Saturday, 26 December 2009

What Advanced Applications Will We See On The LTE Network?

Verizon Wireless announced that it is updating its specifications for LTE devices that will run on the network. These new specifications are aimed at helping developers to design products and services that will run on the operators' LTE network, which is scheduled to launch in 2010 in 25 to 30 US markets.

Verizon Wireless said the updated specs will address network access, SMS requirements and data retry test plans. In addition, new information about lab and signaling conformance, open development device approval will be included. The new specs will be outlined in a webcast on the 20th of January.

What will be interesting to see after the webcast is what new applications and business models the application developers come up with. VZW wants the LTE network to expand existing types of applications while opening up entirely new classes of applications at the same time. One example that has been pointed out by VZW is the possibility of appliances such as refrigerators being fitted with wireless monitoring devices. A missing part, for instance, could be pinpointed via a wireless link, cutting service costs. Innovation in advanced video and gaming services are also envisioned by VZW.

It will be interesting to see if other operators deploying LTE at the moment push as hard for new devices and services for LTE as VZW has. TeliaSonera for instance, who have already launched their LTE network, has an agreement with Samsung who is providing it with a USB dongle. There does not seem to be a plan for anywhere near the same level of activity that we have seen with VZW when it comes to launching new devices and apps. So do operators need to go to all the trouble the VZW is?

Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson are the "founding participants" at VZW's LTE Innovation Center in Boston, MA. A group of venture capital firms are also participating in the core working group at the center. In addition to Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson, other participants in the core working group include Charles River Ventures, Northbridge Venture Partners, Norwest Venture Partners, New Venture Partners, and Redpoint Ventures.

An interview with Tony Malone, CTO of VZW can be found on the LTE World Series You Tube channel. Tony spoke at the LTE Americas conference in Dallas in November 09.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Is the LTE Performance Gain Simply Due to Wider Frequency Bands?

There have been various LTE trials going ahead in 2009 and of course the surprise LTE network launch by TeliaSonera who have estimated LTE user data rates to be in the range of 20-80 Mbps. Similar figures have been promoted in other operator trials.

Quite often operators and system vendors refer to the achievable peak rates, ranging from 100 Mbps to as high as 250 Mbps. However, in cases where LTE is deployed in high density, metropolitian areas, these peak data rates are unlikely to be achieved.

Omnitele has just announced that it expects actual data rates to be a lot less than the figues above. Through analysing LTE performance in technical studies and simulations using Omnitele’s state-of-the-art network planning tool analysis on the performance gain of LTE compared to HSPA technology comes mainly from the wider frequency band (up to 20MHz compared to 5 MHz for UMTS). Switching from CDMA to OFDM also has an effect, as does MIMO according to Omnitele. However, significant expectations being put on the performance of MIMO and yet the most critical element of performance which remains under the control of the designer is the antenna, The 3GPP is still proposing how to define requirements for MIMO antennas and it is a pretty complex topic with apparently little consensus developing so far.

Actual LTE user data rates are highly dependent on radio conditions and number of users sharing network resources. Most of the first commercial LTE deployments are said to utilise 20MHz bandwidth and 2x2 MIMO antenna schemes. When breaking down the performance of LTE features in different channel conditions and simulating them in a realistic metropolitan network environment, Omnitele estimated the achievable average LTE user data rates to be in the range of 15-25 Mbps per 20MHz frequency bandwidth.

LTE outperforms the current baseline HSDPA in terms of data rates by a factor of ten and HSPA+ technologies by a factor of 3-4. But it will take more than improved radio performance to really get the best out of LTE.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Is Network Sharing and Joint Ventures the Best Model for LTE Deployment?

With the joint venture announced between Telenor and Tele2 in Sweden, is it just too expensive for operators to be building their own LTE networks?

Operators such as
Orange and T-Mobile in the UK are already looking to merge their 3G networks, at great cost. £600m-£800m is the estimated cost that will be taken up by decommissioning redundant duplicate radio network infrastructure, as well as reducing the number of retail outlets and combining the customer service centres and general administration functions. T-Mobile will contribute the 50% share of their joint radio network with Hutchinson 3G to the pot, (who incidentally already use Orange’s 2G network for fill-in coverage). Assuming T-Mobile and 3 put both their radio networks into the joint venture, you’ll end up with the interesting situation of 3 using a joint 3G network shared with Orange and T-Mobile, and a GSM network operated by Orange and T-Mobile.

So what does a joint venture between two operators look like? The Telenor and Tele2 merger seems a lot more simple. They have created Net4Mobility, a company that is a product of the joint venture that will build and manage the joint network for the two operators, have a competely new infrastructure (radio, backhaul, core, OSS etc). The joint venture will be 50/50 between the two operators. Net4Mobilty will be using its own 2.6GHz spectrum and will also use both Telenor's and Tele2's 900MHz spectrum.

Sharing spectrum and network infrastructure massively reduces the CAPEX and OPEX when compared to the investment that would need to made if the two operators deployed LTE seperately. But is this also a move to compete on customer experience and product differentiation? The Swedish market is one of the most competitive for mobile broadband and perhaps the operators have decided that they simply cannot continue to compete on who has the cheapest flat rate plan for data.

Friday, 20 November 2009

DoCoMo LTE Launch Date Finalised

Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo will launch commercial LTE service in December of next year, skipping the interim upgrade to HSPA+ which many operators have decided to do and delay the launch of LTE to when the devices are ready and when there is some real feedback from operators that have trialed and deployed LTE.

NTT DoCoMo President and CEO Ryuji Yamada made the announcement yesterday at the GSMA Mobile Asia Congress. Yamada said that it would be most efficient to go straight to LTE. DoCoMo have invested heavily in LTE to make sure that it works for them and HSPA+ would just be a distraction especially as the amount of data traffic on its network has been doubling every year according to Yamada. HSPA+ in that case will only be a very short term solution.


The LTE network is expected to considerably boost the operator's data revenues, which should comprise more than half its overall sales by 2011. DoCoMo will spend $3.4 billion on the deployment, initiating the buildout in high-traffic areas, where it will overlay its existing 3G network with LTE. The operator will first offer its LTE service on data cards and LTE-capable handsets are slated for 2011.

DoCoMo plans to turn off its 2G network in 2012, so needs to migrate all of its customers onto 3G and LTE before then. This again is a different strategy to other operatrors that see 2G as being around for at least another 10 years.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Operators Don't Just Want to be a Dumb Pipe

The net neutraility argument continues. The FCC is due to vote on new net neutrality rules tomorrow whilst Verizon has warned the commission not to pass rules barring operators from favouring certain types of content or applications over others or from degrading traffic of Internet companies that offer services similar to those of the carriers. But does net neutrality understate the role of sound network management practices and ignore the real benefits that smart networks deliver?

Most operators are now seriously attacking the idea that they should be considered "dumb pipes" whose sole job is to neutrally push traffic from content providers. With user experience and the personalisation of services expected to be a key differentiator between networks, when operators do decide to invest in LTE, they plan to generate revenues from offering tiered pricing and an extensive API offering. Knowing what the customer is using his/her data for will be crucial to offering the right service to the right customer.

Taking away the operators' ability to favour certain content and to create tiered services may take away the financial incentive to invest in network upgrades. Again this is the argument being put forward by Verizon, if it is not able to make a return on the huge investment being made in it LTE network, then it seriously impacts on future investments and the future quality of service that operators can provide.


