Archive for May, 2013

CEO, MTC, Namibia: “Will we be able to generate revenues in VoLTE as we do today in circuit switched?”

Miguel Geraldes, CEO, MTC, Namibia

Miguel Geraldes, CEO, MTC, Namibia

Miguel Geraldes, CEO, MTC, Namibia is speaking on how the African market is preparing for the LTE data surge on Day One of the LTE World Summit, taking place on the 24th-26th June 2013, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Ahead of the show we speak to him the many challenges that faced MTN as it looked to move beyond the limitations of its 3G network and launch LTE into the African market.

Please bring us up to speed with the state of LTE on your network and tell us some of the main challenges you are facing?

I believe that LTE is not a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ but a ‘When’. We accelerated the introduction of LTE as our 3G network was limited – for several reasons. It operated at a relatively high frequency, which is not ideal for urban areas and impractical for rural areas, a limited number of subscribers could be attached per carrier, and there were admission control or power control issues. 3G smartphones, with their push e-mail and other features are generating a tremendous challenge as the WCDMA 3G radio sites are easily reaching their “power control” limit, blocking data sessions and migrating voice calls down to 2G EDGE. To cope with this heavy usage more NodeBs are required but MTC was limited in the number they could deploy in the Capital, due to regulatory and environmental restriction from authorities.

Based on this, LTE was an imperative because it was possible to be established at the same sites where we had WCDMA 3G. The 1800MHz frequency was awarded to us and was much better in terms of indoor coverage, with no “admission control” limitation, thus providing us with a way forward. Nevertheless, the challenge was first to migrate the heavy users of dongles/routers from 3G to 4G LTE, which we did extremely well, thanks to a tremendous marketing and offer campaign.

What were the chief technical challenges you are facing in optimising your network for LTE?

In our case, the move to LTE was smooth. Firstly, in 2010 we deployed a 2G/3G SingleRAN that was upgradable to 4G. Secondly, we had fibre metro rings connecting to parts of our network, including base stations, which could also easily accommodate IP microwave where needed. Thirdly, in 2011 MTC completed the deployment of a national fibre backbone. Next, in the first quarter of 2012 we were connected to the WACS submarine cable, with which we entered into a consortium venture in 2008. Thanks to all of this, the major elements were in place to introduce the LTE.

However, LTE represents a transformation of a mobile network’s architecture into a full IP network. The unified 2G/3G cores and 4G with EPC (Evolved Packet Core) and the HLR/HSS (Home Location Register and Home Subscriber Server), that includes CS fall-back for voice calls is an interoperability challenge.

This IP ecosystem delivers significant speeds, especially in terms of downlink, and requires a deep understanding of exactly how to manage the IP packages. Optimising the synchronization between the transport data elements (especially HD video) and the connection to the device requires a different mind-set than what most mobile operator are used to.

The LTE World Summit, the premier 4G event for the telecoms industry, is taking place on the 24th-26th June 2013, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Click here to download a brochure for the event.

How sensitive are your customers on LTE pricing?

Pricing is always an issue. Pricing LTE higher than 3G could be a problem if the customer does not recognise the relevance of the service. In advanced markets with the latest 3G HSPA and no capacity issues, the customer will have difficulty seeing the advantages of LTE, but where there are capacity issues, then the customer will look for 4G LTE and will even be keen to pay a premium – and that was the case for MTN.

MTC introduced 4G LTE dongles and routers to the market with packages that provided 10 times more speed and capacity than 3G – a much better experience, and charged a 10 per cent premium over 3G HSDPA.  Not surprisingly, when LTE was introduced the early adopters were the heavy 3G users and MTC migrated those early adopters for free and kept the same 3G charges for the first three months and only after that charged the premium.

Is VoLTE and RCS part of your plans and what benefits will it bring both to operators and consumers?

Where our networks are migrating to full IP, VoLTE is just a matter of time. Theoretically, VoLTE is the basis to migrate from the current CS to the full IP network, but I personally expect that the 2G/3G networks will be with us for several years.

The industry business model trend is that data represents 80 per cent of the CAPEX, but does not generate much more than 10 per cent of revenues. How we will monetise the migration properly from the current circuit-switched to a future voice over IP (VoLTE) might, in my humble opinion, be the biggest challenge that our industry will soon face. Will we be able to generate revenues in VoLTE as we do today in circuit switched?

Regarding the unified communication services, the rich communication suit (RCS) is a very comprehensive approach designed to cater to the future needs of the end-user, and to combat the OTT players. I believe the RCS approach is very relevant and a very positive move.

How does the move to LTE affect your backhaul strategy?

The strategic direction of our backhaul and backbones submarine cables was defined before we decided to introduce LTE. We were looking for bandwidth for our own transmissions, to move away from the old leased lines and renting international bandwidth, as well as extending our own fibre to the base stations. We accelerated our investment to improve our P&L in the future without the need to resort to renting connectivity, which has been one of MTC biggest OPEX costs.

Why is the LTE World Summit such a key event in your calendar?

It will be interesting to learn if all the communication industry is really aligned and to discover if we are at the front line and if we fully understanding the next steps to take with LTE.

Interview: Head of network, Vodafone, Netherlands: “The introduction of small cells is the next step in serving our customers.”

Head of network, Vodafone, Netherlands

Head of network, Vodafone, Netherlands

Matthias Sauder, head of network, Vodafone, Netherlands, is appearing at the LTE World Summit, the premier 4G event for the telecoms industry, taking place on the 24th-26th June 2013, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Ahead of the show we find out more about Vodafone’s upcoming LTE launch in the Netherlands and how the network can best be optimised. 

What are the key techniques for network optimisation in LTE and what effect can it have on the customer experience?

The key optimisation technique in LTE is SON (Self Organizing Networks). SON is a technique which can improve the accessibility, throughput, and retainability, enabling the operators to better manage capacity– in particular coverage and capacity optimisation, load balancing and handover robustness, which are all methods of improving the customer experience. However, additionally automated neighbour relations and self-configuration mechanisms are also helping to improve operational excellence and customer experience. I would also not underestimate the efforts which have to be spent to introduce and optimize CSFB (Circuit Switched Fall-Back). It is an absolute must to provide a basic voice service at great quality.

Are small cells enough to solve the problems of localised demand for data?

The introduction of small cells is the next step in serving our customers where they would like, delivering an unmatched network experience. I see them as a first step in dealing with all the challenges that operators face from the increased use of smartphones. They will help operators cope with capacity demands and the OPEX challenge. The implementation of small cells will speed up the rollout of local capacity/coverage improvements and they also limit the visual impact of a mobile network. I also see LTE-Advanced technologies such as COMP as future solutions for further improving capacity management.

The LTE World Summit, the premier 4G event for the telecoms industry, is taking place on the 24th-26th June 2013, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Click here to download a brochure for the event.

What’s your strategy around Wi-Fi and is it an effective means to reduce load on the core network?

We will trial Wi-Fi deployments linked to our small cell trials in major cities in the Netherlands. It can be used as a measure to improve the customer experience and help to reduce load on the core network.

What do you think will be the most exciting new development in LTE in 2013?

There are several that spring to mind. Generally, the introduction of LTE within the Vodafone network in the Netherlands: and technically, the use of active antennas. We will see more small-cell deployments all over the world and SON will be used to optimise networks and mitigate complexity.

How quickly are you looking to deploy LTE Advanced and what are the challenges you predict it might bring?

Firstly we aim to launch a high quality LTE network and then LTE-Advanced will be one of the next natural steps. We want to get the basics right!

