Sprint to Shut Down WiMAX Service ~Nov 6, 2015

Overview:

At long last, Sprint has confirmed it will be turning off of its WiMAX service on or around November 6th, 2015.  That’s a little over 1 year for owners of WiMAX mobile devices (including laptops with WiMax cards/dongles) to switch to LTE .  WiMAX mobile devices will still work in 3G mode after that, but one doesn’t buy a 4G device or interface to use it in 3G mode, especially after a few years of ownership.

The time frame for the shutdown was originally reported by a blog on Android Central this past weekend, which cited an internal Sprint memo detailing the company’s network plans. Yesterday, Sprint spokeswoman Adrienne Norton confirmed the date to FierceWireless.

In April, Sprint said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that it would “cease using WiMAX technology  by the end of 2015.” As part of that effort, Sprint said it identified  approximately 6,000 “redundant sites that we expect to decommission and  terminate the underlying leases.”

This author long ago forecast the demise of mobile WiMAX, because no other major wireless telcos or mobile device makers (except Samsung) were supporting it.  In a September 2006 blog post, we asked “Will the Real “Mobile WiMAX” please stand up!”

What’s Cooking Now in Sprint’s Wireless Broadband Kitchen:

Sprint says it already has built its 4G LTE network to serve more than 255 million people, with more on the way, making it easy for customers to take advantage of all the great features on smartphones.

In addition to Sprint’s all-new 3G network and its 4G LTE network, Sprint is deploying Sprint Spark, a technology designed to greatly improve the performance of video and other bandwidth-intensive applications, including new generations of online gaming, virtual reality and advanced cloud services. It enables stutter-free video chat on-the-go and mobile gaming that leaves lag behind. Sprint Spark is an enhanced LTE service that’s built for data and designed to deliver average wireless speeds of 6-15Mbps and peak wireless speeds of 50-60Mbps today on capable devices, with increasing speed potential over time. Sprint plans to reach 100 million Americans by year-end with the service.

Beginning Oct. 10, the Sprint Business Share Plan will again double the data, now delivering 240GB to 800GB of data to business customers with 50 to 100 lines.  The latest promotion, running through Oct. 31, 2014, provides businesses double the data for $50 to $150 less per month than a similar promotion from AT&T.

The Road Ahead will be Very Bumpy:

A recent SEC regulatory filing confirms mass layoffs at Sprint.  With its latest round of layoffs and cost-cutting, it will be difficult for the smaller size company to expand and upgrade it’s LTE infrastructure and continue on the M2M/IoT path it had set for itself over four years ago.

Highlights of 2012 Sprint Open Solutions Conference, October 24-26, 2012 in San Jose, CA

Overview:

The annual Sprint Open Solutions conference is primarily for software developers to learn about Sprint’s partnerships and to stimulate creation of applications that will run on (smart) devices which access the Sprint network. While previous conferences focused more on the network itself (as an enabler of mobile devices and apps), this year’s event provided a close up view into the latest tools and capabilities from Sprint and their solution-enablement partners.

Additional topics included: new go-to-market services for developers, 4G LTE network and device technologies, network optimization best-practices, and Sprint’s mobile commerce, cloud and M2M (machine to machine) communications strategies.

According to Sprint’s Kristin Wallace, “For this year’s Open Solution Conference, we decided to focus on four key areas — mobile advertising, mobile commerce, mobile security and cloud services.”  The experts on Sprint’s next generation multi-frequency/muti-protocol wireless network (known as Network Vision) were not present, so that subject area was not discussed at the conference.

Author’s Note: A key point is that, unlike other wireless carriers, Sprint has to deal with four separate and disparate networks:  the soon to be shut down Nextel IDEN push-to-talk, Sprint’s legacy CDMA/3G-EVDO,  Network Vision (CDMA/3G-EVDO, LTE-FDD)+, and Cleawire’s Mobile WiMAX/ LTE-TDD). Looks like the last three of these networks will survive- at least for a couple of years.  

I wonder how the  transitioning,  switch-over process and inter-networking will be, especially for users; but that’s the subject of an entire different article.

+  Deployment of Network Vision has begun in the U.S.  It is a wireless network infrastructure that allows Sprint to run multiple network technologies/protocols and host multiple spectrum bands at the same set of base stations/cell sites. As it’s deployed, Sprint is installing LTE-FDD as well as upgrading its 3G/CDMA wireless network, while phasing out the narrowband iDEN network originally developed by Nextel. Sprint had said it expected the Network Vision deployment to reach 12,000 cell sites this year.

On its 3rd Quarter 2012 earnings call last Thursday, Sprint blamed its equipment vendors for a delay of about three months for its network upgrade plans, but said that it would not affect overall spending on the $7 billion Network Vision project.  The company said the delay related to logistics, execution and materials but did not single out a specific vendor from its three main suppliers: Ericsson, Alcatel Lucent SA and Samsung Electronics Co.  It’s not clear if the 2013 year end total coverage goals will be also delayed. Please see Dan Hesse’s Closing Keynote (below) for more on this topic.

Sprint’s Device Portfoliio, by David Owens, Sprint Vice President, Product Management & Logistics:

This session provided an overview of Sprint Device & Application Strategy for 2012-2013, including a look at some key industry Hardware and Software Trends in 2012 & 2013 and Sprint’s Network, Device, OS & Application Strategy going into 2013.

