Archive for October, 2012

Supply and Demand in the Wireless World

This is a guest post by Frank Yue, Technical Marketing Manager for the Service Provider vertical at F5 Networks.  Mr. Yue has over 15 years of experience building large-scale networks and working with high performance application technologies including deep packet inspection, network security and application delivery.  He is based in North Carolina and is a scuba diving instructor in his spare time. 

What happens when you build a new product or service and everyone wants to be a part of it? When demand surpasses supply, bottlenecks and delays are created, resulting in customer dissatisfaction. It is common to see lines of people waiting to get their hands on the latest hot product. Often, the infrastructure needs to be rebuilt or changes made to people’s habits to relieve the demand. Extra lanes and bypasses are added to the highway systems to meet expected rush hour requirements. Companies attempt to build and deliver sufficient quantities of product to satisfy predicted demand on the day the book or new phone is released to the consumers.

With the availability of today’s mobile Internet and the speeds that consumers can upload and download data with today’s technologies, there is an ongoing explosion in the amount of data being consumed by mobile subscribers. Mobile Internet access is becoming a standard feature as smartphone usage continues to grow. The number of mobile devices accessing the Internet is expected to pass the number of PCs in 2013. Video has become the top application being downloaded by consumers, accounting for 40 per cent of all Internet traffic.

In the meantime, infrastructure technologies continue to improve the availability and speeds at which mobile subscribers use these data services. 4G LTE networks provide the ability to download data at speeds at up to 100Mbps. Managing bandwidth through quota controls is becoming much more common. Unlimited data plans are disappearing. Even when these unlimited plans are available, there are thresholds where bandwidth management techniques are being applied.

Communications Service Providers (CSP) understand that by providing intelligence in the network that can inspect, classify and take actions based on the characteristics of the traffic and the subscriber profile, they can more effectively manage the network availability. This is possible, while providing enhanced services to premium customers at the same time. This requires an intelligent, flexible, scalable framework that will be able to provide the services required today as well as any future services which may be added later.

One aspect that is possibly being forgotten is the astronomical growth of traffic in the control plane of the LTE network. 4G LTE networks are designed to be IP-based packet switched networks for all traffic including voice communications. As a result, there are more control plane signaling messages using the Diameter protocol being sent back and forth to manage application access as well as the voice over IP (VoIP) communications. As more LTE capable devices become available and voice over LTE (VoLTE) continues to be deployed, the danger of the Diameter signaling storm is potentially greater than the growth seen on the customer data network. It is important to ensure that a scalable, highly available infrastructure is also built for the control plane.  A Diameter Routing Agent (DRA) can be implemented to help mitigate this problem.

To manage all of these services and develop a flexible dynamic environment that provides the framework for the evolving wireless network, CSPs need to implement an infrastructure that has the intelligence to identify applications, subscribers and behavioral trends; scalability to handle the subscriber and data growth; and flexibility to meet today’s requirements in addition to the requirements of the future. The demand for more applications and bandwidth is here and it is up to the wireless providers to manage the available supply through intelligent design and execution.

EE LTE: First impressions – fast but pricey

As you may have seen the UK finally joined the 4G club today as EE as put its devices on sale through its new rebranded stores. Gone are Orange and T-Mobile shops, and in their stead are EE stores – with the Orange and T-Mobile logos neatly placed in the corner so people have some idea what this newcomer to the high street is all about.

I walked in to the store on Tottenham Court Road in the heart of London and to take a look at the store and see what sort of speeds the network was offering on Day One. I initially picked up a Samsung Galaxy S3 (which is huge by the way) and looked to run a speed test. However, I noticed that the phone was connected via Wi-Fi, which on a display stand advertising EE 4G doesn’t seem like the smartest move. I tried to manually go into the settings and turn it off, but was thwarted by a password screen. Not a great start.

I then picked up another Android phone of unknown (or at least unremembered) parentage, but was immediately put off by the cheap, plasticky feel and the confusing mess of icons that is Android. Where does one start with that OS? It’s hard to know. I didn’t have time to mess around so with relief I found on display an iPhone 5 – connected to EE LTE, with Wi-Fi. The app was preinstalled, so I just had to fire it up – simples.

