• Revenue from VoLTE services will reach $2 billion by 2016, according to a report from research company ARCchart.

    According to the report’s lead analyst, Asad Khan, “Demand for VoLTE is being fuelled by carriers wanting to establish a native mobile VoIP solution, both for the long term economic benefits and to defend against the threat posed by OTT (Over the Top) VoIP providers such as Skype, FaceTime and Viber.”

  • O2 and Vodafone will build one consolidated network grid across the United Kingdom, sharing cell site equipment and backhaul infrastructure at 18,500 locations.

    O2 will run the grid in Northern Ireland, Scotland, the East of England and North London. Vodafone will take responsibility for the West of England, South London and Wales. That will mean that each operator will be specifying the network its own area of responsibility, producing its own RFQs and running procurement separately. But the deployment and capabilities of both operating companies will be brought to bear within each geographic area, under the management of the lead operator, which the operators hope will deliver much faster rollouts.

    Although network sharing will extend to active RAN elements, each operator will run its own independent network in its own spectrum - ie there will be no spectrum sharing. "Intelligent" elements, core network elements, and the ability to create, control and provide services will also remain separate, with each operator "competing fiercely", according to Vodafone UK CEO Guy Laurence.

    • Companies to pool basic network infrastructure to create one national grid of 18,500 sites
    • Telefonica to run one half of radio and backhaul network, Vodafone the other
    • Both companies will be running independent spectrum and competing services

    Telefónica UK and Vodafone UK today announce their intention to strengthen their existing network partnership, by pooling the basic parts of their network infrastructure to create one national grid running each operator’s independent spectrum.

    The plan will deliver real benefits for today’s mobile phone users by creating two competing networks that will be able to offer indoor 2G and 3G coverage targeting 98% of the UK population by 2015, delivering mobile coverage and mobile internet services to the vast majority of UK households.

  • "We regulate for the benefit of the consumer, not the industry"

    Ofcom's Group Director of Spectrum Policy, Professor H Nwana has said that Ofcom is still "minded" to approve EE's application to refarm 1800MHz spectrum for LTE services, despite continued strong opposition from Telefonica and Vodafone.

    Describing the refarming of 1800MHz as a "very thorny issue", Nwana said that Everything Everywhere's competitors had reacted "very vigorously" and had "promptly rebuked" him for his recent statement that he was "minded" to approve EE's liberalisation application.

    Yet speaking to Mobile Europe on the fringes of Informa's LTE World Summit in Barcelona, Nwana said that his principal, government-mandated duty is to regulate for the benefit of the consumer, not the industry.

  • 25% cost of ownership reductions by sharing RAN and backhaul with another partner

    Mobile operators in the more economically-challenged European countries will not be able to make "massive" LTE deployments unless the economics of rollout and operation are radically changed, according to Eduardo Duato, CTO of Orange Spain.

    Those changes include a shift to active RAN and backhaul network sharing, as well as new deployment models from the vendors.

    Duato said that even though LTE is 100% more spectrally efficient, and is 30% cheaper in total cost of ownership than 3G, it is still not cheap enough to enable operators to invest with confidence in "massive" rollouts.

  • Companies enable mobile operators to extend new IMS-based voice and messaging services over existing Wi-Fi networks

    Kineto Wireless and Taqua have announced a joint solution that enables mobile operators to include Wi-Fi as part of their Voice over LTE (VoLTE) deployment strategy.
    Using Taqua’s IMS core network solution mobile operators can enable smartphones equipped with Kineto’s Smart Wi-Fi client to receive IMS-based voice and messaging services over existing Wi-Fi networks, such as at homes and offices.  Operators can now embrace Wi-Fi as a part of their VoLTE deployment plans, adding critical network coverage and capacity in the exact locations subscribers spend most their time.

  • Ubidyne has signed a deal with an un-named "major Asia Pacific-based manufacturer of telecommunications equipment" to develop an LTE active antenna for the 800MHz frequency range. The agreement follows network trials of Ubidyne’s 700MHz active antenna solution in the USA. UIbidyen said that it expects to sign a series of new contracts in the next 12 months with Tier 1 operators and OEMs and that the new 800MHz active antenna will be deployed with a major regional network operator in 2013.
    In the US trials, Ubidyne’s Antenna Embedded Radio technology with flexible beam forming and tilting capabilities,  delivered double throughput at the cell edge and an increase of over 40% cell capacity with the same output power. In addition to the uB700™ that supports 4G (LTE) for broadband mobile networks in the US, Ubidyne’s uB900™ supports GSM, UMTS and LTE in the 900MHz frequency band to address mobile networks in Europe, Africa, Oceania, Asia and the Middle East. This latest announcement will further extend this range with the development of an LTE 800MHz solution, while Ubidyne is also looking at high-band antenna up to 2.6GHz as well as multi-band solutions.
    “With the Ubidyne technology proven to exceed our theoretical performance predictions and demonstrate excellent reliability in independent trials, we are now getting a lot of real interest from operators and OEMs who need to meet the exploding demand for wireless data,” said Michael Fränkle, CEO of Ubidyne. “This was reflected at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. While there was a lot of discussion about the move to small cells, this represents a major investment in time and money; whereas visitors to our stand increasingly see active antenna technology as a way to maximise coverage and capacity from their existing macrocells. In addition to the deal announced today, we are in advanced discussions with further companies in Asia Pacific and other regions around the world.”
    By removing the need for bulky coaxial feeder cables, remote electrical tilt assemblies and additional amplifiers on antenna towers and masts, Ubidyne’s patented active antenna technology significantly reduces installation costs and energy consumption while improving radio performance, deployment flexibility, coverage and network capacity. OPEX costs and outages are further reduced by Ubidyne’s Self-Healing mechanism that secures antenna coverage in the unlikely event of a system failure.

    Unlike other approaches to active antenna systems (AAS), Ubidyne’s LTE 700MHz, 800MHz and 900MHz AAS technology uses one transceiver or M-Radio per antenna radiator. This means that an antenna with 16 radiators - or eight cross polar radiators - will also have 16 transceivers. Results from the US trials demonstrated that only a full AAS can meet critical upper sidelobe suppression requirements with margin, while simultaneously providing the highest possible antenna gain over an electrical tilt range of more than 10 degrees. And because of the Self-Healing feature, Ubidyne AAS still delivers this performance with up to four transceivers out of 16 being switched off.

  • A report commissioned by Everything Everywhere from Capital Economics claims that LTE network investment would benefit the UK economy to the tune of tens of thousands of jobs, increase GDP by 0.5% a year, connect the unconnected and give a productivity boost to swathes of business and industry. Can we trust its findings?

    First, the background. Everything Everywhere is keen to get on with using chunks of its 1800MHz spectrum for LTE. The other operators are not so sure, thinking that Ofcom's willingness to give it the nod will give EE an unfair advantage over the rest of them, who have to wait for the 800MHz/2.6Ghz auction.

    So Everything Everywhere (EE) has launched a website campaigning for the swift introduction of LTE. As a cornerstone of its launch, it produced a piece of research that shows how much good LTE could do for the wider economy. EE also asked for celebrities and businesses to put their shoulder to the wheel, asking them to back its campaign for a 4G Britain. The message was: Let's get rid of the delay and politicking and just get on with bringing 4G to the nation, with all the attendant benefits that that brings.

    This puts the other operators in a tricky position. If they support the campaign, then they are effectively giving the nod to EE's swift re-farming of its 1800MHz spectrum, giving EE a nice lead in bringing LTE to the market. If they object, they cast themselves as "playing politics" with the nation's economic well-being, and keeping LTE from the mouths of starving rural businesses crying out for mobile broadband.

    So EE gets to play politics while steadfastly insisting that if only everyone else stopped playing politics, it would be OK. Now, I don't blame EE for this. It's all in the game. EE has a key asset that it could be using to develop an advantage, and that's business and that's fair enough. But let's not buy the holy "won't someone think of the economy" special pleading. Instead, EE should be making the case for why its huge chunk of 1800MHz spectrum, for which it pays only nominal fees, can be refarmed without that being seen as being bad for competition in the market. Please, no more Suzi Perry.

    Another interesting aspect of this was the report itself. Its headline findings were that operators are looking at a total investment in LTE networks of £5.6 billion. The report broke this down as £2.3 billion on base station equipment, £1.9 billion on installation and £1.4 billion on software.

    The report then used that £5.6 billion number to work out how that could translate into jobs and investment within the UK. It found that the impact of that investment could lead to up to 126,000 jobs being created or "safeguarded".

    That's some big numbers, so what to make of them? First off, let's look at the investment numbers, which are used to justify the whole caboodle. Mark Pragnell, the report's author, said that he arrived at the number by using specific numbers provided by EE, as well as using "other reports" to arrive at his costings. Fair enough - that looks like some specific knowledge, extrapolated and supported with some intelligent guessing. But even EE's numbers were not detailed, Pragnell said, and were more of the headline nature. In other words, the report relies heavily on EE's own headline estimate of its investment- and while we've got no reason to doubt its veracity EE does, at the least, have a dog in this fight.

    Nevertheless, if we accept the investment numbers we then move on to their impact. The report's author, Mark Pragnell simulated the impact of a £5.6 billion investment in 4G LTE infrastructure using input-output tables from the ONS’s (Office of National Staistics). He found that at ONS rates for previous telco investments there could be as many as 125,000 jobs supported right through the supply chain by the LTE investment.

    How were the jobs broken down? Well, at the upper end of the estimate, Capital Economics assumed that operators would channel more investment than in previous rounds within the UK — up to 20% more than in 2005, it said. Its reason for this was that operators would seek to spend more in the UK than "given current economic conditions". Why? Are our operators especially patriotic? Have the costs of doing business in the UK and, say, China, really converged so much?

    No matter, using the existing ONS tables, CE's report said that there could be 57,923 jobs created within the manufacturing area, supported by LTE investment. 52,000 of these would fall within a "Computer and Electricals" sector. That looks fairly phenomenal - that the UK's "computer and electricals" sector would benefit from LTE investment to the tune of 57,000 jobs?

    Given that the bulk of the investment (all but the £1.9 billion spent on installation, remember) will be in the network equipment and software area where the main players are all, well, non-UK entities, how does that translate? Just to restate that point. Any large LTE network equipment orders are likely to go to one of NSN, Ericsson, Huawei or perhaps Al-Lu, none of them, as far as I’m aware, with their main bases within the UK.

    Pragnell said that it was important to remember that the bulk of jobs in the manufacturing sector are not actually within manufacturing, but in sales and other jobs. But intuition tells us there aren't going to be 30,000 UK sales engineers, marketers and "other functions" benefitting from LTE.

    Where do the jobs come from, then? Are the major NEPs moving large parts of their workforce local to LTE contracts? Not at this level. There will be services teams, sales teams, post sales and the rest. But 57,000?

    Perhaps these new jobs will be in all the industries providing power equipment, cooling, towers, all the passive and peripheral elements? Even in silicon and R&D companies supporting the need for increased device and equipment performance? But Pragnell said that the report didn't go to that depth. It simply looked at previous investment input (in all telco, not mobile sepcific, not in LTE as the market is currently structured) and measured output, and projected that onto LTE investment. He did concede that the mix could be different for LTE, as mobile network rollouts often revolve around one or two very major contract awards. Well, yes.

    The question remains, then? How does a billion dollar network investment, made with a global NEP, benefit the UK economy to such a vast extent? The short answer is, we don't know. I'm not saying that there isn't evidence of a GDP lift from broadband. I'm not saying that there isn't evidence of a productivity boost from broadband. There may even be a case for a vast boost to the manufacturing sector. But this report only begins to make that case, and as such it provides poor ground upon which to build a case for LTE re-farming and a speeded up auction process.

    Keith Dyer
    Mobile Europe

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  • CEO confident in order pipeline and cost control to return to profitability

    No operating segment within Alcatel Lucent was profitable in the first quarter of 2012, with the networks, software & services and enterprise division all contributing losses.

    The company's executives, CEO Ben Verwaayen and CFO Paul Tufano, said that a combination of a lower than expected volume of sales, plus a higher than expected ratio of low margin business within its sales mix, had lead to operating losses for the company of €221 million for the quarter and a reduction in gross margin to 30.3%.

  • Most active user is consuming 200GB per month on trial LTE network

    O2 has been running 4G network trail in Londonsince December 2011. Today, the operator released a few headline results of that trial, timed to coincide with the completion of the analogue-digital TV switchover in London  — even though O2 was using trial spectrum at 2.6GHz, not the digital dividend frequency band at 800MHz. O2 said the trial  has seen speeds of up to 150Mbps, hit click to bang rates (latency) of less than one tenth of a second and enabled 40MB file downloads in a matter of seconds.

  • Finnish operator DNA today announced the availability of Sierra Wireless' AirCard® 762S mobile hotspot. The LTE-connected WLAN access point, named the DNA 4G WLAN Mokkula, provides an LTE backhaul connection for up to 10 Wi-Fi enabled devices. This is the first European launch for the AirCard 76xS product family, which was unveiled at Mobile World Congress in late February.

  • Network optimisation specialist Aircom International is to acquire Symena, a provider of optimisation and Automatic Cell Planning (ACP) tools, for an undisclosed sum. Aircom said that the combination of "innovative" optimisation methodologies from Symena with its own "vastly scalable" OSS capabilities would create "a unique SON offering" for the market.

    Symena develops software that automates cell planning, network deployment and ongoing operations. Founded in 2002, it claimed to be the first company to offer a commercial ACP solution for LTE.  It has been developing specific SON solutions since 2009 and has, Aircom's statement said, "enjoyed significant market traction" with operators, network equipment providers, systems integrators and drive test tool vendors.

  • Mavenir's Terry McCabe talks about his company's role in helping MetroPCS bring LTE services to market, specifically its move to provide voice services over the 4G network. McCabe says that there are lessons for other operators in MetroPCS' approach to implementing Voice over LTE, not least in how it integrates network elements from different vendors.

  • SFR, the French operator that announced the departure of its CEO earlier this week, is deploying its Twitter stream to make a series of update announcements on its network — covering LTE, HSPA, WiFi and Femtocells.

  • Dave Dyson, CEO of Three UK, has said that Ofcom's current proposals for the auction of LTE spectrum could risk future competition in the mobile market. However, he refused to confirm reports that the operator is considering an imminent legal challenge to Ofcom’s plans to auction LTE spectrum.

    In a speech at a Westminster eForum event this morning, Dyson said that it is essential that Ofcom ensures that Three is given access to 800MHz spectrum. Three fears that it is about to be priced out of chunks of the LTE auction, leaving it at considerable commercial disadvantage.

  • CEO Stephane Richard announces very high speed mobile launch in Marseilles

    Orange has announced that Marseille will be its first pilot city for LTE, with services starting in June 2012. The company will also continue to roll out 42Mbps HSPA+, and said it has now achieved 50% population coverage for HSPA+ since it began rollout in November 2011.

  • GCF and GSA figures show growth in LTE device launches, but in what bands?

    Two things have put LTE spectrum band support in devices in the news recently. Most obvious was the new iPad which was released with LTE support, but only as an option in certain frequency bands — and not at all in the European LTE bands at 800MHz and 2.6GHz. It seemed to come as a shock to many in the non-tech (and even some in the tech) press that LTE support doesn't always mean LTE support.

  • Everything Everywhere gets initial go-ahead for 1800MHz LTE

    UK regulator Ofcom has said it will allow Everything Everywhere to reuse its 1800MHz spectrum for LTE services this year, following an application made earlier this year by the operator to extend its existing license for the spectrum to LTE.

    Everything Everywhere plans to have commercial services operating in the 1800MHz frequency before the end of this year, although service will be limited to laptop/notebook dongles and USB devices.

  • Radisys' Ray Adensamer outlines how the company's MPX-12000, its Multimedia Resource Function, will enable operators to monetise mobile video by offering differentiated and personalised real-time mobile video services.