Austrian mobile operators consolidate, but a new player is on the horizon

The country’s smallest operator, 3, just grew significantly through the acquisition of number-three player Orange. However, regulatory approval was conditional on a new entrant taking hold later this year, and number-two player T-Mobile is also deeply unhappy about aspects of the takeover.

Try, try, try again: will ad-funded mobile ever work?

New mobile data service Samba has launched in the U.K. with a novel idea — agree to watch a few ads, and it will give you free data. But while the company hopes it’s on track for glory, the path it’s taking is littered with bodies.

Everything’s Relative, Especially Wireless Broadband Speeds

Swedish wireless companies, in an effort to satisfy the nation’s consumer ombudsman, have come up with what they’re hoping is a better representation of wireless broadband speeds, what they’ve dubbed the “practical maximum speed.” In most countries, network operators advertise their wireless speeds based on the maximum levels achieved in the lab, which is the equivalent of advertising the maximum amount of weight lost by people shown in weight-loss commercials as typical. But in reality, wireless broadband speeds depend on several constantly changing variables, such as how far a person is from a tower and how many people are on the network at any point in time.

So to help consumers get a better sense of what they’re really buying, earlier this month, the ombudsman, Gunnar Larsson, said that Tele2, Telenor, Telia and 3 shouldn’t be allowed to advertise theoretical maximum speeds. Using the maximum speeds for an HSPA network, for example, means operators are advertising speeds of up to 7.2 Mbps down. But I’m not convinced the Swedish operators are being all that transparent with their ombudsman, either, for they have decided that the “practical maximum speed” of an HSPA network is some 6 Mbps. Read More about Everything’s Relative, Especially Wireless Broadband Speeds

3 of UK Marries Itself to Skype; Shakes Up the Mobile Market

Ever since Skype’s iPhone client enabled Skype-to-Skype calls (and send IMs) for free over Wi-Fi, I’ve been wondering what the next step towards the mobilization of Skype would be. The answer came today by the way of 3 UK, a 3G wireless operator. The company unveiled a new $3, Skype-enabled SIM card that will allow anyone to make Skype-to-Skype calls and send IMs from any phone on 3’s wireless broadband network. Of course, for the service to work, mobile subscribers would have to buy 3’s data plans, which are often more expensive than those just for voice. Skype accounts for 1.5 million minutes on the 3 network everyday. Read More about 3 of UK Marries Itself to Skype; Shakes Up the Mobile Market

7 Ways to VoIP From Your Mobile Phone

While the emergence of VoIP, or voice-over-Internet protocol, technology has already helped push down the cost of making a phone call, now it’s starting to have a deflationary impact on the world of mobile, where call charges remain stubbornly high. We at GigaOM are constantly tinkering with these mobile services, so we’ve put together a list of seven mobile VoIP apps that we think you’ll find handy. Continue Reading

Skype-Branded Mobile Phone to Launch on Oct. 29?

[qi:90] Now that eBay (EBAY) has admitted that it overpaid for Skype, it is time for the company to start trying to recover some of its investment. The best way for them to do that is by milking the Skype brand — like with the so-called Skype Phone.

It appears that UK mobile operator 3 is ready to launch an iSkoot-powered, Skype-branded phone on Oct. 29 in London, and is sending out press invites. 3 is being coy, but some folks can see right through them. 3 has been offering iSkoot-based Skype on some of its phones for a while now, though it isn’t clear how that experiment is going. It would be interesting to see what it looks like, and the idea of a device that has all of Skype’s functions built into a mobile phone isn’t all that bad.

Now where else do you think the Skype brand can be applied?