On first attempt I got 13.90Mbps down and 9.80Mbps. The latter is impressive – faster than my home connection, but the former – a bit meh. The second go was better – 26.68Mbps down and 13.27Mbps up. Not bad, not bad at all. Of course, this is day one – the equivalent of driving sports car at speed on an empty motorway – but it’s promising.

If we’re being harsh, and we are, one thing to note to note is the ping of 50ms – good, but not outstanding. That said, we’ve been told that LTE would be responsive, and it was. Web pages loaded quickly, video streamed instantly and I could scrub through with no lag.

While I was using the phone an assistant came up to me and asked if he could help. I asked if he could make EE tariffs cheaper. He looked bemused.

Much has been made of the fact that the EE prices seem very expensive to UK consumers. There’s the £36 starting point for a 500MB of data, and £56 a month top whack for £56 8GB on a lengthy two-year contract . If you’ve bought a phone outright and you want SIM only, you need to pay £31 a month for 3GB and £36 for 5GB. I’m paying £10 a month for unlimited data, so in no way do the EE tariffs seem attractive to me.

The service I’m with, an MVNO on O2 called Giffgaff offers low tariffs but has no shiny stores to pay for, and no phone-based customer care either – just a website and a forum full of knowledgeable, active users who can help you in seconds if you need assistance. The types you might say, that would be very likely to want to be early adopters of a fast network to really make the most of data, and would probably pay a bit more to get it. A bit more – maybe 100% more – but not 260% more.

One has to wonder who EE is aiming for, with its big stores, big phones, and its big prices. Not me. I sent the helper on his way, and I went on mine.

Carriers Flock to LTE North America for Region’s High Growth 4G Event

LTE North America, the industry’s premium networking event for the North American 4G LTE community, comes to Dallas next month at the most critical time for LTE throughout the country. With an unprecedented number and breadth of North American LTE deployments taking place over the past twelve months, the region has been propelled to the very forefront of the industry, and as such the event will explore the further opportunities and address the challenges within the ecosystem.

Well-established and now in its fifth year, LTE North America boasts a 45 per cent carrier attendance, bringing together industry leaders for an unparalleled breadth and depth of discussion around the future of mobile broadband. Through its diverse program, the event has grown year on year and has witnessed a staggering 77 per cent attendee growth over past two years alone. Event organisers anticipate that this year’s event will be bigger, particularly as the market booms. Mike Roberts, Principal Analyst of Americas at Informa Telecoms & Media, said: “North America is the world’s dominant LTE market and will continue to see explosive growth with subscriptions forecast to boom six-fold from 26 million at end-2012 to 162 million by end-2017.”

The exhibition and conference provides networking opportunities for carriers looking for potential new partners, and also gives visitors the chance to learn from over 200 top-level speakers, through in-depth focus sessions, case study examples, an analyst clinic, panel discussions and interactive roundtable sessions, including the carrier mindshare.

The agenda intends to address several key themes; Handling the Signaling Storm, Monetising LTE, Innovative Service Delivery, Handling the Mobile Data Explosion, LTE Spectrum Management, Public Safety LTE Networks and LTE Device Ecosystems.

These themes are echoed by the impressive speaker line-up, which is kicked-off by Krish Prabhu, Chief Technical Officer at AT&T, who will give a keynote speech on the opening day which focuses on new network technology. Mr Prabhu will provide insight into how the LTE Advanced Revolution will bring faster speeds, a more intelligent network and less obtrusive technologies to optimize coverage and capacity.

Extending the agenda, John Saw, Chief Technical Officer at Clearwire will lead a panel discussion centred on the reality of LTE. Mr Saw will address the publicized benefits, prominent obstacles and driving interoperability, while exploring new collaborative approaches for the future.

Also confirmed to deliver a keynote is Google’s Head of Americas Business Partner division, Adam Massey, who will discuss whether cloud computing, applications and services have changed the business landscape.

The event will also play host to the LTE North America Awards at a Gala Dinner on the opening day. The awards ensure global and industry-respected recognition for those who are shortlisted, including Cisco, Alcatel-Lucent, SpiderCloud Wireless, Openwave Mobility, ByteMobile and Azimuth Systems.

