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Telecoms watchdog Ofcom has published data showing the theoretical maximum – £5bn – the chancellor could have received, rather than the £2.3bn actual total
George Osborne’s takings from the 4G mobile spectrum sale were nearly £3bn lighter than the top prices bid by operators.
In a flourish similar to the classic Bullseye gameshow, in which the host showed losing contestants a car or luxury holiday with the catchphrase “and here’s what you could have won”, telecoms watchdog Ofcom has published data showing the theoretical maximum the Treasury could have raised.
The figures show that the highest bids for 4G spectrum, which will be used for faster mobile internet services, came to £5.2bn.
The total dwarfs the £2.3bn that will actually be paid into the public purse and tops the £3.5bn the chancellor had budgeted for in his autumn statement.
However, Ofcom says the maximum bids were only theoretical. This is because the auction used a second price rule, in which winners only pay a little more than the sum offered by the second highest bidder. This supposedly made the auction harder to rig.
Insiders and analysts countered that with different rules the amount would have been closer to Osborne’s original estimate. “Ofcom over-engineered the auction and it neither raised the amount that the government was looking for nor did it ensure that spectrum found its way into the hands of everybody who wanted it,” said a source at one bidder.
The format is not unusual, with Ireland, the Netherlands and Denmark all having used it for their spectrum sales. One element that unarguably kept prices low was Ofcom’s decision to set aside spectrum for Three, the smallest network, which only paid the reserve price for its slice of airwaves.
Ofcom also imposed caps on the amount of more valuable low-frequency bands that Vodafone and O2 were allowed to buy, because they already owned significant amounts before the auction.
“We are entirely comfortable with the rules that we put in place on the caps and the reserved spectrum to ensure that there is effective competition in future to the benefit of UK consumers and businesses,” said Ofcom.
Vodafone, which emerged with more airwaves than other bidders having spent £790m, submitted a £2bn maximum bid, while Telefónica, owner of the O2 brand, was prepared to pay up to £1.2bn.
Daniel Gleeson, telecoms analyst at research firm IHS, said the Treasury’s loss should be the consumers’ gain because winners would have enough spare change to invest in masts and equipment.
“The second price rule decreases the amount for the Treasury but operators also have an extra £2bn or £3bn to spend on building out the networks,” said Gleeson. “The 3G auction worked out well for the Treasury in 2001 but it meant the operators were very slow in rolling out the networks because they burned so much cash. Ofcom wanted to be sure that didn’t happen this time.”
The body that represents the mobile industry predicts operators will make more money from data than from voice by 2018.
See the rest here: Data ‘to overtake voice’ by 2018
Category : World News
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Nationwide employee protests ahead of Black Friday continue as international union asks ship operators to raise concerns
An international trade union has asked ship operators handling goods in Walmart’s global supply chain to raise concerns with the company about how it treats its US workforce.
Walmart has been affected by a series of walkouts and protests by several union-supported groups seeking to highlight what they say are low pay, poor benefits and retaliatory measures against those employees who speak out.
A series of high-profile protests are now planned to highlight “Black Friday” this week, which is the busiest single shopping day in the US calendar.
Now the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has written to shipping owners and ship captains who carry Walmart goods and asked them to contact the gigantic global company and express support for the protesting workers. “Walmart workers taking industrial action know that their jobs are at risk. The least we can do to help is use our expertise at sea and relations with the shipping industry to back them in any way we can.”
ITF acting general secretary Steve Cotton told the Guardian: “We’re talking to captains and the ship operators moving Walmart goods, and asking them to register their concerns with the company about its treatment of staff – and the impact that could have on trade.”
The ITF is a global union federation representing around four and a half million transport workers worldwide.
In recent months, parts of Walmart’s outsourced warehouse supply chain in the US have been hit by strikes and demonstrations. Walmart has accused unions of seeking to cause trouble and organise its workforce. It has said previously that only a tiny minority of its 1.3 million US staff are joining the protests and has defended its wages and benefits as offering good jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans.
But the protests do appear to have rattled the firm. Walmart has filed a complaint with the labor board asserting that OUR Walmart’s protests violate federal law that prevents 30 days of picketing when a union is seeking recognition. Walmart says the protests fit that description and are actually sponsored by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. It has sought an injunction to prohibit the protests. Both OUR Walmart and the UFCW deny those allegations and say that they are not seeking union recognition.
However, Walmart spokesman Steve Restivo said: “There are only a handful of associates at a handful of stores who are participating in these UFCW publicity stunts. Most of the folks who are turning out aren’t Walmart associates but instead union representatives and members. An overwhelming majority of our associates are excited about Black Friday and are ready to serve our customers. We’re proud of the job they do not only during this busy holiday time but also throughout the year.”
OUR Walmart has also filed complaints alleging that public statements made by Walmart executives have amounted to a threat to protesting employees. Walmart spokesman David Tovar this week warned on CBS Evening News of the possible consequences for employees walking off their scheduled shifts. “If associates are scheduled to work on Black Friday, we expect them to show up and to do their job. And if they don’t, depending on the circumstances, there could be consequences,” he said.
That statement angered some OUR Walmart members. “Some of my co-workers are afraid, but this kind of intimidation by Walmart management is an example of why we are going on strike. I know my rights and I’m not afraid to protest,” said Dan Hindman, a California Walmart worker and member of OUR Walmart.
