Archive for December, 2013

The Top 5 4G predictions for 2014

Top five.As we hit the end of the calendar year, we take a look into the crystal ball to see what’s ahead for LTE in 2014.

  1. lte-advanced-logo-rgb-lLTE-A (Wide commercial LTE Advanced deployment)
    The number one prediction for LTE in 2014 is something of a ‘no brainer’, as Kevin Bacon would say. – LTE Advanced will become a commercial reality in several networks. LTE Advanced consists of several improvements over standard LTE, but the key one is carrier aggregation, enabling different frequencies to be combined and treated as one channel of bandwidth, delivering great performance. Demos have shown speeds of up to 300Mbps – doubling existing speeds.Not surprisingly, the South Korean’s are ahead of the game and deployed LTE Advanced back in June, with a special variant of the Galaxy S4 as the supported handset.In the UK, EE is trialling LTE-A in ‘Tech City’ in central London, with an aim to wider deployment in mid-2014. In Australia Telstra is also trialling, as is its sister company CSL in Hong Kong. US networks have been more coy about revealing an LTE Advanced timetable, but progress is to be certainly to be expected next year. In the world where there’s an ever increasing insatiable demand for data, LTE Advanced will provide a timely performance boost for networks.

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Interview: Director Mobile Network, Etisalat, UAE: “2014 is the year of LTE-A.”

Mohamed Nadder Hamdy, Director Mobile Network, Etisalat in the UAE

Dr. Mohamed Nadder Hamdy, Director Mobile Network, Etisalat in the UAE

Etisalat is one of the biggest operators in the Middle East and has a 55 per cent market share in the UAE according to Informa WCIS stats of which 4G is a small but growing part. Ahead of the LTE MENA 2014 show we speak to Dr. Mohamed Nadder Hamdy, Director Mobile Network, Etisalat in the UAE to get some insight into its network deployment and his predictions for the future.

You’ve had an LTE network for a couple of years now. What would you say are the key learnings you have made about next-gen network deployment?

We’ve learned that devices eco-system and network infrastructures are a chicken-and-egg problem. Operators realise that new technology traffic pickup is mainly dependent on the spread of devices, especially smartphones. On the other hand, device manufacturers are dependent on the operator’s technology adoption plans for their mass production, economy of scale, plans.

A typical clash was the iPhone 5 LTE launch, which lacked support for 2.6GHz despite the fact that at that time this band was the most deployed amongst European and the Middle East operators. Nowadays, operators are facing the same challenges concerning their forward planning for LTE-A carrier aggregation bands. Regional operator alliances that can guide device manufacturers are a clear necessity to solve this issue.

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Tackling LTE Roaming Challenges

Matthew Tonkin, Global Head, IPX Business, SAP Mobile Services

Matthew Tonkin, Global Head, IPX Business, SAP Mobile Services

Once again the mobile industry is entering a new phase of technological change. With the proliferation of data services and smartphones, the mobile operator community is working to address the increasing need for bandwidth with the rollout of next generation 4G networks.

As operators launch LTE services in their home markets, consumers will naturally expect the same quality experience everywhere— especially when they are abroad. In view of this, mobile operators that deploy LTE networks in their domestic markets are starting to review available options to ensure LTE services allow seamless roaming overseas.

The first users of LTE will typically be VIP customers or key corporate accounts, a segment made up of high-end users and frequent travellers. To serve these premium customers operators will need to address LTE roaming requirements sooner, rather than later.

Prepare for roaming

LTE enables new services such as video streaming, HD voice and Voice over LTE applications. However, these services also put high demands on the data roaming backbone and require much more bandwidth and resilient network connectivity.  As mobile operators review their LTE Roaming connectivity options, they will need to consider the following business and technical factors in preparation to enable LTE Roaming:

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“Freeing up spectrum is a critical, and challenging, effort for policymakers.”: Director of Latin America & the Caribbean, 4G Americas

director of 4G Americas for the Latin America and Caribbean region, Bob Calaff

Director of 4G Americas for the Latin America and Caribbean region, Bob Calaff

Ahead of the LTE LATAM show in April we catch up with the director of 4G Americas for the Latin America and Caribbean region, Bob Calaff. He will be speaking on a regulator panel at the LTE LATAM conference taking place on the on the 28th-30th April 2014, at the Windsor Barra Hotel, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

In this interview, he explains the work that 4G Americas is doing in helping to meet the challenges of freeing up licensed spectrum for use by operators in the region and tells us more about its work integrating cellular and Wi-Fi to improve the user experience. Check out the links to the white papers below for more information.