Sam Oakley, Events Manager of the LTE World Series commented: “Whilst discussions last year focused on the first LTE movers and early feedback from an emerging technology, this year has witnessed incredible movement and learning in the space, enabling enriched insights into the world of LTE. The event program will therefore centre on both the opportunities that LTE has enabled, in addition to the evident barriers that need to be conquered for optimal deployment.”

LTE North America will take place at the Fairmont Dallas Hotel, Dallas, Texas on 14-15 November 2012. To plan your visit, to view the full event programme, or to register for the event, then please visit or call +44 (0) 20 7017 5506. Please note that registration is free for carriers. Alternatively, keep up to date with the event on Twitter using the #LTENA hash tag. Looking ahead to 2013, the event will take place on 20-21 November 2013.

DMTS, Technology Development Group, U.S. Cellular: “The mobile wireless industry is one of the most innovative industries in the world.”

Erik Neitzel, DMTS, Technology, Development Group, U.S. Cellular

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

Well, we’ve certainly been busy with LTE! U.S. Cellular, in conjunction with its partner, King Street Wireless, launched a 4G LTE network in March 2012 that enhanced the wireless experience by providing countless entertainment possibilities, while helping customers simplify and organise their lives. The March rollout of 4G LTE included select cities in Iowa, Wisconsin, Maine, North Carolina, Texas, and Oklahoma, including some of U.S. Cellular’s leading markets. U.S. Cellular is the first wireless carrier to offer 4G LTE in several of these markets. In the second half of this year, 4G LTE coverage is expanding to cover select cities in Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oregon, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia. The 4G LTE network currently covers 31 per cent of U.S. Cellular’s customers. By the end of 2012, 58 per cent of U.S. Cellular customers will enjoy faster 4G LTE speeds.

Spectrum harmonisation is an on-going issue. Can it realistically be achieved, and do you think we will ever have a true world LTE phone?

The focus of my presentation to LTE North America in 2009 was this very issue of spectrum harmonisation. It was interesting to me that after years of the major operators running different types of networks using competing standards, we were moving toward a common standard but a fractured spectrum ecosystem. There are now seven or more different bands targeted for commercialisation in North America, not to mention others overseas. It is critical that government agencies, operators, network equipment manufacturers (NEMS), and device OEMs work together to ensure band compatibility for LTE in order to provide complete and diverse coverage options for users. I can’t predict the future, but we’re working hard to push device multi-band compatibility.

Are operators doing enough to deal with the impact of signalling from all the new smartphones and tablets that are appearing?

There is certainly awareness now concerning signalling that wasn’t there a few years ago. Wireless networks today typically are serving data using radio resources that can be an order of magnitude more than what would be needed for an optimised data stream, so there is a lot of room for improvement. I know from various conferences that most operators are looking at various methods for reducing signalling in their networks. Some operators are working directly with large application developers to educate them on the unique properties of radio link design and ways that signalling can be made more efficient. There are also developers working on middleware which resides on the mobile device to act as a traffic cop for autonomously generated signalling that can aggregate requests and also act as a content proxy. I don’t think that there is a single solution. It will be a combination of efforts that will enable operators to combat the signalling inefficiencies that we see today.

What are the basic things operators should do to optimise their networks?

Network optimisation begins with the radio link. Solid RF design principles are a must, but closing the gap between optimisation identification and implementation will be critical in the future. The combination of Remote Electrical Tilt (RET) antennas and Self-Organizing Networks (SON) promise to reduce this optimisation time considerably. Proper core network design, which allows for highly redundant, dispersed network elements will improve network uptime and reduce latency—critical for real-time applications like VoLTE. QoS inherent within LTE will allow even more ways to optimise the network to serve diverse classes of mobile wireless traffic.

Are you excited about the RCS based Joyn technology and do you think it will really help fight back against the OTT players?

RCS Joyn is GSMA branding for set of services based on RCSe specifications. In general, U.S. Cellular and North American operators will be launching RCS services based on RCS 5.0 specifications. Alignment of operators behind Joyn will enable interoperability between networks. The impact on OTT players remains to be seen.

What are your plans for VoLTE?

