Fri, Jan

Network infrastructure

  • Europe was late to the 4G party but the UK was even later, with a combination of squabbling operators and lack of spectrum delaying the rollout of LTE. But according to new figures this week, there are now six million 4G LTE subscribers, amounting to around eight percent of all mobile subscriptions.

  • Arqiva will provide help O2 and Vodafone with network consolidation and 4G LTE deployment, after signing a 10-year site share agreement with both operators.

  • Procera Networks has launched a new product allowing operators to get real-time quality of experience information about a radio access network's performance.

  • LTE deployments are driving huge growth in mobile infrastructure security, with spending set to grow by a compound annual growth rate of 42 percent, new research has claimed.

  • Communications Service Providers (CSPs), need to innovate to keep up with the competitive pressure of the rapidly changing network environment. As more of the value (and revenues) flow to over-the-top service providers like Google and Amazon, CSPs face the prospect of increasingly becoming providers of commodity-like transport services.

    Download this whitepaper and learn:

    • Why CSPs need to transform their networks
    • The driving force behind innovation in the telecom industry
    • The impact of implementing NFV technologies
  • Operators are stepping up spending on security gateway solutions designed to combat SMS/MMS spam and threats, according to new research.

    For the full year 2013, the global SMS/MMS security gateway market is projected to reach €51 million – a 70 percent increase over 2012 – Infonetics Research revealed.

  • The global mobile infrastructure market is stalling despite the increase in demand for LTE infrastructure, according to the latest figures.

    In the first three months of this year, sales of 2G/3G/4G equipment have fallen by nine percent on Q4 2012 and two percent year-on-year to €6.3 billion, Infonetics Research reports.

  • The market for NFC mobile payments is slowly growing alongside the burgeoning roll-outs of NFC-enabled handsets, NFC-ready Point of Sale (POS) terminals and Trusted Service Manager (TSM) solutions.

    According to research from Berg Insight, NFC mobile wallet services are now commercially live in 13 countries as of the end of March 2013.

  •                                          At a press briefing announcing that it has reached the 500,000 customer mark for its 4G LTE services, UK operator EE poured scorn onto its competitors’ efforts to roll out the next gen technology and hinted about expanding its network to cover major transport routes.

    EE’s director of network integration and LTE Mansoor Hanif said that while EE respects its competition, he had doubts that other operators realise how hard it is to successfully roll out 4G LTE services in the UK.

  • The UK government has selected infrastructure provider Arqiva to provide mobile services in rural parts of Britain, as part of the Mobile Infrastructure Project (MIP).
    Roughly €177 million has been set aside to fund MIP, which aims to connect rural communities where there is no commercial business case to deploy mobile services, as part of the UK’s overall aim to be a leading digital economy.
  • The number of cells required to meet the capacity demands of just one square kilometre of a busy city centre will increase to more than 40 by 2015, according to Actix, which predicts a radical and rapid change in mobile infrastructures to meet soaring data demand.


  • Why NLOS for small cell backhaul, and why Radwin for NLOS?


  • 25% cost of ownership reductions by sharing RAN and backhaul with another partner

    Mobile operators in the more economically-challenged European countries will not be able to make "massive" LTE deployments unless the economics of rollout and operation are radically changed, according to Eduardo Duato, CTO of Orange Spain.

    Those changes include a shift to active RAN and backhaul network sharing, as well as new deployment models from the vendors.

    Duato said that even though LTE is 100% more spectrally efficient, and is 30% cheaper in total cost of ownership than 3G, it is still not cheap enough to enable operators to invest with confidence in "massive" rollouts.

  • Ubidyne has signed a deal with an un-named "major Asia Pacific-based manufacturer of telecommunications equipment" to develop an LTE active antenna for the 800MHz frequency range. The agreement follows network trials of Ubidyne’s 700MHz active antenna solution in the USA. UIbidyen said that it expects to sign a series of new contracts in the next 12 months with Tier 1 operators and OEMs and that the new 800MHz active antenna will be deployed with a major regional network operator in 2013.
    In the US trials, Ubidyne’s Antenna Embedded Radio technology with flexible beam forming and tilting capabilities,  delivered double throughput at the cell edge and an increase of over 40% cell capacity with the same output power. In addition to the uB700™ that supports 4G (LTE) for broadband mobile networks in the US, Ubidyne’s uB900™ supports GSM, UMTS and LTE in the 900MHz frequency band to address mobile networks in Europe, Africa, Oceania, Asia and the Middle East. This latest announcement will further extend this range with the development of an LTE 800MHz solution, while Ubidyne is also looking at high-band antenna up to 2.6GHz as well as multi-band solutions.
    “With the Ubidyne technology proven to exceed our theoretical performance predictions and demonstrate excellent reliability in independent trials, we are now getting a lot of real interest from operators and OEMs who need to meet the exploding demand for wireless data,” said Michael Fränkle, CEO of Ubidyne. “This was reflected at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. While there was a lot of discussion about the move to small cells, this represents a major investment in time and money; whereas visitors to our stand increasingly see active antenna technology as a way to maximise coverage and capacity from their existing macrocells. In addition to the deal announced today, we are in advanced discussions with further companies in Asia Pacific and other regions around the world.”
    By removing the need for bulky coaxial feeder cables, remote electrical tilt assemblies and additional amplifiers on antenna towers and masts, Ubidyne’s patented active antenna technology significantly reduces installation costs and energy consumption while improving radio performance, deployment flexibility, coverage and network capacity. OPEX costs and outages are further reduced by Ubidyne’s Self-Healing mechanism that secures antenna coverage in the unlikely event of a system failure.

