Tag Archives: Verizon

How small cells are becoming an integral part of futuristic mobile networks?

8 May

LTE as a technology and air interface has been hogging the bulk of limelight in the world of wireless communications. But another strategically crucial technology that many major mobile operators globally are going after is the small cell. In simple terms, small cell is a miniature version of the traditional macrocell. It compresses the attributes of a cell tower like radios and antennas into a low power, portable and easy to deploy radio device. Small cells typically have a range varying from 10 meters to a few hundred meters and are used by operators to either offload traffic from the macro network in a high density short range environment or to strengthen the range and efficiency of a mobile network. Before going into further details about small cells, have a look at the following diagram that illustrates how they fit into an operator’s network and strategy.

Small Cell Network

As seen in the image above, small cells provide enhanced coverage and capacity both indoors and outdoors. Umbrella coverage is provided by the macrocell. Microcells and picocells are designed to support hundreds of users and can be used in smaller networks that are not necessarily inside the range of a macrocell. Residential areas that are located outside the range of a cell network can deploy femtocells for better signal and bandwidth indoors. WiFi can be utilized for traffic offload or can serve as a standalone high speed short range network. Following are some of the advantages that small cells bring to the table –

  • Augmented coverage and capacity – The quality of signal on a device and whether that signal is good enough for multimedia data browsing are two factors that decide a customer’s experience in the mobile world nowadays. Small cells bring ubiquity to this idea, along with the added advantage of low latency. So whether you are in a packed stadium or office basement, you will be covered.
  • Superior in-building and cell edge performance – Contemporary wireless networks regularly face issues of poor coverage inside buildings and in areas far away from the cell tower. Small cells significantly improve the overall experience in such circumstances.
  • Support for various environments – The main conclusion to be drawn from the diagram above is that these tiny base stations find utility in multiple scenarios. Femtocells inside a house not only provide 3G or higher level speeds, they also reduce strain on the user devices’ battery. And all this is achieved by using the Internet service provider’s backhaul. At an enterprise level, microcells enhance service quality in the highly dense office environment. Similarly, they can be equally effective in remote rural or dense urban spaces.
  • Easier technology integration – Small cells can be integrated with all flavors of 3G, LTE, LTE-Advanced and WiFi technologies. An operator’s small cell strategy could be influenced by the type of wireless technologies it has deployed, the area of service and regional demand. Microcells, picocells and femtocells are fortunately compatible with all major types of wireless networks.
  • Higher spectrum bands are welcome – Recently, the mobile network providers have been fighting a battle for the lower band spectrum below 1 GHz. But since limited propagation characteristics are not an issue for these miniscule networks, and more bits/Hz are required, spectrum over 2 GHz is considered good. The FCC in US has been pushing for 3.5 GHz spectrum for small cell networks. Some stakeholders have asked for unlicensed spectrum for such networks. Europe is said to be discussing the 2.3 GHz TD-LTE spectrum this purpose.
  • Long term solution for the operator – Even though more base stations and state-of-the-art technologies can be deployed to temporarily resolve network congestion issues, the demand will generally exceed the supply. However, small cells are designed to offer adequate network resources to handle growing data demand for a few years within a specific environment.
  • Attractive business case – The reduced capital and operational expenditure (CAPEX/OPEX) involved in the small cell ecosystem has made them a tempting business proposition for the mobile service provider. Studies have shown that the cost of radio equipment for small cells could be just one-tenth of the corresponding costs for a macrocell. The ease, flexibility and swiftness of deployment make such networks even more appealing.

Many operators and vendors around the globe showcased their small cell strategy and progress at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona earlier this year. Vodafone emphasized that this technology is vital to their network portfolio. The telco plans to deploy about 70,000 small cells within the next 2 years. Korea Telecom announced that they have 18,000 such cells already active in urban areas of the country. Samsung Mobile was tapped by Verizon as a vendor for indoor LTE small cell solutions. Verizon already had similar partnerships with both Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson for indoor enterprise and outdoor environments. TIM Brazil, the country’s second largest operator, shared details about a deal with Alcatel-Lucent at MWC that will integrate femtocells into the carrier’s 3G network. SingTel from Singapore has been investing in these tiny networks too and has contracted Ericsson for the deployment. Many other small cell related developments have been picking up in the last year or so. AT&T’s 3G small cells are available in 18 states across the US. The operator has committed to deploying 40,000 multimode little base stations by the end of 2015. Sprint has been testing indoor and outdoor small cells for many months and intends a commercial launch later this year. The telco has also been running trials with Qualcomm’s network equipment. World’s biggest wireless service provider by subscribers, China Mobile, recently showed off a self-organizing outdoor small cell backhaul system as part of its TD-LTE network. Japan’s NTT Docomo has been using multiband small cell base stations for more than a year in some of its major markets. Note that as of now, most small cell networks operate on service provider’s existing spectrum holdings. But in the near future, dedicated airwaves could be allocated for these networks.