That is a definite area of interest for U.S. Cellular, as we see VoLTE and RCS as a way to enhance services, while managing future network costs. We are planning on VoLTE trials in middle to late 2013 to develop deployment capability.

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

U.S. Cellular has taken all the necessary steps to comply with the net neutrality regulations imposed by the FCC concerning internet access.  Unlike some other carriers, we were not so concerned about the rules that we felt compelled to take an appeal.  In short, it’s not a major issue for us.

How do you feel you can differentiate yourselves from the larger players in the market?

U.S. Cellular is focused on providing the best customer experience. We offer the latest phones and tablets, all backed by a high-speed nationwide network and we continue to roll out 4G LTE to more customers across our footprint. Our customers enjoy benefits no one else offers, such as no-contract after the first, free overage protection and free battery swap. U.S. Cellular also provides the only points-based rewards program in the industry, which rewards customers for simple things, such as paying bills on-time, adding a line or referring friends and family. Points may be used for faster phone upgrades, additional lines, devices, accessories, and ringtones.

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

The mobile wireless industry is one of the most innovative industries in the world. Networks are 100 times faster than they were ten years ago, and we’ve gone from supporting text messaging to HD video in the same period. The mounting challenge for operators is how to keep up with data network traffic demand. The paradigm shift to heterogeneous networks is one innovation that will help operators with this issue.

There’s still time to sign up for the LTE North America 2012 conference,taking place on the 14-15th November 2012 at the Fairmont Dallas Hotel, Texas. Click here NOW to register your interest!

What Will the Explosion of Devices Mean For Operators?

This post is by Houck Reed, vice president of product management and operations, Tekelec

There has been so much discussion about data traffic surges that mobile operators are missing the bigger picture of network signalling traffic surges; and what they mean for monetising services.

The Opportunity

Operators have to figure out how to open up their unique resources to those who covet them, such as Over-the-Top (OTT) players, mobile advertisers and content providers. Indeed, operators have the contextually rich subscriber data that others desire; not to mention the policy, QoS/SLA, billing relationships and management systems that can enrich OTT apps and services with differentiating capabilities, such as speed boosts during gaming or video downloads.

Currently, operators manage every part of the service delivery process – from devices, to networks, to subscriber databases. They also sit on a cache of contextual data about subscribers – preferences, devices, location, subscription and billing information and interests. All of this knowledge can generate revenue through personalised or location-based advertising (with the appropriate privacy provisions, of course) and zero-rated services paid for by third parties.

But in order to play the role of ‘enabler’ in a digital ecosystem, operators must have mitigation strategies and mechanisms to manage the tsunami of not only data traffic, but also signalling traffic that will imminently flood networks. LTE-enabled devices host sophisticated apps that constantly communicate with cell towers and various types of network equipment.

The Challenge

The type of monetisation and personalisation operators can enable will be challenged by the surges in data and signalling traffic generated by the sheer number of devices and the domino effect of mushrooming Machine to Machine (M2M) connections.

For example:

IDC predicts smartphone shipments will exceed 1.16 billion by 2016

  • Forrester Research forecasts that approximately 375 million tablets will be sold globally in 2016 (compared to around 56 million in 2011)
  • Berg Insights predicts the number of cellular M2M connections will reach 359 million by 2016

Following this rise in connections will come explosions in data and signalling traffic. Enough has been written about the migration to LTE and Wi-Fi offloads, and other mechanisms for dealing with data surges, but little is written about managing the number of Diameter messages supporting tens of millions of subscribers and up to hundreds of millions of devices – each of which can produce multiple concurrent sessions.

The Solution: A multi-pronged approach

Operators can use a combination of cloud, Diameter signalling and policy infrastructure to manage the surges of data and signalling traffic that will be triggered by new devices and their services.

By abstracting the complexity of managing specific platforms, devices or locations, the cloud enables operators to monetise anywhere, anytime applications without the management headaches. For that reason, mobile cloud traffic is expected to grow 28-fold between 2011 and 2016, a compound annual growth rate of 95 per cent, according to Cisco. Even more striking, cloud applications will drive 71 per cent of the total mobile data traffic by 2016 in Cisco’s forecast.

