Currently viewing the tag: "VoLTE"

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.

OK, this is the third update thanks to the upcoming Mobile World Congress (MWC.) Altair made their PR about their updated part last night after this list went public so I have added Altair’s latest processor to the matrix. 
Samsung CMC221

**Updated with GCT Semi, Renesys**

 OK, I’ve been industrious lately.I needed some information to improve a model that used LTE devices. I  was able to use the left overs and put them into a table here and did my part for recycling. Here’s the data, hopefully you can find some use for it.

Anyway, I remember reading lately in various blogs and news outlets that Qualcomm is about to get pressed as far as competition and they had better look out.

You can see from this chart that (A) the competition is already here and (B) they are still ahead. It looks like Qualcomm took the CDMA 1X dilemma and made lemonade.

Probably the best 4G per specifications seems to be Altair and Sequans seem to be slightly ahead of everyone else, attributable to their SDR architecture. They both have interference cancellation techniques which will become required for all future vendors to keep up. Broadcom, Marvell and Renesys are fairly close in published standards and seem to be only 1 generation behind Qualcomm.sqn3120

Another curious thing popped out at me, Apple is nearly alone at the top with a multi-chip solution. The SoCs are winning lots of marketshare. The partial exception is the Samsung Galaxy S3, which requires a 2nd chip for CDMA 1x, but that is rumored to be fixed in the next version. 

One other anomaly, Cavium purchased Wavesat with Odyssey and so far looks to be doing nothing with their $10M USD investment.

UE_categories

 

 

Column guide:

  • 3GPP Release = Supported features from the latest LTE 3GPP Release (Ex; Carrier aggregation support is in Release 10)
  • 3G = 3G on board or off board. 3GPP = HSPA/WCDMA and 3GPP2 = 1XCDMA/EVDO
  • UE Category (See table at left.) A category 4 UE is capable of 150Mbps.

 

Full table after the Next…

 

sprint + FreedomPOP MVNO LTE Experiement A curious market experiment is taking place. I’ll explain. FreedomPop, an Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) founded in 2011 and based in Los Angeles, is offering 500MB of free wireless data over LTE for their customers. They are marketing a DSL type of replacement service with a LTE gateway and LTE mobile service through dongles, usb attachments for tablets and iPods. Their business model seems to be to over 4G LTE services as an MVNO by appealing to the lower end of the market with the offer of free data, low device costs, and opportunities to increase the amount of free data (beyond the initial 500MB) through mobile ads.

I think this is interesting from several angles.

Firstly, FreedomPop, at the moment is positioned as data only MVNO, unlike the multitudes of voice centric MVNO’s in the North American marketplace. This is interesting because they will either be complementing or competing with Clear on Sprint. If there is Clear then why FreedomPop…not ‘clear’ to me yet. The guys at prepaidreviews.com have a nifty chart that shows the present relationships in the NA MVNO space.

MVNO Chart So the first question is, does FreedomPop fill a market segment underserved today? Not clear…haha…couldn’t resist. Maybe.

freedom hub in box

Yes, the second angle is target market. They are offering a DSL replacement service via their LTE gateway called the Freedom Hub Burst. This is a good idea generally speaking to serve the underserved, but this is exactly what Clear is doing. If the top end of the market, unlimited @ $49.99/mo is served by Clear, this is a complementary new bottom end offer to grow the total base. 

freedom-sleeve-rocket-001They are selling a sleeve for an iPod to add connectivity, which is shown to the left and is called the Freedom Sleeve Rocket and a small form factor attachment to tablets to add mobile 4G to WiFi only tablets called Freedom Pop LTE Clip. To me this represents the underserved lower end of the market that could not afford to add mobile broadband to their device purchase initially and/or people purchasing these devices in a secondary/used market and now are attracted to mobile internet. 

Third interesting angle is they are apparently planning to offer an open WiFi hotspot service and/or device. Tell me that an open WiFi hotspot won’t drive service demand. At an extra $10 per GB, this could get costly for the poor fellow that gets one. On the other hand, I wonder how they will deal with guys who think like I do. I would get this hotspot, and free 500MB of monthly data and use it for connected embedded devices like refrigerators, picture frames, alarm systems etc. It may be locked down where you cannot turn on WPA type of security and that would discourage people like me from using it that way. Either way, driving demand is a good thing from their standpoint.

Last angle to discuss is the service subsidy. They are planning to offer opportunities for their subscribers to get more free data through mobile advertising participation, referral to friends, joint offers with partners like Netflix and so on. I think this is probably a the most facinating angle of all to me. Mea culpa, I have long advocated this, so yeah, I’m interested in the outcome, however this has not been systematically tried like this before in the mobile broadband arena. Seems to me, if they can find compelling opportunities this alone may help build the base. Maybe the free WiFi hotspot could add some free data to your monthly quota by just using the FreedomPop hotspot name as advertising to build interest. I may be compelled to put it in my car for my kids if that were true. There are so many ways this could get really interesting. Again, I think this could be the secret sauce in the end.

It’s also worth noting, the lack of a voice offering makes me wonder if they are waiting to offer VoLTE type of devices for your vocal pleasure? There has been no public mention of this but I can’t help but think that since they are focusing on LTE and not WiMAX as their platform, and they are looking to head down the path of enabling connectivity over LTE, then this must be a future possibility for them.

