE PHONE NETWORK IN AMERICA MOVES AHEAD QUICKLY

The announcement this week that Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile USA unit plans to launch LTE services in most of the 50 largest metropolitan markets over the next two years means that all four leading US mobile operators will have commercial LTE networks up and running by the end of 2013, several years ahead of earlier expectations.

After lagging well behind their European counterparts in the rollout of 3G services in the early 2000s, US network operators, led by Verizon Wireless, the joint venture between Verizon Communications and Britain’s Vodafone group, have led the rollout of commercial LTE services, spending billions of dollars in recent years on upgrading network infrastructure.

For their part, the major handset makers are rushing to deliver LTE smartphones, remembering perhaps that Motorola’s delay in offering 3G handsets during the last technology transition was a major factor in its subsequent crisis and split-up.

Since Verizon Wireless, the largest US mobile operator by subscriber numbers, first launched its LTE network at the end of 2010, its rivals including AT&T Mobility and Sprint Nextel have accelerated their own LTE rollout plans in a helter-skelter effort to retain customers and remain competitive.

For example, Sprint Nextel, which currently resells Clearwire’s WiMax 4G service, is investing heavily in an infrastructure upgrade project called “Network Vision” that will enable the third-largest US wireless carrier to launch LTE services in selected markets this summer.

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Clearwire itself has also announced plans to deploy LTE technology alongside its existing WiMax network and offer the service on a wholesale basis to regional network operators and new industry entrants.

However, the precise timing of the US network operators’ LTE announcements has been driven in part by their particular requirements and spectrum holdings. Verizon Wireless, for example, needed to move to LTE because its older 3G network, based on a technology called CDMA, was running out of steam.

Conversely, T-Mobile USA has been forced to rely on upgrades to its existing 3G network because it has lacked the spectrum to move to LTE – a problem partly resolved by the spectrum it will receive from AT&T after the collapse of its $39bn takeover bid for T-Mobile at the end of last year.

Nevertheless, the rapid shift to LTE in the US primarily reflects the accelerating adoption of smartphones and the emergence of the mobile internet as a real alternative to desktop internet access.

As AT&T’s network problems in the wake of the launch of Apple’s iPhone in mid-2007 demonstrated, the US carriers needed to upgrade their networks to cope with the mobile data tsunami unleashed by advanced smartphones including those powered by Google’s Android operating system.

Unlike the first generation of smartphones pioneered by companies like Nokia and Research In Motion, the latest smartphones come with easy-to-use touch screens, super-fast processors, advanced mobile browsers and powerful third-party ‘apps’ which are fuelling a surge in mobile data usage.

Underscoring this, Ericsson’s most recent traffic and market data report predicted that global mobile data traffic will grow by 10 times between now and 2016. In the US, the Federal Communications Commission has projected that the nation’s wireless carriers will face a 275 MHz “spectrum deficit” by 2014 if no new spectrum is opened up for use.

LTE technology, based on the same communications protocols as the internet, offers a partial solution to this conundrum because it uses scarce spectrum much more efficiently than older 2G and 3G technologies and therefore offers a mechanism for operators to accommodate much higher data loads. Looked at another way, LTE is a more cost effective mobile technology for data-heavy networks.

As Lyn Cantor, president of Tektronix Communications, which advises mobile operators on how to maximise network efficiency, notes: “The fact that carriers are losing money on the subscribers that are heavy data users is one of the key drivers of the move to LTE to create a scalable architecture that will drive down the delivery costs of data.”

What is already clear is that the shift in the market to LTE has already begun. A recent forecast from Juniper Research estimated that the number of LTE subscribers will reach 428m by 2016 with a surge in growth taking place in 2012.

“This year promises to be a watershed for LTE, as some wireless operators take stock of the economic and competitive environment in their respective markets and consider their rollout options. It may no longer be a case of ‘if’ an operator will launch an LTE network, but the ‘when’ is a different story,” says Mr Cantor.

Meanwhile, LTE pioneers like Verizon Wireless are already looking to migrate mobile voice calls over to their new networks using a technology called Voice over LTE or VoLTE. That will enable them to free up underutilised 2G and 3G spectrum and reuse that for the next generation of LTE called LTE Advanced, which is projected to deliver average download speeds in the 100 megabits per second range, opening up a whole new set of opportunities for mobile operators.

