Cellular IoT Connectivity: Threats and Opportunities

Cellular IoTThere has been a flurry of activities related to wide-area Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity. The market recognizes that existing technologies, and more importantly business models and cost structures do not scale to meet IoT application requirements. A number of competing solutions have emerged and are today vying for commercial validation which scales through standardization. Hence, there is a strong push in standard organizations such as 3GPP and GERAN to develop and adopt IoT connectivity techniques. Additionally, investors who recognize the opportunity created by potentially disruptive models and the need to hedge existing investments have embarked on making strategic investments. It is against this background that we provide this brief with a summary of related opinions we developed based on multiple engagements in this space. Read more of this post

Can Device-to-Device Communications Extend into the Home and SME?

DSL LTE BondingDSL and LTE bonding is a technology that have been hovering under the radar, not receiving the attention it deserves. A few operators have been experimenting with it, and some deployed it. Vodafone targets the solution at the enterprise sector, while Deutsch Telekom sees it as complementary service in rural areas. DSL/LTE bonding combines a DSL modem with a LTE UE modem at the user side along with integration in the core network to allow supplementing the service of one technology where the other falls short. It reduces bottlenecks in performance so for example when xDSL service slows to a crawl it taps the capacity of LTE. Having two separate links to the Internet creates redundancy of service and consequently increases reliability and quality of service. DSL/LTE bonding is a great technology, but I wonder if it can extend further to provide for additional applications. Specifically, can it be used as a platform for future device-to-device (D2D) communication? Read more of this post

Meeting the Cost Requirements for IoT Devices

It seems many are convinced that the magic number for device cost in cellular M2M applications is $5. What should be the cost of a module, and how critical an issue is the device cost to start with, is a topic of debate and although I have my view on it, it is not what I will address here*. Instead, I like to focus on what needs to happen to get the cost to sub $5. So, how can we reach such a target price and what are the implications? Read more of this post

Canada AWS-3 Spectrum Result Summary

AWS-3 Auction CanadaThe AWS-3 auction in Canada has wrapped up raising a total of C$2.11 billion (US$ 1.68b) in a sealed-bid second-price format that was completed in a day. Of the 50 MHz auctioned, 30 MHz was set aside for challengers like Wind Mobile, Videotron and Eastlink who paid just over C$98 m in total, or on average C$0.105 (US$0.084) per MHz-PoP, in what is considered a subsidy to these challengers in a market dominated by incumbents with overwhelming market advantage in spectrum assets and subscriber base. Industry Canada estimates that these operators increased their spectrum holdings by 107% on average, which is considerable. Mobilicity which has filed for Chapter 11 did not bid. Read more of this post

MWC2015 Wrap-up Notes

MWCIf there’s a single theme to sum up this year’s MWC, it is the acquisitions that were announced. A number were announced and many are yet to be announced: NXP’s acquisition of Freescale ($11.8 bllion), HP of Aruba, Mitel of Mavenir, CommAgility of MIMOON are but a few examples. Consolidation is a natural outcome for an industry that transcends communications to offer multiple services including but not limited to entertainment, education, and financial services. So in a clear trend, we find more focus this year on how to enable mobile network operators (MNOs) generate more revenue as opposed to a focus on performance which is characteristics of past years. This represents a new level of maturity in a number of products and solutions that initially were brought upon as a mean to enhance performance but since have morphed into tools to generate revenue. It is also an acknowledgement that the status quo for MNOs characterized by eroding margins (EBITDA margins have dipped below 40% down from low 50% range a few years ago) has to change whereby data services are better monetized. Read more of this post

600 MHz Incentive Auction Key Facts

Incentive Auction - TVWS - WhitespacesNow that the AWS-3 auction has concluded, not without controversy which will continue to reverberate for some time, attention will shift to the incentive auction planned by the FCC for next year. Being the first of its kind anywhere in the world, I thought it would be a good idea to summarize some of the inter-working of this auction by highlighting some key features: Read more of this post

Mobile Edge Compute, The Threat of OTT and Changing Infrastructure Architecture

OTT ThreatThe threat of over-the-shelf services (OTTs) to wireless network operators is well established, but as of yet, there is no clear answer as to how mobile network operators (MNOs) can ward off the OTT threat. This is evident by eroding margins where many large MNOs are now standing in the 30% EBITDA margin range, down from around 50%. The introduction of data service have eroded earnings as operators went into a high capex spending cycle to upgrade networks to LTE and meet anticipated capacity demand. MNOs also embarked on aggressive strategy to acquire new spectrum for the LTE networks which is perhaps best exemplified by the recent AWS-3 auction valued at $44.9 billion. All the while, MNOs have failed at capturing much additional value from the services they provide. The path to increased profitability will have to come from a combined effort to reduce cost while at the same time increase revenues. Finding such a formula is not straight forward and various attempts taken by MNOs to ward off the threat of OTTs have so far largely failed. Read more of this post

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