Displaying items by tag: European

U.S. Cellular has signed a five-year deal with Nokia in an effort to modernize the company's network by providing its end-to-end 5G technology, software and services solutions.

This will enable U.S. Cellular to deliver innovative services to its customers and expand into new customer and enterprise segments with 5G services and solutions.

The new contract builds upon the 5G trial activities Nokia and U.S. Cellular have been engaged in during the last year. As part of the agreement Nokia will modernize and build out a 5G network for U.S. Cellular across its markets using 5G capabilities compliant with 3GPP 5G New Radio (NR) standards.

Mike Irizarry, Executive Vice President and CTO, U.S. Cellular, said: "By keeping U.S. Cellular's network on the cutting edge, we can continue to deliver the innovation our customers demand, gain new customers and add new revenue models - all with a 5G-ready network. With Nokia's end-to-end solutions we will have the ability to launch 5G-based services that will provide massive connectivity and enhanced IoT to our customers. 

Ricky Corker, President of Customer Operations for the Americas, Nokia, said, "5G will ultimately deliver unprecedented user experiences and business models that require innovative solutions. We're delighted to continue our work with U.S. Cellular to accelerate 5G development and deployment that will not only provide a multi-fold increase in capacity for its customers, but also deliver 5G coverage."

U.S. Cellular will leverage multiple products across Nokia's end-to-end 5G technology, software and professional services portfolio. Nokia's 5G portfolio is based on its commercial AirScale radio platform and a cloud-based network architecture.

5G promises to enable faster speeds, massive connectivity, decade-long battery life for sensors and super-responsive and reliable networks for customers. This will unleash on-demand virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) experiences, driverless vehicles, medical monitoring, advanced industrial automation services, and so much more - all requiring ubiquitous low latency connectivity.

Published in Telecom Operators

The European Commission has adopted a decision that renders legally binding commitments offered by Amazon. The commitments address the Commission's preliminary competition concerns relating to a number of clauses in Amazon's distribution agreements with e-book publishers in Europe.

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: "Today's decision will open the way for publishers and competitors to develop innovative services for e-books, increasing choice and competition to the benefit of European consumers. Amazon used certain clauses in its agreements with publishers, which may have made it more difficult for other e-book platforms to innovate and compete effectively with Amazon. We want to ensure fair competition in Europe's e-books market worth more than 1 billion euros."

With the EC’s decision, Amazon will no longer enforce or introduce these clauses in agreements with publishers. These commitments will contribute to fair competition in the platform economy, says the European Commission.

The Commission opened an investigation in June 2015 because it had concerns about clauses included in Amazon's e-books distribution agreements that could have breached EU antitrust rules. These clauses, sometimes referred to as "most-favored-nation" clauses, required publishers to offer Amazon similar (or better) terms and conditions as those offered to its competitors and/or to inform Amazon about more favorable or alternative terms given to Amazon's competitors.

The clauses covered not only price but many aspects that a competitor can use to differentiate itself from Amazon, such as an alternative business (distribution) model, an innovative e-book or a promotion.

The Commission considered that such clauses could make it more difficult for other e-book platforms to compete with Amazon by reducing publishers' and competitors' ability and incentives to develop new and innovative e-books and alternative distribution services. The clauses may have led to less choice, less innovation and higher prices for consumers due to less overall competition in the European Economic Area (EEA) in e-book distribution.

Amazon has sought to address the Commission's concerns by offering not to enforce, introduce or to change the terms of its agreements with publishers. It amended its proposal following feedback received from interested parties on the suitability of Amazon's originally proposed commitments.

On May 4, the Commission concluded that the amended final version of the commitments offers a timely, effective and comprehensive solution to the competition concerns it had identified. They will help ensure that innovation for e-books by publishers and other third parties can benefit companies other than Amazon and protect effective competition for e-books to the benefit of consumers.

