AT&T Offers Faster U-Verse Internet in CA and NV

AT&T has launched a very tangible piece of its Project Velocity IP (VIP) in Nevada and California, introducing a faster U-verse broadband tier that delivers theoretical download speeds of up to 45 M bits/sec and upstream speeds of 6 M bits/sec.

The new broadband tier, called U-verse High Speed Internet Power, will cost $50 a month as a promotional price to consumers who bundle it with TV and voice services on a two-year deal, after which the tier will cost $76 a month, AT&T said.

The U-verse speed increase was expected. Last week during AT&T’s second quarter earnings call, company SVP and CFO John Stephens said the telco would unleash the 45 Mbps service “in the next few months, noting that U-verse will eventually ramp up downstream speeds to 75 Mbps and 100 Mbps “in the near future.”

AT&T has not announced when it will make the new U-verse Power tier available elsewhere, but the telco “expects to roll it out in other U-verse markets on an ongoing basis,” the spokeswoman noted.

“This is our next step in our Project VIP investment plan, and we’re proud to bring customers faster speeds, for a great value,” said Mel Coker, chief marketing officer of AT&T Home Solutions, in a statement. “The vast majority of our customers bundle U-verse Internet and TV because it gives them a better experience, with faster speeds that fit their needs, at an affordable price. We look forward to bringing wired IP services and faster speeds to more customers in the future.”

More at: http://www.multichannel.com/distribution/att-rolls-u-verse-speed-upgrade-california-nevada/144640


At the June 12, 2013 IEEE ComSocSCV meeting, AT&T’s Shiyama Clunie presented the highlights and progress of AT&Ts Project Velocity IP.  It’s a major effort to expand AT&T’s wireless and wireline broadband network.  Under this initiative, which is underway now, AT&T expects to bring fiber to 1 million additional business customer locations, and its wireline IP network is expected to cover 57 million customer locations, by year-end 2015. These locations will have either U-Verse (video, Internet and voice) or U-Verse IP-DSLAM (high speed Internet and voice). AT&T also expects that its 4G LTE wireless network will cover 300 million people nationally by the end of 2014, and 99 percent of customer locations in AT&T’s wireline service area are expected to have high-speed Internet access through either IP wireline and/or 4G LTE wireless by year-end 2015.

During its earnings call, AT&T reported on U-Verse progress:

“Total U-verse subs reached 9.4 million, while video subs topped 5 million customers for the first time. Total U-verse revenues grew better than 30%, and U-verse now represents more than 50% of consumer revenues. And even with little help from the economy, business wireline showed sequential revenue improvement and strategic business services grew by more than 15%. All this resulted in improved revenue growth, continued EPS gains and strong free cash flow even while investing more in our customers and in our Project VIP.”

References:

1.  AT&T Perspective on its most recent earnings report: http://www.att.com/gen/investor-relations?pid=282

2.  Transcript of AT&T Management Discussing most recent earnings:

http://seekingalpha.com/article/1566022-at-t-inc-t-management-discusses-q2-2013-results-earnings-call-transcript

3.  Analysis of AT&T’s latest earnings report + much greater wireless competition ahead!

http://community.comsoc.org/blogs/alanweissberger/fbr-research-analysis-atts-latest-earnings-report-much-greater-wireless-compet

4.  IEEE ComSocSCV website (free download of AT&T’s June 12, 2013 presentations)

 

Comcast Fiber Network Buildout gives rise to Metro Ethernet and PRI trunking services for SMBs

Introduction

Comcast Metro Ethernet Network
Point to Point Ethernet Virtual Connections (EVCs) are multiplexed over the UNI (User to Network Interface) at the Spoke/ remote sites (branch offices) and the Hub/ central site (HQ) via Ethernet switches (not shown) in Comcast

Comcast has been quietly expanding its fiber footprint – initially to offer cable modem based broadband Internet service to residential customers – but more recently to commercial buildings and even new office parks.  Since 2002, the U.S.’s largest MSO has spent over $600M to expand and upgrade its fiber network in Northern California, according to Andrew C. Johnson, Comcast President for CA.  Comcasts’ fiber network covers the area from Salinas-Monterey to Yuba City, CA.  All major metropolitan areas in Northern California are now served.

In response to a query from this author, Mr. Johnson wrote in an email:

“In 2006, Comcast made a strategic decision to invest in serving small to mid-sized business customers.  This provides us with a new opportunity to reach small law firms, small accounting firms, real estate companies, doctor’s offices, and other small and medium businesses that want innovative and reliable service from a company that they already know. Comcast is a household name when it comes to providing customers with residential Internet, voice and video services – serving small and mid-sized commercial customers is a logical progression and natural extension of Comcast’s network.”

Andrew continued, “In Q4 2010, Business Services revenue increased 53.5% to $365 million and 53.1% to $1.3 billion for 2010. The business margins are improving, and we expect the momentum in the small end of the business market to continue. Business Services is in the early stages of targeting medium-sized businesses and Comcast is very enthusiastic about the growth opportunities to serve mid-sized businesses and to also expand cell backhaul efforts.”

A recent press release stated, the company’s fiber based IP network includes 147,000 route miles of fiber optic cable and serves 20 of the nation’s 25 largest markets.  Comcast’s nationwide 40G bps fiber optic backbone network consists of inter-connected regional fiber rings.   Data is transmitted over wavelengths operating at 10 Gbps, 40 Gbps, and 100 Gbps. According to the company’s website,
the fiber network has the following additional attributes:

  • The first and largest 40G backbone in the world
  • The first to run a 100G router interface
  • Facilities-based infrastructure
  • Multi-terabit scaling capabilities
  • IPv4 and v6 in production

Please see the network map figure with accompanying caption from Comcast.

A map showing the Comcast Network.
Comcast Network Overview – Source: Comcast

Comcast’s footprint spans 29 regional subnetworks in 39 states and includes:

  • An enhanced Fiber Optic network, with more than 145,000 miles of fiber, that provides high speed, high quality and high definition services directly to larger sized companies
  • A support structure made up of thousands of professionals with the knowledge and experience to handle any situation
  • MEF-certified Carrier Class Ethernet that delivers standardized, scalable and reliable high speed data transport

Getting fiber much closer to the business customer has enabled Comcast Business to offer a boat load of new services to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).  Those customers access Comcast Business network with either coax cable (Hybrid Fiber Coax or HFC) or direct fiber connections to the building.  The business services offered include higher speed Metro Ethernet, private line, VoIP and PRI trunking (between the on premises legacy PBX and Comcast’s nationwide VoIP network).

Last year, Comcast bought CIMCO, a Chicago-area business services CLEC with about 2,300 SME customers, and New Global Telecom (NGT) – a provider of managed VoIP services.

Until now, most of Comcast’s commercial services revenues – as much as 85 percent, according to industry sources – still originate from businesses with one to 20 employees, a segment that also represents a potential $15 billion in Comcast’s footprint. (Comcast doesn’t break out its commercial services revenues into categories).

In its first-quarter earnings report, Comcast’s business services revenues were up 50 percent over the same quarter a year ago to $364 million. During its first-quarter earnings call, Comcast CFO Michael J. Angelakis said, “Our investment in Business Services increased 57% to $152 million in the first quarter. We are executing our capital plan well.”

Last year, Comcast realized $1.3 billion in commercial services revenue, which was the first time it topped $1 billion. The MSO expects to increase that amount to $1.6 billion this year.

In an excellent market research report on Cable Commercial Services Strategies: Analysis and Revenue Forecast, Pike Fischer Chief Analyst Tim McElgunn wrote, “Comcast executives estimate the total size of the MSO’s commercial services opportunity at slightly more than $30 billion dollars, evenly split between small businesses and the mid-size enterprise and carrier segment.”  Pike Fischer forecasts overall cable commercial services revenue is on track to exceed $5 billion, and will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 31% over the next five years.

PRI Trunks Connect on Premises PBX to Comcasts’ Nationwide Network

Last week, Comcast announced its PRI replacement service, targeted at medium businesses customers, is now available to 85 percent of its service footprint.  Similar to a traditional T1-based trunking service, Comcast Business Class PRI Trunks connect to customer’s legacy PBX equipment and maximize phone capabilities over Comcast’s advanced IP network.  A trunk is a cost-efficient form of VoIP that leverages a network connection to a Private Branch Exchange (PBX), or digital switch. Each trunk can support up to 23 channels and requires an onsite PBX. Trunk services allow business customers to leverage over-subscription vs. dedicated lines to take advantage of additional cost savings.  Leveraging it’s already well-built HFC-based network, Comcast has bundled its Business Class Trunks with its 100 Mbps DOCSIS 3.0-based data service.

In a recent CED Magazine article, Kevin O’Toole, senior vice president of product management and strategy for Comcast Business Services, said, “Down the road, we are looking at hosted PBX,” O’Toole said. “About a year ago we purchased a company called New Global Telecom, and now we are in trial with our hosted PBX offering up in Boston and in Western New England. We also see a lot of additional upside in the Metro Ethernet space.”

