Meeker: Mobile is King of Internet Access and Content

Mary Meeker of KPCB puts out an Internet Trends report every year that is chocked full of interesting data on Internet, social, mobile and e-commerce trends.  In this year’s report at the Code conference in Southern California last week, Ms. Meeker said that while growth in overall Internet usage was slowing (especially in developed countries), it has increased rapidly for mobile.
Meeker said that:
  • Mobile data consumption is up 81 percent due to many more people using tablets and smartphones, especially to watch video. See graph below.
  • Mobile access now accounts for 25 percent of global web usage, up from 14 percent a year ago.  Mobile internet traffic is growing at a rate of 1.5 times that of conventional broadband.
  • Meeker sees it growing at an annual rate of 81 percent, with mobile video largely driving that growth.
  • Global mobile internet usage leaped from 14 percent to 25 percent between May 2013 and May 2014.
  • In North America, it jumped from 11 percent to 19 percent and in Europe it increased from 8 percent to 16 percent.
Image courtesy of KPCB

Comment: This author finds it remarkable that “We now spend more time on mobile than on print and radio combined.”

In 2013, people spent 20 percent of their time on mobile devices, yet only 5 percent of the ad spending was allocated to mobile Internet access.   One would expect the latter to increase substantially in the years ahead. Meeker estimates there’s $30-billion per year to be made in mobile ads.  Therefore, advertisers, marketers, and media companies will try to get a good chunk of that ad revenue.

Meeker lists community, content, and commerce as the “Internet Trifecta.” With the ever expanding number of consumers online, there is a natural desire to connect with others through content. Marketers who provide context to the content they are creating and sharing are the ones who are able to increase connectivity within their communities of interest and grow stronger, which leads to brand loyalty.

Meeker said that there’s now clear evidence that people want to share information more privately. Mobile messaging services like WhatsApp (bought by Facebook for $19B), Tencent (QQ Instant Messenger in China) and Line (a South Korean-Japanese proprietary application for instant messaging) are growing at exponential rates — a trend that companies like Facebook and other social networking companies have noticed.

People were said to be “media junkies,” sharing articles via social media and tapping into streaming services. Apps are replacing linear TV channels as the way to consume video, with Americans aged 16 to 34 watching just 41 percent of their TV live, she said.

Google’s YouTube is also booming with consumers. “They are increasingly loving short-form video,” she said. “Consumers even love ads.” Indeed, 22 percent of video watching globally is done on mobile devices. On-demand mobile video apps, such as WatchESPN, BBC iPlayer, and HBO Go are all gaining popularity with mobile users. She says that 40 percent of Internet TV watchers are already using mobile devices (This author finds that to be incredible as most people we know do not watch Internet TV on their mobile devices except for video clips).

Meeker observed that 84 percent of mobile owners use devices while watching TV. They use them, in order of popularity for Web surfing, shopping, checking sports scores, looking up information about what they’re watching, and talking to friends/family or tweeting about the program. (That is something I certainly relate to as I do it all the time).

The country to watch is China, according to Meeker.  China has more Internet users than any other country by far – about 618 million Internet users last year. Approximately 80 percent of those only access the Internet via mobile devices. Four of the world’s 10 largest Internet companies are Chinese, up from one a year ago. [This author thinks they are Tencent, Baidu, Rakuten, and Alibaba].

In conclusion, the mobile Internet will continue to experience solid growth.  Therefore, it is imperative for Internet and e-commerce companies to develop content that resonates well with mobile audiences.


1] Meeker’s Slide deck:

2] On-line Articles:

Viodi View – 02/25/14

That a 55 person company with probably no physical infrastructure can have the approximate market capitalization of one of the Baby Bells (an outdated term, no doubt) is another indicator of our new hyper-productive era where a small team can do what would have taken thousands in years past.

The FCC’s IP Transition Order: What Do the Trials Mean?

An image of a typical VoIP adapter.
Click to register

Certainly the disruption of apps, like WhatsApp, point to the challenges the FCC faces as it tries to figure out the role of regulation. What are some of the larger short-term and long-term implications of their recent IP Transition Order? What are the potential opportunities and dangers for small carriers? These are just some of the questions I am going to ask panelists Paul Feldman, Attorney, Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth and Sam Harlan, VP-Engineering at CHR Solutions on this Friday’s Team Lightbulb webinar The FCC’s IP Transition Order: What Do the Trials Mean? It will be an interactive discussion, but feel free to send me questions ahead of time.

Click here to register.

White Space Broadband Where Broadcasting Began

Testing TV White Spaces in the footsteps of radio pioneer, Charles D. Herrold.
Click to view

Was it fate or just a coincidence that one of the first tests of TV White Space (TVWS) broadband would also be at the location where regularly scheduled radio broadcasting began? That Charles D. Herrold opened the Herrold College of Wireless and Engineering and later began broadcasting at 50 West San Fernando in San José was a surprise to Adaptrum’s Darrin Mylet. Herrold’s launch of his radio station in 1909 was a precursor to an explosion in radio transmitters, which led to interference and, eventually, government rules for allocating and the use of spectrum.

Click here to read more about this unlicensed technology that could be a good tool for getting broadband to the nooks and crannies for both rural and urban applications.

Social Media, BYOD – Racing Faster Than Policy

Megan Anderson an attorney with Gray, Plant and Mooty speaking at the 2013 MTA Annual Convention and Trade Show.
Click to view

“You really should have a policy that deals with all aspects of technology,” said Megan Anderson an attorney with Gray, Plant and Mooty. The challenge for employers is keeping workplace rules in step with rapid technology changes. In this interview, Anderson provides useful insight into some of the challenges that technologies, such as social media and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), present to employers. Activities that seem harmless, such as social media endorsements or using personal devices for work tasks, can create situations that violate employment or privacy laws.

Click here to view this video which provides a good flavor for the type of content that will be the upcoming Minnesota Telecom Alliance Convention & Trade Show.

Relaxation Television

An image of Escapes TV behind the ACA Summit logo.
Click to view

Relaxation television is how Tim Larson, Vice President of Distribution of eScapes Network, describes their service. eScapes Network provides a backdrop of high-definition videos and background music. With operators receiving 2 minutes of the 4 minutes per hour of advertising time and the ability to program 15 minute segments with local sights and sounds, eScapes has an interesting local content angle.

Click here to view more and get a flavor for the jam-packed exhibit floor at the ACA Annual Summit.

Some Tweets and Short Thoughts:

  • The recently released YuMe/Interpret Ad Effectiveness Studies suggests that the connected viewer is the engaged viewer. For instance, in one of their studies, “Survey respondents who recalled ads on connected platforms were significantly more likely to ‘definitely consider’ future purchase (lifts of 82% for smart TV / Blu-ray and 50% for PS3 app) and “definitely recommend” (lifts of 45% and 11%, respectively) the brand.” This points to both the importance of multi-screen for creating a more engaging experience for those who choose to engage, as well as an environment that provides more accurate measurements that traditional broadcast approaches.

