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The historical development of mobile telephony in Spain

The service of mobile phones communications fulfils the need of remote communication between individuals, no matter where they find themselves (ubiquitous telecommunication).

Mobile phone service has three parts (as other telecommunications services do): the infrastructure (such as cells and centrals); the telephony service and value added services (the services providing content and non standard communication functions).

Mobile telephone companies have established each its own proprietary network infrastructure and have provided as well telephony services and value added services.

This approach raises two problems: Duplication of infrastructure and provision of services in a monopoly.

In several countries the telecommunication infrastructure b2c is multiple. In the case of Spain three mobile operators offer their services: Movistar, Orange (formerly Amena) and Vodafone (formerly Airtel).

in a free economy the cables cannot be allowed to provide telephony nor other value added services, in order to prevent monopoly and imperfect competition.

Thanks to pressure by the European community, in several European countries Virtual Mobile Operators have developed renting the network from other traditional operators.

In particular two measures entered national legislations and had a great impact: 1) the requirement to resell the network with no discrimination in tariff, and 2) number portability or the ability by mobile phone users to carry with them their phone number when the shift provider.

In Spain, in April 2009 about twenty VMO exist, including: BT Móvil, Bankinter Móvil, Blau Móvil, Cable Móvil, Carrefour Móvil, Eroski Móvil, Euskaltel, Hits Mobile, Internity, Jazztel, Lebara Móvil, Masmovil.es, Moviline, MundiMóvil, Ono io, Pepephone, R Móvil, Simyo, TalkOut, The Phone House, XL Móvil, and Yoigo.

The number of VMO will continue to grow in the next few years. The immediate consequence of VMO entering the market has been the raise in quality and number of services as well as the fall of prices.

Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) is where mobile telephony is going. Internet infrastructure does not carry only telephony traffic, it carries any type of traffic from whatsoever provider.

These facts cause some changes, including: 1) the development of wireless access to the Internet in WIFI/WIMAX mode, which is well underway, given the presence of wireless access in all the household and businesses connected with broadband. 2) The distribution of hybrid (GSM/3G as well as WIFI) telephony terminals. 3) The development of providers of VOIP telephony or SIP, which is underway and cannot be controlled anyhow by the local government. 4) The development of Voice over Internet Protocol applications for the different mobile OSs, such as Synbian/Linux, OSX and Windows Mobile.

Traditional mobile telephony companies, with their own network, have all the interest and the ability to slow down this process. Their means may vary: Upper limit of WIFI traffic in their mobile terminals, barriers in the distribution of terminals with WIFI capability, discriminatory tariff of geographic termination towards VOIP traffic, as well as others.

In general, the move to mobile VOIP will bring about the globalization of the market in the true sense of the term.

The first consequence is the freedom from geographical limitations that affect traditional telephony. Receiving and a call to any and from any country does not change the pricing and calls are always local. The second consequence is that one operator may be based in any part of the world and provide VOIP services to any user in the world.

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