Why is the LTE World Summit such an important event for you to attend?

It is a great event to catch up on the newest trends and developments. The event provides a unique opportunity to meet many different colleagues from all over the world – networking is key. Content wise the event has been excellent so far and I am pretty sure it will prove so again this year.

Interview: Director, Rich Communication Services, Telefonica, Spain “Internet OTT’s contribution to the industry is very positive.”

Javier Arenzana Arias, director Rich Communication Services, Telefonica, Spain

Javier Arenzana Arias, director Rich Communication Services, Telefonica, Spain

Javier Arenzana Arias, director Rich Communication Services, Telefonica, Spain is speaking at the LTE Operator Mind Share, part of the LTE World Summit, taking place on the 24th June at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Ahead of the show we get an insight into how Telefonica is confident that RCS services will enable the industry to confidently compete with OTT services.

Can you give us an update of where Telefónica is with RCS services?

Telefonica has been one of main contributors to the development of RCS across the industry and the success of RCS is essential to extend our core interoperable services into the advanced formats that our customers demand. We have been a leading member of the initiatives at the GSMA, shaping the strategic opportunity [the RCS provides] and defining the service specifications and roadmap. The Telefonica Group launched an Joyn RCS service in Spain in 2011, along with Vodafone and Orange and, along with our main competitors, it will launch it in the coming months in Germany. In Latin America we are participating in several multi-operator roundtables in order to align our views about the opportunity of a joint launch with the other MNOs in the region.

What are the chief technical challenges you are facing with regards to RCS?

The technical challenges we face when we launched Joyn in Spain were simply those related to the implementation of any new interoperable technology. All participants in the ecosystem had to learn together about the technology, developing their respective clients and application servers without the support of a reference implementation to validate their work. Now there are several reference implementations on networks, and many devices that have been accredited that are providing the service in an interoperable manner among several operators, with downloadable applications and native devices. Operators deploying Joyn can now use these reference solutions for their roll-outs.

The LTE Operator Mind Share is taking place on the morning of Day One of the LTE World Summit, the premier 4G event for the telecoms industry, taking place on the 24th-26th June 2013, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Click here to download a brochure for the event.

The OTT players have the advantage of cross platform but Facebook Home is now looking to offer device integration too. Can Joyn be a timely and effective response to this?

Internet OTTs contribution to the industry is very positive. They have developed very compelling services and will continue promoting innovation. Operators have a different service proposition and capabilities to leverage. RCS gives us the option to provide differential value to our customers – a universal communications upgrade. Such a transition will take time, for sure, but will result in a solid service offering.

Please tell me more about why attending the LTE Summit is so important for Telefónica.

Awareness of the strategic opportunities for the telco industry is an essential to take the next steps to evolve the ecosystem. The LTE World Summit gives us an excellent opportunity to share our views with the rest of the operators on the transition towards the next generation networks and our future all-IP services.

Head of mobile business development and partnerships, Groupon: “we see people increasingly using mobile devices as a means of interacting with their local surroundings.”

Andreas Lieber, head of mobile business development and partnerships, Groupon

Andreas Lieber, head of mobile business development and partnerships, Groupon

Head of mobile business development and partnerships, Groupon: “we see people increasingly using mobile devices as a means of interacting with their local surroundings.”

Andreas Lieber, head of mobile business development and partnerships, Groupon, USA, is taking part in a digital innovation debate in the morning of Day One of the  LTE World Summit, taking place on the 24th-26th June 2013, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Ahead of the show we speak to him about how the mobile space has been crucial to the success of Groupon over the past two years.

To what extent is Groupon a digital company – and why is innovation in this space so important?

Groupon is at its core a digital/tech company. More than 200 million of our subscribers receive our emails, view our mobile services and search the Web every day to find curated, unbeatably-priced offers from an ever-expanding list of more than 2,000 individual types of goods and services.

Innovation in this space is extremely important because just a few years ago our business was predominantly driven by our daily email. In Q1 2013, less than 45 per cent of our North American transactions came from email, with mobile and search accounting for a greater percentage of our total business.

Since its launch in 2008 smartphones and tablets have changed the mobile landscape. What impact has this had on how you communicate with your customers?

More than 40 million people worldwide have downloaded our mobile apps, with more than seven million of those downloads coming in Q1 2013. Groupon has tremendous penetration in the mobile space and is a natural fit for this medium. As a result, our mobile business has skyrocketed from about 20 per cent of North American transactions two years ago to 45 per cent in March 2013. And, the average mobile customer spends well over 50 per cent more than Web-only customers.

The LTE World Summit, the premier 4G event for the telecoms industry, is taking place on the 24th-26th June 2013, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Click here to download a brochure for the event.

Tell us more about how partnerships with mobile networks and use of mobile technology can help create business opportunities for Groupon.

Our apps work across multiple platforms, and we see people increasingly using mobile devices as a means of interacting with their local surroundings. And partnerships are a great way to provide relevant, incremental access points to Groupon products via the partner’s content and discovery services.

Has the potential of digital now been fully leveraged or is there scope for greater innovations in the future?

There is definitely room for us to further leverage our mobile platform. We’re constantly advancing our personalisation and are simultaneously growing our inventory, which will enable us to provide more relevant deals based on your location, current intent and personal preferences. We’re also very focused on increasing our mobile search capabilities to enable our customers to navigate this expanded inventory. Watch this space for some news soon.

Why did you choose to attend the LTE World Summit?

Mobile fits right in with our mission to make it easy for people around the world to search and discover great businesses at unbeatable prices. With its global scope and wide spectrum of attendees, the LTE World Summit is a great way for us to meet people and potential partners across the entire mobile ecosystem.

Service quality assurance manager, VIPnet, Croatia: “Cloud is a major opportunity for operators to avoid simply becoming bit-pipes.”

Hrvoje Jerkovic, service quality assurance manager, VIPnet, Croatia

Hrvoje Jerkovic, service quality assurance manager, VIPnet, Croatia

Hrvoje Jerkovic, service quality assurance manager, VIPnet, Croatia, is speaking on Day One of the LTE World Summit, taking place on the 24th-26th June 2013, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Ahead of the show we find out more about his views on various topics, including cloud, RCS, and VoLTE.

What major developments have there been with regards to the LTE industry in your region this past year?

VIPnet launched LTE commercially in March 2012 and currently we provide LTE in four major cities, making up almost 50 per cent of the country’s population coverage. The fact that we have widely available dual-carrier 3G on 2100 MHz for several years, offering speeds up to 42MBps, makes LTE a logical next step technology but it’s not a quantum leap.

What are the key techniques for network optimisation in LTE and what effect can it have on the customer experience?

Despite moderate LTE coverage our top customers with state-of-the-art smartphones should benefit from it whenever possible. In terms of network optimisation, in particular VIPnet has recognised the importance of smooth handovers between 3G and 4G networks in idle as well as in dedicated mode. LTE brings an additional challenge on 800MHz because there is no 3G layer, which makes handover from 2G to 4G and vice versa, even more interesting for operators to solve.

 The LTE World Summit, the premier 4G event for the telecoms industry, is taking place on the 24th-26th June 2013, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Click here to download a brochure for the event.

Why do you think that cloud services are now so important for telcos?

The cloud is really being hyped right now by operators as it is a good story to cover the real issues. Cloud is all about reducing costs by merging a number of utilities into one cost-efficient environment that delivers a secure and reliable service, and it is something that operators can offer to their customers. A few years ago it was called hosting, but now it has evolved. Cloud is a major opportunity for operators to avoid simply becoming bit-pipes.

