Informa &Infonetics: Femtocell market gaining critical mass; # of Small Cells surpass Macro Cells

Image Courtesy of Infonetics

The telecom industry has talked about residential femtocells for years, but the market has not gained traction until recently. One key reason is that many felt WiFi home networks were sufficient for 3G/4G mobile devices. Here’s an article I wrote on this topic over 3 1/2 years ago:

http://viodi.com/2009/03/21/wca-panel-session-femtocells-and-their-consequences-for-mobile-broadband-technologies/

For several years, AT&T has been giving away femtocell equipment to folks buying iPhones in rural areas (like my cabin in Blue Lake Springs, CA where AT&T doesn’t provide cellular service of any kind). The company is said to have almost 1M femtocells deployed in the U.S.

This week, Informa Telecoms & Media issued its latest quarterly small-cell market status report noting that the global number of small cells (nano base stations and femtocells) now exceeds the total number of traditional mobile base stations. This milestone was made possible as mature femtocell deployments start to scale and was best illustrated by Sprint which has now deployed one million femtocells – up from 250,000 in 2011. The report also highlights how new femtocell deployments from Telefónica O2, Orange UK, and Bouygues Telecom over the Summer mean that the UK and France have become the first countries globally where all major operators have deployed the technology. Telefónica O2 has made significant public-access progress with the world’s densest femtocell deployment in east London for the Olympics, as well as the launch of public Wi-Fi in central London which will be upgraded imminently to support licensed small cells.

Dimitris Mavrakis, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media wrote:

“The days of small numbers of expensive cell towers have given way to the era of high numbers of low cost mini access points. Without this change, the mobile network simply could not sustain the continued growth in data usage.

Such a dramatic network transformation opens up interesting new models and over the past quarter the Small Cell as a Service idea has been gaining traction. It allows third parties to build networks that several mobile operators can use, thereby reducing costs and time to market. At the moment, this is being targeted at major operators that are looking for a simple route to establishing a small-cell network as well as smaller players that have found the barriers to entry too high to date.”

For more information on Informa’s findings, please see:

http://blogs.informatandm.com/6311/press-release-small-cells-outnumber-traditional-mobile-base-stations/

http://www.smallcellforum.org/resources-white-papers  (log-in required)


Also this week, Infonetics Research released its Residential Femtocell Service Strategies: Global Service Provider Survey which is based on interviews with more than 25% of the network operators in the world that have already launched or plan to launch femtocell services by 2013.

The Infonetics report assesses operator needs and analyzes trends in the femtocell market.  Excerpts from that report, follow.

FEMTOCELL SURVEY HIGHLIGHTS:

  • The top drivers for offering residential femtocell services are improving mobile broadband and voice within the home, and offloading data traffic from macro networks
  • 29% of operators surveyed plan to offer FD-LTE femtocell services by 2013
  • WiFi, long seen as a competitor to the growth of femtocells in the home, is increasingly being viewed as complimentary by carriers.
  • Service provider respondents project they will have, on average, 211,000 femtocell subscribers by 2013

FEMTOCELL SURVEY SYNOPSIS:

For its 27-page Residential Femtocell Service Strategies survey, Infonetics asked purchase-decision makers at service providers in North America, Europe/The Middle East/Africa, Asia Pacific, and Latin America about their plans for delivering femtocell services through 2013. Survey participants were asked about current and future femtocell service launches, adoption drivers and challenges, femtocell technologies, service features, add-on services, marketing, advertising, sales strategies, CPE features, form factors, expected service revenue, ARPU, and subscribers.

“Operators are still very much focused on using femtocells to deliver better voice coverage, but our 2012 residential femtocell survey identifies a shift toward a more strategic utilization of femtocells for enhancing the mobile broadband experience and as a means for delivering value-added services like virtual home phone numbers and media file sharing,” explains Richard Webb, directing analyst for microwave, mobile offload, and mobile broadband devices at Infonetics.

Mr. Webb adds, “The business model for more sophisticated femtocell services remains a big question mark. For the market to evolve, vendors need to help operators on pricing and service models so they can drive volumes and enable new service revenue. If it adds up, there’s a real opportunity to leverage the femtocell to put the mobile network at the heart of the home network-something that’s traditionally been beyond the reach of the mobile operator.”

