a tour around a 4G world

Wednesday 27 October, 2010

I attended the 4G World conference @ McCormick Place to check out sessions on regional operator deployment strategies in Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia-Pacific, & the Americas, although the only country covered in the last 1 outside of the U.S. was Peru, so that’s all I’ll mention here.

Sean Bolger of  Imagine is a strategic investor in Ireland with 120K residential customers & 17K business customers.  Historically Ireland had the lowest broadband speeds @ the highest prices in Europe.  Their strategic opportunity was cost-effectively replacing fixed lines in rural areas.  In considering LTE vs. Wimax, their take is get whatever capacity you can get. 70K preregistered for their service since April & takeup has been 3X faster than anticipated.  Intel & Motorola invested €100M into Imagine.  They’ve achieved 35% rural penetration.

Annti Toskala of Nokia-Siemens said demand for data services is 20X that for voice services in Finland.  Spectrum availability @ a reasonable cost, equipment availability, & maturity are required for LTE success.  In 1 case study in Stockholm, they found that a 5X increase in sites led to a 2.5X increase in site density.  Keeping the 3 specifications mentioned stable reduces the frequency of change orders.

Keith Cornell of  Clearwire / Motorola noted that upstarts create wildcat networks which causes incumbent networks to either impose a smooth evolution or disrupt the whole system.

Panel 1 Q&A

  • Investors are still waiting for a return on their investment in 3G
  • In comparing/contrasting 3g vs. 4g, it’s simply understood that the end user gets _ megabits
  • Incumbent operators do new network operators a favor when their networks don’t work.  It hurts their brands & helps those of the competition.

Mike Wright of Telstra covers 99% of the population of Australia in a country of 2.1M km2, of which 50% is rural.  50% get 42 MB; 90% get 21MB.  Different devices have impacted upon network efficiency & cost.   They are planning for LTE with 3 trials, which will complicate burst rates & antennae forms. They will install high frequency bands 1st.  Decisions are driven by demand optimization & the investment required.

Dr. Dawei Zhang of China Mobile has 564M subscribers using 505K basestations in China & will be adding 200K basestations by the end of the year.  They are partnering with Vodaphone & Verizon in synchronized development.  He predicts TD-LTE is the next global mobile technology because it requires a single chip, uses a unified terminal, & enables global roaming.  Their end-to-end product was released in mid-2010.  They are highlighting the network @ the World Expo in Shanghai & they’re doing large scale trials in 4 big cities next year.

Sadayuki Abeta of Docomo sees a smooth path from 3g to 4g in Japan.  They are launching LTE as 1 of the leading operators in the world.  Their deployment overlays 36 areas with legacy 3g functionality along the same evolutionary path with the same spectrum.

Madan Jagernauth of Chinese firm  Huawei Technologies indicated India is different from other countries in that as applications are evolving rapidly in hot spot coverage, they have lower costs/bit.

Panel 2 Q&A

  • 4g networks should be about the user experience, which depends on density.  Japan’s imode & imovies enhance the user experience with new services.    India can do HD video.  Capable devices can change user behavior.
  • New content, value-added services, & applications will all add new revenue streams.
  • Pricing is an issue when calculating the revenue/bit vs. cost/bit vs. all you can eat plans.  Basestation costs are not related to volume.
  • Innovations beyond voice depend on each customer.  No 1 depends exclusively on Skype for voice because carrier grade voice is better.  More embedded applications are desired too.

Augusto de la Jara of  Movistar Peru , which is a brand of Telefonica , said despite a high wireless penetration of 90%, Peru has only a 2% penetration rate for 3g because of cost. Growth of broadband depends on growth in the number of terminals & devices.  Although wifi is not nationwide yet, video chat is growing there.  Operators must adapt their networks in emerging markets to keep costs/bit low.


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