Sprint’s key area of focus for devices:

  • Strong iconic brands that will operate across different software platforms ( iOS, Android, Windows 8 and RIM).
  • Broad base of LTE end user products, including tablets, smart phones, M2M/Internet of Things (IoT).
  • Pre-paid and postpaid data plans available for most mobile devices.
  • Improved international offerings (assume that means making 3G/CDMA end devices operate on networks outside the U.S.)
  • Broader lineup of Sprint Direct Connect products (with Nextell IDEN network being shut off in 2013, the new Sprint network, i.e. Network Vision, will assume Push to Talk and similar functions).
  • Support for 3 Sprint LTE frequency bands (25=1900MHz, 26=800MHz, and 41=2.5GHz) in a single handset (“wildly complex” in terms of number of radios and antenna components on a handheld device circuit board).  Again, this capability will be delivered by Network Vision.
  • Ability to leverage products across prepaid and postpaid (single SKU concept- unique identifier for each type of service).

Outstanding Questions for 2013:

  • How big will the iOS tablet/handset market be (this point wasn’t qualified so one wonders if it was referring to Apple hardware shipment or 3rd party apps developed for that hardware)?
  • What will Google do with Motorola Mobility and will it be meaningful?
  • What will BB10 OS mean to RIM?  Don’t count RIM out just yet!
  • Will any other viable software platforms emerge in 2013?  For example, Windows 8 or HTML5 (instead of native apps with embedded browsers)?  [Sidebar: speaker chided AT&T for supporting  Windows Phone on mobile devices before that OS was solid.  He said Windows 8 would provide a much better experience for mobile device users.]

Sprint CEO Dan Hesse’s Closing Keynote:

This 30 minute talk seemed to be much more like a pitch to institutional investors rather than developers.  We will skip Mr. Hesse’s defense of why Sprint lost subscribers, importance of Softbank’s investment, latest ARPU and churn numbers, etc. Instead we’ll report key reasons that developers might want to partner with Sprint.  In that regard, Mr. Hesse stated:

  • Sprint has emerged as a much stronger network operator with the $20.1B Softbank investment (for 70% of the company).
  • Sprint is the fastest growing contract brand, in terms of net new customers, in the last two years.
  • Sprint network platform now has a record 52.9M total customers (it is unclear if that number includes Sprint WiMAX customers which access Clearwire’s network that’s resold by Sprint as a MVNO).
  • Sprint is recapturing Nextel customers -59% have converted to the Sprint network platform in the 3rd quarter 2012.
  • Customers want LTE.  Network Vision targets for end of 2012 will be delayed three months (as noted above).
  • Nationwide LTE coverage (via Network Vision) will be achieved by  end of 2013.  (Note there was no mention of whether Sprint will resell Clearwire’s LTE-TDD now being developed for global deployments).

Why partner with Sprint?

  • We’re doing the right thing! Innovation (450 patents granted in 2011), easy to do business with, increased level of public trust (due to Sprint’s technologies that provide security, privacy and safety), Wireless accessibility packs for blind or visually impaired, sustainability and ecology aware (#3 greenest U.S. company and only telco in the top 25).
  • Network Vision platform will include Push to X capability (presumably Push to Talk and similar instant connect features- video chat?)
  • Sprint is the only cellular operator offering unlimited 3G/4G data plans
  • Open platforms supported and no walled garden to control or exclude software vendors
  • Opportunity Funnel to help start-up companies with business plans and synergies with Sprint
  • Collaboration Center in Burlingame, CA for vendors with hardware and/or software they want to run on Sprint’s network.  Examples include M2M communications, video applications, and mobile health.

Summing up, Mr. Hesse noted that Sprint now ranks very high in customer satisfaction.  They’ve gone from last place to first place despite all their publicized financial difficulties and bad decisions (especially acquiring Nextel).


Author’s Experience with Sprint:

Of the three largest U.S. telcos, Sprint has been by far the easiest for IEEE Communications Society (ComSoc) to work with.  ComSoc has had a very productive relationship and dialog with Sprint since at least 2006.  The IEEE ComSoc-Sprint bond was aided and abetted by Sprint’s M2M Solutions Manager Mike Finegan, who has been a long time friend and colleague of IEEE ComSoc.    Mr Finegan has spoken three times at IEEE ComSoc organized workshops, seminars, and technical meetings.  Our members thoroughly enjoyed the informative and impressive seminar and tour to their Collaborations Center in March 2011.  All the presentation materials from those events can be downloaded for free from the archive section of our website:

http://www.ewh.ieee.org/r6/scv/comsoc/ComSoc_2011_Presentations.php  (scroll down to March 7, 2011 for seminars at Sprint Collaboration Center)

http://www.ewh.ieee.org/r6/scv/comsoc/09242011_MikeFinegan.pdf

http://www.ewh.ieee.org/r6/scv/comsoc/Workshop_092510_SprintM2M.pdf

This author looks forward to further collaboration with Sprint, particularly in understanding the capabilities, features and functions of Network Vision.  A whole new set of applications could be made possible by that new network infrastructure, including mobile cloud, low latency real time video, and medical imaging.  Look for further updates.

 

Key Messages from IDC Directions 2012 for "The Network" – Part 2

Worldwide Cellular Infrastructure Revenue
Worldwide Cellular Infrastructure Revenue

Part 1 of this article summarized the big picture view from IDC Directions 2012 as well as changes in enterprise IT and network infrastructure/ architecture.  Mobility and next generation mobile network architecture’s are examined in this piece.