But cloud infrastructure has to be complemented by signalling infrastructure, as cloud computing can unleash huge volumes of signalling traffic. Sophisticated cloud services require authentication, authorisation, and accounting (AAA), policy, charging, QoS and mobility management – all of which Diameter directs.

It is absolutely essential that operators have a Diameter signalling layer (founded on a Diameter Signalling Router) in the network core for routing, traffic management, load balancing and protocol interworking – all necessary for accommodating the signalling that inevitably is triggered by new services.

They should also have a sophisticated Policy Server (PCRF) to define business rules for new service plans, not to mention subscriber data management (SDM) to personalise services, and Analytics to evolve services according to consumer and enterprise requirements.

This combination will help operators facilitate communication among service and network control elements, including policy servers, gateways, charging systems, mobility and session management, as well as subscriber databases – all of which communicate using the Diameter protocol.

If mobile operators embrace the full extent to which Diameter can generate revenue for 3G and LTE services, as well as manage explosions of data and signalling on their networks, they will be well on their way to successfully delivering and enabling personalised mobile data services capable of scaling with subscriber, application and data growth.

EE names its price

After months, nay years, of waiting, what is arguably the most important date for UK LTE is here. EE, the network that will launch the UK’s first national LTE service a week today, has announced its prices, giving UK consumer a first look at what they will have to pay to use the service. And as they say, the proof is in the pricing.

The prices cover subsidised smartphone plans, SIM-only plans, mobile broadband USB,  mobile wifi devices, and fixed-line broadband using both standard ADSL and fibre-to-the-cabinet, but what will interest the man/woman on the street though are the phone plans – and the starting tariff is £36 a month for a phone with unlimited calls, unlimited texts—and 500MB of data. A 1GB allowance is £41, 5GB takes it up to £36. The top-tier is an 8GB allowance at £56.

Move to SIM-only and 500MB will cost you ‘only’ £21. Its £25 for 1GB, £31 for 3GB and £36 for 5GB. There’s no 8GB SIM-only option for some reason.

This could be a problem.

Assuming a download speed of 15Mbps (we actually saw 27Mbps in the speed test at launch), and that entry-level 500MB of data could be downloaded in less than five minutes. Which, assuming 43,800 minutes in a month, would leave you with 43,795 minutes remaining with which you can’t not use the internet on your 4G phone.  You could pace yourself of course – but that would equate to around 10 seconds of full-tilt LTE a day. Whoopee.

Of course, that’s an exaggeration of real world use – you don’t tend to use that much data in one go on your phone, but even snacking on data, 500MB is a little on the lean side, to say the least.

What these expensively priced data buckets don’t seem to take into account is the way that LTE should change the way people uses their phones. Fast access will make using cloud and streaming services second nature – but if they do, they will run into their data allowances almost immediately.

Olaf Swantee, the chief executive of EE told Rory Cellan-Jones, Technology Correspondent for the BBC that, “”We really think we’ve priced it at the sweet spot,” and, “it’s all based on months of consumer research.”

From the look of my Twitter feed the UK public would beg to differ.

This from UK tech site TechRadar – “Lots of anger about EE’s 4G pricing – if it was £36/month for 1GB, would that sway you? What would you be willing to pay?”

This from a punter – “If I switch to a 4G contract (still paying £36/month) my data allowance goes from Unlimited to 500MB! Kept that one quiet! @EE.” and “Over promising and over pricing! When will@ThreeUK have 4G.”

The Editor of PC Pro said, “EE has just blown all first-mover advantage with those ridiculous 4G tariffs. Shareholders must hold CEO accountable.”

And this from yours truly – “Initial reaction to @EE prices – they’re horrible. 5GB SIM only for £36? That’s a 260% hike on what I currently pay for data. I’m out. #4G.”

On the plus side there are some real positives. EE has said that tethering is allowed, as is VoIP and for £5 a month extra, the tariffs can be used when roaming across Europe and is several other selected countries, among which are Australia, China, India, Israel, Russia and the USA. In addition, free access to BT wifi is included, and as a value-add, EE is offering EE Film, which enables customers to stream one film of choice to any device a month, without impacting their data allowance.