So at the end of the day, FreedomPop is a very interesting experiment being tried out by DCM, Mangrove Capital Partners  and  Atomico/Niklas Zennstrom to build a business as a $10/mo no contract 4G LTE MVNO. There’s nothing clearly wrong with their approach nor overly innovative or different, but maybe the interesting mix of target markets, devices and market savvy like offering free 500MB of mobile broadband will be compelling to the market. Who knows, with popularity maybe the whole marketplace will need to react, and that could be a good thing…

Very fascinating.

live long and prosper Spock

 

 Now the Blogosphere is incessantly echoing this story … I first noticed in GigaOM, their story is really Fear Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) extremist journalism (how’s that?) Their story is linked below.

Voice Calls Over 4G LTE Networks Are Battery Killers

The key quote is:

The results of those tests should give carriers and consumers pause. The average power consumption for a 10-minute CDMA circuit-switched call was 680 milliwatts (mW), while the average consumption for a VoLTE call of the same duration was 1,358 mW. That’s double the power drain. Spirent estimated that on a full charge, its test smartphone could support 502.6 minutes of talk time using CDMA only, but the same charge would deliver just 251.8 minutes of talk time using VoIP on the 4G network.

So as a quick refresher, VoLTE (Voice over LTE) calls are similar to the 3G/2G counterparts with VoCODING and so on, but are carried like VoIP, over LTE packets back to the network, where instead of a circuit switch there is an IMS for calls etc etc…

Some related info from before…

Mobile Wireless HD Voice Today and VoLTE in the Future

 Firstly measuring battery consumption is a brute force thing to do here but it does expose the maturity of VoLTE clients at the moment, so I will give them that. The FUD part of it is that the client on the device they tested is really not like anything on a 2G/3G voice phone today. Most of the grunt work of a 2G/3G call takes place in hardware on the phone, with the phone’s UI being the only significant software piece. Voice calling has been optimized in hardware over the years to consume very little power as there is no need for memory, CPU etc… 

On the other hand, the current crop of VoLTE clients are running the whole VoLTE protocol ‘stack’ (SIP + more) in software plus running the VoCODING at this point in software. The bottom line is today’s VoLTE clients are CPU hogs that do use CPU, memory, UI, etc…but are very UN-OPTIMIZED. Let’s give the developers a year or two to optimize the solution and come back and measure. In the end, there will be no difference in power consumption on average.

Let’s stop getting hysterical!

 

Last Friday, in the US, the 10th of August, Sprint announced it had awarded Samsung and Alcatel Lucent contracts to provide small cells. Currently, Airwalk provides enterprise class small cells and Airvana their residential (femto) small cells for CDMA 1x/EVDO. This recent announcement seems centered around LTE, Samsung’s part to play focused on indoor small cells (they provided the first 400K CDMA femtocells) and ALU most likely a LightRadio win, thus outdoor focused with WiFi potential too. Further, it’s most likely that Samsung’s small cell will again be alone (head start of 9-15 months) in it’s ability to interwork CDMA and LTE as they roll their own chipsets whereas the other vendors are part of Qualcomm’s ecosystem. 

This is a first ‘major’ announcement, and NOW we can expect full wide scale deployment of small cells….See, there we go, ip.access just announced a few hours ago they also have 5 customers.

This could be the first chess move towards Sprint moving towards VoLTE too…

Full PR below…

That took forever…

 

 

See the cool concept small cell from ip.access? They focus on WCDMA/HSPA and LTE where as the Samsung focus is more CDMA and LTE, and ALU just LTE and WiFi for now…

 

 

Alcatel Lucent’s Cool Light Radio:


Links: alcatelucent.com, youtube.com, Samsung, ip.access

ip.access Press Release

14th August 2012

ip.access on target for Small Cell LTE Roll-out

First units already shipped to customers

Cambridge, Aug 14th 2012: ip.access today confirmed that it had already shipped an LTE-only version of its new E-100 dual mode access point to five customers for laboratory and field trials. This is an important staging point in the process of moving towards full commercial deployments and represents the company’s first LTE product shipments.

Announcing the shipments, ip.access CEO Simon Brown said: “Customer interest has been strong in the E-100 and we have invested in accelerating the programme in order to meet that demand.

“Indeed, our commitment to increased R&D into understanding and delivering on all the end-to-end requirements of the developing small cell network layer – from access points to network gateways and management systems – is now paying dividends; gaining recognition and support from network operators, system integrators, our partners and the industry in general.”

The E-100 is a small cell Access Point targeted for use in enterprises and public indoor environments. The device will provide simultaneous 4G and 3G mobile phone signals with data speeds of up to 150 Mbps and 42 Mbps respectively and will also be able to support WiFi as an optional module.

ip.access founder and CTO Nick Johnson said: “Small cells will have a vital role to play in delivering LTE’s promise of high-speed data for the mass-market and the E-100 will allow operators to quickly deploy that capacity exactly where it is needed.”
The E-100 will be integrated into ip.access’ nanoConverge end-to-end small cell solution architecture, allowing operators to deploy the E-100 alongside the company’s existing 3G small cells using the same gateways and network management system.

Last month, judges at the Small Cells Forum industry awards gave ip.access a special award for its Network Orchestration System small cell layer next generation management tool and its nanoConverge combined 3G/LTE network gateway.

