Posts tagged charges
The cost of calling mobile phones from other networks and landlines is set to become cheaper after Ofcom imposed a reduction in charges.
The regulator ruled on Tuesday that termination charges – the amount mobile phone companies bill their rivals for handling calls from their networks – will fall 80% over the next four years, starting from 1 April.
The big three mobile operators – O2, Vodafone and Everything Everywhere, which includes Orange and T-Mobile – currently charge 4.18p a minute to connect calls from other phone companies.
But this will be reduced to 2.66p next month and will fall to 0.69p by April 2014.
Ofcom said it expects landline operators to pass on the cost savings to customers and for mobile operators to offer more choice to customers.
Mobile phone operator 3 UK can currently charge up to 4.48p a minute, slightly more than the other big operators, but its cap will fall in line with its bigger rivals from the start of next month.
The changes are expected to benefit smaller mobile phone operators, which will be able to offer more competitive prices.
Termination rates have already declined by 35% since 2007 when Ofcom last imposed caps on the rates.
The regulator said that while mobile phone companies will lose money from the reduction in charges, they are gaining from a growing trend towards customers using data services, such as text messaging and accessing the internet from their mobile phones.
Data traffic has more than doubled in the past year and now accounts for the majority of traffic over mobile phone networks, said Ofcom. Revenues from data increased by 90% between 2007 and 2009 and are set to grow further.
The termination rate caps apply only to calls, which are likely to account for a less significant proportion of mobile phone companies’ revenues over the next four years, added Ofcom.
Mobile phones could run for months between charges
Mobile phones could soon run for months rather than days between charges, after scientists discovered how to make them work more efficiently.
A team of electrical engineers at Illinois University in the U.S. believe their method will enable mobiles and laptops to run for up to 100 times longer between charges.
It focuses on changing the way a device’s digital memory works, as this consumes much of the charge.
At the moment mobile phone memories contain thin metal wires. Every time information is accessed, electricity is passed through them to retrieve the data.
The electrical engineers thought that if the size of the components used to store and retrieve the information could be reduced, so could the amount of electricity.
They have discovered a way of using carbon nanotubes – tiny tubes 10,000 times thinner than a human hair – instead.
Feng Xiong, a graduate student on the team who was lead author on a paper, to be published in the journal Science, explained: “”The energy consumption is essentially scaled with the volume of the memory bit.
“”By using nanoscale contacts, we are able to achieve much smaller power consumption.”"
Prof Eric Pop, who led the project, said: “”I think anyone who is dealing with a lot of chargers and plugging things in every night can relate to wanting a cell phone or laptop whose batteries can last for weeks or months.”"
He thought that the method could improve a mobile phone’s efficiency so much that they could be made to run simply by harvesting heat, kinetic energy or solar energy.
(Source: Daily Telegraph)
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The European Commission will have to consider radical new measures to reduce the cost of mobile roaming charges after almost all respondents to its consultation said prices were unfair.
European roaming prices are currently more than three times that of domestic charges. Even Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes on Monday described the current charges as “rip offs.” And the prices for data roaming are even higher. “The consumer often pays less than 5 cents for downloading a MB of data at home, but this may turn into 2.60 Euro per MB when the same consumer crosses an invisible border!”"said Kroes.
This is despite efforts by the Commission to bring prices down. Caps on roaming were introduced in 2007. Travelers’ data-roaming limit is by default set at €50 (US$67) excluding VAT and operators must send users a warning when they reach 80 percent of that. Customers may alter this limit, but the aim of the default setting was to remove the so-called “shock bill” received by many customers on return from abroad.
These rules will apply until the end of June 2012, but the Commission is due to present new plans by June this year aimed at getting closer to the target of zero difference between roaming and national tariffs by 2015.
One idea is to unbundle roaming services from other mobile services, allowing customers to purchase roaming independently of their national mobile provider. Such a move could create an entirely new telecom market.
Other suggestions include legislation to mandate a direct lick between roaming tariffs and domestic prices. “Initial indications from our consultation suggest strong support for continuing price regulation. A significant number of respondents seem to accept that some form of retail price regulation would also need to be introduced for data roaming,” said Kroes.
A Eurobarometer survey, also released on Monday, revealed that 72 percent of European mobile phone users limit their voice calls while abroad because they are worried about the cost, while about one in five has cut down their use of roaming services in the past four years.
