Monday, December 19, 2011

37 Femtocell deployments in 23 countries

Growing number of operators are committing to LTE small cell deployments which are expected to form a key market trend in 2012, said a recent Informa Telecoms & Media femtocell market status report.

There are currently 37 commercial deployments with regional US operator, Mosaic Telecom, being the latest to deploy femtocells. Telecom Italia announced its plans to launch before the end of the year and SK Telecom revealed it is set to launch the world’s first LTE femtocell service. Furthermore, Telefonica O2 has disclosed pre-launch details of its ‘Boostbox’ femtocell service in the UK for both consumers and enterprises. Separately, a number of deployed operators have passed 100,000 units, demonstrating the scalability and mass-market appeal of the technology.

Over the past quarter, Sprint, the first operator to deploy femtocells, announced it has rolled out 500,000 units and expects to exceed 1 million by 2013. With AT&T constituting the world’s largest femtocell deployment, it is clear that the US continues to be the most mature small cell market. However, several European and Asian operators including Vodafone UK, Japan’s Softbank and France’s SFR, announced they reached scale by surpassing 100,000 deployed units. Vodafone, which recently launched a marketing campaign around its UK femtocell offering, now offers femtocells in 12 countries and plans to deploy across the whole group.

Vodafone UK recently announced it is to offer public access rural femtocells that will be placed on BT telephone poles in order to bring coverage to “not spots” and areas where traditional base stations have not been economical. The report also highlights growing operator commitment to LTE femtocells with Verizon and Sprint announcing support in the past quarter and SK Telecom promising a commercial deployment before the end of the year. A previous survey conducted by Informa Telecoms & Media showed that 60% of operators believe small cells will be more important than macrocells in LTE networks.

CDMA operators continue to aggressively deploy femtocells with both Sprint and Verizon launching enterprise services which allow several femtocells to be linked together to cover large buildings. To assist CDMA operators, the Femto Forum and 3GPP2 recently published an operator guide detailing best practice for deployments.

There are now 37 femtocell deployments spanning 23 countries and 15 further operator commitments. In June 2011, Informa Telecoms Media estimated that there were in excess of 2.3 million femtocells active both privately in homes and offices, as well as publically in metropolitan and rural environments. As such, there are more 3G femtocells than conventional 3G base stations globally and Informa forecasts growth to continue with 48 million access points in use globally by 2014. Eight of the top 10 mobile operator groups (by revenue) offer femtocell services – this includes AT&T Group, France Telecom Group, NTT DOCOMO Group, Sprint, Telefonica Group, Deutsche Telecom Group, Verizon Wireless and Vodafone Group.

Dell’Oro Group: LTE Nearly Half of Total Market Growth

According to a recently published reports by Dell’Oro Group, 44% of third-quarter annual growth in the total Mobile Infrastructure market resulted from 4G LTE network infrastructure spending. The total mobile infrastructure market, covered by Dell’Oro Group in four primary reporting segments, Mobile Radio Access Network (RAN), Wireless Packet Core (WPC), Wireless Voice Core, and Microwave Transmission, grew year-over-year in double digits for the fourth consecutive quarter in 3Q11.

Report further states that during the same quarter, LTE RAN posted fastest sequential growth rate ever at 68% and significant VoLTE revenues were recognized for the first time ever. Evolved Packet Core captured highest portion ever of total Wireless Packet Core revenues at nearly 5%.

“Nearly half of the revenue growth in total mobility infrastructure for the third quarter resulted from LTE spending to cope with an expected influx of LTE capable handsets in 2012,” said Stefan Pongratz, Analyst at Dell’Oro Group.

“The wireless industry is responding to changes in user behavior and accelerating data demand by shifting priorities towards Evolved Packet Core (EPC), Voice Over LTE (VoLTE) and LTE radio equipment,” added Chris DePuy, Analyst at Dell’Oro Group.

Dell’Oro Group’s 3Q11 reports show that Ericsson’s four quarter trailing revenue market share in mobile RAN, WPC, wireless voice core, and microwave transmission increased by four percentage points over the same quarter last year, while Nokia Siemens Networks and Huawei each captured about 18% of the market.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

RCA CEO on LTE, Devices, T-Mobile and AT&T Merger

RCR Wireless interviews RCA CEO Steve Berry at LTE-North America 2011.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sprint to launch LTE-Advanced network in 2013

Sprint will deploy a LTE-Advanced network on its 800MHz spectrum from 2013. Sprint’s Vice President of Network Development and Engineering, Iyad Tarazi, told attendees at the 4G World conference that during the first half of 2013, sprint plans to launch an LTE-Advanced network.

Trazi expects speeds in 12Mbps to 15Mbps range with LTE-Advanced using 4x4 antenna array devices. Sprint plans to launch CDMA-LTE devices by mid-2012, with approximately 15 devices coming throughout the year – including handsets, tablets and data cards.

At 4G World, Bob Azzi, Sprint's SVP Networks, explained on where Sprint is headed with LTE also the benefits of using Lightsquared's spectrum, see below

Earlier this month Sprint had announced plan to launch 4G LTE on its 1900MHz spectrum by midyear 2012 and complete the network build-out by the end of 2013. By the conclusion of 2013, Sprint’s expect to provide 4G coverage to more than 250 million people.

Sprint has already signed a 15-year agreement with LightSquared that includes spectrum hosting and network services, 4G wholesale, and 3G roaming. Under the agreement, LightSquared will pay Sprint to deploy and operate a nationwide LTE network that hosts L-Band spectrum licensed to or available to LightSquared.

Soure: LteWorld

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Airtel likely to contract multiple vendors for LTE deployment?

Indian service provider Bharti Airtel is close on signing LTE deals for offering 4G services in four circles. Airtel is rumored be ready to offer contracts to four different vendors for each of the circle.

While ZTE and Huawei are frontrunners for bagging the contract in Kolkata and Karnataka , respectively, Ericsson and Nokia Siemens could get the deal for Punjab and Maharashtra respectively. Though none of the players confirmed the deal, insiders said that talks had reached advanced stage.

Bharti had won broadband spectrum in the four circles for Rs 3,314 crore during the auctions held last year. Reliance Industries, Qualcomm, Tikona, Augere and Aircel are the players which have broadband spectrum in various circles but none of them have started services.

Augere, which has spectrum in Madhya Pradesh circle, has announced a deal with Ericsson for equipment supply and launch of services by second quarter of 2012.

source: LteWorld

Saturday, September 17, 2011

United Mobile Introduces Cross-platform 3G/LTE Connection Manager UConnect

United Mobile has unveiled UConnect, a cross-platform software with intuitive interfaces to discover, customize, control and connect to LTE and WiMAX networks. According to company, UConnect is already integrated with two of the worlds’ leading semiconductor company’s LTE chipsets and is seeing strong traction from several other firms as well.

UConnect is a 4G Connection Manager. It manages the UE/CPE such as a LTE dongle from an operator/carrier and makes sure that the user is connected to the right network. It also manages the IP interfaces on the host, by receiving the IP from any underlying signaling protocols and configuring the IP/IPV6 interfaces accordingly. UConnect has been designed keeping both the end user and ODM needs in mind (different compiled out flavors).

For seamless connectivity, from LTE=>3G the handoff is signaled from the underlying chipset, and from LTE->WiFi, UConnect policies will do a break-before-make.

In addition, UConnect manages multiple connections and offers strong debug support with extensive statistics which are very useful for field testing.

UConnect works on Windows XP, Vista, 7, Linux (Kernel 2.6 and above), Mac OS X. As LTE will not be limited to laptops/desktops and will proliferate the handheld devices such as tablets/ cameras etc. UConnect also supports Android.

UConnect offers benefits to both end users or device manufacturers. The end user gets a very intuitive interface to seamlessly connect to any network of choice and also monitoring tools such as data transfer rates, bytes downloaded/ uploaded. UConnect has simple USSD interface to query / get balances on prepaid connections.

The device manufacturer will get comprehensive statistics and field testing support. As LTE networks are being deployed all over, it is exceedingly important to have very detailed handles on signal quality and strength. UConnect provides all this and more with a delayed event logging and reporting feature. Also for device manufacturers It provides an integrated CLI.

Based in Bangalore, India, United Mobile is a software product company with focus on Mobile connectivity and management solutions.


Saturday, July 30, 2011

GSA: LTE user devices grow 155% in 6 months

According to recent GSA report 45 manufacturers have announced 161 LTE-enabled user devices, representing 155% growth in the number of products reported by GSA in early February 2011.

Most devices are designed to ensure ubiquitous mobile broadband coverage by supporting existing mobile network technologies – i.e. dual mode working. The report indicates for each device where complementary modes are supported e.g. HSPA, HSPA+ and/or EV-DO and TD-SCDMA as appropriate, in addition to the LTE mode. Around 100 products support LTE and HSPA (or HSPA+) modes.

Breakdown of 161 LTE user devices are shown below.

Source: GSA report Status of the LTE Ecosystem

Network Sharing in LTE

3GPP network sharing architecture allows different core network operators to connect to a shared radio access network. The operators do not only share the radio network elements, but may also share the radio resources themselves.

Network-sharing scenario allows operators without a UMTS/ LTE license to share the network and supply its customers with 3G/4G services. For example, a 2G operator may supply its subscribers with 3G/4G services using another operator’s allocated spectrum.

3GPP has identified two architectures for network sharing. In both architectures, the radio access network is shared.

In first architecture evolved packet core network element MME is also shared in addition of radio access network (E-UTRAN). This configuration is referred to as a Gateway Core Network (GWCN) configuration.

In second architecture only radio access network (E-UTRAN) is shared and is referred as the Multi-Operator Core Network (MOCN) configuration.

The UE behavior in both of these configurations is same. No information concerning the configuration of a shared network is indicated to the UE.

If the E-UTRAN is shared by multiple operators, the system information broadcasted in each shared cell contains the PLMN-id of each operator (up to 6) and a single tracking area code (TAC) valid within all the PLMNs sharing the radio access network resources.

Based on system broadcasts UE selects desired PLMN and reports it to eNB during RRC connection setup. eNB includes the selected PLMN is in the INITIAL UE MESSAGE message while sending it to MME. The MME indicates the selected core network operator PLMN-id to the UE in the GUTI during initial attach procedure.

source: LteWorld

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

GSA: 91 commercial LTE networks by 2012

The GSA (Global mobile Suppliers Association) has confirmed that 218 operators are now investing in LTE. According to GSA, 166 firm commercial LTE network deployments are in progress or planned in 62 countries, including 24 networks which have commercially launched. A further 52 operators in 19 additional countries are engaged in LTE technology trials, tests or studies.

The 62 countries and territories having firm LTE network commitments are Andorra, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jersey, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Latvia, Libya, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Moldova, Monaco, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tunisia, UAE, UK, Uruguay, USA, and Uzbekistan

24 LTE networks are commercially launched in 16 countries: Austria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Lithuania, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, USA, and Uzbekistan.

source: GSA

Friday, June 24, 2011

LTE Weekly Update: Singapore's M1 deploys commercial LTE & Alaska Communications Announces LTE Network

Alaska Communications Announces LTE Wireless Network

Alaska Communications is building LTE network in Alaska.

Singapore's M1 deploys commercial LTE network

Singapore's telecom service provider, M1 has launched commercial LTE service.

3G Femtocells Outnumber Conventional 3G BTS

According to a recent Informa Telecoms & Media report, there are now in excess of 2.3 million 3G femtocells globally compared to 1.6 million 3G macrocells.

LightSquared offers Solution to GPS Issue

LightSquared has proposed a solution to the problem of interference with Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers.

KDDI picks Samsung for LTE

Samsung has been selected by Japan’s telecom operator KDDI to supply LTE solutions. KDDI plans to launch a commercial LTE service in 2012.

LightSquared & Sprint in 15-year network deal

LightSquared Inc. has reached a 15-year deal with Sprint to share network expansion costs and equipment, and to provide high-speed wireless service to the phone company.

ZTE Announces CDMA/LTE Dual-Mode Distributed NodeB System

Telecommunications equipment and network solutions provider ZTE has launched of the CDMA/LTE dual-mode distributed NodeB system with four transmitters and four receiver

Verizon Wireless Turns On 19 Additional 4G LTE Markets

Verizon Wireless has turned on the LTE in 19 additional metropolitan areas today, as well as expanding the 4G LTE network in San Francisco and Detroit.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

LTE Weekly Update: Commercial LTE launch in Germany Latvia

ABI Research: Mobile Operator CAPEX to Grow 5% in 2011

Mobile operator capital expenditure is expected to grow 5% in 2011, to reach $119 billion.

Ericsson wins LTE deal with NBN, Australia

Australian operator National Broadband Network (NBN) has selected Ericsson to build and operate a 2.3GHz fixed-wireless broadband network based on LTE technology.

Telekom launches LTE network in Cologne

Telekom has launched commercial LTE network in Cologne, Germany. It is Telekom's first LTE network in a city.

Latvian LMT offers commercial LTE

Latvian opertaor Latvian Mobile Telephone (LMT) has launched commercial LTE services.

O2 to launch commercial LTE in Germany

Telefónica Germany plans to start LTE services from July 1, 2011. Operator is offering mobile broadband services under the name "O2 LTE at Home".

LTE India 2011: India ready for 4G by 2012

India is all set to move on from 3G to 4G LTE, leading industry and technology experts said at LTE India 2011 international conference organized by Bharat Exhibitions t

AT&T reveals LTE markets

AT&T has announced the details of initial commercial LTE roll out.

Everything Everywhere and BT to trial LTE in UK

Everything Everywhere and BT Wholesale plan live trial of 4G LTE in UK.

Telstra switches on first LTE mobile equipment

Australian telco Telstra has switched on it's first 4G LTE base stations in Sydney, Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane.

Source: LteWorld

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Huawei & ZTE sue each other over LTE patents

First Huawei filed lawsuits in Germany, France, and Hungary against ZTE for patent and trade mark infringement on the basis that ZTE is infringing a series of Huawei’s patents relating to data card and LTE. As per Huawei, ZTE illegally used a Huawei-registered trademark on some of its data card products.

ZTE has fired back with it's own lawsuit against Huawei for patent infringement over its LTE technologies in China. In the lawsuit, ZTE requested that Huawei stops its violation, pays compensation to ZTE and takes up the legal responsibilities caused by the infringement.

ZTE also said that there will also be a series of legal action taken globally to protect ZTE’s rights on intellectual properties, ensuring its legitimate rights and interests will not be compromised.

Huawei had said earlier that These lawsuits were commenced after ZTE failed to respond to cease and desist letters requiring the company to stop carrying out the infringing acts that are the basis for these proceedings. Huawei had also actively invited ZTE on numerous occasions to enter into cross-patent licensing negotiations but was equally unsuccessful," company said in the statement.

Both companies claim to hold a large set of LTE related patents. As per ZTE, it has a 7% share of the total LTE essential patentsdeclared on the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) online database of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute as of 30th November 2010.

Source: LteWorld

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Achieving Capital and Spectral Efficiency Beyond 4G Standards

The industry has come a long way towards developing the new platform for ICT communications:
Pre-4G networks that have demonstrated significant performance and capital efficiency improvements over 3G networks have been deployed.
The IMT-Advanced standards frameworks have been approved – LTE-Advanced and 802.16m, WiMAX 2, based on MIMO-OFDMA.
The preparation for widespread use of SDWN (Smart Distributed WBB Networks) technologies has taken place in the standards and early commercial implementations of SONs and distributed architecture deployments.

What differentiates 4G and beyond from prior network technologies is the use of frequency domain technologies that enable a new pathway for organization of networks. This will improve bandwidth density performance by a factor of up to ten times the level of 3G. It is good to witness the advanced MIMO-AAS, multi-carrier and architecture methods being pursued broadly across the industry: 802.16m, 3GPP Rel 10 LTE-Advanced and 802.11ac as well.

What confounds these efforts, particularly for 802.11 and 802.16, is gaining access to spectrum of sufficient BW and quality. The mobile industry has gained more access to spectrum and capital with which to deliver the vision of 4G networks. However, a significant contributor to the success of current wireless networks and devices is the off-load capability of 802.11 Wi-Fi.

The huge success of the mobile phone industry and need for access to licensed spectrum and capital to build nationwide managed networks has led to consolidation in the hands of a few operators in most parts of the world. The situation in the US shows that despite efforts by the FCC to set rules on licensing and encourage smaller operators and aggregations, spectrum has nonetheless been acquired in the initial auctions or later consolidated by the top four operators. This may soon be reduced to the top three as a result of AT&T's acquisition of T-Mobile.

This has raised a high level of concern and should instigate some fresh thinking regarding how to go about making spectrum available in the most efficient and thorough way, while increasingly innovation and broad economic opportunity.

Incumbents Strongly Argue the Case for Licensed Network Dominance

Operators argue that their control over spectrum has resulted in widespread use and industry development. The role of consolidated licensed operators has been necessary to assemble the skills, organized operation, and the several tens of billions of dollars of capital needed for large-scale deployments. Furthermore, past auction results show that small or localized operators have not developed the critical mass needed to deliver similar levels of products and services. Large national operators are needed to deliver the broad fabric of increasingly complex services that will be developed on the 4G ICT platform.

On the other hand, practical experience and detailed studies show that while mobile networks occupy the majority of available spectrum, the results in terms of both utilization of capital and spectrum has been sub-par compared to Wi-Fi. This is, perhaps, a startling claim: mobile/ICT networks and Wi-Fi are very different types of networks. Nonetheless, Wi-Fi has come to be almost universally adopted because it has proven of great benefit.

Considering that Wi-Fi has been allocated a band of global spectrum that has been called 'junk spectrum' because it falls in with use of portable phones, microwave ovens, and other interferers, and studies show that managed spectrum access is technically more efficient (less signaling overhead than collision based MACs), Wi-Fi has delivered incredible performance. The simplified reasons for this are: 1) the cost of installing Wi-Fi is low due to low equipment cost and low-cost deployment. 2) The use is naturally organized on a microcell architecture that makes extended reuse of the spectrum. 3) Management and maintenance costs are low compared to large-scale networks despite their size advantage. It can be argued that some costs of Wi-Fi are hidden: people may spend considerable personal/company time that is ignored in a comparison. However, costs are significantly counter-balanced by the similar time spent for 3G-4G.