Do you believe that RCS services can genuinely help the industry compete with OTT?

OTT players are gaining ground but for the huge majority of customers we are still “service providers”, and adopting RCS services is the next step in the evolution of telcos. Giving customers new ways of communication, in combination with good marketing will lead to a success story. The biggest issue with RCS is that is taking a long time to get to market and is in danger of dying before it starts, but maybe it still has a chance.

Is VoLTE part of your plans and what benefits will it bring both to operators and consumers?

Since we are the premium operator in the Croatian market, our promise to customers is to support all features they might need. As far as VoLTE is concerned we have been providing our customers with an HD Voice service for over two years. However, in conjunction with the development of handsets that support it we will implement VoLTE. We have to be very careful with the customer perception of VoLTE because they must find some significant value in it in order to accept it. It is very unlikely that VoLTE will find its way to the market merely because it is a new technology.

Should operators charge a premium for LTE just because it’s a faster service?

Investment in LTE requires that significant resources so therefore it’s expected that a premium charge should be applied. However, LTE should not only be faster but, according to standards, offer a quality level that guaranteed to be better than 3G.

What do you think will be the most exciting new development in LTE in 2013?

There are several technologies that will shape LTE in near future and one of them is heterogeneous networks. With higher bandwidth we can expect an even higher signalling load on the network, which is challenging to handle and control. The other will be controlling roaming pricing. Since Croatia is a very tourist oriented country, and will very soon become a full member of EU, it is our obligation to fully apply all the regulations regarding roaming pricing.

Interview: Business development director, Shazam, UK: “I am genuinely very excited about the growth opportunities for Shazam and the app economy.”

Iain Dendle, business development director for Shazam, UK

Iain Dendle, business development director for Shazam, UK

Iain Dendle, business development director for Shazam, UK is taking part in a debate on Digital Innovation on the morning of Day One of the LTE World Summit, the premier 4G event for the telecoms industry, taking place on the 24th-26th June 2013, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands.

Smartphones and tablets have dramatically altered the mobile landscape yet are still only around half of the mobile phone market. How great an opportunity is this for Shazam and other digital innovators?

Over 300 million people have used Shazam to engage with music and television but I do believe this is the tip of the iceberg. Smartphone penetration has reached over 50 per cent in the US and Western Europe and Shazam is in the top 25 most downloaded apps – but we see no sign of reaching saturation point. We’re generating over 10 million new users a month, so our growth continues to accelerate at an astounding rate. Also, there is a massive opportunity in the rest of the world where smartphone penetration is much lower and where the smartphone will be many people’s first experience of using a computer. So I am genuinely very excited about the growth opportunities for Shazam and the app economy.

Conversely, what are the biggest challenges you are facing as you look to grow?

I think we’re operating in an incredibly fast-paced industry. If we are to retain their interest and deliver value to their everyday lives we need to constantly evolve and improve the proposition we deliver for our users. At Shazam, this is challenge we embrace and you can see examples of our efforts in the past few years with features like LyricPlay and Shazam Friends and new propositions like Shazam for TV. Shazam recently appointed a new CEO and CPO, which will accelerate our innovation in the coming months and years.

The LTE World Summit, the premier 4G event for the telecoms industry, is taking place on the 24th-26th June 2013, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Click here to download a brochure for the event.

Shazam is a OTT smartphone app. Do you have any relationship with operators and is there any scope for mutual business opportunities.

Shazam has long standing partnerships with mobile operators stretching back to the days before the app stores. These relationships continue to deliver value for both parties. Shazam can deliver significant strategic benefit to an operator by driving users and usage to their content stores, whilst delighting their customers and contributing a significant financial benefit also. Shazam is responsible for selling over 500,000 items a day and this is extremely valuable to operators as they strive to offer their customer more than just a communication tariff. In return, the mobile operators represent a sizeable and efficient promotion and distribution channel for our application.

Are you excited by the 4G roll-outs taking place worldwide?

Shazam is one of the first truly mobile applications. Many of the others in the top 25 have evolved from websites but the majority of times you Shazam something, you are out and about. Whether it’s Shazaming a song in a coffee shop on your commute to work, a track played by a DJ in a nightclub, or the ads in the cinema before you watch the film, the majority of our use cases are mobile. The roll out of 4G is a massive opportunity for Shazam, as it will enable us to deliver an even richer experience to our users via streaming video of the media you just Shazam’d, to having a more immersive purchasing experiences. It enables us to deliver the same rich content you enjoy over Wi-Fi at home, but when you are mobile.

Why is innovation in the digital and mobile space so important?

A major factor is the amount of competition for your smartphone’s homescreen.  Apple has over 800,000 apps in the App store with Google Play not far behind. Apps need to constantly evolve, innovate and deliver value if they are to remain relevant and become an integral part of their users lives.

Why did you choose to attend the LTE World Summit?

LTE represents a fantastic opportunity for application developers and all other players in the smartphone ecosystem. I am intrigued to discover more about what other companies are planning to do to take advantage of those opportunities, learn from the line-up of experienced speakers, and discuss and debate topics with like-minded individuals.

Interview: Safdar Imam Hyder, senior costing specialist at Omantel, Oman: “US operators are doing it better and Omantel should learn its pricing lessons from them.”

Safdar Imam Hyder, senior costing specialist at Omantel

Safdar Imam Hyder, senior costing specialist at Omantel

Safdar Imam Hyder, senior costing specialist at Omantel is appearing on Day Two of the of the LTE World Summit, the premier 4G event for the telecoms industry, taking place on the 24th-26th June 2013 at the Amsterdam RAI, NetherlandsAhead of the show Hyder tells us how device launches are boosting excitement for LTE in the region amongst consumers, how LTE is a revenue opportunity for operators and why RCS services are critical for operators to be able to compete with OTT.

What major developments have there been with regards to the LTE industry in your region this past year?

We are witnessing a broadband explosion in the MENA region, especially in the GCC where broadband revenue has been growing steadily at a double digit rate over the last three years. Telecoms revenue in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is expected to grow by 27 per cent between 2012 and 2017 according to Analysys Mason, mainly due to data on 3G and 4G networks rolling out faster and faster.

Since the first launch of LTE in Saudi Arabia in September 2011, LTE has been launched in all the GCC countries such as UAE, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain. Here in Oman, LTE deployment is in full swing with both the tier one operators Omantel and Nawras launching – Omantel using both TDD and FDD and Nawras using FDD. Roll-outs have been accelerated in 2013 after the TRA issued spectrum licenses to both the operators at 1.8GHz.

The LTE World Summit, the premier 4G event for the telecoms industry, is taking place on the 24th-26th June 2013, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Click here to download a brochure for the event.

Omantel, a pioneer LTE service provider in the Sultanate of Oman, has announced the launch of the second phase of its FDD 4G LTE network with coverage extended to new areas. With the latest LTE devices launches from Samsung, BlackBerry and Huawei, LTE fever is catching up fast with the general users in the Omani market, especially with the youth in the gaming and video applications. Expectations are high for launches of newer devices and Omantel is progressing well on expanding LTE 4G coverage to almost all major cities of Oman by the third Q313, with its vendor, Huawei.

Pricing for LTE is a controversial subject. Are operators getting it right?

I see LTE as an opportunity to boost ARPU for operators, but it all depends on pricing. Ever since the advent of the technology, billing and charging systems have been riding a wave of change. If Omantel is able to adapt to the new ecosystem we can lead our market to a new era of data connectivity and technological advancement; what is known as the “smart society”. This country has all potential parameters for developing as an e-society with one of the highest ratio of utilised bandwidth per user.