Meanwhile, Ryanair on Monday launched a roaming service together with Maxroam. Although it claims to be “the world’s first free mobile phone roaming service” customers still have to pay for making calls at a fixed rate of €0.29 per minute, and for sending texts at €0.09 each. But Ryanair has also offered 1 million free minutes for incoming calls.
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Facebook users with feature phones will now be able to enjoy the same mobile Facebook experience their smartphone-wielding friends have been embracing – and without the data charges.
“Smartphones have offered better features for sharing with friends but aren’t used by most people around the world,” says Facebook program manager Mark Heynen in a January 20 blog post.
To help people access their Facebook accounts from their feature phones, Facebook has developed a new application that will work on more than 2,500 devices (around 80 percent of devices sold worldwide) from handset makers such as Nokia, Sony Ericsson and LG.
“The app provides a better Facebook experience for our most popular features, including an easier-to-navigate home screen, contact synchronization, and fast scrolling of photos and friend updates,” writes Heynen.
During the first 90 days of launch 14 mobile operators globally have agreed to let feature phone users on their network try the app without any data charges.
The app was built with the assistance of Snaptu, a company that offers “useful, intuitive mobile services to the 95% of mobile users that do not have advance smart phones.”
The initiative is similar to Facebook’s 0.facebook.com mobile site that was announced in May 2010. The company collaborated with mobile phone operators around the globe to provide fast and free Facebook access to mobile users that were restricted by slow connections and expensive data fees.
Initially feature phone users signed up to Dialog in Sri Lanka, Life in the Ukraine, Play in Poland, StarhHub in Singapore, STC in Saudi Arabia, Three in Hong Kong, Tunisiana in Tunisia, Viva in the Dominican Republic and Vodafone in Romania will be able to access the new Facebook app on m.fb.snaptu.com/f.
The service will launch on Mobilicity in Canada, Reliance in India, Telcel in Mexico, TIM in Brazil and Vivacom in Bulgaria “soon.”
BANGKOK, Dec 24 — The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) on Thursday decided to dismiss the complaint on SMS case against Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij for wrongfully requesting three mobile phone companies to send out mass text messages to 17.2 million numbers free of charge when they first took office in 2008.
The petition, filed by opposition leader Chalerm Yoobamrung, Puea Thai MP chairman and 158 MPs, seeks the removal from office of both Mr. Abhisit and Mr. Korn, accusing them of violating Article 103 of the NACC Act.
NACC Secretary-General Apinan Israngura Na Ayuthaya said in a statement issued on Thursday that the anti-graft agency has decided at its meeting on Thursday to drop the case, as the SMS were sent as a cooperation request from the government and the mobile telephone operators cooperated voluntarily for public benefit.
The NACC also did not find that the move was malfeasance and the three mobile phone companies have not made any gains from doing as asked.
Mr Abhisit and Korn formulated a policy to communicate with citizens before the royal appointment of the prime minister on December 17, 2008.
On December 16, 2008, Korn called a meeting of three mobile phone operators, AIS, Dtac and True Move, asking for their cooperation in provide the SMS messages as a public service.
The SMS were sent out after the government came to power and all messages were screened and approved by Abhisit and Korn. The three operators signed the SMS as sent by UR PM, an abbreviation for your prime minister.
In the message Mr Abhisit asked people to help him solve the country’s crisis. Interested mobile phone users were asked to send back their postal codes, at a cost of Bt3.
The three mobile phone operators confirmed they had cooperated in sending out SMS as the public service on several occasions in the past, such as publicity related to the APEC Summit in 2003, the royal ceremonies, tsunami crisis, power seizure and the Bangkok gubernatorial race.
Unlike other short messages sent out as the public service which had no replies, people responded by replying to the SMS sent out by Abhisit and Korn. Each reply generated a Bt3 revenue for the operators.
However, the NACC ruled that the reply of SMS was done by mobile users voluntarily and the operators have paid income tax from the replied SMS in accordance with the law.
Meanwhile, the NACC also dropped the case in which Mr Abhisit was accused of abuse of power by giving Kasit Piromya the foreign minister’s post even though Mr Kasit was allegedly involved in the airports seizure by the ‘Yellow Shirt’ People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD).
The NACC said the case dropped for lack of solid evidence. (MCOT online news)
EU to force mobile phone operators to abolish high ‘roaming’ charges
By Sean Poulter
Last updated at 11:42 PM on 8th December 2010
Mobile phone networks have been put on notice that the EU plans to stop them charging more to use handsets when visiting other member states.