Metro Ethernet Services

Comcast Business was advertising their Metro Ethernet services (delivered over the MSOs HFC network) in a booth at the Ethernet Technology Summit earlier this year.  This author was so impressed; he invited Comcast sales engineer Nicholas Tornetta to present at the March IEEE ComSocSCV meeting.  Nic’s excellent presentation – Comcast’s Triple Play Delivery Network and Business Class services, by Nicholas Tornetta, Senior Sales Engineer with Comcast Enterprise Business Services- is available for free download at:

http://www.ewh.ieee.org/r6/scv/comsoc/ComSoc_2011_Presentations.php.

Ethernet Private Line, Ethernet Virtual Private Line, Prvate LAN (Any-to-Any Ethernet connectivity), Ethernet Dedicated Internet Access, and High-Speed Teleworking solutions were described.  The IEEE ComSocSCV audience was quite impressed and a lively debate ensued (more in an Addendum to this article).

On May 16th, Comcast announced a suite of higher performance Metro Ethernet services aimed to meet the requirements of larger business customers. The differentiation of the new Metro Ethernet services versus the ones Nic talked about are that the new services are carried directly over Comcast’s fiber optic network to the business premises [rather than coax to the customer as part of a Hybrid-Fiber Coax (HFC) buildout].  Comcast provides 24/7/365 network monitoring and customer support for its Metro Ethernet offerings, from its Network Operation Centers (NOCs).

Targeted at mid-sized businesses with 20 – 500 employees, Comcast’s new Metro Ethernet services provide access to the MSOs “next-generation” fiber optic network, which provides high-bandwidth and is available in multiple locations. These new Metro Ethernet services are available in more than twenty major U.S. markets, with expansion into new markets planned in the months ahead, according to the company’s press release.  Comcast Business Class Metro Ethernet Service) provides scalable bandwidth from 1 Megabits-per-second (Mbps) up to 10 Gigabits-per-second (Gbps), as well as point-to-point and multi-point connectivity for mid-sized businesses that may wish to deploy bandwidth-intensive applications like cloud computing, videoconferencing and e-commerce.

Comcast announced four new, fiber based Metro Ethernet Services:

  • Ethernet Private Line Service – point-to-point connectivity between two customer sites for bandwidth-intensive applications.
  • Ethernet Virtual Private Line Service – a point-to-multipoint connection that allows customers to tailor bandwidth, performance characteristics and cost to meet the needs of their applications.
  • Ethernet Network Service – multipoint-to-multipoint connectivity to connect organizations with high-bandwidth requirements and multiple locations across Comcast’s network.
  • Ethernet Dedicated Internet Access Service – continuous, high-bandwidth connectivity between customers’ LANs and the public Internet.

Comcast is offering speeds that start as low as 1 Mbps and scale up to 10 Gbps with three Classes of Service (CoS). Each of the services also have the three certifications from the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF specs 9, 14 and 18), and are backed by service level agreements (SLAs).  The access speeds can be scaled in increments of 1 Mbps, 10 Mbps, 100 Mbps or 1 Gbps.  This is one of the great advantages that higher bandwidth fiber has over coax cable or DSL/T1 copper twisted pair.

The customers access bandwidth can be upgraded without the need to deploy a new facility.  Customers can quickly and easily increase their connection speeds – Comcast can often change bandwidth levels remotely, without requiring an on-site visit from a technician, which is required when the customer has T1 lines from the local telco. Such re-configuration of access speeds has been referred to as “liquid bandwidth.”

The MSO makes two bold claims about the new Metro Ethernet service:

  • Metro Ethernet will surpass T1 lines to become the preferred technology for business communications, similar to the way that broadband overtook dial-up lines as the preferred high-speed Internet service for consumers.
  • New service has lower cost and significantly higher speeds for business customers who have had limited choice for many years. Based on our research, Comcast’s Ethernet-based services can save businesses anywhere from 10% – 33% over “the phone company.”

“Our fiber-rich network powers our Metro Ethernet services and provides a secure, reliable and cost-effective solution for mid-sized businesses’ data needs,” said Bill Stemper, President of Comcast Business Services. “Metro Ethernet is quickly overtaking T1 and other legacy services as the preferred technology for business communications. Just as broadband supplanted dial-up in consumers’ homes, our new Metro Ethernet services are designed to help businesses compete and win using our fast and scalable digital platform.”

Sandra Palumbo, Research Fellow at Yankee Group, commented, “As mid-sized businesses increasingly operate within a virtualized IT environment of cloud and SaaS resources to improve productivity and reduce operational expenses, their demand for secure, reliable and high-performance connectivity will continue to grow. This market segment has high-bandwidth requirements across multiple sites and values the lower cost of ownership, simplicity and scalable capacity of Metro Ethernet. Significant last mile networks and investments in advanced Carrier Ethernet network infrastructure are vital.”

Analysis

Comcast’s new PRI Trunking and fiber based Metro Ethernet service suite indicates the nation’s largest MSO is very serious about taking on AT&T, Verizon Business, Century Link, other ILECs and CLECs to serve medium-sized business customers.  We have been grousing for years about those telcos very slow effort to build out their fiber plant to cell towers and commercial buildings; and all we got were excuses.

Comcast takes a different approach.  In recent years, approximately 70% of the MSOs capital investment has been to expand and upgrade their network infrastructure, according to Mr. Johnson.  Comcast assembles a team of executives that evaluate, on a case-by-case basis, whether a given fiber buildout to a commercial building (or cell tower) makes financial sense.  This fiscally driven policy is intended to ensure that the large capital expense of extending fiber to the building will realize a decent payback or ROI within a reasonable time frame The MSO is also looking at greenfield fiber build out opportunities, such as new business parks.

Once Comcast decides to build fiber to a commercial building, it is all systems GO.  There are field engineers, technicians working on the ground and sales engineers to support their efforts. Comcast does not disclose the number or percentage of business customers are directly served by fiber.  However, we expect that number to grow in coming months and years as Comcast Business strives to serve more large customers with larger bandwidth needs.

We are extremely impressed with Comcast’s initiatives for business customers and predict they will take the lead in leading edge services such as Metro Ethernet and Business Class Voice services from the large telcos (e.g. AT&T and Verizon) who have devoted much more resources to their wireless and residential broadband (U-Verse and FiOS) networks.  MSOs Cox Business and TW Cable must also be watching closely.

Addendum:

Email exchange between IEEE ComSocSCV Discussion List members and Comcast Sales Engineer Nicholas Tornetta who presented at the March 2011 IEEE ComSocSCV meeting.  Note any IEEE member can join this list. Sign up at www.comsocscv.org

Question from Discussion List members:

Does Comcast offer Business Class Internet access/services to SMB;s located in strip malls, business parks or suburban areas? Some of our IEEE members asked if those services were restricted to densely populated urban areas (or not).

Nicholas Tornetta:  Coax (whether commercial or residential) services are not restricted to densely populated areas.  Comcast offers SMB coax services wherever there are coax serviceable locations. It doesn’t matter if it is a strip mall, a business park, your own home, a traffic light, a treehouse (although that might not be what you would consider an “environmentally controlled” location), etc.  Much of our Coax footprint is concentrated in suburban/residential area due to delivery of video and voice services, so SMB High Speed Internet (Coax) has greatly benefited from that footprint.

Challenges with bringing coax services to any business location have a number of factors.  This includes whether or not the building owner wants to grant us right of entry, construction costs and if the build is financially viable, etc.  I mentioned that during the panel discussion last month.  Cell Backhaul, K-12 schools & district offices, Metro E for business and the like have been the main motivations for extending our fiber network.  There have been targeted commercial build outs as well and a prime example of that would be the proactive builds we have been working on to various data centers around the Northern California area.

Although much of the Comcast Metro Ethernet growth has been mainly focused on regional service delivery over the past year, there is also focus on connecting regional CRANs to open up long haul delivery options too (as the article mentions).  The addition of Ethernet over DOCSIS will also allow us to extend Ethernet to the Coax medium, ultimately resulting in the ability to have Ethernet services wherever the coax plant can reach as well.

Thanks to (the acquisition of) NGT and some very intelligent senior staff at Comcast corporate, we are rolling out business voice services like PRI Trunking (and eventually SIP Trunks and Hosted PBX) with very compelling features and lower costs than most companies delivering IP voice services today.


References:

Q1 transcript….http://files.shareholder.com/downloads/CMCSA/1261548698x0x464890/a9432fc4-bf26-4db5-81a5-5548501e9ced/CMCSA_TranscriptQ1_5.4.11.pdf

Q1 slides accompanying transcript….http://files.shareholder.com/downloads/CMCSA/1261548698x0x464465/10901ea7-220b-47f6-92f2-8bf0690c648d/CMCSA_EarningPres_5.3.11.pdf

Enterprise Solutions site….http://business.comcast.com/enterprise/index?INTCMP=ILC-DOTCOM-20110222-MDLGBZ-001

webinar…http://business.comcast.com/enterprise/index/resources/webinars/WebinarsDetails/11-04-28/Comcast_Ethernet_Reliable_Scalable_and_Secure.aspx

white papers…http://business.comcast.com/enterprise/index/resources

Compare Comcast Business To The Competition – Verizon FiOS for Business, AT&T Business Direct, and Qwest http://business.comcast.com/comparison/compare.aspx

TIA Forecasts 3.1 Percent Loss for ICT Industry in 2009- Broadband still THE growth driver for telecom

The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), whose primary membership is network equipment vendors, has just released its annual report and outlook for the global telecommunications industry. For the first time in its 23 years of forecasting, TIA predicts a 3.1 % loss for the global ICT Industry in 2009. Further, they anticipate a 5.5 % decline for 2009 US ICT revenue. Much of this loss may be attributed to a 27 % fall in the U.S. broadband equipment market.