Essential guidance from IDC Analyst Courtney Munroe’s presentation on Mobility and the Cloud:

  • Cloud Applications and Traffic will grow exponentially by 2015
  • All Applications Providers must have a cloud Solution
  • Consolidation/Partnership inevitable
  • Apps will expand from basic categories to include HD Video/Business Analytics and LBS (Location Based Services) Apps

Take aways from John Byrne’s outstanding presentation (best of conference) on NextGen Mobile Architectures: Solving the Congestion Dilemma

Exponentially Increasing Mobile Data Traffic Is Driving Major Network Changes

Smartphones, tablets and dongles (oh my) driving major changes in wireless network infrastructure

  • Heterogeneous network” architectures required, with the focus rapidly turning to microcells, picocells, femtocells, distributed antenna systems, “cloud RAN”
  • Backhaul chokepoints must be resolved through a variety of solutions, including fiber, Wi-Fi offload and other fiber-to-the-cell deployments wherever feasible
  • Operators must be able to utilize every spectrum band available, as efficiently as possible, to keep pace with demand

Continued exponential data traffic growth requires a variety of solutions:

A capacity crunch is coming or is already here:

  • Operator assumptions regarding network traffic growth have been significantly exceeded form factor for video, download and upload
  • New M2M applications/form factors will develop to take advantage of high data throughput
  • Operators must take advantage of every solution available:
  • Wi-Fi more closely integrated into wireless network architectures
  • Multi-technology, multi-spectrum radios are the main focus in the macro-environment
  • Heterogeneous Network solutions to solve urban hotzone and in-building coverage challenges
  • FDD, TDD and FDD/TDD combinations to take advantage of all available spectrum bands
Total Spending on Connectivity
Total Spending on Connectivity

In the Macrocell environment, the focus of deployments is turning to the support of Base Stations that support multiple frequencies and multiple RAN technologies (e.g. 3G, WiMAX, LTE-TDD/FDD).

Flexibility is the focus, allowing customized approach for each operator’s unique situation:

  • Ultimately multi-mode, multi-band base stations will be part of the solution for operators in most regions
  • The Sprint “Network Vision” project represents a good example of network modernization to adapt to the new environment –multiple technologies & frequencies using a single multimode antenna

Heterogeneous Networks represent the “Next Phase” of Wireless Network Development

Wireless telcos and network equipment vendors are focusing on “Heterogeneous Nets”

  • AIR, Liquid, Light –regardless of vendor acronym focus is on 10x increase in # of radios to keep pace with network traffic growth
  • A host of vendors (and being driven by China Mobile) spending significant R&D on “cloud RAN” and other Het Netconcepts
  • HetNetSolutions will vary by operator and scenario:
  • Pico cell base stations
  • Femto cells moving into the enterprise and outdoors
  • Microcells
  • Managed, carrier-grade WiFi for mobile data offload of the cellular network

Backhaul Represents a Major Challenge to Robust Mobile Broadband  (see Figure)

Operators and vendors will need to solve the backhaul challenge at two main chokepoints –

  1. The connection between the base transceiver station (BTS) and the base station controller/mobile switching center (BSC/MSC).
  2. The “metro” hand-off from the BSC/MSCto the core network.
Backhaul Challenge to Mobile Broadband
Backhaul Challenge to Mobile Broadband

M2M Represents a Great Example of the Third Platform:

  • Digital Signage:
    • Remote billboards/digital ads (in areas where fixed broadband is not available and/or cost prohibitive)
    • Major areas of opportunity: taxis, buses, limousines, ferries and trains; targeted possibilities are enhanced further when combined with location awareness
  • Personal Fitness/Healthcare Monitoring:
  • Business(B) to Consumer(C): Operator could provide aggregated data to a consumer focused on fitness
  • B to B to C: Operator could provide active monitoring directly to clinic or hospital and react in the event of an emergency (call ambulance, forward relevant patient data, contact doctor, etc.
  • B to B to C: “Glowcaps” is such a model (see http://www.viodi.tv/2011/07/15/wireless-enablement/)

“Third Platform” networks must support trillions of transactions, which poses challenging new requirements:

  • OSS/Policy Management/Device Management:
    • Automated response is key to profitable M2M
    • Automated customer/service provisioning, authentication
    • Device/chip/module certification
  • Billing/BSS:
    • Revenue sharing among thousands of partners
    • Myriad of business models: per MB, per transaction, per month, etc.
  • Analytics:
    • Value of data gathered rests in the ability to make sense out of i
    • Intelligence will rest with network operators –ability to monetize depends on developing and packaging meaningful insights
  • Ecosystem:
    • In order to get to trillions of transactions, service providers must do much more work to bring application developers into the ecosystem

Postscript: 

Since IDC Directions 2012, there have been several articles on the topic of how wireless carriers will deal with the capacity crunch caused by the continued explosive growth in mobile data traffic- especially video streaming,  Here is a representative sample:

Fox News Opinion piece- burden on FCC to find more spectrum:

This article assumes the FCC’s hands are tied and won’t be able to come up with enough spectrum to alleviate the capacity crunch caused by continuous exponential increases in mobile data traffic.  With little new spectrum available for use in the near future, wireless carriers are coming up with new tricks to help break traffic jams on their networks as demand for mobile data surges.  The wireless telcos plan to use  various technologies for better managing data traffic such as video.
These aren’t a substitute for building more high-speed fourth-generation networks and setting up more Wi-Fi hot spots, the telecommunications equivalents of new highways.  However,  the article states these methods can help carriers get more data onto their existing mobile networks.

Another WSJ article :  Users of new iPAD-LTE  find watching mobile video has a high cost

Some users of Apple’s new iPad are finding a few hours of watching high-speed video can eat up an entire monthly data-plan allotment.  In essence,  wireless carriers are coping by forcing heavy mobile data users to pay more- either overage charges or resubscribe to top tier data plans.

Viodi View – 11/09/11

Tom Peters had it right some 20+ years ago when he suggested that the work force would be shifting away from a static, hierarchical structure to one shaped by dynamic teams that form out of a need and disband when the need goes away.  As I recall, or maybe as I infer through the lens of the present, the idea of physical proximity was not a requirement, as tools and technology would enable team members to reside anywhere.  As I listen to my pre-teens navigate the virtual world of Minecraft using both voice (yes, the telephone), as well as Facebook messaging to collaboratively build a virtual world, I realize that they are the digital natives that will fulfill Peter’s vision from so long ago.


