Archive for July, 2013

Interview: VP & GM Service Provider Platforms, Cloud Networking, Citrix: “The defining challenge for LTE will be ensuring QoE is maintained at all times.”

Chris Koopmans, VP and GM, Service Provider Platforms, Citrix

Chris Koopmans, VP and GM, Service Provider Platforms, Citrix

Following the successful LTE Awards 2013, we speak to Chris Koopmans, VP & GM Service Provider Platforms, Cloud Networking for Citrix, winners of the ‘Best LTE Traffic Management Product’ category.

Tell us more about your entry to the LTE Awards 2013.

Citrix ByteMobile entered the T3100 into the Best LTE Traffic Management Product category for the LTE Awards 2013. LTE promises a better user experience to subscribers, from superfast web browsing to stall-free HD video. For the operator, this means the opportunity to deliver new mobile services, generating extra revenue from content such as premium streaming movies, TV, music and video calls. However, the move to LTE does not in and of itself guarantee a good user quality of experience for all of these services all of the time. All too often, the very services that delight us can severely hamper network performance, degrading the experience for many – and immediately breaking the operator’s promise to the subscriber.

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Can UK 4G harness its own hype?

Julia Kukiewicz, editor of Choose.net

Julia Kukiewicz, editor of Choose.net

This post is by Julia Kukiewicz, editor of Choose.net, a UK consumer site that has covered the consumer broadband market since 2004.

By the end of this year, all of the major UK networks will be selling 4G.

As with most nascent services, providers will have to walk a fine line: build consumer expectation too high and you’re paving the way for disappointment and sluggish take up; under sell the benefits, and the result will be the same.

There’s no doubt that 4G services are, and will be, far better in terms of speed and coverage than the mobile broadband most of us are used to.

But, as the 3G roll out showed us clearly, a better service won’t save users from disappointment.

And, as consumers use mobile internet more and for more complex, data-hungry tasks, technically better doesn’t always equal a better experience in any case.

So, leaving technical aspects of the service aside, how can 4G providers give consumers enough inducement to switch without overselling? How can they harness their own hype?

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LTE World Summit 2013: Post-Show Report Now Available to Download…

LTE World Summit was a great success and we would like to thank everyone that attended.

The post show report is now available to download from our website so make sure you check it out to see what happened. Here are some of the key highlights from this year’s event:

Top takeaways: 

1. LTE technology has been a huge success and is now mainstream
2. Telco pricing will be focused on metered data, not voice
3.  Networks are evolving to LTE Advanced

  • 2,600+ attendees over 3 action-packed days (a 30% increase on 2012)
  • 140+ operator companies attended
  • 124 different countries were represented
  • 260+ distinguished speakers presented 160 presentations / panels over 2 days, including 125+ operator case studies
  • 45%+ of attendees were director level or higher
  • 70% of the exhibition space was re-booked on-site for next year’s event

Here’s what some of our attendees had to say about the event:

“Outstanding cast and open discussion environment”Turkcell

“LTE World Summit is the place for future technology competitiveness”Telkom Indonesia

“Valuable networking opportunities and topical presentations – exactly what a conference should be”Telefonica o2

“The LTE world summit is a must-attend event for everyone with key stakes in the LTE and LTE-A ecosystem”EE

“Opportunity meeting Vanguards of LTE industry” Omantel

“Good place to do your networking and meet up with buyers”Huawei

“A must to be up to date with new technologies” Kathrein

“Very good event for smaller vendors to get a lot of customers discussions on the booth”F5 Traffix Systems

“The leading 4G event in the world” Astellia

“Great opportunity to meet existing customers and prospects” Ascom


Make Sure you Download the Full Post Show Report to see What Happened – Click Here


 

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Interview: Tommy Ljunggren, VP – System Development, TeliaSonera

We interview a host of leading operators at the recent LTE World Summit. Here we speak to Tommy Ljunggren, VP – System Development at TeliaSonera and cover how Europe will catch up with Asia on LTE, TeliaSonera’s plans for VoLTE and how it’s taken a lead on LTE roaming.

Interview: “Sales and marketing director for Samsung Networks Europe:“The ‘Best LTE RAN Product’ award is a very prestigious and is a testimony to our innovation success.”

sales and marketing director for Samsung Networks Europe

sales and marketing director for Samsung Networks Europe

Following the successful LTE Awards 2013, we speak to Mark Thompson, sales and marketing director for Samsung Networks Europe, winners in the Best LTE RAN Product category.

Tell us more about your entry for the LTE Award 2013

Samsung LTE solutions are focused on facilitating and supporting media delivery networks. Our industry-leading portfolio of RAN solutions is based on the concept of Telecom and IT convergence. Smart LTE Networks, already commercialised in South Korea, is an LTE solution that leverages this concept to incorporate real-time radio scheduling, content caching and delivery, media broadcast and mobile computing over LTE networks.

Smart SON, one of the components of Smart LTE Networks, provides advanced network optimisation for all types of RAN: macro cell, femto cell and pico cell as well as Heterogeneous Networks. Unlike conventional SON, it optimises the network in near real-time, resulting in dramatic cost reduction and performance gains for mobile operators.

