From the monthly archives: "February 2012"

I have never read this book although I probably should, but it was funny in context of Self Optimizing Networks (SONs) and there you go. Ericsson and Nokia made announcements at this years MWC that were carefully crafted to be as different from each other as possible, yet when digging deeper into what details they provide publicly they are very close. 

Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) went first and announced they are extending their iSON (intelligent Self Optimizing Networks) platform with SON for Core. As 3GPP SON standards go, the use cases they defined are currently mostly applicable to items like Radio Resource Management and so on, mostly applying eNB (radio) side. NSN is touting core optimization, which I guess in the LTE context would be sGW/pGW/MME. There are a few optimizations that you could probably make but note, elements like MME already have load sharing defined…There’s not many details of what gets optimized but I guess they could do things like automate provisioning, power down unused HW during low traffic, implement overhead load reduction strategies during peaks, change IP settings during peak times, maybe do some caching in control and user plane and maybe have per route IP settings. It’s not clear from their announcement. I’m not sure how the PCRF factors into this strategy either. Overall their iSON strategy claims 3G network integration and multivendor control capability too so obviously you have to be a 3GPP network to get this full benefit, so in the US T-Mobile (recently announced LTE plans) and ATT would be able to deploy. Their executive summary on iSON is here.

On the other hand, we have Ericsson that has announced that their approach to raising SON’s is to focus the sale on the SON Optimization Manager. Is it just me or is that circular/redundant logic? Anyway, their approach is to use this platform to control 3G and 4G radio resources. Since Ericsson acquired Nortel, I’m not sure if this platform is 3GPP only or if it extends into 3GPP2 (CDMA) land. Ericsson also mentions HetNets although they don’t say this is a small cell controller or coordinator per se, just a mention which is a bonus point for them. Here is a link to their white paper describing their SON.

In summary the Ericsson approach is about the simplicity of dropping in the SON Manager platform whereas the NSN approach is more about extending their iSON portfolio (NetAct) to the core. Either way these companies are entertaining with their high energy press release and MWC demos with lots of hype but a lack of detail that keeps us guessing. BTW if you were wondering, the iSON and Ericsson SON Optimization platform are not necessarily unique, the smaller vendors (market share) have this much capability and more. Just my $0.02. 

Links: Amazon, Ericsson, NSN

The blogosphere is echoing the LG Video Switching story ad infinitum, and so it got me to thinking. First, check out Engadget’s interesting picture that has really nothing to do with what I am on about. Ha.  I mean, what the heck? There’s nothing here in the picture that hasn’t been shown long ago with Apple’s FaceTime or Skype, Vsee, ooVo etc, etc… AOL surely believes sex sells. See Apple’s picture below in case you are not convinced.

Anyhow, I feel like video calling, in the US, is edging into the mainstream. Personally, my wife likes to FaceTime me when I am traveling, specifically when I’m supposed to be in the hotel. A form of eavesdropping most likely but I welcome the novelty of it and we usually giggle as I give the hotel room tour and I end up making silly faces for the first few minutes before getting into more serious topics like the kids. So I dredged up some stats to check for any signs that others are using the technology too. Before we go further, I just want to point out other places like Japan and Korea have been placing mobile video calls for nearly a decade with very high penetration in certain age groups… Skype had the most visually appealing data, see this: 


So 42% of Skype’s 65 Million calls were video and 300 Million Minutes of Use (MOUs) were generated by people like me. This data was published by Skype’s Jennifer Caukin in July 2011. The iPad didn’t go until August so certainly these numbers have been jumping and growing since that time. There’s no breakdown as to the origin or destination such as US only etc but I do offer it as exhibit B that mobile video calling is coming everywhere. 

Lastly, the barriers to implementation have been coming down such that any OEM can participate.

Security: Security worries have been somewhat addressed through various encryption/certificate schemes although I would not go as far as saying these are very robustly applied to video calls and that you won’t see your private video frames exposed to the web some day. It will likely take a major breech to get there, but it is a first step and does offer people some peace of mind to begin using the services.

Availability: LTE launches are taking care of the high bandwidth on the go part. Although right now a notable exception is Apple’s FaceTime service that is limited to WiFi. I’m sure this might change when they introduce LTE devices. Also interesting to note, is Apple’s FaceTime uses Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) messaging as does standards based approaches defined by 3GPP (IMS Client.) Either way, you have a variety of clients that you can download for your device if you do not choose to use the ones built in. On average, you are probably covered 30-40% of the day with WiFi unless you are in the boonies, then you will have your own anyway if you are remotely interested in talking to others.