How much of a challenge is spectrum for the LATAM region?

As in other regions around the world, freeing up spectrum is a critical, and challenging, effort for policymakers. While making spectrum available for exclusive licensed use has historically been the most effective way to facilitate mobile broadband deployment and quality of service, 4G Americas recognises that we should be considering other ways of licensing spectrum in the absence of vacant frequency bands.  An important part of what 4G Americas tries to do is present new and innovative ways to free up licensed spectrum for mobile broadband, such as the proposals being discussed regionally to explore Authorized Shared Access mechanisms. Our recent 4G Americas white paper Meeting the 1000X Challenge goes into, among other things, considerable detail on the drivers for and specifics of these proposals.

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Huawei expects acceleration in small cell market

Julian-Bright_web1While the initial hype may have died down small cells are still very much at the heart of operator strategies for 2014. Julian Bright, Informa’s senior analyst for networks gives us the low down from Informa’s Small Cell Global Congress in Berlin last month on Huawei’s plans for the technology.

The buzz of interest that surrounded small cells in the early days may have subsided, but the evidence is that the majority of vendors and operators remain convinced that the technology has a key role to play in the future mobile broadband network.

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The Top Five LTE interviews of the year

One of the most popular features of the LTE conference blog are the interviews that we regularly conduct with many of the key speakers that come to the event.

As we come to the end of the year then we take a look at the Top 5 interviews of the year – run down in order of popularity.

kpn

1. Topping the chart for the year, was this discussion was this interview with Erik Vercouteren, program director LTE Program, for KPN, Netherlands, which took place just ahead of the LTE World Summit in June. Vercouteren focused on KPN’s aims to roll out 4G to as wide an areas as possible in the Netherlands.

Top quote: “We believe that 4G should be available everywhere – that’s why we roll the 4G service out like an “oil stain” covering the entire country, rather than building coverage in busy hot spots only. If you really want to enjoy the benefits of 4G, it should be available in the entire country – in urban and rural areas!”

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LTE North America post-show report now available

post show report1

The LTE North America conference took place last month and was a huge success attracting more than 1300 attendees, a record number for the show. They heard from more than 200 speakers on site, with over 40 per cent of the audience consisting of carriers.

Check out the video to see in event in full flow, and to find out more you can now download the full post-show report.

See you all next year!

Gallery

Data support trumps raw speed for Caterham F1 and Truphone

whole team lores_Normal

Last week I got a chance to take a look around the factory of Formula 1 team Caterham, located in Leafield, Oxfordshire, in the UK.  If you’re wondering why this was relevant for a visit from the LTE World Series, it’s because Caterham had invited some journalist types down to hear from Truphone, which has a partnership Caterham. (And any excuse to see the likes of Heikki Kovalainen in a full size F1 simulator).

Caterham and Truphone teamed up after the F1 team found that its previous suppliers, a mainstream UK operator, were not giving it adequate support in situations where there were issues with handsets, which isn’t great news for a Formula 1 team, which has to jet off to around 20 countries a year.

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Senior Analyst, Wireless Operator Strategies, Strategy Analytics: “The latest EU roaming regulation is potentially a game changer for roaming business in Europe.”

Guang Yang is a Senior Analyst in wireless operator strategies for Strategy Analytics

Guang Yang is a Senior Analyst in wireless operator strategies for Strategy Analytics

Guang Yang is a Senior Analyst in wireless operator strategies for Strategy Analytics and is moderating the panel session entitled, “How Can a Converged, Dual Mode FD and TD Network Most Effectively Work?”, taking place on Day One of the TD-LTE Summit, taking place on the 8th-9th April 2014 at the Fairmont Singapore Hotel, Singapore. Click here to download a brochure.

