Archive for September, 2012

VoLTE billing architecture explained

This is a guest post by Saurabh Garg, assistant vice president technology and Karthikeya Ganapathy Chockalingam, senior technical leader at Aricent Group and explains how the delicate work of charging is done for VoLTE when all information is data.

Charging is an important aspect for VoLTE calls and a must for commercial deployment— but it literally pays to get it right. As the same session flows through PGW in LTE network and IMS core there is a danger that subscribers could be double charged for both data and voice for the same call.

IMS nodes provide the necessary means to solve the billing issues. During the SIP call establishment or message transaction IMS nodes generates an IMS correlation id for each and every event. IMS correlation ids are included in the CDR for each VoLTE calls. During dedicated bearer establishment for VoLTE calls PCSCF and PGW exchange ICID and GCID through PCRF Rx/Gx messages. Based upon VoLTE APN bearer establishment PGW can redirect all the VoLTE charging information to a different billing server to avoid double charge of voice and data sessions.

ICID and GCID in CDR help to correlate the call in the IMS and access network. IMS charging information is transferred to billing system through Diameter or ISC interfaces.

Charging can be based on

• Duration Based Charging

• Event based charging

• Volume based charging

Single call with different access legs can be easily correlated by billing servers since all the calls are anchored by IMS.

The LTE North America conference is taking place on the 14-15th November 2012 at the Fairmont Dallas Hotel, Texas. Click here to register your interest.

MetroPCS: Why we’ve moved to VoLTE

Solyman Ashrafi is vice president of product management at MetroPCS and is on the LTE North America advisory board. He is speaking on the Voice over LTE track on Day Two of the LTE North America conference, taking place on the 14-15th November 2012 at the Fairmont Dallas Hotel, Texas. Ahead of the conference we speak to him about where Metro PCS is with its VoLTE deployment and what the challenges it expects to face in the future.

What have been the main developments for you over the last 12 months with regards to LTE?

In early August MetroPCS reached another innovation milestone by announcing the world’s first commercial launch of Voice over LTE (VoLTE) services, the availability of the world’s first VoLTE-capable handsets, and the first sale of a VoLTE-capable handset.

The addition of VoLTE capabilities to MetroPCS’ 4G LTE handsets is transparent to consumers as they continue to enjoy all the voice and 4G LTE data services with which they are already familiar. Calls to and from the handset will use VoLTE, regardless of the handset or network used on the other end of the call.

MetroPCS was the first U.S. carrier to deploy a commercial 4G LTE network in September 2010 and has since built out its 4G LTE network to cover roughly 90 per cent of its CDMA footprint. In addition to these milestones, MetroPCS is focused on developing and deploying Rich Communications Services (RCS) later this year.  RCS is based on a worldwide standard that is being widely adopted by mobile operators as a way to deliver enhanced communications services, but in a much more personalised and simplified way. RCS will further differentiate premium 4G LTE services from competitors’ 3G data services.

Once launched, MetroPCS customers with RCS will have a feature set available to them that has immediate value with a unified user experience. Consequently, RCS enables MetroPCS to provide even more value to our customers and distance ourselves significantly from MVNOs and other operators that do not offer such services.

In what way does moving to VoLTE benefit you?

We believe our implementation of VoLTE will have a strong impact for our customer base. It enables us to migrate our customers to our 4GLTE network, achieve spectral efficiencies and increase capacity to enhance the overall 4GLTE experience, especially with a diverse portfolio of smartphones and new services such as RCS.

What is the significance of Rich Communications Suite both for your network and for your customers?

We are an industry leader in the deployment of VoLTE cable handsets, since VoLTE is the foundation for us to reform CDMA spectrum for LTE service. Likewise, the RCS platform, or our move to IMS, will bring about substantial changes for consumers. With RCS consumers will have a unified and natural way to connect to friends, family and networks in real-time and an easy way to share their content, files, photos and video while on a phone call—and just with one click.

In addition to this, we will roll out enhanced RCS services such as: Enhanced phone book with presence and service capabilities; extended presence information including geolocation, service capabilities and 1:1 or 1: many instant multimedia messaging that will be enhanced by image, media and file sharing. Other innovative service and capabilities will be offered once inter-carrier collaboration begins.

Net neutrality remains a contentious issue and has recently been enshrined in law in the Netherlands. What is your stance on this?

As far as the U.S. is concerned MetroPCS has long been a mobile operator dedicated to delivering affordable and innovative wireless services at a price consumers can afford. So in fact, we have proven that we are pro-consumer, pro-competitive with our 4G LTE mobile services.

How would you characterise the main challenges facing the industry?

In order to continue to provide the best consumer experience, mobile operators need innovation within the network and not just centred on the handset or applications.

Is there enough innovation occurring in the mobile network industry? Can you provide some examples?

Changes to the core mobile network can be an expensive and slow process. Nevertheless, the initial success of OTT applications demonstrates the power of enabling innovation from the independent developer community. We believe that this sort of success is just the beginning and with innovative steps we’re taking with VoLTE and RCS, we are well positioned to drive the mobile experience even further and at an accelerated pace.

What are the main challenges you expect to face in the future?

Being innovators in any new technology comes with many benefits as well as challenges. While innovation can be very important for company success, it is also possible to be too innovative, too early.  In the case of RCS, given what we believe other operators have expressed about their commitment to deploy RCS, we see the inter-carrier collaboration as a vital piece for RCS to take hold on a mass scale in the U.S.

The LTE North America conference is taking place on the 14-15th November 2012 at the Fairmont Dallas Hotel, Texas. Click here to download the full conference program.

 

Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google….Who’s next?

Multi-national Communication Service Provider’s (CSPs) are learning much from their new competitors— the ‘Gang of Four’—about tools and ideas to redefine business. These tools and ideas include a number of things; platform creation, the building of ecosystems, embracing developers and providing developer tools, the economics of the long tail, leveraging the power of data and the cloud, and fleet-of-foot innovation culture amongst others.

