Worldwide IT Spending to Decline 1.3 Percent in 2015

Worldwide IT spending is set to shrink to $3.66 trillion in 2015, a 1.3 percent decrease from 2014, according to the latest forecast by Gartner. Gartner said that the rising dollar is chiefly responsible for the slowdown.

“We forecast U.S.-dollar-valued worldwide IT spending in 2015 to shrink by 1.3 percent, down from 2.4 percent growth forecast in last quarter’s update. However, this is not a crash, even if it looks like one. The recent rapid rise in the value of the U.S. dollar against most currencies has put a currency shock into the global IT market. Taking out the impact of exchange rate movements, the corresponding constant-currency growth figure is 3.1 percent, only off 0.6 percent from last quarter’s update. Such are the illusions that large swings in the value of the dollar versus other currencies can create.”

Said John-David Lovelock, research vice president at Gartner.

“However, this illusion masks a bigger issue that has real implications. Every product or service that has a U.S. dollar-based component must have those costs covered at the lower exchange rate. The simple implication is that there will be price rises. However, there are many other market forces at work – protecting U.S. dollar profits will require a nuanced and multifaceted approach involving pricing, partners and product management.”

Said Mr. Lovelock.

The Gartner Worldwide IT Spending Forecast is the leading indicator of major technology trends across the hardware, software, IT services and telecom markets. For more than a decade, global IT and business executives have been using these highly anticipated quarterly reports to recognize market opportunities and challenges, and base their critical business decisions on proven methodologies rather than guesswork.

The U.S. dollar spending on devices (including PCs, ultramobiles, mobile phones, tablets and printers) for 2015 is forecast to decline 1.2 percent to $685 billion. Spending for all devices in 2015 was revised down partly due to a slowdown in PC purchases in Western Europe, Russia and Japan, countries where local currency has devalued against the dollar. The mobile phone market is not as affected by the currency shifts. Substantial change in the phone mix in emerging markets toward lower-priced smartphones negates price increases of premium phones, resulting in flat phone average selling prices between 2014 and 2015.

Data center system spending is projected to reach $142 billion in 2015, an increase of just 0.4 percent from 2014. External controller-based storage, enterprise network equipment and servers have all been impacted by the depreciation of some local currencies against the U.S. dollar, but the server segment has seen the biggest impact due to the greater pricing pressure that server vendors are exposed to, due to their relatively lower margins.

Spending in the enterprise software market is on pace to total $320 billion in 2015, a 2.3 percent increase from 2014. Nevertheless, this is a downward revision from the last forecast and is the result of a substantial reduction in the forecast for office suite spending, reflecting the acceleration of Office 365 adoption. Office 365 is disrupting traditional revenue flows. Its cost is prorated over the life of the subscription, resulting in significantly lower revenue growth as users transition away from the on-premises model.

IT services spending will contract slightly to $942 billion in 2015, down from $948 billion in 2014. The largest reductions were made in implementation services, particularly in the U.S. Although the oil and gas industry is only 1 percent of the IT services market, oil and gas buyers historically react quickly when their prices drop, often cutting back on spending 20 percent or more. Because the U.S. is a large oil producer and a large market for IT services, the largest spending reductions on services is expected to take place in the U.S. through 2015 and 2016, with an early impact on implementation services.

Growth in spending on telecom services is predicted to shrink by 2.6 percent in 2015, to total $1.57 trillion. Among the more prominent changes affecting multiple regions were reductions in total connections for developed markets such as the U.S. and several Western European nations, as growth in data-only connected devices and multi-SIM connections were not as high as previously expected.

Azercell Increases Number of Base Stations

Azercell Telecom continues to retain its position as the leading Azerbaijani mobile operator of the country for the number of subscribers and quality of service.

High quality communication provided by Azercell Telecom means a possibility for a subscriber to contact his close ones easily, irrespective of the place and time of the day.

With over 169 2G/3G Radio Base Stations installed and 3G network capacity improved to highest level (48 percent countrywide, 92 percent in Baku) in 2014, Azercell commissioned 72 base stations more in the first quarter of the year.

The company has further improved its network by installing 5 3G base stations in January, 15 in February and 30 in March. In addition, the leading mobile operator of Azerbaijan has installed 22 2G base stations in the country.

In general, Azercell has 2,660 units of 2G, 1760 units of 3G and 257 units of 4G base stations. Continuously improving its network to provide subscribers with high-level service, Azercell operates with 4,677 base stations.

It should be noted that Azercell Telecom, standing out with the largest and strongest network and high quality service, has advanced its network by 25 percent during the past two years.

Having brought a number of innovative concepts to Azerbaijan, Azercell was the first to introduce GSM technology, GPRS/EDGE and 4G network in the country. 3G and 4G laboratories have been established at several universities with company’s initiative.

Azercell Telecom will continue to ensure its subscribers benefit from the latest technological innovations and advantages of high quality communication systems.

Azercell Telecom LLC was founded in 1996 and since the first years sustains a leading position on the market. Azercell introduced number of technological innovations in Azerbaijan: GSM technology, advance payment mobile services, GPRS/EDGE, 24/7 Customer Care, full-time operating Azercell Express offices, mobile e-service “ASAN imza” (ASAN signature) and others.