The biggest challenge that operators here are now facing is to get their charging models right. Having learned from their 3G experiences, we know that unlimited offers are a risky proposition in LTE era. In a recent survey, out of 65 operators polled, only three per cent are offering unlimited plans. The combination of new billing options and reluctance to offer unlimited plans is bringing about a new wave of pricing innovation.

Most of the pricing alternatives currently used for LTE are conventional in concept except those of shared plans. Simply, already implemented pricing schemes are being perfected and developed. However, LTE pricing is still in its infancy, evolving differently in various regions. As LTE pioneers European operators are wary of unlimited pricing and have opted for LTE rental premiums in the range of 50-80 per cent, with unit costs per megabyte of almost half compared to rest of the world.

US operators, after an initial fumble in the race to launch 4G networks, are developing new pricing models. They are choosing to be technology-agnostic and have opted to price the new generation telecoms access (mostly data) according to the number/type of connected devices and the data volume consumed. This provides users with an affordable way to use data either stationary or on-the-go and for operators to increase revenue per customer. In my opinion US operators are doing it better and Omantel should learn its pricing lessons from them.

Do you think that LTE offers great opportunities for monetisation or does it present challenges?

I think LTE or any high-speed mobile data network offers great opportunities for monetisation. This is because mankind is undergoing an amazing ‘mobile revolution’. Every day we see new upcoming developments in fields like mobile video, social media applications, mobile marketing, mobile health, mobile money and M2M, and all are made easier via LTE. Both the clients and consumers side have great business need for LTE and there is immense potential in that. But the challenges are fierce and unequal competition with OTT providers, whom are more focused and faster at executing on services and product development. As such, mobile operators are in great danger of becoming simply utility service providers with low-value dumb data pipes for third parties.

Do you believe that RCS services can genuinely help the industry compete with OTT?

Internet penetration is growing massively in Oman with more than two million users. OTT services such as Viber, PalTalk, Google Talk, MSN Messenger, and Yahoo Messenger have already been unblocked in Oman by a memo issued by the Oman TRA to all operators in April 2012 and are now easily accessible on desktop and mobile devices. Skype might also follow the suit.

RCS does provide a competitive advantage to MNOs by introducing IP-based communications services to their own platform and enabling them to compete with OTT service providers. Realising the importance of multi-service IP network in the lives of the people and the economy in general, regulators all over the world are aggressively protecting or promoting OTTs. As these OTT players eat into traditional telco revenues, technologies such as RCS provides a solid foundation for crafting a compelling user interface, building a brand around services and incorporating differentiating features that most operators traditionally do not seem to be good at.

According to Jeremy Green, a principal analyst in Ovum’s Telco Strategy Practice, by 2020 VoIP alone will have cost the global telecoms industry $479bn in lost revenues. Therefore the importance of adopting RCS is all the more critical.

Interview: Director, Greenet, Netherlands: “We believe that proper broadband connections are a must for everyone.”

Bart Heinink, is owner and director of Greenet

Bart Heinink, is owner and director of Greenet

Bart Heinink, is owner and director of Greenet, an ISP that offers a fixed-line replacement service using LTE. He will be speaking on this subject on Day Two of the LTE World Summit, the premier 4G event for the telecoms industry, taking place on the 24th-26th June 2013 at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands.

Please give me an overview of Greenet and its major achievements.

Greenet is a provider that focuses on the areas of the Netherlands where fixed-line broadband connectivity is poor and expensive. We believe that proper broadband connections are a must for everyone. We first focus on the needs of customers by targeting areas with poor broadband connections. After gaining commercial commitments we construct dedicated LTE networks used for fixed-line replacement. We are very successful in demand bundling (up to 90 per cent participation) and will launch our first network in April. After that we have a solid commercial basis that will allow us to quickly roll-out LTE networks at specific locations as a dedicated for Fixed2Mobile (F2M) substitution.

Why is LTE important to you and where does LTE fit into your strategy?

LTE finally enables mobile technology to live up to the promise it has offered for a long time, but which as yet has not come true. It offers a true alternative for fixed-line broadband. We offer LTE in the market as an alternative for fixed-line connectivity by bundling enough demand to be able to invest in dedicated LTE F2M capacity.

Could LTE be viewed as a threat or an opportunity for fixed-line operators?

Most certainly as both. In highly populated areas LTE will not be able to offer the required capacity to both fulfil mobile as well as ‘fixed’ demand. At home or at hotspots fixed-line connectivity and Wi-Fi off-loading cannot be replaced by LTE, nor can LTE live up to the bandwidths fixed-line networks can offer.

Having said that, LTE is a very efficient and adequate alternative to fixed lines in certain areas. LTE connectivity is around 10 times cheaper than constructing a FTTH network. In areas where FTTH is not viable, LTE definitely offers a true alternative if the network is designed in a way that guarantees sufficient and dedicated capacity. Given these prerequisites, the European Commission recognised that LTE is an adequate alternative for fixed NGA networks.

What are the chief technical challenges you are facing?

The major challenges we are facing are:

  • Availability of spectrum. Sufficient capacity for offering an alternative for fixed lines requires sufficient spectrum.
  • Ability to offer TV and video services. We hope transport technology, quality of service management on LTE will develop rapidly in order to be able to offer competitive TV offers via LTE.

What opportunities will the cloud offer to ISPs and MNO?

For a start-up like Greenet the cloud offers significant opportunities. Services that were complicated and expensive to offer as a small operator, can now be offered via the cloud. Business telephony is an example but also OTT TV and video services.

What do you think will be the most exciting developments in the industry in 2013?

I think it will be the industry living up to the promise that LTE offers. For understandable reasons the take-up of LTE in Europe as well as our home market the Netherlands has been quite slow. We see 2013 as the year mobile broadband will make a significant step-up in its capabilities and market potential.

Interview: VP product development, Technocentre, Orange: “The combination of RCS, LTE and VoLTE means that customers will have no reason to go elsewhere for their communications.”

Pierre François Dubois, VP product development, Technocentre, Orange, France

Pierre François Dubois, VP product development, Technocentre, Orange, France

Pierre François Dubois, VP product development, Technocentre, Orange, France is speaking on ‘Maximising the benefits of LTE with RCS’ on Day One of the LTE World Summit, the premier 4G event for the telecoms industry, is taking place on the 24th-26th June 2013, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Ahead of the show we speak to him about how RCS will both benefit consumers and help to maximise operator revenue.

Your talk is on maximising the benefits of RCS and VoLTE for the customer. However, consumers already have effective voice and OTT apps. Can you highlight what the benefits of using these will be?

There are three key benefits for customers. Firstly, RCS will be adopted by all mobile operators, which means that everyone’s friends will have access to a rich and reliable set of services. They will not need to be invited and then download an app – it will just be there. Secondly, RCS also provides a fantastic eco-system for app developers, as well as providing them a massive audience for their apps and services. Customers will therefore be able to enhance their lives with all sorts of fun and productivity applications with real-time sharing. Thirdly, VoLTE completes the picture by transferring voice communications to IP thus ensuring that all the RCS sharing and communications features can be done simultaneously with voice and video calls, and all at Telco quality. The combination of RCS, LTE and VoLTE means that customers will have no reason to go elsewhere for the social or business communications.

How can operators make best use of RCS services to increase revenues?