To buy the survey, contact Infonetics: http://www.infonetics.com/contact.asp

From a report released last month, Infonetics 2nd quarter (2Q12) Femtocell Equipment market share and forecast report

FEMTOCELL EQUIPMENT MARKET HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Global 2G and 3G femtocell revenue is up 12% in 2Q12 over 1Q12, and is up 43% from the year-ago second quarter
  • Every segment of the femtocell market—consumer, enterprise, and public access—grew by double digits in 2Q12, with consumer femtocells accounting for more than 1/2 of 2Q12 revenue
  • In 2Q12, Alcatel-Lucent holds on to the #1 spot it nabbed last quarter in the tight race for W-CDMA/HSPA femtocell revenue, with Cisco/ip.access a close 2nd
  • W-CDMA/HSPA 3G femtocell revenue is growing at an 84% 5-year compound annual growth rate (2011 to 2016) and is expected to make up 95% of the 3G femtocell market by 2016
  • Airvana continues to lead the higher-priced CDMA2000/EV-DO femtocell segment, with Samsung easily maintaining the #2 spot

“Double-digit revenue growth returned to the femtocell market in the 2nd quarter following a minor seasonal dip the previous quarter,” notes Richard Webb, directing analyst for microwave, mobile offload, and mobile broadband devices at Infonetics Research. “The combination of attractive product feature sets and price points, wider service availability, a growing customer base, and rising shipment volumes is proof positive that the femtocell market has long-term viability.”

To purchase this or other Infonetics reports, contact Infonetics sales: http://www.infonetics.com/contact.asp.


Clarifications and Closing Comments:

  • A key distinction between femtocells and small cells  is that the latter includes nano-base stations as well as residential/ enterprise femtocells and even femtocells deployed as hotspots (if any).  Femtocell work is now done in the Small Cell Forum.
  • Residential femtocells use the wired broadband connection in the home (e.g. Comcast/Xfinitiy cable modem, VZ FiOS  or AT&T U-Verse residential gateway).  In many cases, the residential wireline broadband provider is NOT the same as the cellular provider that’s sells or gives away the residential femtocell.  For example, AT&T gives away femtocells in rural areas in CA where Comcast offers high speed, cable based Internet access.   In that case the broadband provider will carry more and more cellular broadband traffic without being compensated for it.  Surprising the MSOs haven’t complained about this yet to the FCC.
  • One huge problem with deploying nano-base stations is they all need backhaul- perhaps to an aggregation node that’s fiber connected to the ISP/service provider PoP.
  • Here’s the report of the Oct 2012 IEEE ComSocSCV meeting on Mobile Backhaul:

ComSocSCV Oct meeting on Mobile Backhaul: Significance of LTE, Small Cells, Macro Cells and Market Forecasts!

Viodi View – 07/01/2009

Summer is here and the living is easy; at least I think that is how the song goes. Actually, summer is here and somehow I missed spring cleaning. Loose ends seem to be everywhere; web sites that are almost updated and articles not quite finished. With all of the clutter, my mind becomes blurred with visions of the way I picture things were supposed to be and the reality of what they became.


3G-HSPA, Mobile Linux and Open Source are the Big Winners in Intel-Nokia Technology Partnership by Alan Weissberger

The Intel-Nokia announcement of their joint push to work together to create a new breed of Mobile Internet Devices based on various versions of Open Source Linux, reminds me that what you see in press releases is not always what ends up being reality. Of course, we see this all of the time in the technology industry, but Alan Weissberger and several of his informed readers point out previous Intel announcements in the mobile space that haven’t quite led up to the vision of what was suggested. Another major thing missing in this announcement is Microsoft.  Click here to read Weissberger’s sharp analysis as well as astute commentary from his readers.


Connections at ConnectionsKurt Scherf of Parks Associates summarizes the 2009 Connections Conference

The Parks Associates conferences are good events for providing a glimpse of what might be in the consumer electronics’ world. In our ongoing video coverage from last month’s Connections conference event, Kurt Scherf, Vice President of Research for Parks Associates discusses how devices in the home are becoming more web-like and the on-going challenges of connecting these broadband devices.  Click here to view the video.