TIA’s negative outlook is significant, because its report has always been a flag waving signal of hope for the telecom industry- even in years like 2002 and 2003, when there wasn’t much to cheer about. TIA’s annual global forecast report usually manages to find a silver lining somewhere in the world that shows an upward growth trajectory. TIA is optimistic about mobile data services (especially when compared to equipment sales). They think that some growth lies ahead, but not really until 2011.  Global telecom revenue is predicted to grow 1.2 percent in 2010, 6.4 percent in 2011 and 7.9 percent in 2012.

"Broadband will be a driver for recovery in all areas, from healthcare IT to smart grid technology, public safety networks to education, as well as for businesses and consumers," said Grant Seiffert, TIA President. "While TIA was instrumental in obtaining the $7.2 billion for broadband, other funding for energy, health IT and R&D will also spur recovery, especially in reviving some of the hundreds of thousands of jobs lost recently. The sum of increased productivity and revenue amongst all other industry segments whose growth broadband deployment contributes to is often underrated and perhaps immeasurable."

Growing demand for high-volume data applications is driving all segments, say the independent, unbiased analysts at Wilkofsky Gruen Associates who help to develop the Market Review & Forecast. Despite the recession, TIA predicts that wireless and business data revenue will grow by 73 percent during the next four years to $110 billion in 2012 from $64 billion in 2008.

Further analysis shows that economic recovery during 2011-12 will be driven by pent-up demand for equipment upgrades. Growth in data traffic will strain network capacity and stimulate investment; availability of financing will fuel investment; and broadband growth will expand the platform for VoIP and IPTV.

Recognizing that comprehensive market intelligence is more critical than ever for ICT companies positioning themselves to survive — and thrive – when the economy begins to rebound, TIA is offering an interactive version of the Market Review & Forecast as part of the new TIA Market Intelligence Service. TelecomTV is collaborating with TIA in offering the new online service, augmented by value-adds such as news updates, webinars, industry analyses and more.

The report is optimistic on WiMAX for broadband fixed wireless access, especially in rural areas of the U.S. where DSL and cable modems are not available. In answer to a question I had during the press briefing, the speaker identified WiMAX as the largest beneficiary of the growth in fixed broadband access (vs mesh WiFi or proprietary technologies). TIA believes that WiMAX will make initial inroads in rural areas — areas where subscribers are beyond 18,000 wire feet of a central office or public network access node. TIA also thinks that there is no competition for Mobile WiMAX in the U.S., because of the time to market lead it has over LTE.

Quoting from a Press Copy of the report, TIA states:

"WiMAX still faces strong competition from entrenched fixed-broadband technologies such as DSL and cable modems and from emerging 3G technologies in the mobile segment. With respect to fixed broadband, WiMAX will likely make initial inroads in rural areas where DSL and cable modems are not available — areas where subscribers are beyond 18,000 wire feet of a central office or node. If WiMAX becomes established in rural areas, it may then seek to expand to areas already served by DSL or cable, using the experience of direct broadcast satellite (DBS) as a guide. DBS initially penetrated rural areas not served by cable television and only later began marketing its services head-to-head against cable in urban and suburban areas.

There is currently no competition for mobile WiMAX, as the widespread deployment of alternative 4G technologies is still years away. Verizon has announced it will be using LTE as its 4G technology, has accelerated its testing and expects to have initial deployment of the technology by the end of 2009."

TIA’s 2009 ICT Market Review & Forecast includes:

-Detailed activities and metrics from prior years
-Projections, trends and anticipated performance for short-term (upcoming year) and mid-term (3-5 years out)
-The target audience includes equipment manufacturers, service providers, software vendors, content providers and the media.

-Sectors covered in the publication include:

 

  • Landline
  • Wireless
  • Enterprise
  • Network equipment
  • Broadband
  • VoIP
  • Data transport
  • Internet access 

For further information and to purchase the report, please contact:

Mike Snyder, PR Manager

Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA)

2500 Wilson Blvd., Ste. 300

Arlington, VA 22201

W: 703.907.7723; M: 703.869.3968; F: 703.907.7727

msnyder@tiaonline.org

 

Viodi View – 05/08/09

wsta banner

 

 

 

 

 “Déjà vu’ all over again”, as Yogi Berra reportedly once said, is the term that describes today’s popular news events. The stagnant economy and, more importantly, consumer confidence seem reminiscence of the 70s. There is a definite tension in the air as we are waiting for the affects of the government spending to kick-in and wondering if the result will be stable growth, high inflation or, that ugly 70s term, stagflation.

Government spending in the form of the stimulus was the topic of many of the conversations and panels at the IP Possibilities Conference last month in San Diego. There was talk of the broadband stimulus being the first part of a national broadband strategy (see this link to Bennet & Bennet for a good summary), whereby every American has to have access to broadband capability, that will culminate in a plan that FCC must deliver to Congress by February 17, 2010 (ironic date, given it will be exactly one year after the delayed DTV transition date).


Click here to watchLooking Down Under to Stay on Top of Broadband

In this video, Steve Klein of ViodiTV sponsor Allied Telesis discusses the role of technologies such as IP and Fiber to the Home in the context of an overall national broadband plan. His comments about Australia and their plan to bring fiber everywhere are esepecially interesting.Click hereto watch the video.


A New Way at Looking at Over the Top at IP Possibilities

click here to watch this insightful video regarding over the top applicationsA big question in any discussion of broadband policy is the role of the service providers; the folks who are investing large sums on the last mile infrastructure. The question is often posed as to whether the service providers will end up being dumb pipes or something much bigger. In this video, Andrew Randall of ViodiTV sponsor Metaswitch provides a nuanced view of how independent telcos can approach applications that could be considered friend or foe, depending upon one’s viewpoint.  Clic here to watch the video.


Open Standards Smart Grid via WiMAX by Alan Weissberger

San Francisco start up software company Grid Net, is using WiMAX technology in its wireless smart meter instrument. The meter, being built by GE, uses Intel’s WiMAX chip and Grid Net software. It is said to be one of the first truly "open-standards" based approaches to building a meter. Click here to read more.


50K WiMAX Subscribers Today – > 13 Million By 2013 by Alan Weissberger

The Economic Times of India reports that Tata Communications (TCL) has signed up 50,000 subscribers for its fixed WiMAX service. TCL, earlier known as VSNL, had received WiMax spectrum in the 3.3 GHz band under its Internet Service Provider (ISP) licence with the Indian government.   Other Indian network operators- Bharti Airtel, Aircel, Sify and Reliance Communications – also own spectrum in this band.  Click here to read more.


New Apps and Smart Phones to Drive Demand for 4G Mobile Networks by Alan Weissberger

We now believe that smart phones and "all-in-one" gadgets will drive the need for more bandwidth and QOS and accelerate mobile network movement to 3.5G (EVDO, HSPA, mobile WiMAX, etc) and 4G (LTE and Advanced WiMAX- IEEE 802.16m).  Click here to read more.


Brief Kudos & Upcoming Events

  • DSL Prime – Congratulations Dave Burstein and Jenny Bourne of DSL Prime/DOCSIS Report/Fiber News on the look of their new web site. Bursteing brings an insightful view and valued information in his newsletters and web site.
  • Entone – Congratulations to Steve McKay and the folks at long time Viodi View sponsor Entone for their deal with Vudu. I had the pleasure of speaking at Entone’s User Group meeting last year and came away impressed with the organization.
  • Nokeena for making their public announcement about their streaming solution that could change the economics of content delivery networks and have a big impact in rural and less served areas.
  • Verismo Networks – Congratulations on the launch of their VuNow Internet TV platform with Act Television in Bangalore.

 


The Korner – More than Possibilities at IP Possibilities

some beautiful scenary at IP Possiblities.  Check out this overview video

With the stress of the economy and the general pressure created by our 24 hour a day, social network connected society, it is sometimes difficult to step back and, at least for me, take a moment to look at the beauty that is in our midst. The IP Possibilities Conference was a blur and I certainly didn’t take in the scenery and the cool outdoor sea breezes as much as I would have liked.

Thus, I found this video from Roger Bindl to be refreshing, as he captures, not only highlights of the conference, but some of the ambience that helped make it an enjoyable experience. Roger has become quite skilled at turning what could be a boring talking head experience and turning it a rich media production with effects and images that add value to the speakers’ words. Click here to watch his summary video of this very important conference regarding IP and broadband.  Click here to watch the video.  