Multiple recent studies and analyses have predicted a ramp up in the small cell market. Infonetics Research has reported that small cell revenue was a modest $771 million last year but will grow by 65% to $1.3 billion this year. According to their report, 642,000 small cell units were shipped last year and about half of them were 3G, although LTE is projected to take the lead this year. ABI Research forecasted $1.8 billion market for outdoor small cells in 2014. The Asia-Pacific region will represent half of the small cell market by 2019. Allied Market Research put the global femtocell market size at $305 million in 2013 and predicted that this could grow more than ten-fold to $3.7 billion by 2020.

Although the predictions are upbeat, challenges remain for the small cell ecosystem. The cost and availability of backhaul for such stations is an issue. Because of municipal regulations, outdoor site acquisition can be a problematic process. The coordination and synchronization of these cells with local WiFi and the macro network is not as easy as it sounds. In urban scenarios, achieving line-of-sight may be technically difficult for low height in-building base stations. Despite these challenges, the overall small cell industry outlook is favorable. All major telcos and equipment providers have been evolving a small cell strategy. With consumers becoming increasingly intolerable towards bad wireless service, these tiny towers and stations are set to establish a niche but substantial market for themselves.

Source: http://wirelesstelecom.wordpress.com/2014/05/05/how-small-cells-are-becoming-an-integral-part-of-futuristic-mobile-networks/

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The 600 MHz Incentive Auction in US – What we know so far

4 Apr

Source: Gunjan –  http://wirelesstelecom.wordpress.com/2014/03/31/the-600-mhz-incentive-auction-in-us-what-we-know-so-far/

A major high stakes wireless industry event generating a lot of interest nowadays in US is the 600 MHz incentive auction for broadcast spectrum scheduled to take place in 2015. This auction assumes special significance since it would be perhaps the last set of airwaves under 1 GHz that will be sold in America through a primary auction. Given the exploding demand for data on mobile devices and the superior propagation characteristics of wireless signals in this band, the four major US carriers – Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and many smaller regional service providers have exhibited deep interest in this spectrum. The proposition is considered a first of its kind in the world. To put it simply, the broadcasters will voluntarily sell their spectrum to the US regulator, FCC through a reverse auction. Subsequently, the mobile operators would buy those airwaves through traditional bidding. But the reality will be more complex than that and this article would attempt to address the related complexities.

The FCC first floated the idea of utilizing broadcast TV airwaves for mobile broadband access in the National Broadband Plan of 2010. Two years later, the US Congress authorized the Commission to conduct the incentive auction of the broadcast television spectrum. In the fall of 2012, the FCC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to officially kick off the rules and guidelines developing process for the 600 MHz auction. The following diagrams illustrate the concept of this auction in terms of how the television broadcast spectrum looks currently and one of the several proposals on what it could look like after the completion of this auction.

Pre and post auction 600 MHz band plan

The values of X and Y as shown above, are variable and obviously depend on the amount of spectrum that the broadcasters are willing to sell. One of the ideas floated by the FCC is the provision to accommodate different amount of TV spectrum relinquished in different markets. The downlink spectrum would be a fixed band nationwide while the uplink band may vary depending on the market. The FCC is hoping that 120 MHz of total spectrum can be made available through this process although the actual figure would be less than this and will be determined by the willingness of TV station owners to give up their usage rights. The first aspect of these incentive auctions would be the reverse auction. Over-the-air active TV licensees holding 6 MHz spectrum in various areas of US will be eligible to participate in the reverse auction. In order to ensure maximum participation, the NPRM states that such licensees would have 3 options. They could either give up the Ultra-High frequency (UHF) channel and relocate to a channel in the Very High Frequency (VHF) range or give up their channel and share a broadcast channel with another licensee post-auction or they can simply sell all their rights to the channel and go off air. In every case, the selling broadcaster could potentially earn tens or in some cases hundreds of millions of dollars in exchange of the spectrum rights in a region. The second aspect would be repacking those broadcast channels that did not participate in this auction and will be on air after the whole process ends. This will ensure that such stations occupy one end of the spectrum resulting in contiguous blocks that could be sold off to the wireless network operators. During the rebanding, the channels would be reassigned and not geographically relocated. There would be no negative impact on the coverage area and served population of a TV station. Final piece of the puzzle would be the forward auction, a process that is generally followed to sell airwaves to the telcos. However, the regulator may follow a new approach to this process, since different areas might open up different amounts of spectrum. Selling spectrum in blocks and keeping flexible uplink spectrum are two such approaches. The pricing of airwaves in a particular region would depend on the success of reverse auction in that region. Another important aspect of the 600 MHz incentive auctions would be the integration of reverse and forward auctions. Both could either run sequentially or concurrently. The sequential path would show the supply through reverse auction to the bidders, but the sellers would be unable to determine the right price, since they would not be aware of the demand during the forward bidding. The concurrent path would show the supply demand balance, but how would repacking fit into that plan?

