Archive for the ‘Vendors’ Category

The RF Path to 5G

Kevin Linehan, Vice President, Chief Technology Officer Antenna Systems CommScope

Kevin Linehan, Vice President, Chief Technology Officer
Antenna Systems
CommScope

The roll-out of any new generation of mobile network technology is never as simple as flicking a switch. Much of the current discussion around 5G is about its definition. But 5G won’t truly happen until it can actually happen in the network. Like all grand designs, obstacles need to be overcome in order to achieve that goal.

Like other industry commentators, my fundamental viewpoint is that 5G will be a “network of networks.” Network densification involving macro sites, in-building wireless, metro cells and small cells will continue on the way to 5G. This densification adds more complexity to wireless networks and demands ever more sophisticated infrastructure solutions. Managing these multiple network layers efficiently is becoming ever more important to deliver 5G speeds and throughput.

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Guest Post – How to better monetize LTE Roaming

Guest post written by Michael Van Veen, Global Sales Director for IPX services at SAP Mobile Services

For those of us who are walking around with LTE devices and have experienced high-speed data services, there is no going back: we feel the need for speed.  And naturally, wherever we travel we expect to get the same service performance that we experience in our home network.  We will suffer low-speed 3G connectivity if we have to, but only to get to our email or to chat with friends.  If we cannot get access to LTE for heavy-duty things like content-rich social media services, we will start looking for WiFi connectivity.

Mobile operators have always worked hard to follow their subscribers wherever they travel.  Roaming agreements make sure that their subscribers can use their device on visited networks: they can make and receive phone calls and SMS, and use data services.  The operators can even “steer” roamers to networks which are guaranteed to deliver the most commercial or technical benefits.  Now that we have entered the era of LTE, all of these efforts need to be repeated.

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5G Focus – Interview with Don McCullough, Director of Strategic Communications at Ericsson

Don McCullough, Director Strategic Communications, Ericsson

Don McCullough, Director Strategic Communications, Ericsson

Ericsson made a splash at Mobile World Congress, describing and demonstrating their vision for 5G, and all the different use cases they envision for the technology.

Ahead of 5G Forum USA in Palo Alto in a couple of weeks, we had the opportunity to catch-up with Don McCullough, Director of Strategic Communications at Ericsson. During the interview, Don shared Ericsson’s work in innovating and defining the 5G landscape, their objectives and likely use cases for this next generation.

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Indoor Mobile Locationing: Beyond Pick and Pay

This guest post was written by Ofer Talmor, VP Products, Saguna

Ofer Talmor, VP Products, Saguna

Ofer Talmor, VP Products, Saguna

With the high usage of mobile devices in almost every aspect of our lives, mobile retail revenue stats are hardly a surprise: In Q1 of 2014, retail revenue generated via a mobile device was up 35 percent over first quarter of last year, with mobile owning 13.7 per cent of total e-commerce orders in Q1 2013 compared to 18.5 percent during the first quarter of this year.

But while a lot of data is aggregated about online shopping habits, a big piece of the puzzle is still missing – how do you track brick and mortar customers to identify the optimal point of conversion in-store? How can you identify when a shopper walks in the store, and offer him the best retail experience?  Can the experience that can be amplified by mobile usage?

At the same time, the human need to ‘touch the merchandise’ is still a dominant one. So is the desire to get it immediately, rather than browse online, and wait Combining mobile and in-store engagement for retail success

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The Promise of Voice over LTE: Overcoming Today’s Challenges

Femi Adeyemi, PhD LTE Solutions Architect, Fujitsu Network Communications

Femi Adeyemi, PhD
LTE Solutions Architect, Fujitsu Network Communications

This post was written by Dr. Femi Adeyemi, LTE Solutions Architect at Fujitsu Network Communications

 

Voice over LTE (VoLTE) is considered by many to be a revolutionary application, for both mobile operators and their subscribers:  Operators, once they establish VoLTE networks, will no longer have to maintain separate networks—circuit-switched for voice and packet-switched for data. As a result, they will see savings in both operational and capital expenses.  Subscribers who use VoLTE will be able to use high quality voice and data applications simultaneously, while enjoying greater clarity in voice calls.

