Mobile operators are seeing significant increases in user data traffic. For some operators, user data traffic has more than doubled annually for several years. Although the data capacity of networks has increased significantly, the observed increase in user traffic continues to outpace the growth in capacity. This is resulting in increased network congestion and in degraded user service experience. Reasons for this growth in traffic are the rapidly increasing use of smart phones and tablet like devices, and the proliferation of data applications that they support, as well as the use of USB modem dongles for laptops to provide mobile Internet access using 3GPP networks. As the penetration of these terminals increases worldwide and the interest in content-rich multi-media services (e.g. OTT video streaming services) rises, this trend of rapidly increasing data traffic is expected to continue and accelerate.
Training is one of the areas we have been focussing on for a long time. Due to lack of bandwidth we have only been offering our training to a selected few customers but we are now expanding further. Here is a sample of LTE / EPS Signalling training
Mid last year, I did a post on the LTE Rel-12 workshop and later another post on the progress. Late last year, 3GPP posted a news item that the Rel-12 will be available by June 2014 and the main areas of focus will be as follows:
Exploiting new business opportunities
Public Safety and Critical Communications — Group Communications (GCSE_LTE)
Proximity Services, including both Public Safety and Commercial aspects (ProSe)
Machine Type Communications — UE Power Consumption, Small Data and Device Triggering (MTCe_UEPCOP, MTCe_SDDTE )
In addition to those three areas, other features can still be considered for completion in the Release 12 timeframe. The SA2 Working Group - responsible for Architecture - will produce time budgets to see whether further priority could be put on;
Pure IMS features that can run in parallel with key items
Policy and Charging Control for supporting fixed broadband access networks, PCC for fixed terminals (P4C BB1 and BB2)
LIPA Mobility and SIPTO at the Local Network (LIMONET)
Operator Policies for IP Interface Selection (OPIIS)
Working Group SA2 will provide time budgeting information, for the selected features, at the next Plenary meeting - TSG#59, in March 2013.
Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) has published their own whitepaper on 'LTE Release 12 and Beyond' (available on Slideshare here).
The following is their take on the four C's:
Release 12 enhancements focus on the four areas of Capacity, Coverage, Coordination (between cells), and Cost. Improvements in these areas are based on using several technology enablers: small cell enhancements, macro cell enhancements, New Carrier Type (NCT) and Machine-Type Communications (MTC). These enablers are described in this paper. Customer experience, capacity and coverage will be improved with small cell enhancements, based on inter-site Carrier Aggregation, LTE-WLAN integration and macro cell enhancements. Small cell enhancements are also known as enhanced local access. NCT helps achieve the required changes in the physical layer and initially provides base station energy savings, flexibility in deployment and ways to reduce interference in heterogeneous networks (HetNets). Improvements in capacity and a more robust network performance are achieved by 3D Beamforming/MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output), advanced user equipment (UE) receivers and evolved Coordinated Multipoint (CoMP) techniques, as well as through Self-Organizing Networks for small cell deployments. Finally, new spectrum footprint and new business will be opened up by optimizing the system for Machine-Type Communications, as well as by, for example, using LTE for public safety.
Sometime back we had news about how VoLTE is battery killer and how it would suck our 4G phones dry. Well, I agree. I am no fan of VoLTE and think that CSFB solution can suffice in mid-term. Having said that, there is a solution which would be soon available to sort this battery issue during VoLTE call. I had a post on this topic earlier titled SPS and TTI Bundling. I am not sure about exactly how much saving would occur if either of the features are implemented.
ST Ericsson has recently released a whitepaper on this topic that is embedded below. If you have more idea on this, please add it in comments.
A typical dumbphone is as shown above. Dumb phones are no longer available but they can still be used if they are in the working order. Dumbphones were always pre-3G. It wouldnt make sense to have a 3G dumbphone but it is very much possible to have a 2G Featurephone/Smartphone.
Feature Phones: These came next. They allowed more stuff than the basic phones.
Featurephones (above) can do much more stuff, for example they may have camera to take photos, they may allow facebook to share the photos, they can have Skype to call, they can even have WiFi for access. Different people have different way of describing the difference between them and smartphones. Some distinguish Featurephones by suggesting that they have a closed operating system (OS) but this may not be necessarily true. Some others suggest that featurephones do not have touch screens while smartphones do, again this may no longer be considered true. There are featurephones available with basic touch functionality. I think an agreeable way to consider a phone a feature phone, in today's terms, can be based on a combination of processor speeds (less than 400MHz), screen size (less than 2inches), presence of physical buttons and pricepoint (less than $50).
Contrary to popular belief, featurephones are still popular and are going strong. See the chart below for example.
There is a good article that explains why Feature phone is 'Still the undisputed King' here to interested readers. The main reason according to me is that the reception is much better on Featurephones rather than Smartphones and they consume less battery power in general as compared to the smartphones.
Smartphones: Wikipedia suggests that the term smartphone was used as early as 1997 but what may have been considered as smartphone then is more like a featurephone of today. As per my knowledge, the first true modern smartphone were the Nokia communicators. If you look at the specs now, they may be classified as low end featurephones but they were the foundation for the smartphones.
The first true modern smartphone that change the mobiles forever is undisputedly the original iPhone. On reflecting back, people had no idea what a phone could do until the arrival of the iPhone. This was soon followed by the iPhone clones and now we have many different ecosystems like Android, Bada, Windows mobile, Blackberry OS, etc. that gives its own flavour to the smartphones.
Superphones: The marketing industry is always thinking of using new terms to sell the products and while there has been terms like smarter-phones, super-smartphones, intelligent phones, etc. being thrown about, I think the industry has now converged on to use Superphones for the next generation devices. Some of the readers may be aware that 'Superphone' is used in Dr. Who series.
Again, there is no defined standards but looks like the superphone should have Quad core and its screen size should be more than 4.1inch. Samsung Galaxy S3 would qualify to be a superphone but its not referred to as one.
Phablets, Tabphones and Phonetabs: So what do you call a hybrid (or a cross between) Tablet and Smartphone? The answer could be any of the terms Phablets, Tabphones or Phonetabs. Again, there is no standard term but people have decided to use whichever term they feel like. Phablet is the most commonly used term.
Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is a good example of Phablet. One of the suggestions is that to qualify for Phablet, the screen size should be between 5 inches and 7 inches. Some of the users who have braved to buy one of the phablets, swear by it and in most cases vow to never go back to just a phone.
FT has an interesting article that suggests the shipment of phablets could be around 200 million by 2015. It should be noted that according to me, WiFi only devices should not be considered as phablets as the phone part is missing. They are just mini-tablets. In case of 7 inch devices capable of phone and tablet functionality, it is a bit of a fuzzy area in cases where the user does not use the SIM card, thereby making the phone part unusable. For simplicity we can consider a device as phablet as long as the mobile functionality is embedded.