It is quite obvious that many questions need to be answered before marking a date for this auction. Biggest of them is whether the broadcasters would volunteer to relinquish their spectrum rights. The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has shown cautious interest in the auction. They are unsure about the kind of money that can be earned by either exiting the business or going to a shared channel. In comments filed with the Commission last summer, they also expressed deep concern over the co-existence of broadcast and mobile carriers on co-channels and adjacent channels in neighboring markets. They endorsed a nationwide standard band plan rather than an area-dependent approach that maximizes spectrum recovery. The NAB is definitely looking for more transparency in the rules. The FCC itself is still not sure about the success of the auction. The procedure can go belly up right at the start if participation from the broadcasters is low. Remember, if the target is to free up 120 MHz of frequencies, 20 stations will be required to exit the spectrum. Repacking presents another conundrum. Any move to reconfigure the TV stations would be complex and dependent on multiple factors. Apart from time and cost of repacking, interference protection on the new channel would be a major concern. There is no dearth of controversies on the wireless operator side too regarding these auctions. Bigger carriers like AT&T and Verizon want an open and simple bidding mechanism with no spectrum caps. Sprint, T-Mobile and other smaller rural carriers want an upper limit on the amount of airwaves that a bidder can buy. They claim that AT&T and Verizon already control more than three-fourth of commercial wireless spectrum below 1 GHz. Thus such a limit would promote consumer interest and encourage competition. Nonetheless, restrictions on spectrum bidding would reduce government’s revenue. There are divergent views on the channel block size and the size of economic areas (EA) too, although the spectrum is likely to be auctioned off in 5 MHz blocks. Appropriate utilization of the guard band frequencies is one more contentious topic. Internet companies like Google and Microsoft want unlicensed operations in that band, while the mobile telcos support only limited unlicensed spectrum. Given so many unresolved problems, the FCC delayed the 600 MHz incentive auctions until middle of 2015.

The regulator clearly needs to address issues of all stakeholders, but to be fair, this is an unprecedented situation and it is important to get it right even if that requires more time and discussion. The original plan was to have the order for this unique auction out by this spring, but that looks improbable now. The regulator must assuage the concerns of broadcasters in the order.  Rules and guidelines must be transparent with a well-defined structure. The barriers to entry must be low and TV spectrum owners should be educated about the approximate amount of dollars that they can expect in exchange of their 6 MHz of spectrum. They must be encouraged to explore the channel sharing option too. A recent pilot project conducted by 2 stations in Los Angeles concluded that sharing the same broadcast spectrum is technically feasible. Also as part of the order, the repacking methodology must be clearly laid out with specific timelines and costs involved. Various technical parameters like interference protection should also be outlined. Broadcasters must be assured that repacking will not affect their services in any manner and to further convince them, they should be allowed to test the repacking model. The station owners should be made to understand that since less than 10% of US households completely rely on over-the-air television, the spectrum they are holding can be utilized more efficiently if allocated for wireless data services. The other key policy challenge is on the forward auction side. There are valid arguments both in favor of and against imposing restrictions on spectrum that be bought by a bidder, so a balance has to be struck to ensure maximum participation and a level playing field. Lastly, the software and systems have to be extensively tested before commencing the complicated process.

There is clearly a long road to travel before these auctions can be held. There have been some positive developments like the formation of Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition (EOBC). EOBC represents broadcasters that are interested in these auctions and want to be a part of the rulemaking process in order to make this endeavor a success. But much more needs to happen. A well-designed competitive sale process encompassing all three stages is what the industry needs and if executed well, it can bring rich benefits to the consumers, promote competition and boost the economy. A successful auction would also influence other nations to follow suit. Now there is only shot at getting it right. The FCC seems to be working hard at it and basic idea sounds good, so let us hope for a result that is in best interests of all the stakeholders.

 

 

Steve Perlman Thinks He Can Completely Change How Cellphone Service Is Delivered

20 Feb

It has been taken for granted that cell service faces inevitable slowdowns as more users look to grab more data from ever-more-crowded cell towers using a limited amount of wireless spectrum.

It’s why even ultra-fast LTE service starts to bog down in dense urban areas as more and more people adopt data-hungry smartphones and tablets. To avoid interference, each device essentially takes turns grabbing the information it needs, meaning that as more users try to connect, the speeds get further away from the theoretical maximum.

The only answers served up so far have been to adopt faster network standards, use so-called “small cells” to boost coverage or add spectrum.

But tech industry veteran Steve Perlman says the industry has gotten it wrong.

