NEC is pressing about their Mobile World Congress (MWC) presence this year in Barcelona, and they are on a topic that I feel strongly about and have been either working on or for a few years. Small cells and the cloud.
The cloud strategy automagically comes with the small cells as they are IP connected so the potential to integrate them into other IP services and so on is obvious. OEMs are slowly realizing that this is a good way to increase the value proposition without actually making much more investment. Always a good strategy to a marketer.
Small cells are starting to heat up in the marketplace and NEC seems to be interested in getting involved. Here are the dates and times of their little talk on the cloud:
Mobile Cloud Forum Date: Wednesday, February 29th, 13:30 – 14:45 – 14:45-15:15
Networking Theme 1: Perspective of Mobile Cloud Services
Name: Mr. Shinya Kukita, Chief Manager of International Sales,
NEC Theme 2: The M2M Cloud Evolution Name: Dr. Heinrich Stuttgen, Vice President, NEC Laboratories Europe
Have fun in Spain! Their full PR after the break…
Yesterday Super WiFi launched in New Hanover County, North Carolina! If you’re not familiar with Super Wifi, it’s essentially WiFi re-using the in-between spaces of TV channels below 700MHz and above 50MHz. This is the first outdoor non trial deployment that I am aware of. This was the result of the FCC, feeling a little silly regarding Light Squared (ok, I made that part up), Spectrum Bridge a venture funded start up (2007), and the county of New Hanover County in North Carolina getting off their duff and deploying on white space capable radio channels using 802.11 Wifi as the Physical Layer protocol . It looks like Spectrum Bridge provided the channel list and other services while it’s unclear where the county got the radios from, the usual suspects range from Google, Microsoft and Cisco to Neul and Carlson to KTS Wireless. My bet is that since KTS Wireless had the first FCC approved radio, it’s likely to be theirs. New Hanover County is using their WiFi network to surveil on a subdivision and collect telemetry from their water infrastructure although it appears they will provide citizen WiFi at outdoor locations such as Hugh MacRae Park. They seem to be happy with the performance.
In testing white space, Chaney says “We see ranges of up to 1.5 miles on a point-to-point application of the spectrum including signal propagation through vegetation and buildings. Installing these newly approved radios and appropriate antennas could allow wireless service far beyond traditional boundaries.”
I’m yet unclear if the ranges mean the 2.4GHz WiFi or the <700MHz ‘SuperWiFi’ backhaul. The IEEE standardization effort is known as 802.11af and the timeline, looks to be around 2013 when fully standardized is here. Note, in the past you may have heard that Super WiFi was 802.22 and was touted to have 100KM/62Mi ranges. 802.22 is a cognitive radio effort, a good element of practical deployment for whitespaces, a different animal than 802.11 and WiMAX 802.16, so it looks like logic prevailed and the more practical use of effort was to take a working standard, 802.11 (WiFi) and update it. A good backstory primer is in the Spectrum Broker blog here.
Lastly, the trouble with whitespace radio as the FCC has it today is that there are many places, mainly populated, where there are 0 or 1 channels available. Unless and until there is some relaxation from the FCC this is going to be very limited. I think the obvious connection to LTE and 4G is complimentary when used as backhaul and competitive when offered directly to end users. I suspect that the battleground would be mainly rural stationary users as it’s not a good mobile technology. Progress nonetheless…
Ah, Product Announcements. LTE marketplace growth. Have a nice day.
Research vendor iGR has published a report for sale as part of their “Small Cell Architecutures Research Advisory and Subscription Service” extolling the virtues of Self Optimized Networking (SON) in LTE. What’s interesting is the information drip used as the teaser, it’s pretty big. As you know LTE networks have a services architecture (SAE) that is pre-designed to support self optimization, self integration and self repair features (as SON features.) The starting point for these, like the standardized use cases are fairly simple automations, nothing more complicated than what you need for a femtocell network. Check out the elegant prose from iGR regarding SON:[pullquote_right]SON is an important set of concepts that will radically change the way 4G mobile networks are design, built and operated,” said Iain Gillott, president and founder of iGR. “As the industry moves toward small cell architectures, with vastly more cells deployed in a given area, the industry must adopt new network management techniques to control capital and operational expenses. If SON is not successfully utilized, increased operational costs could slow the deployment of small cells.[/pullquote_right]
Moving forward, these automations can get to be pretty helpful, compelling and downright useful in improving the network conditions without a lot of hands. How much so? iGR estimates: LTE CapEx savings resulting from full SON implementation between 2011 and 2016 will be $2.34 billion and LTE OpEx will be $4.5 billion. Those numbers push past mere chump change on the aggregate. I think it will be more dramatic if you consider the 24×7 improved network performance and although I have numbers in my head, I have not read the report.
Now let’s also look at the Infonetics Research information that dribbled out this week. So in their report they estimate the SON market to be about a $3B US marketplace of robots and masters. They too had some good observations about SON such as:
- The mobile network optimization market, including 2G/3G optimization and 4G SON software, is forecast to grow to almost US$3.0 billion by 2015
- The market is being fueled by telecom operators seeking efficiencies in their networks as mobile subscribers continue migrating from 2G to 3G technology, … to 4G
- 78% of the world’s mobile subscribers are on 2G networks, the rest are on 3G, with 4G networks just getting started
- 2G/3G optimization software makes up the majority of the overall MNO market, while SON software is growing the fastest, driven by growing LTE network rollouts
- Smaller specialist vendors in the mobile network optimization market are being increasingly squeezed by larger equipment suppliers happy to throw in software as a value-add to the infrastructure they sell to telecom operators
- Since the restructuring of China’s telecommunications industry in 2008, Asia Pacific has become the largest market for mobile network optimization and SON
Now I can understand China and others being motivated to use SON (of course for different reasons) but what I can’t reconcile is the total LTE market size reported by Infonetics in context of this $3B of SON. Maybe I should do some more reading eh?
