The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has just approved LTE-Advanced and WiMAX-Advanced (aka WiMAX 2.0) as part of the IMT-Advanced standards. Aside of marketing catch phrases like “putting fiber optical speed on your mobile phone,” the statements about efficiency – being able to transfer higher data rates in lesser bandwidth – are what the industry will be grappling with.
Large amounts of spectrum in the 2.5-2.7 GHz band are available now for mobile network deployments. Spectrum auctions in Europe in the past two years made much of the 190 MHz available to network operators. This band sold at a significant discount to the 800 MHz band (between 5 – 35x). While in the United States Clearwire used this band to deploy WiMAX, in Europe, operators are unanimous of LTE. So, what are the deployment options?
The 2.6 GHz spectrum auction in Belgium closed yesterday after it netted a total of €77.8 million for a total of 155 MHz. Although the media reported the outcome as being low, I think the price is representative for this band at 4.6 euro cents per MHz-PoP. This is more so the case as the license is valid for 15 years while in other countries the licenses are for period of up to 20 years.
When it comes to planning radio access networks, mobile traffic data forecast become very important: Operators need to properly size their networks, and the ecosystem needs to predict potential bottlenecks and come up with creative solutions.
At a recent conference I attended, a strategy executive at Deutsche Telekom stated that they would turn off the 3G network before turning off 2G GSM as the migration to LTE evolves. Sounds bizarre? Not really, it makes a lot of technical sense. One reason to come to this decision is the nature of the LTE architecture and the way LTE handles voice traffic. As a full-packet network, LTE is fundamentally different from the full circuit-switched GSM and hybrid circuit and packet-switched 3G networks which include today’s data workhorse HSPA+. In LTE, voice is just another application, albeit one with specific parameters and requirements. Therefore, voice is packetized and classified according to a certain Quality of Service level (QoS) to maintain important parameters such as latency and jitter. This is essentially what Voice over LTE (VoLTE) is.
One thing is certain: outdoor small cells are getting ever larger attention as a solution to projected operator’s capacity woes. For the uninitiated, small cells are all-outdoor compact base stations that are easy to deploy on public infrastructure assets such as light poles or utility poles. They typically feature lower power output than their larger siblings – the macro base stations. So, what are the necessary elements to enable mass small cell deployments?
After 22 days and 469 rounds, the 4G frequency spectrum auction in Italy closed on September 29th netting the government over €3.9 billion. By all measures, the auction was a great success with prices exceeding the reserve prices in a country that has not been far from the epicenter of financial turbulence in the Eurozone.
The numbers for mid-2011 are in and the big picture for mobile network operators is clear: overall ARPUs continue to decline led by declining voice service revenue. Data service revenue continues to grow, but not at a sufficient rate to compensate for the decline in voice revenue. In fact, data services which on average constitutes a about a third of ARPU fail to stabilize ARPU and hold off the erosion.