The fact that despite promises that EE would only place a modest premium on LTE, these are in fact premium prices for a premium service. The mass market will have to wait for the other networks to join the LTE party (and if you’re an die-hard iPhone fan that will mean an iPhone 6 will be required  – the iPhone 5 will not support 800/2.6GHz LTE).

From a pure industry perspective, EE’s rivals in the market should be pleased with EE’s pricing strategy. Theyr’e not too low that all the value has been taken out of the market at the start, and there’s scope for them  to be more competitive when their services come online.

When that happens EE will be likely to be forced to lower prices, but for now, the price levels indicate that it is trying to take as much advantage of its first mover position as possible to generate revenue. That‘s good news for the industry – but less so for the consumer.

UK carriers joining forces over 800MHz LTE

Good news in the UK LTE market, as Three, EE, Telfonica and Vodafone have actually joined forces to speed up the use of 800MHz for mobile broadband.

One of the issues around the use of 800MHz is that the signals are likely to knock out terrestrial digital TV signals, known in the UK as Freeview. The four operators have created the Digital Mobile Spectrum group, which is tasked with ensuring that Freeview consumers in the UK do not suffer from interference from 800MHz LTE, an issue that if not dealt with could put a stumbling block on launching the technology. Under the plans, the four will contribute to a 180m pot of cash that will be used for equipment to tackle interference that up to an estimated 2.3m homes could face once 800MHz LTE launches. However, any operator that fails to win any 800MHz spectrum will not have to contribute and will drop out of the company.

How it will work in practice is that eligible households will receive a voucher to cover the cost of a special filter, which will be attached to the Freeview box in the living room. In some situations the funding will pay for an engineer visit, and in extreme situations where there’s no chance of terrestrial TV working again – presumably is they live right next to a LTE800MHz macros station. Interestingly, for around 500 homes in the UK, there will be no acceptable alternative – it’s unclear if the fund will extend to letting these poor people move home. (NB. This is a joke).

Either way, it’s a market of how serious the government and the operators to get this 4G thing moving and the coming together is in everyone’s interest.

Ofcom, the UK regulator pulled out an unusual masterstroke in allowing Everything Everywhere to refarm its spare 1800MHz frequency for LTE despite it clearly placing it at an advantage over its rivals who do not have such spectrum to spare. After initially throwing their toys out the pram, the move has clearly made the rival realise that they need to fight back with network engineers rather than with lawyers and get their own LTE plans going to earn revenue.

Therefore Three, Vodafone, and Telefonica won’t want anything to further delay their LTE plans, while Everything Everywhere will not want to be seen to be unfairly extended their LTE lead, which from an initial 12 months is now more likely to be six months.

As far as UK consumers go that’s a win.

How MetroPCS has handled interference between macro and small cells is one of the discussion points in the tracks that Small Cells North America conference being co-located at LTE North America 2012 taking place on the 14-15th November 2012. Click here to register your interest

Shortlist Announced for the LTE North America Awards 2012

The LTE North America Awards have attracted an array of entries this year to compete in the 8 LTE-focused categories. The ceremony, which takes place on 14th November 2012 at the Fairmont Hotel in Dallas, Texas, will see those shortlisted, competing with each other to secure one of the 8 prestigious LTE North America Awards.

This year, we introduced two brand new categories; ‘Best Backhauling Solution’ and ‘Most Innovative LTE Application/Service’. Both received a significant amount of interest from entrants, reflecting the progression made in the North American LTE industry.

Sam Oakley, Events Manager of the LTE World Series commented: “The judges have had an extremely difficult task to narrow down a shortlist of companies as we’ve been inundated with high quality, innovative entries this year.

“To beat off the competition and get through to the final shortlist is a real testament to the hard work and excellence shown by these service and solution providers. The high level of quality entries also shows the prestige of the LTE North America Awards, which ensures global and industry-respected recognition for those who are shortlisted.”