 

Samsung Press Release

August 10, 2012 in Mobile

SAMSUNG Network Infrastructure to Complement Sprint Network Vision with LTE Small Cell Deployment Program Award

Samsung will leverage its strong business alliance with Sprint, and expertise in 3G and 4G infrastructure and managed services to improve coverage and speed for Sprint customers

DALLAS and KANSAS CITY – August 9, 2012 – Samsung Telecommunications America (Samsung Mobile), the No. 1 mobile phone provider in the United States and a leading provider of 3G and 4G network infrastructure, has been chosen to help develop Small Cell Network Infrastructure for Sprint’s (NYSE: S) Network Vision Program. Sprint’s Network Vision is a multi-year initiative to enhance Sprint customers’ network experience, including improvements in coverage, quality and speed by deploying multi-mode base stations capable of supporting various spectrum bands.

Sprint and Samsung engineers collaborated to develop products to significantly expand the coverage and capacity of the Sprint network utilizing Samsung’s small cells. For these small cell rollouts, Sprint plans to deploy a heterogeneous network, or HetNet, that targets high traffic indoor areas and hundreds of high capacity public venues such as stadiums, conference centers, office complexes, hotels, and airports.

“Our ongoing work with Sprint’s Network Vision demonstrates Samsung’s commitment to developing custom solutions with our leading carrier customers. This new award will allow Sprint to meet increasing demand for coverage and capacity while consolidating multiple legacy networks and spectrum bands in a single platform,” said Dale Sohn, president of Samsung Mobile. “The deployment of our small cell technology will enhance Sprint’s network and demonstrates the strength of Samsung’s infrastructure offering.”

Samsung initially became involved in the Network Vision program in December 2010. The two companies also collaborate closely to deliver Sprint’s 56 million customers nationwide 4G LTETM devices including the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and Samsung Galaxy S III® wireless handsets.

“Network Vision is all about improving the network experience for our customers,” said Bob Azzi, senior vice president of network operations for Sprint. “We are excited to expand our relationship with Samsung with their inclusion in the small cell program and provide customers with the cutting edge network they need to keep up with the cutting edge phones Sprint offers.”

With more than 30 years of telecommunications experience, Samsung is the only telecommunications infrastructure vendor providing end-to-end solutions for all major network technologies from chipsets and infrastructure, to mobile devices.

Samsung, Galaxy, and Galaxy S are all trademarks of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. All other company names, product names and marks are the property of their respective owners and may be trademarks or registered trademarks.

About Sprint Nextel 
Sprint Nextel offers a comprehensive range of wireless and wireline communications services bringing the freedom of mobility to consumers, businesses and government users. Sprint Nextel served more than 56 million customers at the end of the second quarter of 2012 and is widely recognized for developing, engineering and deploying innovative technologies, including the first wireless 4G service from a national carrier in the United States; offering industry-leading mobile data services, leading prepaid brands including Virgin Mobile USA, Boost Mobile, and Assurance Wireless; instant national and international push-to-talk capabilities; and a global Tier 1 Internet backbone. The American Customer Satisfaction Index rated Sprint No. 1 among all national carriers in customer satisfaction and most improved, across all 47 industries, during the last four years. Newsweek ranked Sprint No. 3 in its 2011 Green Rankings, listing it as one of the nation’s greenest companies, the highest of any telecommunications company. You can learn more and visit Sprint at www.sprint.com or www.facebook.com/sprint and www.twitter.com/sprint.

About Samsung Telecommunications America

Samsung Telecommunications America, LLC, a Dallas-based subsidiary of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., researches, develops and markets wireless handsets, wireless infrastructure and other telecommunications products throughout North America. For more information, please visit www.samsung.com.

About Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. is a global leader in semiconductor, telecommunication, digital media and digital convergence technologies with 2011 consolidated sales of US$143.1 billion. Employing approximately 206,000 people in 197 offices across 72 countries, the company operates two separate organizations to coordinate its nine independent business units: Digital Media & Communications, comprising Visual Display, Mobile Communications, Telecommunication Systems, Digital Appliances, IT Solutions, and Digital Imaging; and Device Solutions, consisting of Memory, System LSI and LED. Recognized for its industry-leading performance across a range of economic, environmental and social criteria, Samsung Electronics was named the world’s most sustainable technology company in the 2011 Dow Jones Sustainability Index. For more information, please visit www.samsung.com.

ALU Press Release

Sprint to leverage Alcatel-Lucent’s lightRadio to bring high-capacity 4G LTE mobile broadband coverage and speeds to busy public locations