Those protests look set to go ahead and range from walkouts to leafleting of shoppers as they crowd into stores in the hunt for bargains to stunts like “flash mobs” and other events.
They are currently planned in various cities in states that include California, Illinois, Texas, Maryland, Louisiana, Florida, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Wisconsin.
UK mobile operators are to take part in crunch talks over the roll-out of 4G in the country in an attempt to avoid further delays.
Read this article: UK networks in crunch 4G meeting
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Read the original here: Conax and KCCL Cooperation an India Digitization Success
Category : Stocks
SHENZHEN, CHINA and DUBLIN, IRELAND–(Marketwire – Aug 15, 2012) – Openet, a global leader of high performance transaction management software for network operators, and Huawei, a leading global information and communications technology solutions provider, today announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to jointly explore opportunities within the growing telecommunications market. Openet becomes the latest company to partner with Huawei’s mLAB to create new business models for global operators in the MBB (mobile broadband) era.
• Long-haul operators report 90% drop in advance bookings
• West End theatres offer cut-price tickets
• Exclusive restaurants have tables available
Call it the Olympic effect. From the smartest of hotels to sought-after theatre tickets to the best restaurants, the London 2012 Games are providing summer bookers with some unexpected bargains in one of the world’s most expensive cities.
Hotels in London are paying the price for pushing up their room rates for the Games: bookings are down by 35% after long-haul travel operators advised international visitors to go elsewhere this summer.
Visitors can now secure great bargains as hotels and theatres slash prices to compensate for a slump in bookings caused by the Olympics. Rooms in central hotels can be obtained for as much as 30% below the usual rates and tickets for some West End hits are being offered at half price.
Many hotels inflated the price of rooms for the summer, with some setting rates at up to three times the normal level in anticipation of demand from Olympic visitors. These inflated prices have had a devastating effect on advance bookings by long-haul tour operators, which bring visitors from countries such as the United States, Australia and Japan, who have spurned London in favour of other European capitals. A survey by the European Tour Operators’ Association last November showed that advance bookings for the Olympics period were down 90% compared with last year.
“When the Olympics are on, normal tourists are scared away because cities are perceived as expensive and too difficult to deal with,” said Tom Jenkins, executive director of the tour operators’ association. “This presents consumers with a big opportunity.”
Hotel bookings in the capital are down 35% in July and 30% in August, according to the latest published figures from hotel room wholesaler JacTravel, which books half a million London bed nights a year. This fall in demand is translating into bargain prices. “Rates during the Games [27 July to 12 August] have recently been falling from very inflated levels,” says JacTravel’s director of online, Angela Skelly. “Rates after the Games are currently 15%-20% down on the same period last year.”
Visitors who shop around can find even bigger reductions. The three-star Tudor Court hotel in Paddington has cut the price of its 38 rooms by an average of 33% between 12 August and 9 September. A double ensuite room for two, including breakfast, is available in this period for just £81 a night.
Even during the Olympics, the Tudor Court is charging only a 20% premium on top of its standard rates. “We originally increased our prices by an average of 80% for the Games,” says Conan Gupta, one of the hotel’s directors. “But we’ve had to cut them because our bookings for the Olympics period are down 50% on last year, and in August, when we’d expect to be full, it’s completely dead.”
Hotels in even the most central locations are cutting their prices. You can stay in the four-star Hilton Metropole, a stone’s throw from Madame Tussauds and Regent’s Park, on a Friday and Saturday in August for £160.08 a night. In September, the identical room will cost you £238.80.
The cost of seeing a London show in July and August has also fallen, as theatre seat bookings have slumped by 20% or more, according to Chris Ryan, director of marketing for Encore Tickets, which sells two million West End theatre tickets a year. Blockbuster shows such as Billy Elliot and Shrek The Musical are being heavily discounted.
“These shows would not normally offer any reductions during the summer, but 700 to 800 tickets to Billy Elliot are being offered each night Monday to Friday until 9 September at discounts of between 32% and 35%,” Ryan says.
The cheapest seats for Shrek the Musical are being discounted by 16%, while the most expensive tickets are available at a third off normal prices.
However, the biggest reductions are for shows that would attract some discount over the summer in any event. Tickets for The 39 Steps, for instance, are being offered from just £12.50, half the usual price, and the long-running Chicago is offering discounts throughout the summer of up to 40%.
“There is more availability because people are avoiding the Olympics,” says Francis Hellyer, managing director of Londontheatredirect.com, another booking agency, which also reports sales down by about a fifth. “We have around a third more offers than last year.”
Meanwhile, some of London’s most exclusive restaurants, which are frequently booked up way in advance, have plenty of availability during and after the games. Celebrity hangout Le Caprice has tables for dinner available on Thursday and Friday evenings throughout late July and all of August, while Gordon Ramsay’s Claridge’s restaurant is available for most sittings any day of the week. There are even tables to be had at Heston Blumenthal’s hugely popular Dinner.
“Bookings are definitely quieter for Le Caprice for August compared with last year,” says Jesus Adorno, a director of Caprice Holdings. “A lot of our customers go away during August and road closures around us for the Olympics are putting some regulars off as well.”