Moving from an Agrarian Calendar

Former West VA Governor Bob Wise

Bob Wise, former governor of West Virginia and current president of the Alliance for Excellent Education gets that it is a different world in terms of educating children.  “We can’t get there from here,” according to Wise.   He was referring to the challenge of improving an education system that has stagnant state budgets, teachers that are retiring and the need to do a better job teaching a wider range of topics.  He talks about the idea of moving from an agrarian-based calendar to one based on achievement; one where the learning never ends.  Click here to view our exclusive video interview with former governor Wise.


Blended Learning Explained

Lisa Gillis of IES

“In its simplest form, it [blended learning] is the combination of face-to-face instruction and online or digital tools,” explains Lisa Gillis of Integrated Educational Strategies at the Foundation for Excellence in Education’s 2012 National Summit.  It is about having individualized learning plans, as well as personal touch of a teacher. Blended learning provides teachers with a tool to provide immediate feedback and understand where students need assistance.  Click here for the interview and the rest of the article.

[note:  Viodi is helping to organize the Window on Tomorrow Youth Symposium at the Media Innovation Summit in Santa Clara on December 1st, where Lisa Gillis will be speaking.  The above videos  are several in a series that look at the convergence of broadband and technology with the education field.]


A Broadband SAT Video Preparation Class

Magoosh has an interesting approach that mixes SAT preparation with video tutorials.  Built for a multiscreen world, this content is available on PCs, tablets or smartphones.   The objective of this Berkeley, CA-based start-up is to:

“bridge the achievement gap by offering all students access to high quality educational material delivered through engaging and effective videos online.”

A major motivation is to help students of all income levels and Magoosh is working with College Track (www.collegetrack.org) and the Mitchell Kapor Foundation (http://mkf.org/) to support local communities.  Magoosh claims a random sample of their students increased their SAT scores by of 17%.  The Magoosh includes 700 videos and 400 practice questions.  Bring your own broadband and check it out through the end of December to get a year of access for no charge.


Video Distribution in the Home, Tonight!  by Alan Weissberger

A few years ago many (including this author) thought that IEEE 802.11n would dominate home networking, including video transport within the home. That clearly has not happened and a lot of start ups that bet on it, went bankrupt. Instead, we have a miz of technologies, with MOCA probably used most in the U.S. because most homes here are wired with coax cable (not UTP-5 or 6). A broad range of technologies will be described and debated at this important ComSoc meeting. Click here for the details


Sprint to use Clearwire’s TDD-LTE to augment its own LTE network by Alan Weissberger

The squabbles, break ups and make ups between Sprint and Clearwire have become worthy of a prime time soap opera.  Sprint has been reselling Clearwire’s mobile WiMAX network (CLEAR) and offering its own branded “4G” smart phones along with a Samsung tablet that works on CLEAR and Sprint’s 3G network.  But earlier this month, Sprint announced it wouldn’t be supporting new WiMAX smartphones at the end of 2012.   And Clearwire can’t generate enough cash or attract funding to build out the rest of its WiMAX footprint.  Instead, the company has opted for a TDD-LTE buildout.  Clearwire provided China Mobile considerable assistance with its TDD-LTE network at last year’s Shanghai World Expo.

Was Sprint shooting itself in the foot?  After all, it owns 49.7% of Clearwire!  What happens to all the orphaned WiMAX customers next year?  Click here to read the rest of Alan’s analysis.


HOTT Neworks

Richard Bullwinkle, chief evangelist of Rovi, predicted at last month’s TVNext Conference that, within two years, we will see operators crossing traditional geographic and franchise boundaries to compete against other operators with an Over-the-Top video service. With the WSJ reporting that Dish Network is in negotiations to extend rights to certain programming to create a broadband cable system of sorts, Bullwinkle’s prediction appears to be spot-on.  Given Dish Networks’ quest to build a nationwide LTE network, they potentially have an infrastructure to create a hybrid delivery network that could compete and complement their existing network.  The topic of HOTT networks is the focus of just released report from my colleagues at MRG (full disclosure, I am working with MRG on a related report).


Some Tweets and Short Thoughts:


The Korner – Social Stories of Folly and Frustration by Roger Bindl

A Scrolling Blur?
A Scrolling Blur?

Facebook Follies

Just how valuable are those fleeting Facebooks posts so many businesses use to promote their product or message? The messages quickly disappear into a blog scroll longer than than the Mississippi – with locks and dam obstacles to discourage anyone from ever trying to find significant information- so they tend to be more like missing links of Facebook follies in marketing strategies gone astray.

So what prompted that outcry? I was looking at a corporate website for information today – info that should have been on their website. The catch! It was on their Facebook page. I struggled to locate the information as I had to click “more stories” over and over and over again. I wouldn’t have even looked except I knew it was there; I’d seen it before. I was one of the few that had seen the fresh post before it got lost in the big scroll.

Click here to read the rest of Roger’s post and get an explanation for this image titled, “You Who”.

Youwho
You Who

Sprint to use Clearwire's TDD-LTE to augment its own LTE network

The squabbles, break ups and make ups between Sprint and Clearwire have become worthy of a prime time soap opera.  Sprint has been reselling Clearwire’s mobile WiMAX network (CLEAR) and offering its own branded “4G” smart phones along with a Samsung tablet that works on CLEAR and Sprint’s 3G network.  But earlier this month, Sprint announced it wouldn’t be supporting new WiMAX smartphones at the end of 2012.   And Clearwire can’t generate enough cash or attract funding to build out the rest of its WiMAX footprint.  Instead, the company has opted for a TDD-LTE buildout.  Clearwire provided China Mobile considerable assistance with its TDD-LTE network at last year’s Shanghai World Expo.

Was Sprint shooting itself in the foot?  After all, it owns 49.7% of Clearwire!  What happens to all the orphaned WiMAX customers next year?

Evidently the two companies are still joined at the hip.  Sprint will use Clearwire’s TDD-LTE service to add capacity to its own LTE network, slated to launch early next year, said Sprint’s Bob Azzi during his keynote address at 4G World on October 26th.  “We’re taking advantage of the depth of Clearwire’s spectrum for hotspots and offload,” Azzi said, saying it will serve as an “offload layer in the hottest of hotspots.”   Sprint’s LTE network will have a “much broader footprint” than Clearwire’s WiMAX network, Azzi said.

Apparently, Sprint and Clearwire are working with vendors on chips and devices compatible with their respective FDD-LTE and TD-LTE networks. Smartphones will have to be compatible with both technologies to take advantage of the capacity boost from Clearwire’s network.  They’ll also have to work on Sprint’s 3G network so that customers can get Internet access in places where LTE coverage is not available.

On October 7th when Sprint announced its “Network Vision,” the company said that it would phase out its use of Clearwire’s WiMAX service next year in favor of its own LTE built network in 2012.  Sprint’s LTE network is expected to cover 250 million people by the end of 2013 and cost upwards of $4B to build out.  That decision was a blow to Clearwire, which depends on Sprint for the bulk of its wholesale revenue.  Furthermore, it seems mobile WiMAX will NOT be included in the new multi-mode LTE devices, which also must support 3G (EVDO/CDMA) and WiFi.  Hence, the mobile WiMAX eco-system will be shrinking next year and likely more so in the future.

Sprint’s decision to abandon WiMAX in favor of LTE was also noted in an October 26th 4G World talk by Tom Jasny, vice president of wireless and broadband network systems at Samsung.  Jasny said that the aggressive deployment of LTE in the United States by MetroPCS, Verizon Wireless, AT&T and Sprint has made it the hottest smartphone market in the world.  “Smartphone adoption has grown quickly in North America at rates exceeding the rest of the world,” he said, citing the 42 percent of all cell phone users in America that own a smartphone.   Of course, along with smartphone comes data traffic. Though LTE provides a clear advantage over 3G in terms of speeds and spectral efficiency, vendors like Samsung are already starting to talk about the need to increase capacity on the next-generation mobile broadband networks. Jasny said Samsung is stepping up to the challenge with new architectures that use a combination of macrocells and small cells.  Samsung is also providing network equipment for Sprint and C Spire Wireless’ respective LTE deployments and partnered with MetroPCS to bring the first LTE smartphone to the U.S. market, the Galaxy Indulge.

Sprint’s Mr. Azzi did not discuss timing or funding for Clearwire’s TDD-LTE network. Clearwire needs $600 million to deploy the service, which will serve as an overlay to parts of its WiMAX network. Sprint also needs to raise money before it can deploy its own LTE network and has not said whether it will help pay for Clearwire’s buildout.   There are rampant rumors that Sprint Nextel Corp. and Clearwire Corp. are near an agreement to extend their existing network- sharing agreement for three to five years.  The current pact expires at the end of 2012.  Clearwire has said it needs about $1 billion to finance its operations and transition its mobile WiMAX network to LTE,  which must include migrating its existing WiMAX customers onto that “4G” wireless network.

“Assuming that Sprint and Clearwire sign a new agreement, it providesClearwire with an ongoing source of revenue,” Michael Nelson, an analyst at Mizuho Securities USA Inc., said in an interview with Bloomberg. “This would likely help them get funding, because it would provide increased visibility into revenue- getting opportunitiesand reduce the risk profile.”

Yet with all these back and forth machinations, it is puzzling that Sprint isn’t more supportive of Clearwire who will have great difficulty wholesaling its future LTE network to other “4G” providers.   The saga continues.  Stay tuned for more updates!

Related Aricle: 

No Surprise: Clearwire to shift from WiMAX to LTE – But Who WIll Fund It?

http://community.comsoc.org/blogs/ajwdct/no-surprise-clearwire-shift-wimax-lte-who-will-fund-it

 

Viodi View – 03/03/2011

OTT Conference is Over the Top

Over the top video is a hot topic, at least if the turnout from at the Over-the-Top TV/Video Conference in San Jose this week is an indication. The event was packed and there was literally a buzz of conversation in the hallway about trends regarding delivery of content to the home. One of the most impressive things I saw at this conference is the independent telco presence at this event; distributors, associations, suppliers and telcos.  Click here to read some of the observations from this conference where simplifying the customer experience was a common theme.


Batter up at MTAViodiTV at MTA – Get Your Message out on the Hotel Channel – Sponsorship Opportunities (adv)

ViodiTV will be on the hotel channel at the Minnesota Telecom Alliance Convention in Minneapolis, March 28 to 30.  This annual event is a great way to get in front of hundreds of independent communications companies.  The program is always relevant, particularly this year in the light of the recent movement by the FCC regarding the evolving Connect America Fund.  To sponsor ViodiTV, reply to this email or contact us.   To see an overview of previous ViodiTV coverage of the MTA Convention, check out this video.


Roy Perry of CableLabs
Roy Perry of CableLabs

Economy of Scope of Key to Residential Energy Management

“Economy of scope” may be the thing that makes the residential connected grid work. Roy Perry of CableLabs uses this term to describe the idea that, thanks to a common IP infrastructure, multiple services help share the cost of infrastructure. In this video interview, he refers to a white paper he co-authored suggesting that a more efficient way to meet the energy savings of a smart-grid would be to focus on the low-hanging fruit.  Click here to view our video interview with Mr. Perry.


Kevin Messner of AHAM
Kevin Messner of AHAM

From Smart Appliances to the Smart Grid

Wringing out efficiencies in the grid is big business, with AHAM (The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers) suggesting a $900M annual savings by shifting just 5% of power consumption from peak to off-peak times. One way to realize this sort of improved efficiency is by controlling the load through communication with so-called smart appliances. Click here to view this exclusive video interview with Kevin Messner, Vice President of Government Relations for AHAM, who discusses the technical, regulatory and financial challenges of deploying smart appliances in the smart grid.


Broadband Property Summit – Discounted Registration & ViodiTV Sponsorships Available – Registration Code – “viodifriend” (adv)

ViodiTV will be on the Hotel TV channel again at the Broadband Properties 2011 Summit. Check out this video for highlights from last year, what to expect in 2011 and to consider sponsorships. ViodiTV will produce daily show coverage and interviews for a daily TV program, and for streaming on Viodi.tv and bbpmag.com after the summit. Contact us or Diane at broadbandproperties dot com for some very unique sponsorship opportunities.

To receive a discount registration for this great event, go to this link, check the “VIP” bubble and use registration code “viodifriend” to get an extremely reduced registration rate.


Reality Check: WiMAX on Track to Cover One Billion by EOY 2011 by Alan Weissberger

The WiMAX Forum claims that “WiMAX service providers around the globe today have networks covering more than 823 million people (or POPs) in approximately 149 countries and are on track to reach one billion POPs by the end of 2011. This estimate is a growth of 215 million POPs since December 2009 and surpasses the forecasted growth during that time period.”  But doesn’t everyone think that mobile WiMAX is dead?  Click here to read Weissberger’s insight on this question.


Can U.S. Reverse the Decline in R&D Spending: Global Competitiveness at Risk! by Alan Weissberger

A R&D crisis is brewing in the U.S. It’s not only the demise of Bell Labs and the huge cutbacks in pure research at companies like IBM, GE, AT&T, Verizon and others. But also the decline in U.S. federal government R &D spending, especially as a percentage of GDP. Compounding this problem, a recent report from Ernst & Young, states that companies in developed nations increasingly plan to turn to emerging markets for core research and development. That means even less R & D will be done in the U.S. in coming years.  Click here to read the rest of the post and the commentary that follows.


What makes Silicon Valley special for digital innovation? Good article/interview by Nicolas Bry of Orange with his colleague, Georges Nahon, who is Orange’s Corproate Vice President of North America for Orange and CEO of Orange Labs in San Francisco.  Like his fellow Frenchman, de Tocqueville, who, in the 19th century, gave an outsider’s perspective on America’s unique experiment in democracy, Nahon offers insight as to what makes the Silicon Valley state of mind special.

“It is also a place where optimism, generosity, altruism and communities drive the behaviors rather than individualism, egocentricity and cynism.  The Valley places a premium on alternatives to top-down, hierarchical sources of support. Governmental subsidy is seen as toxic to innovation funded by private investors. Smart risks are the norm.”

Click here to read the entire interview.


Some Tweets and Short Thoughts

  • Jeremy Toeman @ OTT Con, “Even Kabletown is innovating” – funny comment for those of who watch 30 Rock. Pace of innovation is increasing.
  • Good quote from Brian Roberts of Comcast in WSJ – “What used to be ‘reruns’ on television is now called Netflix.”
  • IPTV in disguise -Telstra to use thePlatform as cloud-based video publishing system across TVs, set-top boxes, and web

Monica Witt of Zero1.tv
Monica Witt of Zero1.tv

The Korner – A Universal Remote via the iTouch

Walt Mossberg reviewed the Peel in today’s issue of the Wall Street Journal , a device that turns the iPhone into a universal remote control via a WiFi and a Zigbee-connected infrared blaster.   One advantage to this approach is there is no hardware additions to the actual iPhone or iTouch.  This device will be available on the Apple Store March 8th.

The Peel isn’t the only approach to making a better remote, however.  We had a chance to take a look at the Voomote One from Zero1.tv.  The Voomote One is a hardware add-on that integrates an IR emitter, turning an iPod Touch or iPhone into a universal remote control.  Although we saw a working model at CES 2011, it appears as if it is still in pre-order mode, based on their web site.

It is the associated software applications that will give these hardware accessories the edge over traditional remote controls.  For instance, the Peel’s first product was a no-cost app that helps viewers discover and find preferred TV programs.  Devices like the Peel and the Voomote One promise to simplify the customer experience and are the kind of change that was the topic of many of the conversations at this week’s Over-the-Top TV/Video Conference.

Reality Check: WiMAX on Track to Cover One Billion by EOY 2011

The WiMAX Forum claims that “WiMAX service providers around the globe today have networks covering more than 823 million people (or POPs) in approximately 149 countries and are on track to reach one billion POPs by the end of 2011. This estimate is a growth of 215 million POPs since December 2009 and surpasses the forecasted growth during that time period.”

http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20110214007389/en/WiMAX%E2%84%A2-Track-Cover-Billion-EOY-2011

But doesn’t everyone think that mobile WiMAX is dead? It can’t compete with 3G/ 3G+ today, and won’t compete with LTE anywhere in the future? How can that view be reconciled with the strong growth predicted by the WiMAX Forum?