But how do top-tier CSPs even begin to adapt these lessons to their own circumstances when perceived disadvantages of being ‘behind the curve’ stand in their way?

The approach I’m putting forward here explores Gerschenkron’s take on answering this question.

Five ‘perceived disadvantages’ are covered and to each a ‘Gang of Four’ lesson is applied to reveal a possible ‘behind the curve advantage’.

1. Network – The Platform

Billions invested and billions more planning to be invested (e.g. LTE/4G). Data network build costs are mounting to meet the explosive rate of data traffic growth. The challenge is to make good on the mounting investment with data revenue growth. Exacerbating the revenue growth challenge is the ‘Gang of Four’ ecosystem, which has enabled Over-The-Top (OTT) players to freely take advantage of this investment and a number of these services, such as VoIP, IM & social networking, are even eating directly into CSP SMS and voice usage and revenues.

2. Vertical relationships – The Long Tail

The ’Gang of Four’ have largely enabled the consumer internet revolution as we know it today. Industry verticals have not been a great focus for them due to the continued growth levels within the consumer sector and ease of serving that market comparative to the fragmented industry verticals.

3. Multi-national – The Ecosystem

The ‘Gang of Four’ transcends geographic boundaries. Under current thinking, to run such a business based on geographic presence and not just by country but by country region, would be a gross inefficiency.

4. Customer service –The Community

The ‘Gang of Four’ in the main don’t ‘do’ customer care to the extent CSPs do. What’s more, in the environment ignited by the ‘Gang of Four’ CSPs have now become care agents; not only for their own services but by default also for when problems occur with the output of the device manufacturers, OS providers and application developers!

This blog post is an extract from The Now Factory’s blog site. Click here to view the complete article.

StarHub launch LTE Network

It is a potent day in Singapore at LTE Asia as Mock Pak Lum (left), CTO of StarHub opens the morning keynote presentations with ‘The StarHub LTE Journey’, notably as the mobile operator officially launches their LTE network today. It is a particularly significant journey because it marks the last operator in Singapore to offer 4G services, showing the rapid development and commitment to LTE within the Asia Pacific region. Only last week M1 announced their nationwide LTE service and SingTel had previously extended their dongle-only LTE services to smartphones this June and to tablets in August.

The Singapore based mobile network will set its LTE network to go live today, making it available in Singapore’s Central Business District as well as in Changi Airport and Singapore Expo. Nationwide LTE network coverage is scheduled to be completed by 2013.

The high-speed mobile broadband network with Long Term Evolution (LTE) and Dual Cell High-Speed Packet Access Plus (DC-HSPA+) will offer customers improved peak downlink speeds of up to 75 Mbps and 42 Mbps respectively. Mr Chan King Hung, Head of Marketing & Products at StarHub notes the advanced LTE and DC-HSPA+ mobile broadband network will offer “increased data capacity, improved speeds and reduced latency; our customers can enjoy bandwidth intensive content including mobile TV, video and music streaming, cloud services, and social networking, among others”.

With Singapore having one of the world’s highest smartphone penetration rates at over 70% it was only a matter of time before StarHub joined the LTE bandwagon. “Mobile data usage has more than doubled between 2009 and 2011, and we are seeing a fast growing demand for mobile data applications and services. We expect this growth trend to continue, and we have been devoting our resources and efforts to drive service improvements in our mobile network.” commented Mr Chan King Hung.

To coincide with its LTE network launch, StarHub will begin offering four new smartphone price plans as outlined below:

StarHub’s LTE pricing plans are priced below M1 and SingTel LTE packages although its coverage will initially be limited to certain areas of Singapore whereas M1 boasts nationwide coverage.

The lack of 4G handsets was perhaps a restrictive factor in the acceleration of Singapore’s LTE network but with the recent announcement of the LTE-enabled iPhone 5 and all three Singapore-based mobile operators signed up to offer the handset from 21st September onwards, it is likely things will soon speed up! We are set for an exciting day ahead at LTE Asia 2012 as LTE has become ever more established in the Asia Pacific region.

LTE ASIA 2012: Highlights from Day 1

The highly anticipated LTE Asia conference and exhibition kicked off to a great start today with attendees gathering in sunny Singapore to hear the opening keynote session: Executive Operator Panel Discussion: APAC LEADERSHIP DEBATE earlier this morning. Telecom Operators, NTT Docomo, CSL, SK Telecom, and Starhub formed an impressive speaker line-up for the session and shared interesting insight into their LTE networks.

Watch a short clip from the panel discussion here: 

<p><a href="http://vimeo.com/49681591">LTE Asia 2012 - Executive Operator Panel Discussion - APAC Leadership Debate</a> from <a href="http://vimeo.com/keyline">Keyline</a> on <a href="http://vimeo.com">Vimeo</a>.</p>

Here are a few final thoughts from Day 1 captured by the twittersphere!

Tech Mahindra ‏@Tech_Mahindra

#LTEAsia 2012 event has kicked off & is well represented by JAPAC operators & LTE related equipment and service vendors http://twitpic.com/avvcs4 

Vincent Veran ‏@vincentveran

First panel discussion, impressive executive participation http://yfrog.com/oc6dpraj  #LTEAsia

Johanne Mayer ‏@JohanneMayer1

The BBTM and LTE Asia event is packed with interesting case studies from operators! Great event #LTEAsia!

 

Director of network services and devices, EE: “We think it’s time for 4G. It is time for 4G”

EE logo

With LTE deployments making huge strides in the US and parts of Asia it seemed as though the UK was getting left behind when it came to next generation mobile broadband. However, that all changed earlier this week when UK operator Everything Everywhere, announced a that it was changing its name to EE, and would be launching an LTE network across 16 major cities by the end of the year. In fact, it has already turned on LTE in four cities, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff and London. At the launch we caught up with Tom Bennett: director of network services and devices, EE to ask him some more details about EE’s launch plans.

Do you have an exact date for launch?