lightRadio Metro Cells to be deployed on Sprint’s network to deliver extra capacity and better quality connections in locations such as stadiums and campusesOverland Park, Kan. and Paris – August 6, 2012 – Alcatel-Lucent (Euronext Paris and NYSE: ALU) and U.S. service provider Sprint (NYSE: S) are today announcing an agreement to deploy Alcatel-Lucent’s lightRadio™ Metro Cells to augment coverage in high-traffic areas. Metro cells are mini base stations that can easily be deployed indoors or outdoors on lamp posts or street signs, inside shopping malls or stadiums to provide enhanced capacity. They can also fill gaps in coverage – created by buildings – in densely populated urban locations. Sprint’s initial deployment will focus on indoor applications, including entertainment venues, transportation hubs and business campuses. By deploying metro cells, Sprint expects to deliver a better broadband experience to more of its subscribers in these high-traffic areas and will help reduce costs in the process.The growing adoption of smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices has resulted in an increased demand for Internet access, video and other mobile data services. At sporting events, popular shopping venues and other social and business occasions, large numbers of people are accessing social networking sites, sharing videos, playing Internet games and making voice and video calls, putting stress on mobile service providers’ cellular networks. This can lead to dropped calls, slower data connections and reduce the subscriber’s mobile broadband experience.To address this fast-growing demand for data, Sprint is building an all-new network, an initiative known as Network Vision. This new network will include the deployment of a new, improved 3G network and 4G LTE. Small cell technology complements the Network Vision plan by providing a lower cost infrastructure to expand coverage and capacity in targeted high usage areas. “Sprint is a leader in innovation, and as such, we want our customers to enjoy the latest high-bandwidth services and applications,” said Bob Azzi, Sprint senior vice president-Network. “With Alcatel-Lucent’s lightRadio Metro Cells we will be able to increase our coverage and capacity where it’s needed.”Robert Vrij, president of Alcatel-Lucent’s Americas Region and head of Global Strategic Alliances, said enhancing mobile broadband coverage in busy public areas is a top priority for many service providers. “As a leader in small cell technology, Alcatel-Lucent is in an ideal position to address this challenge,” he said. “By selecting our lightRadio Metro Cells, Sprint can offer its customers the quality of mobile broadband experience they expect, keeping them connected wherever they are.”Alcatel-Lucent’s lightRadio technology supports the full range of wireless technologies, including 2G, 3G and 4G LTE, and Wi-Fi. This provides mobile operators with the capability to grow their network capacity to meet exploding demand for data services with higher speeds and in a smaller physical space. lightRadio also addresses many other operator challenges, including reducing power consumption for a greener footprint and providing a deployment solution that helps operators bridge the digital divide for people without Internet access.Alcatel-Lucent will provide Sprint with the lightRadio™-based Metro Cell portfolio of products which are capable of supporting outdoor, urban hotspot, rural and indoor applications.

To date, Alcatel-Lucent has 39 commercial small cell deployment agreements and more than 20 ongoing trials.

About Sprint Nextel

Sprint Nextel offers a comprehensive range of wireless and wireline communications services bringing the freedom of mobility to consumers, businesses and government users. Sprint Nextel served more than 56 million customers at the end of the second quarter of 2012 and is widely recognized for developing, engineering and deploying innovative technologies, including the first wireless 4G service from a national carrier in the United States; offering industry-leading mobile data services, leading prepaid brands including Virgin Mobile USA, Boost Mobile, and Assurance Wireless; instant national and international push-to-talk capabilities; and a global Tier 1 Internet backbone. The American Customer Satisfaction Index rated Sprint No. 1 among all national carriers in customer satisfaction and most improved, across all 47 industries, during the last four years. Newsweek ranked Sprint No. 3 in its 2011 Green Rankings, listing it as one of the nation’s greenest companies, the highest of any telecommunications company. You can learn more and visit Sprint at external linkwww.sprint.com or external linkwww.facebook.com/sprint and external linkwww.twitter.com/sprint.

Sprint Nextel Media Contact:

Kelly Schlageter

703-592-8809
[email protected]

About Alcatel-Lucent (Euronext Paris and NYSE: ALU)The long-trusted partner of service providers, enterprises and governments around the world, Alcatel-Lucent is a leading innovator in the field of networking and communications technology, products and services. The company is home to Bell Labs, one of the world’s foremost research centers, responsible for breakthroughs that have shaped the networking and communications industry. Alcatel-Lucent was named one of MIT Technology Review’s 2012 Top 50 list of the “World’s Most Innovative Companies” for breakthroughs such as lightRadio™, which cuts power consumption and operating costs on wireless networks while delivering lightning fast Internet access. Through such innovations, Alcatel-Lucent is making communications more sustainable, more affordable and more accessible as we pursue our mission – Realizing the Potential of a Connected World.With operations in more than 130 countries and one of the most experienced global services organizations in the industry, Alcatel-Lucent is a local partner with global reach. The Company achieved revenues of Euro 15.3 billion in 2011 and is incorporated in France and headquartered in Paris.For more information, visit Alcatel-Lucent on: http://www.alcatel-lucent.com, read the latest posts on the Alcatel-Lucent blog: http://www.alcatel-lucent.com/blog and follow the Company on Twitter: external linkhttp://twitter.com/Alcatel_Lucent.Contact the Alcatel-Lucent Press Office:[email protected]

Metro announces they sold their first VoLTE phone in the Dallas market tonight (07Aug12), the LG Connect 4G Android™. This is a necessary step for Metro as they will now be able to offer simultaneous voice and data for the first time now (SVLTE) and helps address the lack of spectrum they face in a few markets. I imagine they will w

ant/need to go down from AMR 14.4 voice coding in the future (default for VoLTE) due to the lack of efficiency compared to the EVRC-B that they are using today but they can surely start there. Also note, with the IMS client on the LG Connect, this device can also technically (InterRAT) handover to a WiFi channel (assuming they have deployed edge security and ePDG in the network), so they can technically have offload very rapidly, no small cells to deploy. This could be very interesting.

BTW, SK Telecom and LG Uplus announced their launches today too, so there was apparently a race on to be the first in the world, although the Korean launches seem to feature HD voice with a wideband Vocoder.

