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Tag Archives: AT&T

Small Cells Gain Spotlight

Common wisdom now says that small cells will represent a big opportunity for the wireless infrastructure industry. With AT&T’s announcement that Project Velocity IP (VIP) would bring 40,000 small cells online, the technology was placed front and center stage. But there were other signs of mainstream acceptance of small cells, like NEC’s agreement with SpiderCloud. But in 2012, small cells found a niche beyond the “densification” of urban networks. New small cell networks began to grab a foothold in rural areas, chiefly because of their low cost. Here are some of the stories that illustrate these trends.

AT&T’s Investment Provides Validation for Small Cells

“We are `densifying’ our wireless grid,” John Donovan, senior executive VP, AT&T Technology & Network Operations, said. “High traffic metro areas require denser, cell-site grids to help capacity and improve quality. During the next three years, you are going to see a shift in our investment to use more small cell technology. By 2015, we expect more than 50 percent of the planned densification will use small cells.” Densification will result in more network usage, better revenue opportunities, improved in-building coverage and support for launching voice over LTE, he added. MORE

Partnership Opens NEC’s Universe to SpiderCloud Technology

NEC is partnering with SpiderCloud Wireless to provide the SmartCloud system to its existing and new customers as part of an end-to-end small-cell solution, the companies announced at the Small Cells World Summit 2012, held June 26-28, in London. SpiderCloud’s emphasis on medium to large size enterprise deployments, which demand hundreds of radio nodes serving thousands of users, complements NEC’s current smaller scale approach, deploying femtocells in the residential small office market. MORE

In-Building DAS Will Share the Stage with Small Cells: ABI Research

In mobile ecosystems where DAS has reigned supreme for coverage fill-in and capacity growth, small cell equipment sales are expected to catch up quickly to DAS and disrupt that dominance. The two technologies, however, are more likely to complement each other rather compete, according to an ABI Research report entitled, “The Future of Active vs. Passive DAS, Repeaters, and Threat from Small Cells.” MORE

ClearSky, NEC Team to Offer Femtocell as a Service to Carriers

ClearSky Technologies, a regional wireless data provider, is working with NEC to offer Femtocell as a Service (FaaS) to regional wireless carriers that use GSM and UMTS. FaaS, where the femtocells are hosted on a third-party infrastructure, is an alternative, economical approach to launching services for many smaller carriers. ClearSky will use NEC’s femtocell gateway and corresponding plug-and-play residential, enterprise and outdoor femtocell access points. MORE

Thanks to Small Cells, Coverage Coming to Rural Vermont

The Vermont Telecommunications Authority (VTA) has signed a contract with CoverageCo to provide cellular coverage in parts of northern Vermont previously unserved by carriers. CoverageCo will start deploying the small cells this summer, and commercial service is expected to begin by the end of the year. “CoverageCo’s small-cell approach allows it to provide service where it was previously not economically feasible,” said Richard P. Biby, CoverageCo CEO. “Because the sites are small and completely IP-based, a standard Internet service over a virtual private network can be used to connect to the core network.” MORE

Small Cells Gain Spotlight

Common wisdom now says that small cells will represent a big opportunity for the wireless infrastructure industry. With AT&T’s announcement that Project Velocity IP (VIP) would bring 40,000 small cells online, the technology was placed front and center stage. But there were other signs of mainstream acceptance of small cells, like NEC’s agreement with SpiderCloud. But in 2012, small cells found a niche beyond the “densification” of urban networks. New small cell networks began to grab a foothold in rural areas, chiefly because of their low cost. Here are some of the stories that illustrate these trends.

AT&T’s Investment Provides Validation for Small Cells

“We are `densifying’ our wireless grid,” John Donovan, senior executive VP, AT&T Technology & Network Operations, said. “High traffic metro areas require denser, cell-site grids to help capacity and improve quality. During the next three years, you are going to see a shift in our investment to use more small cell technology. By 2015, we expect more than 50 percent of the planned densification will use small cells.” Densification will result in more network usage, better revenue opportunities, improved in-building coverage and support for launching voice over LTE, he added. MORE

Partnership Opens NEC’s Universe to SpiderCloud Technology

NEC is partnering with SpiderCloud Wireless to provide the SmartCloud system to its existing and new customers as part of an end-to-end small-cell solution, the companies announced at the Small Cells World Summit 2012, held June 26-28, in London. SpiderCloud’s emphasis on medium to large size enterprise deployments, which demand hundreds of radio nodes serving thousands of users, complements NEC’s current smaller scale approach, deploying femtocells in the residential small office market. MORE

In-Building DAS Will Share the Stage with Small Cells: ABI Research

In mobile ecosystems where DAS has reigned supreme for coverage fill-in and capacity growth, small cell equipment sales are expected to catch up quickly to DAS and disrupt that dominance. The two technologies, however, are more likely to complement each other rather compete, according to an ABI Research report entitled, “The Future of Active vs. Passive DAS, Repeaters, and Threat from Small Cells.” MORE

ClearSky, NEC Team to Offer Femtocell as a Service to Carriers

ClearSky Technologies, a regional wireless data provider, is working with NEC to offer Femtocell as a Service (FaaS) to regional wireless carriers that use GSM and UMTS. FaaS, where the femtocells are hosted on a third-party infrastructure, is an alternative, economical approach to launching services for many smaller carriers. ClearSky will use NEC’s femtocell gateway and corresponding plug-and-play residential, enterprise and outdoor femtocell access points. MORE

Thanks to Small Cells, Coverage Coming to Rural Vermont

The Vermont Telecommunications Authority (VTA) has signed a contract with CoverageCo to provide cellular coverage in parts of northern Vermont previously unserved by carriers. CoverageCo will start deploying the small cells this summer, and commercial service is expected to begin by the end of the year. “CoverageCo’s small-cell approach allows it to provide service where it was previously not economically feasible,” said Richard P. Biby, CoverageCo CEO. “Because the sites are small and completely IP-based, a standard Internet service over a virtual private network can be used to connect to the core network.” MORE

Even as Smart Phone Sales Skyrocket, AT&T Keeps Eye on Connected Future

In the first two months of the fourth quarter, AT&T sold more than 6.4 million smart phones, which would beat its second largest quarter for smart phone sales and it still has December holiday sales to come, Ralph De la Vega, president and CEO, AT&T Mobility, told an audience at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference, Dec. 5, in New York.