    Unlike other approaches to active antenna systems (AAS), Ubidyne’s LTE 700MHz, 800MHz and 900MHz AAS technology uses one transceiver or M-Radio per antenna radiator. This means that an antenna with 16 radiators - or eight cross polar radiators - will also have 16 transceivers. Results from the US trials demonstrated that only a full AAS can meet critical upper sidelobe suppression requirements with margin, while simultaneously providing the highest possible antenna gain over an electrical tilt range of more than 10 degrees. And because of the Self-Healing feature, Ubidyne AAS still delivers this performance with up to four transceivers out of 16 being switched off.

  • Swisscom has reported that "substitution by IP-based applications and the growing use of social media platforms" led to a 28% fall in revenue from directly billed SMS messages during the first quarter of 2012.

    Over the same period, the average price per megabyte that Swisscom realised from customers fell by 25%. That combination led to a fall in average revenue per mobile user per month of 4.3% to CHF44.

  • A report commissioned by Everything Everywhere from Capital Economics claims that LTE network investment would benefit the UK economy to the tune of tens of thousands of jobs, increase GDP by 0.5% a year, connect the unconnected and give a productivity boost to swathes of business and industry. Can we trust its findings?

    First, the background. Everything Everywhere is keen to get on with using chunks of its 1800MHz spectrum for LTE. The other operators are not so sure, thinking that Ofcom's willingness to give it the nod will give EE an unfair advantage over the rest of them, who have to wait for the 800MHz/2.6Ghz auction.

    So Everything Everywhere (EE) has launched a website campaigning for the swift introduction of LTE. As a cornerstone of its launch, it produced a piece of research that shows how much good LTE could do for the wider economy. EE also asked for celebrities and businesses to put their shoulder to the wheel, asking them to back its campaign for a 4G Britain. The message was: Let's get rid of the delay and politicking and just get on with bringing 4G to the nation, with all the attendant benefits that that brings.

    This puts the other operators in a tricky position. If they support the campaign, then they are effectively giving the nod to EE's swift re-farming of its 1800MHz spectrum, giving EE a nice lead in bringing LTE to the market. If they object, they cast themselves as "playing politics" with the nation's economic well-being, and keeping LTE from the mouths of starving rural businesses crying out for mobile broadband.

    So EE gets to play politics while steadfastly insisting that if only everyone else stopped playing politics, it would be OK. Now, I don't blame EE for this. It's all in the game. EE has a key asset that it could be using to develop an advantage, and that's business and that's fair enough. But let's not buy the holy "won't someone think of the economy" special pleading. Instead, EE should be making the case for why its huge chunk of 1800MHz spectrum, for which it pays only nominal fees, can be refarmed without that being seen as being bad for competition in the market. Please, no more Suzi Perry.

    Another interesting aspect of this was the report itself. Its headline findings were that operators are looking at a total investment in LTE networks of £5.6 billion. The report broke this down as £2.3 billion on base station equipment, £1.9 billion on installation and £1.4 billion on software.

    The report then used that £5.6 billion number to work out how that could translate into jobs and investment within the UK. It found that the impact of that investment could lead to up to 126,000 jobs being created or "safeguarded".

    That's some big numbers, so what to make of them? First off, let's look at the investment numbers, which are used to justify the whole caboodle. Mark Pragnell, the report's author, said that he arrived at the number by using specific numbers provided by EE, as well as using "other reports" to arrive at his costings. Fair enough - that looks like some specific knowledge, extrapolated and supported with some intelligent guessing. But even EE's numbers were not detailed, Pragnell said, and were more of the headline nature. In other words, the report relies heavily on EE's own headline estimate of its investment- and while we've got no reason to doubt its veracity EE does, at the least, have a dog in this fight.