Orange Armenia Unveils New Pre-Paid Service

Orange Group-owned Orange Armenia has launched a new pre-paid service, available to both new and existing customers, and comprising three distinct PAYG bundles to suit their specific needs. The cellco’s ‘Orange 500’ bundle includes 500 on-net voice call minutes and 50MB of mobile internet downloads, while ‘Orange 1000’ includes 1,000 on-net minutes and 50MB of high speed internet access and ten minutes of international voice calls to a ‘preferred’ country. Meanwhile, customers who sign up for ‘Orange 1500’ receive 1,000 on-net minutes and 500MB of mobile internet data, after which they can continue using the web, albeit with the speed capped at 256kbps. All three bundles are valid for 30 days and are reactivated automatically.

Orange Armenia launched on 5 November 2009, since when it has invested more than EUR277 million (USD293 million) in its operations, including EUR51 million for its licence, and today provides a full range of voice and data services to more than 97% of the Armenian population.


MTS Turkmenistan Launches MTS Music, MTS Video Services

Mobile operator MTS Turkmenistan plans to introduce the new MTS Music and MTS Video services from 20 April. MP3 and real-tone tracks will be offered under the MTS Music service, which carries an access fee of TMT 0.4261 for each visit to the portal. The MTS Video service provides access to a video catalogue, also at a cost of TMT 0.4261 per visit. 

Sky Mobile Resumes White-Label Smartphone Sales

Mobile operator Sky Mobile, working under the Beeline Kyrgyzstan brand, has resumed sales of the Beeline Smart white-label smartphone, featuring a 4-inch touch-screen and 3.2 megapixel main camera with flash. The device is powered by a dual-core 1.3 GHz processor and the Android 4.4 OS and supports Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and 3G. It was first presented in Kyrgyzstan at the end of 2014. Subscribers buying the device are offered 1.5-GB of mobile internet traffic.

Nokia Networks

Nokia Networks Demonstrates Latest Innovations in 5G, LTE-A, Security at MWC-Revisited

Nokia Networks is demonstrating its latest innovations announced at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2015 in the areas of 5G, security, Liquid Applications, big data and analytics, and Small Cells. These demonstrations take place at the company’s Center of Competence in Islamabad and Lahore this week.

Saeed Qadri, Country General Manager, Nokia Networks, said:

“Pakistan is an important market, and we are committed to helping the country build a reliable, secure, next-generation mobile broadband infrastructure for data traffic that, compared to 2010, will grow 1000 times by 2020, as per Nokia prediction. Accordingly, we are showcasing to all operators here how our latest innovations can help them improve network capacity, speed and coverage for better mobile broadband experience and penetration across the country.”

Nokia Networks demonstrations at a glance:

5G mobile broadband: The company demonstrates future 5G technology for ultra-fast mobile broadband with low latency for applications such as tactile internet, connected cars and industrial automation. It also showcases LTE-M for connected cars, wearables and smart grid connectivity.

LTE-A: Nokia Networks’ TD-LTE-A 3.5 GHz (band 42) radio uses 8-pipe technology that delivers up to two times more downlink and uplink throughput compared to 2-path/4-path radios, enabling larger coverage area and reducing the Total Cost of Ownership by up to 30%. 3.5 GHz 8-pipe radio delivers high 160 W transmit power.

Security: Mobile Guard is a network-based malware detection system for mobile devices. Its analytics engine listens to and analyzes mobile broadband and SMS traffic and searches for malware traffic patterns and profile deviations in smartphones and tablets.

Liquid Applications: Throughput guidance is a use case powered by Liquid Applications. It analyzes user plane and control plane traffic to derive throughput guidance for upstream content sources. For the first time ever, content providers can experience network conditions in real time and adapt their delivery behavior.

Predictive marketing analytics: This offline demonstration showcases the power of combining customer experience insight based on the Customer Experience Index with Mobile Marketing Suite for 1) insights on customer experience and buying behavior, 2) algorithms to predict customer actions, 3) automated interactions and offers with personalized content, and 4) outcome measured in-real time. All of this is shown with a user-friendly interface to illustrate two marketing use cases – personalized up-sell and churn reduction.

Emergency Alert Solution: This demonstration shows a typical emergency alert scenario where one sees how the alert is created, emergency area defined, and subscriber data is used to convey potentially life-saving information and alerts to people known to be in the emergency area.

Additional important demonstrations include: telco cloud, Services for HetNets, 3-D Geolocation, Multi-layer optimization, Small Cell perfection, HetNet solutions, OTT analytics and Dynamic Experience Management.

According to Nokia’s Technology Vision 2020, mobile users will consume up to 1 GB per user per day of personalized data when we reach the year 2020. With enhancements in network and device technology, it is possible to deliver this amount of data profitably without compromising on customer experience.