His 12-person startup, Artemis Networks, proposes carriers use an entirely different kind of radio technology that the company says can deliver the full potential speed of the network simultaneously to each device, regardless of how many are accessing the network. The technology creates a tiny “pCell” right around the device seeking to access the network and sends the right signals through the air (via licensed or unlicensed spectrum) to give each of the tiny cells the information it needs.

Think of a pCell as a tiny bubble of wireless coverage that follows each device, bringing it the full speed of the network but only in that little area. The signals are sent through inexpensive pWave radios and, because Artemis technology doesn’t have to avoid interference, the radios can be placed with far more freedom than cell towers or small cells. It also means that, in theory, the technology would be able to bring high-speed cellular service even in densely packed settings like stadiums — locations that have proven especially thorny for traditional cellular networks.

Artemis plans to demonstrate the technology publicly Wednesday at Columbia University. In demos, Artemis has been able to show — in only 10MHz of spectrum — two Macs simultaneously streaming 4K video while nearby mobile devices stream 1080p content, a feat that Perlman says would not be possible with even the best conventional mobile networks. The company has been testing the network in San Francisco, and Perlman says that by late this year the company could have a broader test network here up and running.

The plus is that, while the system requires a new kind of radio technology for carriers, it is designed to use existing LTE-capable phones, such as the iPhone or Samsung Galaxy S4. The pCell technology can also be deployed in conjunction with traditional cellular networks, so phones could use Artemis technology where available and then fall back to cellular in other areas.

That said, while the infrastructure is potentially cheaper than traditional cellular gear, Artemis faces the task of convincing carriers to invest in a radical new technology coming from a tiny startup.

Perlman is no stranger to big ideas, but he has also struggled to get mainstream adoption for those technology breakthroughs.

After achieving fame and success selling WebTV to Microsoft, Perlman aimed to change the pay-TV industry with Moxi but found that most of the large cable and satellite providers were not eager for such disruptive technology. Moxi was eventually sold to Paul Allen’s Digeo and the combined company’s assets eventually sold to Arris in 2009.

With OnLive, Perlman proposed using the cloud to deliver high-end video games streamed to users on a range of devices, a technology it showed off at the D8 conference in 2010.

Despite cool technology, though, Perlman’s venture struggled and abruptly laid off staff in August 2012. The business as it had been initially founded closed, though its assets did get sold to an investor who is still trying to make a go of things under the OnLive banner.

Perlman insists he has learned from the obstacles that kept him from making those past visions into market realities.

“The challenges are always when you have reliance or dependencies on other entities, particularly incumbents,” Perlman said.

That, in part, is why Artemis took its technology approach and made it work with traditional LTE devices. Perlman said he knew getting the Apples and Samsungs of the world to support it was a nonstarter.

So how will he convince the AT&Ts and Verizons of the world? Perlman said a key part there was to wait to launch until the need for the technology was clear.

“We’ll wait until they get congested and people start screaming,” Perlman said.

Artemis is so far funded by Perlman’s Rearden incubator, though Perlman has met with VCs, even briefly setting up a demo network on Sand Hill Road to show off the technology.

Richard Doherty, an analyst with Envisioneering Group, says Artemis’ pCell technology seems like the real deal.

“[The] pCell is the most significant advance in radio wave optimization since Tesla’s 1930s experiments and the birth of analog cellular in the early 1980s,” Doherty said in an email interview. “I do not use the word ‘breakthrough’ often. This one deserves it.”

As to whether and when cellular carriers bite, Doherty acknowledged that is the $64 billion question.

“If one bites, none can likely be without it,” he said. If none do, he said Artemis can use pCell in conjunction with Wi-Fi to demonstrate the promise and challenge operators. “My bet is a handful will run trials within the next year.”

Here’s a video of Perlman demonstrating the technology.

Source: http://recode.net/2014/02/18/steve-perlman-thinks-he-can-completely-change-how-cell-phone-service-is-delivered/

Mobile Fourth Wave: The Evolution of the Next Trillion Dollars

2 Sep
2001
Smartphone image copyright Nik Merkulov 

We are entering the golden age of mobile. Mobile has become the most critical tool to enhance productivity and drive human ingenuity and technological growth. And the global mobile market will reach $1.65 trillion in revenue this year. Over the next decade, that revenue number will more than double. If we segment the sources of this revenue, there will be a drastic shift over the course of the next 10 years. During the last decade, voice accounted for over 55 percent of the total revenue, data access 17 percent, and the over-the-top and digital services a mere three percent. Over the next decade, we expect mobile digital services to be the leading revenue-generating category for the industry, with approximately 30 percent of the total revenue. Voice will represent less than 21 percent.

