Posts by: "Bijan Nowroozi"

Ever see the movie Groundhog Day starring the comedian Bill Murray? If you haven’t seen that movie the basic idea is that the main character wakes up every day at the same exact time to the same exact day….

Groundhog-Day-Posters Here’s the deal….

It’s Groundhog Day for LTE!

All of the carriers are doing the same old things, such as playing favorites with vendors instead of truly evaluating what’s good and needed, or performing design, optimization and operations the same way they have done since they were handed the script in 2G times.

It’s unsustainable.

Crazy amounts of wasted time and money are flowing into and around these networks and that is artificially keeping pricing high to the end consumer in a round about way. It’s weird because the operators themselves realize they need to trim up but they are sticking to the same ole same ole. It’s really close to the definition of insanity.

I get frustrated running into the same problems over and over again, as if last year’s lessons don’t apply today, and it doesn’t matter who’s name is on the door, same issues.

 

Let’s stop designing networks for noon users and spending emergency dollars for night users. It’s backwards. Let’s stop locking into a single vendor as if that’s a good idea anymore. It’s not. Dedicate yourselves to IOT testing and force the vendors to step up. The time you are losing waiting for the ‘preferred roadmap to materialize is far more than the time you delay testing a new vendor.

 

 

Jackie Chan WTF face

Saw this article on marketing-interactive.com related to global LTE speeds. Just thinking aloud, I can hypothesize that US carriers are likely to be a bit behind based on a few reasons. Primarily, in dense urbanized/established areas there’s more likely to be high bandwidth backhaul like fiber etc…whereas in the relatively new and spread out areas (rural) then there’s the Laws of Physics, spreading a signal out un NYC or Madrid is more difficult, it’s more confined (smaller cell radius = higher rates) than say the signals coming out of the boomer sites around the farmlands around Decatur, Texas and lastly there’s the finances. For whatever reason, some carriers don’t have to worry about balancing the books. All things being equal, you generally expect and see equivalent performance, therefore NYC’s per cell performance should be on par with London’s. 

Seems logical to me, except this report shows there are some anomalies (lumps) in the results! I think Australia meets 2/3rds of the USA’s criteria but manages to get very good performance with these constraints and on the other end Globe and Orange look like outliers. I have a good idea of what’s going on but I can only share that in private. Enjoy the article.

A new survey from British firm OpenSignal Inc. is putting the blazing LTE (Long Term Evolution) internet speed claims of Globe Telecom and Smart Communications to the test.

After crowd sourcing mobile coverage maps from 6 million users, OpenSignal in its February 2014 report “State of the LTE” revealed that the Philippines experienced LTE download speeds of 5.3 Mbps (megabits per second) on average, the slowest among the 16 countries surveyed.

Speed by CountryThe island nation was just next to the US with 5.3 Mbps at the bottom end of the poll. Also called as 4G, the technology boasts peak data speeds up to 42Mbps.

Globe and Smart were cited to have one of the poorest coverage and slowest LTE connection in the survey, with Globe noted to be “the worst performing network.”Slowest GIn terms of download speed, Smart is the fifth slowest network among 38 telcos surveyed with 4.42 Mbps. Globe was at seventh place with 6.46 Mbps.

But speed is only one indicator of LTE quality. Coverage is as important and on that measure the Philippines is the lowest among the 16 countries surveyed, with an average user having LTE access only 38% of the time.

Coverage is defined as the proportion of time a user has access to LTE, which OpenSignal gives a more accurate look on real-world use. Globe had the poorest score on this factor (below), with users having LTE access only 38% of the time. Smart fared slightly better with 46%

Time on LTE G

As of press time, Globe and Smart has not released a statement in reaction to latest OpenSignal report.

Australia boasts the fastest average LTE speed at 24.5 Mbps. Claro Brazil clocked the the fastest LTE network at 27.8 Mbps but is held back by “extremely limited” coverage at 42%.

