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

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

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

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.