Ease of Use: FaceTime sort of defined it. Now for FaceTime you only have 2 keystrokes (and an alert if you are not on WiFi) and that will likely go to 1 when, either, as LG has announced with their video switching, OEMs come up with a custom solution and/or all operators are LTE + IMS enabled.  You can see how simple it is from Apple’s picture. 

Cost: These services are really Over the Top (OTT) services with no current charges, so the costs are not bad. If I get unlined LTE data service and there is a device that allows me to use it with video, then really there is not even an incremental cost to use it. My assumptions are that I have a Verizon 10Gb cap on data, then at 64kbps average, I can FaceTime an average of 5.3 hours a day and just hit the cap. Anything less and I can browse the web and email too. :)

So in summary, I think we have the motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, and knowledge coming together to make mobile video calling a mainstream reality. My guess is roughly 24 months from now. Just a guess.

Links: Engadget, Skype blog, Apple, 3GPP

I see a big problem with all of these Apple + LTE rumors. It’s not a show stopper per se but a really big hurdle for these rumors to come true nonetheless. Let’s see, I have a chart that tells most of the story. Examine this pie chart: (Reminds me of Ross Perot…)

 According to Article One Partners and Thompson Reuters research, Samsung and Motorola own essentially ~13% of the LTE patent pie. If Apple is claiming that Motorola and Samsung are not living up to the Fair, Reasonable And non-discriminatory (FRAND) definition for licensing 3G patents, what do you think will happen here? I’m not sure that a Qualcomm license pass through when purchasing the chipsets gets them off the hook unless they have worked something out.

Lots of people will be running around Barcelona for MWC claiming to have the iPhone killer in hand but I can’t help but think the iPhone killer will be time. At some point we’ll move on and find some other toy really interesting. In the mean time, let’s see how the FRAND IPR fight plays out.


Links: Article One



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 Cognovo and Rhode & Schwartz are demonstrating Release 10 over the air at Mobile World Congress. Cognovo is putting their CDC160, a Software Defined Radio (SDR) processor to work as the baseband processor and Rhode and Schwartz (R&S) is chipping in their Vector Signal Analyzer SMU200A and Option K85 as the front end to demonstrate carrier aggregation of 2 x 20MHz LTE carriers for an effective 40MHz channel over the air. This should be pretty cool to see just from a novelty standpoint. 

 Let’s see, 40MHz of Release 10 should peak (PHY) from about 600Mbps downlink and 270Mbps uplink to 144Mbps/43Mbps (2×2 MIMO) based on the configuration they have set up.


Links: Cognovo, Rohde & Schwarz



Come on Robin, to the Bat Cave, there is not a moment to lose….Just as you thought Het-Nets and small cells were just going to be infinitely marketed and never deployed, the Small Cells marketplace is pretty much exploding 

leading up to Mobile World Congress (MWC) this year. Here is a taste of the activity that you will see in slide ware, on busses, billboards, booths etc…




















Airspan and Aihop Communications are collaborating on HetNet/small cell solutions. Airspan makes 4G Radio Access Networking (RAN) gear and Airhop makes Self Optimizing Network (SON) software.

Airspan has really an intermediate sized base station strategy with fairly compact Remote Radio Head (RRH) type of base stations. Airhop has an awesome SON solution and is looking for places to put it, so focusing on HetNets, er the useful integration of macro (big) cells and small cells is the test case to prove that today’s networks can actually evolve to something else.

  Airvana showing off LTE small cells with demonstration in Barcelona

Airvana has been focused on Sprint CDMA technology. It will be good addition to the ecosystem to have LTE+CDMA small cells. Enterprise + Residential

Ericsson Acquires BelAir Networks.

Ericsson gains carrier WiFi and a HetNet product line. This is easily integrated into existing customers, thus I expect to see HetNets popping up at ATT, VZW, MetroPCS etc…

ip.Access launching E-100 hybrid WiFi and small cell.

ip.Access getting onto the carrier LTE/3G+WiFi offload RADAR with this launch. There are 3 announcements listed here representing this strategy. Market pricing should be better with this announcement.

