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A Major Milestone in the Region’s Telco Space: Gulf Bridge International Successfully Completes its First Cable Landing in the UAE

March 15, 2011 1 comment

(ME NewsWire) — Doha,Qatar — In a milestone achievement, Gulf Bridge International (GBI), the Middle East’s first privately owned submarine cable operator, has announced the landing of its cable at Fujairah in the UAE. The cable will connect to du’s landing station.

To be launched later this year, the GBI Cable System is a high capacity, fiber-optic communications cable which will connect all the countries of the Gulf region to each other and provide onward connectivity to Europe, Africa and Asia. The cable landing in Fujairah is the first of ten planned cable landings around the Gulf region.  This connectivity will ensure that the GBI Cable System will offer the most comprehensive geographic reach of any subsea network in the region.

Board Member and CEO of Gulf Bridge International, Mr. Ahmed Mekky commenting on the achievement said “Today’s landing is another significant step towards the launch of the GBI Cable System, which was designed and built to position the Middle East as strategic communications hub between the mature markets of Europe and North America and the rapidly growing markets of Asia and Africa.”

“We are committed to our vision of Connecting the World to the Gulf. GBI will offer our customers greater choice, value, diversity and resilience. We are also glad to work hand in hand with a number of outstanding companies such as ‘Du’, who are going to help us realize this vision.” Mr. Mekky added.

Farid Faraidooni, Chief Commercial Officer, du, said: “We welcome the landing of GBI’s state-of-the-art submarine cable on our shores. This is momentous both from a commercial and a customer point of view. Once operational, it will not only expand choice of connectivity but more importantly will significantly enhance redundancy in operations. We congratulate GBI on this achievement and look forward to the day when the cable system is launched.”

Over the next few months, the cable ship, “Responder”, will be working in the Gulf waters with a fleet of other specialized ships, to continue the installation process of the GBI Cable System, which is configured as a self-healing ring within the Gulf. The GBI Cable System deploys several state-of-the-art technologies, such as the new dual-stage repeaters and wavelength monitoring units that guarantee flawless and error-free operations throughout the entire system.

About Gulf Bridge International

GulfBridgeInternational (GBI) is a private company dedicated to connecting all the nations of the Gulf region to one another and to the rest of the world, using the latest fiber optic technologies. The GBI cable will be developed and owned by GCC investors who are building this strategic infrastructure to serve the entire region. GBI intends to be the carrier’s carrier of choice for traffic to and from the Gulf, facilitating social and economic growth in the region.

For more information, please visit www.GBIinc.com

About du

du, the integrated telecom service provider in the UAE, launched mobile telecommunication services in February 2007 across the UAE, in addition to internet and pay TV services that du provides in some of the free zones of Dubai. Call Select, du’s nationwide fixed line services for voice telephony, was launched in July 2007. By the end of 3rd quarter of 2010, over 4 million people in the UAE had chosen to become du mobile customers.

Among du’s many firsts is its historic Number Booking Campaign for both individuals and business, Pay by the Second billing system, Mobile TV, Mobile Payments, first of its kind ‘WoW’ recharge card (which offers customers the choice between ‘more credit’, ‘more time’ and now the ‘more international’ recharge option with additional credit on international calls) and Self Care.

For business customers, du business offers include Closed Business User Group and preferred International Destinations. du Broadcast Services division brings scalable media technology platforms and telecommunication solutions to the broadcast community through its world-class teleport (Samacom) and Master Control Room (MCR) facilities.

du products and services for consumers and business are available through du’s retail network, currently numbering 37 du shops located in strategic locations across the UAE, including the recently opened flagship store located in the heart of Abu Dhabi. In addition, customers can access du products and services at more than 3000 authorised dealers or through the du e-shop, accessible at http://shop.du.aedu shops are a one-stop-shop for mobile service, carrier select and the payment of service bills.

du is 39.5 per cent owned by the UAE Federal Government, 19.75 per cent by Mubadala Development Company, 19.5 per cent by Emirates Communications & Technology Company LLC and the remaining stake by public shareholders. It is listed on the Dubai Financial Market (DFM) and trades under the name du.

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Apple to launch iPad 2 today

(Beirut Business Review) — You wouldn’t think that Apple, the largest and most hyped-up tech company on the planet, would have anything left to prove. But Wednesday’s iPad 2 announcement will be an important test for the company.

A year ago, when Apple introduced the iPad, it was the first tablet of its kind on the market. Now there are as many iPad competitors as Dalmatians. Meanwhile, the iPad has become a critical revenue stream for the company — so there’s far less margin for error.

And one more thing: Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) will likely be without its charismatic leader at the San Francisco event, which kicks off at 1 p.m. ET. Steve Jobs remains on a medical leave of absence. Investors will be keeping a close eye on the presenters to evaluate how the company is being led in Jobs’ stead.

That’s not an insignificant amount of pressure.

“This event is not to be taken lightly,” said Brian White, analyst at Ticonderoga Securities. “Apple must make a convincing case for why the iPad 2 is better than the plethora of competitors coming to market.”

Increased competition: The good and the bad news for Apple is that the year-old iPad still rates highly among even its newest rivals.

That’s good news, because Apple should again have the best-in-its-class tablet if the iPad 2 is as improved as the rumors say it will be.

But that’s also bad news: How much thinner, lighter, faster, better — and perhaps most importantly, cheaper — can the iPad get? Did Apple shoot itself in the foot by making its first generation tablet too good?

Tim Cook, Phil Schiller or whichever Apple executive introduces the iPad 2 will need to offer some impressive specs, lest Apple fans walk away disappointed.

Rival tablets have front- and rear-facing cameras, dual-core processors, four times as much RAM as the iPad, HDMI output and Adobe Flash support. Other than Flash, Apple is expected to at least meet all of its competition’s features — and to significantly slim down iPad 2 compared to the original.