The full shortlist of companies is…

Best Chipset / Processor Product

  • Freescale
  • Qualcomm
  • Vitesse Semiconductor

Best LTE Core Network Product

  • Alcatel-Lucent
  • Cisco Systems, Inc.
  • F5 Traffix
  • Infoblox Inc
  • Openet

Best LTE Device/Handset

  • Anritsu Company
  • Novatel Wireless

Best Test/Measurement LTE Product

  • Agilent Technologies, Inc.
  • Anritsu Company
  • Azimuth Systems
  • Ixia
  • Shenick Network Systems

Best LTE RAN Product

  • Alcatel-Lucent
  • CellMax Technologies
  • Nokia Siemens Networks
  • Reverb Networks, Inc.
  • SpiderCloud Wireless

Best LTE Traffic Management Product

  • ByteMobile
  • Openwave Mobility
  • SEVEN Networks
  • Tekelec
  • Tektronix Communications

Best Backhauling Solution

  • Alcatel-Lucent
  • Cisco Systems, Inc.
  • RAD Data Communications
  • Telco System

Most Innovative LTE Application/Service

  • Gemalto
  • MetroPCS Communications, Inc.
  • Openet

Attendees of the awards ceremony will be welcomed with a champagne reception before being shown to their seats in the Grand Ballroom for a sumptuous 3 course meal with wine. The awards ceremony will take place between courses and conclude after the meal. For more information on the awards please visit the website:

To book your tickets for the LTE North America Awards Ceremony please contact Tom Winter, Head of Sales from the LTE World Series at or call him on +44 (20) 701 75627.

CTO, Truphone: “We are acutely aware of the complexities of LTE wherever you choose to go.”

James Tagg, CTO, Truphone is speaking in the VoLTE 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 show we speak to him about how Truphone is disrupting the US cellular business.

Please tell us about Truphone and how it works.

Truphone is a pioneering international mobile communications company offering a range of innovative solutions that enable international businesses and people to stay connected wherever they are, backed up by a great user experience – and without the fear of ‘bill shock’.

We have carefully studied the needs of people who live and conduct business internationally, and have implemented solutions that deliver users what they clearly need most: a mobile phone experience that is entirely intuitive and a step change improvement for them.

With Truphone, people use their mobile devices internationally with the same frequency and simplicity that they do at home – and we have the data to prove it.

More technically speaking; we have a multi-IMSI (multi-identity) SIM and a cloud-based IMSI broker, which work in tandem to enable users to roam between international networks and make smart decisions as to which network provider to use. Our intelligent network makes decisions on how to best route the call, SMS or data traffic based on the quality and cost of the transports available – all in real time.

We supplement this network layer with SIM-level user experience enhancements that effectively enable people to behave like a local in lots of countries.

As well as a pure-play infrastructure MVNO, we have a long and successful history and a series of patents in the VoIP space for mobile.

There’s an increasing amount of competition in the VoIP market? How do you stand out?

We’re making your smartphone into a better device to get work done. We have compelling VoIP offerings that work well on a wide range of mobile device operating systems, including iOS, Android and BlackBerry OS, which offer high quality audio even at low bandwidths, does not drain your battery life excessively and is intuitive to use.

Importantly however, it is our recently announced Truphone for Business GSM service that we expect will disrupt the US business cellular market today with an emphasis on International roaming.  In the future we anticipate that convergence of the GSM infrastructure side of our business, with the IP based offering will provide us with a platform for further innovation that will continue to enable us to differentiate.

What are the key challenges of IP based telephony?

Most of the mobile networks, including LTE, are not quite ready to support a full move to voice over IP.  Over-the-top services can currently be used but existing VoIP applications that use the data component of the mobile networks don’t have the capacity required.  And for subscribers, VoIP apps can eat through data plans quickly.

How will the drive towards LTE help your business?

LTE means different things in different markets. We’re not being pedantic—our business is one that lives internationally so we are acutely aware of the complexities of LTE wherever you choose to go. It’s fair to say however, that we currently have a SIM offer and a mobile app service.  LTE would enable us to use a single network to offer subscribers the best of both worlds – it’s all about choice.

With the likes of OTT players such as Truphone, where do you see VoLTE fitting in?

LTE finally gives companies the ability to deliver voice without the technical confines of circuit-switched networks. There will be the ability to bundle VoLTE or other voice technologies with other applications that will really offer the kind of personalisation we’ve been talking about for years either with or without the IMS core.

What applications do you see defining 4G for consumers?

