Showing posts with label Operators. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Operators. Show all posts

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Over 100 HSPA+ Network commitments

From Mobile Business Briefing, via Wireless Intelligence:

Over a hundred global operators have now committed to rolling out HSPA+ networks, according to new Wireless Intelligence research. Our study shows that there were 58 live HSPA+ networks in operation at the beginning of August (see graphic) with a further 43 local operators having made commitments to migrate to the technology soon. There have been 19 HSPA+ network launches to date in 2010. The latest number of live networks means that HSPA+ now accounts for around 15-20 percent of the over 300 total HSPA network deployments worldwide. Significant new operators due to launch HSPA+ soon include AT&T in the US (due to launch by year-end with 250 million population coverage); Chunghwa and Far EasTone in Taiwan; Singapore's SingTel; Japan's SoftBank; and Germany's T-Mobile, O2 and E-Plus.

The growth in the number of HSPA+ networks comes just 18 months after Australian market-leader Telstra launched the world's first HSPA+ network in February 2009. The most recent operator to complete its HSPA+ upgrade was Qatar's Qtel, which switched on its new network in its home market this week, offering peak download speeds of 21Mb/s and 5.8Mb/s in the uplink.

The most common version of HSPA+ (64QAM) offers theoretical top speeds of around 21Mb/s though some operator deployments are aiming for HSPA+ speeds up to four times faster using dual-carrier and MIMO technology. Those already to have done so include Qtel's Indosat subsidiary in Indonesia, Etisalat in Egypt and
Japan's EMOBILE, which have all introduced the dual-carrier version this year.

Australia's Telstra has still to complete its
upgrade to 42Mb/s (due in 2H10) despite last year claiming that it had become the first operator in the world to test HSPA+ dual-carrier technology outside of laboratory conditions. Nevertheless, Telstra has been the most high-profile pioneer of HSPA technology to date, launching its HSPA-based 'Next G' network back in October 2006. The network initially offered top speeds of 3.6Mb/s but was subsequently upgraded to 14.4Mb/s and then – following the HSPA+ upgrade in February 2009 – to 21Mb/s. However, as is the case with most of the speeds advertised by operators, real world speeds on the network are significantly lower. A GSMA-backed study by Signals Research Group in December last year found that Next G's HSPA+ network only delivered downlink data rates above 5Mb/s around 50 percent of the time, with peak speeds of around 17Mb/s. It noted that this made HSPA+ broadly comparable with mobile WiMAX.

Complete article here.

Related Links:

Thursday, 12 August 2010

AT&T on their LTE Backhaul Architecture


Backhaul is a topic that may be giving some operators nightmare. Picked up this slightly old article from Light reading via WirelessMoves.

AT&T network architect Yiannis Argyropoulos addressed the Backhaul Strategies and Core Convergence for Mobile Operators event in New York City and had the following to say:

The lines between wireless and wireline networks are blurring, as are the boundaries between access and core networks, driven by the need to carry the flood of wireless data traffic more efficiently. AT&T is aggressively deploying fiber to its mobile cell sites and migrating from Sonet to Ethernet, but more changes will be needed. AT&T started its fiber push in 2008, and it will take at least seven years to complete, said Argyropoulos.

For the short term, today's metro Ethernet architecture will support LTE, but longer term, the network architecture needs to have less operational complexity, noted the AT&T man. The carrier is in the process of testing new approaches, based in part on work being done by 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) and the Broadband Forum .

AT&T also is looking for coordination of policy control between its wireline and wireless networks, so that the core network services are the same for end-users, regardless of how they connect to the network. It is no longer adequate for quality-of-service to be delivered piecemeal, within different segments of the network, Argyropoulos stated: "There is a lot of work going on right now to harmonize these."

The early 3GPP scheme for QoS on 3G UMTS networks was too complicated to be implemented, but newer LTE QoS plans from the 3GPP, with nine QoS classes and a smaller number of individual class attributes, look more practical.




The growing volume of data traffic is having an impact on other areas of the carrier's operations, too. The widespread use of bandwidth-hungry smartphone devices is creating new traffic patterns that, among other things, eliminate traditional maintenance windows traditionally scheduled in the early hours of weekend mornings, Argyropoulos pointed out.

"Data traffic peaks at the same time as voice, but it has multiple peaks, and it doesn't ever really subside," he said. That, in turn, is putting pressure on wireless network operators and their vendors to do hitless network upgrades and to build more resiliency into their networks.

AT&T is looking to other means of offloading traffic, including routing optimization that will use gateways strategically placed in the network to direct traffic onto the Internet, and not carry it through the metro and core networks first.

