Buzz continues in Barcelona despite downturn

Telecom Asia Staff
17 Mar 2009

The Congress was full of big announcements, but none bigger than Verizon Wireless revealing the long-awaited winners for its LTE deployment contracts. Overlooking Nortel in the first major 4G equipment deal. Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent were named the radio access providers while Nokia Siemens Networks and Alcatel-Lucent will provide an IMS layer.

Next-gen mobile broadband is a key ticket, if not the ticket, out of the global economic slump, according to a GSM Association panel calling for regulators to develop frameworks and spectrum policies encouraging mobile broadband investment.

Development economist Jeffery Sachs, director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University, said the mobile industry would play a key role in economic recovery as governments needed to look for new ways to restimulate the economy.

'The mobile sector will be resilient, and will drive important innovation in vital services, energy saving and sustainability,' Sachs said at a GSMA press conference.
Sachs' comments echoed previous claims by the GSMA even before the current crisis that mobile investment is a key tool that governments can use to boost their GDPs.

The GSMA's press corps was working overtime, with a number of significant alliances and initiatives announced. 

In what may be its most popular move with consumers to date, the GSM Association has won backing from 17 cellcos and manufacturers to create a universal phone charger by the start of 2012.

The so-called universal charging solution (UCS) initiative, announced at the Mobile World Congress, is billed chiefly as a green project, as the charger will be designed to be energy-efficient. The GSMA says the UCS would result in an estimated 50% reduction in standby energy consumption, and would potentially eliminate up to 51,000 tons of duplicate chargers.
GSMA also announced new remittance partners for its mobile money transfer program.  The GSMA said it had forged partnerships with Belgacom International Carrier Services (Belgacom ICS) and its technology partner eServGlobal. It has chosen the Royal Bank of Scotland Group(RBS Group) as a remittance partner and is working with them to finalize the offering.

The GSMA said that the new partnerships complemented what it says is a successful alliance with Western Union Company over the past 18 months. 

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has given $12.5 million to the GSM Association's Mobile Money for the Unbanked (MMU) program, which offers micro-finance and other services to millions of people in the developing world through mobile phones. It works with mobile operators, banks, micro-finance institutions, government and development organizations to make available banking services to 'the unbanked'.

The world now has a few more Android handsets, with the debut of three new smartphones. While HTC's was the loudest, the most interesting Android phone was arguably the one from a no-name company - and it's not even 3G.

New York-based General Mobile showcased its DSTL1 handset in Barcelona in conjunction with YuHua TelTech, a Shanghai-based design firm that specializes in smartphone designs and Linux-based mobile operating systems, including Android. YuHua designed the DSTL1 for General Mobile.

Quieter but upbeat
The question on everyone's mind leading up the Mobile World Congress was how much of an impact the economic downturn would have on turnout and the overall mood.

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