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Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

KOREA LOOKING TO BUILD ITS OWN MOBILE PHONE PLATFORM NETWORK

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Seoul seeks to build

mobile platform

By Christian Oliver in Seoul

South Korea’s government has called on Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics to join it in a consortium to develop a homegrown mobile phone operating system, a sign that Seoul fears Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility could pose a long-term threat to two of its biggest companies.

Samsung and LG are the world’s second- and third-biggest makers of mobile handsets but their software is much weaker than their hardware. Their most successful smartphones have relied on Google’s Android operating system.

South Korea admitted that it could be strategically dangerous to keep relying on Google for software as the US firm builds up its own ability to make hardware, which is Korea’s strength.

Since Google’s acquisition, there have been fears that a tighter integration of Android with Motorola’s mobile devices will make for a stronger competitor to third parties such as Samsung and LG. Google insists it will continue to work with independent handset makers on Android devices.

Seoul’s ministry of the knowledge economy said on Wednesday that it would announce details of its plan in October. The ministry said it had invited Samsung and LG to take part but that small and medium-sized IT enterprises should form some 50 per cent of the consortium.

While the ministry has not decided on the nature of the operating system, it said it wanted something that could ultimately compete with Google’s Chrome and is considering a cloud-based system to allow the sharing of data across smartphones, personal computers and laptops.

“In the long term, we cannot go on like this by solely relying on Google,” Kim Jae-hong, a deputy commerce minister, told reporters.

Samsung declined to comment on the government plan, saying the idea was in “initial stages”. LG said it was “willing to listen” to the government’s ideas.

Telecommunications analysts said the government’s plan was impractical or unlikely to succeed because South Korea had too much ground to make up in software, and argued that handset makers should look to buy a foreign operating system or diversify their OS suppliers.

Chang Sea-jin, a professor at Singapore National University, said the government initiative was a “long shot” and looked more like a programme to help struggling SMEs than to boost Samsung and LG. He argued that Samsung, the world’s biggest technology company by sales, should instead look to buy a foreign OS maker.

“In the short term, it is more reasonable to balance [Microsoft’s] Windows and Android and not rely on Google,” he said.

Samsung, whose Galaxy smartphones are the main challenger to Apple’s iPhone, already has a homegrown software system called Bada but it is aimed at low- to mid-end smartphones. Samsung’s blue-riband smartphones use Google’s Android. Samsung on Wednesday launched new Galaxy handsets aimed at increasing sales in emerging markets.

Although South Korea’s government regularly tries to steer companies, analysts said software design was a field in which Seoul was out of its depth.

“I understand the government’s desire to seek solutions with the threat of a rapidly changing market but this is the wrong direction,” said Greg Roh, analyst at HMC Investment Securities. “This should be left to the market.”

?Apple won an injunction in a Dutch court on Wednesday to stop Samsung from marketing three smartphone models in some European countries after alleging a breach of patents, Reuters reports from Amsterdam. Apple and Samsung are locked in a bruising patent fight in the US, Europe and Asia, as they jostle for the top spot in the smartphone market.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

EBAY SELLS SKYPE TO MICROSOFT & MICROSOFT ARE HAPPY

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

Think Microsoft’s biggest deal ever

is a mistake? Think again. Skype me…

On the surface Microsoft’s $8.5 billion deal to buy the Internet phone company Skype sounds loopy. But don’t be deceived: This just might be the smartest move Chief Executive Steve Ballmer has ever made.

It isn’t hard to see why you might think otherwise. In 2005 eBay acquired Skype for $2.6 billion. Failing to integrate the service into its e-tailing business, eBay in 2009 sold 70% of Skype for a little over $2 billion to a group made up of Marc Andreessen’s venture firm, the Canada Pension Plan system and Skype’s founders, among others; the valuation was little changed from the first time it sold. Ergo, the idea that Microsoft would pay $8.5 billion for the same company less than two years later sounds, uh, startling.

It doesn’t help that the company has a mediocre track record when it comes to acquisitions. Microsoft has closed just a handful of major deals–aQuantive, Great Plains Software, Navision, Hotmail–and none has changed the face of the company. Microsoft lacks a clear Internet strategy, and its online business operates in the red. Bing is gaining share, but even counting its venture with Yahoo it has only 30% of the domestic search business. Not least, Microsoft’s share price is unchanged over the last decade (despite impressive revenue growth), thanks to concerns that Windows and Office are threatened by mobile devices and Internet-based applications. With that backdrop, Microsoft’s willingness to pay nearly ten times 2010 revenues for Skype appears illogical or worse.