"Most of the mobile data traffic is coming from the Internet and going to the Internet."

It will also be important to offload subscriber traffic generated in the home onto a domestic Internet connection, he added.

To get an Idea of the mobile backhaul load, see my earlier post here.

Along with Fiber, Microwave is also an option and you can read more about it in Daily Wireless blog.

Also came across this blod dedicated to mobile backhaul, that is available here.

Monday, 12 July 2010

HSPA+ rollout updates, July 2010



Its been a while since we talked about HSPA+ rollouts. In between we did hear about the data rates bumping upto 84Mbps and even 168Mbps.

The good news is that now there are actual rollouts happening with 42Mbps HSPA+ and others in pipeline.

According to The Register:

In Japan this week, the smallest operator, eMobile, 'soft launched' Japan's fastest network. Using Ericsson kit, the fourth cellco made its new HSPA+ (high speed packet access) services available to select users, promising theoretical download speeds of 42Mbps. This iteration of HSPA+ has only been adopted by a few carriers so far, notably Australia's Telstra.

The full commercial launch of eMobile's data-driven network, in metropolitan areas such as Tokyo, Tokai and Osaka, will take place by year end.

According to Wireless Intelligence, the small player has 2.5 million subscribers - just 2.3 per cent market share - but enjoyed a high year-on-year growth rate of 52.5 per cent to mid-2010. It originally relied on an MVNO model but started rolling out its HSPA network, offering flat rate data services, in 2007. It upgraded to 21Mbps last summer using equipment from Huawei and promises LTE by 2012.

Bulgarian mobile carrier M-Tel demonstrated download speeds of 42 Mbps reached via Dual Carrier HSPA+. The technology will be introduced in Sofia by the end of this year, doubling the current maximum download speed of 21 Mbps. Thanks to the 42 Mbps download speed, the customers of M-Tel will be able not only to surf the internet at high speeds, but also watch 3D and HD TV channels through the mobile network. With the new Dual Carrier HSPA+, it will take about two and a half minutes to download a 750 MB movie, compared to four hours and 45 minutes via UMTS. With the HSPA+ technology, a movie of the same size would be downloaded in five minutes and 16 seconds. M-Tel introduced the HSPA+ technology which provides speed for data transfer up to 21 Mbps last year in Sofia. By the end of August, HSPA+ will also be available in Varna, Plovdiv and Burgas.

In Saudi Arabia, Mobily successfully completed trials for the coming upgrade of its state-of-the- art evolved high-speed packet access (HSPA+) network testing speeds of 42 megabits per second (Mbps), according to a statement issued by the company. The 42 Mbps speed, expected to be rolled out in major cities in the interim, will be the first major speed upgrade since Mobily became the first operator in the region to launch HSPA+ towards the end of 2009 at speeds of 21 Mbps, and closed the year with one million customers subscribed to its high-usage bundles, and an overall base of 18.2 million.

Mobily’s HSPA network has given a much needed boost to household Internet usage in the Kingdom with household penetration rates more than doubling from around 14 percent for end of 2008 results to 32 percent for yearend 2009, according to the Communications and Information Regulatory Commission’s annual report.

According to the same report, wireless broadband grew 488 percent to 1.41 million wireless broadband subscriptions and representing 51 percent of all broadband connections in the country, as compared to a 47 percent share for ADSL. Of those 1.41 million wireless broadband subscriptions, one million were on Mobily’s network, giving the company a market share of 70 percent market of all wireless subscriptions and 36 percent of all broadband connections in the Kingdom.

Etisalat, Egypt, in partnership with Hawei Technologies Co Ltd, has launched its HSPA+ Phase 2 network in EGYPT. This new technology has already been deployed in the Etisalat Misr network. The existing network has reached an average download speed at 41.73 Mbps. HSPA+ Phase 2 increases Etisalat mobile broadband network capacity to support speeds of up to 42Mbps, from 21Mbps previously.

Indosat just launch fast Internet access service DC-HSPA+ 42 Mbps in Surabaya, Indonesia. Indosat claim the DC-HSPA+ services could provide download speeds of up to 42 Mbps for customers Indosat Mobile Broadband and IM2. Previously, these service has only presented to Indosat customers in Jakarta.

There are rumours that in USA while everyone is concentrating on LTE, T-Mobile has been planning to upgrade to HSPA+ to improve its speed. We will have to wait

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Running live networks on Renewable Energy sources

We have been hearing for years that Solar energy could be used to run remote BTS/Node B so i was glad to see that they are deployed in practise and are working well. It was very interesting to see hear Pradeep de Almeida, Group Chief Technology Officer, Dialog Telekom Plc, Sri Lanka in the LTE World Summit.