WCA Panel Session: Femtocells and their consequences for Mobile Broadband Technologies

Background:

Femtocells are low power 3G/4G cellular base stations which can be thought of as wireless Access Points (AP’s). Instead of a WiFi Access Point we’re all familiar with, a femtocell could be a UMTS, CDMA/EVDO, LTE, or Mobile WiMAX Access Point, depending on the underlying mobile network technology. The bi-directional voice and data traffic is taken off the respective wireless network and placed on the Broadband Internet connection at the home or office. Femtocell suppliers claim they’ll be capable of communicating at 3G (HSDPA) and 4G (LTE, mobile WiMAX) speeds, depending on the bandwidth of the broadband Internet connection (which could be a bottleneck).
Femtocells will provide mobile handset and notebook PC coverage in a home or business with typically 2- 4 simultaneously active users. Picocells are larger APs designed for enterprise use, with higher output power, to handle more simultaneous users. No changes are required to the handset, notebook PC, or other mobile devices, [the SIM card in a mobile device might be programmed to authenticate the user].   The residential and enterprise femtocell markets have very different requirements and operators will likely target one of those market segments. Some carriers see the need for enterprise femtocells creating a bigger market opportunity than residential. With few exceptions (e.g. T- Mobile USA), femtocells are preferred to WiFi APs by mobile carriers.
Definition: Here is a link to the Wikipedia definition:
The Femto Forum is a not-for-profit membership organization founded in 2007, to promote femtocell deployment worldwide. They have published results of a comprehensive study project, which shows a positive femtocell business case:
Here is another useful web site: http://www.thinkfemtocell.com/
On March 17th 2009 the WCA Mobile SIG sponsored a panel on Femtocell technology and business models. The participants were as follows:
Moderator and Presenter: Stefan Scheinert, Principal, Scheinert Telecom
Panelists:
— Peter Walther, Product Manager, mimoOn
— Dror Nahumi, Partner, Norwest Venture Partners
— Behzad Mohebbi, CTO, Nextivity
— Tom McQuade, VP NA Sales, picoChip
— Michelle Pampin, Wireless Backhaul Specialist
Discussion:
One primary goal of femtocells is to take traffic off the mobile network, which operators have paid a substantial spectrum license fee to own and use for mobile services. With more and more voice and data traffic originating or terminating in homes or offices, this would free up spectrum for users on the move. It could permit more mobile users per cell site, OR smaller and cheaper base stations (with less output power), OR higher speeds per mobile user. However, this is all dependent on the broadband Internet connection and ISP policy regarding femtocell traffic. For example, a DSL connection would probably not provide enough bandwidth to carry traffic from multiple home or enterprise femtocell users. If the ISP is not the same as the mobile provider, it could block the traffic or at least throttle it back (e.g. Comcast and Bit Torrent). Why should the ISP give a free ride for traffic that would otherwise be on the mobile operator’s network?
Are femtocells the answer? There are several competing technologies, including:
·                    Unlicensed Mobile Access or UMA (WiFi based)- As noted earlier in this article, T Mobile is using this approach to provide VoIP over WiFi in the home, with GSM cellular voice outside. Users get dual mode handsets and calls automatically switch from one wireless medium to the other. But we suspect this might be a stop-gap measure until femtocells are ready for commercial deployment (see below).
·                    Macro Base Stations– with more output power: Seimens, Nokia, Ericsson are expected to build these higher throughput Base Stations (with up to 300 M bit/sec aggregate data rate).
·                    Repeaters– favored over femtocells when there is no high speed backhaul available, or the operators do not want to use femtocells. It was stated that LTE will likely use repeaters, rather then femtocells, due to higher speeds not supported by the broadband Internet connection. Vodafone, which has also conducted femtocell trials in a number of European countries, is said to be expanding its trials of repeaters in several European locations, although the company has admitted it would continue to evaluate both femtocells and repeaters.
Market Assessment: Norwest Venture Partners believes these different alternatives have created enough confusion to delay the femtocell market. As a result, the market has been slow to take off and difficult to justify. And even if the market for femtocells picks up, it might be difficult for a start-up to make money.
Voice over LTE: The current 3GPP release 8 specifies LTE as an all IP network, but does not include support for a voice codec. Most likely, voice will be offered via GSM or CDMA codecs, or a Skype like VoIP over LTE service. 3GPP Release 9 or 10 will specify voice codecs for use with LTE.
Here are a few critical issues/ checklist for femtocell deployment
(Source: Stefan Scheinert):
·                    Femtocell AP Box cost should be < $100
·                    Location awareness required, because Femtocells use licensed spectrum
·                    Macro network interference (from other femtocells and outside mobile network cells) requires dynamic management, i.e. an interference detector/sniffer to measure power strength of neighboring cells.
·                    Security and integrity of femtocell traffic over the Internet using the femtocell backhaul or broadband Internet connection.
·                    Plug and play with auto configuration on power up.
Author’s Opinion: Another issue (similar to WiFi free-loading) is how to ensure individual femtocells are only accessible to the homeowner or business paying the bills. Some type of automatic authentication will be required prior to use. And there is a national security issue as well- how operators can comply with regulations that allow for the interception of cell phone calls by law enforcement agencies?
Deployment of Femtocells
There are a large number of operators participating in the Femto Forum, which augurs for actual deployment in the near future. Picochip stated that they have licensed their femtocell technology to IP Access, which is working with Cisco to get femtocells deployed at AT&T. Cisco is contributing Self Organizing Network software to this femtocell initiative.   Three cities trials were said to take place in 3Q 09 with commercial deployment scheduled for 4Q09. In checking with my trusted colleague at AT&T, I was told that currently there are internal femtocell trials within the company, but nothing else has been announced.
We hear that there are many carrier field trials of femtocells, but no results have been announced. Many different variants of femtocell technologies are being trialed, according to our privileged sources. For example, T-Mobile (which has deployed VoIP over WiFi in the U.S.) has completed several trials with femtocells, and invested in the UK-based femtocell manufacturer Ubiquisys. It is said that the company plans to launch a commercial service using the technology by mid-year in Germany.
“Femtocell rollouts to date have been limited, controlled ones,” said Aditya Kaul, an ABI Research senior analyst. “Shipments at the end of 2008 were in the few hundred thousands, and at the end of 2009 should climb towards a million but will fall short.”   ABI Research expects that 2010 will see shipments climbing well above a million units. Indeed, vendors are gearing up for a big push, Kaul said. One of the industry’s main silicon suppliers, PicoChip recently announced a multi-million dollar injection of funding. Kaul said he expects that the funding will “probably be geared toward a ramp-up and that there is “a lot of similar activity behind the scenes, and new partnerships which point to preparation for a major market expansion.”
Late in 2009 or early in 2010, ABI Research said it expects an announcement of a multi-city commercial femtocell deployment by one of the major mobile operators, which may encourage other operators to follow suite.   Until now, large-scale femtocell deployments have only been simulated in computer models: real-world rollouts could pose challenges.
Price is one: ABI Research believes that although femtocell business models could be enabled at various price points, low-cost femtocells (under $100) are essential to bridge the gap between niche market and mass-market deployments.
Nonetheless, “These challenges are all valid, but none of them are show-stoppers – there’s no ‘elephant in the room’ that will pose a major obstacle to large-scale deployment,” according to Kaul. For more information, please see:
 
Recession Slows Femtocell Deployments, but Only Temporarily, According to ABI Research
There was some uncertainty expressed by the panelists, as to which network operator would actually deploy and maintain the femtocells. We think it will be the mobile operator that is offloading network traffic and providing better indoor reception to its customers. But Michelle Pampin, Wireless Backhaul Specialist, stated that it would be the provider of the broadband Internet service (who controls the QoS for the femtocell traffic that’s backhauled to the public Internet). Panel Moderator StefanScheinert told me privately that Michelle was not correct, i.e. that the mobile operator would own and sell the femtocells to end users/ enterprises.
Here’s a chart of Femtocell Deployment status in Europe:
Any WiMAX Femtocells?
 
There has been a lot of speculation about Comcast providing femtocells for its mobile WiMAX deployment (reseller agreement in Portland, OR announced and several cities have been targeted for mobile WiMAX build-outs. But at this time, there are more questions than answers.
Comcast initially said that femtocells would be part of its WiMAX strategy, but nothing was said about it when its Portland,OR WiMAX service was announced last week (reselling Clearwire’s CLEAR).   Comcast’s Sr VP for wireless and technology, Dave Williams, said in June 2008 that a key element of the Clearwire investment and partnership was to reserve 5 MHz of spectrum for WiMax femtocell deployments. That spectrum would also be available for use by any of the Clearwire consortium members, which includes Comcast, fellow cable MSOs Bright House Networks and Time Warner Cable Inc. as well as Google and Intel Corp.
“We’ll be pushing WiMax femtocells because we have a good customer base in the home — we sell HDTV, VOIP, and high-speed Internet connectivity. We want to take that experience in the home and add mobility,” Williams told Unstrung at the time. But Comcast has not said anything more about WiMAX femtocells- at least not publicly. For more on this topic, please refer to:   http://www.unstrung.com/document.asp?doc_id=173652
Conclusions and Companies to Watch:
As with so many new technologies, the jury is still out on femtocells especially for Mobile WiMAX, which has yet to establish a critical mass of subscribers. We are most concerned about the broadband Internet connection being a potential bottleneck (especially if it is DSL) and the broadband ISP blocking, metering or restricting femtocell traffic on its network. Stefan does not think the ISP will actually block femtocell traffic (note that the FCC fined Comcast for doing this). So there is a likely to be some contractual agreement between the mobile operator supplying the femtocells and the broadband ISP.
We would watch PicoChip, which appears to have leading edge femtocell technology. Please see this overview and ecosystem report:
Percello is an Israeli start-up femtocell manufacturer to also keep an eye on. They are designing a low-cost, high performance femtocell 3G W-CDMA baseband processor chip. Please refer to:

Viodi View – 02/07/2009

Super Bowl party at NTCA's 2006 Annual Meeting and ConventionThe Super Bowl is the ultimate social networking facilitator. This year the actual content (i.e. the game) made for good water-cooler talk. Of course, as written before, the Super Bowl is as much about the ads as it is football and a big part of the post-game buzz was discussions of the various commercials. Ironically, the commercial that, according to the Wall Street Journal, was in the top 2 was a user generated piece that was birthed as part of an online campaign.