Thursday, 22 October 2009

TeliaSonera Offers a Single-Mode Modem Only for Its LTE Launch

TeliaSonera has signed a deal for LTE modems from Samsung for its launch in Sweden and Norway in the first half of 2010. The reason behind this single mode LTE only modem is simply because that's what's currently available.

Because the Samsung modem is LTE-only, TeliaSonera customers will need to use a second modem, either built into the computer or a separate USB dongle to access the Internet when they are not in an area covered by LTE, which at first will be limited to major cities. It's too early to say how the hand-off between the two modems will work, according to TeliaSonera. However, the operator expects that users in the inner-city parts of Stockholm and Oslo will be able to move around and surf using just the LTE modem.


TeliaSonera will have enough modems for a commercial launch, but isn't willing to provide exact quantities. It is hoped that the use of an LTE-only modem is a temporary measure. Samsung is working on a modem that will come out next year and support a multitude of mobile broadband technologies. Obtaining a supply of next-generation modems and phones continues to be the biggest challenge when it comes to rolling out new mobile technologies and is the main reason that operator are cautious of deploying LTE early. AT&T, NTT Docomo and Telefónica are just a few operators to have voiced concerns about vendors' ability to have modems ready by the end of next year.

TeliaSonera said its LTE launch will happen during first half of 2010, but wouldn't provide a more exact timeframe.


Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Cisco Wants a Piece of the LTE Market

Cisco Systems announced today its second multibillion dollar deal this month: a definitive agreement to acquire Starent Networks for about $2.9 billion. The buyout comes on the heels of Cisco's roughly $3 billion buyout of videoconferencing leader Tandberg announced just under 2 weeks ago

Starent makes products that manage access from 2.5G, 3G and LTE networks to a operator's packet core network. Starent's products are deployed in CDMA2000 (1X, EV-DO), UMTS/HSPA, LTE, Wi-Fi, and WiMAX networks.

Cisco has a significant investment in WiMAX, having bought Navini Networks in 2007 for $330 million, and winning a supply contract with Clearwire earlier this year. Lately, however, Cisco's been making overtures to address the LTE market. This is undoubtedly because almost all of the main tier 1 operators have committed themselves to LTE and they have much deeper pockets that the smaller or greenfield operators have to spend. Verizon and AT&T have already made public their plans to adopt LTE over mobile WiMAX.

Cisco claims that its maneuvers are "access agnostic" rather than a hedge on an earlier bet that may not pay off expected dividends. That may be where Starent fits in, its products have been deployed by over 100 mobile operators in 45 countries. And this is probably a good move for Starent too. One of the problems Starent has had is market reach, Cisco should be an enabler for Starent to take its technology global.

Under terms of the agreement, Cisco will pay $35 per share in cash in exchange for each share of Starent Networks and assume outstanding equity awards for an aggregate purchase price of approximately $2.9 billion. The acquisition has been approved by the boards of directors of both companies. The acquisition is expected to close during the first half of calendar year 2010; however, the close date is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory reviews. Prior to the close, Cisco and Starent will continue to operate as separate companies.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Calculating the Cost of LTE, Can Operators Afford LTE in the Economic Downturn?

We have seen in the last 6 months or so that some tier 1 operators have been quietly delaying their plans for LTE, some by a few years. T-Mobile is a good example, having stated their plans to roll out LTE in 2010 and replace 3G, they are now looking to stick with HSPA for a little longer.

Aircom launched their LTE cost calculator and published estimated capex investments facing a tier one mobile operator in the first year of rollout in each of four regions. The figures will of course vary by region, the legacy equipment operators have in place and the spectrum they have available. The estimated cost in the
US came to $1.78bn, Europe $880m the Middle East $337m and Asia Pacific lowest with $232m.

The economic crisis is the main reason for operators seeking to limit CAPEX committments, but this is also leading to operators taking a differnent approach to LTE network roll out, with network sharing cited as an example alongside the automation of key optimisation processes through the roll out of self-organising networks (SON) and the deployment of femtocells to cost effectively provide macro network offload capabilities as well as indoor coverage. Operators don't want to deploy LTE unless it can be shown that it will save them money in the long term and selling LTE to shareholders can't be easy right now. HSPA is becoming an increaslingly attractive interim solution.

LTE has the potential to become the first radio access technology that is used by all the world's major mobile operators, which means that it could eventually gain massive economies of scale. Some operators may be thinking that it might be worth waiting for the costs to go down before deploying LTE. If the operator's current base stations were deployed fairly recently, they may also be able to move to HSPA+ with just a software upgrade. Operators with a relatively new HSPA network are likely to upgrade it to HSPA+ to ensure they maximise their ROI on HSPA and again this makes it difficult to justify the cost of LTE.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Has Telefonica Been Lagging a Little too far Behind with LTE?

Telefonica has become the latest global operator to LTE trials and has has selected six vendors to launch test projects in six different countries in preparation of rolling out LTE-based networks

Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson and Nokia Siemens Networks will represent Europe while Japanese vendor NEC and Chinese vendors Huawei and ZTE will fill out the remaining three slots making the selection of vendors quite the East-West mix.

Telefonica isn’t limiting its trials to Europe. In addition to building networks in Spain, the UK, Germany and the Czech Republic, Telefonica will also run trials in Argentina and Brazil, interesting as they have only recently rolled out HSPA and it seemed to most that LTE is still a really long way off. Each vendor will be given a different country and will deploy its e-Node B base stations this year for the six-month testing period. Telefonica also said that the trials won’t necessarily be limited to six vendors or six countries. It will be open to other suppliers, which could leave the door open to players like Fujitsu and Motorola of Telefonica does indeed decide to cast the net wider.

Telefonica has no projected timeline for deploying LTE and in most of its markets doesn’t even own free spectrum. In fact, Telefonica said that the results of the trials will largely inform its LTE rollout strategy rather than the other way around.

Telefonica is certainly not a leader in the the market, an example of this was when it was named and shamed in the UK for not meeting the regulator's requirement of having 80% coverage in the UK. It is more likely that they just want to have a strategy in place for when the handsets and devices are ready (leaving the voice over LTE problem for everyone else to sort out?) This could be years away, or if other operators such as Verizon Wireless continue to push for handsets and devices then this "critical mass" that needs to be reached for the followers in the industry to start deploying LTE, may be sooner than we all think.

The announcements of new devices from LG, Samsung and Nokia has probably made executives at Telefonica sit up and take notice of how the Industry is rallying around LTE - and that their competitors are perhaps a little too far ahead of them than they would like.

Monday, 28 September 2009

LTE World Series YouTube Channel!

Informa has just launched its YouTube channel featuring an archive of interviews that have been conducted over the space of a year at the LTE World Summit events!

Interviewees have included the top tier 1 operator speakers at the LTE World Summit events with thier thoughts and vision for LTE and mobile broadband and a host of vendors with specific insights into thier field. Most notable interviews are by Franz Seiser, Head of Core Networks at T-Mobile, Dan Warren, Director of Technology at the GSMA and interviews from the recent LTE Asia conference includes and interview with the CEO of CSL, Tarek Robbiati.

The LTE Americas conference with includes speakers such as Tony Melone, CTO of Verizon Wireless and Kris Rinne from AT&T will also be taking place on the 4th and 5th of November in Dallas

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Will LTE Be Reliable When it is First Launched?

“We can build all the bells and whistles and make lots of bold claims, but none of it will matter if the network - and all of the underlying infrastructure that supports the network - isn't fundamentally reliable," This was the comment made by the Verizon CTO, Tony Melone.