Market research tells us that customers are happy to buy extra data bundles for services which add value to their lives. This is what we already do with specific applications like Deezer or Orange consumer cloud. Mobile data usage will therefore drive revenues in the future. With this objective in mind, RCS provides a core set of IP based communication services and APIs that are designed to stimulate data usage and this is why RCS APIs are important for our future. For example, video applications can leverage these APIs for the benefits of both parties. Social networks can also contribute to this objective, but I believe MNOs must have their own growth engine to better control their business model.

The LTE World Summit, the premier 4G event for the telecoms industry, is taking place on the 24th-26th June 2013, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Click here to download a brochure for the event.

Will VoLTE be an upsell to consumers or will it just be a transparent service for consumers with a transition that occurs in the background.

VoLTE will simply replace circuit switched voice and, whilst it certainly brings a better experience, I don’t believe it will be an upsell to consumers. VoIP and RCS over LTE together will provide a great customer experience with many added-value applications and together drive data usage and revenues.

What do you think will be the most critical development in LTE over the next six to 12 months?

I think that until recently, most MNOs have worked on RCS, LTE and VoLTE projects with different timelines. Nevertheless we need to anticipate, not only technically, the fact that we are migrating to IP communications. I foresee two important challenges:

  • RCS over LTE with seamless switching  and continuity of sessions when switching between 4G/3G/Wifi/2G
  • Convergence between RCS and VoLTE as a consistent service platform. Orange strongly supports the initiative launched recently by the GSMA to address this point.

Please tell me why coming to the LTE World Summit is so important for yourself and for Orange and why it’s a great event.

LTE is a true revolution for our industry. It is always difficult to guess what will come out of a revolution and in our case a lot of uncertainties remain for the future of our business model. I think this event is a unique opportunity to share possible scenarios both on technical and marketing aspects with experts in our industry. As it takes place in Europe, where competition is very fierce, I expect the presentation and the debates to help us better shape the future.

Interview: Head of international standardisation and IP management, DT, UK: “competing with OTT is not the goal of Deutsche Telekom.”

Michele Zarri, head of international standardisation and IP management, Deutsche Telekom, UK

Michele Zarri, head of international standardisation and IP management, Deutsche Telekom, UK

Michele Zarri, head of international standardisation and IP management, Deutsche Telekom, UK, is speaking on VoLTE vs OTT Voice on Day Two of the LTE World Summit, taking place on the 24th-26th June 2013, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Speaking ahead of the show, Zarri explains why he feels the operator provided voice services will still offer benefits to consumers over OTT VoIP applications.

What is your timeline for VoLTE and what benefits will it bring?

Early versions of VoLTE have already been launched in some markets such as Korea and Hong Kong. Operators are currently focussing on deploying LTE, but deployment of IMS platforms, accelerated by the desire to launch Joyn, is taking place simultaneously. Additionally, given the availability of devices compliant to the GSMA’s IR.92 standard, expected during the course of 2013, there is no technical impediment to launching VoLTE. As a consequence I expect to see commercial services rolled out by the end of this year (2013) in most developed markets with international roaming launched within two years after that.

From an operator point of view, the main benefit of VoLTE is being able to provide the voice service natively over the packet switched access, while avoiding disruption to back-office processes. This removes the last constraint justifying the running of circuit-switched networks; therefore achieving the objective of moving fully to the more efficient packet-switched access.

What appeal will VoLTE have to consumers over and above their favourite OTT apps?

Today customers are already replacing the mobile operators offered voice service with their favourite OTT application. The reasons why OTT apps have not been adopted in large scale therefore is not the availability of broadband mobile access, but due rather to the benefits offered by operator-supplied voice. Such advantages will not be lost in the migration to VoLTE. What I am thinking of is reach (call and be called by anyone), security (a trusted relationship with the operator and strong encryption), privacy (user data is safe with an operator), familiar interface (voice client is natively integrated in the handset), seamless user experience (use of phone numbers, set of supplementary services), predictability (well-known charging scheme) and, last but not least, quality, as the network is configured to prioritise voice traffic over other types of traffic.

The LTE World Summit, the premier 4G event for the telecoms industry, is taking place on the 24th-26th June 2013, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Click here to download a brochure for the event.

Will VoLTE sound significantly better than current voice calls?

Calls between two VoLTE users will use the HD voice codec, resulting in a far superior experience. In fact HD Voice is already available over 3G networks, therefore in time the vast majority of the mobile to mobile calls will enjoy the benefits of such a codec. Fast forwarding a few years, as IMS allows the device of the caller and of the called party to negotiate the codec used, it is imaginable that new and more powerful codecs will be introduced and used for Voice over IMS calls.

Why was VoLTE not baked into LTE from initial launch of the technology?

The goal of 3GPP when developing LTE was primarily to create a radio technology that could meet the IMT‑advanced requirements issued by ITU, therefore the service layer was not in focus. Furthermore, in 2008, when the LTE specifications were released, IMS was already a three-year old technology and earmarked as the means to create voice services over a packet switched access. In fact, you will notice that no service except connectivity was, to use your expression, baked into LTE, though the low-latency target and support for guaranteed bit-rate were evidently tailored for the support of voice and other multimedia services.

Is any kind of VoLTE launch practical without SRVCC widely implemented?  (In a network without SRVCC implemented, please explain what happens when a VoLTE call is made to a handset that goes out of LTE coverage?)

Indeed SRVCC will be important functionality in the early days of VoLTE due to the expected patchy LTE coverage. However, when operators start rolling out voice over HSPA, which has also been profiled in GSMA, the occurrence of SRVCC events will become much less frequent, since the far more efficient packet switched handover will be used instead to move from LTE to 3G. Other positive aspects are that field tests by Deutsche Telekom have shown that the predicted long interruption of the service in case of SRVCC have been overestimated.

As a VoLTE call would fail when the handset goes out of coverage, operators are unlikely to deploy VoLTE until SRVCC is available and will instead rely on CS Fallback, whereby the handset moves to a legacy access technology prior setting up a call.

Do you believe that RCS services can genuinely help the industry compete with OTT?

Contrary to this widespread misconception, competing with OTT is not the goal of Deutsche Telekom. Arrogant as it may sound, Deutsche Telekom will not lower its standards to those of some of the OTT offers currently available to consumers. The goal of RCSe is instead to offer an integrated and secure service for which there is demand in the market, adding all the benefits described above for VoLTE as well as other specific ones. RCS will also show that even traditional mobile operators can offer innovative services. For example, Joyn is a product based on the RCS-e standard and provided by the mobile operator community. The next version of RCS will be fully supported by IMS, bringing additional benefits for the consumer.

Interview: Michael Wu, Director, Wireless Access Technology Development, Telus, Canada: “Monetising LTE investment was a key business challenge for Telus.”

telusMichael Wu, Director, Wireless Access Technology Development, Telus, Canada is speaking on the subjects of HetNets at the LTE World Summit, the premier 4G event for the telecoms industry, taking place on the 24th-26th June 2013, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Ahead of the show we speak to the Wu to find out more about backhaul strategy, network optimisation and business challenges.

What were the chief technical and business challenges you faced when you rolled out LTE?

TELUS first launched LTE services in 14 metropolitan areas across the country in February 2012, and since that launch we have expanded coverage to reach more than 70 per cent of Canadians, with plans to cover even more by the end of this year. From a technological perspective, the key challenge was really about making iRAT (inter Radio Access Technology) work between UMTS and LTE. The iRAT handoff between UMTS and LTE had very limited global deployment at that time and there were issues tied into the devices as well. As happens when implementing most new technologies, the timescale was underestimated and it took us longer than expected to complete the development. With the growth of social media, Internet mobilisation and consumerisation, monetising LTE investment was a key business challenge for Telus, as it is for all carriers. Customers expect to pay less but enjoy more data consumption at better speeds.