Via Licensing video interviewLicensing Pools with Via Licensing

I.P. (Intellectual Property, that is) rights owned by multiple parties are often one of the reasons standards take so long to move from concept to commercial reality.  In this video interview, Jason Johnson, of Via Licensing, a subsidiary of Dolby Laboratories, explains their newly formed partnership with the IEEE.  This partnership promises the expeditious creation of licensing pools, allowing standards to be commercialized much sooner than traditional approaches.  The upshot of this effort should be even faster innovation by consumer electronic companies to bring us new gizmos and widgets.  Click here to view the video.


What’s New with Vegas 9 Provegas 9 video reviewed by Roger Bindl

Matthew Brohn, Product Manager of Sony Creative Software, discusses some of the strengths of Vegas Pro video editing, and what’s new with Vegas 9… things like small footprint, direct editing of AVCHD and XDCAM, plus new effects. The video includes screen captures of real-time editing in Vegas.  Click here to view Roger’s review of Vegas 9 Pro.


People on the Move:

Congratulations to Nsight/Cellcom and for the award they received from the Femtoforum for, “Significant progress or commercial launch by a small carrier .” They won this award for their, “deployment of the world’s first IMS-based, CDMA femtocell network for consumers and enterprises.”   Rob Riordan of Cellcom was in London last week to accept the award.

As follow up to an article I wrote last year when I announced that I was involved with a stealth start-up, this is the official announcement that the referenced company is ZillionTV.


The Korner –  Loose Ends EverywhereViodiTV Revealed - the Video

Roger and I are always so busy producing content that often times the packaging around the content is somewhat unfinished. It is sort of like the last bit of molding on the remodel that just never gets installed; most guests won’t notice it, but, to the owner, will view it as an eyesore. We have a great deal of unfinished business on the Viodi View and ViodiTV web site, which may or may not be obvious to the visitor.

Despite the packaging, it is the content that matters. Roger recently put together a video to tell the story of ViodiTV. Roger is normally ruthless at cutting out extra content, but he found it difficult in this case, as we have had the good fortune to interview some really cool people and report on some really interesting stories over the past several years. This video is really a commercial for Roger’s talents, but it also provides the story of ViodiTV and our attempts to tell the stories of the Independent Telcos and their communities.  Click here to view the video.

Mobility in the Spotlight at TiEcon 2009 Wireless Sessions

Introduction:

TiEcon is the world’s largest conference for entrepreneurs, focusing on technology markets, entrepreneurial opportunity and innovation. Now in its 16th year, TiEcon 2009 was themed "The BOLD Entrepreneur." The record-breaking attendance of over 3,500 included entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, industry executives, analysts, engineers, and business leaders. TiEcon 2009 lived up to its entrepreneurial spirit by featuring dynamic speakers who showed how they adapted to changing conditions and create their own future, despite a very challenging economic climate. This article reviews two wireless panel sessions, which had a very pragmatic market and business focus.

Wireless – What’s Working, Where and Why?

This session examined the mobile applications, content and services that are gaining broad user adoption. It provided a global perspective of users, usage and market dynamics, the trends, opportunities and words of caution for entrepreneurs going forward.

The panelists were:

  • Bernard Gershon, Gershon Media
  • Atif Hussein, Nokia
  • Yves Maitre, Orange
  • Dilip Venkatachari, New Enterprise Associates Ventures (ex-Google)

Mr Gershon was very bullish on mobile video on cell phones, which has been predicted for a long time, but hasn’t happened yet. He assured us that this would be the year (we’ve heard that one before). Bernard stated that mobile video was happening in Korea, with full-length TV episodes (which suck up a lot of mobile network capacity, perhaps requiring a separate dedicated video network).

Mr Atif Hussein of Nokia reminded us that messaging continues to be the “killer app” for mobile phones, but that it continues to evolve and change. Social networking (e.g. Twitter, Facebook) and Location Based Services (LBS) provide opportunity for application software developers. The objective is to connect people wherever they might be and provide location relevant information and entertainment. Atif identified sensor networks and related apps as a growth opportunity. He cited a machine-to-machine locator capability to find “missing cows” in developing countries like India.

