Friday, 31 May 2013

Friday rant: OTT, Viber, Roaming, etc.

The same old story, mobile operators are seeing that their revenue is not growing, even though they are upgrading their networks and introducing new features / technologies. The following is from Total Telecom:

The global telecom services market generated revenue of €1.12 trillion in 2012, although at 2.7% growth was slower than in the previous year, according to the 2013 DigiWorld Yearbook published by IDATE on Thursday.
The "DigiWorld" as a whole - which also includes telecoms hardware, software and computer services, computer hardware, TV services, consumer electronics and Internet services – recorded revenues of €3.17 trillion last year, up 2.8% on 2011. By 2016 that figure will have risen to €3.66 trillion, IDATE predicts, with telecoms services contributing €1.25 trillion (see chart).
Telecoms operators are experiencing flat growth, while over-the-top (OTT) providers are seeing revenues increase by 15% a year, Vincent Bonneau, head of IDATE's Internet business unit, told attendees at the DigiWorld Yearbook launch in London earlier this month.

Another interesting piece of news was that Viber has launched a desktop application which means it can now rival Skype fully.

Guess what, I would think that operators have more to worry from this news than Skype. I have stopped using Skype for some time now due to many issues I have with it and have moved to Viber for a few months.   If you are a regular reader to this blog then you would have read my recent post complaining about the global roaming rates. When I am travelling abroad, I make sure there is WiFi and use Viber as a substitute for Voice and SMS. In fact I can send MMS and emoticons using Viber which would cost a fortune over cellular otherwise.

Sometimes it feels like the operators are sleepwalking into their own destruction by not innovating enough and fast to be a challenge for these OTT services. Not entirely sure what the solutions are but there are quite a few ideas around to start thinking in that direction. An interesting presentation by Dean Bubley I posted here is a good starting point. Another one from him and Martin Geddes is embedded below, which is quite interesting and intutive.

Enough of my rants, what do you think about this?

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Internet Trends by Mary Meeker at #D11

The last time I posted the presentation by Mary Meeker was back in 2011 but the things have moved on and its amazing to see some of the things that have changed. I think the slide that summarises what I mean is as follows:

Nomophobia and FOMO are a big problem and I see this day in day out working in this industry.

The slide pack which was actually posted yesterday has already crossed 550K as I write this, in just 1 day. So you can understand how eagerly awaited event this has become every year.

To download the above, click on the Slideshare icon and then you can save from Slideshare site.

If you want to watch the video of her presentation, its available on All things digital website here.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

NEC on 'Radio Access Network' (RAN) Sharing

Its been a while we looked at anything to do with Network Sharing. The last post with an embed from Dr. Kim Larsen presentation, has already crossed 11K+ views on slideshare. Over the last few years there has been a raft of announcements about various operators sharing their networks locally with the rivals to reduce their CAPEX as well as their OPEX. Even though I understand the reasons behind the network sharing I believe that the end consumers end up losing as they may not have a means of differentiating between the different operators on a macro cell.

Certain operators on the other hand offer differentiators like residential femtocells that can enhance indoor coverage or a tie up with WiFi hotspot providers which may provide them wi-fi access on the move. The following whitepaper from NEC is an interesting read to understanding how RAN sharing in the LTE would work.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Is the Global Mobile Roaming model broken?

Yesterday, I noticed some heavyweights discussing roaming prices on Twitter. It is embedded below using the new Twitter embed feature:

Those who follow me on Twitter may have noticed me ranting about the roaming prices recently so I thought that this is a perfect opportunity to put my thoughts down.

As being discussed above, I went on the websites of two UK operators and found out about their roaming rates to India and The USA and they are as follows:

 It should be noted that there is a better rate available with some kind of bundle opt-in from both the operators and I have not shown about the other UK operators but they offer a similar sort of rate so I am not trying to single out O2 and/or Vodafone.

Since LTE is 'All-IP' network my interest is more from Data point of view rather than the voice point of view. A colleague who went to India recently decided that enough is enough and he bought a SIM in India locally. Apparently is just a bit too difficult to get SIM in India if you are not an Indian resident, nevertheless he somehow managed it. The rates as shown below was INR 24 for 100 MB of data.

Rs. 24 is something like $0.50 or £0.35. You see my problem regarding the data rates? People may be quick to point out here that India has the cheapest data rates in the world. On the other hand we look at US, the rates are as follows:

Even if we assume $15 / 1GB data, its far cheaper than the roaming rate which may be something like,  £3/MB = £3000/GB or £6/MB = £6000/GB.

I blogged about all the interesting developments that have been happening in LTE World Summit regarding the roaming solutions but what is the point of having all these solutions if the operators cant work out a way to reduce these costs. Or is it that they do not want to reduce these costs as they are a good source of income?

