Posts tagged ‘coverage’

If You Can Scale Small Cells Inside, then Service IT: Small Cell Services at the Enterprise Edge

Ronny Haraldsvik, CMO/SVP, SpiderCloud Wireless

Ronny Haraldsvik, SVP/CMO, SpiderCloud Wireless

At the heart of SpiderCloud’s scalable 3G/4G small cell system is the Services Node (SCSN), a “local” control point for the small cell network deployed inside the enterprise over existing Ethernet. It’s also where the enterprise edge meets the mobile operators edge network. The small-cell system can provide cellular capacity and coverage to over 1.5 million sq.ft. of space and support for 10,000 voice and data subscribers.

Beyond coverage and capacity, after credibility has been established with the IT department, the Services Node is a strategic point of entry into the enterprise IT environment for mobile operators and business partners to service IT, and a potential great revenue opportunity.

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Planning ahead for LTE from a spectrum perspective

This post is by Scott McKenzie, Director, Coleago Consulting Limited.

This post is by Scott McKenzie, Director, Coleago Consulting Limited.

With mobile data currently growing globally at anything up to 70 per cent per annum (see diagram) , operators need to get more capacity out of their networks to successfully compete in an increasingly data centric world where customer expectations are rising. In the markets where 4G mobile data has taken off rapidly, speed has generally been one of the main marketing messages used to sell the service. Low capacity will increasingly lead to a poor customer experience and create opportunities for rivals with less congested networks. As we move into the data world we therefore believe that network quality (both capacity and coverage) will remain an important differentiator for operators wanting to avoid competing on price only.

Clearly LTE (with wide carrier bandwidths) offers significant advantages versus HSPA, such as higher user data speeds and reduced latency while offering the operator much lower cost capacity and higher network efficiency. However these benefits can only be realised if the operator has the right spectrum holdings to exploit these advantages in the first place.

Although it is very situation dependent, from working on numerous LTE and spectrum projects around the world, we believe that the best way that an existing operator can ensure it has a competitive network position is to secure a small number of wide LTE carriers; fragmented holdings should be avoided wherever possible. Also a good mix of high and low band spectrum is required to ensure that there is sufficient capacity and coverage in the network. Ideally an operator should aim for at least 2x10MHz of sub 1GHz spectrum for coverage (rural and in building), while for capacity one or more carriers of 2x20MHz at higher frequencies (preferably 1800 MHz) ought to be the target. Operators need to consider if they can re-farm spectrum to get some advantage.

Source: Cisco Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, 2012–2017

Source: Cisco Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, 2012–2017

Failure to secure the ideal spectrum holdings does not however, mean that an operator is in a hopeless position, but it will certainly make life much harder.

There are various fall back strategies that an operator can pursue to overcome fragmented holdings. First of all, LTE-Advanced technology will in the future enable spectrum holdings to be aggregated, but this is not a fix that operators can rely on in the short term given that it will take time to come to market on both the infrastructure and device side. In theory spectrum trading, swapping or sharing may be permissible in many markets but again this is not a silver bullet as spectrum trades usually involve intense negotiations between rivals who will not give anything away cheaply to help a competitor. In addition, such transactions usually need the approval of competition authorities, which can be lengthy processes with a far from guaranteed outcome. There may also be significant transaction costs – for example, any profits will be subject to capital gains taxes.

One final issue that operators need to consider carefully when determining their preferred LTE spectrum holdings, is that they should always aim to secure spectrum that is aligned with standardised regional bands. This means that, they will have access to as wide a range of devices as possible which will also be vital from a commercial point of view as many consumers make their handset choice before selecting their operator.

LTE program director, KPN, Netherlands: “We are very interested in the possibilities that will become available with e-MBMS or LTE Broadcast.”

Erik Vercouteren, program director LTE Program, KPN

Erik Vercouteren, program director LTE Program, KPN

Erik Vercouteren, program director LTE Program, KPN, Netherlands is speaking as part of the LTE MasterClass on Day One of 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 speak to him about KPN’s LTE roll-out strategy in the Netherlands.

What are the chief challenges you are facing as you roll out LTE?

Rolling out 4G in a densely-populated country like The Netherlands is a challenge, as it is a complex exercise to align building permits, transmission upgrades, antenna swaps and hardware replacements. But we are doing very well, I must say – reaching up to 50 per cent population coverage in about five months.

What’s your strategy around pricing LTE and why have you made those choices?

We have launched 4G as an integrated part of our portfolio, so there’s no ‘premium’ for LTE itself. Initially, we introduced 4G on the larger data bundles and as of the 1st of July, we will integrate 4G into all data bundles in our new “all-in-one” line-up. We believe that 4G is a major improvement to the user experience on mobile data and want to make this available to all our customers as soon as possible.

