Currently viewing the tag: "VZW"

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!

 

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 future billboard Working on many things at the same time, the tunnel vision sets in, so every once in a while, I try to take a I step back and reflect on where we are in LTE land.

What I see is a early market that has yet to find it’s purpose in life. Yeah yeah, consumers are buying devices like Samsung Galaxy III/IV and Apple iPhones that are LTE enabled at a rapid clip in the US, but at this point the device is driving the sale not the LTE itself.  

There have been a couple of interesting developments, such as Audi and GM deciding to leverage LTE for in car data links and even going as far as choosing to use VoLTE for voice. That’s a major step towards finding the killer app for LTE.AudiLTE_connect

However, those developments are in progress and have not actually resulted in any traffic yet, both are expected in 2014.

Consumers are driving traffic today. Looking through some public data, like Root Metrics reports on average data speeds, I am reminded by how inefficient the networks are.

Verizon vs AT&T LTE

Here are some results from gottabemobile.com that more or less concur the performance observed by Root Metrics.
iPhone 5 Verizon 4G LTE Speed Test Results
  • 8.52 Mbps download, 13.87 Mbps upload, 39 ms ping
  • 7.47 Mbps download, 13.70 Mbps upload, 38 ms ping
  • 10.21 Mbps download, 13.81 Mbps upload, 38 ms ping

iPhone 5 on AT&T 4G LTE Speed Test Results

  • 9.32 Mbps download, 13.69 Mbps upload, 47 ms ping
  • 9.11 Mbps download, 13.88 Mbps upload, 47 ms ping
  • 9.69 Mbps download, 16.20 Mbps upload, 48 ms ping
  • 8.96 Mbps download, 15.83 Mbps upload, 40 ms ping
iPhone 5 over Wi-Fi (Comcast Blast 50 Mbps) Speed Test Results
  • 8.52 Mbps download, 13.87 Mbps upload, 39 ms ping

So it’s hard for me not to notice a couple of elements to this story. Firstly, the mad rush to provide LTE coverage (schedule driven) has been, understandably, at the expense of quality. Here’s the difference:

LTESNR_chart

Important

The peak throughout of a 10MHz 2×2 MIMO with 3 PDCCH symbols, 5% extra overhead and 10% retransmissions channel is 58Mbps, with SIMO at 35MBps. So practical rates in the field are 26.4% of the peak rates with retransmissions. 

It doesn’t take a math genius to realize that 26.4% efficiency is an ROI buster.

So with 50,000 eNBs they currently carry maximally 750GBs over their RAN instead of the 2.9TBs they have already paid for. Simply extrapolating from Cisco’s 2013 VNI report, I get a projected data explosion like this:

CiscoVNI_extrap

Uhhh, isn’t the datapcolypse supposed to need about 800GBps  per operator in 2017? They’re blowing 2x that amount with poor efficiency!

 

 Making matters worse, ATT and VZW are starting to throw some additional spectrum into the markets. VZW recently announced they are adding 5000 eNBs with AWS spectrum, most likely ‘hotspots’ costing them $3.9B in a one time AWS spectrum buy plus ~$15K/eNB = $75M annually for the additional carrier. ATT has done a series of multibillion dollar deals to add in more 700MHz spectrum. 

ATT has been spending something on the order of $22B to build out and maintain an extensive WiFi network they claim offloads their LTE networks.

Here’s the rub, improving the efficiency to move their average is not as expensive as the offloading or spectrum additions they are doing. One more thing, SON should be doing some of the work for them in a very OPEX friendly manner. 

By cleaning up the network, making it more efficient, there is going to be an induced demand, yes, however having users use your product is not necessarily a bad thing. (I’ve already complained about pricing.)

Let me just say this is crazy. Reducing the network efficiency effectively increases your cost to provide service thus degrading margins. There are tons of levers to pull in the protocol as it is written, with improvements on the horizon. Wake up!

Ladies and gentlemen, the captain has illuminated the fasten seatbelts sign as some turbulence and or distruption is expected in this market.. 