  Mindspeed purchased Picochip, and now has dozens of small cells in addition to T22XX and T33XX SoC

Picochip had some lofty ideas about where the market was headed while Mindspeed was grinding away in the low end. If balanced, this combination may actually increase small cell penetration. Enterprise + Residential products.

  NEC launches 2 small cells with a Gateway

I suspect this is the result of a Japanese industry/governmental mandate but it’s interesting when a consumer focused company jumps into small cells. At Samsung I could never get management to get the long term vision. Enterprise + Residental

Ruckus wireless is launching a hybrid WiFi/carrier small cell.

Ruckus traditionally stayed away from the carrier radio space but is now incorporating a carrier radio component to their (small cell) SmartCell 8800. Very similar to what we did at Samsung and what Belair did. Lots of flexibility and low cost. Outdoor focus.

  The Small Cell Forum has teamed up with the Open Mobile Alliance to establish a single API set.

API development has been a sore spot with small cells in general. This may create enough momentum to be useful.

Links: Airhop, AirspanAirvana, BelAir Networks, Ericsson, ip.AccessMindspeed, NEC, Ruckus WirelessSmall Cell Forum

 Intrinsyc Software and Ubiquisys are preparing a neat little demo for those of you going to Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this year. They are planning to demonstrate Wi-Fi wake up. The way it works is a mobile has a client that recognizes a given location, either via a special signal or geolocation (their implementation isn’t clear from the PR) and then it basically turns on the WiFi radio on the mobile (it was off to save power) and logs into the secure WiFi hotspot. When you leave it logs you out and turns it off. It’s very simple. Full disclosure, I talked about implementing this a number of years ago at other places, although I could never get comfortable with the fact that you needed an app to be lurking on your device to do this. Seemed a little shady if in the wrong hands, but that was before the big data privacy breech issues with Google, Apple etc etc… guess I was naive to be concerned.

Links: Intrinsyc Software, Ubiquisys

More info after the break!

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Thing about working in the industry is I have to focus on the customer and tell them what they need to know on the the other hand the thing with blogging is I get to rant. Well here is a rant about LTE….

 Is it just me or is there a disconnect between the direction the cellular operators see for us and where we would like to go? I was looking at some of the levels for LTE service here in the US and I guess I am just expecting something different than I am getting. Firstly, I do understand that LTE is a new technology and this handy Gartner Hype Cycle chart efficiently shows where my expectations should be.  Yes intuitively I understand that I am headed to the trough of disillusionment over my lack of high speed wireless connectivity, however in this chart all of these things pertain to how I perceive and use the service. This is clearly not a technology issue. What I have a problem with is how the market is providing the service.  Read Full Article →

Today the Femto Forum announced that they are forevermore The Small Cell Forum. Makes sense as femtocells are sort of boring right now with very little customer traction and everybody and their dog has made a launch announcement and yet on the other hand there have been different initiatives at places like Sprint to launch enterprise versions and some carriers have even dabbled in CDMA/LTE pico cells. I am curious as to how much work there is to do over time in this area? I suppose writing the relevant additions to SON etc to support small cells more fully are on the roadmap but then what?  Here are some stats in their PR:

According to ABI Research, 4.3 million small cells (including femtocells, picocells and microcells) will be shipped in 2012, rising to 36.8 million shipments in 2016, valued at $20.4 billion. They find that residential and enterprise models currently dominate small cell shipments with 62% and 30% respectively. ABI Research’s data suggests that by 2016, while indoor small cells will be 94% of total shipments, outdoor small cells will make up 64% of the revenue.

Links: Small Cell Forum

Femto Forum Becomes Small Cell Forum as Femtocell Technology Extends Beyond the Home

15th February 2012

Name change reflects the Forum’s support for enterprise, metro and rural small cells, building on the earlier success of residential femtocells

London, UK – The Femto Forum today announced it is to be renamed the Small Cell Forum in order to better reflect its work which embraces residential, enterprise, metro and rural small cells, as well as to prevent the perception that the small cell arena is fragmented. The Small Cell Forum will serve to develop consensus on common approaches, standards and agreed best practice for all small cells.

The Forum will address all small cells that operate in licensed spectrum, are operator-managed and feature edge-based intelligence – including what have been dubbed femtocells, picocells, microcells and metrocells. It will also support the crossover between small cells and other relevant technologies including: Wi-Fi, cloud RAN (which connects cellular radio to cloud-based intelligence over fibre), Distributed Antenna Systems, as well as macrocells as part of the new heterogeneous network (hetnet) environment.