However, VoLTE deployment has been slower than anticipated due to several challenges…

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Anera wins award for “Top Innovator” at LTE North America 2014

Ryley MacKenzie, CEO of Anera

Ryley MacKenzie, CEO of Anera collects his prize for Top Innovator at LTE North America

Anera, an SDN and NFV solution provider, was crowned the winner of this year’s Innovation Accelerator at LTE North America in Dallas.

The Innovation Accelerator aims to discover the most exciting start-ups in the market today. This year, hundreds of entries poured in prior to the event, and were subsequently wittled down to a shortlist of 3 companies by our judging panel. Those three companies then pitched their services to a panel of expert judges and the LTE North America attendees.

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Why do you need a Diameter Routing Agent in a VoLTE deployment? (Part II)

This is Part II of Peter Nas’ Blog Entry: Other DRA added-value in VoLTE

There’s additional value to the fundamental session binding functionality of a DRA. A DRA can enable optimal call management ensuring higher quality-of-service VoLTE calls. For instance, think of all the different vendors’ equipment that is needed to exchange Diameter Gx and Rx signaling. One example is when the LTE PGW has a different Gx implementation than the PCRF. In turn that PCRF can have a different Diameter Rx implementation than the IMS’s P-CSCF node. Typically inside an operator’s network, there will be various vendors for LTE, PCRF and IMS core network elements. And this is the norm in roaming use cases where the visited LTE network is out of control (meaning a different vendor) than the home IMS network, where the P-CSCF (and other elements) will be involved.

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Are you ready for the switch to 4G LTE?

This post is by Eyal Amit, Product Marketing Manager, Amdocs

Plenty of service providers (and their end-customers) have jumped on the 4G LTE bandwagon. As a result, two of the most immediate and noticeable changes we are seeing are the speed at which data services are running and high-definition voice quality.

And that’s great…assuming that everything works as it should, and customers receive the quality of experience they were promised. But sadly, many 4G LTE implementations do not live up to expectations due to the challenges that lie within the core elements of these networks.

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Interview: SVP, Head of Network R&D Center, SK Telecom: “It is imperative that operators keep developing innovative technologies.”

Jin-Hyo Park, SVP, Head of Network R&D Center, SK Telecom

Jin-Hyo Park, SVP, Head of Network R&D Center, SK Telecom

Jin-Hyo Park, SVP, Head of Network R&D Center, SK Telecom is delivering a keynote speech on SK Telecoms LTE Advanced innovations on Day One of the 9th annual LTE Asia conference, taking place on the 23rd-25th September 2014 at the Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. Here he gives us an overview of SK Telekom’s latest innovation on its cutting-edge LTE network.

What was the original thinking behind the creation of your winning entry?

SK Telecom’s LTE and LTE-Advanced subscribers have already surpassed 55 per cent of the company’s total subscriber base, and the company holds more than 47 per cent of market share for LTE and LTE-Advanced market in Korea. To provide more advanced and faster LTE services to customers, SK Telecom has continuously upgraded its LTE and LTE-Advanced networks by commercializing carrier aggregation technology, adding more frequency channels, and expanding network coverage.

How do you plan to improve it even further?

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What‘s in a Dot?

The LTE MENA conference finished earlier this week, and as we were following Twitter, we noticed back in the LTE World Series office HQ, we noticed a several mentions of the Ericsson ‘Dot’.

So just in case you were wondering what the Dot was, here’s a quick reminder.

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LTE express – operators, time to get on board

David Swift - Senior Manager, Product Marketing, Wireless Networks Marketing & Strategy, Alcatel-Lucent

David Swift – Senior Manager, Product Marketing, Wireless Networks Marketing & Strategy, Alcatel-Lucent

The LTE era has arrived and is already delivering much faster mobile broadband speeds to end-users – but operators need to move fast to keep customers happy and themselves ahead of the competition. LTE is addressing customer demand for the fastest possible mobile broadband experience. Put simply, LTE customers are happier customers, since they can now enjoy mobile broadband which is as fast and reliable as the fixed-line broadband they are used to at home and in the office. This means that bandwidth-heavy applications—coincidentally the most popular with end-users—such as streaming music, downloading entire albums on the move, uploading photos to social media and streaming high-definition video, are all possible, wherever the user is. In fact, 63 per cent of consumers now say that LTE is an important factor when purchasing smartphones.

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IMS Roaming and Interoperability for VoLTE and RCS

Michel van Veen, Group Director, IPX, SAP

Michel van Veen, Group Director, IPX, SAP

With more than 200 LTE network deployments since 2010, the issue of isolated mobile networks is becoming more prevalent.