Clearwire stepped into the 10M subscriber club recently by adding the final 900K subscribers this quarter. They now have around 9.1M wholesale subscribers (via mainly Sprint) and 1.3M retail subscribers so they have validated their partnership with Sprint. Another interesting tidbit is the subs have increased usage year over year by 22% so the whole flat rate thing may hit a wall. It’s a good thing they got motivated and started doing all those MIMO upgrades…In all actuality they have plenty of headroom since 802.16M/WiMAX is much more efficient than 3G either EVDO or HSxPA. Very good news from the guys in WA (and no not just the COSTCO guys…)
According to EETimes, Maxim quietly gobbled up Genasic recently. That’s good to know because it sounded like Genasic was sampling an LTE UE (Device) 65nm radio front end with multi-band capability from 698MHz to 2.7GHz that will draw under 300 mW, enabling dongles and other devices.
The GEN4100 operates from 680- to 2700-MHz with channel bandwidths programmable between 1.4- and 20-MHz. It has three receive ports between 1700 and 2700-MHz and two receive ports between 680 and 1500-MHz. There is one transmit port in the each of the upper and lower bands. The chip is packaged in a 9.8-mm by 8.6-mm thermal leadless array package with a ball-pitch of 0.4-mm. It can be provided as a discrete packaged device, as a bare die for inclusion in multi-chip modules or as hard-macro for integration in a system-on-chip.
And of course it caught my eye as there it is again, lower 700MHz component… Here’s to hoping Maxim maximizes the marketing for this device and the lower 700MHz devicescape continues to grow. Go forth and build something!
Ubidyne, an Ulm, Germany based startup company has been conducting a trial apparently at 700MHz, and is demonstrating an impressive 40% capacity improvement overall. The PR is not clear exactly in what dimensions this improvement was gained, but the summary of their technology is like so: Firstly they embed the amplifiers within the antenna radome to eliminate that pesky loss that normally occurs between these elements, so obvious benefit #1. Secondly they have logic to control the individual antenna elements, one by one, so they can do impressive things like beam forming/interference control and so on. Benefit #3 is they can multiplex the input signals to the output antenna beams in such a way multiple air technologies can simultaneously be supported like CDMA, WCDMA, LTE etc… Remember you have to NDA up to get the details, this is a summary that I can show I built with statements in the press. Anyhow, this approach is innovative as normally the OEMs have introduced Remote Radio Heads (RRHs) to minimize the losses but don’t do much outside the box to improve the antenna pattern. Once you combine the Ubidyne RF advantage with the benefits of SON, seems like in urban areas you can significantly increase your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that you so adore. BTW, they also support vertical sectorization which is a nifty way to increase capacity. Here’s a paper that explains a lot of what can be expected in LTE. Great stuff!
Links: Ubidyne, Wireless Landscape Blog
ITU (International Telecommunication Union) is the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies – ICTs.
So everyone seems fixated on the fact that 40MHz of spectrum with 8×8 MIMO will wirelessly get around 1Gbps of throughput goodness to your device. So firstly, to deploy 40MHz, there will need to be some spectrum aggregation of disparate bands like Cellular (850MHz) PCS (1900MHz), AWS (2100MHz), 2500MHz, 700MHz and so on. Clear actually has 40MHz of spectrum in most markets so for them this is easy, but for the remainder of the operators, this will be a challenge. They will need to ‘refarm’ the existing spectrum by migrating traffic over from existing 2G/3G use onto LTE. That rolls off the tongue wonderfully but in practice it will be really hard. Ask Sprint how easily their Nextel 800MHz migration is/was (ok without completely losing or punting subscribers.) Even if AT&T and Verizon could get 40MHz to use with LTE, it’s really unlikely they would be able to offer much more than a service with 1Gbps bursts anywhere other than indoors or via pico cells. No, to me it seems that the 1 Gbps pipe dream is going to have to have some help from the outside. There are going to have to be other advances in areas like interference cancellation/management, processor and battery improvements, radio link (ex: MIMO) improvements and so on to further shrink the amount of spectrum required and simultaneously expand the coverage area able to utilize such a network. (presently extremely high Carrier to Noise requirements!) So hurray for getting it approved but don’t hold your breath for any of that to be available any time soon for you and me. Don’t believe the hype, yet.
I don’t normally comment on conjecture, unless I feel the need, but SlashGear and others are reporting that Verizon is running Voice over LTE (VoLTE) in 2 markets on their 700MHz spectrum in preparation in launching commercially next year. This is a logical and good step for the LTE marketplace. Ultimately, if VoLTE, say via Qualcomm’s EVRC Voice Coding (VoCODER), can get to the point where it is at least as efficient if not substantially more than CDMA 1X, then carriers will be able to continue (really more effectively) financing the data explosion with voice minutes. Beyond that, the 700MHz spectrum is vastly more advantaged than the higher spectrum deployments PCS/AWS/2.5GHz and the little guys own a lot of lower 700MHz…The overall upside to VoLTE deployment I see is that everything can finally become voice enabled. There are many use cases that this really becomes really cool!
LTE Ideas2x2 MIMO 3G 3GPP 3GPP2 4G 4G LTE 700MHz ATT AWS Band 12 Band 13 Band 17 carrier aggregation CDMA Clear eNB Ericsson EVDO FCC femto femtocell femtocells HSPA+ IMS LightSquared lower 700MHz LTE LTE Advanced MIMO Public Safety Qualcomm Release 10 Samsung small cells SON Sprint TD-LTE TDD UE Verizon Verizon Wireless VoLTE VZW WCDMA WiFi
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