South Korea users had access to LTE 91% of the time, which is the highest in the coverage poll. The best performing individual network is Tele 2 Sweden, whose users have LTE access 93% of the time and enjoy 17.6 Mbps speeds on average.

mwcbarcelona Firstly let me say that I’ve been developing products and building business and a greater pace than ever before. Unfortunately I have not made time to discuss LTE or SON that much, so I will try a bit harder. That being said, Mobile World Congress this year was just as a big boondoggle as it ever was. Spain is undoubtedly a fantastic place to hold such an event and the ONLY challenge that Barcelona had was facilitating the mass exodus of show attendees to their happy hour spots, hotels, get aways etc.. nightly. 

At the show, I was reminded that software is king. The number of software companies seems to be exponentially growing in this market, even to the point that Software Defined Radio (SDR) is (finally) seeing it’s day in the sun as a real alternative to ASIC based solutions. One of the solutions that caught my eye was from Octasic. Nothing earth shattering but the whole approach seems to be more well grounded than previous SDR attempts. Their reference boards for small cells were fairly well thought out and their head room to grow into the future solutions I threw at them seemed to be adequate.  In the past, heat / power consumption and cost tilted towards ASICs but that field seems to be leveling a bit. octasic-sdr4000 

One thing I was really trying to become more informed on was the PCell by Artemis. Unfortunately the closest I came to information about that development, that I can report, is that PureWave, supplier of components for the PCell is not saying anything yet. The only thing I can really say about pwave1 Artemis’ PCell is that these are more similar to the ALU LightRadio than Small Cells, generally speaking. If you are generally unfamiliar, in a nutshell, the PCell is supposed to allow full spectrum re-use per subscriber, vastly increasing capacity utilizing interference techniques. 

Download (SVG, Unknown)

The other tidbits that made an impression on me was Samsung S5, although widely advertised, seemed to be a little off in the distance, somewhat like Apple, as compared to Samsung’s normal immediate introductions. Their booth certainly advertised the S5 but you were not walking out and heading to a store to get one. Galaxy-S5-video-1

Huawei is running out of European new business. It’s amazing to me how dominant they are in Europe! Granted they are highly featured and low priced, but wow, what total domination of a market! 

There were lots of interesting companies at MWC, but on balance, there was nothing announced or revealed that changes everything.

Spain and Barcelona’s hospitality is great and if you have a chance to visit, take it!

Happy New Year 2014There’s so much going on in the industry now. Firstly we have the New Year. Happy New Year. I will continue my analysis from before, however things got interesting when the data showed something about specific vendor performance.

Last year LTE became mainstream for most technology reporters and we saw lots of drivel published. News wise, I think the key events from 2013 were : (1) the availability of LTE globally, (2) the start of roaming with AT&T’s announcement (with Rogers in Canada), (3) the Rockstar group Apple, BlackBerry, EMC, Ericsson, Microsoft, Sony- formed around Nortel’s LTE IPRs. (4) AT&T’s change of position on lower 700MHz spectrum (Specifically 3GPP Band 12) (5) Verizon’s  Carrier Aggregation (CA) and VoLTE trials.fig3_649x342 Most everything else was what I would call typical business activity.

CES2014

 There’s the CES show in Las Vegas, NV. going on now. So far there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of innovation, save for some of Intel’s little toys like a tiny computer the size of a golf ball and a ‘bowl’ that supports wireless charging. Most announcements are for smaller, thinner devices with more pixels,  wearable fitness trackers. There is a cool FLIR camera jacket for an iPhone but that’s not really what I would consider as innovative.  

I will keep my eyes open and we will take a look at whatever interesting pops up. Stay tuned!

 

Groovy Pic from VentureBeat at CES 2014.

Groovy Pic from VentureBeat at CES 2014.

PrintRecently Verizon made some waves by announcing their intention to deploy LTE Release 10, specifically the Carrier Aggregation (CA) feature. Naturally I have lots to say on this topic so I thought I would forget what I wanted to say and just hypothesize and prove if true or not. So today is the hypothesis.