According to the GSMA, RCS (Rich Communication Services) adoption is also picking up pace with deployments in 11 countries, supported by 17 operators. This figure is expected to grow to 85 operators by next year.

Combining the Voice-over-IP capabilities of VoLTE (Voice over Long-Term Evolution) with RCS enables operators to offer innovative multime­dia services with strong security and quality of service.

ROI

Combining both data and voice services on the same LTE data access network enables mobile operators to optimise network and service management, integrate network resources and simplify service delivery; this results in a significant reduction of operating expense.

This will make their operations easier and less expensive to manage. Operators will be able to pack more information into packets that go from consumer phones to operator cell towers—which is what enables consumers to send more data stream videos. This is vital at a time when the demand for data between consumers on mobile devices is accelerating at a phenomenal level.

The move to super-efficient networks means operators are able to offer new types of services such as video calling and high-definition content streaming. The benefit of offering VoLTE not only increases the possibility for mobile operators to offer better quality voice services, but also enables them to expand to other services such as rich communications. It also changes how they price and sell services to consumers.

RCS and VoLTE

Additionally, the evolution of RCS is about interconnecting operators over IPX to expand the consumer base. Regardless of network type, operators need to interoperate globally to offer quality services regardless of subscriber location.

Mobile operators will take advantage of the IPX and its IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) interconnect hubs to establish a global nextgen service.

Commitment

Over the past few years, just over half (56%) of operators have moved to connect with IPX networks in order to meet heavy demand for 4G/LTE connectivity around the world. This uptake means faster, higher quality roaming capabilities for consumers and greater access to networks’ LTE spectrum offerings.

We’re committed to expanding the LTE roaming and interconnect community, and supporting mobile operators in providing a seamless global roaming experience for mobile subscribers.  Just last year we were the first to announce a standards-compliant IMS roaming and interconnect hub for IP-based services, including VoLTE and RCS. This will help to establish a global community in which subscribers can communicate beyond traditional voice and messaging services across any device, network and geography.

LTE LATAM 2014 logo

Join Michel van Veen at 13h00 on 30 April at LTE LATAM to hear more of his take on IMS Roaming and Interoperability for VoLTE and RCS.

 

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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Sprint looking to live up to its name with 1.3GHz TD-LTE demo

1300MHz_Sprint_TDDLTE

Sprint has demoed speeds of over 1.3Gbps in tests with its infrastructure partner NSN

Despite its name, Sprint, the US carrier, was for the past couple of years, left in the slow lane for data as it saw its rivals Verizon Wirelesss, and AT&T streak ahead and launch LTE. However, in recent months it has gone through a large amount of network evolution, retiring its iDEN network, and acquiring Clearwire, giving it access to a large swathe of spectrum, enabling it to complete with the big guys.

Recently it announced Sprint Spark, which it dubs an ‘ultra-fast’ LTE service delivering speeds of 50-60Mbps. In a recent interview with the LTE World Series, Dr. John Saw, SVP, Technical Architecture, of Sprint said it plans to do this using a bunch of LTE Advanced technologies, specifically carrier aggregation to make 40, 60 and 80MHz bandwidth pipes, and MIMO techniques.

It hasn’t happened quite yet though, and according to this test in early November 2013 from the Wall Street Times, Walt Mossberg, who performed LTE 20 speed tests in three locations, AT&T is the fastest overall network. However, it does vary greatly by region, and if you look at 2min 54 in the video on the page you’ll see that in Silicon Valley, the heartland of all things tech, Sprint easily wins with average speeds of over 20Mbps, nearly double of AT&T.

However, it’s not content with stopping there. As demonstrated in the video below it has conducted tests with its new partner NSN, where, in test conditions, it has achieved a heady 1.3Gbps on the downlink in a single sector, around 10 times the throughput of today’s commercial networks. This is using its TDD spectrum on 2.5GHz band. TD-LTE is of course particularly efficient use of spectrum and the high frequency enables the faster speeds.

As impressive as that sounds, it’s worth stepping back and observing that this is only slightly faster than the speeds that up until just a few years ago, the ITU officially designated at 4G. True 4G was originally only meant to be used for networks that could deliver 100Mbps on the move, and 1Gbps when stationary. Anything below that was really an enhancement of 3G, until the US networks starting marketing 4G as basically anything. Anyway, semantics aside, it’s impressive that LTE is moving forward at a rapid pace.

