Posts tagged ‘RCS’

Operator Spotlight – Interview with Du’s Haitham Mashal, Senior Director- CS Core at Du

Haitham Mashal, Senior Director- CS Core, Du

Haitham Mashal, Senior Director- CS Core, Du

Prior to the LTE Voice Summit (London, September 28th-30th), we interviewed Du’s senior core network Director Haitham Mashal about his views on the development of VoLTE, service planning and future opportunities. Here is what he had to say, ahead of his participation at this year’s summit.

Q. As we see the commercial launch, is there any clearer idea of whether VoLTE will truly live up to its promise?

A. No doubt VoLTE would even exceed its promise for both customers and Operators. Operators would have the chance to transform their networks into full fledge IP network and get the benefit of reducing both CAPEX and Opex. Operators would also be capable to offer better Voice quality with enriched services on top of the voice that can compete with OTT voice services.

Customers would enjoy the enriched crystal clear HD voice and shorter time setup. This would definitely enhance the customer experience and satisfy the customer demands to enjoy different services simultaneously even during call establishment.

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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.

 

Interview: Head of IP management, Deutsche Telekom: “I hope the conference will reinforce my belief that VoLTE is happening.”

Michele Zarri, head of international standardisation and IP management, Deutsche Telekom, UK

Michele Zarri, head of international standardisation and IP management, Deutsche Telekom, UK

Michele Zarri, head of international standardisation and IP management, Deutsche Telekom, UK is speaking on Day One of inaugural LTE Voice Summit, taking place on October 1st-2nd at the Hilton Paddington, London. Ahead of the show we speak we get an update on Deutsche Telekom’s progress on VoLTE.

When we spoke in May you said that consumers will use VoLTE as they prefer telco quality voice services? With OTT voice set to grow massively over the next 12 months will consumers really care about VoLTE?

I respectfully disagree with the notion that OTT voice is set for a major growth. Though LTE will greatly improve bandwidth and latency, current HSPA and WLAN access is perfectly capable of supporting OTT voice. As smartphone penetration for which many OTT voice clients exist is already significant, there therefore seems to be not much reason why customers should suddenly change their habits. OTT will grow because the general trend of voice traffic is growing, but I still see OTT voice as a different product than VoLTE and catering for different use cases.

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Interview: CTIO, Etisalat, UAE: “Applications that enhance the customer experience will help us monetise our investments.”

Marwan Zawaydeh is the CTIO of Etisalat, UAE.

Marwan Zawaydeh is the CTIO of Etisalat, UAE.

Marwan Zawaydeh is the CTIO of Etisalat, UAE. He will be speaking on Day Two of the LTE World summit taking place on the on the 24th-26th June 2013, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Ahead of the show we speak to him about the latest developments in LTE in the region and learn more about his views on RCS, roaming and LTE monetisation. 

We spoke to you this time last year. How has your LTE network developed since then?  

These were very exciting 12 months for Etisalat and for our customers, and we are looking forward to build on this success to continue to lead innovation in the region and provide our customers the latest in technology. We were able to significantly enhance LTE coverage, which has now reached 80 per cent of the populated area. Coverage will be further enhanced further this year as the number of deployed sites will double. We were also able to bring a very rich portfolio of LTE terminals which includes dongles, a Mi-Fi, and popular smartphones from Apple, Samsung, and Blackberry. We were able to secure exclusive deals with these top manufacturers and were able to provide our customers with very attractive packages. This resulted in significant growth of our mobile data traffic as our customers adopted LTE enthusiastically. This has resulted in a significant increase in the ARPU from our mobile customers.

Can you give me examples of a couple of your biggest challenges that you faced?

The first challenge we had was to provide proper coverage to our LTE customers. We started with the 2.6GHz band because it was the only band available at the time. This gave us regional leadership in LTE until enough spectrum in the 1.8GHz band became available.  Another big challenge was the fragmentation of the LTE global deployment and the difficulty in bringing a comprehensive LTE eco-system to our customers. We had to expedite the introduction of the 1.8GHz band to be able to provide our customers the best-in-class LTE smart phones and LTE devices.

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 do you meet the challenge of offering good value to the consumer and at the same time monetising your investments?

This challenge can only be met when investments result in superior customer experience and access to new and innovative products and services. Fortunately, LTE is all about providing our mobile customers much higher throughput, lower latency, and an overall superior customer experience. But this wouldn’t be possible unless we looked at our network end-to-end. Many operators struggle in backhauling LTE traffic and that results in a deteriorated customer experience. Etisalat had a vision several years ago to invest heavily in the fibre network as a converged and future-proof platform. The UAE is currently number one globally in deep fibre deployment because of Etisalat. Our fibre-rich network enabled us to provide GigE connectivity to all our mobile sites to provide an unmatched customer experience. At the same time, continuing to flatten the network architecture helped us enhance the cost effectiveness of our deployment and significantly enhance the overall delivered value to our customers. Applications that enhance the customer experience will help us monetise our investments.

An example of that is eLifeTV, which provides our customers with access to live HD channels and HD video content. We are finding it to be very popular in our market and now we have the platform to enable it we will continue to introduce similar services.

How important is LTE roaming for your customers and what are the challenges in enabling it?

UAE has a unique characteristic of a huge expat population that roam a lot so it is important to facilitate LTE roaming as early as possible, but there are several challenges that still remain.

Current roaming agreements do not provide the required QoS, SLA, and security requirements for enriched LTE services. Etisalat is in the process of deploying an IPX Hub to enhance the roaming capabilities,not only for data traffic, but also for high value voice and rich communication services in the future. Etisalat’s goal is not only to provide roaming to customers in our local market but to become a roaming hub for other operators as well.

What are your plans for RCS-based services and are you excited about them?

We believe enriched services such as RCS are the future and we are actively exploring various options of introducing RCS services as part of our portfolio of innovative products and services. Actually, we already have the required back-end system, which will ensure a fast time to market. We are working with our marketing team to determine the right market-entry strategy for these services in UAE.

Why is the best thing for you about attending the LTE World Summit?

We are always keen on attending the LTE World Summit to share our experience and learn from other leading operators. The telecom industry is very dynamic and mobile technology is evolving fast. Etisalat takes pride in consistently taking a leadership in the MENA region and providing our customers with the most innovative technologies and best in class products and services. Attending the LTE World Summit helps us travel fast through the experience curve via engagement with the top operators and vendors in the industry.

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: Director, Rich Communication Services, Telefonica, Spain “Internet OTT’s contribution to the industry is very positive.”

Javier Arenzana Arias, director Rich Communication Services, Telefonica, Spain

Javier Arenzana Arias, director Rich Communication Services, Telefonica, Spain

Javier Arenzana Arias, director Rich Communication Services, Telefonica, Spain is speaking at the LTE Operator Mind Share, part of the LTE World Summit, taking place on the 24th June at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Ahead of the show we get an insight into how Telefonica is confident that RCS services will enable the industry to confidently compete with OTT services.

Can you give us an update of where Telefónica is with RCS services?

Telefonica has been one of main contributors to the development of RCS across the industry and the success of RCS is essential to extend our core interoperable services into the advanced formats that our customers demand. We have been a leading member of the initiatives at the GSMA, shaping the strategic opportunity [the RCS provides] and defining the service specifications and roadmap. The Telefonica Group launched an Joyn RCS service in Spain in 2011, along with Vodafone and Orange and, along with our main competitors, it will launch it in the coming months in Germany. In Latin America we are participating in several multi-operator roundtables in order to align our views about the opportunity of a joint launch with the other MNOs in the region.

What are the chief technical challenges you are facing with regards to RCS?

The technical challenges we face when we launched Joyn in Spain were simply those related to the implementation of any new interoperable technology. All participants in the ecosystem had to learn together about the technology, developing their respective clients and application servers without the support of a reference implementation to validate their work. Now there are several reference implementations on networks, and many devices that have been accredited that are providing the service in an interoperable manner among several operators, with downloadable applications and native devices. Operators deploying Joyn can now use these reference solutions for their roll-outs.

The LTE Operator Mind Share is taking place on the morning of 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. Click here to download a brochure for the event.

The OTT players have the advantage of cross platform but Facebook Home is now looking to offer device integration too. Can Joyn be a timely and effective response to this?

Internet OTTs contribution to the industry is very positive. They have developed very compelling services and will continue promoting innovation. Operators have a different service proposition and capabilities to leverage. RCS gives us the option to provide differential value to our customers – a universal communications upgrade. Such a transition will take time, for sure, but will result in a solid service offering.

Please tell me more about why attending the LTE Summit is so important for Telefónica.

Awareness of the strategic opportunities for the telco industry is an essential to take the next steps to evolve the ecosystem. The LTE World Summit gives us an excellent opportunity to share our views with the rest of the operators on the transition towards the next generation networks and our future all-IP services.

Service quality assurance manager, VIPnet, Croatia: “Cloud is a major opportunity for operators to avoid simply becoming bit-pipes.”

Hrvoje Jerkovic, service quality assurance manager, VIPnet, Croatia

Hrvoje Jerkovic, service quality assurance manager, VIPnet, Croatia

Hrvoje Jerkovic, service quality assurance manager, VIPnet, Croatia, is speaking 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 find out more about his views on various topics, including cloud, RCS, and VoLTE.

What major developments have there been with regards to the LTE industry in your region this past year?

VIPnet launched LTE commercially in March 2012 and currently we provide LTE in four major cities, making up almost 50 per cent of the country’s population coverage. The fact that we have widely available dual-carrier 3G on 2100 MHz for several years, offering speeds up to 42MBps, makes LTE a logical next step technology but it’s not a quantum leap.

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

Despite moderate LTE coverage our top customers with state-of-the-art smartphones should benefit from it whenever possible. In terms of network optimisation, in particular VIPnet has recognised the importance of smooth handovers between 3G and 4G networks in idle as well as in dedicated mode. LTE brings an additional challenge on 800MHz because there is no 3G layer, which makes handover from 2G to 4G and vice versa, even more interesting for operators to solve.

 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.

Why do you think that cloud services are now so important for telcos?

The cloud is really being hyped right now by operators as it is a good story to cover the real issues. Cloud is all about reducing costs by merging a number of utilities into one cost-efficient environment that delivers a secure and reliable service, and it is something that operators can offer to their customers. A few years ago it was called hosting, but now it has evolved. Cloud is a major opportunity for operators to avoid simply becoming bit-pipes.

Do you believe that RCS services can genuinely help the industry compete with OTT?

OTT players are gaining ground but for the huge majority of customers we are still “service providers”, and adopting RCS services is the next step in the evolution of telcos. Giving customers new ways of communication, in combination with good marketing will lead to a success story. The biggest issue with RCS is that is taking a long time to get to market and is in danger of dying before it starts, but maybe it still has a chance.

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

Since we are the premium operator in the Croatian market, our promise to customers is to support all features they might need. As far as VoLTE is concerned we have been providing our customers with an HD Voice service for over two years. However, in conjunction with the development of handsets that support it we will implement VoLTE. We have to be very careful with the customer perception of VoLTE because they must find some significant value in it in order to accept it. It is very unlikely that VoLTE will find its way to the market merely because it is a new technology.

Should operators charge a premium for LTE just because it’s a faster service?

Investment in LTE requires that significant resources so therefore it’s expected that a premium charge should be applied. However, LTE should not only be faster but, according to standards, offer a quality level that guaranteed to be better than 3G.

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

There are several technologies that will shape LTE in near future and one of them is heterogeneous networks. With higher bandwidth we can expect an even higher signalling load on the network, which is challenging to handle and control. The other will be controlling roaming pricing. Since Croatia is a very tourist oriented country, and will very soon become a full member of EU, it is our obligation to fully apply all the regulations regarding roaming pricing.

Interview: Safdar Imam Hyder, senior costing specialist at Omantel, Oman: “US operators are doing it better and Omantel should learn its pricing lessons from them.”

Safdar Imam Hyder, senior costing specialist at Omantel

Safdar Imam Hyder, senior costing specialist at Omantel

Safdar Imam Hyder, senior costing specialist at Omantel is appearing on Day Two of the 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, NetherlandsAhead of the show Hyder tells us how device launches are boosting excitement for LTE in the region amongst consumers, how LTE is a revenue opportunity for operators and why RCS services are critical for operators to be able to compete with OTT.

What major developments have there been with regards to the LTE industry in your region this past year?

We are witnessing a broadband explosion in the MENA region, especially in the GCC where broadband revenue has been growing steadily at a double digit rate over the last three years. Telecoms revenue in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is expected to grow by 27 per cent between 2012 and 2017 according to Analysys Mason, mainly due to data on 3G and 4G networks rolling out faster and faster.

Since the first launch of LTE in Saudi Arabia in September 2011, LTE has been launched in all the GCC countries such as UAE, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain. Here in Oman, LTE deployment is in full swing with both the tier one operators Omantel and Nawras launching – Omantel using both TDD and FDD and Nawras using FDD. Roll-outs have been accelerated in 2013 after the TRA issued spectrum licenses to both the operators at 1.8GHz.

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.

Omantel, a pioneer LTE service provider in the Sultanate of Oman, has announced the launch of the second phase of its FDD 4G LTE network with coverage extended to new areas. With the latest LTE devices launches from Samsung, BlackBerry and Huawei, LTE fever is catching up fast with the general users in the Omani market, especially with the youth in the gaming and video applications. Expectations are high for launches of newer devices and Omantel is progressing well on expanding LTE 4G coverage to almost all major cities of Oman by the third Q313, with its vendor, Huawei.

Pricing for LTE is a controversial subject. Are operators getting it right?

I see LTE as an opportunity to boost ARPU for operators, but it all depends on pricing. Ever since the advent of the technology, billing and charging systems have been riding a wave of change. If Omantel is able to adapt to the new ecosystem we can lead our market to a new era of data connectivity and technological advancement; what is known as the “smart society”. This country has all potential parameters for developing as an e-society with one of the highest ratio of utilised bandwidth per user.

The biggest challenge that operators here are now facing is to get their charging models right. Having learned from their 3G experiences, we know that unlimited offers are a risky proposition in LTE era. In a recent survey, out of 65 operators polled, only three per cent are offering unlimited plans. The combination of new billing options and reluctance to offer unlimited plans is bringing about a new wave of pricing innovation.

Most of the pricing alternatives currently used for LTE are conventional in concept except those of shared plans. Simply, already implemented pricing schemes are being perfected and developed. However, LTE pricing is still in its infancy, evolving differently in various regions. As LTE pioneers European operators are wary of unlimited pricing and have opted for LTE rental premiums in the range of 50-80 per cent, with unit costs per megabyte of almost half compared to rest of the world.

US operators, after an initial fumble in the race to launch 4G networks, are developing new pricing models. They are choosing to be technology-agnostic and have opted to price the new generation telecoms access (mostly data) according to the number/type of connected devices and the data volume consumed. This provides users with an affordable way to use data either stationary or on-the-go and for operators to increase revenue per customer. In my opinion US operators are doing it better and Omantel should learn its pricing lessons from them.

Do you think that LTE offers great opportunities for monetisation or does it present challenges?

I think LTE or any high-speed mobile data network offers great opportunities for monetisation. This is because mankind is undergoing an amazing ‘mobile revolution’. Every day we see new upcoming developments in fields like mobile video, social media applications, mobile marketing, mobile health, mobile money and M2M, and all are made easier via LTE. Both the clients and consumers side have great business need for LTE and there is immense potential in that. But the challenges are fierce and unequal competition with OTT providers, whom are more focused and faster at executing on services and product development. As such, mobile operators are in great danger of becoming simply utility service providers with low-value dumb data pipes for third parties.

Do you believe that RCS services can genuinely help the industry compete with OTT?

Internet penetration is growing massively in Oman with more than two million users. OTT services such as Viber, PalTalk, Google Talk, MSN Messenger, and Yahoo Messenger have already been unblocked in Oman by a memo issued by the Oman TRA to all operators in April 2012 and are now easily accessible on desktop and mobile devices. Skype might also follow the suit.

RCS does provide a competitive advantage to MNOs by introducing IP-based communications services to their own platform and enabling them to compete with OTT service providers. Realising the importance of multi-service IP network in the lives of the people and the economy in general, regulators all over the world are aggressively protecting or promoting OTTs. As these OTT players eat into traditional telco revenues, technologies such as RCS provides a solid foundation for crafting a compelling user interface, building a brand around services and incorporating differentiating features that most operators traditionally do not seem to be good at.

According to Jeremy Green, a principal analyst in Ovum’s Telco Strategy Practice, by 2020 VoIP alone will have cost the global telecoms industry $479bn in lost revenues. Therefore the importance of adopting RCS is all the more critical.

Interview: VP product development, Technocentre, Orange: “The combination of RCS, LTE and VoLTE means that customers will have no reason to go elsewhere for their communications.”

Pierre François Dubois, VP product development, Technocentre, Orange, France

Pierre François Dubois, VP product development, Technocentre, Orange, France

Pierre François Dubois, VP product development, Technocentre, Orange, France is speaking on ‘Maximising the benefits of LTE with RCS’ on Day One of 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. Ahead of the show we speak to him about how RCS will both benefit consumers and help to maximise operator revenue.

Your talk is on maximising the benefits of RCS and VoLTE for the customer. However, consumers already have effective voice and OTT apps. Can you highlight what the benefits of using these will be?

There are three key benefits for customers. Firstly, RCS will be adopted by all mobile operators, which means that everyone’s friends will have access to a rich and reliable set of services. They will not need to be invited and then download an app – it will just be there. Secondly, RCS also provides a fantastic eco-system for app developers, as well as providing them a massive audience for their apps and services. Customers will therefore be able to enhance their lives with all sorts of fun and productivity applications with real-time sharing. Thirdly, VoLTE completes the picture by transferring voice communications to IP thus ensuring that all the RCS sharing and communications features can be done simultaneously with voice and video calls, and all at Telco quality. The combination of RCS, LTE and VoLTE means that customers will have no reason to go elsewhere for the social or business communications.

How can operators make best use of RCS services to increase revenues?

Market research tells us that customers are happy to buy extra data bundles for services which add value to their lives. This is what we already do with specific applications like Deezer or Orange consumer cloud. Mobile data usage will therefore drive revenues in the future. With this objective in mind, RCS provides a core set of IP based communication services and APIs that are designed to stimulate data usage and this is why RCS APIs are important for our future. For example, video applications can leverage these APIs for the benefits of both parties. Social networks can also contribute to this objective, but I believe MNOs must have their own growth engine to better control their business model.

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.

Will VoLTE be an upsell to consumers or will it just be a transparent service for consumers with a transition that occurs in the background.

VoLTE will simply replace circuit switched voice and, whilst it certainly brings a better experience, I don’t believe it will be an upsell to consumers. VoIP and RCS over LTE together will provide a great customer experience with many added-value applications and together drive data usage and revenues.

What do you think will be the most critical development in LTE over the next six to 12 months?

I think that until recently, most MNOs have worked on RCS, LTE and VoLTE projects with different timelines. Nevertheless we need to anticipate, not only technically, the fact that we are migrating to IP communications. I foresee two important challenges:

  • RCS over LTE with seamless switching  and continuity of sessions when switching between 4G/3G/Wifi/2G
  • Convergence between RCS and VoLTE as a consistent service platform. Orange strongly supports the initiative launched recently by the GSMA to address this point.

Please tell me why coming to the LTE World Summit is so important for yourself and for Orange and why it’s a great event.

LTE is a true revolution for our industry. It is always difficult to guess what will come out of a revolution and in our case a lot of uncertainties remain for the future of our business model. I think this event is a unique opportunity to share possible scenarios both on technical and marketing aspects with experts in our industry. As it takes place in Europe, where competition is very fierce, I expect the presentation and the debates to help us better shape the future.

Interview: Head of international standardisation and IP management, DT, UK: “competing with OTT is not the goal of Deutsche Telekom.”

Michele Zarri, head of international standardisation and IP management, Deutsche Telekom, UK

Michele Zarri, head of international standardisation and IP management, Deutsche Telekom, UK

Michele Zarri, head of international standardisation and IP management, Deutsche Telekom, UK, is speaking on VoLTE vs OTT Voice on Day Two of the LTE World Summit, taking place on the 24th-26th June 2013, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Speaking ahead of the show, Zarri explains why he feels the operator provided voice services will still offer benefits to consumers over OTT VoIP applications.

What is your timeline for VoLTE and what benefits will it bring?

Early versions of VoLTE have already been launched in some markets such as Korea and Hong Kong. Operators are currently focussing on deploying LTE, but deployment of IMS platforms, accelerated by the desire to launch Joyn, is taking place simultaneously. Additionally, given the availability of devices compliant to the GSMA’s IR.92 standard, expected during the course of 2013, there is no technical impediment to launching VoLTE. As a consequence I expect to see commercial services rolled out by the end of this year (2013) in most developed markets with international roaming launched within two years after that.

From an operator point of view, the main benefit of VoLTE is being able to provide the voice service natively over the packet switched access, while avoiding disruption to back-office processes. This removes the last constraint justifying the running of circuit-switched networks; therefore achieving the objective of moving fully to the more efficient packet-switched access.

What appeal will VoLTE have to consumers over and above their favourite OTT apps?

Today customers are already replacing the mobile operators offered voice service with their favourite OTT application. The reasons why OTT apps have not been adopted in large scale therefore is not the availability of broadband mobile access, but due rather to the benefits offered by operator-supplied voice. Such advantages will not be lost in the migration to VoLTE. What I am thinking of is reach (call and be called by anyone), security (a trusted relationship with the operator and strong encryption), privacy (user data is safe with an operator), familiar interface (voice client is natively integrated in the handset), seamless user experience (use of phone numbers, set of supplementary services), predictability (well-known charging scheme) and, last but not least, quality, as the network is configured to prioritise voice traffic over other types of traffic.

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.

Will VoLTE sound significantly better than current voice calls?

Calls between two VoLTE users will use the HD voice codec, resulting in a far superior experience. In fact HD Voice is already available over 3G networks, therefore in time the vast majority of the mobile to mobile calls will enjoy the benefits of such a codec. Fast forwarding a few years, as IMS allows the device of the caller and of the called party to negotiate the codec used, it is imaginable that new and more powerful codecs will be introduced and used for Voice over IMS calls.

Why was VoLTE not baked into LTE from initial launch of the technology?

The goal of 3GPP when developing LTE was primarily to create a radio technology that could meet the IMT‑advanced requirements issued by ITU, therefore the service layer was not in focus. Furthermore, in 2008, when the LTE specifications were released, IMS was already a three-year old technology and earmarked as the means to create voice services over a packet switched access. In fact, you will notice that no service except connectivity was, to use your expression, baked into LTE, though the low-latency target and support for guaranteed bit-rate were evidently tailored for the support of voice and other multimedia services.

Is any kind of VoLTE launch practical without SRVCC widely implemented?  (In a network without SRVCC implemented, please explain what happens when a VoLTE call is made to a handset that goes out of LTE coverage?)

Indeed SRVCC will be important functionality in the early days of VoLTE due to the expected patchy LTE coverage. However, when operators start rolling out voice over HSPA, which has also been profiled in GSMA, the occurrence of SRVCC events will become much less frequent, since the far more efficient packet switched handover will be used instead to move from LTE to 3G. Other positive aspects are that field tests by Deutsche Telekom have shown that the predicted long interruption of the service in case of SRVCC have been overestimated.

As a VoLTE call would fail when the handset goes out of coverage, operators are unlikely to deploy VoLTE until SRVCC is available and will instead rely on CS Fallback, whereby the handset moves to a legacy access technology prior setting up a call.

Do you believe that RCS services can genuinely help the industry compete with OTT?

Contrary to this widespread misconception, competing with OTT is not the goal of Deutsche Telekom. Arrogant as it may sound, Deutsche Telekom will not lower its standards to those of some of the OTT offers currently available to consumers. The goal of RCSe is instead to offer an integrated and secure service for which there is demand in the market, adding all the benefits described above for VoLTE as well as other specific ones. RCS will also show that even traditional mobile operators can offer innovative services. For example, Joyn is a product based on the RCS-e standard and provided by the mobile operator community. The next version of RCS will be fully supported by IMS, bringing additional benefits for the consumer.

Interview: Technical Sales Manager,Mobile Services, Telenor: “It is important to measure the QoS experience.”

Torbjorn A Petterson_documents

Torbjorn Pettersson, Technical Sales Manager – Mobile Services, Telenor, Sweden

What major developments have there been with regards to the LTE industry in your region this past year?

The main developments this past year have been the operators launching their LTE projects as well as LTE roaming projects. A major development was the establishing of Diameter Routing Agents (DRA) to enhance interoperability, enable global roaming coverage and to greatly improve network security.

What are the chief technical challenges you are facing?

The main challenges are to ensure DRA is correctly implemented, dealing with Circuit Switched fall-back issues and to enable operators to connect to an LTE signalling partner (such as Telenor Global Services).

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

In our experience it is important to measure the QoS experience in order to improve the customer experience of downloading, uploading and using new LTE handsets.

Do you believe that RCS services can genuinely help the industry compete with OTT?

RCS will bring great opportunities since it will bridge the gaps between the islands of different OTT applications. It is also important that operators put great effort into launching RCS globally on new smartphones and handsets.

Pricing for LTE is a controversial subject. Are operators getting it right?

This is a challenging area with operators competing with each other locally and also for roaming pricing. In European countries pricing is driven by the EU regulation but outside EU it is up to the operators to agree on pricing that is affordable for customers.

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

For me it will be operators launching global roaming LTE data services.

What impact does LTE have on your backhaul strategy and technology choices?

It requires greater planning in terms of security, diameter routing and GTP2 (Global Tunnelling Protocol data traffic version 2) traffic, capacity and QoS.

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.

Interview: “VoLTE is set to play [an] important role within our LTE strategy”: Master Expert System Architect Network, Eplus-gruppe.

Dietmar KohnenmergenThe E-Plus Group is the third largest mobile network operator in Germany, with just over 20 per cent market share. Ahead 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, we speak to Dietmar Kohnenmergen, Master Expert System Architect Network for E-Plus Gruppe about its preparation for launching LTE and the issues around diameter signaling.

What have been the major developments around LTE in your region this year?

For E-Plus Gruppe, the major developments have been an IP RAN rollout and the introduction of EPC and associated testing.

Do you feel the people still need to be educated as to what Diameter signaling is?

The experts are quite familiar with Diameter signalling issues, but the operational teams still need some education.

What are the key issues around Diameter that the industry needs to be aware of?

The primary issues are E-signalling load protection and adaptation to the various needs of the different Diameter flavours.

How can these key issues be solved?

From our perspective the introduction of a Diameter Router Agent is one of the most promising solutions for solving diameter issues.

What are the other technical challenges around LTE that you expect to face in the next 12 months?

The introduction of Circuit-Switched Fall Back (CSFB) with acceptable performance will be a major challenge for us. The other challenge will be the preparation of the BSS systems in time for our LTE launch.

Where are you on VoLTE and RCS? Are these important to your LTE strategy?

VoLTE is in preparation phase, whereas our plans around RCS have not been decided yet. VoLTE is set to play a more important role within our LTE strategy.

Dietmar Kohnenmergen will be giving a presentation on diameter signaling 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. Click here to download a flyer for the event.

Also put a date in your diary now for the inaugural LTE Voice Summit, taking place in London on the 23rd-24th October 2013. Click here NOW to download a flyer.

DMTS, Technology Development Group, U.S. Cellular: “The mobile wireless industry is one of the most innovative industries in the world.”

Erik Neitzel, DMTS, Technology, Development Group, U.S. Cellular

What have been the main developments for you over the last six months with regards to LTE?

Well, we’ve certainly been busy with LTE! U.S. Cellular, in conjunction with its partner, King Street Wireless, launched a 4G LTE network in March 2012 that enhanced the wireless experience by providing countless entertainment possibilities, while helping customers simplify and organise their lives. The March rollout of 4G LTE included select cities in Iowa, Wisconsin, Maine, North Carolina, Texas, and Oklahoma, including some of U.S. Cellular’s leading markets. U.S. Cellular is the first wireless carrier to offer 4G LTE in several of these markets. In the second half of this year, 4G LTE coverage is expanding to cover select cities in Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oregon, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia. The 4G LTE network currently covers 31 per cent of U.S. Cellular’s customers. By the end of 2012, 58 per cent of U.S. Cellular customers will enjoy faster 4G LTE speeds.