PS: Verizon and ATT, I will make myself available to send you an invoice for, say, $1-2B and will turnkey a project to give you another 800GBps. You can sell your recent investments and return the money to working capital or the investors, or hold them for getting to 1GBps over the air with carrier aggregation in the future… (ok time for me to get back to work…)

Oscar

 

VZW Rule The Air Logo Couldn’t help but notice that Verizon completed the transaction of selling off it’s Lower 700MHz spectrum today. Key point is, as long as it doesn’t go to AT&T consumers are better off. OK that had to be said.

The markets and spectrum from their PR is:

Nortex Communications, based in Muenster, Texas, acquired the Texas RSA 6-Jack 700 MHz lower B-block license, which covers a four-county area northwest of Dallas. Panhandle Telecommunication Systems, Inc., based in Guymon, Okla., acquired the Texas RSA 2-Hansford 700 MHz lower B-block license, which covers 12 counties in the northwest part of Texas. Colorado Valley Communications purchased a partitioned A-Block license covering a five-county area in the Houston market.

The next bottleneck, once the spectrum gets diffused into the market, is the availability of chipsets that support this spectrum, Band 12. See the diagram below for a quick refresher.

700MHz spectrum chart

I am planning to do an overview of this situation next so stay tuned. Yea for us. We got a little more market freedom today. Hopefully this will encourage some of the smaller operators to deploy LTE and compete with the big guys.

Fist Bump

 

 

BTW, When’s the last time we saw Munster, TX or Guymon, OK in a tech industry press release? Shout out to you peeps. 

 

 

 

Below is excerpted from their site.

Verizon Wireless Completes Spectrum Sales to Three Rural Companies

Verizon Wireless has completed three spectrum license sale transactions following agreements reached late last year as part of the open sale process for its 700 MHz A and B Block licenses. Nortex Communications and Panhandle Telecommunication Systems, Inc. closed on their respective purchases this week. Colorado Valley Communications completed its purchase on January 16, 2013.

Nortex Communications, based in Muenster, Texas, acquired the Texas RSA 6-Jack 700 MHz lower B-block license, which covers a four-county area northwest of Dallas. Panhandle Telecommunication Systems, Inc., based in Guymon, Okla., acquired the Texas RSA 2-Hansford 700 MHz lower B-block license, which covers 12 counties in the northwest part of Texas. purchased a partitioned A-Block license covering a five-county area in the Houston market.

Verizon Wireless offered its lower 700 MHz spectrum licenses for sale to rationalize its spectrum holdings and enable more spectrum to reach the marketplace where it can be used for the benefit of customers. As a result of the sale process, Verizon Wireless signed agreements with seven companies, including one national carrier, five rural or regional carriers and one minority-owned firm. To date, three purchases have been completed and four remain pending. Verizon Wireless is also getting 700 MHz C block spectrum into the hands of 20 rural operators through its LTE in Rural America leasing program.

ATT deathstar

 Updated: Added mention of the recent Alltel deal.

The rich are hiding the opportunities from the not so rich.

Oh I mean spectrum ownership. 

So Verizon Wireless agreed to sell their 700MHz B spectrum to ATT.

If you are just looking for parrot/me too/copy+paste blogging, you should leave now.

This is bad for everyone else.

The primary reason goes like this.

ATT pushed through the Band 17 change (Lower 700MHz B+C) which essentially cuts the Band 12 to A channel widely held by multiple firms, B+C channel with different filtering requirements, thus forcing the component manufacturers to create special filters to comply/handle Band 17. Today, Band 12 is being EXCLUDED from chipset support at the expense of Band 17 (ATT) and Band 13 (Verizon.) 

So, Verizon sells the spectrum to ATT, the spectrum doesn’t diffuse, there is no compelling reason for hardware designers to facilitate Band 12 now because the spectrum ownership is fragmented and they can’t place a big order for devices like ATT can.

 leaving us out to dry I’m a free enterprise type of guy but this situation shameful and I think anti competitive to a great degree. The FCC should be ashamed at what they’ve done here. More competition is good for a developing (LTE) market, however the Big 2 and smaller 2 dominate, thus everything is sort of stagnant on pricing, innovation and other fronts as compared to more competitive markets like Asia and Europe.

