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Wed 26 May 2004 04:00 AM

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Alcatel to expand app development scheme

Alcatel is planning to expand its work with local application developers in a bid to generate more relevant mobile services for emerging markets.

Alcatel is planning to expand its work with local application developers in a bid to generate more relevant mobile services for emerging markets.

The equipment vendor is aiming to roll out additional development centres through its Digital Bridge initiative, a scheme which supports software development start-ups.

The move will expand upon the December 2003 opening of Alcatel’s development centre in Tunisia, which acts as an incubator for local developers and provides them with marketing support once their services are ready for launch.

“There are plenty of ideas out there that need to be nurtured and supported,” Souheil Marine, business development manager, Africa, Middle East and South Asia, Alcatel, tells CommsMEA. “We have plans to inaugurate other centres in Africa and other developing countries,” he adds.

Currently, there are three software projects in progress at the Tunisian development centre and Alcatel says that more are in the pipeline.

While the facility provides a platform for SMS applications, the vendor also plans to integrate MMS capabilities once the service becomes more widely available.

“Today, it works with GSM networks but the platform could be upgraded to offer multimedia services over GPRS,” says Marine.

Alcatel has already backed various software projects in Africa through the initiative.

In Senegal, it supported a system which allows medical centres to remotely monitor local children’s weight via the web and deliver alerts to parents if the results show a problem.

The vendor has also partnered with mobile software provider, Manobi, to roll out a virtual marketplace for Senegalese fishermen and farmers.

The World Bank-backed service, implemented in the area of Kayar, one of the largest fishing harbours in Senegal, enables producers, exporters and a public regulatory agency to use GSM mobile phones, PDAs or the internet to find out the price and arrival status of their products at the markets, and the availability of their products in production sites.

Market data is gathered by Manobi’s inspectors while visiting fish and agricultural markets who enter data onto their PDAs and send them through the GSM network to a database.

The information is then made available via the web, or via WAP and SMS to GSM phones.

Alcatel is pushing the service as a means to allow local producers to improve their productivity, sales margins and their quality of life, and in turn encourage the operator to improve its mobile network coverage and quality in under-served areas.

“These people will be early adopters of mobiles and attract users to other services,” says Marine. “You are creating proof that there is a valid business case to use mobile services,” he adds.

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