Spectrum harmonisation is an on-going issue. Can it realistically be achieved, and do you think we will ever have a true world LTE phone?

The focus of my presentation to LTE North America in 2009 was this very issue of spectrum harmonisation. It was interesting to me that after years of the major operators running different types of networks using competing standards, we were moving toward a common standard but a fractured spectrum ecosystem. There are now seven or more different bands targeted for commercialisation in North America, not to mention others overseas. It is critical that government agencies, operators, network equipment manufacturers (NEMS), and device OEMs work together to ensure band compatibility for LTE in order to provide complete and diverse coverage options for users. I can’t predict the future, but we’re working hard to push device multi-band compatibility.

Are operators doing enough to deal with the impact of signalling from all the new smartphones and tablets that are appearing?

There is certainly awareness now concerning signalling that wasn’t there a few years ago. Wireless networks today typically are serving data using radio resources that can be an order of magnitude more than what would be needed for an optimised data stream, so there is a lot of room for improvement. I know from various conferences that most operators are looking at various methods for reducing signalling in their networks. Some operators are working directly with large application developers to educate them on the unique properties of radio link design and ways that signalling can be made more efficient. There are also developers working on middleware which resides on the mobile device to act as a traffic cop for autonomously generated signalling that can aggregate requests and also act as a content proxy. I don’t think that there is a single solution. It will be a combination of efforts that will enable operators to combat the signalling inefficiencies that we see today.

What are the basic things operators should do to optimise their networks?

Network optimisation begins with the radio link. Solid RF design principles are a must, but closing the gap between optimisation identification and implementation will be critical in the future. The combination of Remote Electrical Tilt (RET) antennas and Self-Organizing Networks (SON) promise to reduce this optimisation time considerably. Proper core network design, which allows for highly redundant, dispersed network elements will improve network uptime and reduce latency—critical for real-time applications like VoLTE. QoS inherent within LTE will allow even more ways to optimise the network to serve diverse classes of mobile wireless traffic.

Are you excited about the RCS based Joyn technology and do you think it will really help fight back against the OTT players?

RCS Joyn is GSMA branding for set of services based on RCSe specifications. In general, U.S. Cellular and North American operators will be launching RCS services based on RCS 5.0 specifications. Alignment of operators behind Joyn will enable interoperability between networks. The impact on OTT players remains to be seen.

What are your plans for VoLTE?

That is a definite area of interest for U.S. Cellular, as we see VoLTE and RCS as a way to enhance services, while managing future network costs. We are planning on VoLTE trials in middle to late 2013 to develop deployment capability.

Net neutrality remains a contentious issue and has recently been enshrined in law in the Netherlands. What is your stance on this?

U.S. Cellular has taken all the necessary steps to comply with the net neutrality regulations imposed by the FCC concerning internet access.  Unlike some other carriers, we were not so concerned about the rules that we felt compelled to take an appeal.  In short, it’s not a major issue for us.

How do you feel you can differentiate yourselves from the larger players in the market?

U.S. Cellular is focused on providing the best customer experience. We offer the latest phones and tablets, all backed by a high-speed nationwide network and we continue to roll out 4G LTE to more customers across our footprint. Our customers enjoy benefits no one else offers, such as no-contract after the first, free overage protection and free battery swap. U.S. Cellular also provides the only points-based rewards program in the industry, which rewards customers for simple things, such as paying bills on-time, adding a line or referring friends and family. Points may be used for faster phone upgrades, additional lines, devices, accessories, and ringtones.

Is there enough innovation occurring in the mobile network industry? Can you provide some examples?

The mobile wireless industry is one of the most innovative industries in the world. Networks are 100 times faster than they were ten years ago, and we’ve gone from supporting text messaging to HD video in the same period. The mounting challenge for operators is how to keep up with data network traffic demand. The paradigm shift to heterogeneous networks is one innovation that will help operators with this issue.

There’s still time to sign up for the LTE North America 2012 conference,taking place on the 14-15th November 2012 at the Fairmont Dallas Hotel, Texas. Click here NOW to register your interest!

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