Mr Maitre of Orange told us that smart phones and multi-media messaging were “hot” areas. He identified several mobility issues that need to be addressed:

  1. Partnerships are either being neglected or not working well. The industry needs to reinvent the way companies cooperate with one another.
  2. Consider the immense processing power people will have in their hands as semiconductor technology continues to progress. What will smart phone, netbooks and gadget makers do with that processing power? What new apps will evolve to take advantage of it?
  3. Privacy is a huge issue for the industry. With all the information being exchanged over the air, how will user privacy be protected?
  4. Speeding up the U.S. patent process to protect IP. It now takes 36 to 39 months to obtain a U.S. patent.

Mr Dilip Venkatachari stated that for most of the developing world, the most practical applications of a mobile phone are voice and simple text messaging. He gave India as an example, where farmers get weather alerts and exchange crop price reports with each other via cell phones. “Everything is linked to payments,” he continued. If the price of the phone service, phone and apps drop, that will stimulate much more demand. He noted that there were already 4B mobile phones in use worldwide.

In the developed world, Dilip said that equipping field personnel with mobile phones was a promising new application space. He cited emerging respondents and health care as important examples.

With the increased adoption of smart phones and apps, what are the issues and opportunities? Here are selected comments from the panelists:

  1. Nokia says that 100M of the 1B mobile phones sold last year were smart phones, with perhaps 200M smart phones to be sold in 2009. Netbooks are also selling very well.
  2. Orange says that more netbooks are being sold this year then smart phones.
  3. Mobile payments- from vouchers or pre-paid plans is a huge issue. Cellular operators should segment users by their needs and payment methods. Scalability of the payment method to accommodate multiple users with different payment plans.
  4. Life style applications (not identified) were seen to be a very promising area.
  5. Extended battery life is a huge issue, especially when multiple radios are included in the same phone, e.g. WiFi and cellular.
  6. 3rd party apps to take advantage of Nokia’s capabilities for hand held devices, e.g. maps, messaging, music, cameras, etc. Apps should be optimized to the device.
  7. App developers have to choose amongst competing mobile operating systems, e.g. Google’s Android vs. Microsoft’s Windows Mobile vs. Nokia’s Symbian vs Apple iPhone, etc. They had better chose carefully!
  8. Netbook price will be driven down by the competition between Intel and Qualcomm, resulting in even more demand. Orange and NTT DoCoMo will soon sell a 1G byte Mobile Internet Device (MID) with a built-in phone and 7” or 8” screen. Netbooks and MIDs will create a “new revolution” in wireless connectivity, according to Orange.

What’s the role of mobile network operators now and how will it change in the future?

Today, cellular carriers certify applications, while device makers optimize their devices to certain classes of apps and not others. However, it’s the users and not the carriers that understand and select the mobile apps. The user’s experience will ultimately determine the market for new mobile apps and operators will have to adjust their roles accordingly.

According to Orange, the role and functions of the mobile operator will change markedly by 2014 in order to accommodate the quantum increase in processing power of hand held devices. The operator will need to: protect the identify of the mobile user, bill correctly, provide on-screen information that is needed at the right time and place – safely and securely.

Wireless – Where are the VC’s investing?

During this panel session we heard from five VCs about the hot segments and opportunities in the Wireless Industry. Derek Kerton of the Kerton Group moderated the panel session. The panelists were:

  • Shawn Carolan, Menlo Ventures
  • Ajay Chopra, Trinity Ventures
  • Scott Raney, Redpoint Ventures
  • Janice Roberts, Mayfield Fund
  • Richard Wong, Accel Partners

Here are a few of the questions considered by the moderator and the panelists:

  • Are devices the enablers or are mobile apps the differentiators?
  • Apps, Smart Phones (Rich Client) apps or SMS based apps?
  • Native or web browser-based?
  • If devices, what types? Integrated feature packed or targeted low cost?
  • A look ahead to provide a sense of where VCs see opportunity for growth and where the bets are being placed e.g. Applications vs. Infrastructure, LBS and Social Networks, consumer Internet vs mobile enterprise?
  • Mobile messaging (SMS) continues to be the “killer app.” The “bread and butter” mobile apps continue to be mobile messaging, and teleNavigation (turn by turn directions). Gaming is coming on strong as another “legacy” app.
  • A lot of new apps have been developed in the last 12 to 18 months. It makes sense to aggregate many of these apps into a package and scale them to the appropriate distribution model.