Can operators ensure that it will be a smooth evolution to LTE? The launch of the early 3G networks will certainly be in the back of operator’s minds, and with Verizon's promise that LTE will be launched in 25-30 markets next year, and everywhere by the end of 2013; ensuring that everything works when they press the “on” button is no small task.

LTE is expected by some in the industry to have lots of glitches to start with and that it will take some time before the engineers learn how to get the best out of the network, even with all of the trials that have been taking place.

According to Melone, Verizon will focus on delivering the most reliable next-generation LTE wireless network in the USA, and they have already taken a proactive approach on the matter. Various collaborative initiatives are already in place, including:


  • Open Development, meant to offer developers the possibility to come up with devices that will work on its network, with more than 55 devices certified to date;
  • Verizon LTE Innovation Center, also focused on the development of products based on Verizon Wireless' 4G LTE network;
  • Verizon Developer Community and V CAST Apps; a group of application developers focused on helping Verizon on delivering new applications to its users on the upcoming network (V CAST Apps should become available before the end of the year)
  • Joint Innovation LabDesignated M2M Focus for Important Market Segments

Another important message to the vendors was the importance of partnerships between operators, vendors and all other LTE industry players, in order to everyone to benefit. But can they all get together to keep costs low in order to reach the mass market?

Tony Melone with be giving an exclusive keynote at the LTE Americas conference on the 4th and 5th of November in Dallas.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Do Operators Want Net Neutrality?

The chairman of US communications authority the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has vocalised his support for net neutrality as a way of preserving the free and open internet. The (FCC) chairman, Julius Genachowski outlined the steps he believes the Commission must take to ensure all net traffic, services and applications are treated equally.

The call for neutrality expands upon the FCC’s previous drive behind four open internet principles supporting consumers’ ability to access the lawful internet content, applications, and services of their choice, and attach non-harmful devices to the network.

The addition of two new principles would prevent internet access providers from discriminating against content or applications, while allowing for “reasonable network management”. The second principle would ensure that internet providers are transparent about the network management practices they use.

Governments around the world acknowledge that the internet is an extraordinary platform for innovation, job creation, investment, and opportunity and so the FCC wants to ensure that the internet is free and open. They have even launched a website at www.openInternet.gov to encourage public participation in the move.

The concept of net neutrality is a hotly debated and controversial issue, with the content and application providers of the internet world accusing broadband network operators of acting as gatekeepers, preventing consumers from enjoying the full range of innovation and choice available through the open internet.

To date, the issue has only been seriously contested in the USA, where a union of web companies including YouTube, Skype, Google and eBay have been lobbying the FCC (with some apparent success) to take a stronger role in promoting a neutral and open internet. Barak Obama is a known supporter of net neutrality, a stance which may have broad ramifications for both fixed and mobile operators that provide internet access and data services. So how does net neutraility affect operators, especially ones looking to deploy LTE? Operators will be able to vary the QoS to customers depending on how much they pay and will also be able to use DPI to ensure the real time content such a video is prioritised or that P2P traffic clogging up the network is slowed down. Will the FCC allow this kind of activity?

"Operators need to have the ability to compete" according to Helen Ponsford, Programme Director for Informa's Broadband Traffic Management conference. "They need to have the ability to control the network otherwise user experience will be impaired and with high bandwidth applications, this have never been so important" For operators having this control is more about ensuring user experience. Deploying LTE provides the opportunity to fully upgrade the network in this way in addition to providing additional capacity. What "reasonable network management" is, I am not quite sure.These complex issues will be discussed and debated the the Broadband Traffic Management conference on the 17th and 18th of November in London.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Feedback from the LTE Customer Consultation Day

Taking part in the LTE customer consultation day, were some of the top vendors including Ericsson, Huawei, NSN, Motorola and others including picoChip, Freescale, Signalion and Rohde & Schwarz. They attended the consultation day, as they really wanted to get involved in the LTE conferences in 2010 and to get their input into the agenda.

With regards to content, the LTE business model that the most important topic that they highlighted. Now that a lot of the technical details have been ironed, operators have committed to LTE the attention has been turned to the business model and how can operators monetise LTE.

Can we really still have flat rate data plans? We've seen the cost/revenue divergence diagram a hundred times at various conferences, but has anyone really come up with an answer as to how operators need to address this divergence and try to take control of the network? With LTE operators are able to differentiate services and charge accordingly to the customer's QoS requirements, but there is no clear indication that operators are willing to change the their pricing models.

The application and service providers are a key new entrant into the market and there needs to be a discussion on how operators can profit more from these applications and services - will LTE make operators think differently?

Who are we going to be selling LTE to beyond the average user? LTE would be attractive to vertical markets such as the public safety organisations, the healthcare industry and I as mentioned in one of my earlier blogs; the car industry.

These are certainly areas to explore and it will be interesting to get feedback from different markets, not involved in the telecommunications industry and hear about what they they think of the future of mobile broadband.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Will India Get LTE? (Part 2)

I blogged a few weeks ago about whether India would get LTE and I had the opportunity to meet with a few of the the indian regulators at the LTE Asia conference last week.

They confirmed that that auction would go ahead this year on December the 7th, but since there have been so many delays and setbacks already, who knows... The WCDMA auction kicks off first, with the CDMA and WiMAX auctions taking palce 2 days later. I was also told that the FDD spectrum will only be allowed for 3G networks and TDD will likewise be for WiMAX deployments only. The TDD spectrum is expected to sell for a much lower price than FDD spectrum - no surprises there.

Its does indeed seem that the Indian regulators are keen on WiMAX and this is simply down to the infrastructure cost. Currently in India, the ARPU from a subscriber in the cities is $4 and just $2.50 in rural areas! Although the WCDMA networks are likely to be upgraded to LTE at some point, can LTE ever be affordable for India?

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

CSL Crystal Clear About Their LTE Strategy

Tarek Robbiati, the CEO of CSL opening the LTE Asia conference in Hong Kong last week. The problem: 3G was always going to be disadvantaged against 2G spectrum bands of 900 and 1800 MHz. It set the scene for the rest of the conference, where spectrum was the topic discussed the most.

CSL will be launching UMTS900 and are looking to have a LTE ready network, by leveraging the SDR capabilities of ZTE. SDR (Software Defined radio) is a topic that has been talked about for years, but always looked like something that was ahead of its time. CSL have put in the time and the investment to make it work for them. They want their equipment to be software upgradable, so that they can quickly and smoothly to improve their time to market with LTE and save on costs.

CSL owns spectrum in the 900, 1800, 2100 and 2600MHz bands (the latter acquired in the recent auctions in 2009). They are going to start by addressing UMTS coverage by deploying it in the 900MHz band. LTE is then going to be rolled out across multiple bands! Whilst some operators are mulling over what band they will choose for an LTE deployment, Tarek simply stated that thay will use whatever spectrum they have and as much as they can for LTE. LTE will therefore be deployed in all four of the spectrum bands that they own.

Concerns were raised about standards that still need to be defined for voice services and the need for devices, but all of the CSL employees at the conference could not praise the Hong Kong regulator OFTA enough for the way the recent spectrum auction was managed. They must be over the moon with all of the spectrum they have and what they will be able to achieve with it.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

MetroPCS Picks Ericsson for Its LTE Network

MetroPCS a regional carrier in the USA and a leading provider of unlimited, flat-rate, no contract service announced today that it has selected its infrastructure and initial handset vendors for its second half 2010 LTE launch.