The video is presented by Steven Bye, Chief Technical Officer for Sprint. While Steven is a regular at Informa’s LTE events he isn’t at LTE North America, but the aforementioned John Saw, SVP, Technical Architecture is appearing, and will be giving a keynote speech on Day One of the LTE North America 2013 conference, taking place on Thursday 21st November 2013.

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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Apple iPhone 5s launch underwhelming, but rounds off global LTE support nicely

colourfulAs the furore settles down over yesterday’s Apple iPhone 5s/iPhone 5c update we can take a quick look at the news and specifically what it means from an LTE perspective.

Two new phones were launched and while are clearly very solid offerings, no wheels were reinvented, and as such, it was a little underwhelming, at least from an iPhone 5 owner’s perspective.

The iPhone 5C is essentially an iPhone 5 in a plastic shell, available in more colours and the 5S is essentially a faster version of the iPhone 5, thanks to a new 64-bit chip capable of taking advantage of the 64-bit iOS7.

The ‘budget’ iPhone angle that analysts were predicting also failed to come true. The 5c is still a £469 phone SIM free – which hardly makes it likely to appeal to developing markets.

The good news though is that both phones though are capable of taking advantage of more LTE bands that any other smartphone in the world right now. There are five models of each to choose from depending on region.

This is essentially as Apple has to make a choice as to which LTE frequencies to support, as with 40 LTE bands currently employed round the world supporting them all at once would mean a battery life of around five minutes.

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What’s the real upside of real-time BSS?

This post is by Dave Labuda, founder, CEO and CTO, MATRIXX Software

This post is by Dave Labuda, founder, CEO and CTO, MATRIXX Software

We’ve speculated many times that all billing ultimately will move to real time. It makes sense when you consider factors like pre-paid/post-paid convergence; increasing demand for account and spend controls; more on-demand services that utilise real-time triggers and transaction capabilities; and expanding applications for real-time notifications. The shift from traditional billing architectures to any new architecture can be viewed as painful but there is a huge upside to be had moving towards a real-time billing environment.

Mobile data is now driving real-time requirements because of the risks associated with failing to measure, notify, and charge for data services as they are consumed faster and faster. Standards like IMS and 3GPP have also introduced more real-time concepts as policy control, enforcement, and charging become essential to delivering application-based services that respond immediately to taps on a touch screen.

Technical considerations aside, what’s really driving the development of new real-time technologies, however, are the experiences that consumers gain from sectors outside of telecom. If we look at what’s happening in the online, over-the-top, e-commerce, and pay TV environments, we see that the successful players are using communications technology to drive group-oriented social interactions that translate into more revenue and more lasting relationships.

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Local Breakout – A new challenge for networks

Michel van Veen, IPX business manager for SAP Mobile Services

Michel van Veen, IPX business manager for SAP Mobile Services

Going on holiday this summer? In this post, Michel van Veen, IPX business manager for SAP Mobile Services takes a look at the how Local Breakout and IPX will enable operators to meet the strategic challenges presented when customers roam.

As LTE rollouts gain pace, consumers will have access to new networks and higher data speed. While it will take time for the end-user market to catch-up with the industry’s perceptions, the industry still needs to address certain expectations around LTE.

 

At first glance the roaming advantages dominate the LTE experience. Local Breakout, a mechanism where roaming traffic does not traverse back to the home network and is handled by the local operator, allows for cheaper tariffs and will also bring increased localised revenue. The challenge for the network operators is to understand how and where the placement of Local Breakout can be advantageous for them.

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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: 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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CEO, MTC, Namibia: “Will we be able to generate revenues in VoLTE as we do today in circuit switched?”

Miguel Geraldes, CEO, MTC, Namibia

Miguel Geraldes, CEO, MTC, Namibia

Miguel Geraldes, CEO, MTC, Namibia is speaking on how the African market is preparing for the LTE data surge on Day One of the LTE World Summit, taking place on the 24th-26th June 2013, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Ahead of the show we speak to him the many challenges that faced MTN as it looked to move beyond the limitations of its 3G network and launch LTE into the African market.

Please bring us up to speed with the state of LTE on your network and tell us some of the main challenges you are facing?