A few data points expressed by Ms. Roberts of Mayfield:

  • Business models are lagging far behind innovation, e.g. mobile browsers, video and LBS’s.
  • It’s difficult to identify vertical markets and properties for mobile apps.
  • A portfolio of “bundled” apps might be interesting.
  • More opportunities in wireless infrastructure, as carriers move to more open and less proprietary platforms to deliver mobile services.
  • The applications running on open platforms may not be hosted by the carriers.
  • No hot companies have been identified for new investments.

Apps and app stores: The biggest change in the mobile world has been the large number of new companies that have “sprouted up” in bursts to provide apps for the iPhone and Android platform. The companies get a “proof of concept” via app stores. New entrepreneurs are looking at enhancing user experiences on the “consumer Internet,” as users have gotten much more “Internet savvy.” Many of the entrepreneurs starting these new companies are moving quickly to make money from app stores- a great new distribution channel.

Richard Wong of Accel Partners said there was a new surge of opportunities in wireless backhaul. Today, the average cell size has a backhaul capacity of only five T1 circuits, which will need to be significantly upgraded to accommodate the increase in mobile data traffic. Mr. Kerton noted that backhaul is front and center on the cellular carrier’s radar screens. But what about the cellular access network?

How will cellular carriers solve the bandwidth bottlenecks in their access networks due to the exponential increase in mobile data traffic from smart phones, notebooks and netbooks? Richard Wong of Accel Partners provided his prescription:

  1. Cell splitting- reducing the cell radius so there are likely to be fewer users per cell. Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) were being used for this.
  2. Move to more spectrum efficient network technologies based on OFDM/OFDMA, e.g. WiMAX or LTE
  3. Block certain types of traffic or meter traffic to limit bandwidth hogs
  4. Move some of the data traffic to WiFi premises networks (but WiFi radios and interfaces consume a lot of power which decreases hand held device battery life)
  5. Use a separate network to carry broadcast video traffic

Author’s Note: At the April 19, 2009 Telecom Council meeting on Wireless Infrastructure, Qualcomm and others suggested that network topology changes could be exploited to improve mobile network capacity. Femto-cells were seen as one way of taking traffic of the cellular network and placing it on the (mostly wired) broadband access network.

What business models and new products/ services have potential? What are the key unresolved issues? Here are a few suggestions:

  • “Mobile game town” has been successful in Japan. That model can be used to establish virtual goods and virtual communities on the mobile Internet.
  • Mobile advertisements- still an experimental area. Carriers don’t want to inundate users with irrelevant information. The key question is how to monetize mobile advertising?
  • Success of netbooks, especially amongst college students should be exploited. Mobile operators may sell netbooks like they sell phones and handhelds.
  • Licensing apps vs. subscription model for aggregated apps needs to be sorted out.
  • Location based social networking for iPhone and Android is a huge potential opportunity.
  • Combining voice recognition technology with maps also has potential.

Will open access change anything (vs. the “walled garden” approach of the cellular carrier controlling all apps and devices on the network). It hasn’t really happened yet, according to the panelists. For instance, AT&T blocks Skype use on the iPhone and also blocks Sling Media over its cellular network. Perhaps cellular networks will be truly open when devices based on Google’ Android platform are in more widespread use.

Conclusion:

We are in the early stages of mobile networks that are in transition: from cellular networks that adequately support voice, text messaging and email to mobile broadband data/ video networks that also support voice. This will be a big challenge for incumbent network operators and a huge opportunity for quick and nimble new players

Viodi View – 05/27/09

In this issue, Roger Bindl and Margaret Hines of Inspire Marketing report from the 2009 Wisconsin State Telecommunications Association Convention. Alan Weissberger reports on a talk given by famed anti-trust expert, Gary Reback. The comments that follow from Reback and others provide an interesting look at the changing anti-trust climate. Finally, I follow up with a brief summary of a rural-based tech company that wants to change the way telcos offer broadband services.


