Global operators to invest billions in mobile broadband, Porsche revs up its Spyder plug-in hybrid, and more …

Global operators to invest billions in mobile broadband, Porsche revs up its Spyder plug-in hybrid, and more …

Several UK mobile consumer groups warned that the Orange/T-Mobile merger would make mobile phone contracts more expensive. “It’s only right that a deal affecting UK consumers should be scrutinized by UK regulators,” Peter Vicary-Smith, CEO of Which?, said.

The OFT was concerned that the merger would also stifle competition in the emerging 4G market. To quash such worries, Orange and T-Mobile agreed to relinquish a quarter of their 1800 MHz spectrum to competitors and gave assurances that the merger would not unfairly impact other products’ performance in the market. As a result, the OFT withdrew its official request to the EC, and the EC gave the merger the go-ahead. The companies are expected to operate as independent companies for the coming 18 months, at which point the board and executive leadership of the new joint venture will take the helm.

Toyota Override

The Obama administration announced that it might mandate all car manufacturers to install a brake override system in cars sold in the US. The override system would help prevent sudden acceleration episodes that have plagued Toyota automobiles in the recent months. The announcement came after several weeks of heated questioning of Toyota executives for their mishandling of safety issues in the Prius and other Toyota models. The brake override system is called a “smart pedal” and is already installed in many models worldwide, including BMW, Chrysler, and Mercedes-Benz.

Fiat Map Store

Fiat unveiled the Fiat Map Update Online Store, a new Web portal for updating map data. The store will offer Fiat, Lancia, and Alfa Romeo drivers easy access to the latest map data for Fiat’s entire range of navigation systems. New data can be downloaded direct from the Store and transferred to the navigation system via SD cards or USB storage media. Alternatively, customers can choose to have the updates physically shipped via post or courier service. The store was developed by NAVTEQ.

Billions to Mobile Broadband

Global mobile operators will invest upward of $72 billion in mobile broadband technologies in 2010, according to a new study from Deutsche Bank. The investment stems from rising consumer and corporate demand for mobile broadband services and the need for more broadband infrastructure. The most investment will occur in the Asia-Pacific region (an expected expenditure of $34 billion), followed by North America ($19 billion) and Europe ($14 billion).

Globalstar and Arion

Globalstar and Arion announced a joint venture to create a new mobile satellite service in Korea. The joint company, Globalstar Asia Pacific, will manage a gateway ground station in Seoul and offer mobile satellite voice and data services. Globalstar has had a presence in Korea since 2001 when it teamed with service provider LG Telecom. Asia Pacific will acquire LG Telecom’s gateway in Seoul, if the Korea Communications Commission approves the acquisition.

woZZon app

woZZon has released a new iPhone app that enables users to discover “What’s On” nearby. The app gives super-fast access to 60,000 venues and across 90,000 unique categories: music events, film, theatre, comedy gigs and clubs, restaurants and community events, and so on. woZZon was the grand prizewinner of Nokia’s “Calling All Innovators Mobile Application Competition” in 2009.

The Spyder Hybrid

Porsche has developed a new concept car, the 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid. Designed for the environmentally friendly sports car enthusiast, the car boasts a 500 horsepower, 3.4-liter V8 engine and two electric motors. Porsche says the car can go zero to 60 in 3.2 seconds and max out at a top speed of 198 miles per hour, while still achieving 78 miles per gallon. The company plans to debut the car at this week’s 2010 Geneva Motor Show.

Andrew Tolve is a regular contributor to TU.

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