Closing the Year with a Bang: The French 800 MHz Spectrum Auction

The year closes with the 800 MHz spectrum auction in France where the regulator Arcep netted €2.639 billion for the 60 MHz made available. In September, Arcep raised €936 million from the sale of 2.6 GHz spectrum for a total of €3.6bn, about €1.6bn over the €2.5bn reserve price. Continue reading

Latency: LTE’s Achilles’ Heel?

While much attention has been focused on LTE data rates, another important parameter, latency, has gone largely unnoticed. Yet, latency is critical to enable a number of applications particularly voice services (VoLTE). I review in this post some of the publicly reported results I found on LTE latency. Continue reading

Analysis of the 2.6 GHz Spectrum Auction in Belgium

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.

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Mobile Data Traffic Forecasts: A Comparative View

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. The granddaddy of all traffic forecast, Cisco’s VNI was used to argue the need for more spectrum. Hence, a lot ride on these forecasts and anyone who has been to industry events notes how often these forecasts are used to make a point of the impending “capacity crunch.” Ericsson recently released a white paper on their data forecast, so I wanted to compare it with other data available on the market. Continue reading

VoLTE in LTE Migration Strategies

Voice over LTEAt 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. Continue reading

What Gates Small Cell Deployments?

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? Continue reading

The Italian 4G Spectrum Auction: An Analysis

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. Continue reading

Analysis of the French Spectrum Auction

Yesterday, ARCEP announced the results of the 2.6 GHz FDD spectrum auction in France. A total of 140 MHz was sold off for a total of €936 million ($1.26 billion), far exceeding the reserve price of €700 million. Good news for the French government! Continue reading

What Path Loss Models Have to Do with Financial Models?

I was recently asked by a business associate how to estimate the capital costs of an LTE network. Inevitably our discussion led to estimating the number of sites required to cover a market. Designing to meet coverage requirements along with its complement, capacity requirements, form the basis for estimating the size, and consequently cost, of the radio access network. This is something that differentiates the financial modeling service provided by Telesystem Innovations. So I like to expand in this post on a few general principles related to path loss models which play a critical part is determining cell size.

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Korean Spectrum Pricing – An Analysis

Last week, Korea’s largest mobile network operator SK Telecom successfully acquired 20 MHz of spectrum in the 1.8 GHz band for 995 billion won ($924 million). SK Telecom, which plans to use this band for LTE, beat out KT Corp which dropped out of the race as the price exceeded twice the reserve level of 445.5 billion won set by the KCC (Korea Communications Commission). KT Corp settled for a 10 MHz license in 800 MHz for the minimum bidding price of 261 billion won ($242 million). Meanwhile, LG U+ won a 20 MHz license in 2.1 GHz for the minimum bid price of 445.5 billion won ($413 million) as both SK and KT were excluded from the bidding for fair competition (the Korean market is essentially a duopoly: SK with 51% of active subscribers and KT with 31%). All licenses are for 10 years. Continue reading

The End of Wireless?!

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. Continue reading

Spanish Spectrum Auction Results: As Expected?

The results of the spectrum auction in Spain were published on Monday. The auction was for digital dividend band frequencies in 800 MHz, a slice of 900 MHz spectrum and 2.5 GHz spectrum. Continue reading

Dichotomy of Access and Backhaul Capacity Planning

I have listened to a few webinars recently by some of the major microwave backhaul vendors, all with the message that microwave has enough capacity to support required LTE data rates. It is evident that network operators have been pushing these vendors for higher data rates. Microwave after all cannot compete with fiber on capacity and MNOs (Mobile Network Operator) have been laying lots of fiber in anticipation of LTE network roll out. Continue reading

LTE Data Rate: What Can We Expect?

I have already address peak LTE data rates and showed how they’re calculated. But what type of data rates would a user actually experience? This is what really matters from a quality of experience perspective.

A number of factors impact the ultimate capacity offered by a cell site. Two critical factors are interference and network loading. These factors are inter-related: higher network loading, which is a measure of the number of active subscribers, results in greater interference. Continue reading

LTE Peak Capacity Explained: How to Calculate it?

I like to focus on LTE capacity in the next few blog entries and present what can realistically be obtained. I have seen wild figures, mainly pushed by system vendors and consumed by many operators, journalist and writers who like to wow readers of the promise of new technologies.  For network operators, erring on capacity expectations has negative consequences as capacity fundamentally impact the cost of the network both on the access side and the backhaul side. Inflated capacity figures would lead to under-dimensioning on the access side and over-dimensioning on the backhaul side. So, for example, if we think LTE cell will provide 100 Mbps of throughput while in reality can only do 50 Mbps, the operator will be short by 50% of capacity in the access network resulting in poor user experience (e.g. slow download, blocking, etc.) and will be 50% over the required capacity for backhaul in which case it’s investment in capacity that’s sitting idle. This is why it is important to get capacity expectations right. Continue reading