The LTE World Summit, the premier 4G event for the telecoms industry, is taking place on the 24th-26th June 2013, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Click here to download a brochure for the event.

What impact does LTE have on your backhaul strategy and technology choices?

LTE enables services to operate at faster speeds and at lower latency. This relies on much more stringent backhaul performance. When Telus launched UMTS in 2009, we implemented an all-IP backhaul deployment, which enabled us to prepare for the LTE upgrades.

Are small cells important for your roll out and how can they successfully be integrated into the network?

Small cells were not the key consideration for our initial LTE rollout. This is primarily because LTE small cell technology was not mature at that time, and there were no LTE small cells available. That said, at Telus we believe small cells will be the key element to address future exponential growth of data traffic. We are continuing to explore small cell technology and believe the successful integration of small cell into the macro LTE network will be made possible once key features mature, such as eICIC, and RE in LTE Release 10.

What are the key techniques for network optimisation in LTE and what effect can it have on the customer experience?

LTE introduced many new technologies, such as 2×2 MIMO and OFDMA. For these, the traditional RF optimisation techniques such as drive testing and antenna down‐tilt will not satisfy the requirements for network optimisation. In the market today, there are many different kinds of techniques: MIMO optimisation, RET based third-party SON tools, SON based real-time optimisation and others. Some of them are mature while others are still under development. These optimisation techniques greatly improve customer experiences by fixing network problems in real-time instead of potentially waiting week after week due to the nature of troubleshooting complexity in the LTE world.

Some fear that the dedicated backhaul required for every small cell installed will destroy the economic benefits that they bring in terms of offload. What’s your view?

Backhaul technologies for small cells are still evolving so it is too early to make that statement. In my view, the adoption of small cell backhaul will depend on each operator’s individual business case – what infrastructure they have today and what they will build in the future, and also whether they are looking for partnership to leverage others’ infrastructure or not. Ultimately, the winning strategy will be providing enough backhaul capacity for small cell traffic growth, while maintaining an attractive investment return.

Why is the LTE World Summit such an important show for operators to attend?

The LTE World Summit is the main event in the global wireless industry where all the key players are present. The Summit represents a unique opportunity to share information with other operators and key vendors, get a stronger sense of where the industry is at and assess new developments with other industry players. By speaking at the conference and representing Telus, I see this as an opportunity to recognise the success of Canadian business in the global marketplace, and more specifically showcasing Telus as a leader in technology innovation and introduction. By demonstrating that Canada continues to have a healthy balance of regulation and free market economics, we are ensuring the future of a healthy and vibrant mobile broadband sector.

Ready for HetNets?

Neil Coleman, director global marketing, Actix

Neil Coleman, director global marketing, Actix.

As growth in data demand drives the deployment of LTE, one of the challenges facing mobile operators is how to improve the subscriber experience, while navigating the increasing complexity of their own networks.

This year more than 150 mobile operators will roll out LTE. With the vast majority of smartphone and tablet mobile traffic originating from just five per cent of locations, demand for small cells will soon overtake that of macro cells. Meanwhile, current network analytics already clearly show operator traffic that is handled in-building and by small cells to be on the rise. Analyst house Infonetics has suggesting this could account for 25 per cent of all traffic in the next three or four years. As a result, mobile operators will be forced to juggle a range of access technologies (2G, 3G, LTE, Wi-Fi) as well as macro cells, residential and enterprise femtocells, small and pico cells, creating a complex network built upon multiple cell sizes.

Small cells will create new challenges, including backhaul in densely used urban centres, with regional and municipal eccentricities resulting in a minefield of planning regulations and restrictions and unwanted interaction with existing networks.

At the same time, operators are upgrading network infrastructure to a single RAN (with combined 2G and 3G base stations) and refarming spectrum, which will make it easier to roll out LTE. However, these live network changes will inevitably disrupt network performance and customer experience. All this is the reality of the new HetNet that operators must come to accept, and then deal with.

Mobile operators clearly face a mountainous challenge. To survive operators have to successfully manage increasing network complexity, whilst still delivering better customer experience – if business plans for LTE are to meet subscriber expectations.

To achieve this they need granular insight into their network and subscribers. They need to be able to quantify the exact nature and location of demand, as well as qualify network performance together with subscriber experience and the impact on their business. This will enable them to determine which technologies should be deployed in which locations or which network elements need merely to be tweaked, at minimal cost, in order to deliver the best possible experience for their subscribers.

With Actix’s award winning analytics platform and LTE solutions, real-time subscriber geo-location in the radio access network (RAN) enables the operator to indentify capacity, coverage, speed, customer and handset conditions. This helps operators to make better informed decisions by identifying the exact locations where they need to bolster capacity, improve coverage and raise speeds to keep subscribers happy. Operators are then able to decide for example where small cell quick fixes, especially for in-building issues, should be deployed, or identify prime and acceptable locations for LTE and more effectively optimise multi-vendor, multi-technology HetNet environments.

Neil Coleman, director global marketing, Actix, will be delivering his Masterclass in effectively handling capacity challenges within a comprehensive HetNet at the LTE World Summit at the Amsterdam RAI, on Tuesday 25th June from 10.20. You can register to attend for free here. To learn more about overcoming HetNet complexity visit Actix at stand 56 from the 25-26th June, or visit www.actix.com.

Interview: Senior technical operations management expert, TRA Lebanon: “Operators are looking for partnerships with OTT providers.”

Dr Imad Holballah, activng CEO of the TRA Lebanon

Dr Imad Holballah, acting CEO of the TRA Lebanon

Dr Imad Holballah, acting CEO of the TRA Lebanon, is delivering the opening day keynote on Day One of the LTE MENA conference, taking place on the 13th-14th May 2013 at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Dubai, UAE. Ahead of the show we find out more about the complex challenges regarding spectrum that are impacting the roll-out of LTE in the Middle East.

How advanced is data usage in Lebanon?

The dominant player in the mobile arena in Lebanon is the Ministry of Telecommunications (MoT). The MoT has rolled out two 3G HSPA+ networks throughout the country and these are being run by two network operators, Alfa and Touch. The 3G networks can theoretically deliver speeds up to 4Mbits/s. However, the average speeds users experience are normally only in the range of 0.3 – 1 Mbits/s – so the need to move to next generation technology is clear. In Q1 2013, major ISPs entered the 3G data market by introducing new prepaid data SIM cards for tablets, dongles and Wi-Fi routers. In addition, the MoT has recently been testing LTE (mainly at 1800MHz) on both network operators, in preparation for a full launch in the near future.

The LTE MENA conference is taking place on the 13th-14th May 2013 at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Dubai, UAE. Click here to find out more about the event.

Can you tell me about the spectrum auction process in your region and how it has impacted LTE deployments?

LTE spectrum bands are generally not being auctioned in Middle East countries. Rather LTE network deployments within the region have been utilising frequencies already assigned under current licenses, e.g. Mobily Saudi Arabia, Nawras Oman, Ooredoo Qatar and Etisalat UAE. An auction to sell LTE radio spectrum in Bahrain was halted after a wireless broadband operator appealed against its exclusion from the sale. In Lebanon, the Ministry of Telecommunications assigned spectrum on the 800 and 1800MHz bands without going through a spectrum auction, given that the mobile market has not  been liberalised yet.

What are the key challenges that the TRA is facing in terms of getting LTE deployed?