In this interview we catch up with him to get a insightful overview into TD-LTE and 4G in general in 2014. He explains how ending roaming charges could be a game changer for Europe, discussed the introduction of LTE Broadcast and the effects of China’s 4G roll-out could have on the TD-LTE eco-system.

Roaming, especially within Europe is a high on the EU digital agenda. Is the lowering of roaming pricing through regulation a threat or an opportunity for operators?

The latest EU roaming regulation is potentially a game changer for roaming business in Europe. Many options for technical and commercial models may rise with the regulatory update. Although there are a lot of uncertainties and challenges in the roaming market, the data roaming should be an opportunity for mobile operators. Regulation has turned Europe into an innovative market for roaming products, in many cases with pricing already significantly below the regulated ceiling. Currently, 90 per cent of data roaming traffic in the EU is on Wi-Fi rather than cellular networks, so there is a real opportunity there for operators to grow, despite the pressure on pricing.

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4G shopping not yet open all hours

papers-and-ipad-on-train
I received a press release yesterday from EE that observed that 4G has increased the likelihood of UK shoppers conducting their shopping online. To be more precise EE’s 4GEE “Mobile Living Index” – essentially a survey – said that the number of people who said that they planned to shop online using a smartphone or tablet had increased from 15 per cent last year to 39 per cent this year.

That might be true but what caught my eye was the claim that “The daily commute (8.30am and 5.30pm) is the most popular time for shopping on mobile devices”.

Well that might be true for some, but not in my case, or anyone that shares my train commute.

As an EE customer I can attest to excellent network performance near my home and work locations, but on the commute is a rather different story. During this, my phone goes through every flavour of mobile standard, from no service, to 2G, to GPRS, to EDGE, to HSDPA and for a few brief minutes of data bliss, to 4G. The commute is tiring for me – it must be exhausting for my phone.

The reason for this is the terrain. The train line is set away from the good coverage areas and the signal has to contend with high walls round the line, extensive tree coverage and bridges. In addition, occasionally, in between signal failures, the train sometimes moves at speed. None of these things is conducive to delivering a solid data connection. EE use of 1800MHz spectrum, rather than 800MHz, while great for speed in good coverage areas, makes it less likely the signal will penetrate these obstructions.

However, it’s not as if EE can’t compete, as in the spectrum auction it picked up 2 x 5MHz of 800MHz LTE (as well as 2 x 35MHz of 2.6GHz), but it has yet to play its hand on what its plans are for these.

Of course, even if this was deployed it would only help me if I changed my handset (the UK iPhone 5 only supports LTE 1800MHz), which I have no plans to do at the moment.

The frustration is that we’ve been sold the concept of 4G as enabling us to work, play and shop online at high speed while on the go, specifically on trains, but in many cases, it’s still a pipe dream in real world situations.

If seems it’s not going to get much better any time soon. According to this story, “High-speed 4G broadband will be fully in use on sections of Britain’s rail network in 2019 under new plans announced by ministers.”

Inside a train, yesterday

Inside a train, yesterday. The  lack of 4G can clearly be seen.

2019? Really?

On top of that we’re told that only 70 per cent of the public will get 4G on trains by 2019.

Well colour me excited. That’s fully ten years after the first 4G was introduced in Europe, which means that by then, well could expect 5G to be nearing reality.

Furthermore, while Network Rail will be responsible for the track side infrastructure, it will be up to the individual train operators to supply and install the 4G systems on the trains themselves.

Seeing as my train operator, First Capital Connect doesn’t seem too hot on actually running a train service, (as in trains running on time, running with enough carriages, or running at all), I don’t expect it to be able to do sterling work as a 4G network installer.

It’s not all bad of course. On the upside, I’m getting to read more.

LTE Webinar: Pricing Strategies

map-latin-america-370x229If you’re interested in any way in LTE pricing strategies then you’ll want to check out this upcoming webinar, focusing on the LATAM region.

2013 has seen a steady increase in the number of LTE deployments in Latin America. The region now has 24 live networks, and 2014 is set to keep up the momentum. For instance, six new 4G networks are expected to be rolled out in Colombia alone, and other countries are planning to auction the highly-prized 700MHz spectrum.

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