Carl Ford : 4G: For Generations to Come
Carl Ford

Coming of the Mobile Advertising Age

Many of you probably know about the yearly Internet Trends report that comes out from Mary Meeker.  There is always a lot...

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Procera Helps Carriers Shape Even Encrypted Traffic

One of the biggest challenges for network operators is certainly dealing with the growth of network traffic in a margin-compression environment. Video...

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MultiTech Intros New 4G-LTE Cat 1 and LoRa Solutions

For anyone who worked with PCs during the 1980s they remember MultiTech as a major player in the world of modems. In...

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Cybersecurity and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

There are perhaps four major cybersecurity incidents in my mind which are world-changing. The first is the OPM data breach which allowed...

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Value-Added Services in the VoLTE World - Enterprises

From an enterprise value-added services perspective, voice conferencing could be a good one.  Enterprises still need to host conferences, so conferences that...

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Value-Added Services in the VoLTE World - Leveraging the Device

Looking at the subscriber from a different perspective, that is, one who is going to use the mobile device as an on-ramp...

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Value-Added Services in the VoLTE World - RCS

Mobile Value-Added Services (VAS) has historically meant any kind of service beyond voice where the service provider could charge an additional fee....

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Clearwire Adds Huawei to Infrastructure Suppliers List

August 12, 2009

In a separate announcement before its earnings call Aug. 11, WiMAX provider Clearwire announced that China's Huawei has joined its list of infrastructure vendors, specifically to provide radio access network (aka RAN) equipment. According to the press release:
Specifically, Huawei will provide several key infrastructure pieces, including base stations, element management system (EMS) components, and related network hardware and software.

Clearwire said former suppliers Motorola and Samsung remain on the WiMAX provider's preferred list, along with Cisco, Ciena and microwave backhaul specialist Dragonwave.

According to Clearwire chief technology officer John Saw, Huawei will be providing base station technology that offers "a significant improvement in coverage and quality," thereby leading to lower costs for Clearwire network deployment. The Chinese supplier's aggressive pursuit of matters WiMAX includes 2,000 engineers working on WiMAX, according to Charlie Chen, senior VP of marketing for Huawei USA.

Clearwire said Huawei gear will first be used in Hawaii and Seattle, two markets where Clearwire has scheduled live rollouts for 2009.

Tags: Cisco, Clearwire, Huawei, Motorola, Paul Kapustka, Sidecut Reports, Sprint, WiMAX

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XG Technology: Building for the Broadband Experience

August 12, 2009

XG Technology has been driving the next generation of wireless services and is now on the brink of a roll out that will enable the service provider to be both Internet and voice friendly. While other companies are now ignoring the voice to develop data services on their voice network. xG has developed their voice strategies based on the wireless network they run IP over. WIth layer 2 optimization xG is designed to support the end points.  The commercial release of their products are sold under the brand xMAX.

Recently they announced they were participating with the Stimulus with services they are building for XGTechnologyFrankPeake.mp3.

Frank Peake and Shaski G joins us in a discussion about xG's latest advances and the opportunities in the market today.

Tags: Broadband Stimulus, Frank Peake, Shashi G, Townes Tele-communication, VoWiFi, xG Technology, xMAX

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How Close is the Future: Verizon

August 11, 2009

Today's Wall Street Journal has an article about the deals Ivan Seidenberg has made as the head of Verizon, while the deals have been great for the corporate coffers, the stockholders and the buyers of the assets of Idearc, FarPoint and the Carlyle Group have suffered.

In some ways you can think of Verizon as the Carrier's version of General Electric with the same mantra of "if you can not be number 1 in a business get out of it." 

Verizon has also managed to shed personnel in the deals making it a kind of force reduction solution, (we could look at this as the anti-matter to Cisco's acquire the company for the talent strategy).

At the heart of Verizon we can see one major goal enabling HD Video.  Its true for their FIOS vision, and its true for their LTE vision at Verizon Wireless.

So how are they doing at delivering on this vision?  And how many iterations does it take to get it right?  FIOS is now starting to be talked about favorably by friends that have it.  That future point that Verizon aimed for of the three HD TVs per home watching a game has arrived. 

For Verizon Wireless, that vision is still to be delivered upon, the MediaFlo and VCast promise is in transition. 

At their developer's conference you heard the message of Video as the future.  Yes they want applications, but they want to be the screen you look at, more than the headset you speak into.  This is the vision of FIOS, and its probably even a more illuminated vision for Verizon Wireless with LTE.

Think of the Term FIOS.  As a techie I see the IOS and think of Cisco's Internetwork Operating System attached to the work Fiber.  Its about the delivery of services via glass that was probably the vision being shared by the techies before the marketing took over.

Likewise at VDC, Verizon Wireless was promoting the Wireless equivalent.  Roger Gurnani stated that the Network API they were promoting was just the beginning.   They have an idea of where they want to be in the future, now the question is how fast can they get there?

The cash cows that have been sold seem to have lost their productive years based on their filing for bankruptcy. If you are making a deal with Verizon here is the caveat emptor, the asset they are selling probably does not fit into their vision of the future, so you may be paying a premium and should ask yourself what is your vision of the future. You better have a vision that goes beyond the dairy. 

Verizon does.

Tags: Carlyle Group, Cisco, FIOS, FairPoint, GE, General Electric, IOS, Idearc, Ivan Seidenberg, LTE, Network API, Roger Grunani, Verizon, Verizon Wireless

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ATT vs. Telefonica The Long Tail Effect of Apple's App Store

August 10, 2009

Having received the quarterly reports of Apple, ATT and Telefonica, I was very curious about the reasons that Telefonica was not basking in Apple's glory like ATT was.

The iPhone 3GS has added about another 1M new subscribers to the ATT network and if my calculations are correct they have about 10% of the US population on the iPhone.  

So if the apps are so kewl why is Telefonica not enjoying the same results.

A few reasons have been pointed out to me, some ring true and some do not.  The first one is that app store has many apps that are not available in Spanish.  Particularly the cooler (kewlr?) ones that rush to market to get ahead of the game do not make it on to App Store in a user friendly manner.
So the app store is not as powerful a weapon for Telefonica which interestingly enough impacts word of mouth, if you have to translate the app your are using to another person is it that interesting?

Secondly comes the issue of GSM countries versus the US.  In the UK Telefonica offers the iPhone to English speakers versus their O2 subsidiary, but the sales are not astronomical. It may be that ATT is in the backward nation of the US of A, where wireless has been starved for a working wireless Internet.  In Europe the ability to browse the Interenet from your cell phone is not as unusual thanks to GPRS, so the wow factor of mobile browsing is negated.

Also comes the fact that the exclusivity is leaky in Europe.  T-Mobile has the phone in the Germany as does O2 (even if its not sold directly their its supported) and a lot of ATT phones made it to Europe when Apple sold them only the US orginally.  An article in a German Trade magazine suggests that about 25% of the market is being supplied via other contracts.

Then comes the reality of smartphones, the blackberry, Nokia's N series and other smart devices were more readily available as a choice in the lands where GSM offered the customer the ability to bring their phones of choice to the GSM standard.  A closed network smartphone looks like a step back to people who are used to buying their phones and selecting the carrier independently.  Its hard to sell the cool of a proprietary service in Europe.

Finally comes price and the price points from Telefonica may not work in world where the cool distinction is marginalized by the factors above.

I bring this up for a few very specific reasons.  It may be that the iPhone does not have the same wow factor for other countries. In Japan, the iPhone has very little marketshare.  The wow factor their is the wrist action, which in the land of the Nintendo's Wii, NTT's Docomo and Softbank's mobile games is not that compelling.  I don't have exact prove of this but the sales numbers seem to indicated that where the wireless Internet has been available the longest, there is where iPhone sales are least.
