Some of the best Super Bowl parties I have attended were at the NTCA Annual Meeting and Expo. There is nothing like being in a room with 2,500 of your closest friends watching the pinnacle in sporting entertainment. This year, NTCA’s Annual Meeting and Expo does not overlap the Super Bowl. Still, I look forward to seeing Viodi View readers at next week’s event.

Somewhere in the Viodi archives is a video interview with Todd Buchholz, who will be speaking on Wednesday, February 11. A noted economist, it would be interesting to get Buchholz’s take on the current economic climate and his feelings on the proposed stimulus package.


Check out Viodi View and ViodiTV sponsorship & video creation opportunities by clicking here.


Will the U.S. Stimulus Package Boost Broadband Deployments? by Alan Weissberger

Regarding the Stimulus Package, Alan Weissberger provides an excellent summary Alan of what is happening with the so-called stimulus as it relates to broadband. This is a much different picture than the speculation from only a month ago. Check out the comments to his article as well as my earlier post on the stimulus and please weigh-in with your thoughts.


TWC WiMAX Update by Alan Weissberger

Weissberger provides an update of how Time Warner’s recent financial results impact its WiMAX efforts in this brief article.


HTHH – High Tech Happy Hour by Roger Bindl

Roger reports on the Madison, WI technology scene in this brief video synopsis of the High Tech Happy Hour. Although it looks and sounds like he is in a casino, he does get the skinny on InTime Tools, a Software as a Service company that provides complete customer communication solutions (e.g. customer relationship management, web site, sales management, etc.).


Roger's report from WSTAWSTA 2009 PR/Marketing Seminar Day 1 by Roger Bindl

Reporting from the Wisconsin Dells, Roger provides an excellent video summary of WSTA’s 2009 PR/Marketing Seminar. His video includes interviews with Bill Albertson of Badger Communications who talks about the history of VoIP, Marty Snustead of Midwest Video Solutions on the future of IPTV and Don Stephan of the TDS-powered, Wisconsin Sports Network; a state-wide local broadband video network.


It’s a Phone, It’s a Camera, It’s Camera-Phone Envy???

A Touchscreen Phone?A Camera?I recently purchased the G-Phone. I have not yet finished the review; part of the reason for that will be in the review. The best feature of the G-Phone is the ability to easily and quickly snap and share photos via Gmail or Picasa. I am feeling a bit of buyer’s remorse or maybe I have camera-phone envy after looking at some photos of a new Samsung camera-phone that features a touch screen and an 8 Megapixel camera.


People on the Move:

Listen to Lowten's prediction regarding HDTV implementationLastly, with DTV transition being pushed off a few months, check out this excellent presentation from Peter Lowten and Doug Mielke regarding HDTV.  Given in 2003, it is amazing how much has changed and hasn’t changed.  Peter Lowten’s humorous prediction on when the tipping point would occur (his birthday, 2/17) is especially entertaining. Happy Birthday, Peter.

For those of you with the Showtime Television service, check out Blacks without Borders which debuts today at 4 PM (Showtime) and airs multiple times over the next couple of days. Longtime friend and colleague, Brian Stevenson had a hand in the creation of this series that is trying to get a regular slot in Showtime’s rotation. If you can’t view it on Showtime, check out the trailer on their web site, which provides a quick recap of this thought-provoking production.

I look forward to seeing Ed Heuck at next week’s NTCA, a leader in deploying video at the large independent telco, Hargray in South Carolina. He is now with Graycliff Enterprises, which is focused on construction and installation of telecom networks for service providers.


 The Korner – Kontests, Kontests & More Kontests

the dorrito's commercialThe Super Bowl Doritos spot, which was rated as #1 in USA Today’s Ad Meter, was a contest-generated commercial. The one million dollar prize Doritos offered to the winner will be an economic stimulus for the two unemployed, Batesville, Indiana brothers behind this piece of creative. It proves the mantra from Viodi’s Local Content Workshops that talent is everywhere.

Roger's pitch for adult beverages - have you no shame RogerOn the topic of user submitted commercials, Roger is involved with a couple of other contests that generate advertising through user participation. The first contest’s ads will never be suitable for television, at least as we know it today, as it promotes an adult beverage company. Roger appears to be in 4th place in the voting.

Roger is a finalist in DSL Modem maker Actiontec’s video contest which asks contestants why they love broadband. Roger recites a nice poem and has some good visuals, but he is going to face stiff competition from a 4 year old and her dad’s green screen. Voting for the finalists begins on Monday and will be at Actiontec’s web site. Good luck, Roger. Actiontec's contest on Youtube
 

Update on Mobile WiMAX- is it really mobile (or only for wireless fixed line access)?

Over one year ago, I wrote an article titled: Will the real mobile WiMAX please stand up:

http://www.viodi.com/newsletter/061000/article2.pdf

The claim then was that IEEE 802.16e (AKA Mobile WiMAX) would be primarily used for fixed line BWA. Not much has changed in the last 18 months. Recently, there’ve been some encouraging announcements from Clearwire, Digital Bridge , and several overseas wireless service providers.  However, the overwhelming majority of WiMAX deployments continue to be for fixed BWA.  True mobile WiMAX service has been hampered due to several factors: a scarcity of native mode WiMAX devices, developing countries urgent need for fixed BWA, and the uncertainty of mobile VoIP (over mobile WiMAX) availability and roaming.

Where are the Native Mode WiMAX devices and MIDs?

The WMAX Forum says there are 480 WiMAX devices in development – by over 80 vendors. But we know of only one native mode WiMAX device – the Nokia 810 Internet Tablet Computer. We’ve heard a lot from INTEL about embedded WiMAX in Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs), but we haven’t seen any MIDs hit the market yet. While several notebook PC’s with embedded WiMAX chip sets have been announced, we don’t know of any available. Instead, dongle attachments are now needed for notebooks to access a WiMAX network.

Intel is now shipping its first-ever combined WiMAX/Wi-Fi module, formerly code-named "Echo Peak," as part of the Intel® WiMAX/Wi-Fi Link 5050 Series that is an optional feature for Intel Centrino 2-based laptops. Several leading PC OEMs have announced plans to deliver Intel® Centrino® 2-based notebooks featuring the Intel® Core?? processor with WiMAX including Acer, Asus, Lenovo and Toshiba. Beginning today, WiMAX-based Intel notebooks can be found online at Amazon.com and NewEgg.com. Dell, Panasonic, Samsung and Sony also plan to support WiMAX in their laptops starting in 2009.

Perhaps the scarcity of true mobile WiMAX devices is power consumption of Intel’s AToM processor and power amps.The general opinion is that the power added efficiency (PAE) of the power amps used in Mobile WiMAX terminals is far too low. Power amps for mobile phones, for example, offer PAEs of 40% to 45% for wideband code division multiple access (W-CDMA), and 50% to 55% for Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM). For Mobile WiMAX, though, the PAE is only 10% to 20%.   For more on this issue, please see:    Can WiMAX Really Go Mobile?

 
Where is Mobile WiMAX being deployed?

The U.S. carrier that is offering true mobile WiMAX is SPRINT (which is now part of the "new Clearwire") with its Xohm network- operational in Baltimore since October 3rd. The only handheld device we know of that’s certified to connect to Sprint’s Xohm WiMAX network is the Nokia 810 tablet PC noted above.

For more information, please check:

http://www.xohm.com/

The "new Clearwire” recently announced that, while its company name will remain Clearwire, its new mobile WiMAX services will be branded Clear™. The Clear™ brand will apply to all new mobile WiMAX services to be offered by Clearwire in the U.S. and will be phased in to those markets where Clearwire offers pre-WiMAX services, as these existing markets are upgraded to mobile WiMAX technology.

http://www.wimax.com/commentary/blog/blog-2008/december/Clearwire-Completes-Transaction-with-Sprint-Nextel-and-%243.2-Billion-Investment-to-Launch-4G-Mobile-Internet-Company-1201

CEO Ben Wolff said the company plans to upgrade most of the existing 46 Clearwire markets to WiMAX next year. He added that Clearwire’s cable partners (e.g. Time Warner) are expected to offer wireless services under their own brands using the Clearwire network.  Clearwire’s mobile WiMAX roll outs, together with MSO reselling, significantly increases the chances that mobile WiMAX will emerge alongside LTE (Long Term Evolution) as one of the technologies that will power the next generation of high-speed wireless data networks.