If that’s all Apple does, its fans will probably be unimpressed. Apple may need to have something “magical” up its sleeve, as Jobs likes to say, to wow its potential customers.

Though it’s not facing a whole lot of price pressure from its rivals, cost will also be an important factor. Only the 32 gigabyte $599 Motorola Xoom tablet gives the iPad a real run for its money in cost: It is a full $130 cheaper (if you shell out for a a required Verizon data plan) than the similarly sized $729 iPad 3G, which has an optional data plan for an additional price.

With a strong marketing campaign and hype-machine behind the Xoom, Apple may opt to drop the price of the iPad 2. Alternatively, some analysts expect Apple to slash the cost of the original iPad and keep iPad 2 prices steady.

The importance of the iPad: Getting it right is so crucial because Apple is becoming increasingly reliant on the revenue it generates from iPad sales.

In 2010, Apple sold $9.6 billion worth of iPads, which represented 12.5% of Apple’s revenue. That surpassed iPods and iMacs in net revenue. Not too shabby for a device that Apple started selling in April.

And while Apple’s Macintosh computers have always struggled for traction in the business world, the iPad is generating strong crossover interest from business customers. Around 80% of Fortune 100 companies have deployed the tablet for their employees.

“The iPad is a critical device to Apple,” said Colin Gillis, analyst at BGC Partners. “The iPad is remaking a landscape for consumers, and it’s even making its way into the enterprise.”

The Jobs factor: It’s unlikely that Steve Jobs will be presenting the iPad this year (though he’s reportedly definitely maybe thinking about the possibility of going there, perhaps).

Jobs was not present at the unveiling of the iPhone 3GS, deferring to Phil Schiller, Apple’s marketing head. Everything went swimmingly, and Apple’s shares rose nearly $5 after he began his presentation.

But this is Jobs’ third leave of absence in seven years. Investors are concerned about the company’s future post-Jobs. Some shareholders are clamoring for a succession plan, and people want to know how the company is being run without Jobs overseeing day-to-day operations.

All of that will be scrutinized on Wednesday.
“With this company, every piece of minutia analyzed to nth degree, sometimes to levels that are not rational,” Gillis said. “People are very concerned about Steve.”

Android 3.0 SDK Now Available to All Developers

February 23, 2011 1 comment

The full SDK for Android 3.0 or Honeycomb, the branch of Android aimed specifically at tablets, is now available to developers.

The APIs are final, and the developers are now free to create apps targeting Honeycomb and publish them on the Android Market.

The SDK comes just in time as one of the first Android 3.0-sporting tablets, the Motorola Xoom, is about to hit the stores tomorrow. It may not have Flash just yet, but at least users will be able to enjoy some new, Android 3.0-specific apps on their shiny new tablet.

You can learn about the new features in Honeycomb over at the Android platform highlights.

[via Android Developers]

Facebook Enabled on all Types of Handsets without Connection or Subscription

(BUSINESS WIRE/ME NewsWire) – BARCELONA, Spain Mobile World Congress 2011

Gemalto, the world leader in digital security, announced Facebook for SIM, which enables anyone to enjoy the service on all handsets, even if without a data connection or data subscription. With this announcement, Gemalto brings Facebook to millions of mobile phone users regardless of their handset type.

“Increasingly people want to be able to stay connected and communicate with their friends on Facebook anytime, anywhere,” said Henri Moissinac, Head of Mobile Business, Facebook.“Gemalto has developed a creative solution in Facebook for SIM that enables people without mobile data plans to stay connected to their friends on Facebook in an affordable way.”

Gemalto’s software development team has embedded the software application into the SIM. This ensures the Facebook application is compatible with 100% of SIM-compliant mobile phones.

The innovative solution provides mobile subscribers with simple and convenient access to core Facebook features such as friend requests, status updates, wall posts or messages. It also offers unique functions: people can sign up for this service and log in directly from the SIM application. Interactive Facebook messages pop-up on the phone’s screen so people can always share up-to-the-minute posts and events. One can also automatically search their SIM phonebook for other friends and send them requests.

Facebook for SIM is extremely easy to use and is available to everyone. No data contract or application download is needed, because the software is embedded in the SIM and it uses SMS technology. As a result, it works for prepaid as well as for pay-monthly customers. Following an initial limited free trial period, Facebook for SIM then operates on a subscription model via an unlimited pass for a given period of time.

“Facebook for SIMenables operators to leverage two of their main assets: the SMS to communicate with the web application and the SIM for application distribution to the masses,” added Philippe Vallée, Executive Vice President, Gemalto. “Over 200 million people already use Facebook on handsets and those are twice as active as non-mobile users1. By providing anytime, anywhere availability to the social network, Gemalto delivers on the growing demand for mobile connectivity all over the world.”

Full Story: http://me-newswire.net/news/3115/en

HootSuite Releases iPad App for Social Media Management

HootSuite for iPad has arrived. With the release, the startup, which makes social media dashboards for web and mobile, has ported its business-targeted product for social media management across multiple services to the Apple device.

HootSuite for iPad includes support for multiple Twitter, Facebook (profiles and Pages) and Foursquare accounts, message scheduling, Twitter search, geo-location and click statistics. The application also offers a quick import option for existing HootSuite users looking to sync accounts.

The design of the application mirrors the column approach of other HootSuite products, and includes a stationary left-hand sidebar with a list of all streams being tracked.

HootSuite for iPad looks to be the perfect companion application for existing business users of the service who wish to manage their presence on a larger mobile screen. The multipurpose nature of the application might also help attract new users.

Just like the startup’s other mobile applications, HootSuite for iPad is free with usage limitations governed by the company’s previously introduced freemium business model.