Use Cases for the 2.5/2.6 GHz Spectrum: Macro or Micro/Pico Cells?

Should operators deploy a macro or micro cellular architecture in 2.5 GHz band? This is not a trivial question particularly for an incumbent wireless operator that already holds spectrum in lower spectrum bands. The same can be said of Greenfields looking to capitalize on the exponential demand for wireless data services. Continue reading

700 MHz Spectrum Auction in Canada: To Set Aside or not to Set Aside?!

The rules for the upcoming 700 MHz spectrum auction are set to be announced soon after parliament returns from its two months winter recess on January 30th. In the lead up, we’ve had an amazing debate raging between the incumbents (Rogers, Bell and Telus) who back an open auction and the new entrants (Wind, Mobilicity, Public Mobile and Videotron) who’re on the side of set asides. Let’s take a closer look at the issue. Continue reading

Meeting IMT-Advanced Requirements: A Look Under the Hood of Next Generation Wireless Networks.

IMT-Advanced LogoThe 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. Continue reading

Use Cases for the 2.5/2.6 GHz Spectrum: Options for TDD Band 38

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? Continue reading

Setting a New Standard for Unpaired Spectrum Pricing: AT&T’s Purchase of Qualcomm’s 700 MHz Spectrum

On December 22, the FCC approved of AT&T’s purchase of the unpaired D and E blocks from Qualcomm for a total of $1.925 Billion. What went missing in most media reports that the D and E bands are unpaired 6 MHz bands in what’s commonly known as the “lower 700 MHz band.” Continue reading

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