Wi-Fi also stands out in efficiency of spectrum utilization, particularly when measured on a bit/Hz/area saturation/time duty cycle basis. Studies in the US by the FCC as well as overseas demonstrate that Wi-Fi achieves 2X-5X better utilization of spectrum. What makes this even more remarkable is that the spectrum used is 2.4GHz: while good for implementing MIMO and having high reuse factors due to limited penetration of signals and range, the use is conflicted by short range, signal loss due to foliage, precipitation, and low power limits.

Technology advancements will help to achieve higher bandwidth throughput, extended range/multi-hop range, and self-organized and ‘smart networking’ capabilities that increase the range of applications for Wi-Fi and 4G network technologies.

While we appreciate the benefits delivered to operators and users by Wi-Fi, we think the industry can go beyond that in the use of paired licensed-unlicensed network technologies using specifically allocated spectrum and clear rules.

What we hope to see is more spectrum to be ordained by regulators for unlicensed/quasi-unlicensed use. What makes the most sense is for a new paradigm of spectrum licensing to develop: co-allocation and development of joint licensed and unlicensed bands. A crude but effective precedent for this is the harnessing of Wi-Fi as the low cost, prolific, and easiest way operators have found to offload the tremendous ramp in broadband demand. If only regulators and industry would plan for similar availability of spectrum and development with the unlicensed portion serving longer range, say up to 2-5 kilometers in normal operation, this would address problems we now face in rural access, achieving world-competitive rates and bandwidths, and stimulating high level of innovation. This would assure a higher level of competition and openness of access with less need to for detailed regulation and policing. The licensed portion of spectrum could be allowed to use aggressive QoS mechanisms and higher specialization needed to fulfill needs of vertical markets and applications while the quasi-unlicensed portion can be commercially ‘self-organized,’ with fundamental open access as the frontier for new stakeholders.

The development of framework technologies for use dual-MAC networks and devices has come far enough to make this a near-term possibility under enhanced LTE-Advanced and WiMAX 2 standards.

The benefit of this approach has more to do with the harnessing of business and user models than technology. The technology is here. While we face many opportunities, government regulators and the industry must figure out the best way to further all segments of ICT industries, and fan the flames capital and spectrum efficiency that are foundational to US and worldwide prosperity and ecology.
MARAVEDIS is a leading analyst firm focusing on 4G and broadband wireless technologies and markets.
Author: Robert Syputa, Partner & Strategic Analyst

Source: LteWorld

17.25 million BWA/WiMAX and 320 thousand LTE subscribers reached in Q1 2011

3.7 million new BWA/WiMAX subscribers were added in Q4 2010, and 5.5 million will be added throughout 2011, according to the 14th issue of the 4GCounts Quarterly Report from Maravedis. The subscriber base for WiMAX and LTE reached 17.25 million and 320,000 respectively at the end of March 2011. The WiMAX subscriber increase represents a 32.7% jump quarter-over-quarter, from 13 million reported at the end of Q4 2010.

Maravedis anticipates that 59 FDD-LTE and 3 LTE TDD networks will be operational worldwide by the end of this year. “There will be 305 million LTE subscribers by 2016, of which 14%, or 44 million, will be TD-LTE users and the rest (86%, or 261 million) will be FDD-LTE,” said Esteban Monturus, co-author of the quarterly report.

TD-LTE has gained global momentum and attracted attention to TDD spectrum. Maravedis anticipates that commercial TD-LTE networks could begin in more than 10 countries or areas in 2011-2012, even ahead of China Mobile's deployment. On the regulatory side, additional spectrum made available for 4G has seen much more progress in GSM refarming than in the digital dividend initiative. The latter is still many years away from full availability.

One of the most notable events that took place during the first quarter of 2011 in Europe was the Swedish 800 MHz band auction in March 2011. TeliaSonera, Net4Mobility and Hutchison 3G each won 2X10MHz of spectrum in the 800MHz for 4G network deployment. The UK´s telecom regulator announced an incoming spectrum auction, which is expected to pave the way for 4G services in the country. According to the proposed details, the auction will be for the 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz bands.

Handsets are surpassing fixed modems and USB dongles. These three are the preferred devices among the top 50 WiMAX operators, representing the 34%, 25% and 30% of the device market share respectively. Handsets and smartphones are taking off thanks to the aggressive deployment of these devices by Clearwire (USA), Yota (Russia) and Korea Telecom (South Korea). We believe that tablets and flip phones that convert into tablets will be the next wave for 2011 in terms of devices.

Applications and devices are driving the use of mobile broadband and consequently increasing the mobile traffic. Mobile video today accounts for 40% of mobile traffic worldwide, and will become the dominant feature of the mobile web. 3D video will become a popular application for mobile broadband, since portable devices allow end users to watch 3D content without uncomfortable glasses. There will be approximately 450 billion mobile video users globally by 2014. In this latest quarterly report we will analyze the alternatives 4G operators have for traffic offloading including using new spectrum, adding more cell sites, deploying new technologies, offloading data onto other networks, and introducing tiered pricing plans.

For more information on 4GCounts Tracking Service, please visit http://www.
MARAVEDIS is a leading analyst firm focusing on 4G and broadband wireless technologies and markets.
Author: Cintia Garza, Team Leader 4GCounts & Market Analyst CALA

source: LteWorld

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Russia: Uni-LTEd We Stand… For Now

As predicted in 4G Digest’s January 12th edition, 2011 is going to be an important year for LTE in Russia. Although at that time we were not able to predict which operator would be the first to deploy the technology in the country, things have become much clearer just two months later. The origin of this dramatic change is in Yota’s announcement last week of a US$2 billion plan to build an LTE network covering more than 70 million Russians in 180 cities by 2014.

Given the difficult relationship Yota has had with Roskomnadzor, the Russian spectrum regulator, during the last few months, the operator’s intentions would not have had much relevance if they were not accompanied by a partnership agreement with four telecoms giants in Russia – the Big Three (Vimpelcom, MegaFon and MTS) plus long-distance state-owned Rostelecom. These operators will be granted MVNO operations on Yota’s LTE deployment and will be offered the opportunity to acquire up to a 20% stake in Yota.

Based on the list of companies participating in the agreement, we can assume it is closely related to the 4G research group created under the auspices of Roskomnadzor by the 3+1 operators in January this year. The initial focus of the group was to study the refarming of 710 - 860 MHz spectrum to shift its usage from military applications to civil LTE. Since the Ministry of Communications wants future LTE licensees to pay for the new military equipment operating in alternative spectrum bands, only national operators are welcome to the group. That is why Swedish group Tele2 was not included, despite having expressed interest in joining. The Ministry’s recommendation to Tele2 was to achieve sharing agreements with national operators, but Yota’s announcement clarifies that Tele2 will not even have such a chance for the moment.

The Russian government’s legitimate desire to boost its national industry with carefully tailored LTE deployment affects not only operators, but also equipment manufacturers. One year ago the first signs were envisaged when Rostelecom won 2.3 GHz permits under the premises of using Russian-manufactured equipment. In September, CEO of Russian Technologies (Rostekhnologii) State Corporation (owner of 25% stake in Yota), Sergei Chemezov, introduced to President Medvedev a new dual-screened 4G smartphone that would be produced initially in Taiwan and eventually in Russia. Companies potentially benefiting from this policy include equipment manufacturer Sitronics, which also owns microwave vendor Intracom Telecom and Infinet Wireless.

The spectrum situation is perhaps the least clear issue relating to the aforementioned deal. On one side we have Yota, whose 2.5 GHz spectrum permits where reduced by Roskomnadzor after considering them unfairly allocated. Although its permits are TDD, Yota has always made clear it is focusing on FDD LTE. Besides the network sharing agreement with Yota, Rostelecom also owns permits in the 2.3 GHz band. Osnova Telekom, partially owned by the Ministry of Defense, is conducting LTE trials to determine whether both civil and military networks can simultaneously operate in the 2.3 GHz band. Provided that the 710-860 MHz band is already being considered for transfer to civilian applications (although not officially included in Yota’s plans) and a unified national LTE infrastructure is enforced, it seems that the 2.3 GHz band will in fact be reserved for military applications.

Building a single wholesale infrastructure seems a good strategy for developing countries to efficiently reduce the digital divide, since it reduces coverage overlaps among operators and concentrates investment in expanding coverage and adding capacity only where needed. Besides the Russian case, in September 2010 the Kenyan government already published its plans to allow for a single national LTE operator that would offer wholesale services to the 19 operators willing to offer mobile broadband services. This model spurs service and user experience differentiation among operators, thus avoiding the risk envisioned by operators in developed countries of becoming dumb pipes. It will be interesting to see how well both unified wholesale and multiple-infrastructure alternatives cope with the increasing data demand in the coming years.

MARAVEDIS is a leading analyst firm focusing on disruptive technologies including smart networks using 4G, LTE, WiMAX

Author: Esteban Monturus, Market Analyst - Europe & Backhaul

Source: LteWorld

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Coexistence of 4G Titans

Wireless has now evolved to a more common and overlapping set of technologies and markets such that former distinctions between wireless and wired, streams of standards development including 3GPP and IEEE, and device and infrastructure markets have blurred. Today it is no longer a matter of deciding whether the major industry groups and constituent players should collaborate, but rather how coexistence is efficiently and pragmatically accomplished.

Much work has been taking place within the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), IEEE 802.16e/m, and 3GPP to develop standards for harmonious spectrum access, core network interoperability, backward compatibility, and ease of network and device migration. This work is driven by operators who wish to see a long life for their investments in networks and markets and with suppliers who wish to fulfill the evolving needs of their customers.

This article summarizes a snapshot of current progress:

  • Baseband and integrated chip suppliers have made progress in supplying commercially available ICs and board level products that combine WiMAX and LTE.

- Broadcom/Beceem has shown an integrated SoC (BCS500) and USB reference design board-level unit.

- Other vendors say they will meet needs of the market with dual-mode capabilities as needed. Sequans was the first supplier of commercial TD-LTE device chipsets and say they are well prepared to meet demands for 4G converged solutions.

  • RF antennas and ICs can accommodate the additional modes needed to combine WiMAX and LTE. Suppliers and operators are now dealing with device and network requirements needed to provide service across 3G, WiMAX, LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS. Although the growing number of spectrum bands and modes of operation impose increased complexity, WiMAX’s similarity to LTE, including use of harmonious or proximity bands, makes coexistence very doable.
  • The standards groups and individual participants have the methods needed to align signaling frame structures between WiMAX 1, WiMAX 2, 3G-LTE and LTE-Advanced networks. Performance trade-offs for frame synchronization are a less than 10% hit.
  • The markets have evolved to demand IP-based broadband irrespective of underlying network technology.
  • As 3G core networks have converted to IP, the means to converge more easily with WiMAX has progressed. Obviously, the ease of convergence of operators’ networks with LTE or WiMAX depends on the state of their IP network migration.
  • Similarly, subscriber provisioning and billing can be common between WiMAX and LTE. However, incumbent operators must migrate existing networks, if they are not doing so already.

The WiMAX supply ecosystem has evolved to lead LTE development as MIMO-OFDMA technology has emerged to take center stage. As WiMAX has become more mainstream it has entered into more direct competition with traditional streams of development. The broader market opportunities have led to early rounds of consolidation, such as Beceem’s acquisition by Broadcom and participation in early LTE product markets, such as Sequan’s participation with China Mobile.

An effort is underway by leading WiMAX and LTE suppliers and operators to provide a common framework for 4G coexistence. The work covers both technical and practical aspects of convergence of spectrum plans, networks and baseline service provisioning to accommodate a range of operator needs for integration and coexistence of operations. Companies include Broadcom/Beceem, Clearwire, Huawei, Intel, Samsung, Alvarion, Bridgewater, Cedarcom-Mobi, Comcast, GCT, Motorola, Packet One, Sequans, Tellabs/WiChorus, Vee Time, VITI, Yota, and ZTE. Additional companies have worked on similar alignment efforts, including Nokia, Ericsson, picoChip, and Alcatel-Lucent.

The need for operators to find common markets for devices and services that span across 3G, LTE and WiMAX deployments helps to create opportunities that propel development of the commercial products that are now making their way into the market.

It is appropriate to point out that new network deployments, no matter who the operators or suppliers may be, must consider the objectives of reaching common device and market development. The factors of market development often take precedent over the choice of which standard is “winning” the race to become the most ubiquitous way forward. The “best” standard is that which best suits the needs of the operator. This can hinge on maturity and cost of the solution, so long as the evolution of network, devices and market are manageable.

What We Think:

We acknowledge that LTE is destined to become the dominant standard for mobile networks. However, the similarities between LTE and WiMAX are due much to WiMAX’s pioneering efforts to establish and propel OFDMA as the future for wireless technologies. Moreover, convergence is made feasible due to the enabling of IC and wireless component technologies. Decisions regarding which modes or multiple carrier capabilities to integrate into a common SoC or variety of SDR architectural design approaches are often secondary to questions about developing common spectrum plans and practical aspects of deployments required to build substantial market footprints.

Operators now deploying LTE must often deal with more pressing difficulties than combining WiMAX and LTE operation: how and when to migrate device markets to multi-mode capabilities; whether to move now to 3G-LTE or wait for LTE-Advanced; how to incorporate IP-based services including VoIP/VoLTE and video services without sacrificing current revenues on the altar of next generation progress.

We believe that WiMAX and LTE will evolve, as expected, into a growing common market for 4G products and services. While LTE will dominate, WiMAX provides the pedigree of experience and common technology and product development that many suppliers and operators are carrying forward successfully.

Although the leading 3G supplier can be expected to consolidate markets, including the ongoing push toward integrated services, unique opportunities will unfold for companies willing to adapt to mainstream trends. Recent moves by suppliers to provide a pathway to operators for service and supply migration and coexistence heralds inevitable 4G convergence in technologies, products, deployments, and markets.

MARAVEDIS is a leading analyst firm focusing on 4G and broadband wireless technologies and markets.

Author: Robert Syputa, Partner & Strategic Analyst

source: LteWorld

Update: LTE in Latin America

Latin America is the quietest region in terms of LTE deployments and operator commitments. Other regions such as Europe and Asia Pacific have shown much more LTE activity, accounting for 35% and 26% of the 145 LTE commitments registered worldwide in 2010. Latin America accounted for just 7% of the worldwide share, with 10 operator commitments and 7 LTE trials conducted during the year.

However, more and more Latin American operators are eager to take advantage of LTE’s promises of higher speeds, increased network capacity and more efficient spectrum use. Even regulators in countries such as Chile, Venezuela and Brazil are planning to allocate both residual 3G spectrum and new spectrum specifically for LTE. Maravedis estimates that by the end of 2011 there will be more than 20 LTE commitments in the region, an additional 7 LTE trials will be conducted, and possibly 4 operators will have commercially launched the technology, however the real momentum is expected to occur in 2014-2015, when we anticipate more than 25 operators will have commercial LTE services.

The first LTE operator activity in Latin America started in 2009 in Chile, where Entel conducted trials with Ericsson, Movistar with Nokia Siemens, and Claro, whose equipment vendor was not announced. Entel already offers WiMAX in the 3.5GHz band, but uses it to complement its fixed line service. The three companies are interested in LTE and have conducted trials actively, but they face a big hurdle, which is the lack of spectrum and spectrum caps imposed by SUBTEL to participate in the upcoming spectrum auctions. SUBTEL has ruled that existing players could participate in the upcoming auctions of 700MHz and 2.6GHz in July 2011, but if any operator surpasses the limit of 60MHz it would be obliged to return some spectrum to the state. Entel PCS already has 60MHz in the 800MHz and 1.9GHz combined, while Movistar and Claro have 55MHz each. SUBTEL is planning to auction the 2600Mhz band to make a 140MHz portion (70MHz for upload and 70MHz for download) available for 4G services, meaning that up to four operators could acquire LTE spectrum (35MHz each). Entel is looking to launch LTE in the 700MHz band, however whether SUBTEL will allow existing operators to obtain additional spectrum on top of the 60MHz they already have remains uncertain.

In Brazil, LTE trials have been conducted by Telefonica. Brazilian regulator Anatel decided late last year to re-farm the 2.6GHz spectrum, currently allocated to MMDS operators, and to re-allocate it under a technology neutral scheme to support next-generation mobile broadband deployments. Under the new regulation, MMDS operators will operate in the entire 2,500-2,690MHz frequency until June 30, 2013. After that, part of the 2.5GHz spectrum will be re-farmed and they will keep only 50MHz. The spectrum will be auctioned off by 2012 for the provision of mobile broadband services. 120MHz will be allocated in this auction, however winning bidders are not expected to deploy until 2013 once the spectrum is freed from MMDS operators. Certainly Telefonica will be among the LTE pioneers in Latin America. We believe that its LTE deployment in Brazil could be earlier than 2013, since the operator already holds MMDS spectrum that it can free up for LTE deployment.

Trials have also been conducted in Argentina and Colombia. In the former, Personal has conducted LTE trials with Ericsson and Huawei last year, and Telefonica conducted trials with NEC. These were conducted in the 1.7GHz and 2.1GHz spectrum bands, reaching transmitting speeds of 50Mbps downlink in a 20MHz channel. In Colombia, UNE Telecommunications is eager to start a commercial launch of LTE. CTO Hector Perez recently expressed the company’s interest in LTE to Maravedis. They have been deploying WiMAX since 2006 in the 3.5GHz band and have over 60,000 subscribers, however, Perez said the future of UNE Telecomunicaciones lies with LTE, technology that they will pursue aggressively and will be deployed in their recently allocated 2.6GHz band, in which they obtained 50MHz.

There is clear evidence of Latin American operator interest in LTE, however how the exact number of players and the timeframe in which they will deploy the technology depend heavily on spectrum availability, and the removal of spectrum caps and other restrictions some national regulators have implemented.

MARAVEDIS is a leading analyst firm focusing on 4G and broadband wireless technologies and markets.

Author: Cintia Garza, Team Leader 4GCounts & Market Analyst CALA