But I think it will prove to be genius. Here are three reasons this deal should turn out to be a huge success:

– It uses some of Microsoft’s mountain of offshore cash. Microsoft finished the March quarter with $50 billion in cash and short-term investments–$ 42 billion of that held outside the U.S. Like many American technology companies, Microsoft generates most of its revenues outside the country. Bringing it home would mean handing Uncle Sam a 35% cut. So the cash sits offshore, where it can’t be used to buy back stock, pay dividends, hire American workers or acquire U.S. startups. Apply a 35% discount to the $8.5 billion price tag–that’s what would happen if it sent the cash to Redmond–and the deal looks a lot more reasonable, at around $5.5 billion posttax. And Microsoft still has a lot more cash overseas than it does at home; expect more non-U.S. acquisitions in the months ahead.

– Microsoft gets one of the truly dominant Internet brands. There are only a handful–Google, Facebook, Netflix, Craigslist, Wikipedia, Twitter–but most aren’t for sale, and none belongs to Microsoft. Skype is the dominant player in Internet audio and video communications–people use “Skype” as a verb–and now Microsoft owns it.

– Ignore the pundits; this is an enterprise- software play. The knee-jerk reaction has been that Microsoft will need to up the revenue generated by Skype via more aggressive use of advertising and integration with gaming. But the deal is really about “unified communications,” in which Microsoft is competing with Cisco and others. The theory is that by adding Skype’s audio, video, conferencing and telepresence features to the mix Microsoft will offer an unbeatable combination of features that every enterprise will want. Microsoft sees unified communications as a multibillion-dollar business. Don’t be surprised to see Microsoft abandon its current unified communications branding–Microsoft Lync–and rechristen the product Skype for the Enterprise.

In one brilliant stroke Microsoft dipped into its growing overseas cash pile, bought an iconic brand and set the stage for another multibillion-dollar business. Worth every penny.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

VODAFONE DEALERS BENDING THE RULES &…

Friday, January 21st, 2011

Revealed:

How Vodafone dealers

bend the rules

posing as customers

Asher Moses

January 21, 2011 – 12:41PM

Vodafone customers vent their frustration

Vodafone customers give their verdict on connection problems and the standard of service.

    A Vodafone dealer’s staff have been caught posing as customers to cancel the customers’ original accounts in order to sign them up for new contracts with higher commissions.

    The staff members of Communications Direct Pty Ltd have also breached privacy by forwarding detailed customer call records outside the company.

    Evidence seen by this website, including internal emails, shows managers at the dealer initiated and encouraged some of the behaviour. They are still employed with the company, which remains a Vodafone agent despite Vodafone saying in a statement that it had rectified the issues and took “all allegations of unethical business practices extremely seriously”.

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    The Privacy Commissioner is already investigating Vodafone over the security of its customers’ information and said yesterday that the new information provided by this website would be included in its investigation.

    The privacy investigation comes after just under 20,000 customers signed on to a class action lawsuit targeting Vodafone over network issues that caused poor reception, dropped calls and delayed voicemail and SMS.

    The email documents, sent over the first half of last year, show that staff at Comms Direct, which acts as an agent for Vodafone, had top-tier access to the database containing personal details and call records of all of Vodafone’s customers. These sensitive details, contained in a system provided by software maker Siebel, could be accessed by Comms Direct call centre staff without customers giving their permission.

    Comms Direct’s managers instructed staff to use the system to search for customers who were approaching the end of their contracts with Vodafone and to offer to re-sign them with a better deal.

    “Take a look at the spend and usage. See if we can offer a better deal and then close them,” one wrote in an email.

    This method was used to acquire customers from other Vodafone dealers, who may not have the same level of access to Vodafone’s customer database. It was referred to internally as “Siebel farming” and the email evidence includes complaints to Comms Direct from dealers who lost customers as a result of the practice.

    “Other dealers would say we built up the relationship, they fell into our database, you took advantage of the system and accessed it and stole our customers – internally there’s lots of issues that way,” said a former Comms Direct staff member, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

    The dealer earns more commission from connecting new accounts than upgrading existing ones, so managers encouraged staff to call Vodafone customer care, pretend to be the customer, and ask that the original service be disconnected, sources said.

    The dealer could then sign them up as a new connection, with individual sales staff receiving double the normal commission ($50 instead of $25).