We’re turning on 4G on the four cities that we’ve mentioned – Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff and London and that’s for engineering and optimisation tests. It will take a while before activation and it being ready for us to say yes, now our customers can come and use it. We’ve done testing already but not on this scale, where we’re talking about cities rather than small clusters.

What changes and changes and preparations have you been making to the network on the RAN and core?

So LTE is a brand new network so is entirely separate from 3G and 2G. The preparation for us was a modernisation of our 2G equipment. By modernising our 2G equipment at each site we enable 4G. You modernise the equipment, your re-farm the existing 2G spectrum and that’s why we needed the permission from Ofcom, and then finally transmission and the backhaul from the site. Our local one for here is on top of the V&A (Victoria &Albert museum), and needed to be upgraded for 4G speeds.

Is that a software upgrade or hardware?

We have equipment from BT, Virgin and we have our own microwave so in some cases it is hardware and in some cases it is software.

Where did the excess 1800 spectrum come from?

It’s by the nature of bringing Orange and T-Mobile together. So you had two companies whose 2G was full but you bring the two together and you get optimisations. The other thing is growth in 3G. This means there’s less and less use of 2G, so we can migrate and re-farm with a condensed set of spectrum blocks.

What sorts of speeds are you hoping to see at launch and how do you expect that to be a year from now?

So the kind of peak speeds that you can expect to see in the field on some devices we’ve seen as high as 51Mbps. But that’s an absolute peak. What we’re quoting across the cell is that you’ll get at least 10-12Mbps. If you’re an early adopter and you’re one of the first to buy it you’ll see the upper end of those speeds. Today in here, we comfortably hitting 30Mbps.

What about rural areas? Is there any commitment to cover remote areas in terms of the licence to refarm?

As you heard Olaf [Swantee, CEO, EE] talking earlier this year, our focus is on the top 16 cities but in 2013 we will extend to rural areas. We have started the trials this year in Cornwall, Cumbria but by the end of 2013 we expecting to reach 70 per cent of GB population.

Are you still going after more spectrum in the auctions next year?

Yes we will. This announcement doesn’t mean we’re not interested in the spectrum auctions – on the contrary.

Do you expect any legal objections from rival operators?

From our perspective we’ve keen to re-farm spectrum for 4G and we’re not interested in litigation. We think it’s time for 4G and let’s be honest I’m an engineer, and I’m British. It is time for 4G.

LTE Asia conference, coming up NEXT WEEK at the Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. If you’re interesting in attending, there’s still time to register here.

Small networks and digital oxygen–big enterprise services future for mobile operators

This is a guest blog post from Ronny Haraldsvik, SVP/CMO of SpiderCloud Wireless

What a difference a couple of years can make. We’re in the midst of a mobile industry in transformation—the most rapid change we have seen from the RAN equipment and services players since the move to CDMA/WCDMA over a decade ago. With the inclusion of Wi-Fi as part of outdoor macro networks and coffee and retail shops and Femto cells as a useful stand-alone access point for residential and small businesses, “small” is here to stay. That’s small, as in small cells, which embed 3G, Wi-Fi and LTE access functions into a small form factor base station. Though they may be small these devices form part of a carriers overall macro network, lovingly referred to as a HetNet (Heterogeneous Network).

As small cells become more popular as in-fill devices for dense metropolitan areas to complement the bigger macro networks, HetNets are growing in importance. At Mobile World Congress 2011, Deutsche Bank Securities called for an answer to the “densification problem”, and as an industry we are getting there. As we look to 2020 the pragmatic view is that mobile networks will become ever more capable and agile, thanks to the use of macro and small cell technologies to better handle capacity requirements from consumers and enterprises.

We’re talking about a common service network infrastructure where macro, micro and small cells work in close tandem with intelligent physical and virtual routing of access and services. In simple terms, vendors will help operators make better use of what they have, to deliver more capacity, when and where it is needed. Goldman Sachs expects small cells to drive 18 per cent of RAN investment by 2016. The profound statement here is that the 18 per cent may be able to handle as much as 80 per cent of all the traffic. For proper context, keep in mind that indoor/outdoor multi-mode Wi-Fi/3G/LTE is part of this equation. Scalable small cell systems are in the early days of making a bigger impact in metropolitan public access markets, and evolving to include all access technologies in various form factors. The next battleground is for sustainable ARPU and the enterprise markets.

Multi-mode, multi-access small cells that can scale to the demands of the enterprise

Mobile operators want to acquire and retain valuable enterprise customers. For the next few years, ARPU growth for Western and USA operators will come from the medium to large enterprise segments. In many countries, ARPU for enterprise subscribers is twice as much as the ARPU for consumers. Employees of mid-to-large sized enterprises constitute 15 per cent of subscribers at major mobile operators like Vodafone, and contribute as much as 30 per cent of their revenue. These enterprise customers are not only the most loyal and profitable customers that mobile operators have, but also the most demanding. They expect the mobile operator to deliver seamless wireless coverage in their facilities, to stay ahead of the rapidly growing demand for wireless capacity, and to offer innovative ways to solve business problems.

Often, enterprise subscribers are willing to purchase new services from operators, ranging from international roaming plans to mobile device management. However, to win these customers, mobile operators must provide high-capacity networks where business customers spend more than 80 per cent of their working hours indoors.

Enterprise small cells have emerged as the most promising technology to deliver high-capacity and 3G coverage inside offices. Analyst firms such as Infonetics, ABI Research, and Informa expect enterprise small cells to be the fastest growing segment of the small cell market. Infonetics Research expects enterprise small cells to grow fastest, contributing to over 50 per cent of small cell investment by 2016. (http://tinyurl.com/6ngeo83).

ABI predicts small cells for enterprise deployments will catch up with DAS by the 2016 timeframe – reaching the $2billion mark by 2016. (http://tinyurl.com/9o8gktv). The inside enterprise opportunity with a lower cost and more flexible system that can be deployed by-enterprise, by-floor, in days and not 9+ months, also means that operators are making better use of licensed spectrum indoors, which will have a positive impact on the resources used by the outside macro.

Our findings show that as many as 90 per cent of medium to large enterprises in a metro area have cellular indoor coverage and capacity problems—which currently cannot be addressed cost effectively by mobile operators.

When properly accessed with a lower cost and scalable small cell solution, the amounts of pockets of un-used licensed spectrum inside metropolitan and campus office buildings in New York, San Francisco, London, Beijing, Singapore, Paris and Barcelona alone, could mirror the importance of discovering and utilizing the world’s largest crude oil deposits in Ghawar (Saudi Arabia) in 1948. Mobility spectrum (licensed) is the digital oxygen, and our industry’s equivalent to crude oil deposits.

But, scalable enterprise small cells cannot fulfil their potential without a deployment architecture that meets the performance expectations of enterprises and the business requirements of mobile operators. Enterprises expect small cell systems to provide seamless voice coverage, LAN-comparable mobile data throughput, and integration with local applications. Mobile operators need a solution that can be rapidly deployed, minimises operating costs, is easy to manage, and scales from small offices to huge multi-story buildings. SpiderCloud’s small cell architecture, called E-RAN (Enterprise Radio Access Network), is designed from the ground up to meet the performance expectations of enterprises and larger venues (V-RAN) and the business requirements of mobile operators. What makes a scalable small cell RAN different?

• Seamless voice coverage, with make before break handovers

• Consistently high data throughput, by managing inter-small cell interference

• Policy-based integration with Enterprise Intranet and voice applications

• Rapid deployment, with self organising and self-optimising algorithms

• Enterprise-centred management

• Lower operating costs through efficient use of backhaul

• Scalability—from small enterprises to very large

SpiderCloud Wireless E-RAN systems are deployed in commercial networks. With 65 radio nodes and one services node deployed using SON over 16 floors in one green building in the heart of London, SpiderCloud is proud to lay claim to the world’s largest (consecutive and SON connected radio nodes) and most capable in-building small cell network for voice and data services, where the foundation for services is already in place.

The world of mobile is indeed turning itself inside out and digital oxygen may be as valuable as crude oil by 2020.

Stay tuned, as we share more progress and adoption of the SpiderCloud Wireless small cell systems for scalable deployments inside enterprises and large venues. You can request a meeting with us at LTE Asia 2012 by clicking here.

You can also follow our progress at twitter @spidercloud_inc and @haraldsvik.

Ronny Haraldsvik SVP/CMO SpiderCloud Wireless

—–

Small cells and LTE are one of the many topics on the agenda at the LTE Asia conference, coming up NEXT WEEK at the Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. If you’re interesting in attending, there’s still time to register.

iPhone 5 expands LTE support but European/US roaming headaches remain

As the dust finally settles post iPhone, the tech blogs and comments sections the internet over are overflowing as Apple vs Android owners get embroiled in largely pointless arguments over the various merits of their preferred platform. As far as my own predictions based on rumours go, the only significant things I got wrong were the name (iPhone 5, not the new iPhone-phew) – and the lack of 800MHz LTE support, which I’ll get onto shortly. (It all mounted to a rather anti-climatic reveal, which made me long for the days when Apple announcement leaks were rare).

As far as we’re concerned though the major news of course was that, as was entirely expected, the iPhone 5 now offers LTE support. Crucially, for European and Asian operators and their customers, the iPhone 5 now supports their networks too, thus avoiding the disappointment that many faced when they realised that the iPad 3, which was touted as 4G capable, in fact only operated on US, Canadian and Japanese LTE networks.

This time, Apple has laid out the exact specs of what countries that will get LTE support, but there are still a couple of major LTE limitations that some may not realise.

The Verizon iPhone 5 can roam between the the US and Europe on LTE- but the other two iPhone variants can’t

There are three SKU’s of iPhone 5 with different LTE chips– (the A1428) a GSM model supporting AT&T in the US and Canadian networks, and the A1429 CDMA model for Verizon, Sprint and KDDI in Japan and the A1429 GSM model for the rest of the world.

This means that if you buy an iPhone 5 in Europe, you won’t be able to roam in the US on LTE, at all. However, the CDMA A1429 supports 1800MHz, so if you buy that one in the US, you should then be able to use in on 1800MHz LTE networks in the UK such as EE.

Secondly, there is no support for 800MHZ and 2.6GHz frequencies at all, which many operators, such as O2 and Vodafone in the UK, will be using for LTE once the auctions are complete and they get their networks up and running. Therefore their customers are going to have to wait for the iPhone 6 to get LTE support.

This is a double whammy blow for O2 and Vodafone in the UK, as on top of losing customers defecting to EE to get LTE now, they also have to contend with the fact that some customer’s may not be willing to commit to a two-year contract on the iPhone 5.

The LTE chip inside the iPhone 5 is Qualcomm’s MDM9615M. It’s a very impressive chip, built on a 28nm manufacturing process which makes for low power consumption yet still supports LTE in both FDD and TDD flavours and 3G in DC-HSPA+, EV-DO Rev-B and TD-SCDMA guise – the latter making it well suited for China.

However, the multiple frequencies required for LTE clearly make it impractical to offer a single chip version and maintain performance and power. It looks as though we’ll have to wait at least a year for Europe/Asia and US support in a single device, Apple or otherwise, while the ‘world-phone’ status that the iPhone 4S offered to become a reality in a highly fragmented LTE world.

LTE roaming is one of the many topics on the agenda at the LTE Asia conference, coming up NEXT WEEK at the Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. If you’re interesting in attending, there’s still time to register here.

LTE 1800 iPhone support great news for Asian operators

According to Informa WCIS stats, as of June 2012,  there were nearly 28 million LTE customers worldwide, but that’s set to increase significantly by the end of this year and a lot of that will be down to the Asia region.