For years, Britons have been charged very high fees to make calls and send texts when visiting the Continent for a holiday or business.
The gap between these overseas ‘roaming’ charges and those levied within the UK has come down substantially over the last five years, following a change in the law by the EU.
However, the European Commission yesterday made clear it wants the tariffs to be exactly the same.
The EU Commissioner for Europe’s digital agenda, Neelie Kroes, said the price gap between domestic mobile charges and roaming rates remains unjustifiably high.
Consequently, she said her ultimate aim is to reduce the gap to nothing by 2015.
To date, the Commission has legislated to bring down the cost of making calls and sending texts while visiting other member states.
In future, it plans to do more to reduce the extortionate cost of using smartphones to surf the web or download data when abroad in Europe.
‘Huge differences between domestic and roaming charges have no place in a true EU single market,’ said Miss Kroes.
She suggested the mobile phone market in Europe is dominated by a few large players like Orange, Vodafone and O2, which means there is too little competition on prices.
‘We need to address the source of current problems, namely a lack of competition, and to find a durable solution,’ she said.
The Commission is conducting a consultation on the next step that should be taken to cope with rip-offs that occur when people use handsets when visiting other EU states.
Consumers, businesses, telecom operators and public authorities are being invited to give their views to Brussels and Miss Kroes will publish proposals for ‘appropriate solutions’ next June.
The Commission said: ‘Particular areas of interest are the impact of EU rules on mobile users and service providers and what further measures could be taken to promote competition and consumer satisfaction.
‘The Commission wants all roaming customers to have rapid and easy access to competitive roaming tariffs for voice, SMS and data, where operators’ prices to consumers would be more closely aligned with the true cost of efficiently providing roaming services.’
The measures will be challenged by the mobile networks which have previously made clear that any cut in the cost of using mobiles overseas will be met with a corresponding increase in other charges.
British mobile phone networks have put up charges to use phones in recent years to claw back income lost from lower call charges applied overseas.
Significantly, the European Commission only has powers to regulate mobile phone charges within the EU.
The caps on charges do not apply when Britons travel to other destinations such as the USA and the Far East.
Vodacom Profit Rises as Year-Ago Charges Not Repeated November 08, 2010, 2:08 AM EST
By Nicky Smith
(Updates with subscribers fall in sixth paragraph.)
Nov. 8 (Bloomberg) — Vodacom Group Ltd., the largest provider of mobile-phone services to South Africans, said fiscal first-half profit surged after year-earlier impairment and tax charges weren’t repeated and it spent less on its network.
Net income climbed to 4.42 billion rand ($649.4 million) in the six months through September, from 61 million rand a year earlier, the Johannesburg-based company said in a statement to the city’s stock exchange today. Sales rose 3 percent to 29.5 billion rand.
“We had solid revenue growth despite the negative impact from lower mobile-termination rates in South Africa,” Chief Executive Officer Pieter Uys said in an e-mailed statement. Data sales jumped 41 percent while capital expenditure fell 30 percent to 2.06 billion rand.
A maturing voice-services market is forcing South African mobile-phone companies to diversify services away from voice. Mobile Internet services are being used for new growth and make up for cuts regulators have made to the fees phone companies charge to carry each other’s calls.
Earnings in the prior period were affected by the reversal of a deferred tax asset in the Democratic Republic of the Congo of 551 million rand, after operations in the Central African country declined because of weakening commodity markets and price competition from other operators.
Subscriptions in South Africa fell to 23.9 million from 28.2 million because of laws that require customers to be registered or be disconnected. Vodacom is “hoping for a positive confirmation that we will get an extension” of at least six months on the Dec. 31 deadline for registrations, Uys said on a conference call.
Subscribers in other parts of Africa grew about 16 percent to 15.5 million users. Vodacom is 65 percent-held by Newbury, England based Vodafone Group Plc.
–Editors: Vernon Wessels, Paul Richardson.
To contact the reporter on this story: Nicky Smith in Johannesburg at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Vidya Root at email@example.com
Mobile-phone users will be able to charge their devices wirelessly for the first time in 2012.
Unlike the current generation of charging “mats,” the new technology works at a distance and raises the possibility of a city network quietly charging any cellphone within range.
Fujitsu, the Japanese technology company, has created a system capable of simultaneously charging multiple portable electronic devices such as mobile phones, digital cameras and laptop computers, without the need for cable connections.