  • Measuring what one watches is the objective of eyetech Digital Systems with its developer kits it has recently begun shipping. These developer kits will bring the technology used in high-end consumer study groups to the masses by tracking where the eye is looking via Smart TVs. This could be a boon to advertisers, as they could better understand the effectiveness of their commercials (e.g. do people turn away when the commerical appears). It could also have implications for the user interface, making it more accessible as well as have the potential to dynamically change scenes based on what a person is watching.

The Korner – The One Man Workout Show

Prescott Ellison discusses how he invented the Body Bench.
Click to View

One of the trends of International CES 2014 is the number of products created by small teams or, in the case of the above video, one person. Foretold by the likes of Tom Peters many years ago, entrepreneurs are assembling dynamic teams to make their visions reality with little capital and little formal organizational structure.

In the case of professional drummer Prescott Ellison, the problem he was trying to solve was how to maintain a consistent workout while on the road. As he points out, not all the hotels where he stays are accommodating to his workout routine. To solve this problem, he invented the body bench.

His is a story of determination of transforming his vision to reality and helping others become fit, like he is. His initiative is inspirational and a model for entrepreneurs everywhere.

Click here to view.

Past, Present and Future of Mobile at the Computer History Museum


Paul Jacobs - Image courtesy of IntelFreePress
Paul Jacobs – Image courtesy of IntelFreePress

On August 8th, Computer History Museum CEO, John Hollar engaged in a spirited conversation with Qualcomm’s Chairman and CEO, Paul Jacobs. A wide variety of topics were covered – from the early days of CDMA to the present dominance of wireless data technologies (3G+ and 4G-LTE) throughout the world, to what the wireless future might bring. Mr. Jacobs also provided a glimpse of what new R&D projects Qualcomm was working on. He touched on wearable computing devices and briefly showed a smart wrist watch he was wearing to the audience.

This conversation was part of the museum’s Revolutionary lecture series. The Abstract is found here.

There were approximately 160 international students in the audience that were participating in the People to People Technology summit at Stanford University. Many of the students crowded around Jacobs after he left the stage to ask questions and pose for photos.

The Conversation:

Mr. Jacobs first spoke about Linkabit- a technology company his father Irwin co-founded in 1968 (along with Andrew Viterbi and Leonard Kleinrock). “TDMA at Linkabit was the equivalent of CDMA for satellite systems,” he said.

Paul wanted to join a start-up after finishing his PhD at UC Berkeley and “get involved in robotics.”  Instead, he joined Qualcomm- an Irwin Jacobs led spin off of Linkabit- in 1990. Jacobs related his experiences as a young engineer working at Qualcomm, including power control and speech compression technologies. Power control was necessary to make CDMA viable for battery operated mobile devices. In the early 1990s, speech compression was needed due to bandwidth constraints of wireless transmission systems.

Paul spoke extensively about his personal career path at Qualcomm and how he learned first-hand that the best technology doesn’t always win or become the standard. “You have to build alliances and co-operate with multiple participants” to progress a wireless standard. Jacobs said there was a tremendous amount of competition – like a “holy war”- between TDMA and CDMA for use in cell phones in the mid 1990s. Paul said it wasn’t until after he “took over the company in 2005, that the wounds were healed.” [In July 2005, Jacobs became the CEO of Qualcomm].

From the very early days at Qualcomm, Jacobs believed that “wireless data transmission (as the access network) would be the way the Internet would get proliferated across the world.” And the first high speed wireless data transmission system from Qualcomm- EDDO- started to make that happen. Paul noted that wireless communications capability is now embedded in smart phones, digital cameras, and gaming systems. He predicted, “soon it will be in a wireless wallet and wireless wearable devices.”

The mobile ecosystem today is “a very competitive landscape,” he said. You need to combine many advanced technologies into a mobile gadget (like a smart phone). These include: fast processors, multiple communications interfaces, graphics capability, and power control (there are others but Paul did not delineate them).

Jacobs acknowledged Qualcomm was late to embrace tablets, saying “We’re a slow starter,” and admitted that Windows RT, “has not turned into a great business for us, but we’re optimistic.” He noted that the company now has 40 tablet designs in progress.

“It’s amazing how much capability is going into a smart phone,” Jacobs proclaimed. In particular:

  1. IEEE 802.11ac (next generation WiFi standard) capable of 300M b/sec data streaming
  2. 41 megapixel camera (included in Nokia’s smart phone)
  3. Much improved graphics capability (presumably due to graphic processor chips)
  4. Much higher wireless access speeds (through 4G-LTE today with LTE Advanced in the future)

Paul later said that 7B smart phones will be sold from 2012 to 2017, with over one half of those being lower end mobile devices for emerging market countries.  Today, there are 3.3 to 3.5B people around the globe with mobile phones of one type or another (of course, many in developed countries own several mobile devices).

Jacobs surprised this author when he said that Qualcomm spent $4.5B on R&D in 2012. Where do their R&D investments go?  Paul said there are over 500 designs in progress. While Qualcomm licenses the ARM instruction set (for use in their Snapdragon chip), they design their own microprocessor. The company also makes graphic cores, video codecs (including ultra HD) and radio Front Ends (FEs) that operate over multiple frequencies.

Paul said there are now 47 different frequency bands in use around the world by wireless operators that own licensed spectrum. It’s highly desirable for a single mobile device to work across multiple frequencies, he said.  But that can only be accomplished by flexible front ends that can frequency hop to use different bands.

“Displays use a lot of power, so Qualcomm is working to drive that down (for longer battery life in mobile devices).” They are supporting Windows RT and despite it’s slow start, are, “optimistic about it.”

Jacobs revealed he was wearing a “smart watch” of unknown origins. When moderator John Hollar asked him what brand, he rolled up his shirt sleeve to cover the watch. We guess that’s because Qualcomm (along with other companies such as Intel and Google) are working on wearable computing devices like smart watches, Google glasses (with built in WiFi) and medical electronic sensors.  And Qualcomm didn’t want to pre-announce a smart watch at this time.

Stay tuned for part II of this article which will cover “digital brains, digital sixth sense vision,” the Internet of Things (IoT) and other Qualcomm research projects.  Also, how the mobile communications industry might cope with the end of Moore’s law (as limits on transistor spacing on a chip is reached).

VZW Challenges AT&T's Claim to Fastest & Most Reliable 4G-LTE Network in the U.S.

Cell TowerAT&T’s Bold Claim:

Ad in Sunday, July 21, 2013 NY Times (and other U.S. newspapers):

AT&T has the nation’s fastest and now most reliable 4G-LTE network.”