There is already a significant shift in revenue structures for many players. The traditional revenue curves of voice and messaging are declining in most markets. Mobile data access, while still in its infancy in many markets, is starting to face significant margin pressure. As such, the industry has to invest in building a healthy ecosystem on the back of the fourth wave — the OTT and digital services. The revenue generated on the fourth wave is going to be massive, but much more distributed than the previous curves. It will end up being a multi-trillion-dollar market in a matter of a decade — growing much faster and scaling to much greater heights than previous revenue curves.

Vodafone, one of the biggest mobile operators in the world, recently reported that in each of its 21 markets, voice and messaging declined (YOY). In some markets, like Italy, even the data access segment suffered negative growth. However, what was more disturbing was that the increase in access revenue didn’t negate the decline in voice and messaging revenue in any market. The net revenue declined in every single market, no matter which geography it belonged to. The net effect was that the overall revenue declined by nine percent, despite data access revenue growing by eight percent, because the overall voice and messaging revenue streams suffered double-digit losses. Once the access revenue started to decline (and it is already happening to some of the operators), these companies will have to take some drastic measures to attain growth. The investment and a clear strategy on the fourth wave will become even more urgent. They will have to find a way to become Digital Lifestyle Solution Providers.

revgrowthcurve

So, what is the mobile fourth wave, and who are the dominant players today? The fourth wave is not a single entity or a functional block like voice, messaging or data access, but is made up of dozens of new application areas, some of which have not even been dreamt up yet. As such, this portfolio of services requires a different skill set for both development and monetization. Another key difference in the competitive landscape is that the biggest competitors for these services (depending on the region) might not be another operator but the Internet players who are well funded, nimble and very ambitious. The services range from horizontal offerings such as mobile cloud; commerce and payments; security; analytics; and risk management to mobile being tightly integrated with the vertical industries such as retail, health, education, auto, home, energy and media. Mobile will change every vertical from the ground up, and that’s what will define the mobile fourth wave.

In the past, the Top 10 players by revenue were always mobile operators. If we take a look at the Top 10 players by revenue on the fourth wave, there are only five operators on the list. The Internet players like Apple, Google, Amazon, Starbucks and eBay are generating more revenue on this curve than some of the incumbent players. However, some of the operators like AT&T, KDDI, NTT DoCoMo, Telefonica and Verizon have been investing steadily on the fourth curve for some time. The two Japanese operators on the list have even started to report the digital revenue in their financials.

Just as data represents 50 percent or more of their overall revenue, we expect that, for some of these operators, digital will represent more than 50 percent of their data revenue within five years. Relatively smaller operators like Sprint, Turkcell, SingTel and Telstra are also investing in new service areas that will change how operators see their opportunities, competition and revenue streams.

topplayers

This shift to digital has larger implications, as well. Countries with archaic labor laws that don’t afford companies the flexibility needed to be digital players are going to be at a disadvantage. It is one thing to have figured out the strategy and the areas to invest in, and it is completely another to execute with the focus and tenacity of an upstart. If companies are not able to assemble the right talents to pursue the virgin markets, someone else will. Such players will see decline in their revenues and become targets for M&A. Some of this is already evident in the European markets, which are also plagued by economic woes. Regulators will have a tough task ahead of them in evaluating some unconventional M&As in the coming years.

The shift to digital will also have an impact on the rest of the ecosystem. The infrastructure providers will have to develop expertise in services that can be sold in partnership with the operators. Device OEMs without a credible digital-services portfolio will find it hard to compete just on product or on price. The Internet players will have to form alliances to find distribution and scale. The emergence of the fourth wave is good news for startups. Instead of just looking toward Google or Apple, the exit route now includes the operator landscape, as well. In fact, some of the operators have been making strategic acquisitions in specific segments over the last few years — Telefonica acquired AxisMed, Brazil’s largest chronic-care management company; Verizon acquired Hughes Telematics; and SingTel acquired Amobee.

For any telecom operator looking to enter the digital realm, the strategic options and road map are fairly clear. First, it has to solidify and protect its core business and assets. A great broadband network is the table stakes to be considered a player in the digital ecosystem. Depending on the financial condition of the operator, the non-core assets should be slowly spun off or sold to potential buyers so that the company can squarely focus on preserving the core and on launching the digital business with full force. The digital business requires a portfolio management approach that requires a completely different mindset and skillset to navigate the competitive landscape.

The first three revenue growth curves have served the industry well, but now it is time for the industry to refocus its energies on the fourth curve that will completely redefine the mobile industry, its players and the revenue opportunities. Several new players will start to emerge that will create new revenue from applications and services that transform every industry vertical that contributes significantly to the global GDP. As players like Apple and Google continue to lead, mobile operators will have to regroup, collaborate and refocus to become digital players.

There will be hardly any vertical that is not transformed by the confluence of mobile broadband, cloud services and applications. In fact, the very notion of computing has changed drastically. The use of tablets and smartphones instead of PCs has altered the computing ecosystem. Players and enterprises who aren’t gearing up for this enormous opportunity will get assimilated.