The picture above lists the features from an ideal renewable energy powered BTS or Node B (or eNodeB for that matter). The picture below shows one of the real life deployments in Sri Lanka.


It was very interesting to hear that the power generated using the Solar and Wind approach is generally in surplus and this extra energy could be sold to the power companies or can be used to provide an outlet point where the people can come and charge their phones.

The return of investment (ROI) for these kind of deployments could be as low as 2 years and can be as high as 4 years. The time for ROI will be reduced for countries where diesel (used for generators) is expensive and will be increased when diesel is cheap. That is why we may not find environmently friendly approaches in Middle East for quite some time because of cheap oil.

You can read more about the Dialog Telekom green energy initiative here and here.

Monday, 24 May 2010

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.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Using LTE to boost ARPU

Here is my presentation from the LTE World Summit 2010. The presentation was prepared for discussion during the Breakfast briefing on the 19th May 2010.


You can also see the discussion on Linked group here. (Sorry, you may need to register).

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Avren's Next Generation Networks & Basestations Conference Summary


Interesting summary on Next Generation Networks & Base stations conference is available on Think Femtocell and Avren's website. Here are some interesting bits:

  • Operating a mobile network contributes around 30% to the annual costs of each operator, and there are many different ways to save money. Where before, coverage was a real differentiator between networks, today it’s much more about service.
  • There are enormous savings to be made by sharing cellsites between operators – T-mobile and 3 in the UK have combined their cellsites and reduced the total number from 55,000 to 31,000 in the last two years. The number is now slowly expanding again to fill in coverage holes and add capacity. The recently announced merger between Orange UK and T-Mobile means a further round of site consolidation over the coming years. Meanwhile, their UK competitors O2 Telefonica and Vodafone have also made a site sharing agreement, meaning that there will be just two competing sets of cellsites across the country.
  • Some speakers questioned the sense of offering unlimited flat rate data plans – the industry sentiment is that these can’t last. The highest traffic users are consuming disproportionate amounts of network resources – several examples were given of 2 or 3% of users taking up over 40% of available capacity.
  • Kenny Graham, Vodafone R&D Group, has been a keen champion of femtocells in public areas for some time – coining the term metro-femto. He believes that the most difficult challenges for femtocell deployment have already been overcome. He classified femtocells into four groups and clearly believes all have a place in network deployment:
    • Domestic
    • Enterprise
    • Public service areas (indoor hotspots)
    • Metro Femto (Outdoor hotspot )
  • Installing more antenna and equipment at existing cellsites, such as required for LTE or MIMO technologies, is constrained by physical and planning limits of cellsites. Metro femto can be deployed unobstrusively in the urban areas with peak traffic demand, providing high levels of capacity.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Operator Top Ten Requirements for the networks


Operation Requirements for next generation multi-technology networks are the key topic that brought 3GPP, NGMN and TM Forum together for a workshop held March 29-30 2010 in Bonn. The two-day workshop was attended by forty industry experts who worked on use cases and requirements in three parallel work streams and provided recommendations for next steps.

At the Bonn workshop, the 3GPP Telecom Management working group - SA5 - presented background data on the SA5 work program to date, much of which meets the needs of the NGMN Top Ten Requirements:
The workshop conclusions acknowledged that:
  • Standards specified by SA5 over the last ten years provide a widely deployed, fully re-usable and expandable solution for management of Next Generation Networks,
  • NGMN Top Ten Requirements are mostly satisfied already by 3GPP SA5 specifications, the missing functionalities will be addressed in 3GPP Release 10 (due December 2010),
  • The ongoing 3GPP-TMF alignment program provides an excellent opportunity to address network management of Wireless-Wireline convergence based on the 3GPP IRP framework.

At the end of this workshop, the SA5 Chairman Christian Toche said:

"This workshop has identified important requirements and allowed TMF and 3GPP to compare their solutions that can satisfy Operators requirements, of whom many are already supported in 3GPP specifications. I am confident that, as long as the representation from each group is maintained at the right level, an alignment of the 3GPP and TM Forum specifications will result from this cooperation, satisfying the requirements for use in convergent network operational environment."

Christian Toche identified that the next step includes the need for the two ongoing Network Management harmonization projects with the TM Forum - On FM and resource modelling - to be completed.


Further progress on the alignment of 3GPP and TMF specifications will be made at the follow-up workshop on May 6-7, 2010 in Montreal


3GPP documents from Bonn workshop are available at: ftp://ftp.3gpp.org/tsg_sa/WG5_TM/Ad-hoc_meetings/2010-05-Top_10/Docs/S5w100004.zip

Thursday, 22 April 2010

When Femtocells become Picocells

Femtocells are not really becoming Picocells but when you read about the new features coming up in Femtocells, you can imagine why operators are embracing Femtocells.

