29 Jul 2013

Inmarsat, Orange, Total and Ubuntu all making waves in the MEA market in recent days...

>> Satellite operator Inmarsat has announced the successful launch of Alphasat, its largest bird to date, from a base at Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana.
The company claims Alphasat is “one of the most technically advanced telecommunications satellites ever constructed for civilian applications,” weighing in with a $350m investment from Inmarsat.
The project is the largest Public-Private-Partnership space project in Europe, between the European Space Agency and Inmarsat to create new services and jobs but was also an initiative to develop a new spacecraft platform (Alphabus) capable of carrying a large state of the art communications payload.
Satellites are relied on by the world’s shipping, oil exploration, defence, aviation and media industries and are becoming increasingly popular in both mature and developing markets as a means of backhauling small cell connections in remote or rural areas.
Rupert Pearce, CEO of Inmarsat, said: “Alphasat will strengthen our existing I-4 series satellite constellation, providing coverage over Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The launch demonstrates Inmarsat’s long-term commitment to L-band services.”
The team will place the satellite into its final geostationary orbit position on Friday night, with the satellite set to be in operation on July 31.

>> Orange and oil and gas group Total have forged a partnership in Africa and the Middle East, providing access to Orange Money services at all Total service stations in the regions, spanning a total of 13 countries to date.
Orange said customers will benefit from the density of the Total distribution network, with its service stations open for extended hours seven days a week. Customers will be able to open anOrange Money account on site and perform withdrawals and deposits. The system enables users to transfer money from mobile to mobile, pay bills and withdraw and deposit money through a network of certified distributors.
This first stage of the partnership is already operational in Senegal and Cameroon, and will go live in over 1,300 service stations in the 11 other countries (Botswana, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Jordan, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Morocco, Niger, Senegal and Uganda) where both groups are present in the second half of 2013. A second stage will follow, which should enable Orange Money customers to pay for purchases made in Total service stations using their mobile account.

>> Open source developer and Linux house Ubuntu has turned to crowdfunding to get its latest mobile project off the ground. Parent company Canonical is hoping to raise $32m by August 21 to kick start manufacture of a high end smartphone that doubles as a desktop PC.
The Ubuntu Edge will dual boot both Ubuntu’s forthcoming mobile OS as well as Android and while packaged as a smart phone, turns into a desktop PC when connected to a monitor. Telecoms.com is sure this has been tried before, perhaps by Palm?) in the days before tablets became popular.
But the Edge does have some power under the hood. Able to support the full fledged Ubuntu desktop interface, it sports a multi-core CPU, 4GB RAM and 128GB storage, putting it up there with some netbooks.
Android support was selected because of the significant developer community but there’s also a large Ubuntu Linux developer base to exploit as well. “On day one, you’ll be able to launch the Ubuntu desktop from within Android using our existing Ubuntu for Android app. That integration is fully functional today,” the company said.
Still, it’s a big ask for the Indiegogo crowdfunding site, which to date has seen $1.6m raised for its most popular project – a Star Trek style medical scanner. At the time of writing, the Edge had raised more than $3.2m but still needs to increase that tenfold within 30 days.
“All of the funding we receive goes directly towards producing the device for expected delivery in May 2014,” Canonical said.
Ubuntu parent Canonical is already trying to make waves in the mobile space with a mobile specific version of its OS, having established the Carrier Advisory Group last month. The group is led by David Wood, a former Psion engineer and one of the founder members of the original Symbian collaboration.
A number of large operators, including MTN, China Unicom, LG UPlus, SK Telecom and Korea Telecom from Asia Pacific and Deutsche Telekom, EE, Telecom Italia and Portugal Telecom from Europe have already signed. 

The above articles were first published in telecoms.com

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