MetroPCS selected Ericsson as its infrastructure vendor for the launch of its LTE service. This is Ericsson's second major LTE vendor win in the US market (the first being the contract secured with Verizon Wireless) and further evidence of the company's strengthening position in North America. In addition, MetroPCS has also selected Samsung Telecommunications America, which is actually the number one mobile phone provider in the USA to provide the Company's initial LTE handset. They plan on offering LTE services and a dual-mode LTE/CDMA smartphones in their major metropolitan markets in late 2010. This will be before Verizon starts to offer its own dual mode handset, which is planned for 2011.

MetroPCS has successfully encouraged customers to "cut the cord" on their landline phones by introducing their unlimited, flat-rate, no signed contract plans. MetroPCS offers a diverse selection of service plans, which allow customers to talk 24-hours-a-day, seven days a week and currently serves 5.4 million customers. With MetroPCS, services do not require a signed contract, deposit or credit check! This type of pricing seems set to continue with the launch of LTE, even though it has been called disruptive by some in the industry. It will be interesting to see what sort of pricing plans other operators adopt for LTE and whether tariffs will be as diverse as MetroPCS's. A diverse selection of service plans should help to encourage the uptake of LTE even if there is a lack of variety with the devices available early on.

The Staff VP for LTE, Solyman Ashrafi will be speaking at the LTE Americas conference on the 4th and 5th of November in Dallas.

Monday, 14 September 2009

A Day at the Huawei Campus in Shen Zhen

My colleagues and I at Informa were invited to visit the Huawei campus in Shen Zhen last week, the day before the LTE Asia conference which took place in Hong Kong to discuss their plans for the future with LTE being central to their growth prospects.

Huawei has been an early investor in LTE and it is clear that they have been thinking ahead. Huawei launched their All-IP based FMC solutions back in 2006. To maintain a leadership position in All-IP FMC, they established an integrated core network product line, with 6,000 engineers engaged in R&D supported by a service team of 2,000 professionals around the globe dedicated to providing customers with all-round consultation, planning, delivery maintenance and training services.


Its no wonder that the campus in Shen Zhen has grown to include an administration centre, marketing centre, R&D centre, testing centre, training centre, exhibition hall, logistics and manufacturing centre and a staff condominium. Just to cater for all the staff on the campus requires a total of 9 canteens providing food for 30,000 employees, catering for all tastes and cultures. What was clear during our tour of the facilities was that Huawei does not do things by halves and why would they when they serve 36 of the world’s top 50 operators?

Huawei is a relatively young company they are continuing to gain steady recognition and acceptance from operators in more developed telecommunications markets. Although I have heard rumors about their integrity as well as to product quality ranging from the absurd to the bizarre, this has clearly not deterred their customers. To a significant degree, Huawei’s early and ongoing experience with successful deployments under the constraints of emerging markets has helped to win contracts with the now price conscious operators in most developed markets. This includes TELUS and Bell Canada’s LTE-oriented HSPA network as well as winning the world’s first LTE contract with TeliaSonera along with Ericsson.


Operators are increasingly looking at vendors that have a comprehensive, end-to-end portfolio of products and solutions for LTE. Huawei’s strength lies in the full breadth of their comprehensive, scalable and interoperable offerings for customers and so it was no surprise that Huawei was recently recognized by BusinessWeek as one of the world’s most influential companies.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

T-Mobile Focusing on LTE Performance & QoS

T-Mobile has carried out LTE trials with Huawei base stations and the first test of multi-user broadband services with mobility on a Next Generation Mobile Network (NGMN) using LTE in the city of Innsbruck in West Austria.

The project is the largest European test network covering 60 radio cells and has been running since the beginning of July 2009. The focus of this test network was to gain customer experience insights as well as technology testing and verification. In particular, T-Mobile is focusing on aspects such as quality, stability and reliability in a variety of environments ranging from the inner city to highways in and around Innsbruck.

T-Mobile was the first company to successfully demonstrate NGMN capabilities under real life conditions and was able to achieve data rates of up to 150 Mbit/s and during a showcase in Vienna, Austria earlier this year, T-Mobile also achieved a speed of over 130 Mbit/s over the air with four modems registered in a cell at the same time.

Clearly, superior customer experience is at the heart of what T-Mo wants to achieve with its LTE network, especially in Austria, a country that is at the leading edge of European mobile data usage, with market leader Mobilkom Austria deriving one third of its revenues from mobile broadband services.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

KDDI Finally Makes Its LTE Schedule Clear...

KDDI announced that it would start deploying LTE and is looking to complete the deploymenr by 2012. The contract was awarded to Motorola and NEC a few days ago.

The deal includes base stations from Japan's NEC and although the announcement gave no idea of the breakdown of the orders, but most analysts seem to think that Motorola will get the lion's share of the order.

KDDI's network is a full two years behind that of NTT DoCoMo. The news lifted KDDI's stock, which had previously not made its LTE schedule clear as it is also a major investor in Japanese mobile WiMAX with UQ Communication which has an aggressive WIMAX rollout schedule. The operator has set itself a target of more than 90% population coverage nationwide by the end of March 2010. By that time, UQ says it will have 1,161 cities covered through 38,000 base stations, which includes 19,000 femtocells.

KDDI will deploy its LTE network in both 1.5GHz and 800MHz bands and will conduct LTE trials in mid 2010.

At the LTE World Summit in London in Novmber 2008, the KDDI speaker was very unclear about its strategy when he said that they would be deploying both LTE and WiMAX networks and left the audience feeling very confused. KDDI is clearly not putting all its eggs in the LTE basket, but why the need for the two networks, no one is sure either.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Will Operators Subsidise Consumer Electronic Devices to Help Foster LTE Subscriptions?

Thomas Noren, Head of Product Line LTE at Ericsson’s Networks business, predicted that the cellular industry will one day manage 50 billion connections across the globe, with each person owning a variety of connected devices.

Although, HSPA has already enabled laptops and video cameras to have wireless connectivity, this will continue with LTE. Operators will be looking to connect numerous devices and machines to other machines or to human beings in a different way to what we’ve seen so far.

Migrating existing customers over to LTE as soon a the network is switched on will be difficult and this will have to be a gradual process. Mobile phones, computer and consumer electronic devices including notebooks, netbooks, ultra-mobile PCs, gaming devices, cameras, and PMPs will incorporate embedded LTE connectivity. LTE and multi-mode ICs and devices are scheduled to become available in 2009. The ecosystem is clearly coming together in time for the first networks due to go live in 2010.

With mobile handset sales in decline, mobile operators are using already their subsidies to push sales of other consumer electronics devices such as netbooks and e-book readers to help foster mobile broadband subscriptions. But will this trend continue with LTE devices. Operators have already indicated that they are not keen on subsidising devices in the future and are hoping that consumer electronics manufacturers will take on some of this cost, although this is not likely as the IPR costs for consumer electronics comapnies is already very high.

Thomas Noren will be participating on the executive keynote panel at the LTE Asia conference in Hong Kong on the 8th and 9th of September.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Will Huawei Make Any Headway in the US LTE Market?

It is clear that Huawei and Ericsson have been stumping the most contracts for LTE. Huawei recently teamed up with Vodafone Germany to test LTE in the digital dividend band and boasts contracts with TeliaSonera and Telenor. Rival to vofafone Germany, E-Plus also has a pilot, working with Ericsson, in the same digital dividend band.