And that follows the telco giant’s July 18th press release with almost the same title:

AT&T’s Fastest 4G LTE Network Now Also Nation’s Most Reliable

That press release states:

“It’s time to take another look at your wireless network. AT&T not only has the nation’s fastest 4G LTE network, but now also has the most reliable 4G LTE network.  According to independent third-party data, AT&T has the highest success rate for delivering mobile content across nationwide 4G LTE networks.”

“More than 225 million people – in cities large and small – now have access to the nation’s fastest and most reliable 4G LTE network, and we want customers to know we’re setting the new standard for wireless performance,” said John Donovan, senior executive vice president for AT&T Technology and Network Operations.

Comment & Analysis:

AT&T’s new ads, which claim it has the “most reliable” 4G network, are based on “independent third-party data,” the company says.  AT&T claims it has the top success rate for delivering mobile content to its 4G network users, but hasn’t identified how that’s been proven or justified.  See what Verizon has to say about that in the next section of this article.

Why it matters: The dual claim to being both the fastest and most reliable is of prime concern to heavy mobile users, particularly those that watch streaming video or engage in video chats or other real time video conferencing on their mobile devices.  It’s also of concern to mobile cloud computing users, that access cloud resident apps on their smart phones or tablets.

Verizon Wireless Responds:

Verizon Wireless (VZW)– the joint venture between Verizon and Vodafone- has built its brand and reputation based on the superb reliability of its wireless broadband network. VZW’s advertising for years touted the “most reliable” 3G wireless network. In 2009, AT&T and VZW battled in court over advertising claims. The marketing battle has now shifted to 4G-LTE networks.

A VZW  Executive has just challenged AT&T’s bold claim:  “They have misled the public in the past,” said Mike Haberman, head of network solutions for Verizon Wireless, when asked about his initial reaction to AT&T’s ad. “I thought, ‘Here we go again.'”

Haberman said AT&T’s claim was backed by data that the company hasn’t disclosed. As a result, there’s no way to see how the tests were conducted and whether it reflected the true customer experience.  “If that’s how they want to make their claim, that’s fine,” he said in an interview with CNET on July 23rd.

Haberman touted a study by Root Metrics that found Verizon’s data and overall service to be superior in a majority of its markets in the United States. Haberman said he preferred Root Metrics because the firm attempts to replicate the customer experience. AT&T also cites Root Metrics as one of the studies that names it the nation’s fastest carrier.

“We have the most reliable network, and the public data supports us,” Haberman said.  He also noted AT&T hypocrisy flip-flop on its stance over HSPA+ as a 4G network. When T-Mobile began calling its HSPA+ network a 4G service, AT&T criticized the move. Three months later, it too adopted the same terminology.

Opinion: HSPA+ as 4G is a total stretch!  Many telcos, such as Verizon, have been steadfast against that designation.  For years, the ITU-R categorized both HSPA+ and LTE as 3G+ technologies, with LTE Advanced (not yet deployed) the only true “4G.”  So how can AT&T now come off and say that their HSPA+, with lower speeds than LTE, is a “4G” network? Especially after it criticized T-Mobile for doing the same thing!

Independent Analyst Opinion:

“It’s getting harder and harder to say what the ‘best network’ really means,” Craig Moffett, an analyst at Moffett Nathanson Research, told IBD.  

“For coverage, Verizon wins hands down. For speed, T-Mobile may actually have the best network. For capacity, Clearwire spectrum will give Sprint’s network the advantage.  And AT&T will be positioned as being pretty good on all dimensions, even if they’re best-in-class at none.”

Network Coverage, 4G-LTE Data Traffic and CAPEX:

VZW’s 4G network reaches 500 markets in the U.S. that is says can be accessed by some 300 million people. AT&T says its 4G network has been deployed in 328 markets covering more than 225 million people.

VZW has 94.3 million postpaid subscribers. These are the higher-spending customers who sign service contracts, as opposed to prepaid users who buy minutes as they go along. Verizon leads in U.S. postpaid users.  About 31 million of those subscribers used Verizon’s 4G LTE network via smartphones, tablets and laptop computers as of June 30. That’s up from 12% of its postpaid subscribers a year ago.

On Verizon’s quarterly earnings call, CFO Fran Shammo said that 59% of VZW’s total data traffic is running over its 4G network, though just a third of its customers have 4G enabled smart phones.  Shammo said Verizon users are buying wireless data plans with lots more  megabytes as they connect more LTE enabled devices to the company’s 4G-LTE network.

“Based on our trajectory of data usage, especially with where we see video going, we (expect) that the uptake in shared (data) plans will continue,” he said.  Verizon is hiking capital spending so it can meet demand, the CFO said.  “The incremental investment will more than pay for itself on top-line (revenue) growth from what I see,” he said. “And we are going to maintain our lead as the most reliable, consistent 4G LTE network. That’s what is driving the increase in capex.”

AT&T Reports “Solid Revenue Growth on Strong Wireless Gains Driven by Quality Network Performance:”

Nation’s Fastest and Most Reliable 4G LTE Network Driving Subscriber and Usage Growth:

  • 551,000 wireless postpaid net adds, best second-quarter postpaid net adds in four years
  • 35 percent of postpaid smartphone base LTE capable
  • Smartphone data usage per device up 50 percent year over year
  • LTE network expected to cover nearly 270 million POPs in 400 markets by year-end
  • LTE network build expected to be substantially complete by summer 2014

Strong Wireless Revenue Growth, Record Second-Quarter Smartphone Sales:

  • Wireless revenues up 5.7 percent, service revenues up 4.1 percent versus the year-ago quarter
  • Wireless data revenues up 19.8 percent versus the year-earlier period
  • Wireless operating income margin of 27.1 percent; wireless EBITDA service margin of 42.4 percent reflecting record second-quarter smartphone sales of 6.8 million, including record Android sales
  • Added 1.2 million new smartphone subscribers; smartphones 88 percent of postpaid phone sales
  • Total postpaid ARPU up 1.8 percent; phone-only ARPU up 3.0 percent

Comment & Analysis:

AT&T’s strong wireless growth comes at a cost, because the company has to pay hefty mobile device subsidies (especially to Apple for iPhones and iPADs)  for each new wireless customer it adds to its network.  Those subsidies reduce net profits and profit margins. AT&T expects 2013 wireless profit margins to be better than in 2012, due to “a longer phone upgrade limit for customers who sign a two-year contract as well as a new device upgrade plan where consumers pay full cost for their phone.”

AT&T also faced additional competitive pressure in the quarter as smaller rival T-Mobile US started selling Apple’s iPhone, a top seller for AT&T.

Note: We’ll report comments from other analysts related to AT&T’s wireless service revenues and profits in the Comment box below this article.

Viodi View – 05/03/12

A video travelogue of the telecom industry and its related applications is one way to think about the Viodi View or, at least ViodiTV. The intent of the video interviews and stories from around the country is to augment what is in the news or what should be in the news. The nuggets we get from folks in our interviews often have wisdom that surpasses the instant news cycle of the Internet and social media. It is an honor to interview so many subject matter experts in so many of the key technology, business and regulatory areas that impact broadband and its deployment.

Breaking Down Silos and Unifying The Experience

Ken Pyle interviews Parks Associates' Melissa Duchin at the Smart Energy Summit.A theme of the Parks Associates’ Smart Energy Summit was the cloud as central to smart energy realities. The inherent nature of cloud computing, coupled with broadband, will break down the silos between different types of services. Melissa Duchin, Research Analyst for Parks Associates, discusses this and other take-aways from the Smart Energy Summit in the above video interview. Companies originating from these different silos, whether retail, energy, security or service provider, will end up competing and/or will be working together, as the cloud breaks down the barriers. This conversation is sure to continue at the 17th annual CONNECTIONS™ at CTIA 2013, which ViodiTV will be covering for Parks Associates. Click here to view.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Ken Pyle interviews Brent Christensen at the MTA 2013 Annual Convention.“One of the things the FCC Transformation Order has failed to address is the value piece of telephone service; one size fits all is not the way it is,” said MTA president and CEO Brent Christensen. In this interview, Christensen reflects on the interactive video conference with FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn (who was just name interim FCC Chair, while Tom Wheeler nomination works its way through the process) that he co-moderated with NTCA’s Shirley Bloomfield.

He indicates that is important for regulators and lawmakers to visit rural areas and that the MTA is actively serving as a bridge to make those visits and connections happen. He also touches upon the role of Federal versus State regulation, as what is regulated changes from application (e.g. telephone) to platform (broadband). Click here to view.

“Service Provider SDN” Network Virtualization and the ETSI NFV WG by Alan Weissberger

This article will examine network operator motivation for “Service Provider SDN,” and then raise the question whether the solution might be some form of Network Virtualization instead of the ONS SDN-Open Flow standard(s).  We reference VMware’s version of Network Virtualization which is currently available and will soon be enhanced.  The ETSI Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) activity  is described and properly positioned, especially in light of mis-leading vendor support claims. Click here to read more.

Open Network Foundation & Other Organizations; ONF-Optical Transport WG; Ciena & SDN by Alan Weissberger

SDN Reference Architecture is depicted in this diagram.The above article examines the motivation and current work of the ETSI NFV WG and questioned whether service providers might prefer to base “software control” of their networks on that standards initiative, rather than SDN-Open Flow from the ONF.

Dan Pitt, ONF Executive Director (and a colleague of this author for 30 years) acknowledged the SDN carrier issue in an email: “During the Open Network Summit, there was a lot of interest and discussion around the impact of SDN on carriers, service providers and the telecommunications industry. At ONF, we are excited to continue our close work with the ETSI network-operator-led Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) Industry Specification Group (ISG).” Click here to read more.

Looking Back at an Early Digital Divide

Ken Pyle interviews former ACA Board member, Tom Seale.Tom Seale, former CFO of Buford Media and early board member of ACA, talks about the formation of the ACA, the motivation for and the challenges of organizing independent cable operators into an association. He points out that there was a digital divide that existed between the smaller and larger operators at that time. Now, In the banking industry and out of the cable industry, Seale brings an interesting historical perspective to the ACA and the industry. Click here to view.

Some Tweets and Short Thoughts:

  • More broadband to the farm is needed, based on an implication from yesterday’s Wall Street Journal article on using drones as precise data collection devices, “Eventually, farmers will likely depend on third parties to analyze the data and images received by drones.” The implication is cloud and most likely significant amounts of data transmission from farm to data-center (particularly if they are transmitting infrared images to third-party computers for number-crunching).
  • Stumbled upon this article that was written a couple years ago and can’t remember ever seeing it when it was published. It is an accurate overview of what we did to help bring interactivity to a conference on interactive TV.
  • Is there a way to bridge Minecraft between Xbox & PC? Seems like a useful service (Bridging PS3 & Xbox another $1M idea)

The Korner – 3 Tips for Building Community Broadband – Part 2

Ken Pyle interviews Dr. Tim Nulty at the 2012 Broadband Communities Summit.In part 2 of this two-part interview, Dr. Tim Nulty suggests that those wishing to replicate‘s rural broadband network build-out should follow these three basic steps:

  1. Develop a lean business plan and and a lean network.
  2. Organize an institution that can implement the plan and maintain the network. He describes an interesting public-private partnership to make this happen.
  3. Finance the project, which is the most difficult. Nulty indicates that the capital for building the networks  is coming from both inside and outside the community and beyond in the form of tax-exempt loans made by individuals who want both a return, as well as fiber to their community.

In this interview, Nulty describes an organizational structure that is unique and one that separates politics from operations.

For additional alternative ways to think about financing an FTTH network, check out this 2008 white paper, co-authored by a Google policy person and pointed out this week by someone in a LinkedIn group. The condo model described in that paper, where a neighborhood or a group of farmers owns the fibers, is especially interesting for those looking at ways to jump start a fiber network initiative.

Viodi View – 10/05/12

Where the road leads is not always clear, but eventually it leads us home. Last week, that road led me to the digital home; that is, the Digital Home Summit in Dallas. It was great to help Bernie and Tocia of Telecompetitor  document this conference, which focuses on the digital home from the operator perspective.

Think Like a Start-Up

Robert Kenney, OnProcess
Robert Kenney, OnProcess

“Think like a start-up,” was a recurring theme of the Digital Home Summit and a key message of the opening keynote by Robert Kenney, EVP of Sales and Marketing for OnProcess. Other speakers reiterated this line throughout the daylong event, as they stressed that the digital home is still early in its development. The opportunity and the challenge for service providers is that the digital home is still in its early stages. Click here to read the summary of this day-long event.

Stay tuned to Telecompetitor for video interviews from the event; in the meantime, here are a couple of videos interviews from that event:

FCC Plans for Incentive Auctions to Shake Up Broadcast TV & Mobile Broadband industries by Alan Weissberger

Alan Weissberger examines the  recently announced FCC “incentive auction process,” which will reclaim airwaves now owned by TV broadcasters and auction them off for use in wireless broadband networks.  TV broadcasters that want to keep their spectrum  would be forced to relocate frequencies to different parts of the TV band, in a procedure called “repacking.”  Broadcasters would get some undisclosed portion of the spectrum sales from the Incentive Auctions. Click here to read Weissberger’s article, as well as the associated comments.

Summary of Telecom Council TC3, Part 1- Service Provider Innovation Forum by Alan Weissberger

Over the last few years, more than 25 Telco Innovation Labs have opened up in the SF Bay Area, including Sprint’s in Burlingame, AT&T’s in Palo Alto, Verizon’s in San Francisco and Deutsche Telekom’s in Palo Alto. Telecom Council Carrier Connections (TC3) – the Telecom Council’s annual summit – provides an opportunity for startups and application developers to interact with telecom carriers (telcos) and network operators. Telco representatives who manage innovation, from developer programs and labs facilities to venture investing, discussed many issues that are relevant to their vendors and partner companies. Click here to read more.