We hope to leverage the great platform provided by LTE World Summit, one of the largest LTE focused industry events, to share the success of our cutting-edge technologies with thousands of attendees across all domains.

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Interview: Senior manager, Packet One, Malaysia: “For P1, LTE is critical… to capture the high growth segment of smartphone and tablet users.”

Mariappan Chanachayai, senior manager, Packet One, Malaysia

Mariappan Chanachayai, senior manager, Packet One, Malaysia

Mariappan Chanachayai, senior manager, Packet One, Malaysia is speaking in the LTE Evolution track on Day One of the LTE Asia conference is taking place on the 18th-19th September 2013 at the Suntec, Singapore.  Ahead of the show we speak to him about how the transition to LTE is progressing for P1 and learn his thoughts in monetisation, Joyn, VoLTE and LTE handsets.

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

P1 was awarded 20MHz on the 2.6GHz spectrum band to roll out TD-LTE in December 2012. We have issued a request for proposal (RFP) and are in the process of selecting a vendor. As P1’s WiMAX platform on the 2.3GHz band is hardware and software upgradeable to offer TD-LTE it is important for us to ensure our TD-LTE network carries new features and has a higher capability system.  P1 has been active since 2011 to trial and showcase the technology and has showcased ease of transitioning between WiMAX and TDD LTE alongside ZTE Corporation. The demonstration, performed on the 2.3GHz spectrum, achieved 130Mbps on a 20MHz band during the peak downlink throughput in a cell.

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Interview: Group Head, Emerging Payments, APMEA, Mastercard: “For remote payments, generally brought under the umbrella of m-commerce, LTE will absolutely play a key role.”

Philip Yen, Group Head, Emerging Payments, APMEA, Mastercard

Philip Yen, Group Head, Emerging Payments, APMEA, Mastercard

Philip Yen, Group Head, Emerging Payments, APMEA, Mastercard is speaking in the Service Innovation & Monetisation track on Day Two of the LTE Asia conference taking place on the 18th-19th September 2013 at the Suntec, Singapore. Ahead of the show we speak to him about the challenges of creating a mobile payments eco-system and how LTE can help.

What role does LTE have to play in the development of mobile payments?

Mobile Payments consist of both remote and proximity payments. For remote payments, generally brought under the umbrella of m-commerce, LTE will absolutely play a key role. Payment is closely associated with a shopping experience and the richer, the faster, and more appealing the shopping experience, the more likely somebody will make a purchase. Thus, LTE will certainly promote mobile remote payments. For proximity payments, the consumer registration process has been a pain point as most consumers consider it “cumbersome”.  LTE will help, at least marginally, to improve the registration process. Beyond that, LTE will make it easier and more practical to package additional services to couple with the basic proximity payments. For example, the search for merchant promotions and the redemption of such promotions will again be better facilitated by LTE.

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TETRA and LTE – fact and fiction

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While the future is unknown, the presence of concept applications and devices created much interest, and there were concerns that the focus was shifting from TETRA, which is the dominant mission critical communications technology in the world.

Are the manufacturers of TETRA switching to LTE?

Some TETRA manufacturers are planning to add LTE capability to their portfolio whilst continuing to fully support TETRA. The development of the TETRA standard continues, with new features, devices, applications and infrastructure, demonstrating TETRA’s continued leading position in the PMR market.

The availability of TEDS for wideband data enables organizations to deploy wideband data services throughout their TETRA networks with the same levels of coverage, security and resilience they already enjoy. TETRA networks already support the majority of applications used by public safety and mission critical users today, and the increasing number of applications is catalysing significant growth in the availability of end-to-end solutions…

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Interview: General manager of the Traffix Division of F5 Networks: “We’ve had great resonance in the market, which increased visibility supporting our work.”

Ben Volkow, general manager of the Traffix Division of F5 Networks

Ben Volkow, general manager of the Traffix Division of F5 Networks

Following the successful LTE Awards 2013, we speak to Ben Volkow, general manager of the Traffix Division of F5 Networks, about the company’s win in the ‘Best LTE Core Network Element’ category.

Tell us more about your entry in the LTE Awards 2013.

F5’s Traffix Diameter Signaling Delivery Controller (SDC) enables operators to control and steer signalling in ways that optimise, monetise and secure an LTE network for maximum revenue generation. You can find the SDC in more field deployments than any other Diameter signalling solution. It is the market’s most mature product as our DRA was the first in the market to be deployed, in 2009. It’s a comprehensive Diameter signalling solution offering a DEA, DRA, IWF, Diameter Gateway all consolidated into one platform powered by an extensive central network management system that not just reports and displays network statistics, but is configured to prevent network problems.

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Video interview with Suresh Sidhu, Chief Corporate & Operations Officer, Celcom, Malaysia

Check out our interview with Suresh Sidhu, Chief Corporate & Operations Officer, Celcom, Malaysia at the LTE World Summit 2013

Huawei working to develop 5G technology

It seems early discussions around what 5G might be are starting to heat up! A session dedicated to 5G will be a key feature of the LTE North America summit, taking place on the 21st-22nd November 2013, at the Westin Galleria, Dallas, Texas, USA.