The role of the Small Cell Forum will be to tackle the practical challenges facing deployment. This includes finding appropriate small cell sites; delivering power and backhaul; managing interactions between small cells, macrocells and other wireless technologies; and effective interoperability and network management. This continues the work of the Femto Forum which has been actively working on small cells outside the home for some time, as well as their interactions with other technologies. Examples of this work include integrated Femto/Wi-Fi devices and networks; enterprise multi-femto architectures; public access small cell interference management; standards and management processes which are generic across all small cell types; and LTE small cell standards for all environments.

“Femtocell technology was originally designed for the home but has since extended into enterprise picocells, urban metrocells and modern microcells for all manner of locations. The core technologies developed by members of the Femto Forum – including Systems on a Chip, provisioning systems, standardised gateways, and other related innovations – lower the cost of licensed band solutions and facilitate easy deployments for all small cell products.   As such it is the ‘small cell’ banner that now best represents these technologies and it is one that mobile operators are strongly endorsing. In fact, surveys show operators regard small cells as playing a more important role than macrocells in future mobile networks*,” said Simon Saunders, Chairman of the Small Cell Forum.

According to ABI Research, 4.3 million small cells (including femtocells, picocells and microcells) will be shipped in 2012, rising to 36.8 million shipments in 2016, valued at $20.4 billion. They find that residential and enterprise models currently dominate small cell shipments with 62% and 30% respectively. ABI Research’s data suggests that by 2016, while indoor small cells will be 94% of total shipments, outdoor small cells will make up 64% of the revenue.

The success of the small cell market to date has focused on femtocells which have been deployed by 38 operators worldwide, including eight of the top ten (by revenue), with a 112% increase in deployments in 2011. These deployments have started to achieve scale with Sprint surpassing 500K units and Vodafone UK, Japan’s Softbank and France’s SFR, exceeding 100K – not to mention AT&T which is the world’s largest deployment.

The Small Cell Forum has also today published a free introductory whitepaper on small cells that is available here


About The Small Cell Forum
The Small Cell Forum (, formerly known as the Femto Forum, supports the wide-scale adoption of small cells. Small cells are low-power wireless access points that operate in licensed spectrum, are operator-managed and feature edge-based intelligence. They provide improved cellular coverage, capacity and applications for homes and enterprises as well as metropolitan and rural public spaces. They include technologies variously described as femtocells, picocells, microcells and metrocells. The Forum has 137 members including 63 operators representing more than 1.71 billion mobile subscribers – 33% of the global total – as well as telecoms hardware and software vendors, content providers and innovative start-ups.

Contact Details:

Oliver Chapman

Oliver [a t]

+44 (0) 7713 404 571

*An Informa Telecoms & Media survey found 60% of operators believe small cells are more important than macrocells in LTE deployments. Small cells were also the comfortable winner in a Rethink Research survey of the most important features for LTE-Advanced.

Today, our friends at the FCC let us know they have reworked some of rules around the 800MHz spectrum. This is the spectrum that was used to

 launch mobile phones (Analog Mobile Phone Services or AMPS based) that became hot back in the 80’s. Anyway these have been cleared out thanks to the digital revolution and are available once again. Note, I think services like OnStar only very recently jumped off the band. Anyway, these rules basically realign the ownership rules to be geographic, more like the PCS, AWS and 700MHz spectrum.


So my theory is that the FCC may be preparing to swap LightSquared the 1500mHz GPS interfering spectrum for some 800Mhz. Just an idea. Nextel and Sprint got their PCS G block this way so it’s not unprecedented. 

Links: FCC

 Things are not going well for LightSquared. The FCC was waiting for the test results from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) with regards to granting LightSquared their right to broadcast from their satellite and 40K node terrestrial network. In the mail back in July was a letter from Lawerence E. Strickling, the Asst. Secretary for Communications and Information at the Department of Commerce, basically stating the interference to GPS from their terrestrial network is a show stopper. The FCC has assembled a working group of LightSquared and US GPS Industry Council folks to try to work it out and has told NTIA they ask for their feedback again if there were any changes from the working group. I think we’re going to go back an forth all year on this so, stay tuned for as the satellite turns…




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