The ‘gadgetosphere’*, the fetishist tech blogs and sites obsessed with the minutiae of the latest hardware, have been fairly harsh on the Samsung Galaxy S5. While Apple has previously the one to take flack for failing to reinvent the smartphone wheel, as it used to seem to do so effortlessly, it’s now Samsung that is getting grief.
Its latest flagship phone, the S5, is bigger, fatter, heavier and just too sameier* compared to the Galaxy S4, which itself wasn’t that much of a leap compared to the S3. Oh noes.
Cloudy with a Chance of Cost Savings
The second day of MWC proved to be another full-on day of hall walking and meetings, and innovation was on show aplenty.
That’s certainly true of Israeli VAS company CallUp. This small operation has just 25 employees but sells its products to operators all around the world, from LATAM to India. Its CEO Aron Roth explained to me how its CanVAS product can bring the value back for operators into services such as SMS and voicemail, which for those that are focussing on LTE are products that no longer really revenue generators, but still have to be offered. The answer is the cloud. CanVAS offers these things via a cloud-based system, thus stripping out the high OPEX costs that carriers would otherwise face for these low revenue generating services. Interestingly Callup itself hosts these offerings on AWS – Amazon’s cloud services. So it’s a cloud service, built on top of a cloud service, which is kinda cool.
Mark Zuckerberg, the ever baby-faced creator of Facebook, the world’s biggest communication product, took to the stage of this this year’s MWC keynote stage, to explain his vision of “connecting the world”.
After Facebook reached the milestone of one billion users, he said, the company “took a step back”. As you would. And asked itself, “What is it we want to do? What problem can we solve next?”. This led to Zuckerberg’s plan to create Internet.org – a partnership between Facebook and a number of eco-system partners, to create what he referred to as a “911 service for the Internet”, offering basic services such as weather, food prices, Wikipedia, messaging and, naturally, basic social networking. Facebook, if you hadn’t guessed.
One of the interesting things about the LTE eco-system is the number of parties involved in making it all happen. Surely one of the most interesting is Imagination Technologies, which has a piece of almost every pie in mobile. I recall Imagination Technologies as offering leading edge technology for the PC market in graphics and sound as far back as late late 90s, but as its Senior Director of Marketing, David Harold told us, it has been concentrating on mobile since around that time – a decision it has never regretted, despite the concerns of those who thought it was misguided to turn its back on the PC market.
With mobile rising and the PC market going the other way, it’s certainly had the last laugh. Perhaps its best known mobile win is the PowerVR graphics technology which helps to make the iPhone such a gaming powerhouse. However, just as its PowerVR offers efficiency in the graphics pipeline, it is also keen to promote is MIPS-based processor technology as a more efficient tech for LTE baseband tech in handsets and tablets.”A high performance, clean architecture” as it described it. The key is the fact that it is multi-threaded, makes for a big performance increase, and it claimed that using its architecture baseband manufacturer Altair saw a 30 per cent increase in performance in the same power envelope. It also has the likes of Sequans using its architecture.
Imagination is also a key enabler of next-gen VoLTE, and its HelloSoft tech support SRVCC, and DRVCC for handoff between 2G, 3G and 4G networks. On the stand we also got a nice little demo of its RCS suite client, (see video below), which it said was currently in the process of receiving Joyn certification. While the jury is still out on whether Joyn will ever take off in any significant way, it was good to see it in action at least.
The Mobile World Congress (MWC) is already one of the biggest shows on the tech calendar, and thanks to keynotes from the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, in some people’s eyes it’s becoming even more important from the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show. As Eric Schmidt (who keynoted at MWC two years ago), put it, “Mobile has already won.”
For the consumer tech press, MWC is all about the latest and shiniest handsets. The big launch is expected to be Samsung’s Galaxy S5, though the likes of Nokia and HTC and LG are also going to want to make their presence felt. That said, we’ve also heard from new players such as Kazaam. Founded by former ex-HTC execs, these smaller players could make the handset market a bit more interesting.
From the LTE World Series perspective, we’ll be concentrating on the tech that makes it all happen – the latest network infrastructure technology– the stuff that gets discussed and dissected in our on-going LTE World Series of events round the world, from TD-LTE in Singapore, to the LTE World Summit in Europe and LTE Africa in, you guessed it, Africa.
We’ll be at the show next week to try and get a sense of what the industry is getting up to with regards to the likes of LTE Advanced, and making networks smarter using technologies such as Het-Nets, small cells, and technologies such as SON and NFV. We also want to find out a bit more about how it’s all going to be supported with more efficient backhaul technologies. After all, we’re moving into a world of ubiquitous smartphones, smart watches and connected cars your new-fangled internet-connected toaster, or smart watch, won’t be that clever if the network behind it isn’t up to scratch.
Be sure to check back next week for our updates and if you’re attending the show, brace yourself – and especially your feet, it’s going to be mega.
LTE World Summit – the world’s leading 4G event, is back for 2014!
After much anticipation the full conference brochure (including CTO- led speaker line up, full sponsor & exhibitor list, expo features, co-located events and multi-track conference agenda) is now available to download:
Download the Full Conference Brochure Here
Amsterdam welcomes us back as the host city for the event, which is taking place from the 23-25 June at the Amsterdam RAI. Take a look at the hot topics we have instore for you this year…
- Antenna Evolution
- Service Innovation & Voice over LTE
- Effective Roaming & Spectrum Management
- HetNets & WiFi Offload
- TD-LTE & LTE- Advanced
- And many more…
Click here to view the full programme, which includes a record-breaking 150+ operator case studies!
