Google has released a new version of Chrome fitted with WebRTC. It is a collection of real-time communications protocols that includes everything to turn the browser into a high-end communications system. The browser-based calls will be clearer than mobile phone, as the former is equipped with built-in high-definition audio codecs. Mozilla and Opera are Google’s partners in this open project. Ericsson and Telefonica have already endorsed it.
Talk about coincidence. Just yesterday, on the train to Brussels, I just finished answering a series of questions sent by Voice & Data, the leading ICT industry publication in South Asia. This included a question on whether it would be possible for Indian telcos to do business in China. My answer was “China is a market that is still heavily controlled by the government. I see possibilities for Indian equipment/software/apps suppliers to enter, but believe it is premature to think of Indian operators entering the Chinese market like they have entered African or South Asian markets.
Last year, the Indian authorities relaxed their strictures on infrastructure sharing, allowing the sharing of active and passive infrastructure except spectrum. Now in more mature markets, there are moves to go even further. As growth stabilizes, governments and operators in emerging economies should start looking at this option. Two of the world’s largest cellphone operators, the Spanish company Telefónica and the British giant Vodafone, said Monday that they would share infrastructure in several European markets in an effort to cut costs and protect profit margins. The companies said in a statement that they had agreed to share networks in Britain, Germany, Ireland and Spain, and were in “detailed discussions” about doing so in the Czech Republic.
The battle for mobile customers in Latin America is hotting up as 319 million Latin Americans or 56% of the population already own a mobile phone. Telefonica of Spain and America Movil controlled by Mexican businessman Carlos Slim are going head-to-head to expand their market-share in South America and are increasingly targeting the “bottom of the pyramid.” The Race for Numero Uno in Latin Wireless (Businessweek November 27, 2006): More than 80% of Brazil’s mobile-telephone customers use prepaid service—buying cards to recharge their phones—rather than signing monthly contracts. América Móvil’s average client uses just 71 minutes of airtime each month, spending around $12.50.