A typical Picocell, offers limited coverage but the same capacity as a macro-cell and can cost between £5000 to £10000. A Femtocell overs very limited coverage and very few users but its dirt cheap.

What if a compromise Femtocell is made that can solve both the coverage/capacity and price then its a win win situation for everyone.

This is where "Metro Femtocells" come into picture. They can be called by different names but lets stick to Metro Femtos.

Ubiquisys's press release about the Colo-Node HSPA Femtocell shows us the direction in which the device manufacturers are moving. It allows 16 users (as opposed to 4) and the range of 2km (as opposed to couple 100 metres). Picochip has already released a chip that can serve 32 users at 2km range. These femto's are Release-7 compliant with 42Mbps peak dl and and 11Mbps peak ul.

The good thing is that they may be soon used to fill the coverage black holes but that can also mean that the operators may stop putting lot of effort in Network optimisations.

The ubiquisys Colo-Node HSPA will be available end of July this year.

Ubiquisys has also demonstrated a wide area femtocell with 12 sq. km range. I wonder where they will be used.

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

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

How to avoid network choking in the future?


If you are looking for an answer to this question then you wont find an answer to that here. Probably no one really knows a complete answer to this question right now. A simple answer would be to have a mix of the Macro cells, Micro cells and Femtocells with some way to offload some more traffic via WiFi.

Earlier this month Skype announced that its client would be able to work on most Symbian phones. I have used the Skype client on phones from '3' and they work great. Skype is even available on iPhones and they were downloaded 1 million times in the first couple of days. Now a big chunk of operator profits come from long distance calls and calls when abroad. If we all start using our phones with Skype, its going to bite into the operators profits. That means they will have to recover this profit from us by another way.

Skype on phones will be used in always on mode, meaning that the networks will get loaded and get congested. A simple solution is to have Femtocells at home that can offload the traffic on Internet. These background apps do cause a considerable amount of traffic and recently an Operator blamed the apps for its network woes.

Femtocells have been targeted generally at the residential market with developments going on for Business users as well. Another smaller Picocells and Microcells are also easily and cheaply available nowadays. With the Ad-Hoc deployment of all these smaller cells, Self Organising Networks (SON) may have a big role to play.

What happens where there are multiple networks present in the same place via these smaller cells? Can the back-haul not get congested because of these multiple networks which may be lying Idle most of the time? How would these impact other services that we use on our PC's?

These questions can be easily answered if a single Microcell/Picocell/Femtocell was able to work for Multiple Networks. Practically this may not be possible right now because each network has a different Authentication and Security arrangement.

At least we can start thinking and working on these problems while we still have time. When its too late, we may have to come up with workarounds. These workarounds only cause more headache in the longer term.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Sprint, Verizon and Mobile Healthcare



In US, Sprint and Verizon are going head to head with their 4G (sic.) offering. Sprint has a WiMAX network from its Clearwire joint venture while Verizon is soon to roll out LTE.

During the ongoing Healthcare Information and Management System Society or HIMSS annual conference being held in Atlanta, the CEO of Sprint Nextel, Dan Hesse mentioned that the 4G (sic.) technology will play an important part in helping to transform healthcare to a greater height.

With wireless technology being an essential part of everyday life for nearly 277 million Americans, it is changing the paradigm of how healthcare is administered. Internet savvy consumers today expect immediate access to health information and care anytime, anyplace. Last year, 89 percent of wireless Internet users sought health information online*. Similarly, caregivers are using smartphones equipped with medical applications for instant, secure access to lab results, x-rays, vital signs, drug-to-drug interactions, and other vital medical records. These trends further validate the key role that wireless will play in shaping the future of healthcare by enabling innovative and cost-effective approaches in delivering quality care.

If I had to pick the one industry facing the biggest gap between need for change and use of wireless to facilitate that change, it would be healthcare,” Hesse said. Most industries spend between 6 percent and 8 percent of their revenues on telecom, but healthcare only spends 2 percent or 3 percent on it, he said. Darwin said that survival of the fittest is not about the strongest or the most intelligent — it’s about the most responsive to change, Hesse explained, and consumers are beginning to drive a lot of the change in healthcare. Healthcare spending on telecom will jump from $8.6 billion to $12.4 billion in the next few years, Hesse predicted, and two-thirds of that increase in spending will be from wireless apps and services.