    However, in some cases, Vodafone has failed to disconnect the old accounts and customers were unwittingly left with multiple accounts and multiple charges.

    “Anyone who does a wireless broadband sale to a male customer needs to take ownership of calling customer service to have the old wireless broadband disconnected,” a manager wrote in an email to staff in March last year, adding that by doing so they would earn an additional $25 commission.

    “If it is a woman customer that you are making a sale to, this will be still classed as a new connection as the operations team can disconnect these girls over the phone.”

    Comms Direct’s website says it is “Vodafone’s largest premium partner”.

    This website has also seen evidence that on several occasions last year at least one Comms Direct staff member accessed the unbilled call history of a man and forwarded the details on to a private Hotmail account.

    Other internal Comms Direct emails suggest the dealer engaged in “SIM stacking”, whereby extra mobile numbers are added to a business customer’s account without their knowledge. This helps dealers earn more commissions and hit their monthly connection targets, a source said.

    In one email, a customer emailed a manager to ask why they were given 11 phone numbers when they needed only one. The manager replied that “the rest are spare”.

    Vodafone Hutchison Australia, Comms Direct and the NSW Police have been provided with the documentary evidence containing the above allegations.

    NSW Police said it had assigned an officer to examine the allegations, while Comms Direct said it was drafting a response but this had not arrived at the time of publication.

    Vodafone refused to respond to the individual allegations but said it had “already taken action to address” the issues and some sales staff at Communications Direct who were involved in the activities no longer worked there.

    Vodafone said it had also restricted access to its systems “to prevent this type of unauthorised business practice”.

    “VHA takes all allegations of unethical business practices extremely seriously and as a direct result of issues raised by VHA, a number of staff from Communications Direct had their employment terminated last year,” a spokesman said.

    However, the top managers who were revealed in the email documents to have condoned some of the activities are all still employed at the company.

    “If a blind eye is turned to this kind of chicanery where does it end and who takes responsibility? Does Vodafone just wash its hands and say well it’s the dealer’s responsibility?” said Christopher Zinn, spokesman for consumer group Choice.

    “When consumers go to a shop and it says Vodafone on the outside, they are not necessarily cognisant of the difference between what is a Vodafone store and what is a Vodafone dealer store.”

    This month it was revealed that the personal details of millions of Vodafone customers, including their names, home addresses, driver’s licence numbers and credit card details, had been available on the internet. They could be accessed using generic login details that unscrupulous dealers reportedly gave or sold to people, including criminals.

    Vodafone said it had implemented a number of security measures to prevent similar security breaches in future. It would not detail what these were, but, in an email sent to dealers on Wednesday, Vodafone said it would now require each dealer to provide a static IP address for their internet connection in order to access the customer database.

    This would allow Vodafone to track which stores are accessing particular pieces of information and ensure that they only accessed the database from the store itself.

    However, Elissa Freeman, policy director for the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network, said the step came “after the horse has bolted”.

    “ACCAN is concerned that it may in fact not be possible for Vodafone to trace back and uncover which customers have had their privacy breached, by whom, and what information has been passed on to who, for what purpose,” she said.

    “If this is the case then Vodafone needs to be upfront and inform all its customers directly, in writing, without delay.”

    Vodafone claims it has invested over $550 million in its network since June 2009 and will spend a similar amount over the course of this year.

    It says performance has already improved but a significant number of customers have already jumped ship to competing telcos. Many complained that it took in excess of two hours to reach Vodafone’s customer care line and even then they were connected to people in overseas call centres who were not aware of the issues affecting Vodafone’s network.

    Vodafone this week gave dealers a question and answer sheet containing pre-written responses to many customer complaints. It can be found here.

    Adam Brimo, who created the Vodafail.com site out of frustration at Vodafone’s network issues, has today sent a report to Australian regulators summarising the issues affecting the tens of thousands of Vodafone customers who used the site to register their complaints about the telco.

    The 27-page report can be found here.

    The telecommunications industry is self-regulated under the Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code. However, ACCAN said holes in the code meant that, even with the current Vodafone issues, the regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), would struggle to find a clear breach.

    And even if it did find a breach, the most it could do was order Vodafone to comply with the code.

    ACMA has been conducting an inquiry into customer service in the telco sector and its findings are due to be released in March.

    Do you know more? asher.moses@smh.com.au

    Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha