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January 2009

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Pareto Principle: Alvarion does not need Nortel

January 31, 2009

Am I reading this rightNortel contributed about 10% of the WiMAX sales?

On a pareto principle view point, this was a good move for Nortel, and not much of a problem for Alvarion.

Should be fun part of the discusssion during 4GWE Monetizing the Vision session on Wednesday.

The Emphasis on the Wrong Syllable Bankrupt Nortel sheds WiMAX

January 29, 2009

Rich Tehrani commented on the decision to shuck WiMAX by Nortel.

This is a horse that has been flogged already in my opinion.

While many want me to point to LTE as the clear winner, I don't think this would be a sign of WiMAX's apocalypse.  I instead see this as a prudent move on Nortel's part to emphasize the pieces of the solutions they own.  Partnerships in Telecom are pretty easily forced by the carriers, and the real story is that no carrier is forcing Nortel to support WiMAX.
This maybe proof that WiMAX is in trouble, but its more likely proof that the legacy Nortel customers are not looking for Nortel to go into new areas with them.

At one point, I almost was part of a consortium to acquire the SLC solutions of a major manufacturer.  The deal died because the anemic cash cow was over valued. 

Given Nortel's financial woes, I think this is the right decision.
It may also be a case of looking for love in all the familiar places.  Legacy carriers with 3G have little choice but to follow the evolution path.  Most of them are not in much better shape than Nortel with a need to refinance over $ 50 B debt in Europe alone.  It may a long time till a good build out comes.

That is the point of calling our new event 4GWE.  It's going to be an evolution.  And its not going to be quick.  Chipset and base stations are where we are at right now.  And while ATT and Verizon want to deploy 700 MHz so they can talk through buildings, the rest of the industry does not have the same incentives for new networks.

My point is that Nortel sees the situation and has a shot of supporting LTE with their legacy customers like Verizon.  And they are playing survivor. 
Other companies are doing likewise.

Then where is the WiMAX play is the next question.  The simple answer is stay tuned.  At 4GWE, a couple of stories will become clear.  The first is that WiMAX is going to have customers based in rural markets.  LTE is a layer on top of 3G so the WiMAX solution is simpler for those who are not fully committed to 3G.

Additionally, Fixed WiMAX is here and now.  Its not as sexy as an iPhone, but its deployed in the third world and application / enterprise specific deployments.

Secondly you will hear that even 3G wireless backhaul uses WiMAX so it's got some advocates.

If we were reading the Innovator's Dilemma we would not be thinking LTE is the underdog.

If I were still in Network Planning, I can make a case for WiMAX in the core now, and by the time LTE is ready, I would have mobile WiMAX as a viable option.

However the real story here is one of lowered expectations.  An aggregate of Rural, third world and fixed wireless applications is not going to fix the immediate problems of Nortel.

Finally comes Clearwire, and here you are not going to be told that they are going head to head.  You are going to hear that pricing can be significantly lower with WiMAX to the point where application specific devices may become viable.

Rumors of WiMAX's death may yet be proven.  White Space may become the next right thing.   That's one of the things I am looking to hear and learn at 4GWE.

4GWE Speaker Bios

January 29, 2009

Anatoli Levine

Director of Product Management - Americas



Mr. Levine is currently Director of Product Management - Americas at RADVISION.

Day 3: The Application Imperative

January 28, 2009

Day 3:  The Applications Imperative

I have heard it said that the message is the media!  So it's fitting that we will look into the importance of video to kick off the final day of the 4GWE Conference.  "TV Dichotomy, Over the Top Versus on the Internet" will be moderated by Eric Burger and will feature Anatoli Levine from Radvision and Jim Machi from Dialogic. This session will explore the question "does communication and entertainment join each other over the top, in the IP stream and into your device, or do they stay separated in delivery".  This will be an interesting discussion.

Of course, the delivery of these 4G applications can be done via the end points or through application delivery systems.  Bill Kelly of TelcoBridges, Joe Mele of Dialogic and Girish Pathak of ITE Services will be talking about how platforms and the 2.0 applications blend together in a 4G World in the session titled "How do you deliver Wireless Applications in a 4G World" This session will explore the Service Delivery Creation environments that a service provider will have to support in order to deliver and support 4G applications

If applications are going to be so numerous, will specialized devices become the norm?   Like a tool belt to a carpenter will 4G wireless connectivity be everywhere and everything?   Will "any to any" finally be an accurate portrayal of what devices we will use? .  Or will Mobile Internet Devices be chameleon devices that will adapt to the application that is running?  Clearwire's Shawn Molodow Patrick Scannell will be showing us the viral opportunity when the Wireless Broaband becomes part of our day-to-day lives. This session is titled "The Road Ahead for Device Design".

Day 2 Architecture and Standards

January 27, 2009

Our Friends at Cisco love standards so much they adopt them all!  And contrary to popular belief that 4G will be a mass migration, I expect it will be adoption and adaptation of what standards fit best.  I think the point will be made today.