Updated: I forgot to mention that the Alltel purchase by ATT is good for the Alltel ownership but again hoards more 700MHz spectrum.  From the ATT press release:

ATT and Alltel coverageATNI operates under the Alltel name in the U.S., and its network covers approximately 4.6 million people in primarily rural areas across six states — Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio and South Carolina. The acquisition includes spectrum in the 700 MHz, 850 MHz and 1900 MHz bands and is largely complementary to AT&T’s existing network.

Is a market in which there can only be a limited number of players due to the lack of resources (spectrum), where I wouldn’t be able to purchase any spectrum and create a lower 700MHz operator if I wanted to, a free and open market?

This spectrum should go back for rebid instead since the original terms and conditions from FCC auction weren’t met by original bidder (Verizon.) or FCC should make things right and sell off the upper 24MHz of the 600MHz band (further clearing down DTV) and rebid, with a 30-40% tax on bidders connected to Band 13 or Band 17 operators.

Can’t see the data pricing from ATT or VZW LTE going down anytime soon. They’re the only ones with more than 10MHz for LTE everywhere. No need to compete for LTE customers!

Horrible!

ATT Verizon Spectrum purchase Press release below. The ATT Alltel purchase PR is further below…

AT&T Agrees to Acquire 700 MHz Spectrum from Verizon Wireless

DallasTexasJanuary 25, 2013

ShareThis

AT&T* announced in an 8-K filing today that it has agreed to acquire spectrum in the 700 MHz B band from Verizon Wireless for $1.9 billion in cash and Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum licenses in several markets, including Phoenix, Ariz., Los Angeles and Fresno, Calif. and Portland, Ore.

The 700 MHz licenses to be acquired by AT&T cover 42 million people in 18 states — California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.

This acquisition complements AT&T’s existing holdings in the 700 MHz B band and will allow AT&T to continue to quickly deploy 4G LTE services to meet demand for mobile Internet services on a wide array of smartphones, tablets and other devices. The company announced in November 2012 that it plans to reach 300 million people in the U.S. with its 4G LTE network by the end of 2014.

In conjunction with this transaction, AT&T will sell to Grain Management a single AWS license and will lease 700 MHz spectrum from Grain Management in three markets.

The transaction is subject to regulatory approval. AT&T anticipates closing the transaction in the second half of 2013.

*AT&T products and services are provided or offered by subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. under the AT&T brand and not by AT&T Inc.

About AT&T

AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) is a premier communications holding company and one of the most honored companies in the world. Its subsidiaries and affiliates – AT&T operating companies – are the providers of AT&T services in the United States and internationally. With a powerful array of network resources that includes the nation’s largest 4G network, AT&T is a leading provider of wireless, Wi-Fi, high speed Internet, voice and cloud-based services. A leader in mobile Internet, AT&T also offers the best wireless coverage worldwide of any U.S. carrier, offering the most wireless phones that work in the most countries. It also offers advanced TV services under the AT&T U-verse® and AT&T |DIRECTV brands. The company’s suite of IP-based business communications services is one of the most advanced in the world.

Additional information about AT&T Inc. and the products and services provided by AT&T subsidiaries and affiliates is available at http://www.att.com/aboutus or follow our news on @ATT, on Facebook athttp://www.facebook.com/att and YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/att.

© 2013 AT&T Intellectual Property. All rights reserved. 4G not available everywhere. AT&T, the AT&T logo and all other marks contained herein are trademarks of AT&T Intellectual Property and/or AT&T affiliated companies. All other marks contained herein are the property of their respective owners.

Cautionary Language Concerning Forward-Looking Statements
Information set forth in this press release contains financial estimates and other forward-looking statements that are subject to risks and uncertainties, and actual results might differ materially. A discussion of factors that may affect future results is contained in AT&T’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. AT&T disclaims any obligation to update and revise statements contained in this news release based on new information or otherwise.

ATNI operates under the Alltel name in the U.S., and its network covers approximately 4.6 million people in primarily rural areas across six states — Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio and South Carolina. The acquisition includes spectrum in the 700 MHz, 850 MHz and 1900 MHz bands and is largely complementary to AT&T’s existing network.

