China will see rapid expansion of LTE in the second half of this year, with China Mobile (CM), China Telecom (CT) and China Unicom (CU) deploying 530,000, 134,000 and 40,000 LTE base stations, respectively, according to Goldman Sachs.
“We believe that CM is at least two years ahead of CT and CU in LTE roll out,” Goldman Sachs analyst Donald Wu wrote. “We believe CT is likely to be the first FDD-LTE service provider in China as it has indicated it plans to increase capex if it receives an FDD-LTE license.”
China Unicom is still focusing on 3G, but may deploy FDD-LTE if it receives the license and can raise the capital. China does not lack for a supply of TD-LTE smartphones with 128 models. China Mobile plans to market a low-cost $100 TD-LTE smart phone, according to Goldman Sachs, increasing market penetration and demand for towers.
“We believe a low-cost LTE smartphone should accelerate the LTE adoption in 2H14,” Lu wrote. “We estimate CM’s LTE subs to reach 60 million in 2014 and 168 million in 2015, or 7 percent and 19 percent of its total subs, respectively.”
The launch of LTE by China Mobile will give a big boost to the global LTE ecosystem, both on the device side and the infrastructure side, according to Peggy Johnson, Qualcomm, who spoke at the Wireless Infrastructure Show last week in Orlando, Florida.
“Around the world, we now have 279 LTE systems launched in more than 100 countries, and 32 operators are launching or have launched TDD. LTE has experienced 124 percent growth year over year growth,” Johnson said.
Digital Bridge Invests in the Middle Kingdom
With a minority investment in an independent Chinese tower company, Digital Bridge Holdings is looking to take part in this market, which currently has under a million towers today and is set to grow to 1.9 million in five years.
“It is a really dynamic market. The numbers are staggering,” Marc Ganzi told AGL Media Group. “It is difficult to ignore the market. You only have to believe 10 percent of that growth story to get excited.”
Ganzi plans to grow the business, but he understands nothing happens easily in China, where the networks are dominated by the government. But the government supports shared wireless infrastructure.
“There is a law that mandates collocation on one of every three towers,” he said. “It is the only country in the world that has collocation by law…that’s even better than collocation by right! You don’t collocate, you go to jail!”
Ganzi has high hopes for the management team of the tower company, which was born in China but educated in the United States.
“It is a small investment for us, but these guys are young and super energized,” he said. “I have been working with the management on best practices, build multi-carrier structures, back office and collocation sales. Who knows where China will take us?”
By Ernest Worthman
At long last, a light at the end of the VoLTE tunnel. Domestically, it looks pretty good that AT&T is finally going to launch some VoLTE services. May 23 was the big day when they plan to go live with HD voice and VoLTE service in select markets across portions of Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.
Customers will not only experience dramatically better sounding voice calls, but will be able to talk and use an LTE data connection at the same time. This is the future of LTE that we have all been awaiting.
In that same vein, Japan’s NTT DoCoMo is saying that, beginning in late June, its “extra-high speed” Xi service will offer VoLTE voice and video calls. It offers the same benefit as the AT&T service, simultaneous HD voice and LTE data services. To entice customers to try it out, DoCoMo will provide free access to the VoLTE video calls through the end of August. At that time, customers will begin to be billed both voice and data charges for using the VoLTE service.
By J. Sharpe Smith
LTE is changing everything in the wireless industry and for the better, according to Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of Qualcomm Technologies, who gave a keynote address on Wednesday at the Wireless Infrastructure Show in Orlando, Florida.
Mobile broadband has had a tremendous impact on the flow of data, she noted, with the first introduction of 2 Mbps speeds dating back to 2004. HSPA+ improved it to 63 Mbps, and the introduction of the LTE standard moved speeds to 100 Mbps. With Category 4, Release 8, of the LTE standard, the state of the art pushed out to 150 Mbps.
At the beginning of 2014, Qualcomm launched the Gobi 9×35 modem, which included wideband 40 MHz LTE Advanced carrier aggregation and support for LTE Category 6 peak data rates of up to 300 Mbps, which effectively doubled the peak downlink speeds when compared with Category 4.
“The industry still is on the early side of the LTE curve with more good things to come,” she said. “We will be headed out to 450 Mbps with Category 10 of the LTE standard, right around the corner.”
The next big thing is the aggregation of carriers within LTE Advanced, according to Johnson, with the gold standard currently being a 2 by 20 megahertz channel.
“Carrier aggregation is very exciting,” she said. “TDD and FDD can be pair together and aggregated, meaning stranded pieces of spectrum can now be part of the solution.”
Johnson said a common global standard has been needed for a long time because of the advantages of the device and infrastructure ecosystem.
“Previously, we had an alphabet soup of air interfaces,” Johnson said. “Finally, they are converging into LTE. It has been amazing to see the growth in speeds.”
The launch of LTE by China Mobile, the largest carrier in the world, later this year will give another boost to the ecosystem, both on the device side and the infrastructure side.
Around the world, we now have 279 LTE systems launched in more than 100 countries, and 32 operators are launching or have launched TDD. LTE has experienced 124 percent growth year over year.
Thanks to LTE, there is an explosion of data, data rates and user expectations. “Customers have come to have this expectation that mobile broadband will be much like their fixed broadband,” Johnson said. “The bar has been set very, very high.”