I believe that LTE is not a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ but a ‘When’. We accelerated the introduction of LTE as our 3G network was limited – for several reasons. It operated at a relatively high frequency, which is not ideal for urban areas and impractical for rural areas, a limited number of subscribers could be attached per carrier, and there were admission control or power control issues. 3G smartphones, with their push e-mail and other features are generating a tremendous challenge as the WCDMA 3G radio sites are easily reaching their “power control” limit, blocking data sessions and migrating voice calls down to 2G EDGE. To cope with this heavy usage more NodeBs are required but MTC was limited in the number they could deploy in the Capital, due to regulatory and environmental restriction from authorities.

Based on this, LTE was an imperative because it was possible to be established at the same sites where we had WCDMA 3G. The 1800MHz frequency was awarded to us and was much better in terms of indoor coverage, with no “admission control” limitation, thus providing us with a way forward. Nevertheless, the challenge was first to migrate the heavy users of dongles/routers from 3G to 4G LTE, which we did extremely well, thanks to a tremendous marketing and offer campaign.

What were the chief technical challenges you are facing in optimising your network for LTE?

In our case, the move to LTE was smooth. Firstly, in 2010 we deployed a 2G/3G SingleRAN that was upgradable to 4G. Secondly, we had fibre metro rings connecting to parts of our network, including base stations, which could also easily accommodate IP microwave where needed. Thirdly, in 2011 MTC completed the deployment of a national fibre backbone. Next, in the first quarter of 2012 we were connected to the WACS submarine cable, with which we entered into a consortium venture in 2008. Thanks to all of this, the major elements were in place to introduce the LTE.

However, LTE represents a transformation of a mobile network’s architecture into a full IP network. The unified 2G/3G cores and 4G with EPC (Evolved Packet Core) and the HLR/HSS (Home Location Register and Home Subscriber Server), that includes CS fall-back for voice calls is an interoperability challenge.

This IP ecosystem delivers significant speeds, especially in terms of downlink, and requires a deep understanding of exactly how to manage the IP packages. Optimising the synchronization between the transport data elements (especially HD video) and the connection to the device requires a different mind-set than what most mobile operator are used to.

The LTE World Summit, the premier 4G event for the telecoms industry, is taking place on the 24th-26th June 2013, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Click here to download a brochure for the event.

How sensitive are your customers on LTE pricing?

Pricing is always an issue. Pricing LTE higher than 3G could be a problem if the customer does not recognise the relevance of the service. In advanced markets with the latest 3G HSPA and no capacity issues, the customer will have difficulty seeing the advantages of LTE, but where there are capacity issues, then the customer will look for 4G LTE and will even be keen to pay a premium – and that was the case for MTN.

MTC introduced 4G LTE dongles and routers to the market with packages that provided 10 times more speed and capacity than 3G – a much better experience, and charged a 10 per cent premium over 3G HSDPA.  Not surprisingly, when LTE was introduced the early adopters were the heavy 3G users and MTC migrated those early adopters for free and kept the same 3G charges for the first three months and only after that charged the premium.

Is VoLTE and RCS part of your plans and what benefits will it bring both to operators and consumers?

Where our networks are migrating to full IP, VoLTE is just a matter of time. Theoretically, VoLTE is the basis to migrate from the current CS to the full IP network, but I personally expect that the 2G/3G networks will be with us for several years.

The industry business model trend is that data represents 80 per cent of the CAPEX, but does not generate much more than 10 per cent of revenues. How we will monetise the migration properly from the current circuit-switched to a future voice over IP (VoLTE) might, in my humble opinion, be the biggest challenge that our industry will soon face. Will we be able to generate revenues in VoLTE as we do today in circuit switched?

Regarding the unified communication services, the rich communication suit (RCS) is a very comprehensive approach designed to cater to the future needs of the end-user, and to combat the OTT players. I believe the RCS approach is very relevant and a very positive move.

How does the move to LTE affect your backhaul strategy?

The strategic direction of our backhaul and backbones submarine cables was defined before we decided to introduce LTE. We were looking for bandwidth for our own transmissions, to move away from the old leased lines and renting international bandwidth, as well as extending our own fibre to the base stations. We accelerated our investment to improve our P&L in the future without the need to resort to renting connectivity, which has been one of MTC biggest OPEX costs.

Why is the LTE World Summit such a key event in your calendar?

It will be interesting to learn if all the communication industry is really aligned and to discover if we are at the front line and if we fully understanding the next steps to take with LTE.