Day Two sessions kick off with "Does your device compute or communicate?"  David Yedwab will be moderating this session. Panelists include, John Glosser of Sandbridge, one of the few companies focused on 4G chipsets, and Paul Tornatto of Skycross, a company focused  on the antenna side.  Using Orthogonal Frequency Division makes antenna usage and processing, a collaborative balance. I expect this discussion to show that processing will be the driver for 4G devices.   However, it may turn out  that so much processing has to be done, that communication will have to be the focus.

Running alongside this session,  Liliane Offredo-Zreik, Verizon's Bill Goodman,  Richard Brennan of Huawei and Chris Ebert of Nokia Siemens. will be   discussing the role that  IMS will play in the 4G evolution.    After conversations with my carrier friends, I have been told that the IMS implementation has allowed them to support virtualization of the switches.  So while the promise of applications has not been that important, IMS has yielded some benefits and continues to grow.

For the rest of the morning, we will join TMC  and attend the  Microsoft and Digium keynotes as both of these companies  continue to drive the edge of communications with better integration.

Day 1: 4GWE Preview

January 26, 2009

Next week at this time, the discussions will be about the future of policy and protocols in wireless communications.

Here is a preview of Monday's sessions

Fanny Mlinarsky and Brough Turner will start our morning off with a historical discussion about the wireless industry.  From cellular to unlicensed this tutorial intends to be inclusive of the spectrum of wireless solutions that can be used to deliver our next generation of wireless abilities.

Jim Baller will be giving us the vision of the Broadband Forum as they impact the Administration's plans to stimulate the economy with new jobs and the opportunity to impact the production of goods and services in the US.

Policy discussions turn to the issues of spectrum and net neutrality. Moderated by Glenn Richards, Todd Daubert and Rick Whitt will be sharing their expectation about problems for policy makers in the next four years.

A Billion Here, a Billion there...

January 21, 2009

A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money. Attributed to Senator Dirksen  is a great quote for today now that we know that Microsoft has pulled out its investment in Comcast which has yielded a doubling of its billion dollars invested in 1997.

Back then the goal was Microsoft set top boxes, but the investment did not yield a contract.  It did not yield the intended result.  That's a big issue when investment strategy is tied to specific intentions, will the monies be a good investment independent of specific project.

For example, speaking of billions, the Clearwire write-down has been hard to watch at both Intel and Time Warner, but these were paper write downs may yield the same results as Microsoft in the end.

Intel's Mobile Internet Device vision is having problems becoming the experience of the WiMAX user.  Until the iPhone, Blackberry's were more impressive then dongles while traveling, but the Wireless Internet was actually a dongle dominated domain.

Now the promise of applications that take advantage of the device is the testament as to what we should expect for the future.

Clearwire's 3 Billion in WiMAX is dwarfed by either China's 20 Billion or Verizon's 9 Billion commitment to LTE.  But if the consumer is going to drive demand, I am not clear the story is making sense in relation to consumer demand.  Clearwire's pricing sounds amazing, but can the build out drive a market that may be slow to adopt at this point.

So with the billions in commitment the real story has yet to be delivered. 

WhiteSpace LandGrab

January 20, 2009

When Google's Rick Whitt said that Whitespace is "WiFi on steroids" he may have been more prophetic than he realized.

Following the FCC's approval of the use of Whitespace,  the debate over what standards should be developed and applied to the use of this spectrum  continues.   Similar to the 700 MHZ spectrum ,  which will become available when DTV finally shifts, the white space strategy can use a variety of protocols and perhaps a new one.

It's also possible to tweak existing solutions to match the space.  At the IEEE standards meetings this week the WiFI folks out number the WiMAX types, in the discussion of the White Space.

It may be that we see some preempt rollouts with existing WiFi in the near future.

My own thoughts are that WiMAX would do well to embrace the use of Unlicensed spectrum at this point of its life cycle.

WiMAX has been beaten in the press lately, but it's not a technological discussion as much as it a philosophical / business one.    WiMAX fixed is alive and well in the rest of the world, so it is Mobile WiMAX that has received the bad press.i For WiMAX, supporting mobility with the help of White Space could be the best story of the day.

Azimuth Looks Ahead After Successful 2008

January 13, 2009

Azimuth Systems, Inc., is on a good run. The company today announced that it had reached a number of major milestones marking the company's continued growth in the broadband wireless industry over the past year, increasing its channel emulator revenue by over 30%, increasing its customer base by more than 25%, (including international growth), and the formation of several partnerships with companies and organizations in the broadband wireless space.   Azimuth provides wireless broadband test equipment and channel emulators for Wi-Fi, WiMAX, LTE and 2G/3G cellular technologies.   Jim Iuliano, Azimuth's CEO was understandably pleased:   "Over the course of our history, Azimuth has excelled at adapting to meet the needs of advanced technology testing for the delivery of high-speed wireless voice, data and video services. As we welcome 2009, we hope to build upon this strength and continue to provide our customers with reliable test equipment and channel emulators designed to meet the needs of the latest generation of wireless, carrier-grade networks and solutions for Wi-Fi, WiMAX, LTE and 2G/3G cellular technologies."

Clearwire Prepping Portable WiMax/Wi-Fi Router

January 12, 2009

Out of last week's launch of WiMax services in Portland, Ore., one of the more intriguing devices coming from Clearwire is a portable WiMax/Wi-Fi router for creation of instant hotspots on the go.

The prototype pictured below is a ginned-up version of what looks like a PHS300 from Wi-Fi router pros Cradlepoint, with a Motorola WiMax USB stick instead of the 3G connections the Cradlepoint gear usually uses. The end result -- a Wi-Fi hotspot that fits in your pocket, allowing multiple devices to surf off a single Clearwire WiMax connection.

"The idea is to help you connect all the devices you already have," said Richardson, since most computing gear these days, many phones included, have Wi-Fi embedded inside. While there wasn't a final form factor to show off yet (Richardson is thinking of something like a hockey puck in size), the $125-or-so (pricing not final) device should be ready for use in Portland by February, Richardson said, after slapping his forehead for forgetting to talk about the device while onstage at the company's boffo event.

Richardson was reminded about the device during a private interview, where the discussion had turned to whether or not Clearwire needed an iPhone-type device to help get people excited about WiMax. With such a gizmo, Richardson said, iPhone users could link to WiMax networks via the Wi-Fi connection -- a bit of a kludge, but not a bad idea if you have a car full of kids who all want to connect to the net (aka the Richardson family test group) while you're driving around the hills of Portland. The big difference, Richardson said, is that unlike cell data operators, who really don't want their customers using 3G cards to support multiple users, Clearwire will embrace and even resell such devices, encouraging more data use.

That is especially important to iPhone 3G users, who Clearwire folks are happy to point out are using their device's Wi-Fi link more than its 3G one because of their desire for real Internet networking speeds.

Waxing, Waning, WiMAX

January 12, 2009

Rich has a great post on his blog about the Nokia 800 and it's WiMAX sister the 810.  These tablets were great little devices, and it's a shame that Nokia has moved away from the 810, but does that mean that WiMAX is dead and its all LTE?

Here are some anecdotal points to think about? 

1) A Nokia employee speaking at PTC in regards to the iPhone said we make 3000 different models for our customers the carriers. And they do but it's a baseline design with modifications for the carriers who all see themselves as unique. Nokia has been having a lot of internal debate about trying to have a more direct relationship with the end user.  With the economy being this bad, the battle seems to be in favor of keeping the existing carriers happy.

2) Intel in its earnings wrote down their billion-dollar investment in Clearwire.  Now most of that was a paper transaction representing the lack of interest in the stock  (CLWR) on Wall Street.   Time Warner also impaired their valuation.  The question is it a sign of the times or a sign of their moving away from WiMAX.

3) Intel's vision for WiMAX has been about a category they call Mobile Internet Devices [MID] and they showed some prototypes in the past that were the equivalent of auto show dream cars.  But they never got the commitment to production.

Nokia Kills Production of WIMAX Device

January 8, 2009

It appears that Nokia has ended production of its only mobile device it had designed for WiMAX. According to an item on ARS Technica, one possibility for Nokia canceling its N810 WiMAX Edition Tablet is that "WiMAX's current coverage area is far too small to sustain a niche device." And on the industry blog, Mobile Burn, concurred, saying that "the abrupt cancellation is reportedly due to the slow WiMAX roll out in the USA." Mobile Burn also notes that "distributors have apparently been asked to send any remaining stock back to Nokia."

Wii, Mii and the iPhone.

January 6, 2009

While waiting at the door of my local Best Buy for a Wii Fit, I noticed that four of the people next to me were iPhone users.  Here are some anecdotes.

No one claims to be using the iStore.  Apps that cost, are not as important as the Internet itself.  

So then what were the requirements for their smartphone, music and browsing. They like listening to the music and AOL music was a hit as well as Shazam.  

Both are free but of course you load them via the iStore.  So at what point does the iStore really add value.  Isn't the Internet the right distribution?  When the bandwidth is there?  What is the advantage?

Speaking of which, The Wii has been an interesting controlled release.  After learning the lessons of overbuilding gaming systems Nintendo has been careful to emphasize profitablility over production counts.  So amongst the iPhone users I found someone who was standing on line with his girlfriend but not buying the Wii Fit even though he was one of the first to own the system.  The system is no longer that interesting to him and he only uses it when he has friends over.  So the profitablity issue has a nuance in the attenuation of this customers attention.

It will be interesting to see what Apple announces today with iLife 09 and the connect of Faces and Places.  My own sense is I am getting more and more concerned about keeping my privacy, but I am sure that's just Mii.

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