M1 Launches VoLTE on LTE-A Network

Singapore mobile operator M1 Limited (M1) says its Long Term Evolution-Advanced (LTE-A) network now supports voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) calls, dubbed 4G Voice, which customers on 4G plans will be able to enjoy at no additional charge. The cellco’s ultra-high speed network supports peak data rates of 300Mbps which will allow for higher quality voice communications, compared to standard voice calls. In a press release, M1 confirmed that the new 4G Voice feature is designed to work seamlessly between M1’s 3G and 4G networks, to deliver uninterrupted conversation to customers. Commenting on the upgrade, M1 chief operating officer Patrick Scodeller, said:

“Following a period of extensive testing, we are pleased to make available 4G Voice calls to our customers. We are sure our customers will appreciate the enhanced voice call quality and the ease of use of the feature.”

Middle East and Africa Tablet Market Posts Healthy Growth but Slowdown Looms

The Middle East and Africa (MEA) tablet market recorded robust year on year growth in the final quarter of 2014, with holiday purchases and aggressive end of year promotions spurring a particularly strong performance in the consumer segment. The latest figures released today by global advisory services firm International Data Corporation (IDC) show that the overall MEA tablet market grew 26.1% year on year in Q4 2014 to total 4.43 million units, with the activities of several Far East manufacturers spurring significant annual growth in shipments of Android (33%) and Windows (131%) tablets.

“The telco channel experienced its highest ever rate of growth during the final quarter of 2014. There are a couple of reasons behind this growth – in South Africa, Vodacom, one of the biggest telecom operators in the country, introduced its own tablet and shipped approximately 170,000 units during the quarter, while in Turkey, local vendor Casper shipped around 100,000 tablets through the telco channel.”

Says Victoria Mendes, a research analyst at IDC Middle East, Africa, and Turkey.

Year-on-year growth of 16% saw Samsung continue as the leading vendor in MEA, with the Korean giant shipping a total of 886,000 units to the region in Q4 2014. And despite suffering a decline of 11%, Apple retained second place in the market, with shipments totaling 580,000 units. Lenovo remained in third position, but with year-on-year unit growth of 100% and volumes totaling 572,000 units for the quarter, the vendor is extremely likely to overtake Apple at some point during 2015. Asus maintained its fourth position despite shipments falling 7% to 206,000 units, while Turkish vendor Casper increased its shipments 80% to 180,000 units on the back of strong growth in the consumer and education segments.

“Moving forward, the MEA tablet market is expected to see a significant slowdown in growth. This has become particularly evident since the start of the new year, with the MEA market set to experience its first ever quarter-on-quarter decline in Q1 2015 amid intensifying competition from smartphones and phablets. Nevertheless, the MEA tablet market is still forecast to post double-digit growth for 2015 as a whole, while other regions around the world will experience much bigger slowdowns or even declines. The consumer segment will remain the major contributor to this growth, but we also expect to see a huge contribution from the commercial segment in 2015, with education deals being a major driver.”

Says Fouad Charakla, a research manager at IDC Middle East, Africa, and Turkey.


Dhiraagu Expands 3G Footprint to 21 Additional Islands

Dhivehi Raajjeyge Gulhun (Dhiraagu), the Maldives’ incumbent telecoms operator, has revealed that it has expanded coverage of its 3G network to an additional 21 islands since the start of this year. High speed data services are now available on the islands of Thoddu, Himandhoo, Dhigurah, Goidhoo, Hithaadhoo, Maaeboodhoo, Hulhudheli, Bilehdhoo, Vashafaru, Finey, Neykurendhoo, Dhiffushi, Raimandhu, Dhiggaru, Maakurathu, Bilehffahi, Narudhoo, Kandoodhu, Buruni, Rakeedhu and Fulidhoo. The telecoms operator is aiming to provide broadband coverage to all inhabited islands of the Maldives by the end of the year.

“This is the most important project for the year and all works are being carried out at expedited speeds, as a result we have already launched services in 21 islands since beginning of this year. We have now completed over 25% of the project work and we are certain to complete the full project before end of the year.”

Dhiraagu’s Director of Networks, Mohamed Musad, said. 

The company claims that its 3G and 4G LTE networks provide a combined population coverage of 96%.


Apple Releases iOS 8.3 and Allows Wifi Calling

EE was breaking out the bubbly this evening and no doubt inundating Tim Cook with smiley emojis after Apple released the iOS 8.3 software update. The patch fixes a litany of minor glitches but, crucially for EE, also enables wifi calling, which the operator itself only launched this week.

Prior to the iOS 8.3 release wifi calling was only available to EE customers who had either one of the  Samsung Galaxy S6s or the Lumia 640, so this development dramatically increases the reach for the new EE service as is enables it on all the iPhone 6 and iPhone 5 devices.

An EE spokesperson informed us this means around 5 million UK subscribers will have access to wifi calling once they install the update and enable it on their phone, and added:

“Starting today, iPhone customers on EE can make and receive high quality calls over WiFi and send text messages, using their own phone number with no need to use an app – great for when a mobile signal is unavailable.”

Note the emphasis on making a distinction between this and an OTT app such as WhatsApp. As the comments section of our original story on EE wifi calling illustrates there is still a fair bit of confusion over the significance of the service and how it is materially different to all the other ways you can use wifi, rather than a cellular connection, to communicate via your phone.


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