Huawei's next target seems to be a tier 1 operator in te USA, which unlike Ericsson (with Verizon Wireless), Huawei doesn't have. It has already signed a deal with the cable company Cox Communications for a 3G network, but its the LTE contacts Huawei is after. Huawei recently opened an LTE lab in Plano, Texas and they are hoping to be in the running to become a supplier to AT&T for its LTE network although that deal is unlikely to materialize for at least another year.

Huawei's price competitieveness is putting pressure on vendors such as NSN and Alcatel-Lucent. Its seems as if its only a matter of time that before Huawei makes an impact on the US market.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Will the European Commision's Support for LTE be the Crucial Factor in Making it the Next GSM?

The European Commission has decided that the European Union will invest €18 million (US$25 million) into research that will underpin next-generation 4G mobile networks based on LTE Advanced.

In September, the Commission will start to negotiate the details on how the money will be doled out, and projects funded with the money are expected to start in January 2010, according to a statement. LTE Advanced will eventually replace the first generation LTE networks that are just starting to get built out. The goal is to offer download capacities of up to 1Gbps. The first generation of LTE will offer speeds at up to 100Mbps depending on traffic loads.

This announcement by the European Commission will be seen as them effectively endorsing LTE. "With LTE technologies, Europe's research 'know-how' will continue to set the tone for the development of mobile services and devices around the globe, just as we did in the past decades with the GSM standard," said Viviane Reding, the EU's Commissioner for Telecoms and Media.

By 2013, operators worldwide are expected to invest nearly €6bn in LTE equipment, according to market analysts. The EU has been working with ETSI for some time now to promote research into next generation mobile technologies and to fund some of the projects too. This announcement just shows that they are focusing their energy on LTE to make it the next GSM technology.

Monday, 17 August 2009

NGMN Alliance Seeks Patent Pool Manager

Advisory body the NGMN Alliance made headway on its development of an IPR management framework on Monday as it seeks to avoid the wrangling that has beset previous mobile standards.

On September 3, the body will issue a public Request for Information (RFI) on LTE Patent Pool Administration. Until this date, all prospective patent pool administrators are invited to indicate their interest in the role. Each prospective patent pool administrator answering the RFI will also be invited to present its envisaged role in the LTE ecosystem to the NGMN Alliance.

The alliance has ambitious objectives in the area of intellectual property. “This RFI will bring more transparency in the next generation mobile eco-system about envisaged patent pool activities,” said Peter Meissner, operating officer of NGMN.


After receipt of responses, each prospective patent pool administrator answering the RFI will also be invited to present its envisaged role in the LTE eco-system to NGMN partner representatives from 14th - 15th October in Vienna, Austria. NGMN Alliance will conduct the RFI to gather information on potential LTE patent pools for NGMN partners.

"This RFI will continue the successful IPR activities conducted by NGMN in the past two years and will bring more transparency in the next generation mobile eco-system about envisaged patent pool activities," explained Dr. Peter Meissner, Operating Officer of NGMN.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Chunghwa to Deploy LTE in 2011

Chunghwa Telecom an operator based in Taiwan is planning to build an LTE network in 2011, it emerged today through a report from DigiTimes.

Chunghwa Mobile has been working with a total of seven taiwanese companies to with an aim to develop related LTE technology and products suited to Taiwan’s market. HTC, Asustek Computer, HT mMobile, Coiler, the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), the Institute for Information Industry (III), and the Telecommunication Laboratories of Chunghwa Telecom (CHT) have all just joined the 3GPP, according to industry sources in Taiwan.

HSPA subscriber numbers in Taiwan currently stand at at 1.56 million with Chunghwa Telecom's own HSPA subscriber base at 880,000 people according to WCIS. Mobile broadband subscriptions are set to grow to 19.94 million by 2014, making mobile broadband a major growth driver for telecoms companies on the island.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Is Vodafone Looking at a Mass LTE Deployment in Germany?

With the announcement that Vodafone Germany will work in cooperation with Huawei to test LTE in the digital dividend bands (790-862MHz), wha is interesting is that Vodafone may be planning to deploy LTE in rural areas.

Is has been suggested by many operators, that LTE will initially only be deployed in high density urban areas or hotspots to help ease conjestion. The test that will be carried out by Vodafone and Huawei will be to assess the ability of LTE to provide wireless broadband coverage to rural and urban areas. The test will also look to prove LTE's compatibility with adjacent technologies such as digital TV and digital radio.

This announcement suggests that Vodafone is potentially looking to deploy LTE on a much larger scale if the test results are positive.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Will India Get LTE?

The spectrum auctions in India were postponed once again a couple of weeks ago. The Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) was scheduled to convene on 31 July but the meeting had to be delayed because one of its members was not be able to attend.

The EGoM formed on 13 July has been tasked with resolving a number of issues that have hampered the government's 3G plans, including how much spectrum to auction, the reserve price for 3G and WiMAX bandwidth, and annual spectrum charges. The panel must also decide how many companies will be allowed to operate mobile services in each of India's 22 telecom circles, and it must rule on administrative and auctioneer fees.

Still, both of India's state-run mobile operators BSNL and MTNL have already launched commercial 3G services after rules set out in August 2008 guaranteed the two operators would have access to spectrum. In April reports claimed BSNL had signed up between 8,000 and 10,000 3G customers, while MTNL in June set its sights on adding between 200,000 and 300,000 subscribers during the first year of operations according to Total Telecom. The two operators will be required to match the winning bids made for bandwidth when the 3G auction finally taes place. On the whole, it seems positive for LTE in this region with BSNL and MTNL likely to go on and migrate their 3G networks to LTE. So does India need WiMAX as well?

Even as the policy for auctioning spectrum for 3G mobile services is yet to be finalised, the Department of Telecom is already thinking about the introduction of LTE. The DoT has taken a view that each operator offering 4G technologies should be given at least 10 MHz spectrum compared to just 5 MHz for 3G services.

LTE may therefore come in India in at the 2.1 GHz band, as 2.5 GHz is mostly used for satellite-based networks. According to industry experts, the DoT is on the right track by identifying at least 10 MHz for LTE. But it has also earmarked 20 MHz for WiMAX.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

How Will Telecom Operators in the Middle East Respond to Zain Bahrain's LTE Deployment Announcement?

Zain Bahrain announced today that is will be investing in a state of the art LTE upgrade. The contract was awarded to Nokia Siemens Networks. Zain wants to provide nationwide coverage and provide new products and services to its customers.

So, how will other major operators in the Middle East respond to this announcement? Zain has always been a leader and not just in the middle east, for example was the first operator in the world to build a nationwide fixed WiMAX network.

Aaron Boasman, Senior Researcher for Middle East conferences at Informa Telecoms & Media said, "Zain's announcement paves the direction for other operators in the region. Its is fair to say that other tier 1 operators such as Etisalat and Saudi Telecom will also go down the LTE route. WiMAX will only be used as a stop gap solution."

Javier Sanchez, Strategy & CEO Support Director from Zain spoke at the recent LTE World Summit in Berlin on the drivers for LTE in emerging markets, so there has clearly been a strategy in place for some time now.