At the November 2008 WCAI Symposium, Digital Bridge Communications stated they plan to offer mobile WiMAX (along with VoIP) in 15 U.S. markets. Handoffs to other carriers along with full mobility will be inherent in that network, which we need to watch closely to see if there are many dropped calls or Internet sessions. The network, known as BridgeMAXX, operates on licensed 2.3GHz frequency and is said to be very secure.

http://www.digitalbridgecommunications.com/OurDifference/ComparisonChart/tabid/67/Default.aspx

What about the new 3.65 GHz networks in the U.S? All that were described at a WCAI session use the fixed line version of WiMAX (IEEE 802.16d or -2005). The 3.65 GHz band uses a non-exclusive or "light licensing" regime to promote rapid deployment of wireless broadband systems to rural and underserved areas.
 

What’s the status of true mobile WiMAX in other countries?

Korea Telecom (KT) is offering a form of mobile WiMAX as part of its WiBro service in Korea. The relationship between the two is detailed in this whitepaper:

http://www.wimaxforum.org/news/WiBro_and_Mobile_WiMAX_Backgrounder.pdf

Just last week, we read that telco YTLE is collaborating with Cisco to launch a mobile WiMAX Network in Malaysia. YTLE plans to deliver affordable WiMAX packages with fast, wide coverage and always-connected mobile internet services that will cater to and complement the personal and business communication needs of consumers as well as the enterprise community.

http://www.wimax360.com/profiles/blogs/ytle-enters-a-strategic

Other overseas carriers planning to offer true mobile WiMAX are: UQ (part of KDDI) in Japan, Scartel and Comstar in Russia. However, Lee Sparkman, principal at Entorta (another Russian Broadband Wireless carrier) stated their market was exclusively fixed wireless broadband. With a take rate of only 15%, BWA is cost effective in developing countries, while a DSL or cable build out couldn’t be justified.

Esme Vos of muniwireless.com has posted a map of cities around the world that have "mobile WiMAX" service. She writes, "By “mobile” I mean you can connect to the WiMAX network either via a USB dongle or a WiMAX-enabled device (not many of those). You can view the map on: http://www.muniwireless.com/wimax/wimaxmap/

The pain of finding mobile WiMAX networksI had no idea it would take so long to assemble a paltry list of cities with mobile WiMAX service. I went to several WiMAX websites to find WiMAX networks and make a selection. The problem is that although many of them indicate that there is a WiMAX network based on 802.16e (”mobile” WiMAX), in reality, you need a stand-alone modem to gain access to the network – not useful for travelers. Most of the sources I used are unreliable: in certain cities they say that the service is live, but when you go to the provider’s site, you discover it’s not.It took me half a day to cull through dozens of listings of “mobile” WiMAX service providers to come up with this limited list, which is not complete given that new providers will be launching service in the coming months. So think of the map as a movable target."   The full article can be read at:

http://www.muniwireless.com/2008/11/26/map-of-mobile-wimax-service-around-the-world-now-available/

———————————————————————————————————-

WiMAX in India Revisited

While WiMAX in India is expected to be a reasonably good market, we know of no Indian carrier planning to deploy a true mobile WiMAX service. Rather then a 4G competitor, WiMAX in India is seen as a wireless fixed line replacement or as a substitute for DSL/cable service. It is now operational from Metamax, Pronto Networks, Reliance Group, and Sify in the 3.3G and 5.8G Hz bands. There will be more to come next year after the long delayed auction. Watch what Bharti-Airtel does. They are the largest mobile operator in India. In a WCAI session titled: Blueprint for Success in Emerging Markets, Farid Arifuddin, Managing Director, Vavasi stated his company planned to deploy a true mobile broadband wireless network in India based on a proprietary technology- not mobile WiMAX or LTE. For more on WiMAX in India:

http://viodi.com/2008/10/24/wimax-and-3g-in-india-delayed-again/

In answer to a query I had on true mobile WiMAX in India, here is a comment by Amitabh on November 28, 2008:

“The frequency auctions and Policy will permit Mobile WiMAX. However it is a question of how far the industry is ready. The past deployments are not necessarily a pointer as the Certification of profiles and availability of equipment is very recent. “

We conclude the jury is still out on true WiMAX mobility for India

http://www.wimax360.com/profiles/blogs/mobile-wimax-spotlight-on

—————————————————————————————
Predictions for the number of mobile WiMAX subscribers

In a WCAI session titled: Anywhere Network Synergies in the Evolution toward the 4G Technology Ecosystem, Berge Ayvazian, Chief Strategy Officer, Yankee Group asked how many true mobile WiMAX users there’d be by 2012. One audience member called out "ZERO!" Mo Shakouri, VP Marketing for Alvarion said the number would be somewhere between 0 and 100M. Berge later told me privately he expected no more than 30M mobile WiMAX subscribers by 2012.

What do you think the number will be and what countries will support true mobile WiMAX vs fixed line or nomadic configurations?

 

Wireless Updates from San Jose and Chicago

Update from US Telecom’s Executive Briefing in San Jose

At the US Telecom Association’s 2nd Annual Executive Business Forum this week in San Jose, CA, Link Hoewing, Verizon’s VP of Internet and Technology Policy, stated that Verizon Wireless plans to roll out LTE in early 2010 (that’s about 18 months from now!) with, "possibily 75M bit/sec downstream rate." 

At the same conference, Robert Brown, Wayport’s Director of Business Development for Strategic Roaming and Managed Services stated that WiFi hot spots are growing very rapidly and that more and more people on the move are using WiFi devices (e.g.cameras, MP3 players, mobile phones) for Internet connectivity. Wayport is largest operator of WiFi hotspots in the U.S. and the largest managed WiFi hot spot service provider (they manage AT &Ts WiFi network).

Note: The agenda and some of the presentations for this excellent conference are at:

http://ustelecom.org/Events/EventSubPages/Second-Annual-USTelecom-Executive-Business-Forum-Agenda.html

Please let me know if you have questions or request for my take on any of the presentations I heard.


So with LTE moving faster than expected at the high end and WiFi hot spots increasing dramatically at the low end, where does that leave mobile WiMAX? We review important take aways from WiMAX World in Chicago and results from SPRINTs XOHM WiMAX launch in Baltimore this week.  Then we offer an opinion and conclusions.   Good reading!

WiMAX World and More….

The 2008 WiMAX World show wrapped up this week in Chicago and offered a nice perspective on the industry and the possibilities of full-mobility, wireless broadband connectivity. This article lists 10 key points from the show.

http://www.wimax.com/commentary/blog/blog-2008/october/Top-10-Key-Take-Aways-from-WiMAX-World-2008

Reaching into WiMAX’s Pocket  By Rhonda Wickham WirelessWeek – October 03, 2008

This week’s WiMAX World wasn’t exactly the all-out enthusiastic trade event you might expect from a technology that launched its first commercial U.S. mobile network the day before the show doors opened. The mood was decidedly tempered as most folks were pondering the economic situation that was playing out on the world stage around them.
What should have been an exuberant time for this new sector was instead tarnished as many conversations were punctuated with financial feasibility questions.

http://www.wirelessweek.com/Reaching-into-WiMAX-Pocket.aspx

Sprint’s 4G Xohm WiMax: How fast is it?

The following link provides an excellent summary of the real world speeds and the real world devices (the Nokia tablet device is especially interesting) available in Sprint’s WiMax deployment in Baltimore. 

http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9116844&intsrc=hm_ts_head 

XOHM WiMAX Broadband Service Debuts in Baltimore

Earlier this week, Sprint officially launched XOHM TM (its mobile WiMAX commercial offering) in Baltimore, MD. “This is truly an historic day with the birth of a completely new Internet-based business model that alters the dynamics of the traditional telecom industry,” explained Barry West, president of Sprint’s XOHM business unit. “Wireless consumers will experience WiMAX device and XOHM service innovation on multiple levels as the computer, Internet, telecom and consumer electronics industries converge to redefine wireless mobility.”

http://www.wimax.com/commentary/blog/blog-2008/september/XOHM-WiMAX-Broadband-Service-Debuts-in-Baltimore-0929

Xohm Could Restrict Usage By Brad Smith, WirelessWeek – October 03, 2008

When Sprint’s Xohm launched in Baltimore earlier in the week, the launch raised some questions about the future. Are there usage restrictions? Are there more devices coming? What about long-term pricing? Where and when will other markets launch?
Atish Gude, senior vice president for mobile broadband operations for Xohm, answered some of those questions Thursday in his keynote to WiMAX World 2008. Others didn’t get answers.

http://www.wirelessweek.com/Xohm-Restrict-Usage.aspx

Alvarion Notches WiMAX Win in the US Heartland with Wisper

Midwest based Wisper chooses Alvarion to supply a dual spectrum WiMAX deployment in both 2.5 GHz and 3.65 GHz. In what is the first dual-frequency deployment of WiMAX radios in the US, Minnesota-based Wisper chooses Alvarion to supply both a 2.5 GHz licensed spectrum solution and a 3.65 GHz lightly regulated spectrum solution.

http://www.wimax.com/commentary/blog/blog-2008/october/alvarion-notches-wimax-win-in-the-us-heartland-with-wisper


DCT/Weissberger Opinion:

For a long time, mobile WiMAX was said to be the first 4G like mobile broadband service with a 3 or 4 year lead time over LTE. However, that window of opportunity for WiMAX is shrinking fast, as the WiMAX commercial rollouts have been delayed while carrier LTE plans and progress have accelerated. There seems to be much more telco focus and endorsement of that technology then WiMAX is enjoying, especially among Tier 1 mobile carriers.