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.

Yes, we launched in urban areas covering Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht as soon as possible. But we also cover all the smaller cities and towns in between – and will cover rural areas as we continue our roll-out through the rest of the year. 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!

How optimistic are you about the impact that RCS services might have for your customers?

We are closely following this to see how this could be of additional value to our customers. But our priority at this moment is to build nation-wide coverage on 4G in The Netherlands.

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

The experiences with the first VoLTE implementations will be very exciting. And we are very interested in the possibilities that will become available with e-MBMS or LTE Broadcast.

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

This is the event to meet up with professionals that are working on LTE worldwide and the place to share experiences and learn from each other. KPN is again very proud to host the LTE World Summit in the capital of The Netherlands, the beautiful city of Amsterdam. And especially since this is the city where we launched our 4G services earlier this year!

The sober reality of small cells

Ronny Haraldsvik SVP/CMO of SpiderCloud

Ronny Haraldsvik SVP/CMO of SpiderCloud

The big question in the industry is how we can address the mobile data explosion with small cells. Clearly, the industry has to rethink the use of in-building wireless. The macro cellular network simply cannot keep up with demand, especially when most of spectrum use comes from within buildings. The sober reality is that not all small cells are the same.

Conversations at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this year highlighted the need to move beyond providing the basics of reliable indoor coverage and capacity and the same when/where segmentation that took place in Wi-Fi over a decade ago, is now taking place for small cells.

Small cells are blurring the lines between networks as well as the lines between enterprise and service provider Wi-Fi. The exploding use of smartphones and mobile applications has created major concerns within enterprises use of over-the-top (OTT) services. Is this the “death of the desk phone”? Will enterprise IT teams look to operators for support to handle BYOD and consider mobility as a service?

If they do, enterprises are looking at potential savings of $60billion over the next few years. In a recent survey conducted by YouGov, almost half of the respondents reported interest in mobile device management as an operator-hosted service to manage, monitor, secure and support mobile devices in the enterprise, and demonstrated an interest in Wi-Fi-as-a-service from their operator.

Use of small cells can indeed give mobile operators an inside advantage with enterprise customers. We are entering a period of where mobility and agile network services are delivered by communications providers. It is the emergence of a new role for mobile operators. Beyond basic coverage and capacity, this is a battle for apps and the Cloud. As we look to the 2020 services network, enterprise customers and mobile operators together will help transition customers from a wireless world to a mobile world –  from “Outside-In to Inside-Out” networks.

What we do know is that multi-access small cells (3G+4G+Wi-Fi) are fast becoming a reality, and that not all small cells are the same, and that is the sober reality.

– Ronny Haraldsvik SVP/CMO

Ronny rejoined SpiderCloud Wireless in June 2012 as senior vice president and CMO, having formerly served as VP Marketing July 2008 through to mid December, 2010. He has more than 23 years of global strategic marketing and industry experience from a range of technology segments including radio access networks, small cells, Wi-Fi, web and video optimisation, wireline networking and IP services, RFID, personal computing, wafer fabrication, software, and consumer devices.

You can follow Ronny Haraldsvik at Twitter @haraldsvik

SpiderCloud are panel sponsors of the LTE World Summit, taking place on the 24th-26th June 2013, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands.

EE bah gum: it’s fast! – EE LTE on test

ee_iPhone

As my day job involves writing about LTE on a pretty regular basis (as in every day) I always found it quite ironic that up until recently I’d never experienced an LTE network ‘in anger’. Come October last year and UK operator EE changed all of that. It’s taken a while but I’ve finally succumbed to the temptation and signed up to the service. This means I’ve done the full tour of UK operators. I started with T-Mobile in 1998 when it was still One-to-One, later moved to Vodafone (just for 3G – yes really), before moving to O2 (cheap). It means Orange is the only brand I’ve not been billed by, but I am at least now using its network.

Today the UK operator EE released its first figures since the operator launched its LTE network, and analysts have been fairly downcast on the figures, which show a decline in revenue of 2.6 per cent to £5.96bn. There have been an increase in post-paid subscribers to the service, the EE network includes the Orange and T-Mobile brands, which are 3G only. As EE has not released figures for the number of its new 4G EE customers there’s no way of knowing to what extent LTE has helped. The assumption from analysts though is that if EE has something to crow about, it would be doing so.

So what’s keeping the punters away? The only conclusion can be price. As you might have heard, there’s a double-dip recession on, which is not the ideal environment to get consumers to pay more for faster speeds, especially when they are as heavily capped as EE. Remember the entry-level cap only gives you 500MBs to play with and though the price has dropped to £31, it’s still pricey. To get a decent 3GB on a two-year contract with an iPhone 5 will cost you £46 a month with £99 for the phone.

