Feeds

TeliaSonera joins Freemove Alliance

But is it enough to rescue the group?

Boost IT visibility and business value

Comment Finnish operator TeliaSonera has made a number of moves recently to compensate for its small home customer base by forming a web of roaming alliances abroad.

First came Wi-Fi oriented partnerships with NTT DoCoMo of Japan and others, with TeliaSonera the first European operator to trial WLan/cellular convergence using Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) technology. Now the company has joined the Freemove Alliance of large European cellcos – Telecom Italia, Orange and T-Mobile - which seeks to challenge Vodafone in corporate accounts by pooling resources for international roaming and services.

The addition of TeliaSonera, with its 19m mobile customers, mainly in Scandinavia and the Baltics, to Freemove’s 230m-strong base does not really compensate for the imminent departure of Telefonica, an EU-imposed condition of its acquisition of O2. The EU was concerned that, assuming O2 joined its new parent in Freemove, there would be anti-competitive implications in some markets, notably the UK, where three of the five 3G operators would be in Freemove.

While TeliaSonera will bring its increasing expansion in Russia and former Soviet states to the international footprint of the alliance, Telefonica had 88m mobile users worldwide and dominance of the Latin America sector, increasingly important to Freemove’s business traveller customer base. Indeed, with the departure of the Spanish giant and the move by Orange to form other alliances, notably with the US' Cingular, there are question marks over whether Freemove will survive at all.

Freemove performance so far

Like most attempts at grand telecoms alliances, Freemove has so far under-delivered on its promises. Its aim – like that of Starmap, an O2-led consortium of tier two cellcos, which could now be bolstered by the addition of Telefonica – is to provide coordinated services across borders for multinational businesses and corporate travellers. These services were touted as simpler and more uniform roaming tariffs across all the territories covered by members (primarily Europe, the US and, when Telefonica was still involved, Latin America); enhanced customer service with a single point of contact; and in future, more ambitious offerings such as cross-border managed mobility services or international service level agreements.

Member services are sold to corporate customers on an alliance level, rather than on a country by country basis, so that a multinational can negotiate a single deal covering their employees in all the countries where they operate (provided there is a Freemove member present in that country). In addition, the partners would use their combined weight to buy handsets and other products more cheaply and, in theory, pass on these savings to their premium customers. All this was designed to win additional business in the most sought after base in the saturating Europeanspace, the mobile enterprise, and to present a united front to Vodafone, which had taken an earlier start in leveraging its readymade international footprint to gain business market share, with offerings such as the simplified roaming tariff and access mechanisms of its Passport platform.

Roaming costs

But Freemove has failed to deliver what international companies place as their top priority when choosing a mobile provider – lower roaming tariffs, with uniformity across territories. It does offer significant simplification for companies used to negotiating a separate deal in each territory, but is lagging well behind Vodafone in this respect.

FreeMove’s roaming scheme is available for multinational corporations in the UK, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland and splits the world into a handful of geographical zones, each with a consistent call rate for calls made and received when users are roaming abroad, and for international calls made from their home countries.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Next page: Other alliances

More from The Register

next story
Déjà vu: Virgin Media jacks up broadband prices
Screw copper phone lines, we're UNIQUE, bleats telco
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
Netflix swallows yet another bitter pill, inks peering deal with TWC
Net neutrality crusader once again pays up for priority access
Fifteen zero days found in hacker router comp romp
Four routers rooted in SOHOpelessly Broken challenge
New Sprint CEO says he will lower axe on staff – but prices come first
'Very disruptive' new rates to be revealed next week
US TV stations bowl sueball directly at FCC's spectrum mega-sale
Broadcasters upset about coverage and cost as they shift up and down the dials
UK mobile coverage is BETTER than EVER, networks tell Ofcom
Regulator swallows this line and parrots it back out at us. What are they playing at?
What's the nature of your emergency, Vodafone?
Oh, you've dialled the wrong number for ad fibs, rules ASA
EE network whacked by 'PDP authentication failure' blunder
Carrier is 'aware' of cockup, working on a fix NOW
ROAD TRIP! An FCC road trip – Leahy demands net neutrality debate across US
You crashed watchdog's site, now time to crash its ears
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.