In a region where fibre deployments are taking priority, with new "Smart Cities" being built complete with a fibre to the home, it will be interesting to see how much operators concentrate on wireless infrastructure. The Middle East is a very indoor society, with FTTH and IPTV deployments so far proving to be very successful. This announcement, may however make other operators in the region sit up and take notice and they may start to feel that LTE is not actually that far away.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Motorola Making a Success with TD-LTE Trials in China

Motorola has just successfully completed a joint over-the-air trial with operators in China (including China Mobile) as part of ongoing collaborative TD-LTE trials continuing throughout 2009. Key trial results include:
  • First company to complete download throughput up to 70 Mbps in a 20 MHz bandwidth channel
  • Mobility and hand-over with live applications
  • Multi-User Equipment (UE) testing under one sector

Globally, Motorola is working on both TD-LTE and FDD-LTE solutions as are all of the major infrastructure manufacturers, with initial commercial products due out in Q4, as TD-LTE is said to be about 3-6 months behind FDD. This latest trial success follows other milestones during 2009, which included the launch of an LTE advanced self-organizing network (SON) solution back in May, deployment and demonstration of a live LTE network at CTIA in April, and the opening of a new testing centre in the UK back in February. As far as the Asian market goes, Motorola currently provides GSM/GPRS/EDGE, CDMA2000, and WCDMA network solutions in China.

China Mobile has been the main operator globally that is pushing for TD-LTE, which Bill Huang, GM for China mobile Research Institute giving a keynote at the LTE World Summit in London in November. China Mobile will also have a strong presence at the LTE Asia conference in September in Hong Kong with over 15 participants confirmed.

For more information on Informa's LTE Asia conference, please visit www.lteconference.com/asia

Saturday, 8 August 2009

LTE Real World Performance, Hitting the Target?

LTE performance in "real world" conditions has been a very big topic of discussion at Informa's LTE World Summit conferences for a while now and we have slowly been getting a better idea of what to expect from operator and vendor trials that have been taking place as well as from the LSTI.

Nokia Siemens Networks today demonstrated a 35 Mbps LTE service at its offices in Centurion. The system handled bandwidth hungry applications like high definition movie streaming, video conferencing and online gaming with ease, while voice quality over the test network was excellent. NSN had previously demonstrated peak data rates of 160 Mbps.

It was about a year ago when I was speaking with a senior level executive from Vodafone, who said he expected average data rates of about 30Mbps from LTE, far higher than what we get with highly congested HSPA networks at the moment one might add. It certainly seems that LTE is hitting the mark when it comes to expectations of average data rates. Vodafone only came out and endorsed LTE very recently, one of the last major tier 1 operators to do so. They clearly wanted to be absolutely certain that LTE was up to scratch!

Friday, 7 August 2009

LTE Will be Cheaper Than WiMAX

LTE will be for WiMAX what GSM has been for CDMA. It is all a matter of customer acquisition costs and the cost of equipment to enable WiMAX operators to compete on equal terms with UMTS/HSPA. This does not imply total abandonment of the technology, just that it has evolved from being considered as the primary access in remote zones (a market that WiMAX has been trying to champion) and into a niche technology and not achieving the economies of scale to lower the cost of deploying it.

Another important factor has been the decision by Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia Siemens Networks to concentrate their efforts on the development of LTE as the technology for 4G, following the lead of Ericsson and Qualcomm. These two vendors have had a very good level of success with WiMAX and so this has a huge impact on the possibility of WiMAX achieving economies of scale similar to those of LTE. The announcements by these manufacturers have relegated WiMAX to a niche technology position in the market.

It can already be seen that the test equipment and optimisation vendors are also following the money; toward LTE. The fact that niche WiMAX deployments that comprise of both fixed and mobile deployments means that it reduces the imperitive to test. Test equipment vendors are said to be "dabbling" in WiMAX, but see LTE as the real area to focus on. Optimisation in this case also becomes less important and niche operators deploying WiMAX cannot afford to spend vast amount of money on optimisation anyway. This may in turn lead to a poorer quality of service for customers, making it even more difficult for WiMAX to compete.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

LTE Americas Brochure Available to Download!

The LTE Americas conference is part of Informa's World Series of LTE events and will be taking place on the 4th and 5th Of November in Dallas. The brochure for this exciting event is now available to download at www.lteconference.com/americas.

The brochure includes information on the speakers, which include Anthony Melone, CTO of Verizon Wireless and Kris Rinne, VP Architecture & Planning at AT&T.

There are a limited number of free passes for carriers in the Americas region. To claim your free pass, please email sabah.hussain@informa.com

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Is HSPA+ a Distraction or a Real Stepping Stone on the Path to LTE?

HSPA+ is gaining momentum as a stepping stone on the path to LTE. The Japanese operator eMobile has just announced that it has launched HSPA+ services in the country, using kit supplied by Huawei.

eMobile is promising mobile data speeds up to 21.6Mbps on the downlink and covers cities such as Hokkaido, Sendai, Niigata, Hiroshima, Fukuoka and Nagasaki. The service provider will offer internet access, streaming media and VoIP and will connect the end user with a Huawei supplied data card.

So why have certain operators opted for HSPA+ instead of migrating directly to LTE? NTT DoCoMo was the first operator in the world to launch W-CDMA and the network is not due an upgrade. W-CDMA was deployed by Softback in 2003 and Other operators such as Softbank deployed in 2003 and eMobile only launched its 3G service in 2007. These operators cannot justify a major overhaul of the network to the shareholders, where as DoCoMo can say that that they have made a good return on their investment and its time to reinvest for the future with LTE.

eMobile customers have reported congestion problems in some locations at peak times and the problems are only going to get worse. HSPA+ works out as a cheaper option for operator that needs to upgrade its network in order to cope with the ever increasing amount of traffic. LTE will just have to wait for its turn in these sorts of cases.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Can Nortel Survive as a Patent Business?

According to Rethink Wireless, Nortel may still have a game plan to survive Chapter XI and preserve its brand and a couple of business activities.

Most of Nortel's valuable wireless patent portfolio was excluded from the sale of LTE and CDMA businesses to Ericsson, This could arguably become the basis of a much smaller, but profitable, business focused mainly on licensing. This is only dependant on whether Nortel can raise sufficient funds from the sale of its other businesses to pay off creditors to the satisfaction of the US and Canadian bankruptcy courts. Avaya is currently looking at buying Nortel's enterprise unit. Nortel apparently plans to keep back patents from the enterprise unit sale too.

The fact that most of the IPR was excluded from the Ericsson deal would also explain the interest of RIM. RIM could see the patents as giving it a headstart over larger rivals in creating LTE BlackBerry devices and services going forward, and may also welcome the boost to its licensing arsenal, both for future revenues and also as a defensive tactic. The company has always engaged in significant patent licensing (and litigation) activity in its core mobile email markets and could aim to increase its value and its ability to 'trade' IPR with rivals.

Confusing reports have been coming from Nortel attorneys over which patents Ericsson was acquiring - one said 125 of the total portfolio of 5,500, another said 600. Ericsson will also license other Nortel IPR. Based on Nortel's estimate that the patents could command a 1% royalty on every relevant LTE device sale in the years to come. JPMorgan recently made the calculation that the patents could be worth between $950m and $2.9bn.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Alcatel-Lucent Deploys LTE Network in Canada

Alcatel-Lucent has been awarded a multi-million dollar, three-year contract to help build Globalive Wireless’ new nationwide 3G/3.5G mobile network in Canada, according to a report.

As per the agreement, Alcatel-Lucent will supply Globalive with LTE-ready 3G radio access network equipment including radio network controllers, node Bs and a flexible wireless network management system, and will also deliver solutions for the start-up’s mobile backhaul requirements, including deploying IP service routers, service aggregation routers and microwave packet radios, whilst also providing professional services including site acquisition and construction, radio frequency network design and optimisation as well as overall network planning and design.