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As people across the world get used to the fourth generation (4G) mobile technology, Chinese equipment maker Huawei Technologies has said it is working on the fifth generation (5G), which is likely to be available for use by 2020. The company said presently 200 people are working on the project and it has earmarked a specified amount for the research and development of the technology. It, however, refused to share details about the amount to be spent for the development of the technology.

Huawei Technologies official Wen Tong said that by 2020, there will be billions of connections and 5G can provide massive connectivity. The technology will enable people to have a fibre network like user experience on a wireless connection.

It can provide speed of 10 Gbps, which is 100 times faster than the mobile technology used these days, Tong added.

South Korean giant Samsung has also announced that…

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Preparing for VoLTE

LTE_VoiceSummit_2013At the end of last year, one of our top 5 predictions for LTE in 2013 was ‘VoLTE: Only fools rush in’ as we saw a couple operators push back their VoLTE deployment plans. Over halfway through the year, it seems operators are still taking their time with the technology but voice services have certainly started to gain traction and the industry at large is solidly behind VoLTE.

VoLTE has been filling up our news feeds recently; with Verizon revealing its plans to launch its first VoLTE handsets sometime this year and AT&T announcing its VoLTE service will go live in 2013. The technology is undoubtedly maturing but we’ve also seen a range of mixed messages such as ‘VoLTE is set to break out’ and ‘VoLTE off to a slow start’.  Despite growing interest and investment in the technology, there is clearly still much uncertainty and many issues to be addressed.  

The demand for clarity and collaboration in the market is evident and the LTE Voice Summit on 1st-2nd October 2013 in London plans to provide just that, bringing together the greatest minds in voice services to realise the opportunities and manage the challenges of next generation voice offerings.

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Roaming with Voice in LTE networks

Mats Lindberg, Business Solutions Director, Polystar Group

Mats Lindberg, Business Solutions Director, Polystar Group

This post is by Mats Lindberg, Business Solutions Director, Polystar Group.

Roaming is a fundamental part of the mobile telecoms customer experience and it is essential to support it in every generation of technology. LTE has been introduced on all continents already and will be gradually rolled throughout all networks. LTE provides cost-effective and fast multimedia mobile data services and helps drive value through an improved subscriber quality of experience.

As subscribers roam between the LTE and GSM/UMTS networks, operators ensure continuity of the voice service with minimal service disruptions. However, international roaming capability for the next generation mobile services still remains a big challenge.

We believe LTE roaming will contribute to the success of LTE, irrespectively of hard pressure from different governments and EU with regards to tariffs, cap of traffic/cost, notification of usage etc.

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Interview: CTO of SK Telecom: “LTE has become the global mainstream service.”

SKT_CTO_PHOTO_s

Jae W. Byun, CTO of SK Telecom

Following the successful LTE Awards 2013, we speak to Jae W. Byun, CTO of SK Telecom, regarding the company’s award for winning the ‘Most Significant Development of a Commercial LTE Network’ award.

Tell us more about your LTE Awards 2013 entry.

SK Telecom has continuously developed and commercialised diverse innovative network technologies to provide the best LTE service to customers. Since launching Korea’s first LTE network using the 800MHz frequency band in July 2011, SK Telecom completed its nationwide LTE rollout in June 2012. It is now providing seamless LTE service in underground and in-building areas as well as mountainous regions and coastal/island areas through the world’s first commercialisation of LTE femtocells in June 2012. Furthermore, after acquiring 1.8GHz frequency band, SK Telecom developed and applied the world’s first Multi Carrier (MC) to offer faster and more reliable LTE service through effective operation of the two frequency bands (800MHz and 1.8GHz) in July 2012. Moreover, based on its strong network, SK Telecom achieved the world’s first commercialisation of nationwide VoLTE in August, 2012.

What do you think made your entry stand out from the crowd?

SK Telecom was able to differentiate itself from others by developing and applying breakthrough LTE technologies, securing the richest LTE smartphone line-up and providing a wide variety of mobile value-added services optimised for the LTE network. Based on such efforts, the number of SK Telecom’s LTE subscribers grew rapidly to reach about 11 million (as of the end of June 2013), taking it up to around 40 per cent of SK Telecom’s total mobile subscriber base.

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Interview: CEO of AzQtel, Azerbaijan: “It’s our goal that TD-LTE will become a worldwide standard.”

Jayhun Mollazade is CEO of WiMAX carrier AzQtel

Jayhun Mollazade is CEO of WiMAX carrier AzQtel

Jayhun Mollazade is CEO of WiMAX carrier AzQtel, which goes to market in Azerbaijan with the brand ‘Sazz’. He is speaking about the transition from WiMAX to LTE on Day One of the LTE Asia conference, taking place on the 18 September 2013 at the Suntec, Singapore. 

You are transitioning your network from WiMAX. How is your LTE network deployment progressing?