Gold/silver/bronze finish for US and S.Korea…

 

The full Press Release is at the bottom…

 Now full disclosure here: I have been involved with MetroPCS’s (again should we go to MetroLTE?) LTE involvement from the time it was a what if scenario. OK, fast forward…so I’m reading Bloomberg, Reuters etc… and they are going on about the good results from MetroPCS. Let’s review. Reuters specifically says: 

At the end of the second quarter, the company said, about 8 percent of its subscribers were using its so-called fourth generation high-speed service, which is based on a technology known as Long Term Evolution.

The company’s service revenue rose 4 percent to $1.16 billion for the quarter. Quarterly average revenue per user was $40.62, up 13 cents from a year earlier.

MetroPCS posted a net subscriber loss of 186,000 in the second quarter. Analysts had been expecting its subscriber numbers to fall by 94,000 to 174,000, according to four analysts contacted by Reuters.

The company said it expects to boost subscriber growth with 4G LTE For All, a line of affordable 4G LTE smartphones it plans to launch in the second half of 2012.

“During the fourth quarter, we expect our 4G LTE For All initiative to lead to a return to subscriber growth,” Chief Executive Roger Linquist said in a statement.

Churn — or customer defection rate — fell by half a percentage point to 3.4 percent for the quarter.

So the key points that stuck out to me are:

  • Metro is shedding their prepaid voice subscribers but gaining sticky LTE subscribers. 
  • Metro expects to grow subscribers- LTE subscribers
  • OPEX doesn’t seem to be out of control with prepaid all you can eat LTE data users.
  • They are planning to refarm their CDMA spectrum using VoLTE and presumably an all LTE device line up.
  • Churn is down so customers seem to be happy
MetroPCS deployed LTE on their existing AWS and PCS spectrum. Many said they couldn’t be successful on such limited spectrum. Metro even made tough choices with their towers and antennae to deploy but not break the bank. That took some courage. Also worth noting, they are completely prepaid so customers are buying these smartphones outright. LTE smartphones to boot.
So the big (public) bets placed by Metro’s exec team like skipping EVDO and heading for LTE with their prepaid customer model intact seems to be working for them. This is a good thing for MPCS shareholders but a really good thing for consumers (with an interest in wireless services) in general. It must have been a moment to sit in their conference room and get the news that the bets are paying off. So obviously they have their work cut out for them, they need more LTE devices from more OEMs, they need more spectrum to both improve performance and meet the demand from their growing customer base, and to do that they will either need to buy more spectrum or deploy VoLTE (with the associated IMS integration, UE clients etc…) to help them refarm the existing CDMA spectrum. That’s a lot to get done!
Go MetroPCS!
Links: reuters.com, prnewswire.com


MetroPCS Launches World’s First Commercially Available Voice Over LTE Service and VoLTE-Capable 4G LTE Smartphone (via PR Newswire)

DALLAS, Aug. 7, 2012 /PRNewswire/ – MetroPCS Communications, Inc. (NYSE: PCS) today reached another innovation milestone by announcing the world’s first commercial launch of Voice over LTE (VoLTE) services, availability of the world’s first VoLTE-capable handsets and the first sale of a VoLTE-capable…

Read Full Article →

 

I just wanted to add a link to Qualcomm’s latest HD Voice Video. It has some good description of the voice improvements going into their chipsets. This is probably a strong reason not to jump off their platform but there are other ways to create these same improvements.

HD Voice is starting to get some attention with the recent launches by Orange and Sprint. As the hypeometer’s needle climbs, there will be a lot of attention focused in this area. I just wanted to put a few facts out there to keep it all straight. These operators have actually different technologies behind their HD Voice launches that eventually merge at VoLTE. I saw some silliness about the HD Voice launches in AnandTech and other places so let’s get started…

Technologies

First a brief history of the universe, starting with current voice technologies used with 3G networks.

Narrowband voice coding has been used in digital cellular systems since the beginning. Today’s smartphones typically employ EVRC for CDMA2000/3GPP2 based networks with a fraction of those employing the more advanced EVRC-B algorithm and AMR for UMTS/3GPP networks. EVRC and AMR are CODECs to transform voice into digitized speech using low amounts of bandwidth/throughput with a primary technique being limiting the input frequency ranges.

This chart shows the tradeoffs involved…

The measurement of voice is based on sampling a population of listeners that rate the quality of the spoken sentences after coding and decoding by an algorithm. Listeners are asked to (subjectively) rate the recordings they heard vs a reference standard. The reference standards are like (A) direct recording of voices or (B) Pulse Code Modulation (PCM) at 64Kbps known in standards as G.711. Here is an example of the rating questions:

This is an experiment to determine the perceived quality of speech over the telephone. You will be listening to a number of recorded speech samples, spoken by several different talkers, and you will be rating how good you think they sound.
Use the single headphone on the ear you normally use for the telephone. On each trial a two- sentence sample will be played. After you have listened to the sample, determine the category from the list below which best describes the overall quality of the sample. Press the numeric key on your keyboard corresponding to your rating for how good or bad that particular passage sounded.
Select the category which best describes the sample you just heard for purposes of everyday speech communication.
The OVERALL SPEECH SAMPLE was:
5 – EXCELLENT
4 – GOOD
3 - FAIR
2 – POOR
1 – BAD

EVRC compresses each 20 milliseconds of (300-3200 Hz), 16-bit sampled speech input into output frames of one of three different sizes: full rate of 171 bits (8.55 kbit/s), half rate of 80 bits (4.0 kbit/s), eighth rate of 16 bits (0.8 kbit/s). EVRC has a peak bitrate of 8.5Kbps, a minimum of 0.8Kbps and ‘conversational’ planning rate of 6Kbps. 