ViodiTV at WSTA highlightsViodiTV at WSTA 2009

This video provides highlights from the 2009 WSTA Annual Convention. This edition of ViodiTV at WSTA was sponsored by Solarus and Central Cable Contractors. Highlights include Wisconsin PSC Commissioner Mark Meyer, Daniel Hardy and Judd Genda of Axley Brynelson, Gary Evans of Hiawatha Broadband says that local content is the most important thing they do, as it puts smiles on the faces of their customers, Jerry Wilke of RTG, Rob Riordan of Nsight, Andrew Walding of CellStream, Ann Anderson of Lemonweir Valley Tel, and Matt Eversmann of Freeman Phillips LLC. The video wraps up with bagels, brunch, golf, and fish. Check ViodiTV for full interviews with Jerry Wilke on femtocells, Rob Riordan on femtocell applications, Andrew Walding on Evolving TDM to IP, and Matt Eversmann on leadership. A special thanks to Margaret Hines of Inspire Marketing for assisting with interviews.


Andrew Walding discusses how TDM evolves to IPEvolving TDM to IP by Roger Bindl

An interview with Andrew Walding, CellStream, at the WSTA 2009 Annual Convention. Andrew talks about moving from TDM voice to IP voice, and how we’re not really inventing a new wheel, but adapting it. We talk a bit on the flexibility of SIP and his favorite new application and gadget. ViodiTV at WSTA was sponsored by Solarus and Central Cable Contractors.


femtocell perspective from Jerry WilkeFemtocells?!

Margaret Hines Inspire Marketing, interviews Jerry Wilke RTG Executive Director at the 2009 WSTA annual convention on Femtocells. If not already, rural carriers will face new competition from wireless carriers and Wilke provides an example of one rural carrier who found they had lost at least one landline subscriber to a wireless carrier and its femtocell technology. ViodiTV at WSTA was produced by Roger Bindl.


Rob Riordan of Nsight Telservices discusses Femtocell applicationsFemtocell Applications with Rob Riordan by Roger Bindl

Rob Riordan, Nsight, talks about Femtocells. Margaret Hines – Inspire Marketing – interviews Rob at the WSTA 2009 Annual Convention for ViodiTV. Riordan suggests some innovative uses of femtocells, including as a sort of location detection device to remind teenagers to do their chores and homework when they arrive home from school. Beyond improving signal quality, femtocells could facilitate personalized advertisements. Riordan also discusses how femtocells combined with an IP backbone can extend wireless into applications for 1/10 the price of traditional methods. This edition was sponsored by Solarus and Central Cable Contractors.


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

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. Click here to read more.


Gary Reback: US Government Must Enforce Antitrust Laws to Encourage Innovation by Alan Weissberger

Gary Reback is one of the nation’s most prominent antitrust attorneys, best known for spearheading the efforts that led to the federal lawsuit against Microsoft. Gary spoke to an attentive and eager audience on May 14th in Santa Clara, CA. The Commonwealth Club and Yale Club of Silicon Valley sponsored his enlightening and provocative talk. Reback’s main message was that the government l’aissez faire policies, so strongly promoted by University of Chicago economists, have gone way too far. As a counter-weight, he says we need more government oversight of the private sector along with more vigilant anti-trust enforcement.  Click here to read more.


Enter a New Gateway

I recently had a chance to catch up with Robert Peterson and Jeff Christensen of Entry Point, LLC based in Idaho Falls and Salt Lake City. Entry Point is an early stage company with a gateway product capable of supporting so-called triple play services, as well as advanced broadband services such as smart meters, femtocells and home security.  Click here to read more.  

ViodiTV at WSTA 2009

Image with Link This video has highlights from the 2009 WSTA Annual Convention. ViodiTV at WSTA was sponsored by Solarus and Central Cable Contractors. Highlights include Wisconsic PSC Commissioner Mark Meyer, Daniel Hardy and Judd Genda of Axley Brynelson, Gary Evans of Hiawatha Broadband, Jerry Wilke of RTG, Rob Riordan of Nsight, Andrew Walding of CellStream, Ann Anderson of Lemonweir Valley Tel, and Matt Eversmann of Freeman Phillips LLC. The video wraps up with bagels, brunch, golf, and fish. Check ViodiTV for full interviews with Jerry Wilke on Femtocells, Rob Riordan Femtocell, Andrew Walding on Evolving TDM to IP, and Matt Eversmann on leadership. A special thanks to Margaret Hines of Inspire Marketing for assisting with the interviews.

Viodi View -04/03/2009

The first time I got serious about using a personal digital assistant was something that Atari produced some 20 years ago. This was before the term PDA was coined. I bought it because somehow I thought it would make me smarter or, at least, better organized. It did neither and it was soon relegated to the shelf to gather dust. The G1 from T-Mobile (service) /HTC (phone manufacturer) /Google (Android operating system) may finally provide the organizational nirvana I have been looking for my entire life.

The G1 phone proved to be a handy assistant in producing ViodiTV at last month’s MTA convention. Although, I haven’t looked for teleprompting sofware for it yet (that sort of application exists for other PDAs), it served as a great way to jot down notes and scripts. The fast web browsing, thanks to the 3G network, made this a very useful research tool for getting facts for our "just in time" video production. Two extremely useful applications that helped us coordinate our interviews at MTA were the integrated calendar and email; allowing us to create more video than we had in years past.


Working Together – Yesterday and Today

click here to watch our video interview with Ron LaquaA video that was very special to me is my interview with Ron Laqua of Halstad Telephone. Ron chaired the MTA Centennial committee. In this interview, I was struck with how we were part of a living history that in some way might be part of a 200th anniversary celebration. I caught up with Ron, via email, this week regarding the historic flooding along the Red River. He indicated that his town was relatively safe given the high dike walls and the standby generator that has been providing back up power this past week.

He explained that his town helped out by stuffing and distributing sandbags to farms and other towns. He pointed out that 90% of the Fargo-Moorhead population was somehow involved in fighting the flood. As Ron said, this sort of volunteerism is inspiring.  Click here to watch the video interview.


click here to watch the video interview with Brian Potter of Gardonville Telphone Cooperative AssociationIndependent WiMax

In this interview shot at MTA’s Convention, Brian Potter of Gardonville Telephone Cooperative Association discusses their rollout of WiMax services in rural Minnesota and their use of both 700 MHz and 3.7 GHz to provide fixed wireless Internet.  Click here to watch this interview.


Femtocells and Mobile Broadband Technologies by Alan Weissberger

Femtocells are another topic of hot discussion in the telecommunications world. They offer the wireless carrier the potential of off-loading backhaul traffic, while improving customer experience and potentially providing better value by allowing the cell phone to have unlimited minutes in the home environment. Alan Weissberger provides a summary of a recent conference on the topic of Femtocells in this article. Click here to read the latest on Femtocells.


Managing the Mobile Workforce using MaaS by Alan Weissberger

On April 1st, I attended a SaaS Conference talk by Jim Sheward, CEO of Fiberlink, on the topic of Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS). I found it provocative and of vital interest to IT managers that are having great difficulting managing a mobile work force. Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) is the delivery of enterprise mobility infrastructure using a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform where the programs run on servers that are reached via the public Internet. Specifically, MaaS is a "cloud" based, always on, Enterprise Mobility Platform™ with cost advantages, ubiquitous mobile device connectivity capability and a real-time updating and enforcement software engine.


Asides

Congratulations to Tellytopia and SureWest for implementation of Tellytopia’s i2TV online to television platform. SureWest is a definition validation for Tellytopia’s unique approach to bringing User Generated Content to the TV. Tellytopia gave a preview of this at the panel Viodi organized at last year’s Telecom at NAB show.

We are going to miss this year’s NAB. The folks from Lightbulb Communications have another great content slate at the Telecom2009 at NAB conference they are producing.

We will be at the IP Possibilities show in San Diego, which also has a great list of speakers but overlaps with NAB. I am looking forward to moderating a panel on local content at this forum.


The Korner – Time Saver or Distraction?

Click here to watch the video of my experience with Northwest Airline's electronic boarding passOne of the reasons for holding off on the procurement of a smart phone, besides the increase in monthly subscription fee, was my tendency to become tethered – some might say addicted – to Internet access. Those who saw me at MTA Convention could attest that the G1 phone was effectively my new appendage. It is a double edge sword as the constant connectivity and access to information provides gives me more opportunity to be productive. On the other hand, the persistent availability of the Internet competes for the idle moments where I could think random thoughts that might lead to a good idea.