More specifically, Amazon has offered the following commitments:

  • Not to enforce (i) relevant clauses requiring publishers to offer Amazon similar non-price and price terms and conditions as those offered to Amazon's competitors or (ii) any such clauses requiring publishers to inform Amazon about such terms and conditions. The commitments cover in particular provisions related to alternative/new business models, release date and catalogue of e-books, features of e-books, promotions, agency price, agency commission and wholesale price.
  • To allow publishers to terminate e-book contracts that contain a clause linking discount possibilities for e-books to the retail price of a given e-book on a competing platform (so-called Discount Pool Provision). Publishers are allowed to terminate the contracts upon 120 days' advance written notice.
  • Not to include, in any new e-book agreement with publishers, any of the clauses mentioned above, including Discount Pool Provisions.

 

The commitments apply for a period of 5 years and to any e-book in any language distributed by Amazon in the EEA. If Amazon were to breach the commitments, the Commission could impose a fine of up to 10% of Amazon's total annual turnover, without having to find a violation of the EU competition rules.

Published in Government

For years, European holidaymakers have been paying high rates to use their mobiles for calling and data when visiting other countries. These controversial rates will come down dramatically and could possibly disappear altogether by 2017 following an intervention by the European Union.

It’s an issue that the European Commission has been battling with leading mobile providers to force through cuts to the cost of making cross-border calls and using data in foreign countries. The high cost of using a mobile in another country has been referred to as “bill shock”.

In October 2015, following negotiations, the EU finally announced that it would be cutting roaming charges as of June 2017. That way, monthly call allowances will apply across the entire EU for every citizen as if the country they visit was their home.

As a result of the interim, the European Union put caps on the amount that operators are able to charge for roaming. For example, surcharges cannot be more than €0.05 extra for minute calls abroad, €0.02 extra per SMS sent, and €0.05 extra per MB of data. Prior to these regulations, roaming costs were already beginning to fall by 75 percent, according to the European Commission. Taking the new EU roaming regulations into account, roaming charges are expected to fall by at least a third when implemented in 2017.

Additionally, calling costs for UK citizens will also fall from around 16p a minute (the typical amount added to a cross-border call) to a much more affordable 4.4p. Data charges are also expected to drop from 17.4p per MB to about 4.3p. Paying such high prices for calling and data is detrimental to young travellers around Europe who need to be able to contact their home at a reasonable price without going into debt.

However, it should be noted that if a user has used up their monthly calls allowance, it can still get pretty expensive. Many of the big operators in the UK, such as EE, Vodafone and O2, typically charge around 40p-45p a minute for calls made when an allowance has been spent; therefore, a roaming call will cost almost 50p for one minute of calling time. For the pay-as-you-go method, users will be charged around 30p-per-minute, as well as a 4p roaming top-up.

Receiving a call is a different story. For UK citizens receiving calls from home when abroad, the price has come down from 4.4p to about 1p-per-minute, or even free, depending on the operator. EE charges 1p per-minute, while Vodafone, Tesco and O2 no longer apply charges to users receiving calls when abroad.

With these changes to mobile roaming costs initiated by the EU, subscribers now have the choice to decide whether or not it is worth forking out extra money to pay for holiday roaming. For instance, EE offers unlimited calling and 100MB of data a day when travelling in Europe, which costs £4. This sort of deal would suit a business-professional who makes frequent calls and needs accessibility to a lot of internet while on holiday.

UK-based operator Three offers one of the best international roaming packages to its customers. Three’s Feel at Home tariff doesn’t charge anything extra for users to call or text the UK, or for using data in 18 countries, including many in Europe, the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

Meanwhile, Carphone Warehouse-owned iD network is another promising option for UK citizens who like to travel a lot and want to avoid high roaming charges before 2017. iD’s TakeAway tariffs offer free roaming in 29 countries including the entire European Union, the United States and Australia. A typical plan starts at £12.50 a month for a sim-only 12-month contract.

The EU’s push for scrapping roaming charges is having an impact on the industry. For example, Tesco Mobile recently announced that it has gotten rid of extra roaming charges for is customers travelling to any of 31 European countries from between 23 May until 3 September. The only problem is, these exciting roaming rate changes only apply to countries in the EU. European citizens visiting popular tourist destinations such as Turkey, still have to typically pay around £1.20-£1.50 a minute to make calls, and a frightening £6 per MB of data downloaded. Tourists to other non-EU countries face similar charges.

Published in Telecom Operators