We are still in the initial planning stages for the transition to TD-LTE.  We have attended a number of forums to understand what other operators are doing but especially to understand the development of the TD-LTE ecosystem and the planned vendor support.  We now feel comfortable that we are on the right path in our evolution to LTE.  Currently, we are in the process of evaluating vendors and we expect that process to complete shortly.

What have been the biggest challenges you are facing as you make this transition?

There is a lot of excitement about LTE as a technology and its benefits to 2G/3G operators especially.  With WiMAX as our technology, we are already providing 4G services and speed to customers.  Therefore, we wanted to make sure that we do not rush to change our technology but that our decision is based on our particular circumstances and need.

What progress has been made in terms of TD-LTE deployments becoming a worldwide standard?

It’s our goal that TD-LTE will become a worldwide standard.  Since we use WiMAX technology and WiMAX technology is based on time division multiplexing it’s therefore a natural evolution for us to evolve to TD-LTE technology. There are several operators throughout the world who share our particular circumstance.  Globally, there are a number of operators who have deployed and/or are thinking of deploying TD-LTE.  From our vantage point, we certainly support all efforts in turning TD-LTE into the global standard technology.

The LTE Asia conference is taking place on the 18th-19th September 2013 at the Suntec, Singapore. Click here to download a brochure for the event.

Some operators are looking to deploy LTE Advanced? What do you think will be the most exciting development for LTE in the next 12-18 months?

I think the commercialisation of LTE Advanced features will be the most exciting development in the next 12-18 months.  In particular, the commercialisation of RCS services, such as Joyn, VoLTE, and e-ICIC.  These features will enable network operators to offer OTT-like services and therefore the ability to compete effectively with OTTs.

What is your overall pricing strategy? Will your LTE pricing plans differ in any way from WiMAX

We expect to perform a detailed evaluation of our current pricing strategy, its alignment with the capabilities offered by LTE to develop a final LTE pricing strategy.  Our current pricing strategy was developed three and a half years ago based on an evaluation of the broadband market in Azerbaijan at the time. The broadband market has changed significantly since then. Therefore, we now have the opportunity to develop new pricing strategy based on current market conditions.

Will you be looking to move into voice with VoLTE?

We currently offer wireless broadband services to our customers. We expect to be able to create a mobile broadband network with LTE and we will continue initially focus our business strategy on offering the best-in-class mobile broadband services. We will only implement VoLTE when the technology has matured and when there is a proven market demand for this service.

What are you most looking forward to in attending the LTE Asia conference?

We look forward to continued dialogue with other WiMAX and LTE operators and vendors to better understand the direction of the TD-LTE ecosystem and how it can benefit us in our markets.

Interview: Senior director, networks marketing, Alcatel-Lucent: “The rollout of small cells for coverage and capacity will bring new challenges.”

Heidi Adams, senior director, networks marketing for Alcatel-Lucent

Heidi Adams, senior director, networks marketing for Alcatel-Lucent

Following the successful LTE Awards 2013, we speak to Heidi Adams, senior director, networks marketing for Alcatel-Lucent, winners of the award for ‘Best LTE Backhaul Solution’.

Tell us more about your entry.

Alcatel-Lucent has put significant focus and investment into the mobile backhaul segment, and we are seeing strong momentum in the market with our comprehensive suite of LTE mobile backhaul products, solutions and professional services. Our entry highlighted our experience in helping mobile operators navigate the transition to LTE backhaul, as well as some of our latest product enhancements that support LTE backhaul for both macro cell and small cell sites across a range of backhaul access technologies.

What do you think made your entry stand out from the crowd?

Our track record of working with mobile network operators worldwide to successfully plan and deploy large scale LTE backhaul networks, combined with our continuing innovation in developing fixed access, packet microwave, packet optical and Carrier Ethernet solutions for both macro and small cell LTE backhaul applications, certainly made us stand out from the crowd.

How will your product evolve and improve in the future?

We will continue to evolve our portfolio to meet the needs of our customers, with a particular eye on ensuring our solutions continue to scale to support the growth in mobile data demand, that they have the flexibility to leverage the most cost effective access mechanism that can meet the SLAs required for service from a given cell site, and that the backhaul network itself can be managed and operated as simply and efficiently as possible to minimise deployment and operations costs.

What trends do you see ahead for the industry for the next 12 months?

Increasing shift to all-data, more devices, more new services, more new applications, more integration between home use and work use.  We’ll also see the exploration of new approaches to simplifying and streamlining backhaul network operational models.

What are the biggest challenges the lie ahead for LTE?

From a backhaul point of view – the rollout of small cells for coverage and capacity will bring new challenges in how to manage a massive number of end points in a much larger backhaul network. Maintaining strong security, ensuring outstanding QoS, timing and synchronisation, and supporting efficient video distribution will also become increasingly important in LTE backhaul.

What impact has winning this award had for your business?

We have has a lot of positive response from within the Alcatel-Lucent community who were extremely pleased to be recognised with this award.  We are also seeing a lot of interest from customers and prospects who are interested in learning more about what made our offer for LTE backhaul award-winning.

Interview: CEO, Ustream Korea: “Content can be created and shared by all in real time and it will change the world.”