Verizon’s over the air (OTA) efficiency is very low with their existing 700MHz deployed channel, and this will not significantly improve without any changes. Therefore, my hypothesis is that when they flip the switch nationwide (depends on device/UE availability of course)  that only people living in deep fades will realize a significant gain… and furthermore, AT&T’s OTA speeds won’t seem that far behind with their 10MHz vs Verizon’s 20MHz. That’s pretty bold but I have my reasons. I will close today with a very typical observation… a clue, from Verizon’s network. Screenshot_2013-12-12-17-44-24 Thanks to my handy WINd tool- I can make these measurements 24×7 with no hands ma…:)

I’ll try to be wrong or right tomorrow!

 

Ctia_logo_2010 Was expecting this for a while and it finally got done. Yea! If you have followed, I have written about the universal SKU device a lot, from a roaming perspective, UIM perspective and device engineering perspective. See here for some history. There was only the action piece to get through, so this post has lots of PDF documents to get through but the CTIA recommended Consumer Code for Wireless Service is the topic, so I’ll just summarize the 6 new points to add to the Consumer Code below. Below that I will put the FCC and CTIA documents and just above that my take on it…

breaking-newsNew stuff:

1. Disclosure.

Each carrier will post on its website its clear, concise, and readily accessible policy on postpaid and prepaid mobile wireless device unlocking.

2. Postpaid Unlocking Policy.

Carriers, upon request, will unlock mobile wireless devices or provide the necessary information to unlock their devicesfor their customers and former customers in good standing and individual owners of eligible devices after the fulfillment of the applicable postpaid service contract, device financing plan or payment of an applicable early termination fee.

3. Prepaid Unlocking Policy.

Carriers, upon request, will unlock prepaid mobile wireless devices no later than one year after initial activation, consistent with reasonable time, payment or usage requirements.

4. Notice.

Carriers that lock devices will clearly notify customers that their devices are eligible for unlocking at the time when their devices are eligible for unlocking or automatically unlock devices remotely when devices are eligible for unlocking, without additional fee.

5. Response Time.

Within two business days after receiving a request, carriers will unlock eligible mobile wireless devices or initiate a request to the OEM to unlock the eligible device, or provide an explanation of why the device does not qualify for unlocking, or why the carrier reasonably needs additional time to process the request.

6. Deployed Personnel Unlocking Policy.

Carriers will unlock mobile wireless devices for deployed military personnel who are customers in good standing upon provision of deployment

In my view this is a very good step forward in general. It took too long and it is being spun into a huge ‘favor’ to us for my taste but it’s getting done. This is completely voluntary so companies can not comply or stop without warning without any consequences. In my opinion, the end destination is for us to all have the ability to have any device go anywhere on any network, allowing us to vote with our $, whom we think is doing the best job for us at any time. Equipment OEMs need to keep pushing for universal RF front ends to make this a reality. Remaining challenges are: Embedded UIM vs removable and roaming agreements for LTE. This also will make Public Safety LTE trials easier too…. ha….Overall, a thumbs up!.

spock

imagesSo I’ve been waiting for this complaint to surface. The complaint is that LTE service is causing interference to 700MHz TV subscribers. The only thing was I expected it to be Over The Air (OTA) with Channel 51 DTV stations. I didn’t expect companies like Time Warner Cable (TWC) to publicly complain about the interference from the LTE UE uplink to their own subscribers. Here’s the scenario: In certain TWC markets, Verizon subscribers using LTE uplink (It seems there are WiFi less houses out there?) cause some interference to the TWC signal. This is cause as TWC has chosen to use this part of the spectrum over their coaxial cable for various channels. So instead of shifting their frequency around (which is very easy all things considered), they are going to push Verizon. I don’t think this is going to work out in TWCs favor though, because it only

700MHz spectrum chart

Our Friend, the 700MHz spectrum map

 affects the signal onscreen intermittently when the UE is in TX, and close by to the cables. To me it looks like the poor grounding and/or shielding of the cables and devices are allowing the external interference to pass. I guess I assumed that the FCC has a requirement (like part 12 etc…) for devices not to cause and to be immune to external interference. Anyway, maybe we can get a good lawsuit out of this one, and people can avoid the obvious solutions of using shielded cable, or TWC shifting their freq.’s over (Coaxial cable spectrum - isn’t there enough between 1 and 100GHz for them to find a sweet spot?) , an inline filter, or just giving the affected subscriber a WiFi connection.