The future of mobile is not just about the platform, but about what’s built on the platform. It is very clear that the winners will be defined by how they react to the fourth wave that will shape mobile industry’s next trillion dollars.

Source: http://allthingsd.com/20130826/mobile-fourth-wave-the-evolution-of-the-next-trillion-dollars/?mod=atd_homepage_carousel&utm_source=Triggermail&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Mobile+Insights&utm_campaign=Post+Blast+%28sai%29%3A+Where+Will+The+Next+%241+Trillion+In+Mobile+Come+From%3F

LTE not a fixed broadband replacement: analyst

28 Aug


Last month, 
AT&T rather quietly launched AT&T Wireless Home Phone and Internet – an LTE-based landline and broadband replacement service in the USA.

The service is very similar to Verizon’s HomeFusion, and pricing for data is more or less the same: 20GB per month costs USD90 (R915); 30GB costs USD120 (R1221); and overage charges are USD10 (R102) per gigabyte.

AT&T is initially marketing the service as a direct competitor to the Verizon service in Verizon’s wireline operating area, and not in its own area.

Unlike HomeFusion, the AT&T service uses LTE to backhaul “fixed” voice, which costs an additional USD20 (R204) per month.

Both AT&T and Verizon have indicated that they view LTE as the way forward for static broadband in areas not served by their FTTN and FTTH networks, which represents about 25–30% of properties in their operating areas.

The case for LTE as a fixed-line replacement is weakening

The obvious problem with the LTE-fixed replacement approach is the use case.

The highest data package available from both operators is 30GB per month, which is already below the mean average level of fixed broadband usage in the USA.

Furthermore, AT&T and Verizon estimate that their services will typically deliver access speeds of between 5Mbps and 12Mbps.

As a result, their appeal will be restricted in rural parts of the USA to lighter users with poor ADSL services and no access to cable broadband.

Nevertheless, additional spectrum and/or infrastructure could help to ease these limitations.

Evidence of a very strong surge in data consumption is emerging in several markets. From data published last year in the UK, we calculate that average usage on FTTC/FTTH exceeded 110GB per month in mid-2012.

These subscribers accounted for only 6% – presumably mainly heavy users – of the fixed broadband subscriber-base, so the average could decline slightly as the user base broadens.

However, anecdotal evidence suggests that the figure is holding steady.

Current-generation ADSL usage is also surging, according to a growing number of reports.

For example, last year, TalkTalk Internet usage was almost certainly well below the UK average of 23GB per month. In May 2013 – six months after the launch of TalkTalk TV – the operator reported peak bandwidth at 706Gbps, which equates to 39GB per month per subscriber, assuming 6.5% busy-hour periods.

Even accounting for the 73,000 FTTC customers, and assuming that they consume 100GB per month, this growth in ADSL usage will be well ahead of long-term historical Internet traffic growth rates.

TalkTalk is currently planning a 50–100-times expansion in the capacity of its aggregation networks during the next 5–10 years.

The primary growth driver for fixed broadband usage appears to be content – particularly boxes that drive online content to TV sets – rather than networks.

The move to on-demand viewing is only just starting in most of Europe, but some commentators in the USA are already predicting the death of linear broadcast TV.

More end users are giving up their linear cable TV service, and Cablevision CEO James Dolan this month predicted a day when cablecos stop offering an RF service altogether.

Cellular technologies are unlikely to cope with a large number of users with these sorts of demands, and designing a rural wireless network to behave like a fibre network can be a very expensive undertaking, as NBN Co’s 4G fixed wireless roll-out in Australia has demonstrated: it has cost AUD1.4 billion (R13.03 billion) or USD1.28 billion to pass 500,000 premises.

A recent report by Analysys Mason, LTE as a next-generation access platform in rural markets: cost–benefit analysis, argues that LTE in developed economies can play only a very limited role in the supply of fixed broadband – confined to particularly hard-to-reach areas and even then with strict data rationing.

Broadband data usage

Broadband data usage

The case for investment in fixed broadband in emerging economies is better now than it has ever been

Wireless networks, though, play a larger role in the broadband plans of operators in emerging economies.

The case for wireless broadband as a primary means to connect in these countries may be just as weak as it is in developed economies, principally for the following four reasons.

