I came across this interesting presentation from Orange in the LTE World Summit this year where the authors have detailed the C-RAN architecture and also discussing the fronthaul challenges faced by C-RAN. The presentation is embedded as follows. Please feel free to add your comments with your opinions.
Few weeks back in the LTE World Summit 2013, I heard someone from Ericsson mention that internally they think that by 2030 there will be 500 Billion Connected devices on the planet. The population projections for 2030 is somewhere around 8.5 Billion people worldwide. As a result the figure does not come much as a surprise to me.
John Cunliffe from Ericsson is widely credited for making the statement 50 Billion connected devices by 2020. Recently he spoke in the Cambridge Wireless and defended his forecast on the connected devices. He also provided us with the traffic exploration tool to see how the devices market would look up till 2018. Here is one of the pictures using the tool:
In terms of Cellular connectivity, we are looking at 9 Billion devices by 2018. The interesting thing to notice is that in 2017, there are still some 4 Billion feature phones. While in the developed world our focus is completely on Smartphones, its interesting to see new and existing SMS/USSD based services are still popular in the developing world. Some months back I heard about Facebook developing SMS/USSD based experience for Feature phones, I am sure that would attract a lot of users from the developing world.
One thing missing from the above is non-cellular connections which will make bulk of connectivity. Wi-Fi for example is a major connectivity medium for tablets. In fact 90% of the tablets have only WiFi connectivity. Bluetooth is another popular method of connectivity. While its mostly used in conjunction with phones, it is going to be a popular way of connecting devices in the Personal Area Network's (PAN's). So its no surprise that we will see 50 Billion connected devices but maybe not by 2020. My guess would be around 2022-23.
In the upcoming LTE World Summit 2013 (programme here), I will be doing a briefing on the topic 'Economical M2M using LTE'. I have some ideas but I would like to hear more on what you think? In fact, is LTE the right technology from the M2M device point of view? Or do they better stick to 2G (I dont think 3G is good enough generally from low data M2M point of view). What other issues can be foreseen? Security? Roaming?
A recent presentation from Telefonica shows how they are partnering with other operators worldwide to create universal solutions. Will this help? Why not use these solutions for everything, not just LTE? LTE is data only technology isn't it?
The presentation is embedded below to draw your own conclusion but I an interested in hearing your thoughts on Twitter or here on the blog.
Some of the interesting findings from the conference include:
TD-LTE is gaining momentum, and its beyond WiMAX operators and China mobile, many APAC operators are considering it for unpaired spectrum and to efficiently meet the asymmetric capacity requirements of mobile broadband which is mainly download
Software defined radio and self-organizing networks are proving critical to manage operational costs
Single RAN is proving the best way to manage network performance
Signaling is in a mess - what is the good of standards when it creates such a mess?
IMS gaps continue - what is the good of standards when it doesn't meet basic migration needs?
The SS7 guys have reinvented themselves as the Diameter guys
Business model innovation - LTE is not just for mobile devices, LTE is for quad play and an interesting array of business applications
The 3G network of many operators is congested - forcing the move to LTE
CSFB (Circuit Switched Fall Back) works
VoLTE testing / roaming / network issues remain - given voice remains by revenue the core service, our industry should be ashamed we're having so many problems with VoLTE
A belief on OTT partnering, but not quantification on the OTT's willingness to pay for QoS (Quality of Service)
Many operators have a question mark on the use of WiFi off-load - its not a technology issue rather one of economics and customer experience, LTE-A and small cells in hotspots appears to be the focus.
Briefly reviewing the slides shown below:
LTE Data Points
96 Commercial LTE deployments mainly in the 1.8 and 2.8GHz bands
APAC has 40% of LTE subscribers, likely to be the high growth region
Drivers for LTE: Throughput, efficiency and low latency
TD-LTE: 12 commercial deployments, 24 contracts and 53 Trials
Streaming video dominates traffic on handheld devices, with YouTube being the top traffic generator at 27% of peak traffic
South Korea Data Explosion
South Korea has seen OTT explode, Kakao Talk 51 mins of usage per day
20 times smartphone growth in 2 years (28M in June 2012, 53% penetration)
60 times mobile data growth to 37TB per month in 2 years, 32% is from LTE devices
LTE subs use 2.9GB per month compared to 3G sub on average use 1.2GB
LTE subs reached 10M, 141% monthly growth
Customer drive for LTE is speed (37%) and latest device (31%)
Challenge Jan 2010 and Jan 2012 ARPU fallen from $48-$35 while data use risen from 180MB to 992MB
Focus beyond voice, messaging and data into VAS: virtual goods (Korean thing), ICT (Information and Communication Technology) and cloud services / solutions (focus on enterprise)
HK CSL Migration to LTE
3G is congested, LTE is not
Key is LTE devices available, unlike the early 3G days
Migrating customers away from unlimited plans to family and shared plans that deliver value
LTE sub uses 2-5 times the data of 3G subs
Average speed seen is 20 Mbps
Using Software Defined Radio, Single vendor RAN, Self-Organizing Networks
Migration to LTE-A, small cells and WiFi where appropriate
Starhub's migration to LTE (they launched LTE at the event)
50% of voice traffic is still on 2G
Using AMR to re-farm 2G spectrum to LTE
Site access is critical - drive to software defined radio to avoid site visits
NTT DoCoMo's VoLTE Evolution
70% devices in portfolio are now LTE
All smartphones support CSFB
Drive to VoLTE is simply to switch off 3G voice (2G already off)
BUT IMS has missing functionality / standards - migration from 3G to VoLTE is not easy - example of failing in standards on basic issues
Yes: Example of innovative converged 4G operator in an developing market that uses web principles for service delivery
Role of Mobile Identity in BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)
BYOD is as significant a trend if APAC as any other market
Provides a nice review of the approaches in managing BYOD
LTE Quad-Play in Emerging Markets: TD-LTE case study
Smartphone growth implications: Review of the signaling problem and mitigation strategies across 3G and LTE. Highlights challenge current standards process
The last table is from an Ofcom document here. Its very interesting read. For example I didnt know that The L-band was the first major part of Ofcom spectrum awards programme relevant to mobile services. It consists of 40MHz between 1452MHz and 1492MHz. The auction took place in May 2008, in which Qualcomm won the entirety of the available spectrum.
Here is the summary of the operators working on LTE:
Everything Everywhere (EE = Orange + T-Mobile) - They are calling their '4G' service as EE, covering up to 70% of the UK by the end of 2013. Network kit provided by Huawei.
Three - Samsung will provide the Radio Access Network, and the core infrastructure, for Three's LTE (4G) network. That includes the base stations, and radio core. 3 UK has agreed to purchase 2 x 15 MHz of 1800 MHz spectrum from Everything everywhere, and plans commercial launch of LTE service in 2013.
Telefonica (O2) trial network - Equipment supplied by Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) for both the Radio and Core network elements. Backhaul for the 4G trial network has been provided using Microwave Radio Equipment from Cambridge Broadband Networks Limited, NEC and Nokia Siemens Networks.
Updated 13/09/12 - 11:25
UK Broadband rolled out the first commercial TD-LTE network in London back in February (available to customers since May 2012). The equipment is provided by Huawei. They have 40MHz in Band 42 (3.5GHz) and 84MHz in band 43 (3.6GHz).