Posts tagged ‘Day One’

LTE Voice hits the right notes

In its second year, the LTE Voice 2014 conference proved to be a hit from the off, with standing room only in the hall for the opening keynotes.

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Starting us off, Philippe Lucas, senior vice president for standardization and eco-systems development at Orange delivered an overview of the carrier’s views of VoLTE and noted that legacy networks were holding it back, and that it wants to move to an all-IP more quickly.  He also said that while carriers were confident after launching VoLTE, many were first launching voice over Wi-Fi first.

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He also made the claim that Apple’s support for Voice over Wi-Fi demonstrated a “lack of confidence in FaceTime,” which seems a bit of a bold statement. It does indicate that Apple sees the importance of carrier-grade technology, but it remains to be seen if FaceTime will die a death.

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When it comes to VoLTE, no one has more experience that the South Korean operators and Joong-Gunn Park of SK Telecom’s Network Technology R&D Center was up next. SK Telecom markets its VoLTE offering as HD Voice, which shows exactly where it believes the emphasis lies. Park said its users were very satisfied with VoLTE, highlighting the upgrade in voice quality, the speed of connection and the ability to browse during calls as major benefits. It also presented a number of new service opportunities that VoLTE provides, such as including call spam filters and yellow pages integration.

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Later on at the conference LTEU+ was also up on stage demoing the UI of using the phone and multitasking in action – for the rest of the world it’s a taste of the future. One particular use case that stood out was the ability to screen share and share the view of the camera while on a call – enabling users feel ‘more connected’.

Vendor Amdocs took to the stage, and its view was that VoLTE was a genuine opportunity to create a real service experience and monetize it. Examples given were to provide a ‘turbo’ button that would enable a user to upload content at an event such as a concert where normally they would not get service due to congestion. It was all about building “business agility to create interesting scenarios.”

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This contrasted with the panel session, with two operators, SK Telecom and Orange, and two vendors, Metaswitch and Opencloud, who all agree that VoLTE itself was not about monetization – but was about the services that were built on top of it to create user value, increase satisfaction and reduce churn. However, there was some disagreement about the role of APIs. While SK Telecom has earlier championed them its presentation, Francois Dubois, VP product development at Orange and Piers Finlayson, vice president of product management for Metaswich agreed that opening up APIs were crucial to create more value and revenue.  However, Mark Windle, head of marketing for OpenCloud was less sure describing ‘relying’ on third-parties to create value as “an exercise in waiting to get lucky.” As ever in life, a combined approach would seem to be the most sensible way forward.

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In the morning we also got to hear Oracle’s vision of direct monetization from VoLTE, Huawei showing us that the KPI for VoLTE were superior to that of circuit switch calls, and Sprint, who explained that the low data rates for VoLTE meant that performance could be maintained even at the cell edge.

Overall, positivity was the take away from the morning session, and there was a sense of satisfaction that carriers are increasingly getting their collective acts together regarding VoLTE.

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Be sure to follow the rest of the conversation on Twitter via the hash tag #LTEVoice

 

 

LTE World Summit 2013 – Day One round up

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Erik Hoving, chief strategy, innovation & technology Officer, KPN Group

With record numbers through the door for the first day of the ninth LTE World Summit, there was certainly a lot to take in. And as the dust settles at the end of a long day, I finally got a few moments to take stock. The big revelation of the day? For me, it wasn’t a technical specification, or a marketing nugget, it was the fact that Erik Hoving, chief strategy, innovation & technology Officer, KPN Group, does his own research. To whit, Hoving took himself onto the streets of Amsterdam, to ask passers-by if they knew what LTE meant. The shock result? Zero. Nada. No a single one. True, it probably wasn’t the most scientific of surveys – he only asked ten people – but the point stood.

And what was that point? LTE should not be about the technology, it should be about educating consumers as to what LTE can do for them and how it can make things better. (Ask not what you can do for LTE…)

Hoving told us that KPN, the host operator of the LTE World Summit had prepped its network ahead of it acquiring the LTE spectrum in the auctions last year, a possible risk, but one that enabled it to launch its LTE network just six weeks after acquiring said spectrum. A video he played us showed that it was not activated by a team of highly trained network engineers, but by the Mayor of Amsterdam who wacked a great big red button after which a big on sign appeared on a plasma display behind him. Well, seemed legit to me.

