Showing posts with label Broadband. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Broadband. Show all posts

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Against the Limited "Unlimited" data plans

Once upon a time the Mobile Operators had loads of bandwidth and not enough data users. So they decided to lure the poor users into buying the 'unlimited' data plans. They were sure that the devices are quite rubbish and no one can use enough data. Just for the precaution some clever operators added a small print where unlimited meant 1 or 2GB. The operators thought that the users will never reach this amount.

Then came the iPhone and changed the whole world. People actually started using the data on their devices. The operators started panicking. Android just compunded this problem. So the operators now have started advocating against these unlimited plans.



The CEO of Vodafone , Vittorio Colao , has told attendees at this year's Nokia World 2010 event that he welcomes the end of "unlimited" Mobile Broadband data plans. Colao also warned consumers that "data pricing has to adjust", thus signalling a greater focus on tiered pricing models.

He added: "The principle here must be that, a bit like motorways or hotels, every class of service needs to have its own price and customers must be able to pay for the level of service [they want]. Pricing should be adjusted to reflect the usage and load. We are approaching the end of the free era."

The cowboy salesmen are still fooling the average Joe when it comes to unlimited plans. People sue the operators but dont succeed.

We are begging to see the return of those bad old days when WiFi was the only option in conferences, etc and they were really expensive. Now instead of WiFi we have got our dongles that may not work well anyway inside the conferences or hotels due to the structure or location but when they do, you again have to think about the costs.

In Korea, KT Telecom had to introduce unlimited plans because the other rival introduced one. This is probably because they still have spare bandwith available. Once that gets used up then they will either be running for caps or advocating against the unlimited plans.

I have been against the unlimited plans from the beginning but I advocate that the operators become a bit wise in the way they charge us, the end users.

If I have 4 devices I dont want limited data on all devices because I dont want to keep track of which devices use how much data or have an allowance. Maybe what I need is a data bundle that I can use across devices and maybe share with my family members. Wallmart has recently come up with something similar in US. Wallmart is a MVNO using T-Mobile network. Though their data plans are expensive compared to T-Mobiles plans just because they allow data sharing and rollover, people may go for them.

Rollovers are available on Pay as you go plans but not on Pay monthly which makes the pay monthly (generally on contract) people seem stupid. Operators should encourage this, maybe keep a maximum that can be rolled over.

Finally, there is this net neutrality and QoS discussions are going on. Eventually some kind of QoS or destination based speeds, etc will come but for the end user they will go where they will get what they want. The operators should remember this.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Whitepaper: Traffic Management Techniques for Mobile Broadband Networks


The report, Traffic Management Techniques for Mobile Broadband Networks: Living in an Orthogonal World,focuses on 3GPP networks and concerns itself specifically with traffic management, including the handling of traffic flows on 3GPP networks in contrast with other network management techniques that operators may deploy (such as offloading, compression, network optimization and other important mechanisms).

Mobile broadband networks are confronted by a number of challenges. In particular, the physical layer in mobile networks is subject to a unique confluence of unpredictable and unrelated, or “orthogonal,” influences. Moreover, mobile broadband networks have some important differences from their fixed brothers and sisters, which lead to different traffic management requirements. Among the most significant differences for purposes of traffic management is the need for more granular visibility to circumstances on the ground. Optimally, traffic management for mobile broadband networks requires visibility to what is occurring (by device or application) at the cell site level and in a timeframe that enables as far as feasible near-time reactions to resolve issues.

With the consumer in mind, an End-to-End (E2E) view of mobile service is critical for traffic management. For example, a consumer using a mobile phone to look up movie listings and purchase tickets considers the E2E service as the ability to see what movie is playing and execute a transaction to purchase tickets. 3GPP has endeavored to standardize increasingly more robust traffic management (Quality of Service, or QoS) techniques for mobile broadband networks with a consumer’s E2E view of QoS. It must be considered, however, that mobile operators typically do not have full control over E2E provisioning of services that depend on mobile broadband Internet access.

Global standards organizations like 3GPP play an important role in the development of traffic management through provisions for addressing QoS, particularly regarding interworking with non-3GPP access mechanisms. These are important new innovations, and the 3G Americas white paper notes that the efforts of standards development organizations should be intensified.

In addition, the configuration of end-user devices and content and applications not provisioned by the network operator not only impacts the experience of the particular user, but potentially other users in a particular cell as well. Efforts to drive further QoS innovations should be mindful of potentially adverse impacts from these sources and support and foster interoperability of third party applications with existing network platforms.

More innovations are needed throughout the mobile broadband ecosystem, in particular by application developers, in order to realize E2E quality of service. Furthermore, transparency in network management practices is important in fostering innovation, but requires a careful balancing to ensure consumer comprehension while safeguarding network reliability. Organizations with technical expertise such as 3G Americas are prepared to help to illuminate and progress the development of these new technologies.

“3G Americas stands ready to assist interested parties in the ongoing development and understanding of traffic management techniques,” said Chris Pearson, President of 3G Americas. “We are mindful that in this hemisphere and elsewhere, the industry has accepted an increasingly active role in addressing questions about service levels and innovation on mobile broadband networks.”

The white paper, Traffic Management Techniques for Mobile Broadband Networks: Living in an Orthogonal World, was written collaboratively by members of 3G Americas and is available for free download on the 3G Americas website at www.3gamericas.org.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Quality of Service (QoS) and Deep Packet Inspection (DPI)

One of the things I mentioned in my presentation in the LTE World Summit was that differentiation of Services based on Quality of Services is required to be able to charge the users more.
This QoS can be varied based on deep inspection of the packets which can tell the operator as to what service a particular packet belongs to. The operators can thus give higher priority to the services and applications that are recommended by them and also block certain services that can be deemed as illegal or unproductive (like file sharing or P2P).

Continuous Computing claims to be one of the market leaders in producing the DPI systems. You can read this article by Mike Coward who is the CTO and Co-founder of Continuous computing here.

There is also this very interesting paper on QoS control in 3GPP EPS which is available freely here.

Please feel free to comment or suggest how do you see DPI being used in the future.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Interesting calculation showing that data cost to operator is €1/per GB


The 'Cost per Bit' issue...

Cost per bit has always been an issue from operator point of view. The other day an operator tried to show a comparison of data transfer with SMS. Though this may make some of us feel guilty that we are ripping these poor operators off ;) in reality most of us agree that it is the other way round.

A slightly older report from Ericsson suggested that from operator point of view, 1GB data transfer can cost as low as 1 euro.

So if we now plug in the above information into the slide below, presented by Moray Rumney of Agilent in the LTE World Summit, we can see that the operators have been earning massive profits on our behalf.



With Mobile broadband becoming more common and cheaper, users may not be willing to pay any more than they are now. At the same time, they may expect the speeds to keep increasing at regular intervals. The operators will soon be forced (if not already doing so) to offer QoS based packages which can help them boost their revenue and provide better QoE to the higher paying users.

I will cover this issue of QoS, QoE and DPI in the upcoming posts.

If you are wondering along the lines of how to reduce this cost per bit then I would recommend you to go back and have a look at this discussion on Martin Sauter's blog.
If you are thinking along the lines of increasing ARPU with LTE, then please see my presentation here.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

50 Billion Connected Devices by 2020 (2025?)

Back in April, Hans Vestberg, CEO and the President of Ericsson declared that there will be 50 Billion connected devices by 2020.

In the recently concluded LTE World Summit, this statement seemed to have gained lots of attention. Everyone quoted this left, right and center. The interesting thing was that some said that this would happen by 2025 and some also said 2030.

While we can make a generic statement that there will be some 50 Billion connected devices sometime between 2020 and 2030, not everyone was sure how they would be connected.

My understanding is that a device is connected if it has a valid IP (IPv6) address. That means that the PC's at home are included and anything connected over WiFi are included as well.

So by this definition, it wont surprise me if we probably have 100 Billion connected devices by 2030.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Redefining the wireless Quality of Experience (QoE) with LTE

Ken Wirth, President 4G/LTE Networks of Alcatel-Lucent showed us the following video in the LTE World Summit 2010. Its been available on Youtube for quite some time but I missed it before:



Tuesday, 13 April 2010

HSPA finds success with Mobile Broadband Growth


Another GSA report titled "Mobile Broadband Growth - Reports from HSPA Operators Worldwide". As the name suggests, this contains report from different operators on their Mobile Broadband revenues growth.

Some interesting bits from the report:
  • According to a report from AdMob, smartphonedata traffic grew 193% year-over-year in the month of February 2010. Smartphonesaccounted for 48% of its traffic in February 2010, up from 35% the year before. AdMobattributed this primarily to iPhoneand Android traffic.
  • Deutsche Telekom CEO RenĂ© Obermann is expected to double revenues by 2015 with €10 billion coming from mobile data traffic. Obermann said it would double the number of 3G smartphonesin the network to around 8 million by the end of 2010
  • A recent report by In-Stat, stated that mobile broadband is now the second-largest access technology behind DSL, making up 18% subscribers
  • Telia Sonera reported that the strong demand for mobile devices, including mobile broadband and Apple iPhone™, continued. Mobile data traffic in Nordic and Baltic operations increased close to 200% while the number of mobile broadband subscriptions rose by more than 60% during 2009.
  • AT&T reported that Text messaging grew 50% YoY and picture messaging grew 130%
  • According to IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, vendors shipped a total of 54.5 million units Q4 09, up 39.0% from Q4 08. Vendors shipped a total of 174.2m units in 2009, up 15.1% from the 151.4m units in 2008. Converged mobile devices accounted for 15.4% of all mobile phones shipped in 2009, up slightly from 12.7% in 2008
  • The number of people subscribing to broadband internet services in Australia grew rapidly with wireless broadband and 3G mobile services continuing strong growth in 2009, according to a new report by ACMA (Australian Communications and Media Authority). 3G now accounts for more than 50% of all mobile subscriptions, an annual increase of 44%. Internet subscriptions reached 8.4 million in June 2009, compared to 7.2 million in June 2008. Broadband subscriptions increased from 5.66 million to 6.72 million in the same period, with wireless subscribers gaining 162% to 2.1 million
  • Vodafone's Data traffic has risen 300% in the past two years. Data now represents 11% of all European service revenues. Smartphones represent 20% of handsets sales. Around 40% of the company's European 3G/HSPA networks now support 7.2 Mbps. In the coming 6 months, Vodafone plans to upgrade 20-25,000 sites across Europe to HSPA+
  • UK consultancy firm, Coda Research Consultancy, has predicted that mobile data consumption in the US is set to reach 327,000 terabytes a month by 2015, indicating a 40-fold rise in mobile data consumption over 5 years
  • Mobile data traffic from PC modems and routers is forecast to increase 4-fold between 2010 and 2014, according to a report by ABI Research. 2,000 petabytes of data will be sent and received in 2010, a figure that will rise to about 8,000 petabytesin 2014
  • Semiannual US wireless industry survey was released at CTIA in March 2010 revealing that wireless service revenues totaled $77 billion for the last half of the year. The real growth is coming from wireless data services -mobile Web, text messages, and other non-voice services. In the latter half of last year, revenue for wireless data service totaled > $22 billion, nearly a third of overall wireless services revenue and up 26% YoY. Steve Largent, President and CEO of CTIA, said in a statement. "Mobile broadband will increasingly play a vital role in people’s lives."
  • A new study by Juniper Research has forecast that more than 1 in 10 mobile subs will either have a ticket delivered to their mobile phone or buy a ticket with their phone by 2014, representing a five-fold growth over the next five years.
  • Strategy Analytics recently forecast that the number of active mobile broadband subscriptions worldwide is expected to rise to around 1.3 billion by 2014
  • ABI Research announced that shipments of mobile broadband-enabled consumer products, which includes e-book readers, mobile digital cameras, camcorders, personal media players, personal navigation devices and mobile gaming devices will increase 55-fold between 2008 and 2014 with total shipments reaching 58 million units per year in 2014

Monday, 12 April 2010

GSA report on Evolution to LTE


Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) published a report on "Evolution to LTE" which is available on their website here to download.

The report starts with the need for LTE and emphasises its importance with regards to the Mobile Broadband take off. It goes on to encourage the operators to embrace LTE and lists the operators that have committed to LTE roll out.

As of April 2010:
  • 64 networks in 31 countries have committed to LTE network rollout.
  • Upto 22 LTE networks would be in service end of 2010
  • 39 or more LTE networks will be in service end of 2012
Spectrum is another area of focus of this report. Along with 2.6GHz, 700MHz will probably be used in Americas, New Zealand and India. 800 MHz and 900 MHz will probably be available and used in Europe.

Finally with LTE being rolled out, it would be easy to upgrade to LTE-Advanced when the standards are finalised in Release-10.

For people interested in this report and topics, the following related presentations are available from GSA:

Monday, 22 February 2010

Femtocells update from Mobile World Congress 2010


Among a host of announcements, the leading silicon supplier for this segment, picoChip, was working hard to maintain its headstart as Qualcomm and others gear up to enter the market. It announced no fewer than six new customers, many coming from the Taiwanese ecosystem that is so vital to the mass adoption and price competitiveness of any emerging consumer product.

The new customers are Alpha Networks, Argela, Askey, C&S Micro, Contela and Zyxel, all of which will use the UK firm's PC302 picoXcell system-on-chip for HSPA(+). This is designed to reduce cost and time to market for vendors, and now has over 20 adopters, including Vodafone's femto supplier Alcatel-Lucent, and AT&T's, Cisco/ip.access.

Meanwhile, the femto players are looking ahead to LTE, where there are many indications from operators that tiny cells will play a big part in the strategy. The devices will be used from day one by some carriers - to offload data from the macrocell or to provide indoor coverage in high frequencies like 2.6GHz. They could also add capacity to deployments in low frequencies like 700MHz and even be used as a starting point for greenfield providers, which could then add macro networks later, explained Simon Saunders, chair of the Femto Forum.

Continuous Computing has been eyeing the femto market for several years from its heartlands in protocol stacks, core networking and traffic shaping. At MWC, it worked with picoChip and Cavium Networks to show the first complete LTE femtocell reference design. Available immediately, this includes the LTE modem, RF and packet processors, protocol software, intelligent router functionality and a complete Evolved Packet Core (EPC) simulator.

"The demand for LTE femtocells is unquestionable. We are already seeing operators asking for small cell access points to start testing in the second half of this year. Femtocells represent the key to avoiding the difficulties surrounding the first 3G deployments where roll-outs cost too much, took too long and did not meet user expectations," said Mike Dagenais, CEO of Continuous.

The reference design used a picoChip modem, mezzanine RF card and PHY software; Cavium's Octeon Plus multicore processor; and Continuous' Trillium LTE Layer 2/3 protocols, eNodeB reference application and EPC emulator.



Call it network congestion, capacity crunch or data overload - the complaints aired at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week were all about cellphone network operators trying to find ways of profitably handling an explosion in mobile data traffic.

Management of the data traffic has become a priority for the telecoms industry as mobile internet usage is booming but data revenues for the phone companies grow slowly at best.

Research firm Informa forecasts a 50 per cent rise in mobile data traffic in 2010 on the back of the increasing popularity of devices such as the Apple iPhone and netbooks, but only a 13 percent rise in data revenues.

This has put added pressure on the phone companies to find ways of using fixed line networks including the internet to take some of the strain off the airwaves.

"Offloading is crucial for us," France Telecom -owned Orange's global head of mobile Olaf Swantee told Reuters ahead of the conference.

"In many countries where we have a fixed network we try to offload directly," he said.

The problem is that offloading data from wireless network to local hotspots still costs money, and operators are searching left and right for solutions that will not raise their overall capital spending, industry executives said.

"To address the smartphone challenge they are investing again," said Rajeev Suri, chief executive of joint venture equipment maker Nokia Siemens, who added that it was uncertain whether this spending was additional to or instead of other investment plans.

More certain was Bruce Brda, head of rival Motorola's networks business. "Carriers have been very consistent - they do not increase capex," he told Reuters.

Nevertheless Motorola saw better than expected demand late last year for equipment as some operators strengthened their existing networks to cope with surging data traffic, Brda said.

"In early 2010 I am seeing the same trend. The indication is there is incremental spending."

Equipment vendors such as Ericsson, Nokia Siemens and Alcatel-Lucent were also demonstrating new technology LTE equipment in Barcelona, as a route toward handling the data rush.

Operators are expected to spend billions of euros converting their networks to the Long Term Evolution standard, which will enable fast mobile broadband access for services such as watching movies on mobile phones, although some critics say LTE would prove a stopgap solution if data traffic goes on growing.

"LTE will buy a carrier two to three years of relief, but then it runs out," Brda said.

And analysts say telecom operators' sales in mature markets are not growing fast enough to justify major investments, which may mean an increase in demand instead for other technologies such as Wi-Fi or femtocells.

Femtocells are localized phone network base stations sited in homes and offices where signal strength might otherwise be weak, taking users onto the phone company's network via their own broadband internet connections.

"The biggest problem is that everybody is expecting these huge amounts of data but nobody is willing to pay much extra for it," said Stephen Rayment, chief technology officer of Belair Networks, which provides Wi-Fi services.

"Operators started offering 'all you can eat' data and now that's coming back to bite them," he said.




Speaking at Mobile World Congress Professor Simon Saunders, chairman of the femtoforum - the official non-profit standards' body proclaimed "2010 is the breakthrough year for femtocell".

From a UK perspective he was able to confirm the backing of industry regular Ofcom while T-Mobile, Telefonica/O2, Vodafone and Orange have all signed up as members so far. Furthermore, deployment of femtocell solutions to compete with Sure Signal is now ready and in their hands.

"The technology is there and it is now a matter of timing for the operators," he told me. "I cannot give specific dates, but all UK operators should be looking at a 2010 roll-out."

So far 55 network operators are femtocell forum members around the world, and operator commitments have jumped 50 per in the last three months alone. On top of this 3GPP has formalised femtocell standards, and the body's next generation ('Release 9') will bring support for LTE and enhancements for UMTS. The WiMax Forum is also on board as is the FCC in the US while China and Japan have confirmed their support.

Alcatel-Lucent recently announced the availability of a “small cell” (femtocell) designed to address the needs of enterprise customers. And last month Vodafone renamed its femtocell device to Sure Signal, as well as dramatically reducing its cost from £160 down to £50.

Informa said that the Vodafone relaunch of its femtocell offering is “realising considerable success in the UK, spearheading the entrance of femtocell services in the European market.”

“Vodafone rebranded the femtocell service to make the proposition clearer to end users while differentiating from their competition by eliminating indoor coverage deadspots,” it added.

According to Informa there are currently 12 service commitments, including nine commercial launches and several ongoing trials, while completed trials are now progressing into deployment plans for several mobile operators. This contrasts with eight femtocell service commitments and six commercial launches in November 2009.

During the last three months it cited French mobile operator SFR, Portuguese operator OPTIMUS and Chinese operator China Unicom, all of which have commercially launched femtocell services. Meanwhile it says that both Japan’s KDDI and France’s free have also committed to the technology.

Pictures Source: Trusted Reviews

Monday, 8 February 2010

3G Americas Publishes New Report on Technology choices for Mobile Broadband

3G Americas, a wireless industry trade association representing the GSM family of technologies including LTE, announced that it has published its highly anticipated resource report on 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) standards and their evolution to IMT-Advanced, or 4G. The white paper, 3GPP Mobile Broadband Innovation Path to 4G: Release 9, Release 10 and Beyond: HSPA+, SAE/LTE and LTE-Advanced, provides in-depth examination of 3GPP technology standards from a technical, business and applications standpoint.

“The 3GPP technology standards deliver mobile connectivity to more than 4 billion users worldwide today and have been developed to continue evolving to higher levels of performance with mobile broadband innovation,” said Chris Pearson, president of 3G Americas. “GSM operators can choose to evolve their networks in ways that best suit their assets and business environments with benefits that offer flexibility, scalability and economic advantages, whether they choose HSPA+ or LTE.”



UMTS-HSPA is the world’s leading 3G technology and is the preferred choice for the majority of wireless operators and subscribers today and into the future. The global demand for wireless data services continues to drive the rapid growth of HSPA technology with 303 commercial HSPA networks and over 454 million UMTS-HSPA subscriptions reported at the end of 2009 by Informa Telecoms & Media. Informa has further projected that by year-end 2012, worldwide subscriptions to UMTS-HSPA will reach nearly 1.4 billion; by year-end 2013, global UMTS-HSPA subscriptions are expected to exceed 2 billion, rising to 2.8 billion by the end of 2014. GSM-UMTS-HSPA subscriptions provide the foundation for future evolutions to 3GPP Release 9, Release 10 and beyond with HSPA+, LTE and LTE-Advanced.

“Wireless data consumption is increasing faster now than ever before,” said Adrian Scrase, 3GPP Head of Mobile Competence Center. “Smartphone usage is experiencing higher volumes and the superior user experience offered by such devices is resulting in quickly rising demand and escalating use of wireless data applications. This is consequently driving the need for continued innovations that are supported by the efficient and successful 3GPP technology path.”


3GPP Mobile Broadband Innovation Path to 4G: Release 9, Release 10 and Beyond: HSPA+, SAE/LTE and LTE-Advanced, is a comprehensive resource intended to assist members of the wireless industry as well as interested members of the general public in understanding details of the work in 3GPP on Release 9 and Release 10. In addition, the report further describes the features of Release 8 that were closed in March 2009.

Release 9, which is targeted for completion by March 2010, will provide increased feature functionality and performance enhancements to both HSPA and LTE. The report reviews additional multi-carrier and MIMO options for HSPA and features and enhancements to support emergency services, location services and broadcast services for LTE. Other Release 9 enhancements include those to support Home NodeB/eNodeB (i.e. femtocells), Self-Organizing/Self-Optimizing Networks (SON) and the evolution of the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) architecture.

LTE will serve to unify the fixed and mobile broadband worlds. As an all IP-based technology, LTE will allow expansion of the Internet experience on mobile devices and deliver multimedia content to the screen of choice. The vast majority of leading operators, device and infrastructure manufacturers support LTE as the mobile broadband technology of the future and, according to Informa Telecoms & Media, 130 global operators have announced trials or intentions to evolve their networks to LTE. Two commercial networks have already been launched in Norway and Sweden by TeliaSonera in 2009 and as many as 20 will be launched in 2010.

“All roads lead to LTE – for GSM, CDMA, newly licensed and potentially even WiMAX mobile operators,” Pearson added. “The appeal of the 3GPP technology roadmap is no longer suited for only GSM operators.”

While work for Release 9 is nearing completion, significant progress has already been made in 3GPP on work for Release 10, which includes LTE-Advanced. In fact, 3GPP already submitted a proposal in October 2009 based on LTE-Advanced for the IMT-Advanced evaluation and certification process led by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The ITU has defined requirements that will officially define and certify technologies as IMT-Advanced, or 4G, and is expected to evaluate submitted proposals by standards organizations for potential certification in the 2010 timeframe; certified 4G/IMT-Advanced technology specifications are projected to be published by early 2011.

As part of Release 10, some of the key LTE-Advanced technology enhancements include carrier aggregation, multi-antenna enhancements and relays. Assuming LTE-Advanced is certified to be IMT-Advanced compliant, 3GPP targets completion of the Release 10 specification by year-end 2010.

“The white paper by 3G Americas provides an excellent overview of the work by 3GPP in determining the standards on the path to 4G,” Scrase said.

The popular white paper, 3GPP Mobile Broadband Innovation Path to 4G: Release 9, Release 10 and Beyond: HSPA+, SAE/LTE and LTE-Advanced, was written collaboratively by members of 3G Americas and is available for free download here.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Morgan Stanley's 'The Mobile Internet Report'


A bit old but may be interesting for people who are interested in Stats. Back in Dec. Morgan Stanley released a report titled 'The Mobile Internet Report' which is probably one of the biggest collection of mobile Stats.

According to Tomi Ahonen:

The report while they call it a 'mobile internet' report - is in fact, a report on smartphone based use of browser data services. It is very US centric, but is global, and it is far too obsessed about the iPhone. And it disappoints me, that while the report writers are very aware of simpler technologies, even when they discuss the Emerging World, they obsess about 3G, which will not be a meaningful part of the internet experience in places like Africa for most of the next decade..


But it does discuss SMS to some degree, and briefly mentions MMS and 'non 3G' internet such as in China (ie WAP). It is also very good making analysis of Japan's mobile internet (including i-Mode before 3G). Totally worth downloading and reading.


Now a few key highlights. The total mobile data industry for 2009 worth... 284 Billion dollars. Wow. Morgan Stanley says it grew 20% this year (while the global economy shrunk 5%). For those who were looking for regional splits of phone market shares or smartphone market shares - this report has them. It says that the modern smartphone is equivalent to a desktop PC 8 years ago in performance. Haha, fave topic of mine - they also say that for internet content consumption - the mobile is 'better' in at least four areas (but not in every case). These 4 are email, VoIP, news and social networking. And they tell us that the value of paid digital content on mobile phones is 4x as big as the value of paid digital content on the PC internet.


And yes, hundreds of more data points, stats and tons of good graphs to help explain. Totally worth downloading, reading and quoting. Enjoy


You can download the report from here.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Teliasonera reaches a milestone with first commercial LTE Networks

TeliaSonera has rolled out commercial LTE Networks in Stockholm, Sweden and Oslo, Norway. The Swedish network is supplied by Ericsson and the Norway one by Huawei. At the moment only Samsung Dongles are available for browsing the web.

Read the press release here.

By the way, its a bit shameful that the operator wants to market itself and its using the term 4G for LTE as it probably sounds more sexy :) I blogged couple of years back and it still applies that LTE is 3.9G and IMT-Advanced/LTE-Advanced is 4G.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Over-the-top (OTT) Applications and Services

I keep on hearing about OTT apps everywhere I go nowadays. I know roughly what they mean but I couldnt find a proper definition anywhere. Here is my attampt to write a bit about what OTT means.

Traditionally lots of services like Voice and Television for example is delivered in a conventional way where Voice was transferred via a PSTN or a Mobile network and similarly TV was delivered via Cable, Satellite, DVB-T kind of technology. With Internet becoming common and Broadband access available to everyone, easily and cheaply, new applications are available to deliver Voice and TV kinds of services. The most popular voice app is for example Skype and Youtube is an example of TV (even though its more like Video On Demand)

These apps cause two main problems. The first problem is that the companies using this traditional medium starts losing customers and their cost per person goes up forcing their profits down. At the same time the amount of data traffic for the ISP increases thereby increasing the number of bits/cent (bits/pence). This forces them to upgrade their infrastructure to provide the same quality of service (QoS).

What this would mean is that in future it would not be possible to get flat rate packages for Mobile broadband or there may be restrictions where certain applications wont run unless you pay extra.

The dilemma for carriers is that LTE’s all-IP architecture will create a more open environment for Over The Top (OTT) applications, including third-party VoIP services, which threaten to further commoditize the network. To overcome this threat and realize revenue gains from LTE, carriers will need to partner with content and application providers, develop application store-fronts such as Apple’s App Store, and perhaps deploy APIs that expose LTE’s value-added network capabilities to third-party application and content developers for a fee.

The only way to ensure profitability in this ‘cost-per-bit’ model is to maximise scale. We have seen this clearly in mobile telephony, where a lack of differentiation has led to intense price pressure, flat rate tariffs and a decoupling of the revenues from the costs. The mobile operator suffers the cost of deploying ever increasing bandwidth while the ‘value’ that this bandwidth enables – the access to over the top (OTT) applications and services benefits the OTT providers.

To avoid this commoditisation, service providers need to add intelligence to the way they deliver these bits. Adopting a ’value-per-bit’ strategy ensures that the value added over and above the simple transport of data is seen and desired by the consumer and by any upstream content or application provider.

This creates a tighter coupling between infrastructure costs and the revenue that infrastructure can attract, thereby ensuring a far more sustainable business model for the service provider. It also benefits consumers and application providers by providing them levels of security, performance and reliability appropriate to the transaction being carried out and the subscribed service.

Most of us wouldn’t dream of paying for a customized Internet experience on a tailor-made device from our broadband service provider. But that is the way we used to buy telephone service, and it continues to be the way we do things for mobile and video services. Over time, all of these businesses will follow a similar pattern, breaking down into their component parts so that the best adapted players win in each piece of the business. The only questions are: “Who are the best adapted?” and “How long will it take?”

Further Reading: Making the Network Relevant in an Over-the-Top World

Monday, 26 October 2009

African Mobile Market grows 550% in 5 years



Africans are buying mobile phones at a world record rate, with take-up soaring by 550% in five years, research shows.

"The mobile phone revolution continues," says a UN report charting the phenomenon that has transformed commerce, healthcare and social lives across the planet. Mobile subscriptions in Africa rose from 54m to almost 350m between 2003 and 2008, the quickest growth in the world. The global total reached 4bn at the end of last year and, although growth was down on the previous year, it remained close to 20%.

On average there are now 60 mobile subscriptions for every 100 people in the world. In developing countries, the figure stands at 48 – more than eight times the level of penetration in 2000.

In Africa, average penetration stands at more than a third of the population, and in north Africa it is almost two-thirds. Gabon, the Seychelles and South Africa now boast almost 100% penetration. Only five African countries – Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia – still have a penetration of less than 10 per 100 inhabitants.

Uganda, the first African country to have more mobiles than fixed telephones, is cited as an example of cultural and economic transformation. Penetration has risen from 0.2% in 1995 to 23% in 2008, with operators making huge investments in infrastructure, particularly in rural areas. Given their low incomes, only about a quarter of Ugandans have a mobile subscription, but street vendors offer mobile access on a per-call basis. They also invite those without access to electricity to charge their phones using car batteries.

Popular mobile services include money transfers, allowing people without bank accounts to send money by text message. Many farmers use mobiles to trade and check market prices.

The share of the population covered by a mobile signal stood at 76% in developing countries in 2006, including 61% in rural areas. In sub-Saharan Africa, closer to half the population was covered, including 42% in rural areas.

At the end of 2007, there were eight times as many mobile phones as fixed lines in the least developed countries. The number of fixed lines in the world has essentially been frozen around 1.2bn since 2006 and saw a slight decline in 2008.

But a "digital divide" persists in terms of internet access. Australia, a country with 21 million inhabitants, has more broadband subscribers than the whole of Africa. There is also a huge gap in terms of broadband speed. The report warns: "Urgent attention is needed to address this situation and bring the continent more meaningfully online."

Other developing regions often boast a broadband penetration 10 times higher than in Africa, where Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, South Africa, and Tunisia account for 90% of all subscriptions. Broadband access in Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic and Swaziland is the most expensive in the world, costing more than $1,300 (£780) a month.

The report also found that at the end of 2008 there were an estimated 1.4bn internet users around the world. The growth rate of 15% was slightly lower than in 2007. In developing countries, the number of users grew by a quarter and such countries now account for more than half the world's internet users. But while more than half of the developed world population is now online, the corresponding share is only 15% in developing economies and 17% in "transition" economies.

China hosted the biggest number of users (298 million), followed by the United States (191 million) and Japan (88 million). A little over one fifth of the world's population used the internet in 2008.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Net Neutrality: Good or Bad?



I am not sure what the right answer to this question is? There will be winners and losers in either case.

FCC (Federal Communications Commission) chairman Julius Genachowski has just outlined his much-awaited plan for Internet neutrality. If the plan is approved it would drag the wireless operators in the US into the public regulatory arena occupied by their wired cousins who have recently had to account for their neutrality policies to the FCC.

The proposed policy outlined today by Genachowski will mean the FCC will get to poke and pry into mobile operators' business policies and rule on how well they conform to FCC guidelines on neutrality in the same way that wiredtelcos must. The FCC will also impose new and tighter neutrality behaviour on the big phone companies including Verizon and AT&T.

In detail: Genachowski has reaffirmed the long-standing (since 2005) broadband principles that will now be formalised by the FCC.
  • That consumers are entitled to access the lawful Internet content of their choice.
  • That they are also entitled to run applications and use services of their choice, subject to the needs of law enforcement.
  • That they are entitled to connect their choice of legal devices that do not harm the network.
  • And that they are entitled to competition among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers.
Genachowski has added two extra principles. Internet access providers can't discriminate against particular Internet content or applications: and they must ensure that Internet access providers are transparent about the network management practises they implement.

"The rule-making process will enable the commission to analyse fully the implications of the principles for mobile network architectures and practises, and how, as a practical matter, they can be fairly and appropriately implemented," Genachowski said today.

U.S. phone companies may be forced to open their wireless networks to rival Internet services like Skype and Google Voice under the proposal. The proposal, if adopted, would be a victory for consumer advocates and big Internet companies like Google Inc at the expense of telecom operators like AT&T Inc, Verizon Communications and Sprint Nextel Corp.

"The risk to the wireless carriers is that they won't be able to stop customers from using free voice and text services like Skype or Google voice," said Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett. "Voice and text are where they make all of their money."

The FCC has already been examining why Apple Inc rejected Google Voice for use on iPhone, sold by AT&T.

The new proposal could result in mobile customers cutting their phone bills by opting for minimum carrier voice plans and doing without text-messaging plans if they use mobile voice and text services from Skype and Google.

Piper Jaffray analyst Christopher Larsen downplayed the risk, saying that if they have to, operators would be sure to find a way to change their fees in order to maintain profits.
Advocates of Net neutrality have long argued that service providers must be barred from blocking or slowing Internet traffic based on the content being sent or downloaded.


But service providers say the increasing volume of bandwidth-hogging services -- such as video sharing -- puts pressure on them as it requires active network management, and some argue that Net neutrality could stifle innovation.

AT&T, the No. 2 U.S. mobile service, said it was concerned about an extension of Net neutrality rules to the competitive mobile industry.

The new regulations would limit consumer choices and "affect content providers, application developers, device manufacturers and network builders," said an executive at Verizon, which owns the No. 1 mobile service with Vodafone Group Plc.

Wireless trade group CTIA, whose members include AT&T, Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel, said it was concerned the proposal would have "unintended consequences." Leading Cable provider Comcast Corp said it was pleased Genachowski "recognized that networks need to be managed."

Exactly my thoughts (but with proper technical terms, language and analysis ;) by Gary Kim in IP Communications:

In the communications business, rationing is a fact of network life. Since virtually every part of a communications network uses shared resources, and in a market where users do not want to pay too much for access to those resources, rationing of network resources is necessary.

Shared finite resources always pose a usage problem. Known as the "tragedy of the commons," the economic problem is that multiple individuals, acting independently, solely and rationally when using a common resource can ultimately destroy the shared limited resource.

Some people argue that this problem cannot exist with the Internet, which is virtually infinitely expansible. But that misses the point. In looking at shared resources, the "commons" is the access network's resources, primarily. In other words, the "choke point" is the homeowner's garden hose, not the reservoir.


Some might argue that IP technology, optics, Moore's Law and competition upend the traditional "scarcity" value of access bandwidth. Certainly it helps. Currently, most consumers have access to two terrestrial broadband providers, two satellite networks, three, possibly four mobile networks. Then, there are broadband pipes where people work, at school and at many retail locations.

Still, there are some physical and capital investment limits, at least at retail prices consumers seem willing to pay. If consumers are willing to pay much more, they can get almost any arbitrarily-defined amount of access bandwidth. That, after all, is what businesses do.

If consumers resist paying business prices, network investment has to be shared more robustly than it otherwise might.

Given that all network resources are shared, resources are finite. To support retail prices that require such sharing, networks are designed in ways that "underprovision" resources ranging from radio ports to multiplexers to backhaul bandwidth. Based on experience, network designers engineer networks to work without blocking or degradation most of the time, but not necessarily always. Unusual events that place unexpected load on any part of the access network will cause blocking.

Blocking, in other words, is a network management technique. And that's the problem the Federal Communications Commission is going to have as it looks at additional "network freedoms" rules commonly known as "network neutrality." The term itself is imprecise and in fact already covered by the existing FCC rules. One might argue the issue is more the definitions and applications of existing rules that require clarification.

The ostensible purpose of the new rules is to prevent access provider blocking or slowing of any lawful applications, but a rule exists for that. Instead, it appears a primary effect of the rules will be to extend wired network rules to wired providers.

Beyond that, policymakers will have to contend with tragedy of the commons effects. If, in forbidding any traffic shaping (a network management technique) in the guise of "permitting the free flow of bits," rulemakers might set the stage for dramatic changes in industry packaging and prices of Internet access and other applications and services.

U.S. consumers prefer "flat rate billing" in large part because of its predictability of cost. But highly differentiated usage, in a scenario where networks cannot be technically managed by any traffic prioritization rules, will lead to some form of metered billing.

If metered billing is not instituted, and if service providers cannot shape traffic at peak hours to preserve network access for all users, then heavy users either have to pay more for their usage patterns, they will have to change their usage patterns, or they might experience some equivalent of "busy hour blocking."

Application providers and "public policy advocates" seem to be happy that new network neutrality rules might be adopted. They might not be so happy if ISPs lose the ability to deny or slow access to network resources. On the voice networks, some actual call blocking is allowed at times of peak usage. Forcing users to redial might be considered a form of traffic shaping, allowing access, but at the cost of additional time, or time-shifted connections.

To the extent that such blocking rules already are impermissible, some other network management techniques must be used. And one way to manage demand is to raise its price, either by increases in flat-rate package prices, by instituting usage-based billing or some other functionally-similar policy.

To avoid the tragedy of the commons problem, in other words, requires raising the end user's understanding of cost to use the shared resource.

Prioritized traffic handling, which assigns users a lower priority in the network once they have reached their fair use level, might be a preferable traffic management technique to slowing any single user's connection, once their individual usage caps have been reached.

When that is done, heavy users experience degradation in service only when competing for resources in a congested situation. For peer-to-peer users, the experienced reduction in throughput will be limited over time.

Only in heavily loaded cells or areas will a peer-to-peer user experience serious issues. Prioritized traffic handling enables operators to focus on dimensioning their networks for normal usage, while still permitting unlimited or "all you can eat" traffic.

Perhaps there are other ways of handling the "rationing," but on a shared network with network congestion, available to users paying a relatively modest amount of money, while a highly-differentiated load being placed on the network by a small number of users, some form of rationing is going to happen.

Perhaps flat rate packaging might still be possible if rationing affects end user credentials, rather than bits and applications or protocols. In other words, instead of "throttling" a user's bandwidth when a pre-set usage cap is exceeded, what is throttled is access to the network itself.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

New report on Mobile Broadband Evolution from HSPA to LTE-Advanced


The white paper, HSPA to LTE-Advanced: 3GPP Broadband Evolution to IMT-Advanced (4G), discusses the 3GPP evolution of EDGE, HSPA and LTE, their capabilities and their positions relative to other primary competing technologies and how these technologies fit into the ITU roadmap that leads to IMT-Advanced.

The following are some of the important observations and conclusions of the report:

  • HSPA Evolution (HSPA+) provides a strategic performance roadmap advantage for GSM-HSPA operators. Features such as dual-carrier operation, MIMO and higher-order modulation offer operators multiple options for improving their networks, and some of these features are simply network software upgrades.
  • Persistent innovation in developing HSPA and HSPA+ is bringing UMTS to its full potential providing mobile broadband to the mass market; in current deployments, HSPA users regularly experience throughput rates well in excess of 1 Mbps under favorable conditions, on both downlinks and uplinks, with 4 Mbps downlink speed commonly being measured. Planned enhancements such as dual-carrier operation will double peak user-achievable throughput rates.
  • LTE has become the next-generation platform of choice for GSM-HSPA and CDMA/EV-DO operators.
  • The 3GPP OFDMA approach used in LTE matches or exceeds the capabilities of any other OFDMA system providing the most powerful wide area wireless technology ever developed. Peak theoretical downlink rates are 326 Mbps in a 20 MHz channel bandwidth.
  • 3GPP has made significant progress investigating how to enhance LTE to meet the requirements of IMT-Advanced in a project called LTE-Advanced.

With a customer base of 4 billion connections today, the GSM family of technologies is available on nearly 800 networks in 219 countries worldwide. Building on this base, UMTS-HSPA – the world’s dominant mobile broadband technology today – has proven to be the most widely deployed and adopted 3G technology of all time, with more than 352 operators in various stages of deployment, including 277 commercial HSPA networks in 116 countries.

The white paper explains the tremendous opportunity afforded to GSM-HSPA operators via the 3GPP roadmap to HSPA+. While OFDMA systems such as LTE and WiMAX have attracted a great amount of attention, evolving HSPA to exploit available radio technologies can significantly enhance its performance capabilities and extend the life of sizable operator HSPA infrastructure investments. Techniques include advanced receivers, MIMO, Continuous Packet Connectivity, Higher-Order Modulation and One Tunnel Architecture, many of which are included in the standardization of 3GPP Release 7 and Release 8.

Depending on the features implemented, HSPA+ can exceed the capabilities of IEEE 802.16e-2005 (Mobile WiMAX Release-1) in the same amount of spectrum. Beyond the peak data rate of 42 Mbps for HSPA+ in Release 8 (with 2X2 MIMO, DL 64 QAM and UL 16 QAM), Release 9 may specify 2X2 MIMO in combination with dual-carrier operation, which would further boost peak theoretical downlink network rates to 84 Mbps. In addition to the increased speeds, HSPA+ also will more than double HSPA capacity and has the potential of reducing latency to below 25 milliseconds.

HSPA and HSPA+ will continue to dominate mobile broadband subscriptions worldwide for the remainder of this decade and well into the next. However, announcements have already begun in support of the next 3GPP evolutionary step, LTE. Trials and deployments of LTE will begin in 2010 by leading operators including AT&T, China Mobile, China Telecom, NTT DoCoMo, Verizon and Vodafone. In fact, today there are more than 2 billion subscriptions represented by combining the total existing customer bases of the more than 100 operators, both GSM and CDMA operators, who have announced indications of their intention to deploy LTE networks.

The deployment of LTE and its coexistence with UMTS-HSPA will be analogous to the deployment of UMTS-HSPA and its coexistence with GSM-EDGE.

Whitepaper available to download here.
Accompanying slide presentation available here.