  • Fixed broadband users in middle-income economies that already have good NGA availability (like some Central and Eastern European countries) consume on average vastly more Internet data than their counterparts in higher-income economies. (For further details, see Fixed Internet traffic worldwide: forecasts and analysis 2013–2018);
  • Demand is propelled by changes in TV content distribution. TV habits are more universal and far less constrained by wealth and urban/rural divides than Internet usage, so demand from rural or poorer users will not be lower;
  • If it is connected TVs (or rather devices for connecting TVs) and over-the-top (OTT) content that encourage usage and not NGA, then the drivers of usage are not in themselves priced in ways that pose a great barrier to adoption in price-sensitive markets (for example, Google’s Chromecast fob is just USD35). A demand-primed user base will not long be satisfied with first-generation ADSL (because of its speed and stability) or LTE (because of its limited capacity and, in the long term, because of its speed);
  • The capex differential between 4G and fibre roll-out (whether FTTN or FTTH) is lower in emerging markets than in developed economies.

Emerging economies present real and rapidly improving opportunities for investment in fixed broadband infrastructure – whether upgrades of copper and coax or deployments of pure fibre. The argument is no longer the self-fulfilling one where networks encourage usage, but a more compelling one where usage grows anyway. Operators have an excellent opportunity to monetise these trends, and become significant stakeholders in the video value chain:

  • initially by harnessing and stimulating trends in usage, by increasing aggregation-level capacity (including CDNs), selling OTT/catch-up boxes and upselling subscribers to higher or unlimited data caps
  • subsequently, by consolidating the subscriber base with faster – and, just as importantly, more-stable – NGA connections for multiple-screen, on-demand consumption, as quickly as construction permits.

Source: http://mybroadband.co.za/news/broadband/84761-lte-not-a-fixed-broadband-replacement-analyst.html

2013 LTE Capex and Opex predictions. By 2017, U.S. carriers expected to spend over $90 billion in capex and opex

12 Aug


According to a recent LTE capex and opex forecast published by iGR, Tier One operators (AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, and T-Mobile USA) and Regional and Small Operators (RSOs) are projected to spend  by 2017 $37 billion in LTE capex and $56 billion in opex.

“US capex spending is forecasted to be 10% of global capex spending and will peak in 2013″ said Iain Gillott, President of IGR. “The radio equipment, which includes base station equipment, tower modifications, installation and construction, represents 70% of the $37 billion capex budget, with backhaul and evolved packet core expenditures representing the balance.”

“By 2017, US opex spending by US carriers is projected to be $56 billion,” said Gillott. “and represents expenditures required to keep the network running every month. Specific elements include radio maintenance coupled with ongoing cost of backhaul and transport.”

Key takeaways from the interview include:

  • In 2013, Tier One expenditures will be $10 billion compared to only $750 million by the RSOs.
  • Of the total U.S. LTE infrastructure capital expenditures forecast of $37.5 billion, RSOs are expected to spend only $3.2 billion.
  • Operating expenditures by RSOs are expected to be $2.1 billion, a small percentage of the expected $56.5 billion opex expenditure forecast.
  • iGR’s LTE cost model is based on the amount of data the network is able to support and deliver. The Capex cost model is based on the cost required to add 1 GB of data capacity to the network, while the opex cost model is based on the cost per user per month.
  • Equipment vendors selling to RSOs will need to adjust their sales and product strategy because RSOs will deploy more hosted solutions to include shared packet core and policy engines.

Source: http://www.rcrwireless.com/article/20130810/carriers/2013-lte-capex-and-opex-predictions/?goback=%2Egmp_136744%2Egde_136744_member_265061682%2Egmp_136744%2Egde_136744_member_265031717%2Egmp_136744%2Egde_136744_member_264928582%2Egmp_136744%2Egde_136744_member_264858554

Femtocell hack reveals mobile phones’ calls, texts and photos

22 Jul

An increasingly popular technology for extending cell-phone coverage ranges had a major security hole that went undetected for years, through which an attacker could eavesdrop on everything a target did on their phone, according to new research released on Monday.

The research brings to light previously unknown vulnerabilities in some models of femtocells, devices that mobile network operators use to bring wireless service to low-coverage zones. The compact boxes, which are typically as small as a standard cable modem, can be deployed in hard-to-reach spots like the top of an apartment building or a home in the mountains. Femtocells are also referred to as “network extenders,” and analysts project that as many as 50 million of them will be in use by 2014.

In a demonstration for CNNMoney, researchers at iSEC Partners, who discovered the security hole, covertly recorded one of our phone conversations and played it back for us. They were also able to record our browsing history, text messages, and even view pictures we sent from one smartphone to another by hacking the network extender.

“We see everything that your phone would send to a cell phone tower: phone calls, text messages, picture messages, mobile Web surfing,” said iSEC Partners senior security consultant Tom Ritter.

ISEC discovered the security flaw a year ago and contacted the affected vendors, who quickly began working on a fix. Though iSEC focused its research on femtocells operating on Verizon’s 3G CDMA network, the company believes similar holes could exist on other network extenders.

A Verizon (VZ, Fortune 500) spokesman said the problem has been repaired in all of the femtocells it is currently using. ISEC used a modified femtocell that did not receive a patch to the security flaw.