There are many challenges facing LTE deployment in the region. One of the key challenges we see involves the availability of combined spectrum bands for coverage and capacity purposes and to ensure optimal indoor coverage. 800MHz is currently licensed for analogue TV operators awaiting the digital switchover so it could be used for coverage along with other capacity bands (e.g. 2.6MHz)

There will also need to be rules and procedures to encourage infrastructure sharing, particularly involving active sharing (e.g., Single RAN and spectrum sharing) and passive sharing of towers and ducts. A decision on coverage obligations will need to be made on whether it will be applied to specific spectrum bands or licensed to mobile operators irrespective of the operating band. Another issue is that there is a shortage on backhaul spectrum frequencies to satisfy LTE deployments and we need to speed up the process of deploying optical fibre cables for E-node B backhaul. Finally, the availability of multimode multi-band LTE devices is a problem as these are not widely available in the market.

What are the primary concerns of operators in your region and what are the key challenges that they face in the next 12 months?

The major concern of mobile telecom operators is riding the data tsunami in the MENA region while the voice market continues its gradual decline.  OTT applications (such as Skype, WhatsApp, Viber) that bring “free voice” and/or “free SMS” are a direct challenge to legacy voice and SMS revenues.

To counter this, operators are looking for partnerships with OTT providers to bundle their services into their triple-play packages. There will also need to be investment in data compression technology to better manage growing data volumes. Additionally, the availability of a simplified and flexible spectrum licensing regime will reduce administrative burdens and spectrum harmonisation and the greater availability of multi-modes multi band devices are essential.

Is there a strong desire from operators for lower frequencies for LTE and is there a desire for a common band (e.g. 1800MHz)

Operators in the region are certainly interested in acquiring low frequency bands for LTE deployments due to their excellent propagation characteristics (e.g., better indoor coverage and greater outdoor coverage). In MEA, operators have started to deploy LTE deployment on 800MHz band. The UAE is preparing to launch it soon and Ooredoo Qatar launched its first LTE network on 800MHz Band 20. In Lebanon, the two mobile operators also started LTE pilot projects early this year for networks on 800MHz. 1800MHz is also popular as an international frequency to aid global LTE roaming and about 10 out of 16 LTE Networks in the Middle-East were deployed on that frequency.

Does LTE throw up any specific issues such as bill shock through excessive data usage?

The LTE issues are essentially the same as that of 3G. To avoid ‘bill shock’, mobile operators in Lebanon are currently relying on sending several SMS messages to warn the subscriber of their data usage at 50 per cent, 80 per cent of their data limit, when they have hit it, and of the charges when they are roaming. Despite these efforts some consumers in Lebanon are still facing high bills such as when roaming for the first time, due to the lack of experience in the data usage, and sometimes when they sign up for a lower cost plan that does not fit their data usage needs. 

Interview: Director, radio access network development, NTT Docomo: “Improvements in backhaul will be essential to meet the increasing requirements of the market in the future.”

Takehiro Nakamura, director of radio access network development for NTT Docomo

Takehiro Nakamura, director of radio access network development for NTT Docomo

Takehiro Nakamura, director of radio access network development for NTT Docomo, Japan is speaking in ‘The Future of LTE’ track on Day Two of the LTE World Summit, the premier 4G event for the telecoms industry, taking place on the 24th-26th June 2013, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Ahead of the show we learn about how NTT Docomo is taking a lead in the development of LTE, with many of its home-grown technologies forming part of the latest 3GPP LTE standards.

When will you start trialling carrier aggregation and will you introduce it before the rest of LTE-Advanced’s other features?

Docomo has started to develop base stations utilising our own technology — advanced Centralized RAN (C-RAN) architecture for LTE-Advanced. These high-capacity base stations are capable of carrier aggregation and HetNet/eICIC, which will make them ideal for high-traffic areas such as train stations and large commercial facilities. These will be available around 2015.

Will the RAN enhancements that you’re planning for LTE Advanced also need improvements in backhaul?

Optical backhaul has been put to good use in urban and suburban area of Japan already and these will also be used for our high-capacity base stations. However, improvements in backhaul will be essential to meet the increasing requirements of the market in the future.

How are your plans progressing around VoLTE and RCS?

Commercial VoLTE service is under development at NTT Docomo, but no clear deployment plan has yet been decided.

How advanced are your small cells plans and what’s your strategy for integrating them into your network?

Our advanced C-RAN architecture will enable small cells (so-called “add-on cells”) for localised coverage to cooperate with macro cells that provide wider area coverage. This will be achieved with carrier aggregation technology, one of the main LTE-Advanced technologies standardised by the 3GPP. The add-on cells will significantly increase throughput and system capacity, while maintaining mobility performance provided by the macro cell. These add-on cell can be upgraded to improve mobility performance and other aspects, and these improvements are under standardisation for 3GPP Release 12, using the name “Phantom cell” – a concept proposed by Docomo.

The LTE World Summit, the premier 4G event for the telecoms industry, is taking place on the 24th-26th June 2013, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Click here to download a brochure for the event.

LTE-Advanced – arriving sooner than you think

Renuka Bhalerao, Senior Product Line Manager, Radisys Renuka is a Senior Product Line Manager for Radisys Corporation, with her primary focus on 3G and LTE small cell technologies and Trillium software. Prior to this, Renuka held a position of principal systems architect in a customer-facing role specialising in telecom software and systems. Renuka has 17 years of telecom industry experience with expertise in wireless and VoIP solutions.

Renuka Bhalerao, Senior Product Line Manager, Radisys
Renuka is a Senior Product Line Manager for Radisys Corporation, with her primary focus on 3G and LTE small cell technologies and Trillium software. Prior to this, Renuka held a position of principal systems architect in a customer-facing role specialising in telecom software and systems. Renuka has 17 years of telecom industry experience with expertise in wireless and VoIP solutions.

U.S. operators will lower their spending on LTE networks as initial deployments are completed through 2014, according to a recent report by Technology Business Research. However, while those initial rollouts will solve some immediate network issues, carriers will continue to seek other routes to boost capacity and coverage as the relentless consumption of data continues. Some carriers are already looking to LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) to fulfil these anticipated needs, but its initial deployment will be very different from that of “basic” LTE.

LTE-A, the next upgrade for LTE networks, represents true ‘4G’ – when measured by the original International Telecom Union standards. LTE-A promises to deliver upwards of 1Gbps peak downlink data rates, enhanced cell edge performance, much improved radio interference mitigation and spectrum re-use. The advantages of LTE-A will ensure the technology gains rapid market traction in the U.S. and Europe. However, there are differences between LTE-A and LTE; and especially in their deployment. LTE is being deployed by operators as a complete network upgrade, but LTE-A will be rolled-out by operators incrementally on a feature-by-feature basis. Initially, operators will look to leverage the features of LTE-A that gift them the greatest tactical, and operational, advantages in the market.

Small cells are playing a role in global 3G and LTE deployments and will underpin the key features of LTE-A as well. This is because small cells take the pressure off the macro network by providing traffic offload, coverage and capacity gains. However, mitigating for radio interference in these deployments has always been an issue for operators. It is a challenge that operators are very focused on solving. As operators deploy small cells in the same spectrum as macro cells, the result is the newer small and the older macro cells suffering from radio interference – damaging the overall throughput and capacity of the wireless network. But LTE-A comprises a key radio interference management feature called Enhanced Inter-Cell Interference Coordination (eICIC). eICIC acts to improve the coordination between the network cells and to reduce radio inference and this results in improved network throughput. Case in point, operators in Asia, where LTE arrived in the market much earlier, experienced these interference problems in their roll-outs of LTE. They have turned to commercial LTE-A deployments to mitigate for radio interference in close proximity deployments of small cells in the network.