3GPP2 EVRC Standards:  3GPP2 C.S0014-D

The AMR (Adaptive Multi-Rate) codec encodes narrowband (200-3400 Hz) signals for each 20 milliseconds of 8000 Hz at variable bit rates ranging from 4.75 to 12.2 kbps with toll quality speech starting at 7.4 kbps. AMR has a peak bitrate of 12.2Kbps, minimum of 4.75Kbps, ‘typical’ conversational rate of 4Kbps.

3GPP AMR Standard: TS 26.071

The goal of these narrowband VOCODERs is to reduce bandwidth during a conversation while delivering acceptable call quality. You will achieve near ideal speech quality but not full lifelike sound in perfect network conditions.

If you are reading this then likely you have first hand experience with the voice coders used in 3G networks. Moving forward …

Qualcomm (the main commercial influence for EVRC) has developed a more advanced (newer) line of CODECs they call 4GV which include EVRC-B and EVRC-WB (wide band.) Alternatively, there is a small consortium of companies that drive patents for AMR including Voice Age, Nokia, Ericsson, and France Telecom, and they have evolved their narrowband AMR with AMR-WB (you guessed it, wide band.) Lastly, there is SiLK, propelled by Skype. 

 

 

 

 

EVRC-WB is based on a split band coding paradigm in which two different coding models are used for the signal by independently sampling the low frequency (LF) (0-4 KHz) and the high frequency (HF) (3.5-7 KHz) bands.

MOS: 3.24( Street Noise, 15 dB SNR  )

EVRC-WB white paper by Qualcomm      EVRC-WB test results from 3Gpp2 testing

3GPP2 EVRC-WB Standard C.S0014-D_v1.0_EVRC

AMR-WB provides improved speech quality due to a wider speech bandwidth of 50–7000 Hz.

  • Configuration A (Config-WB-Code 0): 6.6, 8.85, and 12.65 kbit/s (Mandatory multi-rate configuration)
  • Configuration B (Config-WB-Code 2): 6.6, 8.85, 12.65, and 15.85 kbit/s
  • Configuration C (Config-WB-Code 4): 6.6, 8.85, 12.65, and 23.85 kbit/s
MOS: 3.14 ( Office Noise, 15 dB SNR  )
3GPP AMR-WB Standard TS 26.204
AMR-WB Whitepaper by VoiceAge

Comparison of AMR-WB and EVRC-WB…

SILK negotiates one of four modes during call setup: Narrowband (NB): 8 kHz sampling rate o Mediumband (MB): 8 or 12 kHz sampling rate. Wideband (WB): 8, 12 or 16 kHz sampling rate. Super Wideband (SWB): 8, 12, 16 or 24 kHz sampling rate. The purpose of these modes is to allow the decoder to limit the highest sampling rate used by the encoder.

MOS: 3.22 ( Office Noise, 15 dB SNR   )

Skype: Silk Data sheet and IETF Standard

Nokia paper comparing Silk and AMR-WB. (Note they are a patent holder for AMR-WB and the paper does slant that way.)

HD Voice is a broad term marketed by operators that seems to refer to the voice coding, more specifically the use of the wide band CODERs like AMR-WB and EVRC-WB. Therefore, under typical conditions, the additional bandwidth used will provide a more lifelike sound between the caller/called.

Operator Deployments

Orange in the U.K. began marketing HD Voice in September of 2010. They have a 3GPP based UMTS network thus they are using the AMR-WB vocoder. They have 7 handsets on their website as supporting the AMR-WB vocoder.

Sprint recently announced the launch of HD Voice with their launch of HTC EVO 4G LTE. Apparently they are using Transcoder Free Operation (TrFO) to support this feature. The basics of this are the 2 end points (Caller and Called) must have the EVRC-WB supported to be able to enjoy the additional sound quality. (It also means the network accepts Service Option 73 requests…)

VoLTE

3G phones have the VOCODERs built into the device and they only work with the connected 3G network infrastructure for voice calling. VoLTE uses an IP Multimedia System (IMS) architecture, that essentially is an application that runs over the LTE channel. The devices (UE) have an IMS client that uses Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) signaling to place calls. The IMS is functionally equivalent to their 3G counterparts but slightly more flexible as you can have various architectures such as distributed, localized, centralized etc… Some interesting flexibility exists in the IMS client, as it is possible for the IMS client to have variable VOCODERs and the IMS has a flexible architecture that will allow support for various VOCODERS. This probably means you can upgrade/downgrade to/from HD voice while mobile, and operators will likely support (free/incremental cost) wide band coding when on high rate connections such as WiFi, femotcells etc.. This makes life more interesting. 

On the flip side, the only official VOCODER supported with 3GPP for LTE networks right now is AMR. Some of you need to push SILK and EVRC-B into the 3GPP standards. Mobile calling could be so much more interesting than it is today.