Eventually, electric car drivers may also be able to charge their vehicles wirelessly using the same technology, according to Fujitsu, which unveiled a prototype at a conference at Osaka Prefecture University.
The technology works through transmission of electricity using magnetic fields between the charger and the device.
The system enables wireless charging at distances of several metres — meaning a single charger could serve a home, much as a home Wi-Fi device does — with the ultimate aim of public “charging spots” on the streets for easy charging round the clock.
Scientists at Fujitsu Laboratories are planning to sell products incorporating the new wireless charging system as early as 2012, but it has not been disclosed how much they would cost.
“This technology paves the way to integrating compact wireless charging functions into mobile phones and enabling multiple portable devices to be charged simultaneously without any restrictions on their position with respect to the charger,” the company said in a statement.
The soaring popularity of portable electronic devices, from iPads to e-readers, is expected to spark a boom in wireless recharging technology developments over the coming decade.
SHANGHAI — Inside China’s massive, $220 million pavilion at the Shanghai Expo, exhibits charting that nation’s path toward modernization start with the humble transistor radio and end with electric cars and homegrown technology powered by sun, wind and algae.
The largest Expo in history has drawn more than 30 million visitors. It showcases the country’s ambitions to become not just factory to the world but a global leader in technologies of the future — particularly green energy.
For a visitor from the Pacific Northwest, it’s hard to escape the parallels with the Seattle World’s Fair of 1962, when American ambitions pointed skyward with the Space Needle, and Boeing helped propel aerospace technology to new heights.
The Shanghai Expo, like the Seattle gathering nearly 50 years earlier, seems a watershed event, in this case heralding both a shift in global economic power and a leap in China’s imagination.
A Chinese consortium is building a commercial jet to rival the Boeing 737. Chinese car and battery maker BYD (“build your dreams”) is launching an all-electric car this year.
But nowhere is China’s competitive push more evident than in its rush to dominate clean energy.
Environmental disasters and China’s reputation as a prime polluter have driven some of that urgency. The country has become the world’s largest energy consumer and its biggest carbon emitter.
Now it’s investing billions of dollars in greener, more efficient energy production. Recent incentives and policies encouraging alternative energy have helped Chinese companies leapfrog over competitors to lead the world in areas such as solar power.
As a result, much of the manufacturing for photovoltaic cells and panels has gone to China.
In Washington state, the competitive stakes are high.
In the last decade, investors poured $783 million into clean-tech companies in Washington state, according to the Cleantech Group. The sector, which includes energy generation, green building and environmental engineering, employs about 23,000 people in the Puget Sound area alone.
Politicians and investors are touting clean tech as the growth opportunity of the future. But they worry that American companies are already falling behind.
“Many of these technologies were invented in the U.S., but they have since migrated overseas because there has never been much of a market in the U.S.,” said Peter Brehm, vice president of business development and government relations at Infinia, a solar-power company in Kennewick.
Overall clean-technology investments in China reached $34 billion last year, more than any other country and almost double the U.S. investment of $18 billion, according to the Pew Environment Group.
This year, China has attracted more clean-tech financing than Europe and the U.S. combined, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Financing for wind turbines, solar panels and low-carbon technology in China rose 72 percent in the second quarter to $11.5 billion, compared with U.S. investment of $4.9 billion.
The size of the market and a sweeping array of incentives are acting as magnets. Chinese utilities are required to buy up all renewable energy generated in the country and sell to consumers at discounted rates. It helps that China’s energy sector is largely state-owned. Government ministries subsidize half of the investment cost for solar-power systems.
That doesn’t mean China’s growth will be clean.
“A lot of manufacturing is very dirty,” said Christopher McNally, a fellow at the East-West Center in Honolulu who studies China’s system of state-managed capitalism. “But the policy thrust is very clear. And that is actually what we lack. We don’t have a very clear policy of where we’re going.”
Washington clean-tech companies are staking their future on how well they can both sell to China’s growing market and maintain their own edge.
But that’s getting harder to do as the U.S. lags in investments and policies that foster development of clean-technology products and build market demand for them, many business leaders say.
“China has a problem with pollution,” says Robert Roche, the chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai. “They’re addressing it from a national view. Our government hasn’t decided there’s a problem yet.”
Recent Chinese actions include a cap on carbon, aggressive fuel-efficiency targets and a plan for $700 billion in investments over the next 10 years, said U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island, who met with Chinese environment officials in July.