Jimmy Kim, CEO, Ustream Korea

Jimmy Kim, CEO, Ustream Korea

Jimmy Kim, CEO, Ustream Korea & SVP, Korea Telecom, Korea is speaking on Day One of the LTE Asia conference taking place on the 18th-19th September 2013 at the Suntec, Singapore. Ahead of the show we speak to him about what makes Ustream unique, how he sees the impact LTE will have on its growth potential and what the benefits local operator partnerships will bring.

Tell me all about Ustream, and what makes it such a unique proposition?

Ustream is a global leading live platform service company. It originally focused on live broadcasting but has accumulated many relationships, references and gained experience of live services. However the most important thing is that Ustream encapsulates a full ecosystem taking in content provider, broadcast equipment, software companies and production teams worldwide. Live broadcasting is not easy one; it needs lots of proper equipment and software for each scenarios. We have developed a great relationship with many relevant companies regarding broadcasting infrastructure and the application of online live services.

The beauty of Ustream is that is a scalable and proprietary platform. Our engine efficiently ingests more video per minute than any competitors by a wide margin. The platform’s flexibility and global scale enables us to respond to market demand, while maintain the highest levels of reliability. We can support over two million concurrent viewers on a single broadcast stream. A total of 15 million broadcasters are using Ustream for their own live broadcasting every month to an audience 70 million viewers in over 190 countries. There are more than 10,000 channels broadcasting over Ustream at any time worldwide.

You have two local operators invested in Ustream. Why are these telco partnerships necessary, and what are the benefits for all parties?

As strong operators in each of their local market KT and Softbank wanted to add value to provide customers with a better experience. For them it’s a step toward offering a complete package of network pipes and services. In addition, the local telcos finally get an opportunity to become a global platform for content/media partnerships. By offering a global window for local content players, they demonstrate that local telcos can be global operators. Lastly, strong network infrastructure, healthy capital investment and additional in-house services such as KT’s CDN business enhance Ustream’s overall capability and business environment.

What changes are you seeing in usage as broadband becomes more widely deployed?

Everything is easily shared. Everybody can be connected with anyone. It means that content can be created and shared by all in real time and it will change the world. Nobody can control this trend. Internet video usage per month in 2012 was 12,000 petabytes and according to Cisco research data this will increase to 33 thousands petabytes in 2015. The world will become more open and as broadband becomes widespread people will be able to watch what they couldn’t before, and at high quality.

The LTE Asia conference is taking place on the 18th-19th September 2013 at the Suntec, Singapore. Click here to download a brochure for the event.

How important are LTE roll-outs for companies such as Ustream?

According to Informa data, LTE subscription numbers in 2012 were roughly 63 million and will surpass one billion by 2018. More LTE roll-outs mean higher quality and less buffering for Ustream and as a result the Ustream service will grow dramatically. Nowadays people want more on their smartphone and as we are based on on-line streaming technology I believe that the quality upgrade that LTE will bring will enable the Ustream business to grow faster. I hope many countries offer sophisticated LTE services so that the users will be able to enjoy live broadcasting better with high quality on their mobile devices.

As a leader of an innovative technology company what drives you on a day-to-day basis?

Live, new and exciting things! I encourage my team to enjoy “now”, not only because we are live streaming service provider, but also because the “present” is too precious not to appreciate every moment. That’s one of the reasons I closed a 10- year exclusive deal with the Korean Baseball Association for global broadcasting and business rights. You can enjoy live baseball games via Ustream while you have loads of fun.

What’s your favourite mobile technology or gadget out at the moment and why?

I used to love Blackberry phones before the iPhone/Galaxy era. But now services and apps are more important than the devices themselves. As of today, I use a Samsung laptop and a monitor for my desk – iPad and iPhone 5 on the go.

What are you most looking forward to at the LTE Asia conference?

I am looking forward to meeting with the different stakeholders in our value chain and sharing insights and experiences from different markets and I’m excited to hear challenging questions from the audience.

LTE in Africa : We are getting ready to rock n roll !!

Check out Sadiq Malik’s (Telco Strategist) thoughts on the recent LTE Africa conference.

Telco Global Connect

Presentation1The Africa LTE Congress in Cape Town was a well organised and well executed Event. The 2-day assembled over 300 attendees from across the continent to hear insightful presentations, network and discover the future of LTE in Africa . The general ambience was cautiously optimistic even exciting since there is so much riding on LTE to bridge the growing Digital Divide in Africa.

It seems South Africa is clearly taking the LTE lead in Africa with a reported 94% of Africa’s 300,000 activated LTE SIM cards earlier this year. However, the rest of the continent is quickly catching up with Econet wireless confirming they are testing their LTE network in Zimbabwe, Surfline Communications announcing an LTE rollout in Ghana next year and MTC Namibia reporting 33% of data currently used on the network is already from LTE. And more projects in the works including Govt backed Open Access Model in…

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LTE in Africa – Different Dimensions

Mauro Fondacaro, Sales Manager IPX, SAP Mobile Services

Mauro Fondacaro, Sales Manager IPX, SAP Mobile Services

This post is by Mauro Fondacaro, Sales Manager IPX, SAP Mobile Services.

