2017 Predictions: LTE for Public Safety, Evolution of In-Building and NB-IoT

During 2017, the public safety industry will continue to work towards making LTE the long-term answer for emergency services communication. The U.S. has already begun planning for the introduction of LTE to deliver public safety applications, recognizing the success the technology has had for business and consumer communication.

FirstNet has been tasked with delivering a nationwide LTE public safety service across the country, with reports that AT&T will likely be selected to build the network.

We can expect a lot of interesting announcements relating to the nationwide network to be made in the next year, including a formal decision about who will be building the network in March. Although there will not be an operational LTE public safety network in place in 2017, it is likely that a lot of the standards and regulations will be implemented in advance of a possible 2018 deployment.

Other countries will follow in the footsteps of the U.S., leveraging LTE to deliver critical communications applications such as facial recognition capabilities to aid police officers in finding out if someone has a criminal record. One major consideration is that operators will not want to give up their valuable LTE spectrum, which is needed for data hungry business and consumer customers.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • In the U.S. and United Arab Emirates, the 700 MHz and 800 MHz spectrum bands are being earmarked for public safety communications.
  • Until vital decisions are made, terrestrial trunked radio will continue to be used as a short-term solution, due to its proven ability to deliver reliable communication services.
  • Venues have to install mobile coverage themselves in order to provide the connectivity that is demanded of them.

“The neutral host model has already proven popular in the U.S. and the trend is likely to take off in other parts of the world next year as venues look to benefit from high-quality indoor coverage.”

Original Source: http://www.rcrwireless.com/20170117/opinion/2017-predictions-lte-for-public-safety-evolution-of-in-building-and-nb-iot-tag10

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Cable Operators Projected To Offer Mobile Phone Service by 2018

Cable operators will claim 10% of the U.S. wireless market by 2020, New Street Research predicted, stealing most of those customers from the biggest wireless carriers.

T-Mobile and Sprint have increased their share of the U.S. mobile market in recent quarters, New Street analysts observed in a research note this week, even as growth in the industry has slowed to a crawl. And while the market has seen some aggressive promotions, the smaller operators haven’t had to engage in an all-out price war to poach customers from Verizon and AT&T.

The two companies—and perhaps other cable operators—will combine to capture 23 million wireless customers by 2020, New Street said. T-Mobile and Sprint are “relatively insulated” from those newcomers, according to the analysts, and may actually benefit from increased competition. But the nation’s two largest mobile network operators are vulnerable.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • The cable operator will market mobile services within its existing footprint rather than launching a nationwide offering, bundling wireless with its existing TV, internet and landline phone services.
  • The incumbents may bear even more of the losses given their dominance at the high end of the market where cable companies will be focused.
  • Verizon is working to add Yahoo to a portfolio that includes AOL and its own Go90 video offering, while AT&T hopes to acquire Time Warner for $85 billion after pocketing DirecTV last year.

“Comcast will be marketing an offer by the middle of next year; we expect Charter to be a couple of quarters behind,” the analysts wrote.

Original Source: http://www.fiercewireless.com/wireless/verizon-at-t-set-to-lose-9m-customers-to-cable-operators-by-2018-new-street-says

AT&T Flying COWs

Flying Cow

AT&T Flying COWs

In October of 2016 RCR reported FCC approval allowing Qualcomm and AT&T to test the deployment and use of drones for specific use cases.   Well last month AT&T provided an update on these trials and announced the addition of “flying COWs” to their barnyard.  COWs in the cellular industry often refer to “Cell on Wheels”.  In this case however COW stands for “Cell on Wings” and the wings are actually drones.  Drones packed with cellular technology are being trialed as solutions to provide temporary coverage during natural disasters and special events.

AT&T isn’t the only wireless service provider looking to use drones.  Verizon announced similar trials last year and recently acquired Sykward, a drone services company.

In addition to temporary coverage solutions, the wireless service providers are also using drones to perform tower inspections and assess network infrastructure damage following extreme weather events.

AT&T’s Flying COW is expected to “reshape AT&T’s network by enhancing coverage in any area it is deployed”.  And since the Flying COW is tethered to a vehicle-based ground station supplying power, the enhanced coverage can potentially exist for an extended period of time.  

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • AT&T plans on using them to restore communications in areas affected by natural disasters and to provide extra coverage at popular venues like concerts and sporting events, where the sheer number of people can cause headaches.
  • After months of work, the company performed its initial test flight outside Atlanta.
  • According to AT&T, a single one of the flying cell towers can provide coverage for 40 square miles.

