Thomas Henze

Thomas Henze, Head of Mobile Access, products & innovation, Core Telco Products, at Deutsche Telekom

Is ‘LTE Radar’ a rare example of forward thinking from the telcom community? Thomas Henze, Head of Mobile Access, products & innovation, Core Telco Products, at Deutsche Telekom, certainly thinks so and in this interview he tells us more about the fledgling technology and why he’s excited about the impact it will have on consumers and the prospects it offers to operators.

Henze will be speaking on Day One of the 10th annual LTE World Summit, the premier 4G event for the telecoms industry, taking place on the 23rd-26th June 2014, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. 

Can you tell me more about “LTE Radar” and LTE proximity services?

Technically proximity services consist of two components: broadcast and discovery. This means devices will be enabled to a) broadcast digital information into their proximate environment in order to “become aware” and b) discover similar information, about and from other devices.

Integrating control of this functionality into the mobile network as well as using LTE on licensed spectrum for the transmission makes it a powerful telco grade solution.

As for the terms, at Deutsche Telekom we refer to our related project as “LTE Radar”, a name which is especially refers to user’s perception of the discovery function.  It’s not necessarily our final product name, rather a working title. The technology behind “LTE Radar” is pretty much based on Qualcomm’s “LTE Direct” concept and is currently being standardised by a 3GPP project called “Prose”.

What benefit they will bring to users?

LTE proximity services will bring benefits in several dimensions. From a customer perspective it brings enrichment of people’s day-to-day life. They will be able to interact with their proximate environment in a spontaneous, direct and smart way using their smartphone. This will offer a completely new level of interactivity, combining the cosy, anonymous and “virtual” way of using the internet at home with the instant opportunity to get into direct social contact. Users can, if they like – just few seconds later – meet up with “real” people sharing the same interest or a desired business opportunity.

“LTE Radar” connects people and businesses – on the spot.

From an operator perspective it is nothing less than a powerful new enabler that will significantly enhance value of the mobile access. Consequently, we believe it will offer various use cases with related revenue opportunities for operators. This will be stem from three sources. Firstly, additional value and therefore ARPU generation for consumers; secondly, enabling completely new marketing tools for corporate customers; and thirdly, third-party enabling (B2B2X) via developer APIs, e.g. via a revenue share model.

LTE_WorldSummit_2014The 10th annual LTE World Summit, the premier 4G event for the telecoms industry, is taking place on the 23rd-26th June 2014, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Click here to download a brochure for the event.

What do LTE proximity services offer that current location-based services do not?

It is the way it offers a direct way of delivering proximity information to applications. Location based services (LBS) always take a detour by deriving the proximity vector from location information, which has to be managed by a central platform. This is more complex, drains the device battery due to frequent GPS updates and limits reach to a finite number of registered objects. Additionally, LBS often do not work accurately, e.g. indoors. The introduction of Bluetooth LE- based systems like iBeacon, Gimbal/Fyx, and Paypal beacon is a step on but this solution is range limited to 20m. LTE proximity services offer range classes from 20m to 1000m, they offer the highest privacy and security level along with telco-grade reliability and, if we succeed in making “Prose” a widely accepted standard, will also be the largest community implemented in every LTE device.

Does LTE Radar require new handset support?

Yes, it does. The “Prose” standard will requires support by chipsets, handsets and mobile networks.

Outside of LTE Direct/Radar what is the most significant LTE related technology to come on the scene in 2014?

LTE has been a big success story in terms of customer experience. We already see pilots and first deployments for the next speed-level “LTE Advanced”. Secondly, Voice over LTE will come to the scene this year, hopefully creating a positive customer perception. Last but not least there is another topic I deem important for the future, which is low-power LTE, addressing the trend towards an Internet of Things. But this discussion has only just started…

What are the main challenges in connecting mobile devices?

The key challenges will be building the ecosystem around the “Prose” standard. Here we have to consider the commercial as well as technical aspects. This includes identification and selection of the most suitable radio spectrum used by devices to broadcast and also to discover relevant information. This process will be supported and authorized by network functions and several new features.

By the way, this service has to work not only domestically but also for international roaming, so customers can enjoy a completely new way of exploring new cities abroad. Another key success factor will be rapid community building. So we need global network footprint and a rich device portfolio supporting “Prose” as well as thousands of innovative developers to create a colourful world of proximity based services. Of course, these folks will require properly standardised, flexible and easy to use proximity APIs.

How important is it to build relationships with app developers and OTT players?

It is very important. App developers will be THE key players in this game. We as operators will “democratise” and enable proximity information on a global scale and developers will transform this enabler into an unbelievable colourful bouquet of new apps, and enrich existing ones with proximity functions. We expect use cases covering mainstream as well as niche demand. This will have an impact on society! Bigger OTT players will also benefit and be able to extend their mobile services with a reliable telco grade proximity component. Depending on the type of service this will boost their businesses, so we are able to take a fair share.

Why are events such as the LTE World Summit important to you, and what do you hope to get out of the conference?

In order to bring this new generation of proximity services to life we have to establish a large supporting community and build the ecosystem. At the LTE World Summit we find the right audience with most of the relevant industry players represented. We want to share our view on this fantastic opportunity and are keen on getting feedback and stimulating an open and constructive discussion. For us “LTE Radar” is an innovation coming out of the “classic” telco world opening completely new possibilities to the world of internet services.

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