Interview: Head of network, Vodafone, Netherlands: “The introduction of small cells is the next step in serving our customers.”

Head of network, Vodafone, Netherlands

Head of network, Vodafone, Netherlands

Matthias Sauder, head of network, Vodafone, Netherlands, is appearing at the LTE World Summit, the premier 4G event for the telecoms industry, taking place on the 24th-26th June 2013, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Ahead of the show we find out more about Vodafone’s upcoming LTE launch in the Netherlands and how the network can best be optimised. 

What are the key techniques for network optimisation in LTE and what effect can it have on the customer experience?

The key optimisation technique in LTE is SON (Self Organizing Networks). SON is a technique which can improve the accessibility, throughput, and retainability, enabling the operators to better manage capacity– in particular coverage and capacity optimisation, load balancing and handover robustness, which are all methods of improving the customer experience. However, additionally automated neighbour relations and self-configuration mechanisms are also helping to improve operational excellence and customer experience. I would also not underestimate the efforts which have to be spent to introduce and optimize CSFB (Circuit Switched Fall-Back). It is an absolute must to provide a basic voice service at great quality.

Are small cells enough to solve the problems of localised demand for data?

The introduction of small cells is the next step in serving our customers where they would like, delivering an unmatched network experience. I see them as a first step in dealing with all the challenges that operators face from the increased use of smartphones. They will help operators cope with capacity demands and the OPEX challenge. The implementation of small cells will speed up the rollout of local capacity/coverage improvements and they also limit the visual impact of a mobile network. I also see LTE-Advanced technologies such as COMP as future solutions for further improving capacity management.

The LTE World Summit, the premier 4G event for the telecoms industry, is taking place on the 24th-26th June 2013, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Click here to download a brochure for the event.

What’s your strategy around Wi-Fi and is it an effective means to reduce load on the core network?

We will trial Wi-Fi deployments linked to our small cell trials in major cities in the Netherlands. It can be used as a measure to improve the customer experience and help to reduce load on the core network.

What do you think will be the most exciting new development in LTE in 2013?

There are several that spring to mind. Generally, the introduction of LTE within the Vodafone network in the Netherlands: and technically, the use of active antennas. We will see more small-cell deployments all over the world and SON will be used to optimise networks and mitigate complexity.

How quickly are you looking to deploy LTE Advanced and what are the challenges you predict it might bring?

Firstly we aim to launch a high quality LTE network and then LTE-Advanced will be one of the next natural steps. We want to get the basics right!

Why is the LTE World Summit such an important event for you to attend?

It is a great event to catch up on the newest trends and developments. The event provides a unique opportunity to meet many different colleagues from all over the world – networking is key. Content wise the event has been excellent so far and I am pretty sure it will prove so again this year.

Too little, too late for Blackberry?

bb_new

Something incredible happened last week. Over at Telecoms.com, The Informer, revealed that Nokia has made a profit. Yes Nokia. An actual profit. At least in Q412. It was €439m, and, just for handy comparison, Apple made $8.2 billion in the same time period. Still, while I’m not great at maths, I know a profit is better than a loss. Of course, it still made a massive loss overall in 2012, but for a company that everyone had pretty much given up the ghost on it’s a welcome, if surprising, bud of recovery.

Today another company is looking to return from the near dead. RIM, the Canadian owner of the Blackberry brand was once synonymous with phones that were smart, (email – in your pocket! Wow!) but times have changed. In 2010 RIM had 14 per cent of the smartphone market. In 2012 it was four per cent. Again, I’m not great at maths but… it clearly can’t continue to drop at the same rate as by the end of 2013 it wouldn’t exist.

So what’s the plan?

The plan is Blackberry 10 – an OS the company has bet the farm on. Things haven’t gone to plan so far though, and the OS, which was due to arrive in mid-2012 has been delayed not once, but twice.

However, as I type, are announcing Blackberry 10 OS and two new handsets to go with it – the touchscreen only Z10, which will feature LTE support, and a keyboard equipped X10 (because as we know, hardcore Blackberry fans will only give up their physical keyboard equipped handsets if you prise them from their cold, dead hands).

The Z10 is the flagship device and early reviews have been mixed. Joseph Volpe, Engadget tech site journalist described the hardware to the BBC as a, “full-on Monet, to borrow a line from the movie Clueless – attractive from afar, but disappointing up-close.” It seems that only Apple is able to churn out devices that have a truly premium look and feel.