AT&T to Acquire Wireless Spectrum and Assets from Atlantic Tele-Network, Inc., Enhance Wireless Coverage in Rural Areas

DallasTexasJanuary 22, 2013

ShareThis

AT&T* today announced that it has signed an agreement with Atlantic Tele-Network, Inc. (ATNI) to acquire the company’s U.S. retail wireless operations, operated under the Alltel brand, for $780 million in cash. Under terms of the agreement, AT&T will acquire wireless properties, including licenses, network assets, retail stores and approximately 585,000 subscribers.

ATNI operates under the Alltel name in the U.S., and its network covers approximately 4.6 million people in primarily rural areas across six states — Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio and South Carolina. The acquisition includes spectrum in the 700 MHz, 850 MHz and 1900 MHz bands and is largely complementary to AT&T’s existing network. ATNI currently operates a retail CDMA network for its subscribers in these areas. AT&T expects that as it upgrades the network, ATNI customers and existing AT&T customers who roam in these areas will enjoy an enhanced mobile Internet experience.

AT&T expects integration costs for network conversion from CDMA will not result in significant dilution to EPS or impact to cash flow. The transaction is subject to review by the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice and to other customary closing conditions and is expected to close in the second half of 2013.

*AT&T products and services are provided or offered by subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. under the AT&T brand and not by AT&T Inc.

About AT&T

AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) is a premier communications holding company and one of the most honored companies in the world. Its subsidiaries and affiliates – AT&T operating companies – are the providers of AT&T services in the United States and internationally. With a powerful array of network resources that includes the nation’s largest 4G network, AT&T is a leading provider of wireless, Wi-Fi, high speed Internet, voice and cloud-based services. A leader in mobile Internet, AT&T also offers the best wireless coverage worldwide of any U.S. carrier, offering the most wireless phones that work in the most countries. It also offers advanced TV services under the AT&T U-verse® and AT&T |DIRECTV brands. The company’s suite of IP-based business communications services is one of the most advanced in the world.

Additional information about AT&T Inc. and the products and services provided by AT&T subsidiaries and affiliates is available at http://www.att.com/aboutus or follow our news on @ATT, on Facebook athttp://www.facebook.com/att and YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/att.

© 2013 AT&T Intellectual Property. All rights reserved. 4G not available everywhere. AT&T, the AT&T logo and all other marks contained herein are trademarks of AT&T Intellectual Property and/or AT&T affiliated companies. All other marks contained herein are the property of their respective owners.

Cautionary Language Concerning Forward-Looking Statements
Information set forth in this press release contains financial estimates and other forward-looking statements that are subject to risks and uncertainties, and actual results might differ materially. A discussion of factors that may affect future results is contained in AT&T’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. AT&T disclaims any obligation to update and revise statements contained in this news release based on new information or otherwise.

iPad LTE pic I have written about my ire with Apple regarding their design decisionsThe basic complaint I have with the OEMs (Apple, Samsung, etc…) is that their LTE product design forces the end user to purchase a network specific mobile device. For example, I purchase a Band 13 device (VZW), I cannot then change my mind and go to ATT (Band 17) etc… Of course network operators don’t prefer this capability but let’s ignore that for the moment. Technologically, the ability to do this was limited by (A) the requirements of the devices and (B) the capability of the components in the devices.

Requirements as drivers to network locked devices.

Today’s mobile networks topologically, in the US from a data perspective,  are LTE overlays on existing 2G and 3G network coverage. This is a deployment scenario caused by the reality of the economy, risk aversion of operators etc and whatever. The requirement/expectation is end user  device is usable throughout the entire network coverage area of the network’s operator. Thus, if the LTE coverage ends, the device must gracefully hand down/over to 3G and resume data communications. This means a 3G radio and 4G radio is required to interact with the 2 networks (3G/4G.) 

Currently voice is carried over 3G and not VoLTE yet so this sets up more of the same 3G/4G multi-radio requirements.

Summary: Pure LTE device like a smartphone that uses something like VoLTE  for voice requires one radio and path at a time, today’s voice enabled devices require 2 radio paths. Data only devices can utilize a single radio path but are still hamstrung by the spectrum used for EVDO/HSPA as a fallback to LTE coverage holes ultimately requiring dual radio performance for smooth transitions. Oh yeah, CDMA EVDO handovers are better with eHRPD blah blah but I’m assuming a perfectly state of the art, fully capable device and network.