Here in London the big LTE news yesterday was that the newly renamed EE network would be launching a 4G network to be ready in time for Christmas boosted by the iPhone 5 which is being launched this evening. But it’s not just EE that has reason to be cheerful that the world’s most hyped smartphone will support LTE 1800.  In Singapore, local operator Starhub is also poised to launch LTE1800, with September 19th scheduled to be the first day of operation.

Indeed, LTE is becoming ever more established all over the Asia Pacific region. In Australia, Telstra launched LTE1800 at the end of last year, while Optus joined the LTE party this year too. Japan has over 3.5 million LTE customers with most of those on NTT DoCoMo’s LTE2100 network.

India, the Philippines and Hong Kong all have live LTE networks but the biggest area of LTE growth in Asia is South Korea. According to Informa WCIS stats over 65 per cent of the market uses an LTE network, with more than 7 million customers. Over 2.5 million of these are on LG U+ but only recently SK Telecom announced that it now has five million LTE customers, which considering it only launched its LTE network in July 2011 is pretty good going. As with many other, the network operates at 1800MHz, and it has been reported that SK Telecom was one of the major lobbyists to Apple to ensure the iPhone 5 would support its LTE network.

SK Telecom is also pushing the boundaries by becoming one of the first operators in the world to launch VoLTE, which not only keeps voice calls within the IP only confines of its LTE network but also has enabled it to launch HD Voice, brining better voice call quality along with it.

With the iPhone 5 and the ever expanding LTE numbers in the region, the LTE Asia 2012 conference, taking place next week in Singapore is guaranteed to be an event buzzing with essential knowledge and insight. With every major operator in the region attending, it’s set to be an unmissable event for anyone in the region’s 4G industry.

Regional operators attending include:

  • Aircel
  • LGU
  • NTT DoCoMo
  • Packet One
  • Singtel
  • Starhub
  • SK Telecom
  • YTL

If you’re not already signed up, there’s still time to ensure your presence by signing up via the event website.  Looking forward to seeing you there!

Aricent Group interview: the evolution of LTE femtocells and the deployment of public safety and rural networks

Aricent femtocellIn the run up to the LTE Asia conference we bring you this interview with Aricent Group’s Sanjiv Kapur, director, product management, and R Ezhirpavai, assistant vice president – technology.

Aricent Group is a global innovation and technology services company that helps clients to imagine, commercialise, and evolve products and services for the connected world. It is an expert on LTE femtocells, and the deployment of rural and public safety networks.

How will CDMA be incorporated in next generation femtocells?

LTE and other next generation telecommunication technologies will need to co-exist with older technologies such as UMTS, CDMA and GERAN, etc. Deploying stand-alone solutions supporting individual technologies can be prohibitively expensive for both operators and subscribers.

Multi-mode femtocells – capable of supporting multiple technologies simultaneously – provide a solution for deploying these technologies to ensure that expenses are kept under control. These femtocells will provide support for LTE and one or more older technologies based on the operator’s requirements.

How can interference be reduced when macrocells and femtocells need to use the same carrier?

A: Various standard bodies have laid down detailed specifications for deployments of small cell solutions that minimize interference between base stations of different form factors.

The amount of power delivered to each femtocell determines its coverage area. Femtocell deployments can be designed to eliminate coverage holes in the macro cell UE coverage area.

Are there any standardization efforts on SON for LTE femtocells?

A: The standards for self optimizing networks (SON) are evolving and there is very little guidance available today on actual implementation. There is significant room for differentiation between vendors especially in case of small cell solutions such as femtocells.

Would LTE femtocell be marketed as operator subsidized?

Most likely! The operator today subsidizes most femtocell deployments. Operators are under huge pressure to reduce the cost per bit of providing data services and macro cells deployments are complex and expensive.

Femtocells provide huge benefits to operators, not just in terms of saving deployment and operational expenses, but also reducing the load on core macro networks via offloading. Subsidizing the cost of femtocell deployment also helps in improving customer loyalty, thus enhancing the overall user experience.

What are the choices for backhaul? Which is preferred and why? How do you solve the backhaul challenge for wide spread deployment of femtocells?

  • For Residential Femtocell, typically xDSL or Cable backhaul is used.
  • For Enterprise Femtocell, the SONET or ATM backhaul (exists on Enterprise) is used.

There are many countries wanting 700 MHz for commercial networks. Do you think this would affect public safety deployments which also require same spectrum?

Commercial providers want 700 MHz for good in-building penetration. In fact recently a provider was asked to move away from LTE only because the government of that country was not ready to offer 700MHz for commercial usage. Operators accrue huge cost savings when using this spectrum because the number of eNodebs needed in a network is minimized.

On other hand where there are commercial LTE deployments in this band, a different class of spectrum is being used for public safety as compared to commercial deployments.

How easy is it to integrate Aricent solution to any customer’s specialized applications?

Aricent’s EPC offering complies with standard 3GPP specifications for all its external interfaces enabling quick interworking with customer’s voice/media/data IMS/PMR applications. It also has well defined interfaces to integrate with external DPI engines, proprietary algorithms and external management frameworks.

Why do you think, 3G networks have not been able to capture the rural networks and why do you think LTE would not undergo the same problem in rural markets?

3G data networks lack the level of latency provided by LTE networks. Hence with 3G data networks, providing voice support is very difficult. So in order to support both voice and data, one needs both 3G data and CS networks. This brings in additional network node requirements. Moreover since CS networks are not “all IP” they require higher level of maintenance and redundancy path which is highly complex. Thus cost of laying down 3G networks as primary network for rural areas is very costly. With LTE networks, these issues are not present. Hence we feel LTE networks are more suitable for rural environment.

Are there any successful/profitable business models that leverage LTE for public safety applications that you are aware of?

There are many successful public safety applications that we are aware of. These are very proprietary to specific deployments. These applications help in services meant for public safety for e.g., in case of fire, informing the firemen, in case of defense, informing the field personnel by general in command, and providing information from field. Details of the applications cannot be revealed, but many multi-media applications are possible.

What spectrum band is likely to be used for Public Safety LTE outside the US?  E.g. in the Middle East or Asia Pacific Region?