As for the software, some analysts and tech journalists have had a preview and reports seem to be positive – a cool UI, and fast switching between apps and the BlackBerry Hub, which combines all your messaging services (email, Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook etc.) into one location, are highlights.

Gartner’s Phillip Redmam has said that Blackberry 10 offers the best UI on the market, and that it has comeback potential. Stuart Jeffrey, Nomura Securities analyst observes that there is pent-up demand for new Blackberry’s from its existing fans, so there’s still a core market to tap into. I’ve always found it rather bizarre that this audience seems to be either be-suited, lawyer types, or streetwise, hooded, sexting obsessed teens.

At the launch the company made some smart moves, changing the company name from RIM, to Blackberry, which is what most people called it anyway. However, the show was clearly not up to the standard of Apple’s keynotes – PC Pro’s News Editor Nicole Kobie described RIM, sorry, Blackberry’s CEO Thorsten Heins as having, “all the charisma of a cheese sandwich.”

All the more impressive then that despite its precarious position in the market Blackberry has managed to line up a strong suite of names to offer apps compatible with BB10 OS – Skype, Amazon Kindle, SAP, Whatsapp, Angry Birds (this one is the most crucial, obviously), which at least prevents it from being a lame duck on day one. (Blackberry Playbook, I’m looking at you).

And with the flagship Z10 offering LTE it will be able to keep up with the rest of the competition. At least in the US – it supports LTE 700/850/1700/1900MHz, – but not 1800MHz, meaning that if it’s to support the UK and Australia it’s going to have to release a separate flavour capable on 800MHz and 1800MHz and 2.6GHz. So can RIM ­‑ sorry, sorry – Blackberry, make a comeback? Well the jury is not so much out, as having announced that it is leaving the igloo and may be some time.

So can RIM ­‑ sorry, sorry – Blackberry, make a comeback? Well the jury is not so much out, as having announced that it is leaving the igloo and may be some time.

Yesterday I talked to Bengt Nordstrom, co-founder and CEO of strategic wireless business consultancy, Northstream. Will we be reading next year of a Nokia-like bud, showing signs of recovery?

No, he said. (Nordstrom is never one to mince his words). Blackberry’s time has passed was his view. “It was a phenomenal thing. It was unique when it came 10 years ago but that era is over- we’ve moved on. I don’t think there is any way back”

Based in Sweden, Nordstrom expressed his surprise in the continued interest in Blackberrys that he sees in London and other parts of the world. “Every time I come here and Indonesia or the Middle East, Blackberry is big. The lawyers love it!”

So there we are, back to the  lawyers. And when you’re relying on those who practice the dark arts for your continued success you know you’re in trouble.

Blackberry will be taking part in a panel discussion on content and OTT applications at the LTE MENA 2013 conference, so if you can make it to Dubai on the 12th-14th May, download a brochure so you can find out more.

Who’s in? Deadline for applications for UK 4G spectrum auction closes

Thomas-Wehmeier_web

This post is by Thomas Wehmeier, Principal Analyst, Operator Strategies, Informa Telecoms & Media

Following swiftly on from EE’s launch of the UK’s first live 4G network just a few weeks ago, today marks the next important milestone in the establishment of a genuinely competitive market for 4G services in the UK.

The passing of today’s deadline for prospective bidders to submit applications takes us one step closer to the completion of the highly controversial, long-awaited and largest ever auction of spectrum in the UK. Bidding itself won’t actually start for real until January and we’re likely to see weeks of intensive bid rounds until the results proper are finalised by February or March next year.

As far as the UK’s mobile operators are concerned, this can’t happen soon enough. Despite the encouraging signs we’ve seen since EE went live, the UK is still lagging far and away behind the world’s most advanced 4G market(s). To put it context, by the time the remaining 4G networks are switched on at some point in the middle of next year, more than one-third of Korean and about 20% of Japanese consumers will already be actively using 4G services in their respective countries.

But that’s not to say that we don’t expect to see a marked acceleration in the pace of 4G adoption in the UK next year. By that point, most of the high-end flagship phones on sale in the UK will support 4G technology, we can expect to see some pretty competitive pricing as the markets kicks into life and the inevitable blanket market campaigns are sure to lift interest in and adoption of 4G amongst UK consumers.