Capability of components

ipad3 teardown picI have written about the iPad radio design, and the key take aways were the RF chain required Apple to include band specific components to facilitate the multiple radio and/or paths required. There have been some improvements since I’ve moaned and I will go through some of those.

 

Firstly, let’s look at the antenna. If your load (includes antenna) is RF mismatched in the circuit with the amplifiers, duplexers, filters etc…the efficiency of the radio transmission/reception could suffer a great deal. This means more energy required to transmit/receive, possible harmful interference control measures required and end users end up paying more for poor performance in the end. I mention this because the previous crop of device antennae were not well suited for wide band use, like 700MHz through AWS 2100MHz in the same elements. 

Skycross,Skycross Logo a Fremont, CA company has recently announced some technology that can be helpful here. Here is information from their site:

SkyCross’ three core technologies contribute to addressing the growing number of frequency bands required for LTE and carrier aggregation.

  • iMAT allows a single antenna to act like multiple antennas through the use of multiple feedpoints. Each feedpoint accesses the single antenna as if it were two or more independent antennas, highly isolated from each other. This enables very efficient and compact antenna designs. Developers can combine the iMAT design with other antenna requirements to form a multi-band, multi-protocol antenna module.
  • VersiTune provides an advanced tunable antenna solution for multi-band 4G LTE devices in a single antenna structure. SkyCross can therefore actively tune an antenna from frequency band to frequency band accurately so that the antenna meets the many needs of a single operator or the frequency band requirements of multiple operators simultaneously.
  • MatchTune enables a single antenna structure to uniquely fine tune within a given LTE frequency band, which both enhances performance for a given frequency or for multiple simultaneous frequencies when employing carrier aggregation.

These technologies also enable ODMs and OEMs to improve the performance of their mobile devices, while concurrently reducing costs and shrinking the form factor of their products.

Here’s a good paper about their Isolated Mode Antennas (iMat).

So, yesterday’s devices required either poor efficiency or multiple antennas to support multiple air technologies and bands and now there is Skycross technologies that address these issues. OEMs can design true MIMO devices with good efficiency, in a reasonably small package. I think Apple at some point mentioned this problem with respect to their support for SVLTE in the Verizon version of their devices. Check this off the list of problems.

The next item on the list is the transceiver. I have mentioned Qualcomm’s WTR1605 previously, and this part essentially offers an expansion of bands and radio technologies over previous generations such that a typical 3G/4G band scenario that requires support for Bands 1,4, 12,13, 17 and 25 for LTE and PCS/AWS/800MHz cellular for CDMA. Furthermore, simultaneous support for 11 RX ports and 9 TX ports allow simultaneous multiple radio paths with dedicated PA/LNAs.

AnandTech went into some detail on the WTR1605L for your purchasing or RF hardware engineering pleasure in their blog: The State of Qualcomm’s Modems – WTR1605 and MDM9x25 (Actually, I liked the detail since Qualcomm didn’t publish any.)

WTR1605L RFIC by QualcommQualcomm says:

The WTR1605 will be Qualcomm’s first Radio Transceiver in Wafer Level Package and will be a highly integrated radio transceiver with multi-mode (LTE FDD, LTE TDD, CDMA, WCDMA, TD-SCDMA, GSM) and multi-band support. The WTR1605 will be optimized for low power consumption and small footprint and will integrate a high performance GPS core with GLONASS support. Samples of the MDM9615, MDM8215, WTR1605 and PM8018 are anticipated to be available in late 2011.

Lastly, the 3G/4G MODEM (baseband) is solved with Qualcomm’s 9200/9215 and 9600/9615/9625 parts support GSM/EDGE/WCDMA/CDMA/EVDO/and LTE the technologies of interest here. So we are nearly there with 3 parts. There is something missing though.

The Missing Link

the missing link image

So what’s stopping us from a single multimode multi-band design to serve all networks and end users? The Power Amplifier (PA) and Low Noise Amplifier (LNA) situation. I’m not going to go too deep here because for multiple reasons but on the face of it there are many extra components that would be needed to support all of the Bands 1,4, 12,13, 17 and 25 with MIMO for LTE and PCS/AWS/800MHz cellular for CDMA. It’s not impossible and there are some design decisions that can be made if the OEM is willing to live with extra band specific LNA/PA’s on board. The downside is without any magic, they will take up extra space, create more heat and consume power with or without use. I think there is a better way (Custom silicon) that Apple and Samsung could probably bring to bear more quickly than any other OEMs.  