So what can we do with LTE. Hoving believes that the carriers actually shouldn’t worry themselves about it but let others take the lead – specifically children – or at least Hoving’s children who apparently, ‘get’ LTE, in a way that older folk just can’t. A next generation network for the next generation. He did stop short at suggesting that only those under 40 should be allowed to use LTE, an idea that I don’t think would go down well in the propositions department.

Other facts Hoving bestowed upon us was that most consumer interact with their smartphones a full 150 times a day, which he said represented how many times users interact with their carrier. It’s technically true, but I would argue that the consumer doesn’t see it that way – it’s interacting with the content he or she wants and not the operator. Indeed, should the operator not just get out of the way?

skt_statsIn terms of advanced LTE deployments it doesn’t get much more impressive that SKT. Dr. Jae W. Byun, CTO of SK Telecom revealed that since its launch in 2011 it has made great strides and by 2015 expects to have 19 million LTE subscribers (73 per cent of its market). The short term good news is that the ARPU from LTE is 28 per cent more than from 3G users, a great example of LTE being self-monetising. Dr Byun noted that launching LTE had also had a positive impact on its competitors market share and increased their ARPU as well, though SKT was able to retain its dominant position. As you would expect average download speeds on SKT’s LTE network far exceed that of 3G (27Mbps vs. 4.2Mbps). Surprisingly though average data usage is only double (2.1GB vs. 1.1GBs).

Dr. Jae W. Byun, CTO of SK Telecom

In contrast to Hoving’s assertion that operators should not bother offering services, Dr Byun said that SKT has successfully offered two – a service that delivers video highlights of baseball games, and T-Premier TV highlights package. And thanks to its near ubiquitous LTE layer, it offer VoLTE as standard. He also showed his secretary using Joyn services, and converting an HD voice call into a video call. In many senses, it’s a glimpse of European networks of the (hopefully near) future.

Following his speech Dr Byun joined a panel discussion with Andreas Lieber, Head of Mobile Business Development & Partnerships, Groupon, USA; Iain Dendle, Business Development Director, Shazam, UK; Roxanna Zea, CSO, Tele2, Sweden, and Jonathan Alferness, Director of Product Management, Mobile Ads Lead, Google, USA.

Google’s Alferness revealed that because of the speed and ubiquity of LTE, if someone at Google checks the accounts they’ll notice a huge bill for their LTE service, built into his Google Chromebook. “LTE is transformational – I don’t turn on Wi-Fi,” he said.

GroupOn’s Leiber said that despite the perception that OTTs have it all worked out, digital innovators do want to work with operators. “Partnerships make sense,” he said and listed three reasons why it talks to operators, “distribution, revenue and promotion.”

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Operators also enables it to reach customers that it would not otherwise be able to through integration with carrier billing, to access those who would otherwise not trust giving out their credit card details.

Shazam’s Iain Dendle said something similar, while it gets two million new users from the App store, it needs operators to further expand its reach, while the benefits for the operators is that they get to offer, “a magical service’ that ‘encourages usage of the network’.

Interestingly Dr Byun revealed that while Apple and Google dominate in consumer apps, it sees an opportunity to compete by offering something similar for the enterprise markets. Leiber backed this up by saying that operators should offer services where they can innovate, such as O2’s successful live music offering in the UK, but should not do so if they are just looking to copy.

Informa’s chief research analyst Mark Newman and Vodafone Netherlands CEO, Rob Shuter

Informa’s chief research analyst Mark Newman and Vodafone Netherlands CEO, Rob Shuter

The morning’s presentations were finished off with a ‘fireside chat’ (no actual fire allowed –  Health & Safety), between Informa’s chief research analyst Mark Newman and Vodafone Netherlands CEO, Rob Shuter). Shuter said that despite the maturity of the market there was plenty of room for growth in the market with a relatively low usage of data at an average of just 500MB a month. As for future pricing, he said it was likely that voice and SMS would be unlimited, with just data metered. It would not just be about bundle capacity though, with innovations such as QoS allowing for more pricing variations.

While there were many tracks and sessions throughout the day one of the most popular was the 5G innovation masterclass, which saw standing room only for the talk, which looked at how the network might look in 2020. At least no one can say the LTE World Summit is not forward looking!

Check back tomorrow for a run-down of the keynote highlights of Day Two, which if it’s anything like today will be bustling, busy and essential.