OK, that was a huge wind up for a little paragraph. The point is HD Voice is available on a few operators over 3G today and likely available almost everywhere with VoLTE using mostly wide band VOCODERs that provide higher MOS scores but also use slightly more bandwidth than 3G voice calls. It will be interesting to see how OTT providers like Skype fit in as they can easily integrate into the IMS/3GPP/VoLTE architecture and may have more to offer in some cases.


 

HD Voice is starting to get some attention with the recent launches by Orange and Sprint. As the hypeometer’s needle climbs, there will be a lot of attention focused in this area. I just wanted to put a few facts out there to keep it all straight. These operators have actually different technologies behind their HD Voice launches that eventually merge at VoLTE. I saw some silliness about the HD Voice launches in AnandTech and other places so let’s get started…

Technologies

First a brief history of the universe, starting with current voice technologies used with 3G networks.

Narrowband voice coding has been used in digital cellular systems since the beginning. Today’s smartphones typically employ EVRC for CDMA2000/3GPP2 based networks with a fraction of those employing the more advanced EVRC-B algorithm and AMR for UMTS/3GPP networks. EVRC and AMR are CODECs to transform voice into digitized speech using low amounts of bandwidth/throughput with a primary technique being limiting the input frequency ranges.

This chart shows the tradeoffs involved…

The measurement of voice is based on sampling a population of listeners that rate the quality of the spoken sentences after coding and decoding by an algorithm. Listeners are asked to (subjectively) rate the recordings they heard vs a reference standard. The reference standards are like (A) direct recording of voices or (B) Pulse Code Modulation (PCM) at 64Kbps known in standards as G.711. Here is an example of the rating questions:

This is an experiment to determine the perceived quality of speech over the telephone. You will be listening to a number of recorded speech samples, spoken by several different talkers, and you will be rating how good you think they sound.
Use the single headphone on the ear you normally use for the telephone. On each trial a two- sentence sample will be played. After you have listened to the sample, determine the category from the list below which best describes the overall quality of the sample. Press the numeric key on your keyboard corresponding to your rating for how good or bad that particular passage sounded.
Select the category which best describes the sample you just heard for purposes of everyday speech communication.
The OVERALL SPEECH SAMPLE was:
5 – EXCELLENT
4 – GOOD
3 - FAIR
2 – POOR
1 – BAD

EVRC compresses each 20 milliseconds of (300-3200 Hz), 16-bit sampled speech input into output frames of one of three different sizes: full rate of 171 bits (8.55 kbit/s), half rate of 80 bits (4.0 kbit/s), eighth rate of 16 bits (0.8 kbit/s). EVRC has a peak bitrate of 8.5Kbps, a minimum of 0.8Kbps and ‘conversational’ planning rate of 6Kbps. 

3GPP2 EVRC Standards:  3GPP2 C.S0014-D

The AMR (Adaptive Multi-Rate) codec encodes narrowband (200-3400 Hz) signals for each 20 milliseconds of 8000 Hz at variable bit rates ranging from 4.75 to 12.2 kbps with toll quality speech starting at 7.4 kbps. AMR has a peak bitrate of 12.2Kbps, minimum of 4.75Kbps, ‘typical’ conversational rate of 4Kbps.

3GPP AMR Standard: TS 26.071

The goal of these narrowband VOCODERs is to reduce bandwidth during a conversation while delivering acceptable call quality. You will achieve near ideal speech quality but not full lifelike sound in perfect network conditions.

If you are reading this then likely you have first hand experience with the voice coders used in 3G networks. Moving forward …

Qualcomm (the main commercial influence for EVRC) has developed a more advanced (newer) line of CODECs they call 4GV which include EVRC-B and EVRC-WB (wide band.) Alternatively, there is a small consortium of companies that drive patents for AMR including Voice Age, Nokia, Ericsson, and France Telecom, and they have evolved their narrowband AMR with AMR-WB (you guessed it, wide band.) Lastly, there is SiLK, propelled by Skype. 

 

 

 

 

EVRC-WB is based on a split band coding paradigm in which two different coding models are used for the signal by independently sampling the low frequency (LF) (0-4 KHz) and the high frequency (HF) (3.5-7 KHz) bands.

MOS: 3.24( Street Noise, 15 dB SNR  )

EVRC-WB white paper by Qualcomm      EVRC-WB test results from 3Gpp2 testing

3GPP2 EVRC-WB Standard C.S0014-D_v1.0_EVRC

AMR-WB provides improved speech quality due to a wider speech bandwidth of 50–7000 Hz.

  • Configuration A (Config-WB-Code 0): 6.6, 8.85, and 12.65 kbit/s (Mandatory multi-rate configuration)
  • Configuration B (Config-WB-Code 2): 6.6, 8.85, 12.65, and 15.85 kbit/s
  • Configuration C (Config-WB-Code 4): 6.6, 8.85, 12.65, and 23.85 kbit/s
MOS: 3.14 ( Office Noise, 15 dB SNR  )
3GPP AMR-WB Standard TS 26.204
AMR-WB Whitepaper by VoiceAge

Comparison of AMR-WB and EVRC-WB…

SILK negotiates one of four modes during call setup: Narrowband (NB): 8 kHz sampling rate o Mediumband (MB): 8 or 12 kHz sampling rate. Wideband (WB): 8, 12 or 16 kHz sampling rate. Super Wideband (SWB): 8, 12, 16 or 24 kHz sampling rate. The purpose of these modes is to allow the decoder to limit the highest sampling rate used by the encoder.