We feel that in Asia pacific region, the 700MHz band is going to be used for public safety usage specifically in India.

Is there support of LTE for public safety markets outside of North America similar to the APCO support?

Yes, many countries are planning to use LTE for public safety. Many European countries and developing countries in Asia-pacific are considering LTE for public safety, mainly due to the advantages that LTE offers for this market.

Is LTE’s inherent security as secure as today’s Public Safety Radio networks like TETRA ?

Today’s Public safety networks offer additional security over and above what the 3G networks offer. In similar manner to offer additional security for LTE, operators are planning to use additional security mechanism, like separate frequency band, additional algorithms for ciphering and authentication etc., to offer better security in public safety networks. Application level security is additional functionality that is being considered by public safety vendors.

With current Femto & Nano cells market, how do you see LTE being used instead of already established 2G/3G Femto/Nano cells?

Femto/Nano cells help in additional radio coverage. With LTE it is not only solves the cell coverage isssue, but gives lot of additional functionality like better latency, better bandwidth, flatter architecture and single network serving both voice and data. Thus we see a definite market for LTE which cannot be fulfilled by 3G/2G femto and nano cells.

Which frequencies are optimum for the LTE deployment in rural or sparsely populated areas?

For rural deployment the lower frequency bands (700 MHz) is best suited, for better penetration and wider area coverage.

What is the overall cost for the deployment of LTE in rural or sparsely populated areas? `What bandwidth size is required?

Bandwidth size depends on the number of users and the bandwidth usage. More the usage more is the bandwidth required. Overall cost depends on multiple factors, like number of users, data throughput, area covered, redundancy requirement and alternate paths etc.

What are the challenges for core hosting in case of rural operators?

There are multiple challenges such as maintenance, remote monitoring, remote upgrades, high redundancy, finding alternate paths and establishing warning systems etc.

Does LTE for public safety support multicast services?

LTE specifications define multi-cast services which can be used for public safety as well.

Aricent will be exhibiting at the LTE Asia 2012 conference taking place NEXT WEEK on the 18-19 September 2012 at the Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. Click here to register your interest.

UK finally joins the LTE fast track

Today Olaf Swantee, the CEO of UK carrier Everything Everywhere, newly dubbed EE, confirmed that announced that finally, LTE was coming to the UK. In fact, it’s here already. As you read this, shiny new LTE 1800 signals are shooting out from masts in four of the launch cities that have been turned on today for testing purposes, these being London, Birmingham, Cardiff and Bristol.

A word on the brand name change: Everything Everywhere to EE. It may not be the greatest name for a network, but it’s a darn sight better than the awkward, cumbersome Everything Everywhere, and as Olaf pointed out, it’s what the media refer to the network as anyway, and a link to what has gone before. A good move then.

EE logo

The operator chose London’s Science Museum, home of so many technological innovations, as the location for its EE launch, a fitting venue for what EE CEO Olaf Swantee described as the, “communications equivalent of the change that jet made over steam”. The EE network he said would become, “as important to the country as the roads, the railways and the airports. This digital backbone will unlock new trade routes, unleash healthcare and create a host of opportunities that we haven’t been thought of yet. It will enable Britain to become a more modern, digital country, truly connected to itself, its neighbours and the world.”

By the end of the year the EE LTE network will be live commercially in 16 cities, the others being Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Belfast, Southampton, Hull, Nottingham and Derby. This will cover 20 million people, about a third of the UK population.

Fortunately those in other areas won’t have to wait too long, with the network rolling out during 2013 to the rest of the country and 98 per cent of the population by 2014. While a couple of years may seem a long way away, compared to the inertia regarding LTE only a few months ago, it’s relative light-speed.

No details were give on an exact full commercial launch date but we did get to hear about the five launch handsets, the Samsung Galaxy SIII, the HTC One XL, the Huawei Ascend P1 LTE and both new Windows 8 powered Nokias, the Lumia 820 and 920. There’s also the Huawei E589 Mobile WiFi mifi and the Huawei E392 mobile broadband USB. It seems like a very strong line up, but Olaf gave a very strong hint that there was more major news to come saying, “one more thing, more devices to come”. I think we know what that means.

Of course the other major networks may not be happy at the year lead that regulator Ofcom has given them by allowing EE, the merger of T-Mobile and Orange, to refarm its 1800 2G signals for 4G, but it seems unlikely that EE would have made a big a noise as it has today about the launch if it felt it was in danger of being held up by litigation. At this point Vodafone and O2 would probably have more to lose than to gain by holding up LTE in the UK any longer.

It seems than the from seemingly last place, the UK could pull it out the bag and come from behind to take the lead for 4G, ahead of major economies such as France and Germany that have already had a head start of the 4G race.

Olaf Swantee

Olaf Swantee, CEO of EE announcing the new brand and UK LTE network

It’s been a long road for EE to get here but the master stroke was having 1800 spectrum spare, which came about when France Telecom and Deutsche Telecom agreed to merge their UK brands into a single network. It is this that has enabled it to make the leap forward it has today, and potentially get a valuable lead in the UK 4G market. Of course how effective that will be will much depend on how competitively it sets out its pricing. While the speeds of 5-6x that of 3G are not to be sniffed at, it won’t be as exciting for the country if average consumers are priced out of the market.

It could go that way of course. Orange and T-Mobile will remain but will be hived off as 3G-only with EE becoming a premium 4G brand. This would hint that not everyone using the EE network will be switching to LTE immediately, possibly because it will require a new device, and tariff pricing will make it a premium option.

There could also be some confusion, as all EE customers will see EE displayed on their phones, regardless of whether they are on 3G or LTE.

The nonsense that was spouted by EE about its rather underwhelming new logo can be forgiven, or at least ignored, but Boris Johnson description of it as a “pollen count dot idea” is better than what EE itself presented to us.