Africa is a varied continent and the first few countries and operators that have launched or are testing LTE in Africa provide a variety of reasons to do so. Beginning with the obvious choice, South Africa, three key operators have launched LTE in the country. MTN, Cell C and Vodacom have all launched FDD-LTE networks in bands ready for LTE roaming.

South Africa has a mature telecom market with the highest ARPU among all African countries and is an expected choice to launch LTE. With reduced profit potential from core services, operators here are looking to push profitability through high speed data services.

 Country Operator Frequency Status
Angola Movicel 1800 MHz Live
Mauritius Orange 1800 MHz Live
Mauritius EMTEL 1800 MHz Live
Namibia MTC 1800 MHz Live
South Africa Cell C Live
South Africa MTN 1800 MHz Live
South Africa Vodacom 1800 MHz Live
Tanzania Smile 800 MHz Live
Uganda Smile 800 MHz Live

But, it’s not all about South Africa; the small island country, Mauritius which has a population of 1.2 million is also one of the first few to launch LTE. Country’s mobile operators as the economy run on tourism. Tourism contributes about 10 per cent to the country’s GDP and an astounding one million tourists are expected to visit Mauritius in 2013. Here, the evolution into LTE is not driven by the need for speed, but rather by the need to support LTE roaming customers.

Angola, Tanzania and Uganda have also launched LTE, and it would be relevant to highlight the penetration of fixed-line broadband in these countries- just 0.12%, 0.007% and 0.25% respectively, thanks to the lack of high capacity backbone infrastructure. Here, many mobile operators are jumping straight from GPRS to LTE, enabling a greater leap in data speed and some plan to evolve the parallel technology standard, WiMax to LTE thus making LTE the default broadband option in the region.

Fixed broadband penetration in these countries is very low and enabling data connectivity through LTE would give the subscribers immense economic opportunity. Operators understand the value of mobile broadband and are trying to shift the perception of mobile phone from something that lets you talk to a device to something that lets you connect to internet. For example, scratch cards that subscribers use to recharge their phone have started displaying their value in terms of data rather than voice.

ARPU in Africa is about $4-6 and data revenue contribution is even lower. Purchasing power apparently appears to be a big barrier to break in these markets, but in my opinion it’s about the value of the service and I would say that subscribers in emerging markets pay more than developed market subscribers. For example, a Kenyan operator’s ARPU is about 7 per cent of average income, whereas an American operator’s ARPU is about 0.2 per cent of average income. As African market players have leapfrogged the entry barrier to drive mobile penetration in spite of many odds, they can also leapfrog the LTE entry barrier.

SAP are exhibiting next week at the LTE Africa conference, taking place on the 9th-10th July 2013 in Cape Town, South Africa. Click here to download the brochure for the event.

Mobile Operators Turn to Policy Vendors for Solution to One of their Biggest Problems

Ben McCafferty, VP EMEA, Volubill

Ben McCafferty, VP EMEA, Volubill

This post is by Ben McCafferty, VP EMEA, Volubill

By the end of 2016, research and analysis firm IDATE predicts that the number of global LTE subscriptions will reach 915 million. Right now, we’re barely over 100 million worldwide. As networks are inundated with rapidly increasing traffic volumes and quality of service (QoS) expectations from users, they’re looking to policy platforms for assistance.

It’s no secret that the expansion of 4G/LTE networks is being outpaced by the growing number of subscribers and their increasing demands for reliable and robust services. Mobile operators are working double time just to try and keep up. In the meantime, users will often find themselves traveling between coverage areas serviced by newer 4G/LTE networks and older, legacy 2G and 3G ones. This represents one of the biggest challenges facing mobile operators today.

While 4G/LTE networks have enough bandwidth to enable operators to offer voice and data services over the same technology stacks — we know this as Voice over LTE, or VoLTE — those older networks don’t. Instead, they separate voice and data into different streams. So, what happens when a subscriber is on a call and crosses over from a 4G network coverage area to one serviced by a legacy network? The answer: dropped calls, slowed or failed downloads, and a number of other inconveniences, any one of which could prompt customers to take their business elsewhere.

Policy vendors are tasked with evolving their technologies in order to help mobile operators offer high-quality coverage for both data and voice, without being tripped up every time a subscriber moves from a 4G coverage area to one running on an older analog technology. Subscribers don’t care if operators are in the midst of network transitions. They want 4G/LTE and the QoS they have come to expect with it. They don’t want to hear about legacy systems or complications. In their minds, if manufacturers are making so many 4G/LTE devices, networks must be able to support them without difficulty.

That’s exactly why mobile operators are relying on policy vendors to come up with a solution — one that makes the transition smoother, faster, and undetectable to their subscribers, all while maintaining the highest QoS possible. It’s a challenge that will require innovation and creativity — and the clock is ticking.

Next week, at LTE Africa, I will be speaking on policy vendors’ role in the success of VoLTE, as well as how operators can capitalise on the booming African mobile market.  Don’t forget to stop by and say hi!

The LTE Africa conference is taking place on the 9th-10th July 2013 in Cape Town, South Africa. Click here to download the brochure for the event.