Time warner Service Areas vs Verizon LTE Service Areas:

53421-time-warner-cable1

PrintDemo video below on YouTube from TWC.

It’s all just fun and games, TWC is just looking to see how much they can get out of the situation before having to assume responsibility to their subscriber and send them like $15/25 worth of materials… Incidentally, I wonder how much of Verizon’s cell site backhaul rides on TWC fiber in those areas too. Ha!

 

 

 

superman_facepalm_by_randomredneck

DailyTech has a pretty good write up….

Time Warner Cable Experiences Verizon LTE Interference in N.C.

 

 

the-secret-to-happiness Update: Serendipitously, Kevin Pritchard at GigOM just published an article on Verizon’s New network. I added some thinking about this below…

There’s disappointingly little to report from the Small Cell Forum meetings in Dallas, TX this week, was hoping for someone to make bold moves. Anyhow, ever notice that most LTE macro network operators are very hesitant to push the envelope as far as performance is concerned. It’s really surprising given that EVERYONE is deploying LTE, devices are more or less ubiquitous and so that really leaves performance and price as the key mobile data service differentiators. 

So that brings me to some recent press release I read about Root Metrics performance comparison of the US operators. Here is a sample of their data:

Average download and upload speeds by carrier 

AT&T: 17.0 Mbps download/7.6 Mbps upload
Verizon: 11.9 Mbps download/5.0 Mbps upload
T-Mobile: 10.9 Mbps download/4.9 Mbps upload
Sprint: 5.7 Mbps download/2.5 Mbps upload
Cricket: 0.6 Mbps download/0.4 Mbps upload

Let’s re-frame this data a little bit. Here is a comparison of Now to Then…

comparison_LTE_may12-June13

So what gives???

Verizon admits it can’t handle LTE demand in major cities (Nov-2013)

AT&T Is Deploying Intucell’s SON Technology as Part of Latest Wireless Network Upgrades (Feb-2012)

SON eh? There are other things they are doing but there are lots of things they are NOT doing either….

comparison_LTE_may12-June13_eff

To be fair, there’s a little uneven playing field here- Verizon has more extensive LTE coverage and more users, therefore you could argue the loading was not identical but on the other hand, with SON on your side, that’s is always true. 

Update!

As I mentioned above, Kevin Pritchard at GigaOM published an article titled “Verizon quietly unleashes its LTE monster, tripling 4G capacity in major cities”  BTW there is a similar article written 15 October 13 By Andrew Martonik in Android Central…Verizon deploying LTE on AWS spectrum in major markets

Here is the summary:

On the third anniversary of its LTE launch, Verizon is delivering a new 4G network. Over the last few months, it’s been quietly deploying the fastest, highest capacity LTE network in the country.

The GigaOM article touts the NEW Verizon network. Hmmm. So let’s look at this 2 ways. Firstly, for existing UEs, The current crop of RF baseband processors in devices like the Qualcomm 9615/Snapdragon 600/800 etc… support up to 3GPP Release 9, therefore most of the devices will only support 1 frequency at a time. I’ll explain why I said that in a bit. This means that old devices will remain on Verizon’s Band 13 (Upper 700MHz) AND only new devices (example: Nexus 5, Samsung S4 USA Version, iPhone 5S/c) will support their new AWS Band. So the capacity crunch won’t immediately feel much better. Next, the best that a user in each band can hope for from the network is 84Mbps peak or somewhere around 11-17Mbps per the tested results above. 