MOS: 3.22 ( Office Noise, 15 dB SNR   )

Skype: Silk Data sheet and IETF Standard

Nokia paper comparing Silk and AMR-WB. (Note they are a patent holder for AMR-WB and the paper does slant that way.)

HD Voice is a broad term marketed by operators that seems to refer to the voice coding, more specifically the use of the wide band CODERs like AMR-WB and EVRC-WB. Therefore, under typical conditions, the additional bandwidth used will provide a more lifelike sound between the caller/called.

Operator Deployments

Orange in the U.K. began marketing HD Voice in September of 2010. They have a 3GPP based UMTS network thus they are using the AMR-WB vocoder. They have 7 handsets on their website as supporting the AMR-WB vocoder.

Sprint recently announced the launch of HD Voice with their launch of HTC EVO 4G LTE. Apparently they are using Transcoder Free Operation (TrFO) to support this feature. The basics of this are the 2 end points (Caller and Called) must have the EVRC-WB supported to be able to enjoy the additional sound quality. (It also means the network accepts Service Option 73 requests…)

VoLTE

3G phones have the VOCODERs built into the device and they only work with the connected 3G network infrastructure for voice calling. VoLTE uses an IP Multimedia System (IMS) architecture, that essentially is an application that runs over the LTE channel. The devices (UE) have an IMS client that uses Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) signaling to place calls. The IMS is functionally equivalent to their 3G counterparts but slightly more flexible as you can have various architectures such as distributed, localized, centralized etc… Some interesting flexibility exists in the IMS client, as it is possible for the IMS client to have variable VOCODERs and the IMS has a flexible architecture that will allow support for various VOCODERS. This probably means you can upgrade/downgrade to/from HD voice while mobile, and operators will likely support (free/incremental cost) wide band coding when on high rate connections such as WiFi, femotcells etc.. This makes life more interesting. 

On the flip side, the only official VOCODER supported with 3GPP for LTE networks right now is AMR. Some of you need to push SILK and EVRC-B into the 3GPP standards. Mobile calling could be so much more interesting than it is today.

OK, that was a huge wind up for a little paragraph. The point is HD Voice is available on a few operators over 3G today and likely available almost everywhere with VoLTE using mostly wide band VOCODERs that provide higher MOS scores but also use slightly more bandwidth than 3G voice calls. It will be interesting to see how OTT providers like Skype fit in as they can easily integrate into the IMS/3GPP/VoLTE architecture and may have more to offer in some cases.

 

A quick rant. It bugs me that the current crop of LTE smart phones, even those demonstrated at Mobile World Congress this week,  just aren’t compelling enough yet. These devices have nice screens and all are striving for that thin, simplistic framed, glossy look that’s oh so desirable, however although the web experience is blazing fast when in LTE coverage areas, it’s boring after about 24 hours. After that 24 hours you start thinking about how many times you need to see an outlet for some electrons too. Now for tablets, LTE is awesome. All I do is browse the rich web at blazing speeds in my hotel room since the wifi is all choked up. On the other hand, the Smart phones are 1-2 generations away from being the replacement for the status quo. Firstly, need some technology improvements to help the battery life and cost, mainly though we need the operators to deploy is more compelling applications (I don’t mean phone apps) such as VoLTE. When I only need 1 radio (most of the time), so I get great battery life and smaller form factors and I get good or better voice and a good data experience, that is what I consider compelling. After this happens we get to the really cool stuff since the operators can reclaim 3G spectrum for 4G and etc…

From what I can tell, the device vendors are the hold up. The IMS/core is nearly ready, the standards are not finished but work arounds are possible (emergency services etc…) yet there are no devices that I have seen with an IMS client that also functions in circuit switched mode. How difficult can that be? BTW, the alternative and more sinister ending is the OEMs don’t want to finish the spec because they are milling the 3G network operators for as much as they can… either way…Grrr.

I guess I am just cruising down Gartner’s HypeCycle, perhaps in the Trough of Disillusionment, therefore I should be on to the Slope of Enlightenment next, Yes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the other hand check out the model of the American customer, I guess I am where I am supposed to be. Customer Complaints….

 

Links: Gartner, voici.com

 Ericsson and Qualcomm just pressed that they performed successful voice handovers back on December 23, 2011 with VoLTE (Voice over LTE) to WCDMA handover using Single Radio Voice Continuity (SRVCC.) The significance of this is that VoLTE/SRVCC allows a good user experience while reducing the required radio components thus saving cost and battery life and of course answers the question, what happens when the mobile user, on a voice call, leaves the LTE coverage area. There is a back up plan called Circuit Switched Fall Back (CSFB) but it’s painful in terms of latency and reliability. Exactly what must have been behind the response Steve Jobs gave previously when asked when Apple devices would have LTE . The delay from the beginning of time until in your hands is availability of broadband processing that support these features for the mobile device. The networks are more or less ready with some exceptions that can be worked around. (Note, 3GPP Release 9 added emergency services including location, SIM less emergency calling and some other fixes like faster CSFB so it’s to the implementers to make it happen.) Oh yeah, Ericsson provided the radio edge network (EUTRAN) and core network with IMS and Qualcomm used their MSM8960 in a VoLTE capability demonstrating device. As Martha Stewart would say, “It’s a good thing.”

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