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Hutch claims consumers will forget their PCs

16 апреля 2008

Telco bullish on mobile Internet; plans to launch HSPA version of Skypephone, but dismisses WiMAX.

As the mobile Internet goes mass-market, consumers will start to abandon their fixed terminals, according to Hutchison Europe.

In 10 years people will forget that the PC used to be their main way of accessing the Internet, predicted Christian Salbaing, managing director of Hutchison Europe, umbrella company for the various 3 mobile operations in the region.

"It's a challenge, but we'll get there," Salbaing told delegates at the Telecom World Congress in
London on Tuesday.

"My kids don't know what an LP is," he said, referring to the migration of pre-recorded music from vinyl to CD and now MP3.

More advanced networks and handsets, along with flat-rate data tariffs and a customer-friendly roaming environment will be the main drivers of mass-market mobile Internet usage.

There are already handsets on the market catering to differing needs, Salbaing noted, listing the Nokia N95 with its powerful camera, Sony Ericsson's range of music phones and the iPhone, which he said can "do it all with a better interface".

There is also a need for full-functionality for the value segment, Salbaing said, using 3's Skypephone as an example.

"The HSPA version of the Skypephone is coming in the coming two or three months," said Salbaing.

3 has increased network speed to 7.2 Mbps in most European markets now, Salbaing said.
"In 2009 this will have doubled to 14.4 Mbps.

But Salbaing was nonplussed when it comes to WiMAX.

"We're pretty much technology-agnostic," he said. "[But] WiMAX is not a full mobility solution for us today."

He suggested that it might be an option in future, for backhaul, or to extend coverage to particular areas, but said that at present the company is happy with the network it has.
"Why try a new solution," he said.

Our networks are IP-based, therefore it is logical to offer VoIP, Salbaing said.

"For us Skype is an incremental revenue stream," he added. "We certainly haven't seen any of the cannibalisation that was predicted."

Salbaing dismissed suggestions from the audience that 3's approach to mobile data – by partnering with the major brands like Skype, Yahoo, MSN and so on – carries the risk of turning into a bitpipe.

A couple of years ago, all the mobile operators had the same handsets, technologies and business models, he said.
Now, operators are now taking differing approaches to their customers and five years from now, "there will be a differentiation between operators," he insisted.

"Is that a bitpipe? I don't think so."

Ultimately though, Salbaing says that customers have a finite amount to spend on communications.

"[The question is], where are the revenues in this?" Salbaing asked. Customers have somewhere between £15 and £50 to spend per month, "whichever way you cut it."

The customer does not see the distinction between operator, content provider and bitpipe, he explained. If the customer doesn't get what they want, "they'll switch," he said.

Источник: Total Telecom

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