“However, before you go dreaming of a world where these fancy drones fill in all the patchy coverage anomalies in your neighborhood you should know that these powerful cell boosters are likely to be deployed in only the most crucial cases of network downtime.”
Original Source: http://bgr.com/2017/02/16/att-drone-mobile-cell-tower/

Analyst Angle: The 5G Versus Wi-Fi False Debate

As that 5G standards are close, people must be careful about defining terms when we make an argument about 5G. When talking about the actual radio standard, it seems pretty certain 5G will be a continuation of 4G, i.e. technology purely from the cellular community.

Despite some recent overtures, Wi-Fi seems to have lost its chance to contribute to fundamental standards and the two technologies will continue on their separate tracks at least for another generation. Eventually we could assume there will be convergence of the fundamental standards as there eventually was between 802.16 and 4G, but that will be with “5.5G” or “6G.”

In the current generation, there will be plenty of organizations that will find Wi-Fi more available or more useful to them than cellular.

The big difference from 4G will be the availability of cellular 5G in unlicensed and shared spectrum, not just in licensed, which will make it available to far more stakeholders and make it a more realistic alternative to Wi-Fi for non-mobile network operators.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Wi-Fi extensions like 802.11ax will have some of the characteristics of a 5G network, but will not be part of the main standards.
  • It will depend on use cases, but cellular will address more use cases, especially at the high value end (high availability, etc.).
  • A virtualized, multitechnology, dynamically reconfigurable network will have a far more transformative effect on wireless business cases and applications than a new radio, whether that comes from the IEEE or 3GPP – and in that flexible network the barriers between Wi-Fi and 4G/5G, and between unlicensed and licensed spectrum breaks down anyway.

“There is a growing number of “5G” skeptics engaging in a 5G vs Wi-Fi false debate concluding that 5G is not needed as Wi-Fi is available now and provides all that is needed.”

Original Source: http://www.rcrwireless.com/20170116/analyst-angle/5g-versus-wi-fi-tag9

The Case for Multi-operator Small Cells in the Enterprise

Pierson-WirelessThe Small Cell Forum makes the case for using sharing models to enable enterprises to take advantage of small cells. The key to multi-operator small cells, according to the industry advocacy group, is virtualization – separating the network functions from the radio and moving management and optimization to the cloud.

“The benefits to the mobile industry of virtualization are clear, with a range of major advantages including cost reduction, scalability and the ability to offer a broad range of new services,” said David Orloff, chair of Small Cell Forum. “However, as with many new technologies the threat of fragmentation is very real.”

Given the bring-your-own-device trend, most enterprises need a multi-operator solution. The report says: “In BYOD environments, the opportunity for an in-building enterprise solution to offer coverage and capacity from a plurality of network operators can be seen as beneficial as it is able to support the widest range of devices and associated subscriptions.”

For a nationwide enterprise, employees “may find themselves operating in markets that are preferentially covered by one particular operator and in other markets where the spectrum allocations favor another operator.”

The paper further covers the challenges and opportunities associated with multi-operator small cells, including 3GPP-defined network sharing techniques, WLAN architectures, the role of distributed antenna systems and operational aspects of sharing physical network functions.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Having a choice of operators is a boon to business.
  • In the case of an enterprise that uses temporary employees or contractors, multi-operator access is needed.
  • Virtualization enables for multitenant small cells.

“Specific to physical network functions, carriers can share baseband processing, digital front-end and radio transceiver functions. This requires management based on agreed terms, Small Cell Forum suggests.”

Original Source: http://www.rcrwireless.com/20161122/carriers/multi-operator-small-cells-enterprise-tag17-tag99?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+rcrwireless%2FsLmV+%28RCR+Wireless+News%29

Ericsson Predicts North America to Lead Initial 5G Push

63140813 - 3d 5g with antenna, wireless communication technology

In a new report Ericsson predicts that North America will lead the world in 5G connections by 2022, with the region accounting for 25% of the forecast 550 million 5G connections worldwide. The Asia-Pacific region is expected to be the second fastest in terms of 5G subscription growth, accounting for 10% of 5G connections by 2022.

As one of the world’s largest telecom devices vendors, it’s probably no surprise Ericsson is boastful on the potential of “5G” technology, with the vendor on board with expectations North America will lead the world in early adoption of the new wireless standard.

