Comments, opinions and half-formed thoughts from Mobile Europe's editor Keith Dyer, with occasional guest contributors adding sense and depth.

Is the GSMA a big players' club?

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gsma_logoThe GSMA has announced its new Board. A press release from the Association said that the board's 25 members represented the world's largest operator groups as well as smaller, independent operators with global representation.

Is that really the case? Looking through the list, it looks like a solid list of companies who are at very least T1 players in their own domain, if not regional or global group operators. 

Network automation - a necessity for LTE

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LTE_network_automationIn recent months we at Mobile Europe have noted an increasing amount of noise around the automation of network processes - whether that's for planning, optimisation or management. In this guest post, Thomas Neubauer, Managing Director of Symena, an AIRCOM company, explains why automation will be essential for the efficient and economical operation of LTE networks and where automated processes can deliver the most value. 

Take our 2013 Survey

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Mobile Europe's Ones to Watch 2013 survey

Hello dear reader. We would like you to take the following short survey to tell us what you think will be the hot topics in 2013. 

Where next for mobile data pricing?

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mobile_data_pricing_openwave_mobility

A few words about pricing mobile data...

As EE bats away charges that it has got its LTE pricing wrong, what could be more topical than an article that rounds up recent trends in mobile data pricing? Why have operators swung away from, and then back to, unlimited offers? What about shared data plans, toll free pricing, or per-application pricing? Is there scope for operators to be more innovative in their pricing, without confusing the hell out of consumers. Here, in a guest article for Mobile Europe, Chris Goswami, of Openwave Mobility, takes us through recent developments, and tries to plot a future direction for mobile data pricing.

Operators facing "brutal" future offered small consolation

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operator_service_revenuesSTL Partners has released research, conducted through its Telco2.0 intiative, that warned the telco industry it is in for a “brutal” time over the next 5-8 years.

Operators in the big five EU economies (UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy) will see combined revenues from voice, messaging and data services drop by nearly €20Bn, or 4% per year, by 2016, and by $30 billion by 2020,  STL said.

What's better for the economy? Subsidise housing, or mobile?

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The UK Labour party has floated the idea of using a projected £3.5 billion "windfall" from the auction of 800MHz and 2.6GHz spectrum to stimulate the housing and construction market. 

I thought it might be interesting to consider some discussion on whether gross GDP (or "the economy") is likely to get a bigger boost from stimulating housing demand, or by allowing mobile operators free access to spectrum via a beauty contest to stimulate network rollouts. (Most beauty contest spectrum awards also impose strict coverage and capacity requirements on the operators to ensure good network rollouts.)

VoLTE vs. VoIP: how operators can exploit the potential difference

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Service platform provider OpenCloud is writing two articles for Mobile Europe on the opportunities and challenges of voice in LTE networks. This first one outlines the basic issue - that OTT players have more opportunity to grab market share in LTE, given the better latencies and higher capacities of LTE. But it also argues that there are still advantages for operators, such as service ubiquity, and their background in offering value added voice services. 

The mobile data storm: Learning to swim with the OTTs

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Richard_Stone_Compuware_OTT_mobile_application_performanceOperators are often told that the "intelligent" pipe concept gives them the best chance of adding value to the OTT players' services and applications. In this guest post, Richard Stone, Senior Solutions Manager of Cloud Computing and Mobile, Compuware, says that operators can take steps to reduce "wasted" data, producing more efficient networks, a better customer experience, and happier content providers. By doing so, they have a chance to be more than just toll roads for other people's data, he says.

Consumer demand for content is now higher than ever before. While this is great news for content providers, it is the mobile operators that are often in the firing line when it comes to poorly performing apps.

Innovation Qualcomm: network technology demos

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Qualcomm has partners, journalists and analysts in Berlin for its IQ event. There are a number of network-related demos, featuring LTE-A, LTE Broadcast, femtocells and UMTS Direct demos. I've briefly summarised a few of them here.

Fractional UMTS
The first one I saw was on Fractional UMTS - F-UMTS - a method of squeezing UMTS into half of a "normal" 5MHz channel, by reducing the baseband chip rate (Mcps).

Back to the future: Good sues MobileIron and AirWatch

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Yesterday I received the following pitch. "Good Technology has filed two separate lawsuits for patent infringement on its software and application – a sign that the smartphone wars are moving from devices to apps." Sounds great, huh? 

Like, we've all had so much fun following patent litigation between Apple, Samsung and HTC et al, that the good news is that some of that action is moving to apps. Let's move this whole patent thing along here.

Well, hey, some of us have memories. Or at least working search engines. 