There You Go

So as you can see, there are 2 paths and on 1, we are tantalizingly close to having universal mobile devices. Oh yeah, as I have mentioned before you will probably need a removable UICC too and Apple has this design presently.  The Path 1 fix with a universal mobile device, when to expect the LNA/PA/duplexor/filter solution? Like I said, an innovator like Apple or Samsung could knock it out rapidly (assuming quickly with core purchased IP from SkyWorks, TriQuint etc…) like mid this year. Else, the groundhog will see it’s shadow and we’ll be having to check at the end of next winter. On the Path 2 fix, implement VoLTE, make LTE ubiquitous and stop using 3G networks, that will take a wee bit longer.

 

 

Welcome to Las Vegas CES Been awfully busy this year and end of last so I’m wayyy off my desired schedule. The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is quite the boondoggle and this year was no exception. There were a couple of things that were noteworthy to me with respect to the mobile industry and 4G that I would like to share with you.

Firstly, Qualcomm’s keynote. Usually Microsoft handles such things but this year Microsoft minimized their CES profile by not having a big booth etc… This is not really surprising to me as it was to some as they are exactly duplicating any/everything Apple does w.r.t. mobile.  Anyway Qualcomm tried the shock and awe approach to keynotes and added a bunch of colorful characters into the talk like Desmond Tutu, Big Bird, Steve Balmer, Guillermo Del Toro, Star Trek’s Alice Eve etc… Bottom line is they are going to continue to work hard to be the epicenter of wireless.

They unveiled their Snapdragon 800 mobile processor which supports everything including Ultra HD and it’s expected we will see that in next versions of mobile devices. Qualcomm also discussed their wireless charging (Inductive Power Transfer) technology a little, the brand they are selling is Halo and they are focused on getting it into vehicles initially. Wireless charging is the next logical step for all electronic devices so this makes a lot of sense. I will also mention they mentioned, with Big Bird’s help, their version of augmented reality. This is another technology I expect to be ubiquitous this year.

Cracks me up that after years of trying to talk them into small cells, they are suddenly the center of the small cell universe too. Better late than never. Ok I digress…Video of Qualcomm’s keynote highlights to your left. 

Following the keynote there were the strictly routine level of show floor booths, demo days, meetings in conference booths on/off the show floor, night out etc… This is a CES so the main focus is mainly non-mobile, and there was a lot of buzz around the forthcoming UltraHD (4K) TV’s and the always heralded but never sold in stores OLED versions of TVs. OK, 4K/OLED is cool and the only tie to mobile is you can expect these technologies on the 4th screen (mobile device.) 

Almost forgot, Samsung demoed their “Youm” bendable display. It doesn’t have anything to do with 4G but you could see one on a Samsung G4 or Galaxy 5.

 

There was an interesting group of demos around wireless power charging. Yes what’s old is what’s new. There are many companies in the developing ecosystem and I won’t really go into each one but they are aligning into alliances or industry trade groups.This is the same technology battle that happens when standards compete, so Rocky-Balboa-movie-20for example, with Betamax v VHS, Firewire v USB, CDMA v GSM or LTE v WiMAX, there will be winners and losers and the loser may have the superior technology, or not. So one approach was QI by the Wireless Power Consortium Wireless Power Consortiumrepresenting 100 companies, and by 130 announced products so far. They claim all QI certified devices are going to be interoperable (wireless charging wise.) Their technology is wireless but immobile, based on induction through charging pads etc…

 The second is the 25ish member Alliance for Wireless Power. A4WP Logo The big differentiator here is they allow more flexibility in how close/far the charging devices may be placed up to 50mm from the charger. (wireless, not quite mobile) What this group lacks in numbers they make up for in strength of their supporters.

Lastly, the third major exhibitor was the 30ish member strong Power Matters Alliance.Power Matters Alliance The technology differentiation is less clear to me, a wireless charging surface based approach but I guess their focus here is integration into public places. Yes, Starbucks is a member. 