How much is the auction expected to raise and who will bid?

It’s fair to say we’re expecting the amount raised to represent just a fraction of the record £22.5 billion spent during the 3G licensing round in April 2000. We have to remember that those were exceptional times, before the dotcom bubble burst and at the height of hype around mobile, and the industry will be much more cautious this time around, not least because of the weak economy and the declining revenues that many operators are suffering in the UK and across Europe.

In his recent Autumn Statement, the UK Chancellor George Osborne pegged the amount the UK Treasury is hoping to raise at £3.5 billion, which puts the official view slightly above industry expectations, but broadly on par with the amounts raised in similar auctions in other European markets such as Germany.

We’re expecting the auction to attract all the usual suspects , meaning the UK’s existing mobile operators Vodafone, Telefonica O2, 3 UK and, of course, EE, who’ll be looking to bolster their existing 4G spectrum position.

What we don’t know and can’t predict is whether we’ll see any wildcard bids. There’s been plenty of industry speculation about the possibility of some of the UK’s other telecoms and media powerhouses, the likes of Virgin Media, Sky or BT, entering the fray, but the experience of looking to other markets that have held similar auctions means we should be surprised if there is a genuinely disruptive and large-scale bid from one of the players. It can’t be ruled out, but it would certainly be unexpected.

The LTE World Summit, the premier 4G event for the telecoms industry, is taking place on the 24th-26th June 2013, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Click here to download a flyer for the event.

iPhone 5 expands LTE support but European/US roaming headaches remain

As the dust finally settles post iPhone, the tech blogs and comments sections the internet over are overflowing as Apple vs Android owners get embroiled in largely pointless arguments over the various merits of their preferred platform. As far as my own predictions based on rumours go, the only significant things I got wrong were the name (iPhone 5, not the new iPhone-phew) – and the lack of 800MHz LTE support, which I’ll get onto shortly. (It all mounted to a rather anti-climatic reveal, which made me long for the days when Apple announcement leaks were rare).

As far as we’re concerned though the major news of course was that, as was entirely expected, the iPhone 5 now offers LTE support. Crucially, for European and Asian operators and their customers, the iPhone 5 now supports their networks too, thus avoiding the disappointment that many faced when they realised that the iPad 3, which was touted as 4G capable, in fact only operated on US, Canadian and Japanese LTE networks.

This time, Apple has laid out the exact specs of what countries that will get LTE support, but there are still a couple of major LTE limitations that some may not realise.

The Verizon iPhone 5 can roam between the the US and Europe on LTE- but the other two iPhone variants can’t

There are three SKU’s of iPhone 5 with different LTE chips– (the A1428) a GSM model supporting AT&T in the US and Canadian networks, and the A1429 CDMA model for Verizon, Sprint and KDDI in Japan and the A1429 GSM model for the rest of the world.

This means that if you buy an iPhone 5 in Europe, you won’t be able to roam in the US on LTE, at all. However, the CDMA A1429 supports 1800MHz, so if you buy that one in the US, you should then be able to use in on 1800MHz LTE networks in the UK such as EE.

Secondly, there is no support for 800MHZ and 2.6GHz frequencies at all, which many operators, such as O2 and Vodafone in the UK, will be using for LTE once the auctions are complete and they get their networks up and running. Therefore their customers are going to have to wait for the iPhone 6 to get LTE support.

This is a double whammy blow for O2 and Vodafone in the UK, as on top of losing customers defecting to EE to get LTE now, they also have to contend with the fact that some customer’s may not be willing to commit to a two-year contract on the iPhone 5.

The LTE chip inside the iPhone 5 is Qualcomm’s MDM9615M. It’s a very impressive chip, built on a 28nm manufacturing process which makes for low power consumption yet still supports LTE in both FDD and TDD flavours and 3G in DC-HSPA+, EV-DO Rev-B and TD-SCDMA guise – the latter making it well suited for China.

However, the multiple frequencies required for LTE clearly make it impractical to offer a single chip version and maintain performance and power. It looks as though we’ll have to wait at least a year for Europe/Asia and US support in a single device, Apple or otherwise, while the ‘world-phone’ status that the iPhone 4S offered to become a reality in a highly fragmented LTE world.

LTE roaming is one of the many topics on the agenda at the LTE Asia conference, coming up NEXT WEEK at the Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. If you’re interesting in attending, there’s still time to register here.

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