But is it worth it?

The one thing I can confirm is that it’s fast. In areas of good coverage, which fortunately for me includes both work and home, LTE on an iPhone 5 delivers speeds that consistently put my Virgin broadband 60Mb connection to shame. Speeds of 30Mbps on the downlink and in excess of 20Mb on the uplink are a breathe of fresh air, especially coming from O2’s 3G network which at least for me, was pretty dire, rarely delivering more than 1.5Mbps.

What surprised me was how much difference it made even for the simple things, such as sending iMessages. The progress bar on messages just zips across, making for more natural conversations. Adding a picture to an iMessage used to mean a long wait while the message was painfully uploaded. Now, they go so quickly that the first time I had to check it had actually been sent and hadn’t just failed. All that upload speed is great for sending or posting pictures and videos, which is what more and more of us are doing from our smartphones.

A lovely was to demonstrate LTE is YouTube. It just loads up and starts to play immediately, with no buffering. Suddenly the speed of your device and not the network is the limit. This was brought home to me just today. I was on the train, and had need to watch a YouTube video. Immediately I did so and for once I was not thinking about latency or cell towers, – just the video. This all changed as the video suddenly stopped. I checked and noted that I was at a stop that I knew was an LTE blackspot (West Hampstead Station). 3G was displayed on the phone, but the speed wasn’t there. Result: experience spoilt.

This does seem to be a problem for EE. Even in the West-End of London I’ll see LTE come and go, and while DC-HSPA 3G is fast, I’ve also seen standard 3G, EDGE and GPRS, which means that your handset might well have to cope with switching between five different network standards during the day. No wonder these smartphones struggle for battery life.

If you have to fall back to DC-HSPA though performance is good. In a recent interview with EE’s Principal network architect, Andy Sutton, I was told that as part of its upgrade programme EE also currently has 40 per cent coverage of DC-HSPA on its network, and I can attest to this being pretty solid. However, ubiquitous coverage of either LTE of DC HPSA is still a long way away and clearly improvements can be made in the hand-off between network technologies.

LTE is not just great for video though. Being something of an audio aficionado I enjoy listening to high quality audio when I can. LTE enables me to stream by 24-bit FLAC files to my handset from NAS box at home, with no issues at all, something that was simply impossible on 3G.

As a downside, listening to high quality files on an LTE connection is also a great way for draining your battery, so necessitated purchasing a charging cable for work and plugging in on a regular basis.

I’ve also used LTE as a backup connection at home, when my Virgin connection has ground to a halt, as it sometimes does. This is thanks to the ability to very easily tether via the iPhone 5 hot-spot feature. This was banned by GiffGaff, the O2 MVNO I used to be on, a point of frustration when there was unlimited data to play with.

In my first month I’ve come just under the 3GB limit, which is clearly the sweet spot for me – enough to use the LTE as I want, without having to worry I’ll go over the cap.

What’s also gratifying is the speed at which EE is rolling out the network. At launch it was just 11 cities, and just four months later it stands at 27 cities – with 15 more by the end of next month.

And while I didn’t come to EE because of the value added services I have made use of the bundled wifi, which gives access to BT Wifi hotspots, the ‘EE Wednesday’s Cinema 2-4-1 offer, and the EE Film store, with a free film a week available to download that doesn’t eat into your data package to download.

To be critical, the EE app has just got very confused about my data usage, telling me I’ve used only 800Mb of my 3GB, when yesterday I had almost used it all up. The web site also had no record of my data usage. I also wouldn’t recommend roaming without a pre-pay bundle – the prices are simply eye-watering. Digital Commissioner Neelie Kroes has been working on forcing operators to lower these charges, and for me that can’t come soon enough.

The Clone Phone Lite app also seems pointless. It’s redundant for an iPhone thanks for iCloud, it only comes with a 500MB cap and when I tried to test the app it didn’t recognise my phone anyway.

Overall though, the combination of very fast network speeds and some actually useful value added services, I’d describe the whole EE experience as the most premium feeling package I’ve ever used. Which considering the premium prices is as it should be.

It remains to be seen then how it pans out. I’m relieved that being lucky enough to have an unlocked iPhone 5 without a contract I was able to go for a SIM-only package. This means that I’m only tied in for 12 months – not 24 and come next year they’ll be a pick of other operators offering LTE – (though of course as the iPhone 5 is LTE1800 only I’ll need a new handset to take advantage of them). If I stay, I expect that EE’s packages will be more enticing to the mass market.

So EE: it is expensive, and it can be patchy but as a teacher once described my contribution in class – “when it’s there – it’s really there.”

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