Gerry Purdy's Newsletter

August 7, 2009

I was reading Gerry Purdy's newsletter and he was talking about the cell phone as a hub for your networking needs. Its a good read and I encourage my readers to keep informed with Gerry as well.

His analysis is that the expectation that we will have two services plans is not as logical as the carriers would like to expect. 

His point is that the netbook and data plans that are going to be on the 4G networks are not going to maintain the loyalty that carriers like.  (In full disclosure I have added a fourth carrier to support my MiFi habit)

So are my existing carriers happy I went to the another one?  It will be in their nature to slam for the voice into some sort of bundle or have us maintain on a data plan that supports voice.

Up until now tethered services have required a PHD to figure out how to connect your Blackberry or data capable cell phone to a computer as a wireless modem.  But with Bluetooth it should be relatively easy and according to our friend Anton Wahlman in the US  the modem capability is now supported for about $30 a month from both ATT and Verizon (PS T-Mobile offers limited but free use)

So as the data plan wars heat up we should expect to see carriers willing to blend their 3G and 4G networks.

Right now Sprint does a nice job in giving dual mode access between their networks.

In a private conversation with a major vendor of LTE we discussed the carriers desires to keep the data on the 4G and milk the voice out of 3G.
While its what the carrier wants its not clear how it fits into the consumers choice.

Expect that for the next few years the deals will be varied and hard to compare.

Tags: 3G, 4G, ATT, Anton Wahlman, Blackberry, Bluetooth, Gerry Purdy, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, wireless modems. Frost & Sullivan



















FanFare Software Interview with David Gehringer

August 5, 2009

David Gehringer, the VP of market for Fanfare Software allowed me to interview him earlier in the week.  Fanfare Software is a leader in system and device testing, designed to simplify system and device testing for all team members, maximizing productivity throughout the quality workflow. 

Virtualization has been a real cost savings to the carriers and the concept of a virtual test bed caught my curiousity.

CF: How long as Fanfare Software been in business and when did you join it?

DG: Fanfare was founded in April 2004, actually April 1st, which is good for a laugh.  We shipped the first product in early 2006, which was the same year I joined.

CF: You work on helping with the roll out strategy of new devices with the technology, who is your customer at that point, the carrier or the vendor? 

DG: We focus on the testing side of technology, specifically making automation a reality.  While we started with manufactures, we are now finding half of our customers to be the carriers themselves.   While the magnitude of the problems differ between the two, they are both roughly testing in a similar manner. 



CF: How have roll out cycles changed and what is your expectation in the future?
DG: Yes, from a macro perspective, the time to tests has eclipsed the time to develop.   I think in the next five years those companies that are successful will reverse that trend.   This is simply due to the fact the developers have been getting tools that accelerate their development capabilities and speed, and yet today testers are still using manual and dated scripting techniques.  Testing tools, while late, are helping testers get the productivity tools they need to stay abreast of development. 

CF: With the switch to 4G OFDM and MIMO will be a major part of the testing, How does the change impact the metrics? 

DG: I would be willing to say it will add many more metrics, but the core quality metrics will remain, QoS, latency, drops, resiliency, and reliability.   What it does mean is the hetrogenious lab just got bigger.   I need all the hard line gear, as well as wireless equipment, and possibly actual handsets.   The need for simplicity and automation will grow out of this.  A typical wireless lab setup can take 2 hours for a single test, that has got to change.

CF: Give us a feel for your customers and are their differences based on location?

DG: In North America, I still feel the testers are not given their due, and must work to prove themselves.  Frankly this is an opportunity and time is now to show they contribute to the company and are not just a necessary cost center; the IT department did the same transformation in the late 90s.   I will contrast that with Europe where testing in an established profession, with actual curriculum in colleges focusing on testing.  Asia has a mix of both NA and European testing stature based on specific countries. 

CF: Can you explain a Virtual Test bed strategy?


Sprint Open Developer Conference

August 5, 2009

Who is driving the Next Bus Verizon Wireless or Apple?

August 4, 2009

Last week while Verizon Wireless was trying to draw the attention of the developer community, the press was all a buzz about their relationship with Apple.