Conclusion:

So it appears mobile WiMAX is being squeezed into a small niche market in developed countries like the U.S. and Europe. In the U.S. we observe expanding WiFi hotspots and WiFi based fixed broadband access putting severe cost pressure on WiMAX. With the financial crisis, how will WiMAX providers justify the high build out and deployment costs when they will have to charge very low rates to compete with free (or almost free) WiFi? What about the cost of mobile WiMAX CPE, especially on PDAs, smart phones, gadgets, etc when WiFi is already built into those for almost no cost?

At the same time, the lead time mobile WiMAX has over LTE deployments is shrinking fast. So where does that leave the market for mobile WiMAX? We have long stated mobile WiMAX would be predominantly used for fixed wireless broadband access in developing countries (without wireline infrastructure) and for DSL substitution in rural areas that can not be cost effectively serviced by DSL. Our opinion has not changed based on this week’s breaking news and conference reports. We also do not see any progress on the "Internet in your pocket" type of Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) that Intel talked about at our ComSoc SCV January 2008 meeting.

Do you agree with this analysis or do you have a different opinion?

FTTP/ FTTH emerges as the winner for Delivery of Triple Play service bundles to the home- GPON gains market traction!

Background

The United States is third among the world’s economies in the total number of FTTH households at 3.3 million, and is in 10th position in the global ranking with 2.9 percent market penetration. What’s most encouraging is that the US continues to experience the highest rate of growth of any economy in terms of FTTH subscribers – doubling the number of connections year over year.

This is due largely to FiOS deployments by market leader Verizon (VZ) and to ongoing buildouts by more than 600 smaller independent network providers across the country. "Aggressive FTTH deployment in the US has created a lot of buzz about this exciting technology, and the word of mouth from early FTTH subscribers is driving growth and fueling further deployments."  For more information, please see:

www.ftthcouncil.org

As we predicted several years ago, GPON has become the preferred last mile delivery technology for FTTP, with BPON, EPON and point to point optical Ethernet losing market share with declining sales. The nascent GPON market posted healthy growth worldwide in 1Q08, driven by service provider investments in broadband access networks, according to market research firm Infonetics Research (www.infonetics.com).  Even VZ is moving FiOS new installs to GPON with trials offering 100M bits/sec downstream. (see Ken Pyle’s comment below).

During the same period, BPON equipment sales declined significantly and EPON sales dipped, together bringing the overall PON market down three percent to $417 million worldwide in 1Q08. "Service providers increasingly turn to PON as the next generation of residential broadband access, primarily in areas where DSL service penetration has reached maturity and operators are looking to increase average revenue per user (ARPU)," says Mark Showalter, directing analyst for broadband networks at Infonetics Research.

FTTN vs FTTP: Which is the right last mile topology?

While AT&T ( U-Verse) has gone with fiber to the node (FTTN) and VDSL to the premises, Verizon has been very aggressive in its FTTH/ FTTP (FiOS) deployment. Many independent telcos have also rolled out FTTP, as per the announcements noted in this article.   Despite the higher build out costs and potential regulatory obstacles, we think FTTP will be the clear winner over FTTN.

Our opinion is that new video services, like multiscreen IPTV with simultaneous recording, will cause a "bandwidth explosion." Despite regulatory obstacles, we think that network operators will be forced to deploy fiber as close to the home as possible to provide the necessary increased bandwidth needed for new services. It looks like its starting to happen now with several independent telcos announcing their FTTP roll outs. For additional information, please see:

http://www.bbpmag.com/2008issues/aug08/AugSep08_FirstMile.pdf

http://www.bbpmag.com/2008issues/aug08/AugSep08_WhyFiber.pdf 

FTTH growth stays on track as connections rise to 3.76 million North American households

The upgrading of North America’s last mile networks with end-to-end fiber is continuing at a robust pace, with fiber to the home (FTTH) arriving at more than 1.6 million households over the past year, bringing the total number of FTTH subscribers to 3.76 million, according to a study released today by the Fiber-to-the-Home Council.

The study, by RVA Market Research (www.rvallc.com), pegged the annual growth rate for fiber to the home in North America at 76 percent, the highest of any country or region in the world.

http://fibresystems.org/cws/article/yournews/35944

Here’s a snapshot of recent FTTP/FTTH activity from independent telcos in the U.S.:

Dumont Telephone is rolling out fiber to the premises (FTTP) in Dumont Iowa (pop. 676), replacing the aging copper in its network. As a result, its maintenance costs are going down, and trouble tickets have dropped dramatically. One of the company’s four technicians is planning to retire some time in the next five years, said Roger Kregel, Dumont’s general manager, and Kregel may not replace him. "On a four-person team, that’s quite a bit," he said.  

To read the rest of the article, click here.

Embarq looks to make FTTP a bigger part of its future

A top executive with Embarq says the company cut the cost of fiber-to-the-premises deployment 19% per home this year and can shave an additional 5% next year, bringing the cost of FTTP in line with copper-wiring solutions. James Hansen, senior vice president of network services for the company, which currently deploys FTTP in greenfields, says he now sees a day when Embarq will "do a video play on network-based facilities."

http://telephonyonline.com/fttp/news/embarq-cut-fttp-deployment-costs-0923/

Comporium Communications Surpasses 6,300 Subscribers with FTTP gear from Enablence

Comporium Communications, has now connected more than 6,300 residential and business customers with Enablence’s FTTP equipment, and will now begin to deploy the TRIDENT7(TM) Universal Access Platform GPON solution. Comporium, based in Rock Hill, South Carolina, is one of the largest American ILECs (Independent Local Exchange Carriers) and cable television operators with almost 100,000 customers throughout its service area.

http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/comporium-communications-surpasses-6300-subscribers/story.aspx?guid=%7BD245EE44-2492-480D-91D3-C8F91B426012%7D&dist=hppr

Wave7 Network Architect says DOCSIS 3.0 Not a Competitive Threat to FTTP

FTTP providers need not fear DOCSIS 3.0, says according to Jim Farmer, chief network architect for Enablence’s Wave7 FTTx networks division.Fiber-to-the-premises providers don’t have much to fear from DOCSIS 3.0 technology, which boosts the bandwidth of cable broadband networks, according to Jim Farmer, chief network architect for Enablence’s Wave7 FTTx networks division.  Click here to read the rest of the article.

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Please contact the author (alan@viodi.com) if you’re interested in FTTP/FTTH consulting or other research projects.

An Unhealthy Industry: Telecom reports indicate continued contraction in revenues and growth

Having just analyzed recent reports from telecom companies, we conclude that the telecom recession/ depression continues. Revenues are falling way short of expectation, growth is limited to mobile data, and profits are minuscule with the exception of Verizon (VZ). But even at VZ, the growth seems to be coming almost entirely from new wireless data services for mobile subscribers, while customer installations for FiOS seems to be stalling (despite the huge build-out cost and heavy promotion). Perhaps the most important earnings report tidbit was that VZW (a joint venture between VZ and Vodafone-UK) said its churn rate — the pace at which customers defect to other carriers — fell to 1.1 percent from 1.2 percent in the previous quarter. By comparison, Sprint Nextel has a churn rate of 2.45 percent.

Comment:  With all the consolidation that has taken place in telco land- both in the network operator and equipment spaces- one would expect profit margins to be a lot higher, due to less competition and the power of scale. But they aren’t. The industry seemed to be a lot healthier in the late 1990s when competitive carriers were expanding their business to both enterprise and residential customers. But alas, they were wiped out after the dot com bust and stock market meltdown of 2000-2002. An entire food chain/ ecosystem collapsed shortly thereafter as the innovative new equipment companies had no one to sell to and the software and services companies had no one to support.

Growth engines: Telecom growth today seems to be restricted to developing countries which have little or no fixed line infrastructure. Mobile data continues to grow everywhere with more and more people wanting to access the Internet on the move. Mobile video and multi-media services over broadband wireless networks (e.g. WiMAX, HSPA, LTE) may provide an engine for future growth, but that remains to be seen. We hope telco video (both FiOS-RF and IPTV based delivery of broadcast video) will succeed, as it would provide real competition for the monopolistic cable companies that charge ever higher prices for digital video and provide terrible customer service. However, we are concerned with FiOS apparently stalling as indicated in the VZ report below.