“The demonstration CNN saw was for an identified issue that was fixed earlier this year on all network extender devices,” the company said in a written statement. “The fix prevents the network extender from being compromised in the same manner.”

Verizon said it has not received any customer complaints about the security glitch.

Samsung, the company that manufactures Verizon’s network extenders, also issued a statement saying the problem has been fixed. ISEC plans to show off more details of its hack later this month at the Black Hat and Def Con security conferences in Las Vegas.

Security researchers say these kinds of flaws are inevitable. As new technologies get more powerful, though, the risks get bigger.

“Once you first saw this product was available, you said, ‘If there are any vulnerabilities, it’ll be really bad,” hacker Chris Wysopal, the chief technology officer for security software maker Veracode.

When he learned about femotcells, he says he immediately thought: “Somebody’s bound to break this.”

ISEC, which specializes in security research, says the attack it pioneered doesn’t require very sophisticated hacking.

“You do need some level of technical skills, but people are learning those skills in college,” Ritter said. “Breaking into one of these devices, or a device like this, is within the realm of people working at home.”

Since it would be impractical for a passer by to randomly hack your femtocell, this exploit is more in the realm of hypothetical than likely — even before the security patch went out. But femtocells and other “small cell” technologies are increasingly being deployed in businesses, homes, malls, stadiums and other public areas. If security flaws exist, it’s important that the manufacturers are made aware of them.

Security pros say that using encryption apps like Wickr, Cellcrypt, Redphone and TextSecure can help users looking for a more secure connection. But researchers at iSEC have resigned themselves to the idea that nothing is confidential.

“You should assume that everything you’re saying is being intercepted,” said Doug DePerry, one of the company’s senior consultants. “That is a bit of a defeatist opinion, but sometimes that has to be the way it is.” To top of page

4G LTE could spur DDoS, mobile data theft

3 Oct

Hackers can leverage high speed and data capacity of LTE networks to perpetrate distributed denial-of-service attacks on networks, and also target data on mobile devices.

The rise of 4G LTE networks can bring about security incidents such as distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on corporate and home networks, and data theft on mobile devices, industry watchers say.

According to Michela Menting, cybersecurity senior analyst at ABI Research, hackers can leverage the high speed and increased data capacity of LTE networks, and fast processing capabilities of smartphones to perpetuate DDoS attacks.

Most nations are susceptible to this as they increasingly wire up with LTE networks and smartphone adoption is increasing rapidly worldwide, she observed.

Elaborating, she noted LTE networks use Internet Protocol (IP) based communication in their transport network and base stations. Their core network point of entrance being through femtocells, a base station which acts as a wireless access point for a home or business, she pointed out.

While femtocells are popular among operators because they are a less expensive alternative to upgrade, they also require the exposure of public IP addresses of security gateways to enable communication between the end-user device and the core network, she noted. An increase in femtocell deployment could lead to more exposure to IP-based threats such as denial-of-service attacks, she said.

“Consequently, increasingly aggressive network attacks against subscriber identity management, routing and roaming, can be expected,” she added.

Mobile devices, data potentially more vulnerable Another observer Patrick Lum, senior consultant at Verizon’s risk group, noted hackers can design malware which create botnets, or centrally controlled networks of compromised systems, and they can be used for the purposes of sending spam or participating in DDoS attacks.

With LTE operating as an IP network and providing higher bandwidth, mobile phones will be a “lucrative” target for hackers looking to expand their existing botnets, Lum explained.

This will also result in a significant increase in new IPs, which could lead to hackers to create phishing attacks which can lead to data theft and loss since many users tend to store sensitive data on their mobile phones, he said.

Femtocells will be deployed wherever people and businesses need them, such as inside homes, shopping centers, airports and hospitals, Menting warned. This means it will be much easier for hackers to “wreak havoc” in specifically targeted areas, she said.

Those that provide online services such as e-commerce and Internet banking are more at risk compared to those with just a Web page, because any disruption in the online service will inevitably lead to a loss in revenue or fines from authorities, he said.

Partner telcos, ISPs, have internal DDoS plan Telcos and internet service providers (ISPs) will have to limit and mitigate threats as they happen, and continuously work to patch vulnerabilities once they are exposed, Menting suggested.

Companies can also have agreements and with the hosting provider or the ISPs providing the network service, Lim added.

“These external parties often have the ability to filter or block DDoS attacks within their own network environment before the attack reaches the victim’s networks,” he said.

Internally, companies must devise a DDoS response plan with key processes and procedures for IT personnel to follow in case of a potential attack, he said. Adequate preparation will enable companies to anticipate DDOS attacks or identifying risk, which will go a long way in preventing significant data or revenue loss for a company, he said.

Source: http://www.zdnet.com/4g-lte-could-spur-ddos-mobile-data-theft-7000005106/

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