The operators complain that the OTT services are taking business away from them and turning them into dumb data pipes but to a lot of extent its their fault. People like me who travel often dont want to spend loads of cash on data and have worked out a way around it. Most of the places I visit have WiFi, most of my work is not urgent enough and I can wait till I am in a WiFi coverage area. In some parts of the world, still I have to buy an expensive WiFi access but compared to the roaming rates, its still cheap so I have stopped complaining about it. My decision to book a hotel depends of reviews, free breakfast and free WiFi. Some of our clients who give us their phone to use abroad strictly inform us that data should not be turned on unless its a matter of life and death.

If the operators dont change their strategies and work out a better solution for the roaming rates I am afraid that their short term gains will only lead to long term pains.

Do you have an opinion? I am interested in hearing.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Access Class Barring in LTE using System Information Block Type 2

As per 3GPP TS 22.011 (Service accessibility):

All UEs are members of one out of ten randomly allocated mobile populations, defined as Access Classes (AC) 0 to 9. The population number is stored in the SIM/USIM. In addition, UEs may be members of one or more out of 5 special categories (Access Classes 11 to 15), also held in the SIM/USIM. These are allocated to specific high priority users as follows. (The enumeration is not meant as a priority sequence):
Class 15 - PLMN Staff;
 -"-  14 - Emergency Services;
 -"-  13 - Public Utilities (e.g. water/gas suppliers);
 -"-  12 - Security Services;
 -"-  11 - For PLMN Use.

Now, in case of an overload situation like emergency or congestion, the network may want to reduce the access overload in the cell. To reduce the access from the UE, the network modifies the SIB2 (SystemInformationBlockType2) that contains access barring related parameters as shown below:

For regular users with AC 0 – 9, their access is controlled by ac-BarringFactor and ac-BarringTime. The UE generates a random number
– “Rand” generated by the UE has to pass the “persistent” test in order for the UE to access. By setting ac-BarringFactor to a lower value, the access from regular user is restricted (UE must generate a “rand” that is lower than the threshold in order to access) while priority users with AC 11 – 15 can access without any restriction

For users initiating emergency calls (AC 10) their access is controlled by ac-BarringForEmergency – boolean value: barring or not

For UEs with AC 11- 15, their access is controlled by ac-BarringForSpecialAC - boolean value: barring or not.

The network (E-UTRAN) shall be able to support access control based on the type of access attempt (i.e. mobile originating data or mobile originating signalling), in which indications to the UEs are broadcasted to guide the behaviour of UE. E-UTRAN shall be able to form combinations of access control based on the type of access attempt e.g. mobile originating and mobile terminating, mobile originating, or location registration.  The ‘mean duration of access control’ and the barring rate are broadcasted for each type of access attempt (i.e. mobile originating data or mobile originating signalling).

Another type of Access Control is the Service Specific Access Control (SSAC) that we have seen here before. SSAC is used to apply independent access control for telephony services (MMTEL) for mobile originating session requests from idle-mode.

Access control for CSFB provides a mechanism to prohibit UEs to access E-UTRAN to perform CSFB. It minimizes service availability degradation (i.e. radio resource shortage, congestion of fallback network) caused by mass simultaneous mobile originating requests for CSFB and increases the availability of the E-UTRAN resources for UEs accessing other services.  When an operator determines that it is appropriate to apply access control for CSFB, the network may broadcast necessary information to provide access control for CSFB for each class to UEs in a specific area. The network shall be able to separately apply access control for CSFB, SSAC and enhanced Access control on E-UTRAN.

Finally, we have the Extended Access Barring (EAB) that I have already described here before.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Around the World with Mobile Global Insights - via @TomiAhonen

Next month we will reach the milestone where the number of active Mobile devices is equal to the number of people in the world. There are many people with more than one active mobile device and there are others who have no devices so the number of active devices will still keep rising for some time to come.

Embedded below is a presentation by Tomi Ahonen in MMAF 2013, you can see all the presentations from the event on Slideshare here.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

eMBMS Physical layer aspects from T&M point of view

Based on the success of the recent posts on eMBMS, here and here, this final post on this topic is a look at physical layer perspective from Test and Measurement point of view. Slides kindly provided by R&S

A video of this is also available on Youtube, embedded below:

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Video: Quick summary of 3GPP Release 12 features

Ericsson recently posted a very good summary video of Release-12 features. My comments and more details are posted below the video:

You may have noticed that LTE Release 12 is also referred to as LTE-B as I posted in my blog post here. Unfortunately, this terminology is not supported by 3GPP which refers to all advancements of LTE as LTE-A. See comment on the post I just referred.

The Elevation Beamforming is also referred to as 3D-Beamforming or 3D-MIMO as I show here.

I havent written any posts on Dual connectivity and not exactly sure how it works but there is an interesting presentation on the Small Cells Enhancements in Release-12 on my blog here.

You can learn more about the WiFi and EPC Integration here.

Click on the following Direct Communications, Device to device (D2D) and Public Safety for more information on the topics.

There are many good presentations on Machine Type Communications (MTC) or M2M that are available on this label here.

Finally, I havent seen much about the lean carrier but now that I know, will add some information on this topic soon.

Related links: