Showing posts with label Mobile Data. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mobile Data. Show all posts

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Revenues vs Network Investments

Nice Pic summarising the Network investments vs Revenue for Voice and Data. Click on Pic to enlarge.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

LIPA, SIPTO and IFOM Comparison

Enhancing macro radio access network capacity by offloading mobile video traffic will be essential for mobile communications industry to reduce its units costs to match its customer expectations. Two primary paths to achieve this are the use of femtocells and WiFi offloading. Deployment of large scale femtocells for coverage enhancement has been a limited success so far. Using them for capacity enhancements is a new proposition for mobile operators. They need to assess the necessity of using them as well as decide how to deploy them selectively for their heavy users.

Three alternative architectures that are being standardized by 3GPP have various advantages and shortcomings. They are quite distinct in terms of their dependencies and feasibility. Following table is a summary of comparison among these three approaches for traffic offloading.


Looking at the relative strengths of the existing traffic offload proposals, it is difficult to pick an outright winner. SIPTO macro-network option is the most straight-forward and most likely to be implemented rather quickly. However, it doesn't solve the fundamental capacity crunch in the radio access network. Therefore its value is limited to being an optimization of the packet core/transport network. Some other tangible benefits would be reduction in latency to increase effective throughput for customers as well as easier capacity planning since transport facilities don't need to be dimensioned for large number of radio access network elements anymore.

LIPA provides a limited benefit of allowing access to local premises networks without having to traverse through the mobile operator core. Considering it is dependent on the implementation of femtocell, this benefit looks rather small and has no impact on the macro radio network capacity. If LIPA is extended to access to Internet and Intranet, then the additional offload benefit would be on the mobile operator core network similar to the SIPTO macro-network proposal. Femtocell solves the macro radio network capacity crunch. However, the pace of femtocell deployments so far doesn't show a significant momentum. LIPA's market success will be limited until cost of femtocell ownership issues are resolved and mobile operators decide why (coverage or capacity) to deploy femtocells.

IFOM is based upon a newer generation of Mobile IP that has been around as a mobile VPN technology for more than 10 years. Unfortunately success record of mobile IP so far has been limited to enterprise applications. It hasn't become a true consumer-grade technology. Introduction of LTE may change this since many operators spearheading LTE deployments are planning to use IPv6 in handsets and adopt a dual-stack approach of having both IPv4 and IPv6 capability. Since many WiFi access networks will stay as IPv4, DSMIPv6 will be the best tunneling mechanism to hide IPv6 from the access network. Having dual-stack capability will allow native access to both legacy IPv4 content and native IPv6 content from major companies such as Google, Facebook, Yahoo, etc. without the hindrance of Network Address Translation (NAT). Considering the popularity of smartphones such as iPhone, Blackberry and various Android phones, they will be the proving ground for the feasibility of DSMIPv6.

Source of the above content: Whitepaper - Analysis of Traffic Offload : WiFi to Rescue


Wednesday, 24 November 2010

IP Flow Mobility and Seamless Offload (IFOM)

Unlike LIPA or SIPTO that are dependent on upstream network nodes to provide the optimization of routing different types of traffic, IFOM relies on the handset to achieve this functionality. It explicitly calls for the use of simultaneous connections to both macro network, e.g., LTE, UMTS and WiFi. Therefore, IFOM, unlike LIPA and SIPTO, is truly a release 10-onward only technology and it is not applicable for user terminals pre-Release 10. IFOM is being specified via 3GPP TS 23.261 [1]. Following diagram shows the interconnectivity model for IFOM capable UE.


IFOM uses an Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) Request For Comments (RFC), Dual Stack Mobile IPv6 (DSMIPv6) (RFC-5555) [2].

Since IFOM is based on DSMIPv6, it is independent of the macro network flavor. It can be used for a green-field LTE deployment as well as a legacy GPRS packet core.

Earlier on we looked at the mobile network industry attempts of integration between packet core and WLAN networks. Common characteristic of those efforts was the limitation of the UE, its ability to use one radio interface at a time. Therefore, in earlier interworking scenarios UE was forced to use/select one radio network and make a selection to move to an alternative radio for all its traffic. Today many smartphones, data cards with connection managers already have this capability, i.e., when the UE detects the presence of an alternative access network such as a home WiFi AP, it terminates the radio bearers on the macro network and initiates a WiFi connection. Since WiFi access network and packet core integration is not commonly implemented, user typically loses her active data session and re-establishes another one.

Similarly access to some operator provided services may not be achieved over WiFi. Considering this limitation both iPhone IOS and Android enabled smartphones to have simultaneous radio access but limited this functionality to sending MMS over the macro network while being connected to WiFi only.

IFOM provides simultaneous attachment to two alternate access networks. This allows fine granularity of IP Flow mobility between access networks. Using IFOM, it will be possible to select particular flows per UE and bind them to one of two different tunnels between the UE and the DSMIPv6 Home Agent (HA) that can be implemented within a P-GW or GGSN. DSMIPv6 requires a dual-stack (IPv4 or IPv6) capable UE. It is independent of the access network that can be IPv4 or IPv6.

[1] 3GPP TS 23.261: IP flow mobility and seamless Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) offload; Stage 2

[2] RFC-5555: Mobile IPv6 Support for Dual Stack Hosts and Routers

[3] 3GPP TS 23.327: Mobility between 3GPP-Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) interworking and 3GPP systems

Content Source: Analysis of Traffic Offload : WiFi to Rescue

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.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Selected IP Traffic Offload (SIPTO)

The industry is developing a new standard called Selected IP Traffic Offload (SIPTO). SIPTO allows internet traffic to flow from the femtocell directly to the internet, bypassing the operator’s core network, as shown in Figure 8 below.


More information on LIPA and SIPTO can be obtained from:
1. 3GPP TR 23.829: Local IP Access and Selected IP Traffic Offload (http://www.3gpp1.eu/ftp/Specs/archive/23_series/23.829/)

Monday, 5 July 2010

Femtocells data cap and offload dilemma

I recently heard Prof. Simon Saunders (who has a much impressive background that i thought of) at Cambridge Wireless International conference speaking on Thinking Networks.

One of the things mentioned that struck me is how convenient it would be with femtocells to offload the data on the internet directly without going through the operators core. This would mean less data on the backhaul for the operators and since data would have to travel through less nodes, the speed and reliability could be higher.

There is a slight problem though. In the recently concluded Femtocells World Summit (which I have blogged a lot about), AT&T has been harping about its data caps while using Femto. AT&T wants that the Femto's should mainly be used for voice and for data the users should generally switch to using WiFi. Their reasoning is based on the fact that they are not allowed to perform data offload as mentioned above due to FCC regulations. In fact the same problem may be present in other countries and would hamper the Femto growth in time.

Femtocells are better for data usage as I have mentioned in past because they provide seamless coverage and better data security. It should also be pointed out that the battery drains faster when using WiFi as compared to the mobile Internet.

When a user uses Femtocell, he is already using his broadband data allowance and if there is additional restriction placed in terms of data caps on the Femtocell, the users may just revolt and avoid using Femtocells at all.

Voice coverage advantage is good but users may prefer to switch operators if its just voice that they are using Femtos for. While the use of fixed line phones have decreased in the past (thanks to voice bundles on mobile), some users are switching back to using landlines because of the voice clarity and no reception problems.

The Femto manufacturers and the operators will have to act fast if they want their future predictions to come true.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Pervasive connectivity means that we are working far more

Picture source: dmb

From the IET Magazine:

All of which led to it being no surprise that research from Nectar Business is headlined 'Workaholic Brits just can't switch off', according to the release. Far from saving us time and bringing quality back to our lives, Nectar - the loyalty card people - have found that we're working on average an extra 10 days a year.

Some of the headline results are alarming for managers wanting to keep a workforce motivated and fresh. They include:

  • a fifth of people keep work phones on over weekends;
  • 79 per cent of workers haven't met half the people with whom they do business;
  • one-third of men turn their work phones off when they leave the office;
  • one in 20 people get over 100 emails a day;
  • twenty-four per cent of people feel stressed by this constant state of being on call;
  • 42 per cent of people say they meet colleagues less regularly due to email dependence;
  • 60 per cent - get this - now say they prefer to communicate by mail than face to face.

That's a lot of figures. However, some of the findings were positive - 71 per cent of people found email the best way to keep colleagues informed and 28 per cent thought it a useful tool for delegating. But that still leaves a quarter of respondents stressed.


Complete article here.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Video Calling: Boon or Bane?

When 3G was launched, the operators were clueless as to what 3G can do. The only way according to them to sell 3G was to to market 'Video calling'.

I am not sure how many of you have used Video calling, but I love it. Shame that the operators have priced it so ridiculously that I only used it when I had them inclusive in my package. Otherwise paying £0.50 per min seems exorbitant to me.

We have so many other options like Google Chat with Video and Skype Video chat available which is very convenient (and far much cheaper) according to me. Skype client is available on mobiles but still Video is not included. Its just matter of time before Video calling is included part of the VoIP client. All handset manufacturers are scared to include the feature so as to avoid the ire of operators. Maybe we will have to leave it to iPhone again to break this barrier as well.

The following is from Reuters news article:

Research in Motion Ltd says it is far from certain that video will become the "killer app" that defines smartphones, but even so the BlackBerry maker says developing more efficient delivery is necessary to prevent video from choking airwaves.

The popularity of feature-rich smartphones such as the BlackBerry, Apple's iPhone, and Motorola's Droid has surged, but they use as much as 30 times as much bandwidth as regular mobile phones to run the applications, or "apps," that make them so popular.

The surge in traffic triggered by video and other apps has led to more dropped calls and choppy service. As video on smartphones becomes more popular, it is leading to more congestion, and forcing carriers to spend billions to upgrade networks and buy more wireless spectrum.

"I still don't know and I don't think anyone knows if video is a killer app for smartphones," RIM Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis said at a conference hosted by a unit of Toronto Dominion Bank on Friday. "I don't particularly think it is."

Lazaridis said that even if video did not become the defining app for smartphones, it is already presenting a big challenge to networks.

Analysts have praised Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM for its relatively bandwidth-light BlackBerrys, which route most emails through the company's own servers. This is a legacy of the company's earlier days when it was seeking a faster, more secure mobile email service.

RIM also sends web browsing, Facebook, Twitter, and data from a wide number of BlackBerry apps through its own servers.

That makes browsing and using apps on a BlackBerry three to eight times as efficient bandwidth-wise as on the devices of RIM's rivals, said Lazaridis.

"What that means for the carrier, though, is after they have committed all those billions of dollars on new network technology and new network spectrum, they can have three BlackBerrys using the same network capacity as one of the other smartphones."

Lazaridis said RIM would invest more in technology that provides efficiencies to carriers, including when it comes to video.

He pointed to RIM's 2006 acquisition of SlipStream, which specializes in data acceleration, compression and network optimization technology.

"They had some amazing technologies for compressing everything from web content, documents, and video. So, you never know, the research that we do is very important, it's always borne fruit and we are hoping that we can continue to ... provide tangible efficiencies to the carriers."


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

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

All data packets are not created equal





Have a look at this video from last year then read this extract from a report in Mobile Europe:

The most inefficient mobile data applications are mobile email, location based services, secure applications and things like stock updates and tickers.

This is what Alcatel-Lucent’s Mike Schabel, Phd, Alcatel-Lucent General Manager, 9900 Wireless Network Guardian, told journalists in an excellent presentation on the difficulties the huge increases in wireless data usage will give mobile operators.

Schabel said that although attention has been focused on P2P traffic because of the volume involved, such services are in fact very efficient in terms of the network resources they use. In essence, a user downloading a film, or watching a video, gets online, establishes a radio connection, does what they have to, and then gets offline.

This kind of behaviour is predictable and manageable, Schabel said. In contrast, Schabel’s team found that in one operator, mobile email was using 25% of the available signaling capacity, even though it was only responsible for 4% of the network traffic volume. This is because of the constantly on-off nature of a push mobile email device as it receives messages, continuously signing on and off the network. Location based services, that also required a constant “conversation” with the network, are also very resource intensive.

Schabel said that examples such as this show that there is a “hidden cost” in many of the data services that mobile operators are looking to deploy. Operators need to factor in cost per minute and cost per bit, he said. A further cost comes when as a result of not understanding network activity such as this, or the way an application works imperfectly on a device, can cause outages and delays in the network – causing poor user experience.

The answer, he said, is first to understand the root cause of problems occurring within the network, or on other elements upon which the service relies (content/ app server, handset, web server, etc).

Second, operators then can plan and design their networks to meet predictable and known demand (“System engineering 1.0”, in Schabel’s words). This may include additional bearers and resources, but it may also be something as simple as re-aligning existing resources. Only then would operators need to consider other throttling or management methods such as policy management, or CRM and billing tools.

Schabel was speaking to publicise his company’s tool, the 9900 Wireless Network Guardian. This is a device that takes in core network data information in real time, analyses it, and produces data on specific issues of network performance.

Schabel said that the issue to date is that wireless network monitoring tools have been “blind” to IP traffic, while packet inspection and other IP techniques cannot “see” the wireless network. What is needed is a system that marries to two together, so operators can see services operating both in cost per bit, and cost per minute terms.

Read Complete report here.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Vodafone launches true "Pay as you go" data package


Vodafone launched a pay as you go USB modem that doesn't need topping up every month. It costs £39 upfront and comes with £15 worth of credit, which amounts to 1GB of data. According to Vodafone, 1GB of data lets you do 30 hours of Web surfing, or send 650 emails, or download 65 music tracks or short video clips.

Unlike certain other pay as you go mobile broadband services, the 1GB will not expire after 30 days. The minimum you can top up the dongle each time is £15, which can be done using a voucher or over the phone.

It is capable of speeds of up to 3.6Mbps, but customers should only expect speeds of up to 1Mbps to 2Mbps. The modem will also double as a 4GB USB memory stick.

I would like to refer to this as true pay as you go plan because the topup does not expire after a month. On the other hand, a similar amount on '3' would get you 3GB of data in their version of PAYG which expires after a month.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Mobile Data 2008: $200 Billion and rising

Revenues from mobile data services are set to exceed US$200 billion this year for the first time, according to data sourced from Informa Telecoms & Media. Total mobile data revenues were approximately US$157 billion in 2007.


Research from the first quarter of 2008 reveals that mobile data service revenues exceeded US$49 billion, accounting for a 42.7% y-o-y increase. This figure means that mobile operators now generate approximately one fifth of their revenue from data services; this is significant given that a general slowdown in voice revenues is forcing the pace around the importance of data services for mobile operators.

Informa Telecoms & Media estimates that non-SMS data contributed US$17.48 billion of revenue in Q108, accounting for 35.6% of total data revenues.

The Asia Pacific region comprises 40% of the world's data revenues (over US$20 billion in Q108), representing an above average y-o-y growth rate of 48%. The biggest regional riser, however, is the Middle East, which despite contributing just 2% of the world's data revenues in the first quarter of 2008, has seen a 91.7% y-o-y increase in this figure to US$927 million. Aiding this acceleration is the 321% y-o-y rise in the number of HSPA subscribers in the region, which reached 2.9 million by the end of March 2008.

As per the above analysis, SMS still accounts for around 64% of the data revenues, not very different from the blog I posted last year.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Data revenues can go even higher

Over the past few years the telecoms world has experienced number of emerging technologies with a great degree of innovation coupled with intensive research. In the year 1999 when I completed my engineering in electronics and communication, most of the telecomm companies in India were only interested in GSM/GPRS. At that time I had no idea how the technology will evolve, as it has over the period of time.

Initially it was GPRS and then it lead to the major shift towards 3G. Once the 3G found its place further developments were carried out in terms of improving the user experience while on the move. This sole idea of giving the user the best, lead to the emergence of new technologies like HSDPA, HSUP. HSPA+ and LTE. Clearly improved data rates were the key factor for introduction of each technology from GPRS to LTE.

Everybody in the industry realised that if they have to win the customers and to compete with the fixed technology then they have to provide better data rates while the user is on the move. Till today the vendors and operators together with 3GPP has worked very hard to come forward with technologies like HSPA+ etc which can serve plenty of mega bytes per second to the users.
Although the wireless operators insist that we are still in the early stages of wireless data adoption but the data revenues are already playing the major part in the overall revenues of the companies. Recently when the operators announced Q2 data revenues they reported that data revenues account for nearly 25 percent of their average revenue per user (ARPU). Verizon Wireless is the prime example of the above fact which is the data leader in US, with 24.4 percent of its $51.53 ARPU coming from data. AT&T is a close second with 22.9 percent of its ARPU coming from data.

During the earnings calls with analysts, both the above operators together with the likes of Vodafone talked about the continued growth potential for data. There is a clear trend that operators are leaving no stone unturned in order to provide as high data rates as possible to their users. Operators are working feverishly to upgrade their network and the competition is intensifying for the better user experience. Youth and businesses are the main targets for the companies which are always in demand of high data rates for their own reasons.

These days one can easily get access to mobile broadband with reasonable amount of monthly payment. There are so many competitive deals available in the market in order to lure the customers towards browsing and emailing while on the move. There is no doubt that operators are successfully adding the customers and hence increasing their revenues mostly generated by data use. Verizon's data revenue grew 45 percent year over year. AT&T's data revenue grew 52 percent year over year. Vodafone and T-Mobile’s data revenue too grew by more than 50% over the last couple of years. But I'm wondering how high the data revenues can really climb. Is this strong growth rate sustainable?

Executives from the telecomm giants like Vodafone, AT&T etc predict there are still much more growth to come as consumers upgrade to integrated devices and smart phones that can take advantage of the 3G network. The companies say that nearly 20% of their customers has either upgrade or are in the process of upgrading to an integrated device. Meanwhile, Verizon recently said that 60 percent or 40.5 million, of its retail customers have upgraded to 3G data-capable devices.

Analysts believe that the likes of Vodafone, T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon are the clear leader in monetizing data and that it will continue to lead the industry in data ARPU as it increases the number of data applications and data-centric devices.

I think the key to sustaining this growth rate lies not in the number of data-capable devices in consumer hands but in the availability of compelling data applications at reasonable price points. Without the continued push for better, more user friendly applications, data revenues are not going to be able to sustain this current growth trajectory.

Vodafone for example is already taking the necessary steps in that directions and it is looking to boost the usage of 3G data. Vodafone has announced an agreement with the laptop vendor Lenovo that will see its new X200 computer pre-installed with a Vodafone SIM and supporting software. The broadband connectivity comes at no extra cost and, when activated by the purchaser of the laptop, will offer the user a 30-day free trial. "The connection manager will ask for your name and email, but no bank details," said Alec Howard, head of PC connectivity at Vodafone. "Users will be prompted to take out a contract at the end of the free trial and the prices are around £12 a month for broadband, with automatic roaming in Europe at £8.50 a day. But like any other products this also has a disadvantage. Users dissatisfied with the Vodafone service will struggle if they want to connect to another mobile operator thus installing a new SIM and downloading and configuring a new connection manager instead of using the built-in software which only works with Vodafone.

I certainly believe that this embedded 3G initiative would significantly lower the cost of built-in mobile broadband technology across the entire range of laptops. I myself have used a dell laptop with an embedded data card.
Where you just have to put the right SIM and then connect to wireless broadband with the help of a connection manager. I think embedded modems are cool and are fun to use. There is no doubt in my mind that the use of embedded modems for mobile broadband connectivity is set to increase rapidly in the next few years, with sales estimated to grow at a rate of well above 80% per cent from 2008 to 2012. Laptops with an embedded modem are one of the data applications which will enhance the user experience and hence lead to the increase in ARPU.

Most of the vendors are also working in the direction where they can enhance the handset architecture with enhanced multimedia functionalities. Nokia surprised analysts with its Q2 revenues with better-than-expected second-quarter earnings. Nokia thinks inline with some of the operators and firmly believe that the global handset market could grow more than its previous estimate of 10 percent in 2008.

For the new devices, Nokia concentrated a lot on the services front, and hence enriched customers with the handsets supporting next generation multimedia services e.g. supporting Sony BMG Entertainment with Music service. The Nokia Music Store is now available in 10 markets and the company expects to have 14 stores open by year-end. In addition, N-Gage mobile games service, which became available during the quarter, has had more than 406,000 downloads.

So in my view if the companies are innovative just like Nokia has, then there is every possible chance to push the data rates to new high. Vendors with their excellent architecture and high degree of data applications can definitely push the data throughput and hence contribute in high data revenues.

As everyday passes by we are seeing new handset with amazing designs and new architecture. These handsets are designed to perform faster and can support very high data rates. Today’s youth can play online games on these devices, can watch live TV, send and receive multimedia messages and so many other things. The business users can exchange email while on the move. The installation of HSPA+ by vendors will further enhance the experience of the data users. The number of HSPA sunscribers is growing many folds i.e. at the rate of 4 million subscribers a year. Companies like At&T are aggressive towards their HSPA roll out plans and it looks to rollout the HSPA together with the 3G iphone.

Very high speed of up to 20 Mbps in a 5 Mhz channel is already achieved by HSPA and Qualcomm is one of the many to prove this.

At the moment things looks very promising and I strongly believe that industry will keep coming out with bright ideas to generate the increased data revenues. LTE is another step towards more revenue generation with enhanced user experience in view. Let’s see how high the data throughput together with the data revenues will go.

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Mobile broadband to overtake wired broadband by 2010

According to this report in Times Online, "By 2010, the mobile phone network will have overtaken home broadband as the primary way of connecting to the web, experts say".

I agree that more and more people are accessing web through their mobiles but replacing the connected web is still long way to go. There are many factors that will keep the connected web in business:

  • The mobile networks are not properly dimensioned and optimised to heavy data use
  • The networks are still not very reliable
  • The network backhaul is not good enough. Operators have been too cautious to upgrade their backhaul as it costs good money.
  • Mobile Web will never be suitable for large and medium business.
  • People who regularly watch Movies and Videos (inc. IPTV) over the net can never get desired quality over mobile (maybe for short time they can)

Things may change with the introduction of Femtocells but thats still long way away and anyway, the Femtos will use connected web to tunnel its data.

From the Times report:

Increased sales of laptops - which can be connected to the internet via the owner's mobile phone connection - the widespread roll out of high-speed mobile networks and the falling price of connecting to such networks have all contributed to the uptake of mobile broadband, they said.


One person in ten now regularly accesses the internet on a computer via a mobile phone connection, despite such services only having been on sale for less than a year, according to research released this week by You Gov. Of those, up to a third now connect their computers to the internet solely through the mobile network.


"This trend is as significant as the shift from home to mobile phones that took place in the mid Nineties," a spokesman for Top 10 Broadband, a price comparison site, said. "We predict that by 2010, mobile broadband will overtake home broadband as the default way to access the internet in the UK." A similar claim was made by Broadband Expert, another comparison site.


Mobile broadband takes advantage of high-speed 3G phone networks that can transfer data at speeds approaching those achieved by a fixed-line home internet connection. The customer plugs a small device known as a dongle into a laptop's USB port, and can then surf the web at speeds of about 1.5 megabits per second (Mbps).


Most home broadband packages advertising speeds of "up to 8Mbps" achieve speeds of 2.7Mbps, according to a study by Which? last year.


Prices have come down by 50 per cent from late last year, with a typical mobile broadband package now costing £15 a month - roughly on par with a fixed-line deal.

Via: WirelessMoves

Thursday, 24 April 2008

US MME Industry to cross $6 Billion by 2012


Revenue from mobile media and entertainment (MME) services in the US will more than double during the next five years, according to the latest research from Analysys. US MME services (excluding messaging, and mobile browsing and data charges) generated US$3.1 billion in revenue in 2007, and Analysys Research forecasts that revenue will grow to $6.6 billion in 2012, at a compound annual growth rate of 16.3%. The strongest growth will not occur until after 2010, as the technical and market environment for MME services improves, according to the latest Analysys report, Mobile Media and Entertainment in the US: forecasts 2007-2012.

Key trends that are driving market growth include:
  • Improvements to service accessibility: mobile Web browsing platforms will improve and facilitate access to off-deck content, and presentation of off-deck content will become more streamlined and user friendly.
  • Wider availability of content, driven in part by higher-generation network and device penetration: "As 3G, 3.5G and Qualcomm's MediaFLO network coverage increases, a greater range of services will become available to a wider audience, and off-deck content markets (both operator-billed and non-operator-billed) will develop," said Katrina Bond, co-author of the report. "Non-operator-billed revenue from MME content and services will increase significantly during 2007-2012, and will account for $1.3 billion, or nearly 20%, of MME revenue by 2012."
  • Improvements to service usability: providers have not focused enough on the end-user experience for MME services, and users' frustration when the experience does not meet their expectations has inhibited the growth of some services.
  • Simplified and more attractive pricing of MME content and applications, as well as mobile data access: complex pricing, high data charges, and unfavorable revenue-sharing arrangements for content providers have inhibited growth in the MME market.

Analysys Research forecasts that MME services will account for 12.3% of non-voice service revenue in the US by 2012. Mobile TV and VoD services will experience the highest growth rate of any MME service during the next five years. When combined, broadcast and unicast TV and video services will account for 36% of MME revenue by 2012. By contrast, revenue from personalization services will decline from 47% of total MME revenue in 2007 to 17% in 2012.


"Operators, content providers and device manufacturers will have to work together to increase subscriber awareness of MME offerings and to ensure straightforward pricing, and simpler purchase and delivery processes,"said Alexandra Rehak, co-author of the report. "It is also critical that the user experience of MME services be compelling and complementary to the subscriber's experience of entertainment across other media."


Sunday, 23 March 2008

What can mobile operators learn from Laloo


I am sure a lot of you have no Idea who Laloo or 'Lalu Prasad Yadav' is. He was long term chief minister of Bihar state in India is well known for corruption and scandals (as are many other politicians in India). In 2004 he became the Railways Minister of India.

Indian Railways is a very sensitive topic. As much as people like to complain about it, its makes everyone proud. Its one of the biggest railway network in the world, employs over 1.5 million people and the total distance covered by the trains is 3.5 times the distance to moon.

In 2001 an expert declared that Railways will be bankrupt by 2015 unless privatised. It was making huge losses and was expected to make US$15.4 billion loss by 2015. Lalu turned it around in 2-3 years and now its made profit of U$2.47 billion.

To turn this huge organisation from loss making to profit making he followed some simple logic.
  • Reduce the fares instead of increasing them and the occupancy will improve
  • Increase the freight loading hours from 10 hours to 24 hours daily
  • Make everything simple for ordinarly people to follow including reservations
  • Once the basics are working keep improving the infrastructure and make further cost reductions

Now lets compare this to how mobile operators behave.

  • They provide big subsidy for the handsets but they think this gives them right to charge whatever they wish.
  • The tariff's are still not competetive for international calls and while roaming abroad. A simple call making and receiving for a UK mobile on roaming to US can be charged to £1.20 per min. Compare this to making it free using Skype. This puts off so many people in calling home when abroad and receiving calls on their mobiles. If its cheaper more and more people will make and receive calls when abroad.
  • Using data abroad could be like commiting suicide.
  • There are couple of networks who give huge student discounts but with them text messages can take upto 12 hours to be delivered.
  • Some networks have customer service open for limited hours and they charge calling the number even with the same network mobile.
The mobile operators like to complain that the voice call revenues are decreasing and there is still not enough data uptake. I would urge them to set their house in order before they complain. In the end the consumers will always find cheaper alternatives like VoIP and WiFi unless its something important. On the oher hand if some cheap options are available we do not mind trying them.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Say no to "Dumb Pipes"


Mobile operators must focus on providing services, not just pipes, to ensure they continue to keep pulling a profit, leaders in the industry said.

At a keynote speech at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Vodafone's chief executive Arun Sarin said big pipes - the term used to describe high-capacity networks - were not the right area to focus on to achieve growth in the market.

"We must not allow ourselves to become big pipes and let someone else do the services," said Sarin. "Communications is our core business - we have to provide these services," he said.

Speaking of services, he added: "If we get this right, the upside will be enormous. If we don't, it will still be enormous - just for someone else," he said.

His view was echoed by the head of Cisco, John Chambers: "If all we do is provide transport, it won't be very lucrative... If we allow markets to become dumb pipes, there'll be no profit."

Services - and how they are delivered - have been a hot topic at MWC this year. While new devices have drawn attention, the news is often more to do with the operating system, be it Android or Windows Mobile, or the web services than the new technology in the handset.

Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son warned operators they risked becoming “dumb pipes,” if they did not move swiftly to control mobile content, reports TotalTelecom. Speaking on Wednesday at the MWC, Son said his primary plan when Softbank bought Vodafone Japan in 2006 was to drive the development of the mobile web, saying voice will “eventually become a utility.”

Son said that 2008 will see network speed and device capability hitting a point that will enable the mobile web to take off. In Japan, 90 percent of all handsets shipped are mobile-TV capable, while mobile phones now have faster CPUs that speed up browsing and bigger and better quality displays that allow the web to be viewed “properly.” Son noted that 3G was actually not good enough in terms of speed, and that with it, “you just end up with people getting upset.” HSDPA, however, was fast enough.

Just as the carriers' fear of becoming a dumb pipe is one elephant the industry can't seem to push out of the room, it's worth noting that mentions of the Apple iPhone declined significantly at this year's show. Panelists talked about the rise in popularity of touch screens, the importance of user interfaces and the big push to bring the desktop Internet experience to the mobile platform. However, they rarely mentioned the handset that has done so much to evangelize these three trends. After an entire year barraged by iPhone news, the attendees didn't need to hear it.

One high profile carrier speaker never gave a "dumb pipe" warning. Instead, AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega detailed the myriad options that AT&T subscribers have for mobile content services after quickly rushing through a few slides with iPhone usage statistics.

De la Vega didn't give a dumb pipe warning during his keynote address because iPhone users have already turned AT&T's EDGE network into one. The iPhone's applications are managed by Apple and other Internet service providers. AT&T just needs to keep the network up and running.

So maybe Coleridge's quote doesn't apply here. Maybe the fearsome "dumb pipe" metaphor really is as tired as it sounds. Maybe the carriers' folly is already evident here at Mobile World Congress: No one addressed the power that Apple has wrestled from carriers the world over. The carriers' folly was in trying to resurrect the specter of one elephant in the room, while ignoring the presence of another.

Monday, 4 February 2008

Vodafone's new data plan - playing catch-up with '3'



Vodafone has cut their mobile broadband rates. In a way this is good news as more small businesses will go for this option so they can check their mail while on the move.

I know some of you may be thinking that people always had the option of using Blackberry, but that option is expensive and not convinient for everyone.

So what is Vodafone offering:

  • £15 (promotional period only) for upto 3G of data (18 months contract) and free USB modem
  • £20 for 1GB of data on No contract + you buy your own modem

Even though this looks good initially, '3' has been offering a much better package:

  • £10 for 1GB - 18 months Contract gets you a free Modem or Pay as you go with No Modem
  • £15 for 3GB - Same terms as above
  • £25 for 7GB - Same terms as above

The only problem with '3' is that people dont trust them enough (even though i used them and generally never had problems).

In any case this is still good news but the operators need to understand that they will have to lower the price slightly more before the critical mass adopts this whole heartedly. I say that £5 for 1GB and £10 for 3GB is a good starting point.

With more people adopting Mobile Broadband, operators will be forced to provide better services which in turn mean that they will have to move on new technologies like HSPA+ and LTE asap. This is because these new technologies increase the capacity and speed and the connections will become much more reliable.

We will have to wait and watch which operator has the courage to take the bold step of £5 for 1GB of data.

Ps: One of my colleague for India mentioned that you can get unlimited data using GPRS in India for Rs. 99 (< £1.5). Can anyone confirm?