    Nevertheless, if we accept the investment numbers we then move on to their impact. The report's author, Mark Pragnell simulated the impact of a £5.6 billion investment in 4G LTE infrastructure using input-output tables from the ONS’s (Office of National Staistics). He found that at ONS rates for previous telco investments there could be as many as 125,000 jobs supported right through the supply chain by the LTE investment.

    How were the jobs broken down? Well, at the upper end of the estimate, Capital Economics assumed that operators would channel more investment than in previous rounds within the UK — up to 20% more than in 2005, it said. Its reason for this was that operators would seek to spend more in the UK than "given current economic conditions". Why? Are our operators especially patriotic? Have the costs of doing business in the UK and, say, China, really converged so much?

    No matter, using the existing ONS tables, CE's report said that there could be 57,923 jobs created within the manufacturing area, supported by LTE investment. 52,000 of these would fall within a "Computer and Electricals" sector. That looks fairly phenomenal - that the UK's "computer and electricals" sector would benefit from LTE investment to the tune of 57,000 jobs?

    Given that the bulk of the investment (all but the £1.9 billion spent on installation, remember) will be in the network equipment and software area where the main players are all, well, non-UK entities, how does that translate? Just to restate that point. Any large LTE network equipment orders are likely to go to one of NSN, Ericsson, Huawei or perhaps Al-Lu, none of them, as far as I’m aware, with their main bases within the UK.

    Pragnell said that it was important to remember that the bulk of jobs in the manufacturing sector are not actually within manufacturing, but in sales and other jobs. But intuition tells us there aren't going to be 30,000 UK sales engineers, marketers and "other functions" benefitting from LTE.

    Where do the jobs come from, then? Are the major NEPs moving large parts of their workforce local to LTE contracts? Not at this level. There will be services teams, sales teams, post sales and the rest. But 57,000?

    Perhaps these new jobs will be in all the industries providing power equipment, cooling, towers, all the passive and peripheral elements? Even in silicon and R&D companies supporting the need for increased device and equipment performance? But Pragnell said that the report didn't go to that depth. It simply looked at previous investment input (in all telco, not mobile sepcific, not in LTE as the market is currently structured) and measured output, and projected that onto LTE investment. He did concede that the mix could be different for LTE, as mobile network rollouts often revolve around one or two very major contract awards. Well, yes.

    The question remains, then? How does a billion dollar network investment, made with a global NEP, benefit the UK economy to such a vast extent? The short answer is, we don't know. I'm not saying that there isn't evidence of a GDP lift from broadband. I'm not saying that there isn't evidence of a productivity boost from broadband. There may even be a case for a vast boost to the manufacturing sector. But this report only begins to make that case, and as such it provides poor ground upon which to build a case for LTE re-farming and a speeded up auction process.

    Keith Dyer
    Mobile Europe

    SIGN UP FOR OUR WEBINAR ON 12 JUNE: Next Generation Customer Service Powered by CEM:

    Discover how to leverage real-time device, service, experience, and network analytics to transform your customer service strategy. This webinar, from Aricent's Tom Lybarger, will reference real world examples that demonstrate how mobile operators can generate savings and revenue returns through a new approach to CEM data.

  • CEO confident in order pipeline and cost control to return to profitability

    No operating segment within Alcatel Lucent was profitable in the first quarter of 2012, with the networks, software & services and enterprise division all contributing losses.

    The company's executives, CEO Ben Verwaayen and CFO Paul Tufano, said that a combination of a lower than expected volume of sales, plus a higher than expected ratio of low margin business within its sales mix, had lead to operating losses for the company of €221 million for the quarter and a reduction in gross margin to 30.3%.

  • Ericsson's network sales in Western and Central Europe were down 29% year-on-year for the first three months of the year as a result of "cautious operator spending", the vendor said.

  • Nokia Siemens Networks has said that a reduction in infrastructure sales led to a 7% year on year drop in first quarter revenues. The company reported quarterly revenues of €2.9 billion, down from €3.1 billion from Q1 2012 and down from €3.8 billion in the final quarter of 2011.

  • Increased investments in Ethernet mobile backhaul and in packet microwave equipment drove 8% growth in the overall mobile backhaul equipment in 2011, according to market analyst Infonetics Research*. Infonetics said that the mobile backhaul equipment market totalled $7.4 billion in 2011, with over half of that $7.4 billion spent on either dual TDM/Ethernet or packet-only microwave equipment.

    However, despite increased unit shipments microwave revenue growth to 2016 would be slow, with the microwave market in 2016 worth only slightly more than in 2011.