VoIP and LTE: a question of quality

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LTE_VoIP_VoLTE_OpenCloud

A few weeks ago, we ran an article from Mark Windle of OpenCloud, titled VoLTE versus VoIP, that looked at the advantages that operators and OTT each have in providing voice services over LTE. Amongst the operator advantages listed by Mark were service ubiquity and quality of service. As the ability of operators to "monetise" QoS is such a hot topic at the moment, we asked Mark to come back and write a second piece looking at how they might do this. 

Swisscom bundles speed-based 3G and LTE data pricing

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As operators across Europe prepare for LTE launches by thinking about their data tariffs and how they can match pricing to consumer needs, here's an approach from Swisscom that bundles existing fixed or mobile data subscriptions with speed-based pricing for tablet and laptop use. 

Swisscom is introducing new data tariffs for laptop or iPad users based on speed and is offering them at a discount to existing subscribers to fixed or mobile data packages. 

Are there any such things as LTE services?

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LTE_services_no_such_thingOne of the downsides of being Mobile Europe is that we don't always have an excuse to follow the global market, but I thought the following news from SK Telecom was interesting, shining a light as it does on ways of marketing and launching LTE, and services that take advantage of LTE.

It's become axiomatic that LTE doesn't bring with it "LTE services", it just brings more speed and lower latencies to existing services. 

Three UK "clear winner" in South East data network performance

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Snodland, Chingford good. Guildford not so good.

Root Metrics has released details of a survey of mobile network performance in and around London and the South East. It found that for data and text performance Three UK was a “clear winner” in terms of overall performance, O2 was second, Vodafone third, Orange fourth and T-Mobile fifth*. On call (voice) performance it was impossible to declare an overall winner with only a four point difference between the scores.

Video calling - social transformation, network evolution

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How to support person to person video calling in the network

Social and behavioural changes can drive technical innovation. With SMS we saw the phone move from the ear to the palm of the hand. At the device level, UI and text input became vital. In the networks, a messaging infrastructure sector was born, and continues to mutate today along with the move to IP and app-based messaging usage.

As usage moved from audio to visual, and graphics became more important, so screens moved to colour and changed shape and size. UIs changed out of all recognition. This shift created clear winners and losers in the device sector, just as it had in the network space.

Operators must power interoperability to combat OTT threat

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mobile_OTT_threat_combat_JoynThorsten Trapp, CTO, tyntec, writes in this guest post that one response to the OTT threat is to become a transit hub, taking advantage of the operator ability to foster interoperability between OTT services. It's not a solution that will work for everyone, he cautions.

FACING THE OTT DILEMMA

The threat posed by OTT services to operator revenues is well known and understood. In a recent survey by MobileSquared for tyntec, 80% of operators acknowledged that free and low cost voice and messaging apps presented a very real threat to core voice and text revenues. 

LTE1800 a fifth the cost of 2.6GHz: Deutsche Telekom

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LTE1800_global_statusRival operators who suspect EE has gained a significant advantage over its rivals by deploying LTE in 1800MHz spectrum may have had their fears confirmed by a senior network economist at Deutsche Telekom (DT).

David Haszledine, Network Economics Manager at DT, told Avren Events' HetNet conference that rolling out an LTE network in 1800MHz spectrum could be a quarter or a fifth as cheap as achieving the same network in 2.6GHz spectrum.

How the iPhone 5 illustrates the RF complexity facing device vendors

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The iPhone 5 has, as you will probably know, been released in three flavours of spectrum support. You might be wondering why device manufacturers don't just fling in a whole load of RF front ends to cover all possible combinations. The answer, of course, is power and space. Here, Nujira's CMO Jeremy Hendy takes a look at the iPhone 5's likely internal RF (Radio Frequency) and PA (power amplifier) structure, and gives a good explanation as to the decisions a designer like Apple faces when it decides which spectrum bands to include. Nujira is a developer of the "envelope tracking" technology Hendy mentions.

Hendy writes:

Everything Everywhere drops new brand hint

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It looks as if Everything Everywhere has a major brand announcement to make. I've just received an invite from them that says:

Please join us for exciting information on our new brand and the latest innovation in network technology.

It's possible that this is "a" new brand - something LTE-related - rather than "the" new brand for the whole operation.

Senior Orange execs, including CEO Stephane Richard, have recently let it be known that they aren't fans of the EE name.

Everything Everywhere has also just been awarded the rights to re-farm parts of its 1800MHz spectrum for LTE. It has named the September date as its launch for LTE - so it remains to be seen if this announcement is just about LTE, or a wider brand relaunch.

Any EE types out there that know more, do drop us a note in the comments section!