Entrepreneur Forum & Carrier Perspectives – Summary of Telecom Council TC3, Part 2 by Alan Weissberger

This second piece examines the panel session on Rich Communications Suite (RCS) and (more importantly) selected carrier innovation agendas, strategies and case studies. RCS is a unified communications service for smart phones that will be built on top of IMS (IP Multimedia Services). From the end-user point of view, RCS would enable communication such as instant messaging, video sharing and buddy lists. Click here to read more.

Some Tweets and Short Thoughts:

  • A recent article in Wall Street Journal and reported elsewhere discusses how people are sacrificing meals out, spending less on apparel, etc., so they can spend money on mobile data plans. If they don’t go out as much, then why do they need the expensive data plans? To encourage people to eat out again, perhaps we will see a national restaurant chain or group of chains offer their own wireless plan with an “all you can eat” data plan.
  • [Thanks to tech/BB] “Our world isn’t getting smaller-our reach is getting longer & deeper” – Eric Bruno/Verizon #DHS12
  • Eric Simons of “AOL squatting” fame [article on ViodiTV] launched education startup@TeamClaco.
  • Jonathan Adelstein leaving RUS & starting at PCIA. Can’t believe that isn’t headline news. It isn’t even on the RUS website.

 The Korner – A Cooperative Local Content Solution

North Liberty Recreation Center
Click to View Video

Promoting community and economic development is one of the benefits the city of North Liberty, IA is finding with their local content presence. In this exclusive interview, Cheryle Caplinger, Communications Director for the city of North Liberty, explains how the city is using PEG (Public, Education and Government) funding to create content that not only brings their community together, but promotes it to businesses and people well outside its border.

She also explains their special partnership with South Slope Cooperative Communications and how they turned to South Slope to help broadcast their signal beyond the borders of North Liberty. With South Slope’s network and its relationship with the state-wide Iowa Network Services, North Liberty was able to help drive a substantial increase in attendance at their annual North Liberty Blues and Barbecue festival.

Meredith Fisher King, Marketing Director for South Slope Cooperative Communications, comments on the relationship with North Liberty and how these two entities complement one another. One gets the sense from King, as well as from observing the town and its continued growth, that its local content efforts are a manifestation of a business-friendly and community-driven environment.

Note: This interview just touches upon the clever things that North Liberty is doing in the way of local content production. A great place to learn more will be at the Calix User’s Group, where Cheryle will be on a panel moderated by this author.

For more information on registering for the Calix User’s Group and attending the October 28th panel, please go to

Click here to view the video interview.

Entrepreneur Forum & Carrier Perspectives – Summary of Telecom Council TC3, Part 2


Part 1 of this multi-part Summary of TC3 provided highlights of the Service Provider Innovation Forum held on September 12th. This second piece examines the panel session on Rich Communications Suite (RCS) and (more importantly) selected carrier innovation agendas, strategies and case studies.  The third article will look at telco innovation suggestions from market research firm Informa and what carriers are looking for from partner companies/start-ups to help them accelerate their innovation agendas.

Entrepreneur Forum: Next-Gen Communications – RCS:

The Entrepreneur panel session on Next-Gen Communications was all about Rich Communications Suite (RCS) – a buzzword that this author had never heard of before.   

RCS is a unified communications service for smart phones that will be built on top of IMS (IP Multimedia Services). From the end-user point of view RCS would enable communication such as instant messaging, video sharing and buddy lists. These capabilities would be available on any type of devices using an open communication between devices and networks. The topic seemed to be of interest to many 3G/4G cellular carriers I talked to at theTC3 event.

Here is the abstract from the Telecom Council’s TC3 Program Guide:

“For years, the telecom industry has tossed around various futuristic concepts for converged communications such as Unified Messaging or IMS, but little emerged. Essentially, the networks were not ready, latencies were too high on 3G and older cellular technology, and there was too much circuit-switch legacy that needed to be protected. But now, new infrastructure has turned the tide, and RCS (rich communications suite) is coming fast.

RCS is about enabling the customers to communicate as they want, anytime, from any starting point. It enables sharing media, sharing experiences, and including more people than classic circuit-switch telecom could ever provide. This field is populated by major telecom vendors, big OTT companies like Skype, FB and Google, but also upstarts like Kik and new startups by the likes of Sean Parker (Napster/early Facebook investor) or Rob Glaser (RealNetworks). This discussion will explore the roadmap for RCS solutions, both technically and on the business side, and we will focus on the opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurs.”

Author’s Note:  RCS has nothing to do with 3G or 4G mobile broadband infrastructure (access or backhaul), which is assumed to be in place for RCS to thrive and flourish.  It is effectively a new higher layer protocol that runs on mobile devices.

Carrier Perspectives and Case Studies:

1.  Anne Louise Kardas and Kim Galbraith of Sprint described the (mostly wireless) carrier’s innovation business model: find 10 ideas that will either make or save the company at least $10M for each one. Sprint likes to work with round B or C startups that are significantly funded to achieve their innovation agenda. The Sprint partnership model was said to include IT, network equipment, apps, software and services. They want to address the challenges for distributing solutions out to the marketplace. Specific focus areas are: e-commerce, M2M, mobile health, security, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and video.  They have defined an opportunity funnel which encompasses the following procedures: discover, review, analyze, evaluate, development, and commercialization.

2.  Matthew Key of Telefonica Digital (this global business is headquartered in London, rather than Madrid or Barcelona, Spain) was quite specific in detailing his company’s areas of interest:

  • Comms 2.0: video, messaging, Over the Top (OTT) voice & video, voice recognition, contract list management and WiFi offload.
  • M2M:  smart mobility, smart metering, industrial telemetry
  • Mobile Commerce: mobile payments & wallets, POS terminals.
  • Security: network, devices, child protection, Identity as a Service.

Telefonica has a venture office in Mt View that’s pursuing global partnerships with startups. The telco has reorganized the entire company to emphasize innovation.  They have two R&D arms: Commercial & Consumer as well as the CTO office.

An example of “pre-emptive inclusion” by Telefonica was the launch of an OTT voice service over their own network infrastructure to retain customers. This was provided by JahJah– a VoIP company Telefonica acquired with R &D center in Tel Aviv, Israel.

3.  Stephane Allaire of Bouygues Telecom (France) and David Fraser of Devicescape participated in a Carrier Case Study. The purpose of the case studies was to showcase successful examples of startups making deals with carriers. While not at all easy, it gives the startup company immediate scale and a large, well established market to sell into.

Bouygues claims to be the #1 telecom ISP in net new connections for the 2011 calendar year. Their call for innovation encompasses five areas: LTE apps that provide a good customer experience, digital home (integrate data, pictures, music and videos), differentiators & disruptions, and cost savings solutions.

Mr. Fraser said Devicescape was focused on helping mobile operators handle the mobile data explosion via WiFi offload. His company’s dynamic WiFi integration technology includes: intelligent cloud, offload network, cloud based QoS, and analytics as a service.  Devicescape claims they achieve the industry’s highest percentage of offloaded mobile traffic by placing the intelligence, management, and control in the cloud, not just in the client software. The Devicescape Offload Network is called a Curated Virtual Network (CVN), which consists of qualified hotspots deployed worldwide. This CVN was said to manage authentication, Internet access, service quality, availability, location and provide analytics to their carrier/WiFi hot spot customers.

4.  Daniel Zhao, Director of China Mobile’s U.S. research center, described the operator’s Open Mobile Platform for developers. It consists of an app engine (a hosting service similar to Amazon’s), an ‘enabler’ engine (tools such as billing and payment software) and a development environment.

5.  Thomas Neubert of Deutsche Telekom (DT) explained how DT became engaged with Lookout-a mobile security company. Tim Roper, president of Lookout participated in this session.

6.  AT&T’s Foundry (AT&T’s Innovation Labs in Palo Alto) works in 12-week cycles, usually hosting 40 to 50 projects at a time, said Aaron McDaniel, Senior Director of strategy. Brian Woods of OpenPeak, developed their product with AT&T’s assistance.

7.  In a Carrier Case Study, Gabriel Sidhom, Vice President of Technology Development at Orange (formerly known as France Telecom or FT) and Ash Damle, CEO at MEDgle were interviewed by TC3 Chairman Derek Kerton.  Mr. Sidhom participated in last year’s TC3 where he convinced the audience that Orange is serious about innovation and working with start-ups.  This year, he and Mr. Damle were talking “eHealth.”  MEDgle has put together a big data analytics platform that functions as a medical/health care search engine.  It’s focused on redefining human health, with about 130 million data points, cross-connecting about 20,000 symptoms and signs, diagnoses, age, gender, duration, lifestyles, etc.

8.  John Hayduk, President, Product Management and Service Development of Tata Communications (one of India’s largest telcos) is responsible for providing the technology vision and leadership needed to support Tata Communications’ network and growth of managed services. He said his five innovation priorities are: hardware, video, unified communications, the customer experience, and (big) data analytics.

9.  Jean-Marc Frangos, Managing Director of External Innovation at BT, said he’s looking for new services that will drive the use of fiber, breakthroughs in IPTV (or at least in its cost structure) and technology for hybrid clouds. Mr. Francos is especially interested in enterprise tools but wasn’t specific. He said: “I’ve been waiting for a really good collaboration tool for about 10 years now, and I’m still waiting.”

10.  The concluding TC3 Carrier Panel featured panelists from venture capital divisions of prominent carriers. These included: Verizon Ventures, Vodafone Ventures, VP of Innovation at Swisscom, Venture Advisor at DoComo Capital, SingTel Innov8 Ventures LLC, and Rogers Venture Partners.  A corporate VC division was seen as an effective tool for these global carriers to cultivate, nurture and enhance innovation within their organizations. These carrier VCs are all competing for great startups (mostly in Silicon Valley or SF Bay Area, but others in Israel, e.g. wireless and throughout the U.S.).  They are looking for strategic relationships and value added services from start-ups.

Swisscom said they were looking for help in four areas for which they act as “gatekeeper.” These were: Real Time Analytics, Security, Identiy management, and Privacy controls.

Several investments – from turn by turn directions to MOCA chips and NFC were disclosed by Verizon Ventures and followed by similar stories from other carrier VCs.

In response to a question from this author (echoed by a representative from NSN), Daniel Keoppel of Verizon Ventures said Verizon was interested in three specific areas of improved or new network infrastructure:

a]  Coping with the mobile data deluge: small cell sites, mobile backhaul, optimizing wireless traffic, and reducing requirements for obtaining additional licensed spectrum.

b] Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Open Flow protocol (which partitions and segregates the control and data planes within the network).

c] Cloud based services (Mr. Keoppel didn’t specify what these might be).

Mr. Keoppel raised a dissenting voice among the chorus of love for WiFi offload. Without explanation he said, “WiFi offload is NOT a great solution for the user, except for certain environments.”

“There’s a ton of stuff being done to improve the carrier’s network,” Mr. Keopell concluded.

Editor’s Note:  While this author strongly disagrees with Mr. Keopell’s assertion, that’s the subject for a whole other article and discussion or argument, depending on your point of view.

TC3 chairman Derek Kerton believes there has been quite a lot of innovation and improvements in carrier networks – not by startups, but rather the very large network equipment vendors (Ericsson, Huawei, Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN),  ZTE, etc).  He wrote in an email: “Carriers look to Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia Siemens, Ericsson, Huawei and that ilk to improve hardware, systems, and core network infrastructure. This innovation certainly occurs, as these vendors compete ferociously in their highly competitive sector.

The innovations that this sector has sold to carriers includes: small cell infrastructure, Heterogeneous networks, IP to Circuit-switch handover, remote electronic tilting antennas, Self Optimizing Networks, MPLS, Core IP infrastructure, Fixed mobile convergence and UMA, Wi-Fi offload,  3G, HSPA+, LTE, WiMAX, Emergency broadcasting, E911 and location platforms, OPEN API platforms, M2M systems, new billing solutions for family plans and shared data and prepaid, fiber backhaul, point-to-point wireless backhaul at 60 and 80GHz, etc. On the fixed side there have been numerous advances like Coarse Wave Division Multiplexing, FTTH, FTTC, in home distribution like MoCA or Phonline, DAS, and faster and faster broadband services.”

Closing Comment:

“This year TC3 event capitalized on having 20 different carriers available to participants by putting them on the stage to explain what they want from entrepreneurs this year,” said Liz Kerton President of the Telecom Council of Silicon Valley.  “Our carrier members are happy to share their external innovation programs with these hundreds of entrepreneurs, because it makes their jobs of finding new startups easier,” she added.

Stay tuned for part 3 of this year’s TC3 Summary.  In the meantime, please comment in the box below this article or email the author at:

Summary of Telecom Council TC3, Part 1- Service Provider Innovation Forum


Telecom Council Carrier Connections (TC3) – the Telecom Council’s annual summit- was held Sept 12-13, 2012 in Sunnyvale, CA. The event provides an opportunity for startups and application developers to interact with telecom carriers (telcos) and network operators. Telco representatives who manage innovation, from developer programs and labs facilities to venture investing, discussed many issues that are relevant to their vendors and partner companies.  These included:

  • What innovations are network operators looking for?
  • How does a young company work with a large operator?
  • What kind of partnerships do carriers prefer?
  • Who are the right people inside the carriers to properly receive, handle, and implement new ideas?
  • What developer and partner programs are available?