Friday, 31 July 2009

NTT DoCoMo plans to launch LTE in December 2010

The Japanese service will initially be aimed at PC users, with DoCoMo offering card-type terminals for laptops, said Ryuji Yamada, president and CEO of NTT DoCoMo at a Tokyo news conference. It will be expanded to include handset terminals from 2011, he said. Those terminals will be dual-mode devices that use LTE networks where available and fall back to 3G networks to provide nationwide coverage. LTE's introduction is also expected to reduce the per-byte cost of data communications.

By 2014 the operator plans to provide LTE service to 50 percent of Japan from around 20,000 base stations. DoCoMo plans to invest between ¥300 billion and ¥400 billion (US$3.2 billion to $4.2 billion) during the first five years of the roll-out, said Yamada.

NTT DoCoMo was the first carrier in the world to launch a commercial 3G wireless service based on WCDMA but based on its LTE roll-out it will likely be beaten this time around by carriers in other countries.

Verizon Wireless is likely to be the first operator to launch LTE in the world. European operators are also getting behind the technology with several tests under way or planned on the continent. TeliaSonera has said it will build a commercial LTE network in Stockholm, Sweden, and in Oslo, Norway.

NTT DoCoMo will be speaking at the LTE Asia conference in Hong Kong on the 8th and 9th of September. For more information and a full line up of speakers, visit www.lteconference.com/asia

Thursday, 30 July 2009

LTE Asia Operator Attendees Set to be From Across the Region

Delegates confirmed as attendees for the conference include the following companies:

Hutchison HK, Shanghai Mobile Communications Company, CSL, PCCW, GSM Kazakhstan, Chunghwa Telecom, Kcell, Vodafone, CTM, ViBO, SmartTone-Vodafone, Taiwan Mobile, WiTribe Asia, Orange Labs, PTCL, Tata Communications, Telkomsel, Maxis, Telkom CDMA, Aircel, Datacom, Packet One Networks, PT Bakrie Telecom

Not to mention the high level speakers that will be talking about their vision for LTE in the Asia-Pacific region including NTT DoCoMo, Starhub, Dialog Telecom, Softbank Mobile, eMobile, KDDI and regulators from Hong Kong, Indonesia and Japan.

There are still a limited number of free passes available for operators to claim. For more information or to download the conference brochure you can visit
www.lteconference.com/asia

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Verizon Looking to Beat MetroPCS with its LTE Launch in Q1 2010

According to a report by TechCrunch.com, Verizon is planning to launch Long Term Evolution (LTE) services across its key markets in the first quarter of 2010, in an effort to beat rivals MetroPCS to market. Verizon officially plans to begin testing its networks by the end of 2009 before commercially launching services in the second quarter of the following year.

In March, MetroPCS announced that it was aiming to introduce LTE to its network in the second quarter of 2010

There have been conflicting comments from Verizon with regard to their roll out and launch dates for LTE. These have varied from the following:

Aug. 13, 2008: Verizon said it will roll out the network in 2010 and cover most of the country by 2012
Dec. 10, 2008: Verizon said it would deploy LTE in 2009
Jan. 27, 2009: Verizon said it hopes to have LTE commercially available by the first half of 2010
Feb. 18, 2009: Verizon said LTE will be commercially deployed in 2010 with handsets coming in 2011
May 15, 2009: Verizon said it plans to launch LTE commercially in the second half of 2010

The most recent update is that Verizon will launch LTE trials in Seattle and Boston later this year and plans to launch its commercial service in 30 markets in 2010 and that they plan to have full network coverage by 2013, leading to rumours about Verizon wanting to launch the service in time for the new iPhone tablet, expected in early 2010.


The CTO of Verizon Wireless will be giving a keynote speech at Informa’s LTE Americas conference in Dallas on the 4th of November. For more information visit
www.lteconference.com

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

LTE World Summit Interviews Now Available!

In depth interviews with key speakers at the recent LTE World Summit in Berlin are available to watch online.


Interviewees include: Ed Candy, Former CTO, 3, Franz Seiser, Head of Core Network Architecture, T-Mobile, Klaus-Jurgen Krath, EVP, Radio Networks Engineering & Quality, T-Mobile, Hans Erik Karsten, Vice President, Network Technologies, Telenor, Marc Fossier, Former CTO, France Telecom Group, Takehiro Nakamura, Director, Radio Access Network Development Department, NTT DoCoMo and many more.

There is also an archive of older interviews available on the www.lteconference.com site.

Ericsson Wins Bid for Nortel LTE and CDMA Assets but was RIM Unfairly Excluded from the Auction?

Ericsson emerged as the highest bidder for Nortel’s LTE and CDMA assets in a 12 hour auction which took place on Friday, tabling an offer of $1.13bn.


Most of the other parties known to be interested in the Nortel assets had publicly stated their maximum bids beforehand, giving Ericsson an indicator of how much it would need to stump up. The acquisition will give Ericsson a bigger footprint in North America especially as it includes CDMA contracts with North American operators such as Verizon, Sprint, US Cellular, Bell Canada and Leap.


Ericsson was competing against private equity firm MatlinPatterson’s offer of $725m, Nokia Siemens Network’s $650m proposal, and RIM’s $1.1bn offer, which RIM said has been rejected by Nortel. RIM said during the auction that it was told it could bid only if it promised not to bid for other Nortel assets for one year. But why was the restriction imposed?


RIM and Nortel are both based in Canada, and some Canadian officials said after the Ericsson bid was revealed that they may consider trying to block the sale. If the Ericsson purchase is approved, the company's Plano-based North American operations will have about $5 billion in annual revenue and more than 14,000 employees.


Canadian Industry Minister Tony Clement, who is said to have encouraged RIM to bid for the assets says all options are on the table in the government's evaluation of Ericsson's $1.13-billion US bid for Nortel's wireless unit, including the possibility the government may block the bid if it does not benefit Canada.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Are Operators Really Taking Self Organising Networks Seriously?

Self organising networks referred to by the industry as SON will be a key feature in LTE networks. T-Mobile has been the operator pushing for this the hardest, stating that they will not deploy LTE if it s not self organising.

A self organising network would mean that the network is plug-n-play, zero touch and automatically configured. SON is a very useful feature that will allow for the automation of several tasks lowering the OPEX and CAPEX costs. Plug-n-play would mean that expensive site set up costs could be eliminated and automatic neighbour recognition would mean lower optimisation costs. The ultimate goal of SON would be to bring drive testing to an end.

17% of wireless operator’s CAPEX is spent on engineering and installation services. SON’s self-configuring functions are expected to eliminate many on-site operations for the basic settings and subsequent updating of network equipments, and thus reduce CAPEX

It is also known that about 24% of a typical wireless operator’s revenue goes to network OPEX, which are the cost of network operation and maintenance, training and support, power, transmission, and site rental. SON’s self-optimizing functions will reduce a workload for site survey and analysis of network performances, and thus reduce OPEX. Moreover, SON’s energy-saving functions reduce the costs of power consumed by the equipment.

3GPP has introduced SON items in its standardization path as required features for LTE deployments. Release 8 includes the first specifications on requirements, integration with operators’ processes, and identification of main use cases. Release 9 is expected to define advanced features, which will introduce self-healing and self-optimization capabilities into LTE.