What if we had asked the healthcare industry to partner with the wireless industry back in 1986, Hesse asked as he held up a massive mobile phone from that year. What if I said we could monitor patients and look at EKGs on one of these? The timing couldn’t be better for healthcare and wireless to work together, Hesse said as he took out a smartphone from his pocket. Today two-thirds of physicians use a smartphone like this one and soon more than 80 percent of them will.

What use cases does Hesse see for the wireless tools his industry offers?

> E-prescribing — Physicians’ bad hand writing causes some 4 percent of errors found in prescriptions. Hesse said a doctor friend of his realized the first time he saw a Palm PDA that it was the same size as his prescription pad and once it got Internet connectivity it would eventually eliminate the handwritten prescription. Hesse said e-Prescribing could save $20 billion annually.

> Instant, secure access to vital signs – Hesse pointed to AirStrip’s fetal heart rate monitor as a perfect example of vital sign remote monitoring that is in the market today.

> Advanced mobile apps for consumers – In just a few years we have gone from going online to look up home remedies for various ailments, Hesse said, to using apps like flu radar which can tell us how many cases of the flu have been diagnosed in our area. Hesse also pointed to the app currently being researched that encourages the end user to cough into the phone’s microphone so it can compare the sound to its database of coughs and come up with a preliminary diagnosis.

> Ultrasound probe that plugs right into a cell phone — Ultrasound exams could be conducted nearly anywhere and pipe the images to doctors that could also be nearly anywhere, Hesse predicted as he showed images of an ultrasound probe that connects to a cell phone. This will not only cut costs for ultrasounds, especially in developing market but also make it easier for EMTs and other healthcare workers who are away from hospitals to have a tool to use on the go.

> Wireless video monitors for virtual, in-home visits — While this one didn’t seem to leverage the real benefits of wireless, Hesse told a story of a nurse who had gained too much weight to be able to come into work anymore. After a short while of being detached from her former colleagues she became depressed over the situation and much less engaged in our own care. She then became part of a program that used wireless video monitors to enable two-way communications between patients in their home and physicians and nurses at care facilities. After receiving frequent virtual visits using the system, she took control of her health decisions, lost the weight and made it back to work.

> Virtual coaches on your handset — Hesse described another patient who had Type 2 diabetes, a regimen of oral medications and high blood pressure. In order to adhere to our routine she participated in a program with Sprint’s partner Welldoc to track her adherence. Welldoc offered her a virtual coach application that reminded and encouraged her to stay on track.

> Mobile enterprise for pandemic situations — During the H1N1 scare, Hesse said Sprint encouraged its workers to work from home or remotely to stem any potential spread of the flu virus among its ranks. Unlike businesses that have not adopted mobility tools for the enterprise, Sprint was able to restrict travel and encourage working from home without disrupting their employees’ workflow and progress. They had the mobile connectivity and devices to work from anywhere.

> mVisum for remote access to images, charts — Sprint partner mVisum enables clinicians to view charts, x-rays and other images right from their smartphones. Hesse said a cardiologist might be alerted through mVisum on his BlackBerry of an ambulance en route with a patient whom the paramedics suspected had suffered a heart attack. If the ambulance had wireless connectivity it could send that EKG to the cardiologist’s phone via mVisum and the clinician could prepare for the patient’s arrival knowing what needed to be done ahead of time. In those types of situations the time saved is extremely valuable.

> Intel Health Guide for remote visits and monitoring — Hesse said that moving more patients out of the hospital and back into their homes not only reduces costs overall by also improves opportunities. A woman with a high-risk pregnancy should not be moved in many cases, but she has to move in order to visit her doctor. Instead, hospitals could provide patients with Intel’s Health Guide, a tablet-like device with a touch screen that aims to make it easy for patients to track their vital signs and monitor their biometrics through peripheral devices. Physicians can make remote visits through the Health Guide.

> 4G wireless-enabled video cameras – Imagine video cameras with 4G wireless connectivity that can help patients learn how to apply their skin medication. A similar camera could be installed in an operating room to live broadcast surgeries in high definition. If it were installed in an ambulance, the EMTs could live broadcast stats, triage and more so that the clinicians at the care facility could prepare for their arrival.

> Intelligent medicine or pills with wireless embedded — “Soon i will be able to hold up a pill with wireless embedded into it,” Hesse said. The pill could also include a video camera and could send data and images straight to a doctor’s wireless device.

> 4G phones with Blu-Ray quality screens — Everyone always points to the cell phone screen’s small size or low resolution as reasons why images aren’t very useful on that platform. Hesse said HD, Blu-Ray quality resolution is coming to 4G phones.