Ericsson itself recently released equipment tapping into plans for the so-called 5G “new radio” standard and expected need for expanded multiple-input/multiple-output antenna support. The vendor said its AIR 6468 equipment moves to commercialize NR equipment with massive MIMO support in a package that also supports advanced LTE technology.

In the United States, Verizon Wireless, AT&T, T-Mobile US, Sprint and U.S. Cellular have announced trials of various technology and spectrum bands expected to be included in the eventual 5G standard, with similar announcements coming from Canadian operators Telus and Bell Canada.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • 5G will accelerate the digital transformation in many industries.
  • Ericsson recently released equipment tapping into plans for the so-called 5G “new radio” standard.
  • In terms of “connected devices,” Ericsson predicts there will be 29 billion units across the world in 2022.

“A number of telecom operators across North America are currently trialing early versions of 5G technology in hopes of beginning commercial deployments as early as next year.”

Original Source: http://www.rcrwireless.com/20161123/carriers/ericsson-predicts-north-america-lead-initial-5g-push-tag2

FAA Approval Allows Qualcomm to Test Drones in Real-world, Mixed Environment

61763086 - flying drones with camera, quadcopters on white background

Drones are an amazing example of existing technology that can leverage 4G networks, and soon 5G networks, to take on a wide variety of tasks and bring new effi

ciencies and savings to a wide range of industries and enterprises.

Qualcomm got a certification of authorization from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration granting permission for drone testing up to 400 feet above ground level around the company’s San Diego, Calif., headquarters where the trials with AT&T will take place.

Beyond drone-based delivery, use cases range from first aid and time-sensitive organ transplant delivery to precision agriculture and oil spill monitoring. When the ultra-high reliability and incredibly-low latency of 5G come into the picture, these tasks can become autonomous with swarms of AUVs communicating and adjusting behavior through real-time data inputs and sharing.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Qualcomm’s research is not only focused on connectivity, but also bringing new levels of compute and intelligence that will be required for safe drone operation.
  • While LTE may be suitable for unmanned aerial flights, the next generation of wireless technology may actually be designed with drones in mind.
  • The results can help inform positive developments in drone regulations and 5G specifications as they pertain to wide scale deployment of numerous drone use cases.

“Qualcomm’s drone research focuses on two major areas: wireless connectivity and on-board intelligence. For 30 years, Qualcomm has been accelerating mobile innovations.”

Original Source: http://www.rcrwireless.com/20161019/qualcomm_5g/5g-and-drones-enabling-mission-critical-use-cases

2017 Predictions: Opportunities Abound in 5G, Connected Car Space

Communication Service Providers face two daunting roadblocks before them – one social and one technical – before there’s any hope of reaching the digital service provider promised land.

On the social side, they must overcome general dissatisfaction among their customer base. A recent study by Accenture and Salesforce.com found that among CSPs across the globe, their net promoter score (a measurement of customer satisfaction on a scale from -100 to +100) was an average of six. On the other hand, that same study uncovered an average NPS of 74 among the “born digital” DSPs like Amazon.com and Netflix, the same companies against whom the traditional CSPs aspire to compete.

The technical challenge for CSPs, akin to the social challenge, is overcoming their legacy systems, which are highly fragmented, often monolithic and largely outdated. Designed in the 80s and 90s, these systems were intended to serve a world where services were inextricably linked to a single physical location or device.

Moreover, trying to create services that are fluid and flexible in and around these platforms has only increased the technical “debt” that CSPs must pay down before emerging into the new age.

Like its predecessors, “5G” is primarily a mobile technology. But the ultra-fast mobile broadband offers invaluable monetization opportunities.

HD mobile video
Mobile customers will be able to purchase and download an entire high-definition movie in about five seconds (compared to eight minutes with “4G”) and with no lag time and no buffering.

New content services
CSPs can monetize new data-intensive over-the-top services through partnerships with OTT providers or by charging them for access to their networks. In addition, they’ll realize new advertising revenues with the ability to support location-based services that can deliver highly targeted multimedia content to customers in their cars and in retail, sporting event and concert settings.

Immersive experiences
5G will pave the way for the widespread adoption of 3D technologies such as augmented reality and virtual reality, which extend purchase opportunities and transform the way we experience HD movies, TV, sports, video games and business content.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • CSPs must turn to building systems comprised of agile (and largely cloud-based) best-of-breed systems to overcome the technical hurdle before them.
  • Fixed wireless broadband, one area of 5G that’s already in the works, will offer many carriers the shortest route to 5G monetization.
  • Connected car services are driving recurring revenue growth and transforming the automobile industry.

“The “internet of things” has created an entirely new market for services in the automotive market. Growth from $13.6 billion to $42 billion in 6 years is extraordinary, which has caused the automotive industry to take notice. How we consume transportation stands to be transformed in the process, affecting everyone and everything that moves from one place to another.”

Original Source: http://www.rcrwireless.com/20170104/opinion/2017-predictions-opportunities-abound-in-5g-connected-car-space-tag10

DAS – Active vs. Passive

Given the booming demand for mobile data, growing use of data-intensive applications like video and music streaming, distributed antenna systems commonly referred to as DAS are becoming increasingly important.

The technology has been around for over two decades.  DAS are used to deliver network coverage and capacity from the licensed wireless carriers to specific areas of buildings or geographical areas.  There has recently been an increase in demand from carriers and enterprises looking to add coverage and capacity in high-value areas utilizing DAS.

There are two types of DAS. The first type is a Passive DAS.  In a passive DAS, there are no electronic components between the antennas and the RF Source.  As a result there is no amplification and antennas generally  lose signal power as the distance increases from the RF Source.

The second type is an Active DAS.  Active DAS have electronic components between the RF Source and the antennas.  The most common Active DAS are fiber based, they utilize electronic components to convert RF signal to optics, and amplify near the antennas.  

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Beyond the sheer demand for capacity, there are other reasons to deploy a DAS. For instance, it is not uncommon for buildings, especially those made of metalized glass or concrete or that are LEED Certified to block out out cellular signals.
  • The global DAS market is expected to reach $9.18 billion by 2020, at a 7.11% compound annual growth rate between 2015 and 2020, according to research firm Markets and Markets.
  • DAS also is becoming an integral part in the safety of institutions and events. As the concerns for safety grow within schools and public venues, the need for a strong cellular signal heightens.

“DAS networks are flexible with their ability to scale to different-sized coverage areas both indoors and outdoors. Distributed antenna systems can help provide a stronger signal to individual households as well as stadiums packed with thousands of people. Hospitals, schools, colleges and concert halls around the world use this technology.”

Original Source:

http://www.rcrwireless.com/20160706/network-infrastructure/das-distributed-antenna-system-tag31-tag99

Stadium DAS – Challenge

What’s next for Stadium distributed antenna systems?

A robust wireless network is important when it comes to capturing and sharing great moments. Venue owners are increasingly facing pressure from fans and attendees to have reliable wireless service.   However, Wireless Service Provider (WSP) commitment to investment in DAS is not as substantial as it once was.  WSP investment for stadium DAS greatly depends on how the DAS fits within a WSP’s network strategy.  

Network capacity is one of the major drivers that defines a WSP’s network strategy. Verizon’s Engineering Director, Jake Hamilton said “I think this is going to be an ongoing upgrade process until traffic stops growing [and]we don’t really see that happening”.  To meet the demand in stadiums, WSPs are seeking less costly alternatives to new DAS deployments such as sector splits and frequency band additions.

According to Joe Madden, Analyst at Mobile Experts, venue owners have a greater risk of loss revenue due to poor wireless network service.  The challenge is that the DAS has to be built to accommodate venues’ maximum capacities yet most venues only host events that have the potential to reach maximum capacity only a few days out of the year.  For the venue owners, potential maximum capacity events and attendees’ wireless experience at those events are essential to present and future revenue streams.  
Venue owners have certainly taken heed.  The wireless experience isn’t just about making or receiving phone calls, sending or receiving messages or interacting on social media.  Venues are developing their own apps to establish new revenue streams and to enhance the fan experience.  “If you take Levi’s Stadium as an example, they now host their own applications which drive a lot of business,” said Todd Landry of JMA Wireless.

Stadium DAS - What is next?

Stadium DAS – What is next?

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Smaller stadiums may not be able to secure carrier investment for a DAS, and some may be reluctant to commit to a system for fear the technology will be out of date within a few years.
  • There’s more revenue on the line for the building owner than there is for the [mobile] operator in many enterprise cases.
  • Part of the issue in many cases is concealing this technology in a way that blends with the cityscape nicely.

“Connectivity may become a cost that stadium owners need to incur, but that cost can do more than keep people from staying home to watch a ballgame. It can also support mobile apps that drive revenue on game day.”

Original Source: RCRWireless News