Without a bold U.S. strategy, money will go elsewhere and domestic enterprises will lose out, he said.
“It’s pretty amazing, our lack of performance relative to Chinese aggressiveness in trying to seize these jobs,” he said.
An hour outside Shanghai, factories fill the bland landscape around Kunshan, a satellite city that has become an economic powerhouse.
Amid the electronics companies churning out iPods, mobile phones and laptops, a solar-energy industry is taking shape.
Kunshan is encouraging biotech, wind and solar companies to set up shop. Taiwanese manufacturer Motech Industries started mass production of solar cells there two years ago, and demand now exceeds its capacity.
“The government is involved a lot in the development of industries,” said York Wu, vice chief of investment promotion in the New & Hi-tech Industrial Development Zone.
The goal is to make Kunshan a base of renewable energy, producing 400 million to 500 million solar panels.
At a demonstration center near the Motech factory, a young woman in skinny black jeans and precariously high heels leads visitors on a tour of displays.
She shows miniature homes of the future, with green roofs and solar-powered lights, new types of small wind turbines and ultrathin solar-cell material that can be used in roofing or curtains. They even have a model handbag designed to tap sunlight to charge cellphones.
John Evans, an Asia-based business consultant, has been watching the growth of China’s clean-technology industry and advising the Washington state Department of Commerce and local companies on strategy.
“China is going to be both a competitor and an opportunity,” Evans said. “When the Chinese decide they’re really going to push forward with something, they do it quickly and put a lot of money into it.”
That means opportunities for Washington companies with cutting-edge technology, such as software to manage smart electricity grids, to sell into the Chinese market, he said. But they may eventually be competing with companies in China.
“China is putting in place incentives, such as tax reductions for investment, to attract companies from across the globe,” he said. “That’s not necessarily a great thing for Washington state.”
More demand overseas
At its factory in Kennewick, Infinia makes a device that captures sunlight through a mirror and converts the heat directly into electricity. Infinia was listed by the Cleantech Group as one of the 100 most promising private companies in the world for addressing environmental challenges.
There is little market yet for its products in the U.S.
Instead, Infinia’s technology is in demand in Spain, India and China. Much of its manufacturing may soon follow.
“Other countries are smart enough to incentivize manufacturing. We’re not,” Vice President Brehm said. “They make it very easy for you to win projects and develop markets over there if you manufacture over there.”
Recently, the U.S. Senate scrapped energy legislation that would have placed a cap on carbon emissions by utilities and set new renewable-energy standards.
Opponents called that legislation “cap and tax,” saying it would increase energy prices and hamper growth. But Brehm argues the failure to pass that kind of energy legislation is likely to drive more investment overseas.
“The decision not to go forward — all it does is perpetuate the uncertainty that’s already in the market for companies like ours that manufacture renewables.”
The same factories that make parts like vehicle doors for the U.S. auto industry also make parts for Infinia on the same assembly line, using the same machine tools.
“For converting dwindling auto jobs to real jobs, we are literally the poster child,” he said.
Federal stimulus money has helped boost renewables, but the benefits have gone disproportionately to companies with technology that is being made overseas, Brehm argues. Incentives focused on emerging technologies are needed to keep his industry ahead of the curve and support jobs that are still based here, he says.
“Our argument is: where things are manufactured matters,” Brehm said.
Inside China’s bright-red Expo pavilion, which replicates an ancient Chinese building style, the larger upper tier is designed to shade the rest of the building, which has a rooftop garden, natural ventilation and rainwater collection.
A display compares carbon emissions of various forms of transportation, and two of China’s electric cars are shown, including the YeZ, or “leaf” in Chinese, a concept car designed in Shanghai that absorbs carbon dioxide from the air and emits oxygen. Another display shows how algae is being converted to biodiesel.
The pavilion offers a sharp contrast to the grittier reality of everyday life in most Chinese cities, with their heavily polluted skies and water and sprawl. Near Shanghai, a giant new eco-city was supposed to be completed in time for the Expo, but never made it past the planning stage.
Still, Chinese officials such as Song Chao, director of the Shanghai municipal government’s information office, insist the Expo is showing that China can be as innovative as any country.
He said that demonstrating how to make cities more sustainable through clean technology is one way to “let young people know what are the most advanced civilizations and technological developments in the world today.”
Kristi Heim: 206-464-2718 or firstname.lastname@example.org