Ah Boris, after an incredible summer of British sporting and organisational achievement that was the Olympics and Para Olympics, the London mayor has been handed another fantastic boon – a city soon to be swathed in 4G signals. A good move of EE to bring him on board for a typically highly amusing speech, where he managed to get away with thanking EE rival Vodafone for sponsoring the Olympics, and declare his love of “gizmos spouting data”. (scroll down and click link to listen to his amusing speech).

Boris Johnson EE

Boris Johnson’s speech at the EE launch, London 11 September 2012 (Audio only)

Also mentioned by Olaf, was the introduction of ‘superfast fibre’, under the EE brand, but while I was hoping this might be some revolutionary fibre to the home, it’s in fact offering speeds up to 76Mbps, so most likely just using incumbent BT’s wholesale network. Even so, as a combined offering under the EE brand, offering 4G LTE and fast fibre seems like a very strong play.

Many details still need to be fleshed out, in particular regarding pricing, but it’s hard to come away from the day’s news without an optimistic feeling that with EE’s move in LTE the UK will finally be able to compete and even lead the way for mobile broadband. Like Andy Murray, after years of waiting, we could finally be getting the grand slam network we’ve been waiting for.

EE LTE speeds – on test!

Here are two videos taking at the Science Museum in London following the launch event for EE’s LTE network, which will cover 16 cities across the UK by the end of the year.

Excuse the dodgy camera work, but here we see a quick speed test of EE UK’s LTE network run on a HTC One XL. The 51ms Ping is actually higher than I would have hoped, but 27.8Mbps downlaod and over 19.4Mbps upload is not to be sniffed at for my first experience of UK LTE. Considering I only get 5Mbps upload on my home broadband it’s hard not be be impressed.

Here we see a simple test -Angry Birds being downloaded and installed on a Samsung Galaxy SIII. As is pretty obvious from the video, the one on the left is a 3G handset and the one of the right is LTE. The LTE one has the game downloading, installed and the first level completed, before the 3G is even half way through. (Well two out of three ain’t bad).

The iPhone 5: when it’s coming and what to expect

As a known gadget enthusiast, quite a few people have been asking me about the new iPhone – namely when’s it coming out and what new features will it offer.


Is this the new iPhone? We’ll find out on Wednesday.

If you somehow have managed to avoid the millions of articles stating these things – possibly because you have a life, here a quick guide to what to what to expect.

Apple has been known for keeping information regarding its new announcements very secret and certainly no official information has been released, but in terms of spy shots this time round it’s been leakier than a leaky sieve full of holes on a rainy day. As such we’ve pretty much seen it all. So sifting through the rumour mill so you don’t have to, here’s what I think we’ll see.

When: Announced September 12th. Release date: Likely to be three weeks afterwards. Early October likely.
Name: The new iPhone – Apple is expected to maintain consistency with the last iPad – ditching the number afterwards. Anyway calling it the iPhone 5 would be inaccurate as it will actually be the sixth one.
What’s new: Larger, thinner, faster.
Display size:in – up from 3.5in on the 4S. Apple has to do something to keep up with the plethora of large-screened Android devices. The resolution is rumoured to be 1136 x 640, enabling it to keep its ‘Retina’ status and enable developers to easily scale apps.
Appearance: A new two-tone back reminiscent of the original iPhone.
Size: Taller to accommodate the new screen, but reportedly thinner at 7.6mm.
Connectors: The standard iPhone 30-pin connector is rumoured to be ditched to make way for an all new smaller connector, enabling Apple to make the most of the limited space inside. The eco-system of accessories will be supported via an adaptor. Apple is not expected to move to the industry standard micro USB as it wants to keep its eco-system proprietary.
Nano SIM card: The iPhone 4 moved to a macro SIM and the 5 is expected to shrink this down even further to make more room inside the case.
Features:Camera: 1080p rear/720p front. The iPhone 4S rear camera is expected to make another appearance with an upgrade to a higher-res front camera for better quality video calls.
Faster: Processor and memory: Possibly a new quad-core A6 processor, which is would need to push the new pixels around 1GB RAM.


Connectivity:
LTE!
Following on from the last iPad we’re expecting the new iPhone to introduce LTE connectivity. In addition to 700 and 2100MHz we expect 800 and 1800MHz frequencies to be added for support in Europe and Asia markets. This would tie in very nicely for UK carrier Everything Everywhere, which is making an announcement, expected to be regarding its LTE plans, the day before Apple on 11 September.
OS: iOS6 – Apple’s own 3D maps with turn-by-turn directions:
The latest version of iOS is expected to keep pace and possibly overtake Android for features. The most obvious changes will be the ditching of Google Maps and the YouTube apps as it looks to distance itself from Google.

Highlights:-

  • Facebook integration
  • Passbook: Keep eTickets and coupons in one handy place.
  • FaceTime oner cellular: video calls over the phone network
  • Answer phone calls with messages

Price: It’s likely to follow previous patterns so in the UK that would be £499/£599 and £699 for 16MB/32MB and 64MB.

Possible
Wifi: 802.11ac. Apple has often adopted wifi standards quickly and this evolution of wifi takes speeds to around 800Mbs which would play very well for its media empire.
NFC: This technology is what powers contact(less) payment apps as already used in several Android devices such as the Nexus. In terms of the rumour mill, it’s 50/50 whether this will be in the new iPhone.

Not this time:
Liquid metal: Apple has bought a company making material that would make phones thinner, lighter and stronger. Not likely to be ready for this handset though.
Wireless charging:
The new Nokia Lumia 920 features funky wireless charging tech. Not heading the iPhone’s way.

One more thing:
What we don’t know is what Apple is going to pull out the bag as an extra. The comapny likes to offer up an additional service that sets it apart from the competition and keep users wanting to stay within its ecosystem beyond the hardware. Could it be a music streaming service – ala Spotify?

The big question is whether it will all add up to be enough to keep Apple ahead of the game or seen be being playing catch up to an ever advancing Android market and a revitalised Windows collection of devices. We’ll have to wait and see.

LTE North America coming up!