Here’s a roundup of relevant telecom company reports in the past week:

Nortel warns of U.S. market woes, shares fall

Wojtek Dabrowski ,  Reuters  August 01, 2008
 
TORONTO – Nortel Networks Corp said on Friday its quarterly loss tripled on restructuring charges and currency exchange losses, and its shares fell as the telecom equipment company warned that a tough U.S. market is choking wireless spending by carriers.  The loss widened to $113 million, or 23 cents a share, from $37 million, or 7 cents a share, a year earlier. The latest results included $67 million in restructuring charges and a loss of $21 million, primarily from mark-to-market losses on interest rate swaps.
 
"The macro environment in the U.S. and the U.S. carrier spend continues to be challenging," Chief Executive Mike Zafirovski told analysts during a conference call. He said this has hurt sales related to CDMA, or Code Division Multiple Access, wireless technology….

Bell Canada to Cut 2,500 Jobs

by the Associated Press July 29, 2008
BCE Inc. said it is cutting about 2,500 positions at Bell Canada, representing about 6% of the unit’s total workforce, as it attempts to streamline its management and lower costs……

SK Telecom Profit Dented By Marketing Costs

WSJ By IN-SOO NAM July 25, 2008

SEOUL — SK Telecom Co. reported a worse-than-expected 26% decline in quarterly net profit, pressured by higher marketing costs and a fall in wireless-data revenue…….

Sprint to Sell Cellphone Towers, Use Money to Pay Down Debt 

WSJ By AMOL SHARMA July 24, 2008

Sprint Nextel Corp. agreed to sell nearly all its cellphone towers to a private-equity-backed firm called TowerCo in a deal that will generate about $670 million in cash for the struggling wireless carrier……

Write to Amol Sharma at amol.sharma@wsj.com

Earnings Rose at AT&T, but Revenue Misses Forecast 

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS July 24, 2008

AT&T, the telecommunications company, reported second-quarter results on Wednesday that contained signs that the weak economy was catching up to its previously steady results…………

TV Service Stalls for Verizon, but Increase in Wireless Customers Keeps Earnings Strong 

 The New York Times,  By LAURA M. HOLSON July 29, 2008

Verizon Communications is having a harder time pushing its television service, which competes with the big cable companies, but the company said the slowing economy had not hurt its cellphone business.

Motorola Reorganizes Unit before Earnings Report

Forbes ByElizabeth Woyke, 07.28.08

In an ongoing attempt to revitalize its business, Motorola will restructure one of its largest units into three groups. Analysts, however, are focusing on how the Schaumburg, Ill.-based telecom equipment maker plans to shore up profits……..

Chairman Tchuruk, CEO Russo To Step Down From Alcatel-Lucent

By LEILA ABBOUD and JETHRO MULLEN  July 29, 2008
 
PARIS — The architects of the trans-Atlantic merger that created Alcatel-Lucent two years ago are stepping aside, leaving a telecommunications-equipment firm still struggling to figure out how to survive in an industry plagued by increasingly brutal competition and eroding profits……
 
 
Comment:  The founders of the French-US telecom equipment maker are finally leaving the company created by the merger from hell. Their departure should help end the group’s nationalist paralysis. But the timing is awful.  No successor has been named for either post. Without a succession plan Alcatel-Lucent looks as lost as ever.  The outlook doesn’t look much brighter for the rest of the year, as economic woes make telecom operators reluctant to spend to upgrade their networks.  Alcatel-Lucent still expects the overall telecom equipment and services market to remain flat in 2008.   However, their share will likely decline.
 
"I don’t think it should be seen as good news," said WestLB analyst Thomas Langer. "What you need in such difficult times is true leadership." Mr. Langer, who has a "sell" rating on Alcatel-Lucent stock.
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Addendum:  Unfortunately, More of the Same —— August 7, 2008
 
Deutsche Telekom Net Profits Slump
 
By Rhonda Wickham  WirelessWeek – August 7, 2008
 
Deutsche Telekom AG reported that its Q2 net profit fell 35% due to economic and business effects such as 1-time charges, a stronger euro and higher interest payments.
The operator posted net profits for the period ended June 30 of $607.2 million, down from $929.7 million a year earlier, when the company booked a gain from the sale of T-Online France.
Deutsche Telekom, parent company of T-Mobile USA, saw revenue fall 2.9%, due to the strong euro against the dollar and pound.  DT also saw a 7.1% decline in its German fixed-line customers to 29.82 million from 32.09 million. Its retail broadband customers grew 23.5% to 9.9 million. Total mobile customers increased 8.7% to 125 million, with the U.S. customer base rising 12.3% and Europe increasing 7.5%.
Sprint customers continue to flee, base drops to 51.9M
 
 By Sue Marek  Fierce Wireless-  August 6, 2008
 
Sprint Nextel disappointed investors once again with some less-than-stellar second quarter results. In particular, the company continues to lose customers at a rapid rate–it lost 901,000 customers in second quarter, giving it a total of 51.9 million customers, compared with 54 million the end of the same quarter last year. On the revenue front, the operator had a second-quarter net loss of $344 million, compared with a year-earlier profit of $19 million. Revenue fell 11 percent to $9.06 billion. Wireless revenue was $7 billion, also a decline of 11 percent year over year.
In a call with financial analysts and investors this morning, Sprint executives tried to mitigate the damages by singing the praises of the company’s "Simply Everything" unlimited voice and data plan and the introduction of Samsung’s Instinct smart phone. CEO Dan Hesse repeatedly talked about how Simply Everything is encouraging stabilization among its customer base and has performed better than expected. In addition, he talked at length about how the Samsung Instinct is driving more data usage among customers.
Sprint also said it plans to make an offering of $3 billion in cumulative perpetual convertible preferred stock but executives wouldn’t go into any details on that offering. Last month Sprint agreed to sell almost all of its towers to private tower company TowerCo for about $670 million in cash. The company planned to use the proceeds to pay off debt.
 
 
Qwest Q2 profit heads south, along with outlook

By Dan O’Shea  Fierce Telecom- August 6, 2008
 
On the heels of having its four-market forbearance petition rejected, Qwest Communications reported a 24 percent decline in profit to $188 million as part of its second quarter earnings summation. Revenue was down about 2 percent overall to $3.38 billion, and because the Federal Communications Commission rejected Qwest’s request for forbearance from access charge regulation, the telco will not be able to realize more revenue through higher wholesale pricing.
The telco adjusted its outlook lower for the rest of the year, saying that revenue growth will be only about 2.5 percent. Qwest also reported that access lines declined about 8 percent to 12.2 million. Positive news included an addition of 32,000 satellite TV subscribers via Qwest’s partnership with DirecTV, growth of about 9 percent in Internet and video revenue, and a rise of about 14 percent overall in broadband subscribers.   All in all, this particular earnings report could not have been how Qwest CEO Edward Mueller had hoped to celebrate his first anniversary as chief. Looking back at the past year, Mueller has made a few changes here and there, and a couple of major decisions–most notably Qwest’s icing of Sprint as its wireless partner (though that wasn’t really a hard decision), and the company’s $300 million commitment to FTTN, but not for video. Is the company any better off than it was one year ago?
 
 
Qwest Posts 24% Profit Drop, Cuts Outlook for Year
 
By ANDREW LAVALLEE   WSJ   August 7, 2008
Qwest Communications International Inc. reported a 24% drop in second-quarter profit and lowered its outlook for the year, as land-line losses and market-share declines in its broadband unit continued to drag down the company’s results.
Revenue fell 2.3% to $3.38 billion.  Qwest ended the quarter with 12.2 million access lines, down 8.2% from the year-ago quarter, following similar land-line losses from AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. Qwest is feeling the strains of the weak economy, particularly in states like Arizona and Iowa, where the real-estate market has been hard-hit.
 
 
 
MetroPCS’s Net Slips Amid Rising Costs, Lower Per-User Revenue
By DAVID BENOIT  WSJ- August 7, 2008
 
MetroPCS Communications Inc. posted a 13% decrease in second-quarter net income as falling revenue per user and rising costs offset continued subscriber gains. The wireless provider recorded net income of $50.5 million, or 14 cents a share, compared with $58.1 million, or 17 cents a share, a year earlier. The latest results included a three-cent charge on the firm’s investment in auction-rate securities.  Revenue rose 23% to $678.8 million from $551.2 million. The mean estimates of analysts according to Thomson Reuters were for earnings of 17 cents a share on revenue of $679.1 million.
Average revenue per subscriber was down 3.3% and the cost per user rose slightly. But total operating costs surged 30%.
 
 
 
Vonage Narrows Loss, But Turnover Remains High
 
By ANDREW LAVALLEE  WSJ  August 8, 2008
 
Vonage Holdings Corp. narrowed its second-quarter loss but added far fewer customers, in part because it cut back on advertising. The Internet-phone company, based in Holmdel, N.J., reported a loss of $6.9 million, or four cents a share, compared with a year-ago loss of $23.2 million, or 15 cents a share. Revenue climbed 11% to $227.5 million.
The rate of customer defections, or churn, fell to 3% from 3.3% in the previous quarter. Vonage — which provides phone service to households through Internet access lines — has struggled to reduce turnover in a saturated and competitive telecommunications industry. Total wireless churn at competitors such as AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless, Verizon Communications Inc. and Vodafone Group PLC’s joint venture, was 1.6% and 1.1%, respectively.