You can imagine that as users get more accustomed to video calling from Wi-Fi, they might be more likely to do it when they are mobile, plus of course streaming rich media. That’s probably the most correct answer, but I sort of hope it doesn’t pan out that way. It’s the innovation that the extra dimension of ‘speed’ brings which will be most exciting. Speed will happen eventually, whether it’s on 4G, 5G or whatever – eventually information in the real world will be available in something that for humans feels ‘instant’

When the real world around you starts to throw out information that helps you do the things you want to do—more effectively—that’s when we get to a new level of user-centric performance that will spark a tremendous wave of innovation.

We might get a train or a bus instantly tells you if you’re going where you need to as you run to catch it, or a reminder of the name of the acquaintance walking up to you in a meeting or party, delivered in a context sensitive way. The possibilities for new devices and new life enhancements in that ecosystem are really interesting. That’s what I would like to happen, but most likely it’s video and streaming media that will define 4G in the eyes of consumers in the first instance.

You are targeting price sensitive users. Do you think that carriers are implementing LTE pricing in the correct way?

We don’t really think of our users as ‘price sensitive.’ Let me put it this way, if a user travels to a country where we have a full MVNO agreement (we call them Tru Countries, currently US, Australia, UK and Netherlands) they use about 10x the voice, text and data that they use when visiting a ‘non Tru country. That’s a 1000 per cent more communication with your colleagues, clients and family.

For sure a “killer price” is a feature of the service, but the benefit and the user profile certainly isn’t only derived from the ‘low cost’ – the benefit is that you can continue to stay connected to your life. You don’t need to put the world on ‘pause’ just because you’re out of the country.

To what extent will moves such as integrated carrier billing have an impact on the OTT industry?

Customers want one bill for all their services – one-stop shopping has always been important.  Aggregating the billing for OTT services with a carrier is something third-party companies want but will not happen in the near future.  Carriers are very protective of their customer’s personal information and unless the OTT companies want to pay the carriers to bill for their services it might be some time before this comes to fruition.

Outside of Truphone is there enough innovation occurring in the mobile network industry? Can you provide some examples?

I think there is innovation – and we’re seeing it right across the spectrum. Is there enough? Well, I think it’s more about the right innovations, the ones that work and really improve the experience of customers for the better. Mobile carriers around the world are magnets for other companies to innovate, even though some of the larger operators have their own R&D facilities.

The mobile industry, has, and continues to be, a leader in regularly delivering innovative products, services and applications.  Some very large companies such as Telefonica are showing some interesting ideas, and underserved pockets of users are inspiring smaller operators such as Truphone to emerge with a highly differentiated offering. There is however, room for so very much more.

What are you hoping to get out of attending the LTE North America?

We want to continue to share our story, strengthen ties with our friends in the industry, develop new relationships, and work to develop a track record as a valued contributor to this emerging ecosystem. We see ourselves absolutely as a positive influence here, and want to work alongside some of the big beasts in the industry to deliver value to customers in areas where there are currently ‘blind spots.’ And who knows, maybe we’ll catch up with some old friends while we’re here.

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.

4G in the UK: Timelines settled, now fight for the customers

This is a guest post by Francesco Radicati, an analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media, provider of strategic insight, global market data and primary research.

The UK’s 4G saga may have reached its climax in August with Everything Everywhere receiving permission to launch its own LTE network early, but the story isn’t over yet. UK regulator Ofcom announced yesterday that it would move forward the auction for the Digital Dividend creating by switching off analogue TV, and that clearance of TV transmitters will be brought forward by around five months.

This is a clear concession to O2 and Vodafone, who were the most vocal in criticizing the decision to let EE launch 4G on its 1800MHz spectrum. Given the uncertainty over dates and the long lead times, both operators faced potential waits of around a year to launch their own 4G networks. Add to that the fact that Apple’s new iPhone 5, which hit the market just a few weeks after Ofcom’s announcement, only supports LTE over the 1800MHz frequency in the UK; this might not be an operator’s worst nightmare, but it must certainly be high on the list.

As I said back in August, the danger remained of O2 and Vodafone mounting a legal challenge to stop EE being able to launch its 4G network. But it looks like we’ve avoided that particular nuclear option, which would have caused even more delays; more to the point, it looks like everybody’s (just about) gotten what they wanted.

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