“There are a lot of unsung heroes here today in this room,” Hesse said. “In the sometimes bitter debates on the subject of healthcare, too often we forget how important the job is of those people who deliver care.”

“To quote Yogi Berra, ‘The future ain’t what it used to be,’” Hesse said. With all the potential that Hesse pointed to and the fact that ten mobile phones are manufactured per every baby born today, the future is increasingly wireless. The future of HIMSS is wireless. And the industry can finally put the 1970s behind it.

More on the Sprint Mobile Healthcare solution at www.sprint.com/healthcare

Verizon Business has launched an information technology platform that enables the digital sharing of physician-dictated patient notes.

The Verizon Medical Data Exchange, launched Wednesday (March 3) at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society annual conference in Atlanta, provides a way for medical transcriptionists to share digitized patient notes detailing patients' care and treatment with doctors, hospitals and other health care providers. Until now, the lack of an interoperable, nationally available platform has made it difficult to share these notes, which primarily form the basis of electronic health records.

Verizon Business developed the platform for the Medical Transcription Service Consortium under an agreement announced last November. Founding consortium members MD-IT and MedQuist currently are using the platform. By August, when the Medical Data Exchange is expected to be in use by all of the consortium's members, 350,000-plus physicians, more than 2,700 clinics and nearly 2,500 hospitals will be supported.

The Medical Transcription Industry Association estimates that its members create and electronically archive nearly 60 percent of the more than 1.2 billion clinical notes produced in the U.S. each year. Approximately 25 percent of these records currently are shared among health care providers, including other physicians, hospitals and insurance companies.

Verizon Wireless offers customers in the healthcare industry an extensive portfolio of products and services that run on the company's reliable Evolution-Data Optimized (EV-DO) Revision A (Rev. A) network, including:

PatientKeeper® – PatientKeeper's mobility products support all operations systems while connecting physicians to patient information across inpatient and ambulatory environments. With PatientKeeper, physicians save time, increase revenue and enhance patient care. PatientKeeper enables physicians to interactively manage patient information across multiple locations, view clinical results, enter charges, sign out patients, and enter and order prescriptions, all from their smartphones.

EPOCRATES Rx for Android and Palm OS – Doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals who use Verizon Wireless smartphones with the Android™ OS, such as DROID by Motorola or DROID ERIS™ by HTC, or devices that run on the Palm® webOS™ platform, including Palm® Pre™ Plus and Palm Pixi™ Plus, can leverage this mobile drug reference application to get prescription and safety information for thousands of brand name and generic drugs instantly. The application also offers Pill ID, which helps identify a drug based on physical characteristics such as color, shape and imprint code; table and calculators; and drug interaction information.

Medicine Central and Evidence Central – Unbound Medicine offers two applications for Verizon Wireless Android, BlackBerry®, Palm and Windows Mobile® devices.

Medicine Central is a collection of disease, drug and test information with literature tracking for mobile devices. The application features The 5-Minute Clinical Consult, A to Z Drug Facts, Drug Interaction Facts, Pocket Guide to Diagnostic Tests, and MEDLINE Journals.

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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.

Friday, 29 January 2010

HSPA+ rollout updates, Jan 2010

It has been predicted that the growth of HSPA+ broadband across Europe is set to soar with the total number of subscribers set to nearly double across Europe in 2011.

A new report has predicted that by 2011 the growth of HSPA+ broadband across key European markets will soar, and could almost double compared to 2009. The number of subscribers is set to soar from twenty two million in 2009 to around forty three million in 2011. The report was released by CCS Insight.

According to the report HSPA+ broadband will be a major factor in seeing growth of one hundred percent in the to five major European markets. The report goes on to state that the European mobile broadband market will enjoy seeing both subscriber and revenue numbers double by 2011. Revenues are set to increase from around six billion Euros in 2009 to around eleven billion Euros in 2011.

Michael O’Hara, chief marketing officer at the GSMA, said: “It is clear from this report that with the right network investment, European mobile network operators will see significant growth in mobile broadband adoption in the next two years. HSPA technology will drive this rapid uptake across Europe as mobile operators and their customers continue to benefit from its expanding, vibrant and competitive ecosystem.”


HSPA+ was generally the most efficient way of upgrading use of bandwidth already in use and was likely to dominate in the short term at least, with an estimated 1.4 billion subscribers worldwide by 2013, around ten times the estimated take-up of LTE.

HSPA+ release 7, which became available last year, uses MIMO technology like that in 11n Wifi to help take the peak downlink throughput to 28Mbps, with 11Mbps on the uplink. Release 8, for which chipsets will become available this year, aggregates two carrier signals to bring peak data rates to 42Mbps on the downlink.

Release 9 will put two MIMO streams on each of two 5MHz carriers, aggregated to produce a 10MHz data pipe delivering 84Mbps on the downlink; the uplink uses simple aggregation to 23Mbps. A projected Release 10 would bring the peak downlink speed to 168Mbps, though this would require 20MHz carriers only available in the 2.5GHz and 2.6GHz bands.

Novatel Wireless, a developer of wireless data cards and other devices, said that it has added support for dual-carrier HSPA+ networks. The firm said it is using Qualcomm's MDM8220 chipset for the support, and will launch commercial devices in the second half of 2010 based on the chipset. Novatel said the new support will add more advanced data capability and other features to its offerings. Dual Carrier HSPA+ networks are expected to provide higher throughput to wireless data devices, and also helps address better service for cell phone users.

The new modem can receive data at up to 42M bps (bits per second) in compatible 3G networks. To increase the theoretical maximum download speed of the modem from 21M bps to 42M bps, Novatel uses two carrier frequencies instead of the usual one, a technique called dual-carrier. But it will only deliver the higher speed on networks that also support the technique.

Users can expect peak speeds at up to 30M bps, according to Hans Beijner, marketing manager for radio products at Ericsson.Leif-Olof Wallin, research vice president at Gartner, is a more pessimistic, saying increased traffic on the networks could negatively impact speeds. "I think it will be difficult to get above 20M bps," he said.

Sixty-six operators have said they plan to use HSPA Evolution, and so far 37 networks have been commercially launched, according to statistics from the Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA).

However, the version of HSPA Evolution that supports 42M bps is still very much in its infancy. Last week, mobile operator 3 Scandinavia announced plans to launch services when modems become available. In December, representatives from Vodafone and the Australian operator Telstra visited Ericsson to Stockholm to view a demonstration, but neither operator has so far announced plans to launch commercial services.

Ericsson and 3 Scandinavia have unveiled plans to roll-out a worlds-first 84Mbps HSPA+ wireless network. The initial rollout will cover Denmark and four Swedish cities. HSPA+ networks that currently operate in Canada, for example, offer speeds of up to 21Mbps depending on conditions. In the United States, T-Mobile recently announced a similar planned network.

Real-world tests of the 21Mbps networks show the services achieving around 7Mbps speed. If a similar performance could be applied to the new Ericsson/3 network, it could result in speeds of roughly 28Mbps at realistic distances and network load.

and 3 will also deploy 900MHz 3G networks in Sweden in a bid to boost coverage in remote areas, as existing higher frequency networks have left some users with poor performance.
The high-speed services will hit Denmark and areas of Sweden this winter if all goes to plan.

China Unicom is putting the finishing touch on the tests on its HSPA+ networks in Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Zhuhai, which were kicked off in October 2009 by partnering with its three major suppliers Huawei Technologies, ZTE, and Ericsson.

HSPA+ is the next generation technology for China Unicom's WCDMA 3G service. HSPA+, also known as Evolved High-Speed Packet Access, is a wireless broadband standard defined in 3GPP release 7. The HSPA+ network claims with a transmission speed of 21Mbps, 1.5 times faster than its current 3G network.

The outdoor average speed of the networks built up by Ericsson and Huawei reach up to 16.5Mbps and 18.5Mbps on the downlink, 50% higher than that of the existing HSPA network. That means you can download a song within two or three seconds.

Cell C, South Africa, has signed a US$378m deal with the Chinese telecom equipment provider ZTE Corporation. Cell C would ever lead the industry as far as network infrastructure is concerned but it is a fact that Cell C will be the first South African operator to roll out HSPA+ technologies incorporating download speeds of up to 21Mbit/s – three times faster than anything currently available.

According to Cell C an important factor in the decision to appoint ZTE is its ability to offer 4G services using Cell C’s 900MHz frequency band which offers wider and deeper coverage than existing 2100 MHz networks, enabling cost effective deployment to rural as well as metropolitan areas.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

World Largest Operator helping transform China


Chinese operators have been spending Billions of Dollars building their 3G Infrastructure

China Mobile, the largest wireless carrier in the world with roughly 518 million customers, recently revealed that it has so far invested approximately RMB80 billion (US$11.7 billion) for 3G network construction. The carrier has completed the third phase of the 3G network (based on the home-grown TD-SCDMA standard) deployment in 2009 having covered approximately 70% of the Chinese cities.

The Chinese are becoming more and more mobile savvy.

In a news release Friday, China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) announced that China's mobile phone Internet users reached 233 million in December 2009, a growth of 120 million users from 2008. Among these users, 30.7 million accessed the Internet exclusively on their mobile phones.

China's online population reached 384 million as of December 2009, growing 28.9 percent from figures recorded in 2008, said CNNIC in the report.

The country surpassed the United States in 2008 to become home to the world's largest Internet user community.

There is a very interesting piece in The Guardian:


Until just over a year ago, Gong Kangshun spent much of his life trekking over the mountains around his remote village in south-west China. It isn't easy to make a living in Xiuxi, a tiny settlement of 58 families deep in Aba county, Sichuan. Gong grows crops on a small plot and sells rare fungi found on the steep slopes nearby. Many young people, including his brother, leave to find work in the factories and shops of China's east.
But a single purchase has shortened his working hours and sent his income soaring – by helping him to find buyers for his fungi. It has even improved his relationships with family and friends. "I'd panic without my mobile phone," the 35-year-old admits.
Across China, tens of millions have similar tales to tell. Many had never enjoyed phone access until recently. Now, for as little as £20, they can buy a handset, slot in a pre-paid sim card, start calling – and change their lives.
Most, like Gong, can thank one firm: China Mobile. With more than 70% of the domestic market it has 518 million subscribers; more than any other mobile carrier on the planet.
It is the world's largest phone operator by market value and the largest Chinese company listed overseas. Its work on 4G technology and its interest in foreign acquisitions suggest its international profile may soon grow.
Already the company's influence is rippling out across the world, almost unnoticed. The rapid spread of mobiles facilitated by the company's high-speed network roll-out, is both a product of China's aggressive development and a contributor to it – accelerating the pace of life and business, shrinking distances.
Some activists are enthusiastic about the potential for mobiles and the internet to expand the flow of information in a country with heavy censorship. They point to cases where camera phones have captured and shared images of unrest or official abuse.
The authorities certainly seem to be aware of the potential – Chinese social networking sites are strictly controlled and overseas services such as YouTube are blocked. In restive Xinjiang text messaging was turned off after vicious ethnic violence. The authorities also use mobiles for everything from political education to monitoring individuals.
The social and political effects of new technology are rarely straightforward, but for most people, mobiles are simply a part of their life. Whether a highly-paid Shanghai executive, or an independent farmer-cum-trader such as Gong, no one can afford to be without a phone – or a signal. China Mobile's 500,000 base stations now cover 98% of the population. You can call home from city subway trains, distant fields, or the peak of Mount Everest.
"If you have a requirement, we will have coverage," pledged the firm's chairman and chief executive Wang Jianzhou, who has more than three decades of experience in the sector.
"When we started this business we thought very few people would usemobile phones – only the rich," he said. Now he is dissatisfied with a penetration rate of 57%. "I think every adult should have at least one mobile … they are an extension of human ears, eyes and mouths."
Before the network reached Xiuxi, in late 2008, Gong used the phone perhaps twice a month. Each time he would walk for an hour to the nearest landline to call traders interested in buying the valuable "caterpillar" and "sheep stomach" fungi used in Chinese medicine.
"Now, on a busy day, I might make 20 calls," he said. "I can contact buyers in Chengdu and Shanghai. I can do business sitting at home and buyers can reach me, too."
His income has risen 50%, to 20,000 yuan (£1,820). And instead of walking seven hours a day to find the fungi collectors, he can call and ask them to deliver.
In his spare time, he chats to his younger brother, a chef in Zhejiang province who comes home at most once a year. Villagers hear a lot more news from the outside world these days – even Gong's 14-year-old son has his own phone. In 1997, there were just 10 million mobile users in China; by 2005, China Mobile had 240 million. Since then it has more than doubled.
The government pushes all carriers to serve the poorest. But since taking charge at China Mobile in 2004, Wang has shown sceptics that focusing on rural areas is a viable business strategy.
"Many analysts and investment bankers told me: never go to rural areas because they are low revenue. You will not make a profit," Wang said, in an interview at his spacious but low-key office in the company's headquarters on Beijing's Financial Street.
"I didn't believe that … with fixed lines, providing rural services is very, very difficult and expensive. [We have] low average revenue per user – but also low costs."
With a penetration rate of just 37%, there is plenty of room for growth among China's 700 million rural population. And there is plenty of demand. In Yangcun county, close to Beijing, Chen Fengmei anxiously scrolls through her latest text message: advice from officials on how the day's weather will affect her tomato crop. Another villager, Li Chunyu, checks the latest market prices for his pigs, no longer needing to trust middlemen or to give them a cut of his profits. "I never need to go anywhere. I can stay on the farm and find out everything," he said.
Continue reading the complete article here.