Archive for October, 2013

Interview: Head of LTE Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation, NIST: “LTE-Advanced will bring several important things for public safety.”

Emil Olbrich, Head of LTE Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation, NIST

Emil Olbrich, Head of LTE Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation, NIST

Emil Olbrich, Head of LTE Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation, NIST is speaking in the Public Safety LTE track on Day Two of the LTE North America conference, taking place on the 21st-22nd November 2013, in Dallas, Texas, USA. Here we speak to him about what still needs to be worked on to get LTE up to speed for public safety requirements.

Are there still limitations with LTE technology that will need to be overcome in terms of providing mission-critical voice and data?

I would say that we need to prove out several of the key features within LTE that are intended to provide a better quality of experience to the end customer. These include the QoS and ARP features and how they’re implemented end-to-end, from the application to device, to RAN to EPC, to app server. The lack of a PTT implementation that meets all of public safety needs will also be something to be proven out or developed too. The use of VoLTE/RCS or an OTT application for telephony based voice/MMS/file transfer is also still being evaluated in order to determine what best meets the needs of public safety.

LTE is a fast evolving standard compared to previous public safety system. Will progressions such as LTE-Advanced have any bearing on the public safety standard?

LTE-Advanced will bring several important things for public safety. Speed is great but the increase in spectral efficiency will also increase the number of simultaneous users on the network and hopefully allow for better cell edge performance. Also the introduction of relay nodes will be important for extending coverage.

How will a Public Safety handset differ from a mainstream LTE handset?

The intent for LTE user equipment for public safety is to remain within the 3GPP LTE standards to reduce time to market, fragmentation and cost. Some users may require specific environmental features (e.g. intrinsically safe, works with gloves, larger speaker, discrete PTT button) and other 3GPP future releases will potentially include higher power and direct mode.

Why is the LTE North America conference such an important date in your diary?

The ability to meet the key vendors and carriers of LTE in a single place is by far the most appealing thing.  Being able to interact with our peers in the LTE space and partake in the latest information regarding technology and analyst presentations is also key to keeping up with the latest innovations.

The LTE North America conference is taking place on the 21st-22nd November 2013, in Dallas, Texas, USA. Click here NOW to download a brochure for the event.

Interview: Statewide Interoperability Coordinator, State of Oregon: “mission critical voice will be the biggest challenge.”

teve Noel is Statewide Interoperability Coordinator, State of Oregon

Steve Noel is Statewide Interoperability Coordinator, State of Oregon

Steve Noel is Statewide Interoperability Coordinator, State of Oregon. Ahead of the LTE North America conference, taking place on the 21st-22nd November 2013, in Dallas, Texas, USA, we quiz him on his views on the use of LTE for public safety networks.

What are the key benefits you feel LTE brings to public safety networks?

The first benefit is having a national standard for public safety communications, and the ability to leverage industry standards to enhance technology capabilities. Having dedicated LTE spectrum for use in emergencies and using modern hardware will enables application sharing. It also provides technology flexibility.

Are there still limitations with LTE technology that will need to be overcome in terms of providing mission-critical voice and data?

Yes, especially in rural and frontier areas, where just having a presence will be a challenge. I think mission critical voice will be the biggest challenge, and the ability to enable device to device communications. In addition user adoption of the new technologies could be a challenge.

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Interview: Senior Systems Engineer, Sprint: “We expect that small cells will be key to 2500MHz network densification.”

Patrick Urgento, Senior Systems Engineer, Sprint

Patrick Urgento, Senior Systems Engineer, Sprint

Patrick Urgento, Senior Systems Engineer, Sprint is speaking in the “Future of LTE” track on Day Two of the LTE North America conference, taking place on the 21st-22nd November 2013, in Dallas, Texas, USA. Ahead of the show we speak to him about how its progressing with deploying LTE at three frequencies at once. 

What are the biggest challenges involved in integrating the Clearwire TD-LTE spectrum you recently acquired with Sprint’s existing LTE network?

There really hasn’t been a major challenge with Integrating Clearwire’s spectrum.  Before the acquisition, there was a plan in to integrate more than 5000 Clearwire TD-LTE sites by the end of the year, and that is on track to be completed. We are in the process of selecting several thousand more Clearwire sites for the first half of 2014. Clearwire had done an amazing job operating a low cost network and we have been working on interoperability with Clearwire site vendors and Sprint EPC core vendors for a while.  As these sites come online and customers access them, we expect they can see speeds in the tens of Mbps.

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Interview: VP Americas, Small Cell Forum: “The benefits of small cells is the ease of deployment”.

Andy Germano, VP Americas, Small Cell Forum

Andy Germano, VP Americas, Small Cell Forum

Andy Germano, VP Americas, Small Cell Forum is taking part in a panel discussion: “Small Cells and SON” in the Hetnets track on Day One of the LTE North America conference, taking place on the 21st-22nd November 2013, in Dallas, Texas, USA. Ahead of the show we speak to him about the latest in small cells and how he they will be deployed.

What do you think are the biggest challenges in dealing with the implementation of small cells into a network?

As small cells migrate into HetNets and open access to outdoor applications, frequency coordination with macro cellular networks becomes more important.  Another area of importance is backhaul.   One of the benefits of small cells is the ease of deployment. Selecting the right backhaul connection including scalability for future growth potential is also important.

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Interview: Managing director at Deutsche Bank Securities: “network intelligence is a natural extension of the move to an all-IP network.”

Brian Modoff, managing director at Deutsche Bank Securities

Brian Modoff, managing director at Deutsche Bank Securities

Brian Modoff, managing director at Deutsche Bank Securities, is moderating a panel on “Examining the VoLTE opportunity”, on Day One of the LTE North America conference, taking place on the 21st-22nd November 2013, of Dallas, Texas, USA. Ahead of the show we get his perspective on the latest developments in the US LTE industry and around the world.

Where are the most exciting examples of LTE deployments that you can see from around the world?

NTT DoCoMo in Japan has often been at the forefront of technology changes. It is currently testing and rolling out an upgrade to its Xi service, which would bring downlink speeds to 150 Mbps. Additionally, it has recently released its conceptual version of “5G” and although it will be a herculean effort to get there, we give them credit for putting these ideas out there. SK Telecom is Korea is another carrier that has been a leader. They released LTE-Advanced on its network recently as well.

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Interview: Chris Pearson, President of 4G Americas: “The spectrum crunch is a critical issue in the U.S.”

Chris Pearson, President of 4G Americas

Chris Pearson, President of 4G Americas

Chris Pearson, President of 4G Americas is delivering a keynote address on the subject of “Challenges to LTE Progress”, on Day One of the LTE North America conference, taking place on November 21-22 2013, Westin Galleria, Dallas, Texas. Ahead of the show we speak to him about the successes and challenges in the US LTE market.

We’ve been talking about the massive increase in demand for data for a long while. How do you say the carriers are doing dealing with that?

The operators are doing a great job in trying to manage the robust demand for mobile data. The four national carriers in the North American market—AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon and Sprint—are investing billions of dollars each year to increase network capacity and efficiency. While there are still significant challenges in attaining more spectrum to meeting the robust demand the operators are making tremendous progress in their LTE network coverage. This is exemplified by AT&T expecting LTE to reach 270 million POPS and T-Mobile expecting to reach 205 million POPS by the end of 2013.

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VoLTE winners and losers

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VoLTE winners and losers
AT&T said this week that it expects to have a voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) smartphone by the holidays, and Verizon has also said that it will launch a VoLTE phone this year. Analysts say the move to VoLTE will be gradual, and will definitely benefit some players more than others.Verizon vs. AT&T: The GSM advantage

Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility have both said they will turn on VoLTE during 2014, but AT&T has an advantage as a GSM carrier. “A 3GPP carrier like AT&T or T-Mobile can implement VoLTE market by market and it will play well with circuit switched voice,” said Roger Entner, lead analyst at Recon Analytics. “If you are a legacy CDMA provider you have to wait until your entire footprint is LTE before you can do VoLTE.” VoLTE is not backwards-compatible with CDMA, so a VoLTE call will drop if a Verizon subscriber loses an LTE…

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Interview: Senior policy advisor and program manager, Washington State Office of the CIO: “There are huge obstacles when it comes to mission-critical voice.”

Bill Schrier, senior policy advisor and program manager, Washington State Office of the CIO

Bill Schrier, senior policy advisor and program manager, Washington State Office of the CIO

Bill Schrier, senior policy advisor and program manager, Washington State Office of the CIO, is speaking on Day Two of the LTE North America conference, taking place on the 21st-22nd November 2013, in Dallas, Texas, USA. Ahead of the show we find out more about the challenges involved in deploying LTE for critical comms for the Washington State area.

What are the key benefits you feel LTE brings to public safety networks?

LTE is a commercial technology which will reduce the costs of, deploying equipment at cell sites, central site equipment (evolved packet cores) and the cost of devices, especially if Qualcomm produces chipsets which include Band 14, as they have promised to do.

More importantly, LTE network design, construction, operations and tuning is well understood by a wide array of companies and engineers, so there is a wide body of work and expertise to draw upon in building the public safety network, as opposed to public-safety-only network technologies such as P25 which have a more limited set of expertise.

Finally there is competition. With more manufacturers of LTE equipment and devices (compared to public-safety proprietary technologies), the variety of devices available to public safety practitioners should be greater.

Are there still limitations with LTE technology that will need to be overcome in terms of providing mission-critical voice and data?

There are huge obstacles when it comes to mission-critical voice. First, most public safety responders use one-to-many dispatch, where a single dispatch centre will broadcast to dozens or hundreds of police officers, fire fighters, electrical utility workers or transportation workers in the field. Similarly, a single officer broadcasting from the field will be heard by all others on the same channel or talk group. Such functions are hard to implement in LTE networks. Next is the simplex or device-to-device mode. This mode is used extensively inside buildings or when fighting fires, especially in remote areas. This mode does not use an intervening tower, but relies upon high levels of power in the device (usually measured in watts as opposed to milliwatts). Again, such a mode is not presently or easily supported in LTE.

For public safety mission-critical data there are fewer obstacles. The two most common ones are a lack of smartphone/tablet – enabled applications, and identification of the user, as opposed to the device. User identification is important because local, state and federal laws such as CJIS (criminal justice information system) and HIPPA (healthcare) restrict access to certain kinds of data and require the user as well as the device to be identified when such data is accessed.

The LTE North America conference is taking place on the 21st-22nd November 2013, in Dallas, Texas, USA. Click here NOW to download a brochure for the event.

What do you feel is the optimal governance structure for public safety network rollout? Is local, regional, state or national level best?

A combination of governance structures is required. There needs to be national standards for the LTE network, the evolved packet core, identity management (see above) and applications management. There must be national testing centres for applications to make sure they are well-behaved and secure before they are allowed on the network.

But state-wide and local governance is also required. Most applications will be developed either by vendors or by local and state-wide agencies. Operations and maintenance must be done locally as well. Finally, local or state officials must have their “hands on the knobs” during serious events or disasters to manage priority of applications, users, devices and so forth. LTE has many inherent controls for priority, but it is up to the incident commander at the local level to make the decisions.

Are public-private partnerships going to be critical to public safety network success?

Yes, such partnerships are absolutely essential. I’ll mention just a couple of examples. In network construction, FirstNet “only” has $7 billion available to construct a network, which, by some estimates, would cost $35 to $40 billion or more if constructed from the ground up. So FirstNet will need to partner and use sites and backhaul (typically fibre, maybe microwave) from commercial telecommunications carriers, other private providers (Crown Castle, American Tower etc.), non-profits (e.g. NOANet here in Washington State, which is a non-profit entity owned by the public utility districts in the state) as well as cities, counties and the state government itself. Another example of such partnerships is the development of applications. Those apps often will be developed by private vendors, but need to be tailored to local needs.

What are your predictions for LTE-based critical comms network rollouts over the next few years?

Public safety data applications already exist and are operational in thousands of jurisdictions using commercial 3G and 4G and LTE networks. One public safety LTE network is already operational in Harris County Texas. I would hope to see other public safety LTE “early builder” networks in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New Mexico and Mississippi become operational in 2014-2015. I hope certain FirstNet-constructed statewide networks might become operational in late 2015 or 2016, and to see a substantial operating by 2018. In terms of mission critical voice, I think it will be many years before an LTE network is able to handle this function – probably into the 2020s or 2030.

60GHz Band: a Solution for Small Cell Backhaul?

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60GHz-microwave-backhaul-could-be-effective-solution-for-small-cell-if-regulators-in-various-nations-permit-its-use-says-Aviat-Networks-07Oct13

Small cell will enable mobile usage in dense urban environments but will need a backhaul solution to make it possible. Photo credit: Ed Yourdon / Foter / CC BY-SA

The Case for Small Cell Backhaul
As the search for frequency bands with suitable capacity for small-cell backhaul continues, frequency bands above 50GHz start to appear attractive because they offer both high-bandwidth availability and short range owing to their inherent propagation characteristics. The white paper available at the bottom of this blog examines spectrum in the 57-64GHz range to see whether it can be of use for small cell backhaul.

In many countries, the frequency range 57-66GHz is split into a number of discrete bands with differing requirements and conditions of use and/or licensing. These differences will be highlighted where applicable.

From a global point of view, the use of this spectrum by Fixed Services (FS) is being addressed by the ITU-R in…

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Interview: Vice president of Sprint Technology development and corporate strategy: “The three largest economies in the world all embrace Band 41 and represent nearly two billion potential subscribers.”