The problem is two fold.  The first is that ATT is the only one allowed to sell 3G iPhones with Apple. The second is that LTE is going to take Verizon a while to get out there. 

Mind you, I think Verizon Wireless could do more with what they have today.  The sad reality is Verizon is still a more Apple friendly company than ATT when it comes to the USB dongles. 

Verizon Wireless has Apple software and does not refer their customers to the device manufacturer.  Personally, my Verizon MiFi works well with my MAC and the Verizon software is Apple friendly. 

So what makes it so important that the iTablet be a Verizon exclusive, and what is the implication if the LTE network is only available in limited areas.

Verizon wants to stop the migration to the iPhone, but the question is does the iTablet represent the same market or a different market?

If Steve Jobs announces the iTablet in January what is foot print that VZW will be able to offer or will it have an EVDO to LTE upgrade offer embedded in the deal?

Should be interesting to see how the marketing moves.

Tags: 3G, ATT, Apple, EVDO, ITablet, LTE, MiFi, USB Dongels, Verizon Wireless, iPhone

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Clearwire adds 10 new '4G' markets in old pre-WiMAX cities

August 3, 2009

In what seems to be now a standard practice, the folks at Clearwire are launching markets by first making them available on their coverage map page, followed by "official" launches a month or so later. We are not sure of what the difference is -- to us, a market is "officially" live when you start charging money for services.

Anyway, even though you can order services now, those new markets we told you about on Saturday will "officially" be open for business Sept. 1, according to a press release from Clearwire today. Here's the direct info from the press release:

Clearwire Communications, LLC, an operating subsidiary of Clearwire Corporation, (NASDAQ: CLWR) today announced the official launch day of CLEARâ„¢ 4G service in Boise, Idaho; Bellingham, Wash.; and eight markets throughout Texas, including: Abilene, Amarillo, Corpus Christi, Lubbock, Midland/Odessa, Killeen/Temple, Waco and Wichita Falls will occur on September 1, 2009. CLEAR offers the first super fast mobile Internet service that works as fast on the go as it does at home.




The Apple Google war may make ATT the Victim.

August 3, 2009

While the California Titans get into a contest of wills, ATT's congressional nemesis is looking to add to the battle.

I have to say it's pretty amazing to me what Congress focuses on, but the letters from the FCC inquiring about GoogleVoice make clear that this is going to be dragged into the bigger discussion.

First of all lets talk about the letters.  The FCC's letter to Apple
Apple letter 7 31 09.pdf wants to see if ATT drove the decision or had any influence.  I think Craig Moffett is right to suggest that if that were the case, it would be more courtesy than control.

Though as a former President of a major phone company used to say, If you leave a telco witness up long enough they will confess to anything.

Now the ATT letter AT&T Letter 7 31 09.pdf gets into the general distrust and expands the discussion to ask about blocking applications as well.

Finally the Google letter Google letter 7 31 09.pdf ends with concern as to whether Android has similar strategies as Apple.

Embedded in the documents are a bunch of questions about Rural Services and Network Neutrality to the ATT & Apple relationship.  Particularly when taken into consideration of the Markey Bill.  It has brought to the attention of the Congress that the Stimulus may leave the unserved and underserved with a network that does not have sexy devices like the iPhone on it, which is not what their constiuents want to hear. 

The people want device freedom, and Congress may give it to them.

On the business side of the equation the resignation of Eric Schmidt from the Apple board is probably long overdue.  The companies have been expanding the Ven Diagram of overlap with Android, Chrome, MobileMe, Safari, etc.

While the two companies could have been the best hope for a level playing field of interoperability, we are probably not going to see either side be their better selves for a while.

Adobe and Oracle (Java) are two other companies that may have a desire to contribute to the discussion.


Tags: Adobe, Android, Apple, ATT, Congress, Craig Moffet, Eric Schmidt, Google, GoogleVoice, iPhone, JAVA, Markey, Oracle, Steve Jobs