As well as radio interference mitigation via eICIC, another feature in LTE-A which acts to boost network throughput is carrier aggregation. This feature enables an operator to conduct contiguous and non-contiguous spectrum allocations. This basically means a carrier can ensure their existing spectrum is efficiently aligned to deliver higher network throughput. Increased throughput has usually required more spectrum – which is scarce and extremely costly for the operator – but carrier aggregation removes this requirement for more spectrum to drive higher throughput by leveraging the non-contiguous chunks of available spectrum. Another feature within LTE-A that operators are keen to leverage to improve spectral efficiency is Multiple Input and Multiple-Output (MIMO). A form of smart antenna technology, MIMO involves the use of multiple antennas at both the transmitter and receiver to improve spectral performance.

Combined with efficiencies in radio interference mitigation and spectrum performance, LTE-A also enables an operator to leverage the benefits of Self Optimising Networks (SON). A much discussed feature of LTE-A, SON enables operator’s network to auto-configure network nodes. This allows the network to automatically configure, monitor, and optimise, newly installed network cells and for faulty cells to be repaired.

The features of LTE-A enable an operator to boost network performance and process traffic in a more cost effective way – just as LTE does. However, operators are leveraging their experience of LTE network deployments and making more affordable and efficient incremental deployments of LTE-A delivering gains one-by-one as they are needed.

To hear first-hand more about what steps telecoms companies are making in LTE Advanced, be sure to book your place at the LTE World Summit, the premier 4G event for the telecoms industry, taking place on the 24th-26th June 2013, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Click here to download a brochure for the event.

Interview: VP, networks and systems, Communications Research Centre, Canada: “We are going to learn a lot about small cells and SON (self-organizing heterogeneous networks) from LTE.”

Dr. Alex Vukovic, vice-president, networks and systems, for Communications Research Centre (CRC), Canada

Dr. Alex Vukovic, vice-president, networks and systems, for Communications Research Centre (CRC), Canada

The Communications Research Centre (CRC) is Canada’s federal centre of excellence for wireless telecommunications R&D and a leading contributor to solutions for wireless demand in a modern economy. Dr. Alex Vukovic, vice-president, networks & systems, for CRC, is appearing on Day One of the LTE World Summit, the premier 4G event for the telecoms industry, taking place on the 24th-26th June 2013 at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands.

With so many bands already being used for LTE, can it truly be considered a worldwide standard?

Although there are many bands in which LTE can operate, LTE is considered a worldwide standard. According to the Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA), 163 commercial networks are already launched in 67 countries, with 415 operators in 124 countries now investing in LTE. The same source forecasts that there will be 248 commercial LTE networks in 87 countries by the end of 2013.

What are the best frequencies for operators to focus on if they wish to have a roaming capable band?

This is a real challenge facing service operators. The bands are so fragmented and diverse and often tied to legacy systems. Having globally available bands, which will enable worldwide roaming and interoperability using compatible end-user devices, is currently difficult due to the lack of global harmonisation of spectrum. Moreover, it would be very difficult to render any existing bands due to regulatory and policy challenges presented in each specific administration. To ensure true global roaming, administrations need to adopt directives and spectrum-use policies that support globally harmonised bands for LTE.

It is obvious that there would be many benefits from having global spectrum harmonisation, such as enabling of roaming capabilities, economy of scale, cross-border operation and coordination, interoperability and efficient use of available spectrum. To me, from both technological and practical standpoints, there are several bands of interests for potential solutions to global roaming. For example, the 2.6 GHz band is widely available for LTE systems in both FDD and TDD formats. In the future, we may see the 3.5GHz band and bands in the 600MHz range become home to a collection of LTE systems.

The LTE World Summit, the premier 4G event for the telecoms industry, is taking place on the 24th-26th June 2013, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Click here to download a brochure for the event.

Are there any good economic reasons for operators to make LTE roaming more affordable or will lower charges only come through regulatory moves?

Operators have to respect economic conditions. If they see their source of revenue derived from roaming diminishing due to competition, they will be enticed to reduce roaming rates. The bottom line is that mobile network operators always have to look to maintain revenue streams and profitability. However, competition is probably the most viable economic reason for operators to make roaming more affordable.

Nowadays, we have moved into a world of feature-rich content provided over mobile networks, and much of this content is generated by sources other than mobile network operators (from Google, Apple, YouTube, etc.). This poses additional challenges to operators.

Regulatory decisions could indeed impact the affordability of roaming, although the fiscal health of operators would need to be considered before such decisions are made.

Should operators talk to each other on a one-to-one basis or is there a more open way of discussing roaming needs?

Given the type of roaming/equipment commonality problems being faced, I believe that finding a global solution requires more than just service providers discussing amongst themselves. Service providers can easily come up with roaming agreements if their customers’ smart phones and tablets operate on the same bands. This is a complex issue which requires dialog between network equipment manufacturers, end-user device producers, regulatory bodies and service providers.

Traditionally, operators from region to region or country to country establish roaming agreements between themselves. Normally, a clearinghouse is used to transfer billing records and/or perform financial clearing functions among mobile network operators consistent with their roaming agreements.

What lessons do you think can be learned for the technology beyond LTE?

LTE is just in its infancy and all of the features that it can deliver have yet to be fully exploited. We are going to learn a lot about small cells and SON (self-organizing heterogeneous networks) from LTE and its advances. LTE will also teach us about implementing more sophisticated antenna platform technology for smart pads.

We may also make interesting discoveries related to cross-layer communications and to handoff between macro/micro cell systems, such as LTE-to-WiFi handover. This last technology piece will be exciting as it has the potential of devising new kinds of service provisioning concepts that may do much to change the service-provider landscape. The evolutionary development to watch over the next 5-10 years involves the adaptations and evolutions that occur as Wi-Fi and LTE search to find applications niches beyond what they are today.

However, one of the biggest findings so far is that technology interoperability alone, as delivered by LTE, cannot solve the global roaming challenge – a level of global spectrum harmonisation in emerging spectrum allocations is also necessary.

What do you think will be the most exciting development in telecoms in the next two years?

The near future will be very interesting for the global build-out of LTE. Due to the explosive growth of traffic and non-homogeneous nature of traffic in a service area, development of wireless heterogeneous networks will be considered a viable possibility.  This will evolve to wireless heterogeneous networks that add to the macro cell capacity by using small cells (microcell, femtocell, handover to Wi-Fi, etc.) as an underlay to the macro coverage. However, the successful implementation of heterogeneous networks faces many challenges in using small cells (e.g. complex interoperation, media-independent handover, billing, interference mitigation, etc.).

Another exciting development will be the emergence of higher-capacity short-range offloading technologies following in the line of Wi-Fi offloading. Unlike heterogeneous networks mentioned above, short-range offloading will focus on the home, office and public hotspot environments by providing hundreds of Mbps over ranges of up to 100 metres.

Moore’s Law Is No Joke — Pile Of Electronics From 1993 Fits In Your Palm Today | Singularity Hub

Picture. A thousand words. Wow. Makes you think – and telecoms is at the centre of it.

MisterDTV

There’s nothing like a well-conceived picture to drive a point home. You know the point, right? Sure you do. Hint: It’s in the title.

via Moore’s Law Is No Joke — Pile Of Electronics From 1993 Fits In Your Palm Today | Singularity Hub.

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