EE looks to streak ahead as UK LTE rivals wait in the wings

EEEE, the only national UK operator currently offering LTE has made couple of announcements today, several of which are innovations for the UK market.

Firstly it has made good on its promise from back in April that it would ‘double’ average UK speeds, with an initial launch of 12 cities. This is no LTE Advanced chicanery – it has simply double the bandwidth it uses from 2 x 10MHz to 2 x 20MHz. Clearly EE has got plenty of spectrum, and it’s not afraid to flaunt it.

It’s also happy to shout it now being able to offer speeds up to 150Mbps, but that’s theoretical, and effectively nonsense. There is a genuine real-world speed boost on offer though, and in my tests on an iPhone 5, I now am consistently getting 30Mbps – pretty much double what I was seeing before.

This is of course a strategic move to keep it ahead of its rivals, who will soon be launching their own LTE services and are unlikely to have the bandwidth to match EE’s speeds.

What’s innovative though is the pricing. The double speed is free to all existing subscribers, but it says that from September it will be charging more for the faster service. If it goes through with this, it will be the first time that a mobile operator has offered speed-based tiered pricing in the UK. This is going to be in stark contrast to Hutchison’s 3 UK network, which has already said it will not be charging more for its LTE service, and has been trying to counter EE speed marketing with its own ‘Ultrafast’ labelling, thanks to its use of DC-HSPA delivering 20Mbps.

No surprise then that it also confirmed that it is trialling carrier aggregation and might use this from the end of 2013, which will help it boosts speeds further.

The other area of innovation from EE is the introduction of Shared plans, again a UK first. From 17 July, you’ll be able to add up to five devices to one bill, for an extra £12 per phone or £5 for a tablet. That should make it more attractive to get more than one LTE device for a household.

Thirdly it’s introducing LTE as a Pay-as-you-Go option – asking £15 for 2GB a month with every extra 500MB costing £3. O2 MVNO Giffgaff offers unlimited 3G data for £12 a month, so the price premium for speed is clear here.

The next new trick is dubbed ‘Cash on tap’ – with a mobile contactless payment scheme using the NFC built into its compatible handsets using Mastercard. This means of course that the iPhone 5 is off the menu, and mainstream outlets such as McDonalds and Boots are on board. Of course contactless is something of a misnomer as you actually have to tap to make it work, but we’ll let that go.

Finally, there’s a new router on offer for its fixed-line fibre (FTTC) customers, the main draw of which is support for 802.11c, the new fast Wi-Fi standard.

It’s a healthy batch of announcements and it’s good to see EE not resting on its laurels as it strives to reach one million customers by the end of the year, but of all its moves, I’ll be most curious to see if the UK market has the stomach for tiered speed pricing.

LTE Network Interactions

Jim Machi, VP Product Management at Dialogic.

Jim Machi, VP Product Management at Dialogic.

This post is by Jim Machi, VP Product Management at Dialogic.

According to a recently released GSMA Wireless Intelligence infographic, there are 163 live LTE networks today, and that figure is expected to grow to more than 400 live LTE networks by the end of 2017. However, there are still hundreds of 2G and 3G networks that these LTE networks will need to connect to, not to mention the million or so (depending on source) Wi-Fi networks.

The signaling interworking between Diameter, SS7 and Radius is an important issue that needs to be solved. It has become such a priority that a Diameter signaling controller market has emerged.

Recently Dialogic hosted a webinar in which I discussed this in more detail. Steve van Zanen from Broadforward joined me to discuss the need for this type of equipment and the use cases that drive demand for interworking solutions.

But signaling is not the only interactions that occur with the LTE networks.  There are also media interactions required because of more advanced voice and video codecs that are used on LTE networks that will require transcoding and all this traffic will contribute to congestion.

The webinar explores all three of these areas and solutions to allow the interactions to go smoother. Click here to learn more.

The next Signaling Day, focusing entirely on signaling issues, will be taking place ahead of the LTE Asia conference, taking place at the 18th-19th September 2013 at the Suntec, Singapore. Click here to download a brochure for the event.

 

Managing the interaction between 2G, 3G and LTE within Heterogeneous Networks

Neil Coleman, director global marketing, Actix

Neil Coleman, director global marketing, Actix

This post is by Neil Coleman, director global marketing, Actix.

As networks become increasingly complex and demands from subscribers soar, mobile operators face common issues when they lack a reliable, consistent and accurate view of the network. 

Mobile data services are undergoing tremendous growth. As a result operators are busily knitting together a Heterogeneous Network (HetNet) of access technologies from cellular towers, rooftop antennas, metrocells, femtocells, and Wi-Fi to Distributed Antenna Systems. This development is being driven by subscriber demand for consistent wireless broadband coverage and capacity, with the result that the mobile network is moving increasingly ‘closer’ to the consumer.

LTE offers a step change in mobile data performance, setting new expectations for customer experience. LTE will increase interaction with the network, increasing the demand for mobile multimedia services – online television, video streaming, social networking, and interactive gaming.