Ron Marquardt, vice president of Sprint Technology development and corporate strategy

Ron Marquardt, vice president of Sprint Technology development and corporate strategy

Ron Marquardt, vice president of Sprint Technology development and corporate strategy is delivering a keynote address of Day Two of the Broadband World Forum, taking place on the 22nd – 24th October 2013 at the RAI Exhibition and Convention Centre, Amsterdam. Ahead of the show we speak to him about how China’s adoption of Band 41 affects the TD-LTE eco-system, and find out how Sprint responds to rival claims that its support of unlimited data is untenable.

What is the current road map for competing with the LTE network of the other major telcos in the US?

All major carriers in the US have been deploying LTE aggressively across multiple frequency bands. We have been and continue to deploy LTE across three different frequency bands within the Sprint network, including 800MHz, 1900MHz and 2.5GHz. This provides customers with a great combination of 4G coverage and capacity.  We are deploying both FDD-LTE and TDD-LTE, and with the combination of the bands provide a benefit which is greater than the sum of the parts.

Last year China chose Band 41 for TD-LTE.  What impact did that news have on the TD-LTE eco-system and specifically for Clearwire?

The Chinese government indeed adopted Band 41, specifying the 2.5 GHz spectrum allocation via the MIIT, the Chinese equivalent of the U.S. FCC, and this was announced by the MIIT’s vice minister at the ITU meeting in Dubai, October, 2012.  Sprint, SoftBank and Clearwire have all been very strong advocates for TDD-LTE for some time and now the three largest economies in the world all embrace Band 41 and represent nearly two billion potential subscribers.   We are working very closely with SoftBank to drive the ecosystem.

You have a lot of high frequency capacity spectrum. How will you be using other technologies, such as small cells, to supplement the network to enable greater coverage?

Small cells are just one tool, which we have as part of our network deployment and we will use whatever tools are available and cost effective to meet the needs of our customers. We have been deploying small cells for some time, ranging from residential femto-cells, enterprise femto-cells and pico-cells. The primary focus has been to address in-door coverage and capacity needs.

The Broadband World Forum is taking place on the 22nd – 24th October 2013 at the RAI Exhibition and Convention Centre, Amsterdam. Click here to download a brochure for the event and here to register for a conference pass.

You have shut down iDEN to reduce network complexity but now operate both TD-LTE and FDD LTE networks.  To what extent does that increase complexity once again, and what is your roadmap for CDMA?

Having both FDD and TDD LTE does not complicate Sprint’s network the way iDEN did.  iDEN was a completely separate network with duplicate costs and management needs. We are repurposing the 800MHz spectrum that was being used for the Nextel Network to support CDMA and LTE.

How do you respond to rival’s claims that sticking with unlimited data plans will impact quality of experience?

Some people believe the ability to support unlimited is somehow related to physics. It is not clear which school of physics they believe is related to offering customers a better experience.  However, it is very clear our competitors are setting up toll booths and charging customers for their usage, while watching the meter and their cash registers turn over. I guess as their customer you can always choose to avoid the LTE toll roads they are building and stay on Wi-Fi. We take a very different approach.  We are focused on the needs of our customers and we listen to our customers. We actually encourage our customers to use our LTE network – unlimited is all about simplicity and convenience.

4G cars are coming, but we won’t have much choice in how we connect them

Will your connected car require a separate data plan to your main phone?

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connected car logo
photo: GigaOM
SUMMARY:Soon we’ll be able to connect our cars directly to the mobile internet just like our smartphones, but unlike your smartphone your new car is going to be linked to a specific carrier.

4G cars are making their way to the U.S., starting first with the Audi A3 and eventually a whole fleet of GM vehicles. Embedded LTE could soon be streaming music to our dashboards, providing real-time traffic alerts to our nav systems and downloading Thomas the Tank Engine reruns for Junior to watch in his car seat.

The car will become a new type of connected device like our smartphones and tablets, and like those gadgets our 4G cars will require data plans. But unlike the smartphone and tablet, we’re not going to have a choice on what carrier we buy those plans from. It might seem absurd, but in the U.S. our 4G cars are…

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SKT in good voice as it shows operators the way to go

SKtAt the second day of yesterday’s LTE Voice conference, which took place in London, the presentation by Changsoon Choi of SK Telecom attracted a positive responses from the audience, and really brought home how ahead of the game the South Koreans are in LTE and with particular relevance to the conference, in terms of VoLTE.

Choi started with a simple list of SKT’s achievements in LTE so far. As of 2012 it had 99 per cent population coverage based on a dual layer 850MHz and 1800MHz multi-band network and currently has 89 cities running dual-carrier LTE Advanced, all of which means it’s no surprise is enjoys 48 per cent market share for LTE in the country.

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