Worse yet, is the distraction of the Internet and email that causes me to lose focus on the task at hand.

For instance, I was able to use the G1 phone to check in while on the Minneapolis Light Rail system. Even better than checking in, I was able to receive a virtual bar code on my phone for scanning at security. I was so thrilled with this time saving step, that I emailed Roger. In between our virtual high five emails celebrating my technical prowess, I missed the stop for my terminal. It took about 5 minutes before I realized I would have to backtrack. Fortunately, I could bypass check-in and go straight to security. I simply waived my phone over the security bar code reader and made my plane with at least 5 minutes to spare.  Click here to watch my brief video on this electronic ticketing application. 

In the next part of this review, we will look at some of the productivity enhancing applications from Android market that I have been using.

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:

Verizon CTO on their LTE Rollout and Use of Femtocells in the Home

Contrary to what you’ve might have read elsewhere, Verizon CTO Dick Lynch did not make a surprise LTE deployment announcement on 12/8/08 at Cisco’ C-Scape conference. What he did say was: "We expect to have LTE in service somewhere in the U.S. around this time next year. We’ll follow that up almost immediately with LTE to the home using femto-cells, which probably will have WiFi in them." There was no definite LTE committment from Verizon and no mention of locations or scale for their LTE deployments.

A similar statement was made by Link Hoewing, Verizon’s VP of Internet and Technology Policy, in early October at the US Telecom Association’s 2nd Annual Executive Business Forum in San Jose, CA. Hoewing stated that Verizon Wireless "plans to roll out LTE in early 2010 with possibily 75M bit/sec downstream rate." So Lynch’s LTE statement moves that up a few months, but was not indicative of an accelerated mass deployment. We think the VZW LTE deployment will likely be a very controlled test bed evnironment, limited to one or more select cities.


Our rationale: With the LTE standard not completely finished, there aren’t even any pre-standard LTE devices available yet. Hence, we think it’s quite premature for any large LTE roll out one year from now. Testing and device certification will be required for mass deployment and that is at least 2 years off, in our opinion.


The uncertain timing of LTE availability was highlighted by Enrico Salvatori, senior VP and general manager for Qualcomm Europe, speaking at the company’s inaugural European Innovation Summit on 12/2/08. He cautioned that commercial availability of Qualcomm’s LTE/HSPA+ multimode device, dubbed the MDM9000, "still depends on a number of very uncertain factors." According to a report in EE Times, there are still major standardization issues to be resolved, even though the important Rev.8 standard is due to be finalized in mid December, that there is still uncertainty about which spectrum ranges LTE would be deployed, and noted there are many important choices to be made on network topology.

http://www.eetimes.com/news/latest/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=212201711

Mr. Lynch stated that low latency (e.g. 10 to 15 ms delay vs 110 to 125 ms with 3G) would be a distinguishing characteristic of 4G technologies. Ubiquity will be critically important to success. VZ believes that "LTE will be the dominant provider technology to deliver 4G wireless broadband data services," according to Mr Lynch. The company is working with partners Vodafone and China Mobile to ensure LTE is embedded in many different types of devices for consumers and enterprise customers. "Think of 4G broadband technology in every car on the road, in every meter in the house, in consumer electronic appliances you buy," Lynch said. An example of a broadband wireless machine to machine was given: a camera wirelessly connected to a photo storage facility, with the capability for the camera to do auto uploads after the wireless connection was established.

Another key point made by Lynch was that femtocells would be used to deliver wireless broadband to residential users who want wireless (not wired) devices for use within the home. In this case, the network access configuration would be LTE to/from from the cell site and the home, with femto-cells used to create a micro cell site within each home for broadband wireless data delivery.
 

A few questions to ponder:

Do you think LTE will the dominant 4G technology or does mobile WiMAX have a chance given that it is now available or soon will be?

Does mobile WiMAX have a chance given that it is now available or soon will be while LTE is atleast 2 years (or more) from actual deployment?

If so, how can mobile WiMAX capitalize on this time to deployment lead?