We have a couple of reasons to explain this apparent contradiction:

  1. Coverage is not the same as number of subscribers, which depends on the take rate. Especially in developed countries like the U.S. and Europe, subscribers will likely not chose mobile WiMAX, even if its available. Reason is simple- scarcity of mobile devices (smart phones, tablets, eReaders, gaming gadgets, etc).
  2. The growth in WiMAX is coming almost exclusively from the developing countries that have little or no broadband infrastructure. In those countries, fixed WiMAX (even if it uses IEEE 802.16e-2005) is much more cost effective than deploying wireline infrastructure, especially in sparsely populated regions or where take rates will not be very high.

For example, the WiMAX Forum states, “India saw slow WiMAX growth throughout 2010 due to delays in network rollouts. However, over the next year, the WiMAX Forum expects to see strong network growth in India. BSNL (one of the largest Indian network providers) has committed to deploy 20,000 base stations over the next 36 months through the use of regional franchisees. BSNL has established multiple contracted revenue sharing franchisees for urban roll out and service delivery across India. On February 22-23 of 2011, WiMAX Forum and BSNL are jointly hosting the WiMAX Network Deployment Workshop in New Delhi, an interactive event for BSNL’s Franchisees to gain a concrete understanding of the necessary steps involved in deploying a Greenfield WiMAX network.”

We have opined for a very long time that WiMAX success in India would be crucial to the technology’s survival because it is potentially the worlds largest available market (China telcos announced several years ago they would NOT deploy WiMAX). However, we continue to be concerned with India’s creaking bureaucracy and hints of scandals

IBN Live Business reports the 2G scandal may now be spreading to WiMAX. A recent article states, “Former telecom minister A Raja had also tinkered with BSNL’s WiMax deal to provide fixed and mobile Internet access.”

Now, Raja-link surfaces in Wimax irregularities

We were not at all impressed with Mr Raja’s talk (reported in the Viodi View) three years ago at the ICC in Milpitas, CA. At that time, we questioned his abilities as India’s Telecom Minister. He was more interested in talking in Tamil about his family’s adjustment in their move from Tamil Nadu to Delhi. And his subscriber forecasts for WiMAX deployments were not impressive. But he’s gone now, so let’s hope India can move aggressively to deploy WiMAX and satisfy the huge pent up demand for broadband wireless access.

For more information on WiMAX deployments, please visit http://www.WiMAXMaps.org.

Viodi View – 12/08/10

The holiday season is upon us and, fortunately, things will soon start to slow down for the rest of the year. That is, unless you are the FCC, Comcast, Level 3 or just about anyone else involved in the telecom business. With a vote slated for December 21st, the result of the FCC's meeting on Net Neutrality will keep the policy elves busy well past Christmas.


Network Neutrality Revisited: Level 3 Complaint & Comcast Response by Alan Weissberger

Santa will have his hands full deciding who has been naughty or nice in the Level 3–Comcast controversy. Alan Weissberger reported on this story when it broke in this article. Links to the latest crossfire between Comcast and Level 3 are in the comments section. It is interesting timing as this occurred around the same time DISH Network disconnected Comcast SportsNet California after it lost an arbitration decision.  Click here to read Weissberger's article. 


Sprinting to LTE

Alan Weissberger connects the dots regarding several different announcements from Sprint and Ericsson and infers that Sprint is building an LTE network. This is big news, as, to date, Sprint has relied on Clearwire and its WiMAX infrastructure for its next generation network build. Alan suggests, we may see a Sprint offering of an LTE Network as early as 2012.  Click here to read more.


Click here to view moreLTE vs. WiMAX: What Will the Consumer Do?

LTE vs WiMAX? Will consumers care about these TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms) as they decide on a next generation wireless access plan. If today is any indication, the battle among next generation wireless networks for consumer mind share is heating up and we may find out the answer to this question in 2011.  Click here to read more. 


Silicon Valley Bubble or Barrier for Web 2.0 Startups? by Alan Weissberger

Who's got it right? Are the new breed of Web 2.0 start-ups good investments now or are they over valued for what they propose to deliver? Have the three musketeers of the new web- Google, Apple, and Facebook- created such huge barriers that it will be extremely difficult for start-ups to compete? Weissberger provides persective on these issues as he examines two recent newspaper articles which take very different points of view.  Click here to read more.


A Boon for IPTV Operators? – GoogleTV’s Acquisition of Widevine

Access to mainstream programming is one obvious reason Google purchased Widevine (announced on 12/3). With Widevine’s well-respected content protection system it should follow that the major TV brands will release their product in one form or another to a GoogleTV offering. With Widevine, Google could allow the content owners to set their own rules for how they package and sell their product on GoogleTV.  A less obvious meaning of this move is that it may create a new middleware option for IPTV providers.  Click here to read more. (image courtesy of Iacta)


Click here to learn more about Parks Associates Connections SummitPreview of CES 2011 with Parks Associates by Looking Back at 2010

We are pleased to be producing ViodiTV for Parks Associates' Connections Conference at CES 2011.  This conference is a great one for sorting through the noise of the conference floor and is a productive use of time, while at CES.  From 3DTV to remote healthcare monitoring to SmartGrid opportunities, the Parks Associates events have a broad following, such as broadband providers, content owners and consumer electronic device makers.  To see Kurt Scherf's summary of the 2010 conference, click here.    


Click here to learn moreMore About Cool Gadgets and Gizmo at CES

As mentioned in the previous issue of the Viodi View, I will be moderating a panel at the Lightbulb Communications-produced, Broadband Unlimited conference at CES. This is shaping up to be an interesting panel, as we have three expert panelists and a number of companies that will be giving us a preview of what they will be showing, for the first time, at CES. To learn more about the Broadband Unlimited Conference and its agenda, which includes companies such as OnLive, AT&T and Samsung.  Click here to learn more about this conference. 