 The 5th Annual LTE North America, the only LTE event this Fall in the US, is taking place in just over 2 months! Here is a quick recap on why it is a must-attend…

  • The event is led by a High quality, research-led programme – over 125 senior level speakers including the leading Carriers, Device Manufacturers and content providers: CTO Sprint, CTO Clearwire, President & CEO AT+T, Global CTO Telefonica and many more, see the full brochure here
  • 3GPP Endorsement – Highlighting the event’s market leadership in terms of content and international recognition.
  • A balanced audience – 45% Carrier attendance, Content providers (Google, National Geographic speaking), Device manufacturers (Sony, RIM), Investment companies (MD’s of UBS, Deutsche Bank), Regulators, Vendors, Analysts
  • Support from the leading Vendors (Alcatel Lucent, Huawei, Ericsson, Cisco, Panasonic, NEC, Tekelec, F5, SpiderCloud, Tektronix, Allot, Commscope, Ulticom, Mavenir, Radisys) and many more here and here) as well as niche vendors

Features to enhance learning and thought leadership

New – Carrier Mindshare – Round Table discussions led by leading Carrier’s taking place day 2 Morning

New – 4 Co located events – MVNO’s Summit, Signaling North America, Small Cells North America, Connected Cars

New – Focus sessions – Public safety (supported by FCC), Network Intelligence, Devices, M2M & Cloud, Monetising LTE, Spectrum, Voice over LTE, Handling the Mobile Data Explosion, Rural Carrier session (led by the RCA)

Co-Located Telecoms Academy training sessions – LTE Explained, LTE technical overview and more

Networking opportunities

New – Speed Networking open to Exhibitors and carriers taking place on both event days

New – Meetings request service, and Delegate networking tool to maximise pre scheduled meetings

New – Analyst clinic, meet with 10+ analysts on a 1 to 1 basis in the exhibit hall

The 3rd annual LTE North America awards

Ever expanding exhibition – 70+ sponsors/exhibitors & more expected! (vs 55 in 2011, 45 in 2010). With lunches, Refreshments and Complimentary Premium grade coffee (naming no names!) available

Contact me if you would like to: Speak at the show, Enquire about one of the few remaining exhibit stands, Associate your brand with this leading event, Send your salesforce to the show to meet new clients and close business!

Tom Winter
Head of Sales – LTE World Series
Informa Telecoms and Media
tel +44 207 017 5627
mob +44 777 040 8297
tom.winter@informa.com

—-

Remaining events in 2012…

LTE Asia – 18/19 September – See LTE Asia Brochure Here

LTE North America – 14/15 November – See LTE North America Brochure Here

 See the LTE World Series website here – www.lteworldseries.com

Join the LinkedIn Networking Group here!

Follow us on Twitter here!

Coming in 2013!

LTE Latin America – 16-17 April, Windsor Barra, Rio

TD LTE Summit – 23-24 April, Singapore

LTE MENA – 13-14 May, Westin Mina Seyahi, Dubai

LTE World Summit – 24-26 June, RAI, Amsterdam

LTE Africa – July, Cape Town

LTE Asia – 17-18 September, Singapore

LTE Voice – October, London

LTE North America – 5-6 November, Dallas

Sue Me, Sue You Blues

You serve me, and I’ll serve you.
Swing your partners, all get screwed

Bring your lawyer, and I’ll bring mine, 
Get together, and we could have a bad time

George Harrison: Sue Me, Sue You, Blues

“A million dollars isn’t cool. You know what’s cool. A billion dollars.”

So said Shawn Fanning to an awed Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin in the movie the Social Network.

But what’s cooler than a billion dollars? Now we know: $1.05 billion dollars.

Clearly the judge in the month-long Apple vs Samsung case was a fan of the film, after awarding the Californian firm the billion dollar busting total after a jury ruled that Samung had slavishly copied Apple in creating its Galaxy line of Android powered handsets.

Following the award Apple immediately tried to have eight Samsung Galaxy products banned from sale in the US and has now added newer devices such as the Galaxy SIII and the Galaxy Note to the list too. It’s potentially a massive blow for the firm, which has made a huge effort to overtake Apple to become the leading smartphone supplier in the world.

As you might expect Samsung has not reacted kindly to the news and has responded with the threat that if Apple continues down its path it will respond by counter-suing Apple if it releases an LTE enabled iPhone 5.

It turns out that Samsung has a good wodge of core LTE patents under its belt, holding 10 per cent of the total according to this research from this blog.Of course this is crucial as Apple’s iPhone 5, which is expected to be announced on September 12, is strongly rumoured to be LTE capable, (though at this point it is unknown what frequencies will be supported).

Of course Apple released an LTE capable iPad earlier this year, so there’s no doubt that this move is a knee-jerk reaction in many ways designed to protect itself from a result it clearly wasn’t expecting.

As has been suggested, Samsung may clearly be trying to deflect the damages by coming to an entente cordiale with its enemy so it can counter its design infringements with its engineering edge.

It’s not as if Samsung doesn’t have some solid background here. It’s been trying to make headway in the LTE telecoms equipment vendor space for a year or so and following an early with with Sprint, recently has had some big successes having recently announced deals with Three in the UK and Telstra in Australia.

There is certainly a precedent for cross licensing deals in the industry. Not many people know that Microsoft makes more money from Android phone sales that it does from the sales of Windows Phone, thanks to a licensing deals it has made for its patents that are using in the Google OS. Google played ball with Microsoft, but Samsung chose not to do so with Apple, despite Apple putting an offer on the table before the case went to trial.

The questions are how much Samsung’s patents are actually worth to Apple? If not that much, it might choose to continue to fight, which from a consumer choice perspective would not be ideal for the consumer.

The bad news from Samsung’s perspective is that it seems unlikely that anything will stop Apple from releasing an iPhone 5 with LTE.

A panel discussion on what the future holds for the LTE device market is taking place at the LTE Asia 2012 conference, taking place on the 18-19 September 2012 at the Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. Click here to register your interest.

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