Prashant Gokarn, Chief Strategy and Planning Officer for Indosat
It’s clear from this interview with Prashant Gokarn, Chief Strategy and Planning Officer for Indosat, that TD-LTE device availability is a big concern in the Indonesian market and Gokarn will be speaking on the subject of “Operator expectations from vendors and from device OEMs” at the 2nd annual TD-LTE Summit, taking place on the 8th-9th April 2014 at the Fairmont Singapore Hotel, Singapore.
How is Indosat’s LTE roll-out progressing?
Indosat has TD-LTE spectrum at 2.3GHz in the Western part of Indonesia (West Java) and has 20MHz of (GSM) spectrum in the 1800MHz band.
On the FD-LTE side of things, our network has been recently modernised and is LTE-ready; we need a simple upgrade to launch FD-LTE on 1800MHz band on our modernised network. We are now looking at the price points for FD-LTE compatible handsets and we continually monitor our device portfolio for the number of LTE compatible handsets on our network.
Conference Researcher, LTE World Series,
Informa Telecoms & Media
As we move further into the LTE era, antenna systems must evolve to keep up with increasing capacity demand.
Challenges arise as operators battle against limited and expensive real estate and congestion at current sites. It’s becoming clear that operators have to do more with the space they have available if they are to provide the capacity that today’s LTE subscribers expect.
One solution currently in development are Active Antenna Systems (AAS). A recent paper from Commscope (top link), outlined the benefits of AAS. It states that AAS demonstrates significant potential to reduce the site footprint, offers built-in redundancy and improved thermal performance, which can result in lower failure rates. However, despite being ‘in field trials’ for almost 20 years, AAS are yet to reach the mass market.
Tony Eid, Editor-in-Chief of Telecom Review
This post is by Tony Eid, Editor-in-Chief of Telecom Review
LTE-Advanced is the next major milestone in the evolution of LTE and is a crucial solution for addressing the increase in mobile data and the capacity crunch. It incorporates multiple enhancements including the aggregation of carriers and advanced antenna techniques, but most of the gain comes from improving indoor coverage.
Conference Researcher, LTE World Series,
Informa Telecoms & Media
What makes LTE monetization different in MENA from the rest of the world?
Within the MENA region, the current state of the LTE market varies hugely from country to country. As of April 2013, all the GCC states had commercially deployed LTE. Yet, some of the emerging markets in the MENA region – particularly those in North Africa – have yet to deploy 3G.
However, the growth of LTE in the Middle East and Africa is set to outstrip any other region in the world. Cisco’s 2013 report predicts that the number of 4G connections in the region will grow from over 3.6 million in 2013 to more than 86 million in 2018.
For any market considering deployment of an LTE network or even if it’s established, there seems to be a common question – what are the advantages of an LTE network and how can the network be monetized?
Noam Green, Vice President of Marketing at Flash Networks
This post is by Noam Green, Vice President of Marketing at Flash Networks
The introduction and deployment of LTE networks offers real promise for both subscribers and operators worldwide. It brings the potential for revolutionary improvements in quality of experience for mobile broadband. However, the promise of speed can’t always be guaranteed.
The customer experience is now the single most important differentiator for mobile operators. Several speed trials across the globe are conducted regularly by Connect Magazine, PC Week, and other third party benchmark companies announcing with fanfare the victorious operator networks. Video experience has increased in importance, resulting in video initiation time and reduced buffering/stalling also being used as performance indicators, in addition to download speeds.
Pierre François Dubois, VP Product Development, Orange Technocentre
Will eMBMS be a success in 2014 or beyond? This is what Pierre François Dubois, VP Product Development at the Orange Technocentre will be discussing 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. Ahead of the show we caught up with him to gain a sneak peek at his insights into this and other LTE technologies such as VoLTE.
LTE Broadcast/eMBMS – hasn’t the wireless industry been here before and why will it be different this time?
There have been several attempts in the last ten years to enrich mobile networks with broadcast solutions, but all of them failed for two main reasons: no real breakthrough in terms of service for the consumer and the difficulty of building an ecosystem (the second being often the consequence of the first one). Integrated Mobile Broadcast (IMB) with 3G was a good idea as it could enable many MNOs to leverage useless TD spectrum they acquired with 3G but it came too late, and with 4G in the horizon no one made the first move.
It is too early to say that eMBMS will be a success but the situation is obviously different:
– On the fixed access side, mixing broadcast and interactive services has led to new business models in the media industry. It inspires MNOs and their partners as mobile network are more and more content and video driven.
– 4G has been fully designed for data and anticipated eMBMS in the standard, which was not the case with IMB.
– The technology is close to maturity. The chipsets are there and end-to-end trials have been completed by several MNOs.
“Will there be a true business model for this technology?” remains the main question and the answer may vary from one country to another.
Dominie Roberts is the Conference Researcher for the LTE World Summit, at Informa Telecoms & Media
This is by Dominie Roberts, Conference Researcher for the LTE World Summit, at Informa Telecoms & Media
While IPX is a technology that has been on many operator’s agendas since 2012, it was 2013 that really shaped up to be a dynamic year for those in the IPX realm. Last year saw increased interest in this technology, with many global service providers, including Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telecom Italia, Telefónica, TeliaSonera, and Vodafone reporting pilots for voice-over-IPX.
Now 2014 is looking as if it will be even more significant and with LTE is being heralded as the key driver for IPX, discussions surrounding this technology are increasingly filling up our news feeds and dominating roaming and voice debates during LTE events. With the threat of OTTs looming and the need for operators to gain ROI from their LTE investments, MNOs are now looking at new ways to stay ahead of the game in an increasingly competitive market.