A Christmas Gift Wishlist  for Uncle Sam

Although this was published on the Viodi site more than a month ago, this is worthy of a mention given the time of year.  The FCC is looking for technology donations for their Tech Experience Center. This is a no-brainer for technology vendors and donating their latest and greatest should be a priority.   Click here to read why Communications Service Providers should consider being part of this program.  


Wild Rice Soup from Christmas PointThe Korner – Wild Rice, Fall Snow and a Christmas Wonderland

It was chilly and snowy outside, but there were many hot ideas on how to attract customers at the Minnesota Telecom Alliance’s Video Peer Group at the Grand View Lodge in Nisswa, MN. Viodi produced a mini-version of our local content workshop as a prelude to this event. This was an opportunity for us to learn from Minnesota operators as to the challenges of producing local content, while imparting some painful lessons we have learned about content production. 

To this theme of local, the MTA did the right thing by bringing this conference to a venue within one of their member companies’ service area (CTC). The facility at the Grand View was first class and state-of-the-art (HD projectors, etc.) and the grounds were beautiful and relatively affordable. Even the speaker gifts of wild rice soup from the Christmas Point Wild Rice Company of Brainerd, MN were from a local company and provided a unique way of remembering this special event.  What an appropriate name for this company, as the area gave me the feeling of a chilly Christmas morning in front of a warm, crackling fireplace.  Click here to read the entire article.  

Sprinting to LTE

Alan Weissberger connects the dots regarding several different announcements from Sprint and Ericsson and infers that Sprint is building an LTE network. This is big news, as, to date, Sprint has relied on Clearwire and its WiMAX infrastructure for its next generation network build. Alan suggests, we may see a Sprint offering of an LTE Network as early as 2012.

Sprint awarded Ericsson a contract as a key equipment and service provider for Sprint’s Network Vision program. Integral to this program is the use of multi-band, multi standard radios that will consume significantly less space and support 800 MHz, 1.9 GHz and 2.5 GHz from one base-station. Weissberger points out that Ericsson does not have a publicly announced mobile WiMAX product and is a strong advocate of LTE.

Further, in the Ericsson-supplied, edited video package below, Ericsson President and CEO Hans Vestberg alludes to using assets purchased from Nortel. A quick look at past press releases indicates that CDMA and LTE were key technologies acquired in these purchases.

Weissberger concludes, “That Sprint will develop its own multimode EVDO/CDMA/LTE network while it continues to resell Clearwire’s Mobile WiMAX; and that LTE will operate in one or more of those bands.” He suggests that Sprint will continue to resell Clearwire in 2011.

Sprint estimates a net financial benefit of $10 to $11 billion over a 7-year period from capital expenditure savings, reduction in cell sites, lower energy expenses, backhaul savings and lower roaming costs. If Weissberger is right, this series of announcements may be part of a larger Sprint effort to demonstrate to Wall Street that it is not dependent on Clearwire for its 4G offering.

And Weissberger asks the question, "What happens to Clearwire when its 2011 WiMAX build outs are complete? There does not appear to be a WiMAX 2.0 (IEEE 802.16m) in the company's future and they will certainly require additional financing (beyond their proposed $1.2B debt offering) sometime in 2011 to survive as a viable entity."

What do you think?


Note: Features such as Push- to-Talk from Nextel’s iDEN network will be part of Network Vision

LTE vs. WiMAX: What Will the Consumer Do?

LTE vs WiMAX? Will consumers care about these TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms) as they decide on a next generation wireless access plan.  If today is any indication, the battle among next generation wireless networks for consumer mind share is heating up and we may find out the answer to this question in 2011.    

The new Verizon video (below) is interesting as it talks about the attributes of their "4G" network (granted, it isn't 4G by standards definition, as pointed out by Alan Weissberger in previous articles), including:

  • Low latency (30 ms)
  • 700 MHz transmission, allowing greater reach and deeper penetration into buildings than higher frequencies

The video is enlightening in that it brings to life the various applications that 4G proponents have been touting for so long.  The representative from Nvidia points out that low latency will mean a better gaming experience.   

Another message from the video is that the Verizon network will serve as a viable competitor to land line networks in those areas where Verizon doesn't have a physical infrastructure.  In one sense, Verizon's primary target is probably the cable and incumbent LECs, as opposed to Clearwire and its WiMAX-based network.  

With its cable partnerships, Clearwire is still part of that target. In a comparison matrix (see below) that Clearwire’s press representative sent today, they spell out the distinctions between their service and Verizon’s offering.  One of the benefits they tout is the multiple brands that are marketing their service, including Sprint, Time-Warner and Comcast

As Alan Weissberger pointed out in a conversation earlier today, bit rates and latency between LTE and WiMAX are going to be secondary to consumers in their purchasing decision, as both networks offer a huge improvement over existing wireless alternatives.  Parameters, such as coverage area, the availability of devices, the viability of the provider and pricing, may be more important in a consumer’s purchasing decision.  Weissberger points out that Clearwire has a bit of a head start in terms of device availability (as evidenced by a WiMAX-enabled laptop advertised in today’s San Jose Mercury).  In other words, overall value will be an important factor in the consumer’s decision.

Of course, don't count out T-Mobile, with its HPSA+ network, MetroPCS with its LTE buildout, AT&T, etc, as it is early in the race for broad adoption of these next generation wireless networks.  The real determinant of which wireless entities dominate may be a factor of who has a better marketing approach and ecosystem program.  Given how the folks on Infinite Loop seem to turn everything to consumer-gold and create a halo-effect for the service provider, the next generation broadband wireless winner may be that network that is first to integrate with products from Apple.   


Video Explaining Verizon's LTE Network (courtesy of Verizon)

Clearwire vs. Verizon (matrix courtesy of Clearwire) – Click here to open in a new window

[pdf http://viodi.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Clear-Verizon-Comparison.pdf]