The reason I said 1 frequency at a time is that 3GPP Release 10 introduces a new feature called carrier aggregation. This allows the network and device to bundle multiple spectrums into a logical channel. In Verizon’s case this could be AWS and 700MHz channels sooner and PCS and 800 as time moves forward (and they refarm their existing spectrum.) So the good news is these users will see peaks closer to 150Mbps. I would call that the NEW Verizon network for sure. The bad news is the only device that currently supports that is a Korean market Samsung S4.

Qualcomm has added support for Carrier Aggregation in MDM9225 and MDM9625, so eagerly anticipate a faster Samsung S5 or Apple iPhone 6. So in summary, it’s a bit early to tout that Verizon has a NEW network. Back to my original point, until they get Carrier Aggregation, their spectrum efficiency of 1.19 vs AT&T’s of 1.7 won’t change much!

To the average consumer this means generally, slightly, slower throughput if a Verizon subscriber and Verizon is paying about a 30% premium over the air to provide the bits to you versus AT&T.

So it looks from afar that AT&T’s investment in SON is saving them at least 30% compared to their biggest competitor with identical spectrum. What’s holding everyone back from massive SON implementation again??

Lastly, the GigaOM article mentions that AT&T cannot do the same. Well, they could have if they converted their network to TDD, then they would have an even faster (peaks) network with 20MHz aggregated from existing then they could throw their MediaFlo spectrum (lower 700MHz unpaired block) at it. Instead they will go shopping. They tried to pick up TMO and use that AWS but it looks like the Band 12 guys just cashed in their golden tickets…

Stay thirsty my friends…most-interesting-man-in-the-world

 

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84kb cropped version The Small Cell Americas Conference and Small Cell Forum events are taking place this week in Dallas, Texas. This makes me think back in time….smallcellsamerica I first started discussing small cells as a product in 2002, at Samsung, and 11 years later we have progressed very little in the way technology normally goes. From what I can say, there have been 3 major hurdles that have not helped here. 

1. Big iron OEMs make lots of $ from macro cells. They have not seen a business plan that makes sense to them, you know where they introduce a product that essentially cannibalizes their existing revenue stream and converts $40K units into $400 units.

2. The operators are not exactly sure what to do here. Firstly, they have a business model that is pretty tight. They price a flashy new user device at an attractive price (normally break even or lossy), then subsidize this purchase with the anticipated 2 year service revenue. Notice there was no cell in the spreadsheet that was for small cell in that revenue plan. I’ve witnessed arguments between company executives over whom would actually ‘pay’ for the device, example, is it a marketing expense or is it an operations expense? Let’s call this one chicken and egg.

The egg: chickenegg1

They ask themselves, what will the consumer think of us, or another way, does sending a consumer a small cell signal to the public that our coverage is poor (even if it really is, and forget that it’s cheaper to operate a good network than a poor one)?

Here is an example of the back of napkin numbers that US wireless guys go through in this argument….

Per New subscriber: (So operators outside of the US have a similar calculation, but with smaller numbers- US customers are just gouged that way and, no, Called Party Pays is not the difference.)

  1. New device cost: -$899
  2. Customer Paid: $200
  3. Lifetime Service Revenue: (ARPU X 24) ($109.67x 24 = $2632.08)
  4. Small Cell Cost: -$599
  5. Total Adjusted Revenue: $2033.08

Then they say something like, “Now you can plainly see we can’t afford this device at this price” and you are supposed to agree.

Naturally, the chicken would be:

…a small cell to ensure this coverage is perfect at that spot. Don’t forget, the OEM’s are not exactly cheering on the operator’s executives to figure this one out either. Count on these OEMs to throw anything that is really smoky on this campfire pow wow.

3. Exactly what is the business plan for the small cell manufacturer? Before chipsets came to the rescue, they needed to spend many millions on R&D to create a small cell, all very hard to justify at really low unit prices without large commitments in volume. Compounding the problem here: operators not promising small cell unit volume based on challenges above. This situation marginally improved when Qualcomm, Ubiquisys, MindSpeed+picochip, TI etc came with that piece but there are still large investments to make to bring one to market. R77_Small_Cells_T1

So, making a low cost device is not without market promise of volume. Unfortunately, there have been very limited distributions of small cells from operators and the numbers aren’t there.  I won’t talk about the other costs (based on complexity) of integrating the SIP based femto core into the networks- that’s a fiasco story for another day.

There are other hurdles but they are minor in comparison. Anyway, for all the promise of small cells, the only definitive thing that’s happened is WiFi is everywhere. You know, THAT, Wifi, that the carriers haven’t been able to monetize… It’s getting depressing- ugh, I’ll stop here…but as you know the story continues…We can finish this chat later….

Oh yeah- here’s a cool presentation from today’s conference….


From www.qualcomm.com/chipsets/femtocell

The unprecedented growth in mobile data consumption, driven by smart phones and other data intensive devices, highlights the need for improved coverage and increased data throughput for subscribers. More than 70% of mobile voice and data traffic is generated indoors (Informa 2008). Unfortunately, macro base stations are located outdoors. Providing coverage from the “outside in” can result in a poor end user experience. In a macro network, user experience can be affected by several factors:

  • Cell size
  • Users distance from the cell tower
  • Backhaul
  • Number of users
  • Traffic levels

Femtocells allow operators to target capex where it is needed by bringing the network access point closer to the mobile user. This enables a higher data connection and an improved user experience. Qualcomm’s femtocell platform helps mobile operators stay competitive and respond to emerging technologies, while increasing coverage and the overall mobile network capacity with greater spectrum reuse for the operator. The Qualcomm platform will provide a flexible, fully integrated System on Chip (SoC) that allows equipment manufacturers and operators to deliver a best-in-class solution with the highest levels of integration and performance.

Increased interference is a concern when operators consider dense femtocell deployments to improve performance. Qualcomm has completed extensive performance analysis, simulations and field tests and developed innovative techniques to address the issue of interference management. These techniques and algorithms will ensure that the femtocell platform delivers a reliable user experience as a mobile phone moves from femtocell to macrocell.

Qualcomm is an active member of the Femto Forum and a key contributor to the Femto Forum white paper, Interference Management in UMTS Femtocells. As a result of research associated with this paper as well as extensive simulation and analysis done independently, Qualcomm has determined four key areas to successful interference management.

 

 

fig,black,mens,ffffff.u1 My pal Zahid spotted a very good presentation about the Future of Broadband, by Martin Geddes. His post was titled “Bandwidth is not the answer – it’s stationarity” The point of the presentation is that Quality of Experience is still not being respected/monitored. Amen! I have been telling people this for a long time so, it’s good for me to see this elsewhere (I don’t feel like I’m all alone…)  go Zahid, go! Oh yeah, the key thing about this presentation is, keep your eye on what’s important. For example, more bandwidth is NOT more important than a consistent level of service. YES! 

So, in conclusion, this Thanksgiving (USA), I’m thankful that Cisco and Amdocs valued SON, and that there’s someone actually concerned with what is really important. :)

Oh yeah, I’m also thankful that I’m able to work on the next, next thing, that throws everything on it’s ear… more on that later…


Oh, BTW-the cool shirt is @ Redbubble.  

 

 

 

VoLTE

VoLTE

Voice over LTE (VoLTE) is the next big thing. In fact, in 24 months, virtually all LTE enabled smart phones will support it. Curious?
Small Cells

Small Cells

Small Cells, previously known as 'femto' or 'pico' cells are possibly a savior to network operators. They offer capacity and coverage to the end user and are inexpensive for the network operator. Why aren't they everywhere?
Public Safety

Public Safety

LTE is and ideal technology for Public Safety use. See Why.