But that’s not all. The industry has developed an LTE broadcast standard in which a virtually unlimited number of users can receive same content, such breaking news, disaster information, weather and sports. South Korea’s KT launched a multimedia broadcast service for LTE users in January. Verizon Wireless debuted broadcast LTE during the Super Bowl, sending four video streams to tablets. Currently, eight trials are ongoing and two more operators are expected to launch broadcast LTE by the end of the year.
Sprint is in the final stretch of its Network Vision LTE overhaul, adding coverage in 41 cities for a total of 443 metros and six additional Sprint Spark cities for a total of 24 markets in the first quarter, Chief Network Officer John Saw said during the company’s earnings call.
And it can’t happen quickly enough for the carrier.
“In four large metropolitan markets where the voice and 3G network replacement has been largely complete for months,” said Dan Hesse, Sprint CEO. “We are seeing improvements in churn and, on a lagging basis, gross add share. In those markets, we have now returned to consumers postpaid positive net adds.”
The Network Vision LTE rollout is on track to cover 250 million by mid-year, and Sprint Spark, an enhanced LTE technology that operates at speeds of 60 Mbps, is expected to cover 100 million people by year-end.
“Replacement of our legacy voice and 3G networks continues and we expect to substantially complete our 3G, 1.9-GHz network modernization by mid-year,” Saw said. “In addition, we expect to have the voice service on our 800-MHz spectrum on air across the majority of our footprint by the middle of the year, further enhancing the coverage and quality of our voice network.”
Sprint began turning up 800-MHz LTE radios in the last quarter and plans to expand Sprint Spark coverage using both the 800-MHz and 2.5-GHz bands. Sprint has completed lab testing of the eight-transmit, eight-receive (8T8R) base station equipment with its three vendors and has begun field testing.
“Regarding the TD LTE build on our 2.5-GHz spectrum, we expect to begin overlaying to 8T8R equipment on our existing network, middle of the year and expect to approximately 100 million total 2.5-GHz LTE pops deployed by the end of the year,” Saw said.
Sprint the Greenest Wireless Carrier
Named the most “Eco Focused” wireless carrier by Compass Intelligence earlier this year, Sprint added another accolade for its recycling practices, receiving the EPA’s WasteWise National Partner of the Year Award for Very Large Companies.
Since 2010, Sprint has diverted more than 74,000 tons of solid waste from landfills. Last year, through the decommissioning of its nationwide iDEN network as part of Network Vision, Sprint diverted more than 175 million pounds of electronic waste from landfills, saving the company more than $275 million.
As a member of the EPA’s SMM Electronics Challenge, which promotes recycling 100 percent of used electronics, Sprint recycled all the network equipment shed during the project: switching equipment, radios, antennas, coaxial cables, lead-acid batteries and more. The initiative averted more than 15 million pounds of lead-acid batteries alone from going into landfills.
Cisco has been providing a form of small cell using unlicensed spectrum to the enterprise market for more than 10 years, and several years ago it started providing licensed femtocells in residences for AT&T. But it was not until last year, with the purchase of Ubiquisys, Intucell and Broadhop, that it got serious about small cells.
With these companies’ small cell solution portfolios now fully integrated into its product line, Cisco is now rolling out new goodies for the wireless industry to feast its eyes upon, according to Lisa Garza, marketing manager.
Cisco’s Wi-Fi engineers worked with its licensed small cell engineers to see how these radios can be made to play well together, not cause interference and be managed as a whole. As a result, Cisco launched an indoor small cell that integrates LTE and WCDMA coverage with carrier-grade Wi-Fi, using the same footprint.
“Several key operators asked us to integrate Wi-Fi with the 3G/4G small cells, in order to get indoor voice coverage and to improve the coverage of the network overall,” Garza said. “The unit provides carrier-grade Wi-Fi with security and 802.11AC along with 3G/4G. It is a Wi-Fi radio that acts like a small cell radio in that it has self-organizing network capabilities and can do interference management.”
At the Mobile World Congress, Cisco announced products that bring its small cell solutions into the LTE era, such as the USC 5416 small cell, which is the LTE version of the USC 5310 3G small cell introduced a year ago.
The USC 5416 follows the multimode trend because it plugs into Cisco’s Aironet 3700, an 802.11AC Wi-Fi access point, to make a dual mode access point.
“We know there is an installed base of a more than a million Aironet 3600 and 3700 Wi-Fi access points already hanging in enterprises today, so we wanted to allow enterprises to upgrade their networks without going through all the expense of replacing products,” Garza said.
Cisco Quantum SON is now fully integrated with our Universal Small Cell portfolio, which provides resilient, automatic operation, with self-installation, self-optimization, and self-healing, even in shared frequency indoor environments.
“We take the centralized SON at the macrocell layer and integrate it with the SON at the small cell layer,” Garza said. “That is the value of bringing the IntuCell and the Ubiquisys teams together; the promise of SON for HetNet.”
Garza reports that customers are asking for multi-operator small cells. In an in-building deployment, only every fourth Wi-Fi access point needs a small cell integration, so Cisco is trialing a network in which each of four carriers can integrate into a fourth Wi-Fi access node.