However, it does seem like some operators are happy to just go with LTE because it is a bigger pipe. I asked a panel of operators at MWC in February, how important was SON going to be for their LTE deployments. Kris Rinne, VP Architecture & Planning at AT&T as well as Bill Huang, General Manager at China Mobile Research Institute both said that they had no plans for SON!

It is possible that LTE is being sought after because operators need more capacity, are trying to keep up with their competitors and the costs savings that deploying LTE brings with SON is secondary and just makes it easier to justify building a new network.

Kris Rinne will be giving a keynote speech at the LTE Americas conference which takes place on the 4th and 5th of November in Dallas. See
www.lteconference.com/americas

Thursday, 23 July 2009

CTO of Verizon Wireless Speaking at LTE Americas

Anthony Melone, CTO of Verizon Wireless will kick start Informa’s 2nd Annual LTE Americas conference on the 4th and 5th of November at the Westin City Center, in Dallas. Verizon has been leading the operator community and will be the first to deploy LTE, the 4G technology of choice for the mobile telecommunications industry.

Verizon Wireless appears to be keeping their cards very close to their chest, but that just makes the industry want to hear what they have to say even more. The topic is being kept under wraps for now; people will have to come to the conference to find out what the Verizon Wireless message to the industry is.

The LTE Americas conference will also be featuring key speakers such as Kris Rinne, VP Architecture & Planning from AT&T, Egil Gronstad, VP Technology Planning from Cricket Communications and Solyman Ashrafi, Staff VP for LTE from MetroPCS as well as notable names from other key carriers, vendors, associations and device manufacturers in the region. This conference is about bring the ecosystem together and to discuss the way forward for LTE. The fact that this conference is specifically dedicated to LTE is what makes it unique and why people see our events as the place to learn, network and do business across the world.

The LTE Americas conference is part of Informa’s LTE World Series of conferences. Informa has been working exclusively in partnership with the 3GPP who will also have a keynote speaker Asok Chatterjee as well as Stephen Hayes participating in the conference.


For more information visit www.lteconference.com/americas. The brochure will be available early next week!

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

GSMA "LTE Is On Track"

The GSMA says its latest numbers show that the HSPA/LTE technology track is well established and, by implication, that WiMAX is dying.

There's a well-documented trend for consumer technology adoption indicating that each new iteration tends to swing into widespread use significantly faster than the one before - it's as if humans are becoming earlier and earlier adoptors as a sort of evolutionary adaptation. So it's no surprise that the GSMA sees HSPA adoption exhibiting the same characteristics. The organisation says it expects there will be 150 million connections by the end of this summer. GSMA has this morning unleashed a veritable tsunami of statistics including:
  • There are more than 300 networks across 127 countries
  • 1500 HSPA-enabled devices readily available on the market
  • AsiaPac accounts for almost 50 million live HSPA connections today (and will have over 56 million by this September)
  • EMEA HSPA connections will pass the 50 million mark any day now
  • The US currently has almost 32 million HSPA connections (with the number expected to rise to nearly 37 million by this September)
  • The Americas (excluding the US and Canada) will have just over four million connections by the end of September

According to Dan Warren, Director of Technology at the GSMA, it's all about scale and coverage. Once a communications technology like this hits a certain inflection point, there's just no stopping it. "WiMAX will have a small foothold in isolated regions," he says, "but the point is that HSPA covers large geographic areas and you can move from one place to another and still have your device work."And then there's the advantages of sheer manufacturing scale. HSPA and then LTE network equipment and gadgetry is going to be in mass production and that creates its own inevitability - once massive scale is reached there is no way an alternative networking technology, more or less trying to do the same thing, can ever compete. When it comes to LTE, Warren says he expects there to be 87 million users by 2013, with the adoption rate doubling the year after, and so, according to the law of accelerating adoption, that technology will grow even faster than HSPA has done.

Informa's LTE Asia and LTE Americas conferences will be focusing on the ROI of investing in LTE at an early stage before economies of scale brings down the cost of LTE equipment. Should operators really wait to deploy LTE when consumers are expected to adopt LTE quicker than they did HSPA?

Monday, 20 July 2009

Denmark Planning Auction of LTE Radio Spectrum

­Denmark is to hold a consultation on auctioning off radio spectrum in the 2.5GHz bands. The Ministry for Science, Technology and Innovation (National IT and Telecom Agency) said that 205MHz of spectrum will be auctioned in total: 190MHz in the 2.5GHz band (2500-2690MHz) and 15MHz in the 2010MHz band (2010-2025MHz).

The spectrum, which will be auctioned on a national basis, is suitable for providing 4G wireless broadband services based on standards such as LTE. However, it may also be attractive for other uses such as mobile TV or wireless cameras.


The licences granted to the winning bidders will allow them to deploy their own choice of technology (provided it does not cause interference to other spectrum users) and offer any type of service.

The auction is expected to take place in the first quarter of 2010 and will be conducted electronically, with participants submitting their bids via a secure Internet connection. Stakeholders are invited to comment on the proposals by responding to the consultation before 15 September 2009.

Friday, 17 July 2009

LTE & Connected Cars

What if every motorist could see what the drivers ahead can see? In Munich, Germany, Ericsson and German automakers recently joined with Vodafone and local universities in a major research study that showed automobile crashes can be to a large part prevented, and traffic flow can be improved, if vehicles can communicate with one another over 3G/HSPA networks.

Using Vodafone’s mobile HSPA network and German vehicle manufacturer MAN Nutzfahrzeuge’s test grounds, the Cooperative Cars (CoCar) project simulated high-risk traffic situations to test applications that transmit time-critical information on traffic conditions between specially-equipped Daimler, MAN and Volkswagen vehicles. Guido Gehlen, project manager in the CoCar project from the Eurolab R&D Center in Aachen, says that the results of the two-and-a-half year study show that cellular technologies such as mobile broadband can complement automobile communications systems with economically viable safety services.“Mobile communications can defuse dangerous situations by helping motorists coordinate and adapt to surrounding traffic,” Gehlen says. For example, when a traffic jam lies just around the bend, the system automatically reports to the forthcoming vehicles – within less than half a second – that drivers ahead are drastically decelerating.”Anders Fagerholt, Program Manager Telematics at BU Networks, says such solutions can initially be deployed on standard mobile phones or in existing navigation systems, but will reach full functionality once integrated into cars. “The initial market introduction studies, led by Vodafone, found that investment in such products can be paid back in as little as four years,” he says.

The CoCar project was initiated by Adaptive and Cooperative Technologies for Intelligent Traffic (Aktiv), a German government research initiative that includes Ericsson and 28 other partners from the automotive industry, as well as transportation authorities, and electronics and ICT companies. The study concluded that if deployed in Germany alone, automobile coordination solutions could save EUR 500 million per year in costs to society such as those resulting from medical care and property damage. Costs to consumers could be kept low using special tele-data tariff rates that could be bundled in a one-time service charge.Gehlen says the solution tested in the CoCar project also works in EDGE and LTE networks, and could be easily combined with the planned introduction of new mobile communications-based services such as eCall, a regulatory initiative from the European Commission intended to bring rapid and accurate assistance to motorists involved in a collision anywhere in the European Union from 2011 on. These CoCar findings will also be presented and demonstrated during the upcoming ITS World Congress 2009 to be held in Stockholm, Sweden, September 21-25.A follow-up study is planned to explore further ways society can benefit from the use of mobile communications and IT in automobiles.

“This project opens up all kinds of possibilities for new connected-car applications, especially, if you consider nationwide coverage of LTE,” Gehlen says.