A complete description of TC3 is available here from the Telecom Council.

Telco Innovation in SF Bay Area and Startups:

Over the last few years, more than 25 Telco Innovation Labs have opened up in the SF Bay Area, including Sprint’s in Burlingame, AT&T’s in Palo Alto, Verizon’s in San Francisco and Deutsche Telekom’s in Palo Alto.  These Telco Innovation Labs serve as incubators and offer testing facilities to a wave of startups, particularly in the wireless space.  Global telcos have also established Venture Capital (VC) divisions throughout the SF Bay Area.  This makes Silicon Valley a very appropriate place to hold the TC3 summit conference. Throughout the 2 day summit, speakers from telcos and mobile operators described what they’re doing for developers and how they’ve been handling partnerships with startups.

Telecom Council Service Provider Innovation Forum (SPIF) Meeting:

TC3 conference chair Derek Kerton said that the Silicon Valley culture of co-operation has been working for carriers. They are able to share leads and help each other out without worrying about competition. With that introduction, the first Telecom Council Service Provider Innovation Forum Meeting open to the public began. 11 later stage startups, with network ready products and services that “push the envelope of telecom innovation” gave rapid fire pitches. After each presentation, SPIF session moderator Liz Kerton invited carriers sitting in the front rows to ask them questions.

We highlight three of the most interesting vendor rapid fires below.  Click here for the complete TC3-2012 agenda.

1.  Actellis has offered Ethernet over Copper products, but is now shifting into the residential broadband space. Millions of Americans don’t have broadband access, primarily due to a lack of infrastructure. The FCC is trying to address this problem with the Connect America Fund. “The digital divide is a challenge, but an economic opportunity for carriers,” said Chris Heinemann, Director of Marketing at Actellis.

The Actellis Broadband Accelerator (BBA) delivers high speed broadband services to current unserved and underserved customers who are out of reach because of their geographical location.  The patented, shoe box sized box is placed between the telco’s DSLAM and the ADSL subscriber.  It provides “ubiquitous coverage over the existing copper infrastructure and takes only 15 minutes to install. The BBA is in field trials worldwide, with several deployments in the U.S. and one in South America,” according to Mr. Heineman. He encouraged the audience to watch You Tube videos describing the product and how to install it (wall or pole mounted). Please refer to:

Overview (YouTube video)

How to Install (YouTube video)

The BBA received the 2012 NGN Leadership Award for outstanding innovation.

Author’s Note: Mr Heinemann did not disclose how the Broadband Accelerator actually worked.  Yet he implied it could be used to deliver 15 to 30 Mb/sec total bandwidth per subscriber (the sweet spot for triple play services).

2.  Joyent provides “Cloud Infrastructure for Real-time Web and Mobile Applications.” The company, which counts Intel and Telefonica as investors, “builds a data center as a solid state device,” according to Jason Hoffman, Joyent’s founder. The company’s strategy is focused on local service delivery from a global alliance of tier 1 mobile carriers that operate their own mobile clouds and/or Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) on Joyent’s data center fabric.

Joyent’s data center technology addresses challenges in real time latency sensitive mobile apps. “It’s designed as the back end of the storage array that runs Virtual Machines (VMs). The product can do throttling, scheduling, bursting and I/O acceleration in a unique way,” according to Mr Hoffman. “It can detect when applications are running slow via real time diagnostics and trace capabilities,” he said.

3.  Shared Spectrum Company is not technically a startup as it was founded in 2000 and funded by DARPA.  The company develops embedded wireless software for accessing shared spectrum resources and mitigating effects of RF interference by avoiding those bands. Their Dynamic Spectrum Access technology senses what frequencies are used as well as interference in unused bands. It avoids those and switches wireless traffic to selected frequency bands that are unused and clear of interference. Shared Spectrum’s software has been embedded in products from military radio manufacturers. Recently it has been used by InterDigital- a femtocell vendor. The company is now hoping to attract a broader range of OEMs (as described below).

Based on measurements his company has performed in major markets around the country, CEO Tom Stroup claims there is no spectrum shortage (in direct conflict with AT&T’s CEO Randall Stephenson who says AT&T needs a whole lot more spectrum to cope with exponential growth in mobile data traffic).

Instead, Mr. Stroup maintains that most allocated spectrum is not used.  He said that <20% of available and allocated spectrum is not in use at any one given time. That’s quite a bold statement!

The company sees a growth market in mobile cloud computing, which requires additional spectrum with QoS. Examples are TV white spaces (unused frequencies allocated to TV broadcasters) where interference from wireless microphones must be detected so as not to use those bands for wireless broadband services. The company’s “Spectrum Sensing Toolbox” is targeted at equipment used in femtocells, IEEE 802.22 Regional Wireless Area Networks, digital broadcasters in Europe, Machine to Machine (M2M) devices, Department of Defense and civilian government radio systems. Tom said that “Shared Spectrum’s Dynamic Spectrum Access technology was applicable across the world.”

Author’s Note: Various proposals, including IEEE 802.11af, IEEE 802.22 and those from the White Spaces Coalition, have advocated using white spaces left by the termination of analog TV to provide wireless broadband Internet access. A device intended to use these available channels is referred to as a “white-spaces device.” The FCC will meet September 28th to discuss rules for an auction where UHF broadcasters will sell spectrum to wireless carriers that have complained about a lack of available spectrum as U.S. consumers increasingly use and want more mobile data.

Closing Comment:

“Our monthly Service Provider Innovation Forum meeting has a 12 year history of helping entrepreneurs meet telcos and visa versa,” said Liz Kerton President of the Telecom Council of Silicon Valley. “This was the first time the public has had access to the inner circle of the Council and it worked well enough to do it again next year.”

Indeed, this author found the meeting a very effective way for telcos and start-ups to meet one another.


This concludes part 1 of the TC3 Summary.

Part 2 will cover the panel session on Rich Communications Suite (RCS) and carrier innovation agendas, strategies and case studies.  Part 3 will be on WiFi Offload 2.0.


SPIFFY award winners at TC3 in various categories-


Viodi View – 08/10/12

Call Me – You Might Have to Call Again If I Live in Rural America

David Lewis of ANPI Zone Telecom

Trying to make a simple phone call last week presented a bit of a challenge in rural North Dakota. There was a delay – a long delay, like I was making an international call some 30 years ago.  There might have even been a call that wasn’t completed.  I can’t remember exactly, as the frustration of not being able to connect, blurred my mind to the idea of actually trying to measure the time it took to connect or to try multiple phone calls to see how many wouldn’t complete.

Click here to read why this reminds me of my interview with David Lewis of ANPI Zone Telecom at the 2012 IP Possibilities Conference.

The Scoop on Rural Broadband

Geoff Burke of Calix

How much bandwidth do rural broadband customers need? That is the $4.5B question. Geoff Burke, senior director of corporate marketing for Calix, explains how much bandwidth rural customers are using, based on recent data measurements (January through March 2012)  from end-points distributed throughout rural America.