LTE North America: Day One Round-up: Standing room only

As some may know, next year the LTE North America will be moving to a new home in Dallas. Judging from the size of the crowd at the opening keynote of the LTE north America conference that’s going to be a necessary. It was standing-room only by the time Informa’s principal analyst Mike Roberts opening proceedings and things were busy throughout the day. There was a record 800+ delegates at the show, with 60 unique carriers in attendance from across the US representing   some 40 per cent of the US carrier market, from small local rural players such as the Texas-based ZIPnet US, to regional’s such as MetroPCS, and of course, AT&T and Verizon.

The show was very busy this year with 1,000+ attendees

Mike Roberts got things going by giving a snapshot of LTE’s growth, with just a few subscriptions in 2010, reaching 5 million in 2011 and currently standing at 40 million worldwide, making it the fastest growing telecoms technology ever. Roberts had praise for vendors who he said had learned from the mistakes made over 3G. In particular the networks had shown they were good at delivering speed, but that there was room for improvement when it comes to pricing, with a need to show more sophistication.

The first of two keynotes were delivered by John Saw, CTO of Clearwire, who detailed how the network operator had 16,000 cell sites to support 11million users, most of which are for Sprint. Saw explained that Clearwire was very pleased with its use of TDD technology and that the eco-system had received a huge boost when China Mobile, the largest operator in the world, recently announced that it would, like Clearwire, use Band 41 as its preferred band.

[N.B. Representatives of John Saw would like me to add that Band-41 for TDD-LTE will be used by almost all the Chinese wireless industry].

Saw also said that video was pretty much the biggest game in town as far as killer apps for 4G was concerned, with its taking up 60 per cent of Clearwire’s capacity, up from 50 per cent the year before.  In fact, mobile video was where it felt it could differentiate itself – by providing a better mobile video experience than other networks. Video is very bandwidth intensive and that can only be made possible if you’ve got plenty of spectrum to play with – as Clearwire does.

That could be why Saw was so excited about carrier aggregation, which is essentially LTE Advanced by another name. Hooking up carriers bands together will give it 40 or even 60MHz of bandwidth providing speeds for what even Saw wasn’t sure what for. But as he said, “I’m sure someone will release an app that will use all of it.”

Tom Sawanbori, vp of Network planning at Verizon was next up and he was equally bullish about how the company had done for LTE – which is fair enough as it is flying the flag for LTE worldwide. That’s because it started earliest in the US, rolling out LTE to 100m population coverage in 2010. Sawanbori revealed that 35 per cent of its total usage was LTE already. It plans to complete its LTE rollout by the end of 2013 by which time it will have covered 245m population. It’s working hard on VoLTE and RCS services Sawanbori said, but he wouldn’t be drawn on timescales for its introduction.

Sawanbori took a moment away from technology to mention that Verizon had done well during the hurricane Sandy disaster by having an effective backup strategy so that its network did not go down to any major degree.

Verizon is also a partner with many rural carriers as part of its LTE Rural America programme. While the program has brought LTE to many rural areas, during a track on the issues later in the say, some smaller carriers expressed frustration that there was not enough access to spectrum. However, it’s not just access to spectrum but usable spectrum that’s the issue. It seems that all 700Mhz is not the same, and if the band plan doesn’t match that of the national networks there’s no possibility of roaming, which can seriously dent a small carrier’s 4G plans. And with no economy of scale to help get supporting devices on the table, duff spectrum can arguably be as bad as no spectrum.

We also heard an interesting presentation from Marc Scala, Executive Director of Simplynew describing an innovative use of second screen functions and audience participation of an exclusive Verizon tablet app for the X-Factor, that displayed video during the add breaks and enabling Verizon customers to send messages to the that would then be integrated into the show. This is a taster of the sort of innovative services that LTE can bring.

There were also interesting discussion around mobile video in a panel session where Marc Zionts, vp of strategic mobile service providers for Allot Communications suggested that data plans need to become more innovative – so instead of just a 2GB data cap, you say, get 2GB as standard but 5GB if you don’t use video at peak hours – a way of avoiding the stop start nature of suing data plans at the beginning of the month till they run out, and then starting the process all over again, the next month.

These were just taster of the many tracks and discussions that were going on all over the conference, and Day Two should promise to be just as informative.

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