Considering the huge variations in performance, range and capacity between different access technologies and spectrum bands, operators will need to carefully control the interactions to provide a consistent subscriber experience. Simply put: customer experience in HetNets will be defined by the poorest network performance the subscriber typically receives during normal day to day usage.

If operators get this wrong, subscribers could experience catastrophic drop-offs when handed over from relatively under-utilised LTE networks to congested 3G/2G networks.  Similarly as subscribers leave Wi-Fi or small cell hotspots and re-join macro networks speed bumps will impact the always connected data experience new services rely on.

All of this requires operators to get the initial coverage mix right and ensure handovers and interactions occur at the right places at the right time. Critical to this is an understanding of how subscribers and data traffic flow across the network and the geography. This type of information can be obtained from systems that deliver increased network and subscriber intelligence. Software platforms such as ActixOne are designed to deliver real-time geo-located subscriber insights to drive everything from long term planning through to optimisation and SON.

This intelligence then enables the operator to shape and manage bandwidth to deliver the required quality of service, improving and optimising network efficiency so that the transition across the HetNet is a smooth, invisible and painless experience for the subscriber.

VoLTE – Why it’s Imperative for LTE

Kaushal Sarasia, Assistant Manager, Marketing for Aricent.

Kaushal Sarasia, Wireless marketing for Aricent.

This post is by Kaushal Sarasia, Assistant Manager, Marketing for Aricent.

While LTE has established itself as the technology of choice to cater to the ever increasing demand for bandwidth one of the key challenges it faces is voice.

Given that LTE is an all IP network, the challenge is to provide seamless continuity for voice and video calls while using packets. The complexity means that operators are choosing to provide voice services via circuit switching by falling back to their legacy networks. This method of Circuit Switch Fall Back (CSFB) however, is rapidly falling out of favour as operators now want to leverage the full benefit of LTE by providing high definition voice/video services over LTE.

VoLTE not only helps operators reduce cost by eliminating the need to maintain legacy networks but also enhances the customer experience by providing distinct advantages such as high definition voice quality, simultaneous voice and data usability for rich service experience and seamless connectivity. The highly portable and scalable core network of LTE is being extensively leveraged by governments and other agencies for deployments in niche areas such as public safety for disaster management; here VoLTE becomes absolutely crucial for enabling vital voice communication during life critical operations. Moreover, VoLTE can help define a single wireless core network for both data and voice thus allowing multimedia communication involving voice, video and data at the same time. This can be leveraged to provide exceptional customer experience and to share critical information during disaster management.

Implementation of VoLTE is a complex undertaking that requires leveraging the IMS network and implementing specific QoS to enable seamless carrying of data and high definition audio/video quality. Its introduction impacts network elements across the spectrum including User Equipment (UE) (IMS Client), RAN (eNodeB), Core (EPC) and IMS Servers. The standards for VoLTE are still evolving and coupled with the complexity of implementing it means that it provides a huge opportunity for equipment manufacturers to introduce differentiation in their VoLTE solution.

An optimal VoLTE solution delivers an enhanced customer experience by providing many distinct benefits such as seamless HD voice/video quality, while enabling operators to reduce infrastructure cost and complexity. It also enables LTE equipment manufacturers to target this highly lucrative market by offering highly differentiated products, thus providing multiple benefits to every stakeholder in the LTE space. VoLTE has thus become an imperative for the success of LTE.

Aricent will be exhibiting at the upcoming LTE Asia conference, taking place on the 18th-19th September 2013 at the Suntec, Singapore. Click here to download a brochure for the event.

The inaugural LTE Voice Summit, dedicated to telecoms voice issues, is taking place on October 1st-2nd at the Hilton Paddington, London. Click here NOW to download a flyer.

LTE Interworking: Is it really necessary?

This post is by Jim Machi, VP Product Management at Dialogic.

This post is by Jim Machi, VP Product Management at Dialogic.

In LTE there are many signaling interworking scenarios to consider. With more than one million Wi-Fi networks, over 1,000 2G networks, over 500 3G networks, over 400 cable networks, even more DSL networks, and 163 live LTE networks, the number of signaling interactions is simply enormous.

A spec called TS 29.305 covers interworking between Diameter and SS7/MAP, which would occur whenever an LTE and 3G/2G network need to interact.  Of course, interworking needs to happen between LTE networks as well, and there are many different Diameter variants are out there. Without universally-endorsed standards, it’s easy to either interpret or implement the spec a little differently.

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Diameter interactions also need to occur outside of 3GPP networks. Interactions with Wi-Fi will need to occur when an LTE-enabled tablet moves into a Wi-Fi area, and the billing and authentication switchover needs to occur seamlessly. When this happens, interworking between Diameter and Radius needs to occur and similar interactions could occur even with cable and DSL networks.

Service providers will need to address all these interactions by adopting solutions that normalise protocols and facilitate any-to-any communications until LTE becomes the dominant network architecture – which is still several years away.

The next Signaling Day, focusing entirely on signaling issues, will be taking place ahead of the LTE Asia conference, taking place at the 18th-19th September 2013 at the Suntec, Singapore. Click here to download a brochure for the event.

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