Oh yeah, the waterproofing guys were back with a better process. I love little things like Liquipel! They offer a waterproofing coating for your mobile device that allows full submersion for a limited amount of time, like when your phone falls out of your front shirt pocket into a water fountain etc… (feel free to substitute your experience here.) Liquipel waterproof iphone

 

So all in all, the state of the art is inching forward. No major LTE Advanced announcements. 

Verizon @ CES

Oh wait, Verizon announced they are planning on launching an Evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast (eMBMS) service in the future. This was from the CEO Lowell McAdam. There were no specifics like timelines or what type of content but overall it makes sense to utilize their investment as much and as wisely as possible. 

Verizon has a site dedicated to eMBMS and they state they are working with Ericsson. 

Verizon Keynote here… 

OK, looking forward to this stuff now…

I have a nit to pick. LTE standards require devices to use Universal Integrated Circuit Cards (UICC) otherwise known as SIMs (Subscriber Identity Modules from GSM days) to authenticate to the network.Physical SIM Form Factors

So this is all well and good from an intentions standpoint as theoretically it allows end users to switch UICC modules into multiple devices and have any one of those devices attach to the LTE network as our device. Unfortunately this is not the case in practice though. See example:

iphone_vs_sg3_Simm

For the US market, The iPhone 5 supports a REMOVABLE micro UICC where as the Samsung Galaxy 3 uses an EMBEDDED UICC.

This is hogwash for people like me that want the flexibility to change devices to suit my needs (for example, changing to an iPhone when visiting my Samsung buddies or using the SG3 in meeting s in Cupertino etc…)

So there is a standard here but it’s not a standard. On the one hand it’s good for me, Joe Six Pack, to have a removable UICC so I can switch devices at my whim, or when one gets broken or stolen etc.. however on the other hand I can see where embedded devices like picture frames and alarm systems might be better off with an embedded UICC. Oh yeah, it’s a tad more difficult to steal and use an embedded UICC LTE device but it’s not impossible, so that is an advantage for embedded. 

Now when this gets resolved, by hopefully every UE supporting a removable UICC, then we will have to go hammer on Apple and other manufacturers to use the latest QCOM/Broadcom etc… RF components to build us a single device that traverses multiple networks. (no more ATT SKU vs VZW SKU.) Because with a single devices and a removable UICC, we can be VERY HAPPY CONSUMERS, with CHOICES that can hold operators accountable for their choices. 

Until then, I am going to complain early and often.

 

 This is not a huge deal but I was looking at DSLReports blog post/story titled “AT&T LTE Network Slower in Markets Like Chicago” and I saw a couple of incorrect facts that although I don’t normally feel the need to correct all inconsistencies, felt like I’d pick on this one a little. I have thrown up the 700MHz spectrum chart for your viewing pleasure.

Firstly our buddies at ATT are deploying initially on Band 17, so they will always be limited to 10MHz channels. If they were to own all 3 bands in a single market, which would be rare, they still would only have 18MHz at their fingertips so that would only be good for an almost never used 15MHz channel or 10MHz channel + 5MHz channel.  

Therefore, most of the time, VZ and ATT are pitting 10MHz of LTE spectrum against each other so other factors are determining the throughput.

As I mentioned before, check the following first:

  • Interference environment
  • Backhaul quality and bandwidth
  • Antenna configuration (antenna quality too)
  • UE performance
  • Loading
Remember this chart from before? According to testing from RootMetrics, I don’t believe ATT is leading in spectral efficiency significantly so all things being equal, likely Chicago needs more down tilt to improve throughput….Oh yeah, and although they are rolling out Intucell’s great SON products, they haven’t deployed RET (Ok neither has VZ) on their towers so they will need to optimize the expensive way.
MY $0.02. Have a great day.

 Just for consistency, want to point out that US operators ATT and VZW have not fully perfected 3G data, yet, either. I threw together a chart to show the efficiency just for the sake of being informed…

So there you have it. The best 3G typically seen is about 33% efficient and that’s drastically better than 2 years ago and so now they deploy 4G. The whole case of data vs voice is upside down from a business standpoint. We need to get the operators to 40-50% to make end users and operators happy else we get stuck with bandwidth caps and high rates forever…

 

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.