Click here to view the interview and hear some of the insights of the upstream and downstream measurements of rural broadband endpoints.

Infonetics Microwave Survey: NEC still leads but Ericsson gets high marks by network operators! by Alan Weissberger

In its new Microwave Strategies and Vendor Leadership: Global Service Provider Survey, Infonetics Research explores operators’ deployment plans and perceptions of microwave equipment suppliers.   In market share, NEC held the lead in equipment revenue for the first quarter of 2012 with 20%, just ahead of Ericsson; Huawei was 3rd.

Click here to read the rest of Alan’s article.

Market Survey: VZW Tops in Customer Satisfaction & Dropped Calls; AT&T last! by Alan Weissberger

Service Provider Satisfaction

ChangeWave Research (part of the 451 Group) recently surveyed 4,042 consumers on their opinions and attitudes toward their wireless service providers – including customer satisfaction ratings,  loyalty and future demand trends. The research firm also looked  at consumer reaction to Verizon’s new “Share Everything” family data plan. Among the  major U.S. providers, Verizon Wireless (VZW) continues to maintain a lead in customer  satisfaction with 48% of their subscribers saying they’re Very Satisfied with VZW’s service.  Sprint (32%) is second followed by T-Mobile (30%) and AT&T (22%).

Click to read Alan’s article and analysis, as well a comment on the Freedom Pop service and how its “no-cost” broadband could shake up the market.

Getting the Word Out About Energy Efficiency

The dog days of summer are here and electric bills are skyrocketing for those in hot, humid climes. Helping people use their smart meters to save money during peak times is one of the challenges Sarah Bresko of PG&E discusses in this interview. She discusses their messaging campaign to get the word out and help people reduce usage. Click here to view the video interview.

PCs for the People – One Way a Local Telco Is Helping Their Community

Kevin Larson of CTC

This PC Pledge touted by the FCC this week is similar to what rural broadband provider CTC has been doing for years. Kevin Larson of CTC discusses the program his company he implemented that recycles PCs, while helping people who couldn’t otherwise afford computers.  He points to the importance of getting devices to people who otherwise wouldn’t have access to the power that broadband would provide.  Click here for the interview.

Some Tweets and Short Thoughts:

The Korner – Fiber to the Gas Station

North Dakota represents a personal milestone of sorts and holds a special place in my heart, being that it was the last one in my quest to visit all 50 states. This goal was accomplished before North Dakota’s ascent to energy powerhouse. .

Fiber To The Gas Station

Visiting North Dakota these days reminds me of the lesson from California’s golden days about selling pickaxes to miners being one way to cash in on a gold rush. In the modern-day gold rush that is the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota, existing businesses and new businesses are booming thanks to the oil drilling frenzy (some estimate 2,000 wells will be drilled this year). One of the big challenges the existing businesses face is finding staff and, thus, being more efficient with their existing resources is especially important.

Paul Schlichting, manager of the Garrison, ND Cenex service station, explains how a direct fiber optic connection has been critical for dealing with the increase in business and the growth in traffic and new customers.

Click here to view our exclusive video interview, get a glimpse of some of the infrastructure challenges of this high-growth economic area and hear how a cooperative telephone company is helping a cooperative service station.

Infonetics Microwave Survey: NEC still leads but Ericsson gets high marks by network operators!

2012 Infonetics 1Q12 Microwave Equipment-Market Forecast Chart

In its new Microwave Strategies and Vendor Leadership: Global Service Provider Survey, Infonetics Research explores operators’ deployment plans and perceptions of microwave equipment suppliers.   In market share, NEC held the lead in equipment revenue for the first quarter of 2012 with 20%, just ahead of Ericsson; Huawei was 3rd (see pie chart).

“As the microwave equipment market gets more and more crowded and the climate of cash conservatism persists, service providers are looking at different aspects of vendors and their solutions with ever-greater scrutiny,” says Richard Webb, directing analyst for microwave, mobile offload, and mobile broadband devices at Infonetics Research.   “For vendors, strategy has become an increasingly slippery slope—they have to grapple with going in with strong technology at a higher-than-average price, or with lower-priced (but potentially lower-rated) technology, or running the risk of being solid but indistinct across the board. Getting it right is a moving target that currently Ericsson hits on bullseye.” Webb added.


  • Ericsson is the highest-rated vendor by operators in 8 out of 10 of the criteria Infonetics asked about in its 2012 microwave survey, compared to finishing 1st in only 1 criterion last year
  • Huawei received high scores from operators in pricing and price-to-performance ratio, as it did in Infonetics’ 2011 microwave survey
  • The portion of operators deploying all-Ethernet microwave is growing significantly, from 19% now to 38% by 2014
  • Short haul, single hop deployment, and 1st-mile mobile backhaul are highly rated applications driving microwave deployments
  • Over 3/4 of surveyed operators use microwave for backhauling mobile traffic in urban areas; 2nd-mile backhaul is also popular
  • 1/3 of microwave links deployed between now and 2014 will be new links, largely driven by the rollout of small cells


For its 38-page Microwave Strategies survey, Infonetics interviewed purchase decision-makers for microwave equipment at 25 independent wireless, incumbent, and competitive operators in EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa), Asia-Pacific, CaLA (Caribbean and Latin America), and North America. The report explores operator plans for deploying microwave equipment and features a vendor scorecard with service provider ratings of 12 microwave manufacturers (Alcatel-Lucent, Aviat Networks, Ceragon, DragonWave, ECI Telecom, Ericsson, Huawei, Intracom, NEC, Nokia Siemens Networks, SIAE, ZTE).

Infonetics Microwave  Service consists of:

Quarterly market size, market share, and forecast service tracks the competitive landscape and growth areas of the microwave equipment market.

Reports are delivered ~60 days after each quarter and include:

  • Market Size, Market Share, and Forecast report in Excel (updated quarterly)
  • Worldwide and regional market size (first quarterly report includes 4Q11 and CY11 actuals + historical data)
  • Worldwide and regional rolling 1-year quarterly forecasts + annual forecasts through CY16
  • Worldwide vendor market share • Customizable pivot tables allowing for ad hoc data comparisons and analysis in tables and charts
  • Market Analysis report in PDF (updated quarterly)
  • Top takeaways, analysis by product category and geography, market share highlights, market drivers, and technology roadmaps
  • Analyst-led conference call with PPT presentation and analyst inquiry time
  • Corporate-wide license
  • Online service portal for fast, easy access to reports, plus metadata for accurate intranet search functionality

To buy the survey, contact Infonetics Research:

Comment: We wonder how much of the microwave transmission market is cellular backhaul and if its share is increasing or decreasing with more carriers promising to deploy fiber to the cell tower (haven’t we heard that one before?)