“We had a tremendous start to the holiday season. Smart phone sales are on a record pace,” De la Vega said. “This puts AT&T at more than 23 million in smart phone sales so far and on track to exceed 26 million by the end of the year.”  He credited the carrier’s smart phone and tablet lineup and the success of its Mobile Share program for the growth.

Even as AT&T rides the smart phone wave, moving at a clip of more than 100,000 smart phones sold every day, it appears to be prepared for the day when the market is saturated with the devices. De la Vega also announced milestones in the carrier’s efforts to bring wireless to our cars, homes and wallets.

“We are seeing the emergence of new billion dollar opportunities in wireless, such as Digital Life, the Mobile Wallet and the Connected Car,” de la Vega said. “All of this is creating a ton of momentum for our wireless business. The best is yet to come.”

De la Vega announced that AT&T has been granted UL approval for an all-IP, all-digital wireless home security, monitoring and automation system, known as Digital Life, which features wireless sensors and wireless connectivity to the carrier’s call center. And it is controlled by, you guessed it, smart phones and tablets. The product will be available in AT&T’s retail stores and dealerships in early 2013.

“The home security and automation market is an $18 billion dollar industry with 35 percent margins,” De la Vega said. “We feel very good that we have a new technology that sits on top of our great wireless infrastructure. It will be available nationwide, wherever AT&T has service.”

De la Vega stressed that the carrier’s recently announced $14 billion initiative to build out its network to cover 300 million pops lays a foundation for future growth opportunities, like Digital Life and Connected Car, which will leverage the 4G LTE base that it is building with the smart phones and tablets.

“Now we can put on top of that [network] value-added services that are beyond just data access,” de la Vega said. “They are a whole new wave of services that generate revenue for AT&T.”

De la Vega also discussed AT&T’s Connected Cars initiative, in which the carrier is working with manufacturers and software developers to create connectivity from vehicle to vehicle, vehicle to infrastructure, as well as to backseat infotainment systems. Vehicle software and firmware will be updated remotely, and passengers will be able to purchase and down load songs, audiobooks and guides wirelessly.

“This a huge growth opportunity,” de la Vega said. “By 2016 [ABI Research] has said telematics will grow to where 53 percent of cars will have connectivity, but I think that estimate is low. Having a nationwide low-latency network will be important.”

AT&T is not alone in this push toward the connected future, beyond using smart phones for texting and surfing the Web.  In January 2012 at the Consumer Electronics Show, Verizon Wireless and In Motion Technology announced the development of a mobile gateway that turns a vehicle into a secure, mobile hotspot. The onBoard system also includes a network management system that monitors network health and communications, with a mobile-optimized VPN server providing end-to-end security.

In June 2012, Verizon Communications bought Hughes Telematics, which plays in the automotive and fleet telematics marketplace. This purchase gave Verizon an introduction into the emerging machine-to-machine (M2M) services applications field.  Hughes is implementing connected services for vehicles based on safety, security, convenience and infotainment.

Deutsche Telecom is striving for $10 billion in revenues from mobile Internet, including connecting cars and cameras, as well as homes.

“The trajectory looks very good. We have only scratched the surface,” Rene Obermann, DT CEO, told analysts early in December in Bonn, Germany. “The cars get connected. Cameras from Samsung now have a radio interface for connectivity. You don’t need much imagination to see the possibilities of connectivity and it has just taken off.”

AT&T’s Investment Provides Validation for Small Cells

Announcing its $8 billion in wireless initiatives in the next three years on Nov. 7, AT&T noted that “network densification” would be a large component of Project Velocity IP (VIP). Large, in this case, is bringing 40,000 small cells and 1,000 more DAS networks online.

“We are `densifying’ our wireless grid,” John Donovan, senior executive VP, AT&T Technology & Network Operations, said. “High traffic metro areas require denser, cell-site grids to help capacity and improve quality.” Densification will result in more network usage, better revenue opportunities, improved in-building coverage and support for launching voice over LTE, he added.

The initial field deployment of small cells will begin in the fourth quarter 2012 with general deployment. AT&T is planning to include all of its technologies, UMTS, HSPA+ and Wi‐Fi, in the small cell rollout . In fact, the implementation will begin with 3G UMTS and 4G HSPA+ in 2013 and expand to include LTE and Wi-Fi in 2014.

“During the next three years, you are going to see a shift in our investment to use more small cell technology,” Donovan said. “By 2015, we expect more than 50 percent of the planned densification will use small cells.”

Donovan told the audience that increasing the density of its wireless network is expected to improve network quality and increase spectrum efficiency. The deployment of small cells will be handled within AT&T’s network operations group.

Jeff Thompson, president and CEO, TowerStream, addressed what he called the “fundamental shift” in cellular network architecture to small cells through “hyper-densification,” saying it will require 10 to 30 small cells to provide the same coverage and capacity of one macrocell tower,  according to a Seeking Alpha transcript of the company’s third quarter earnings call,

Three out of the four largest U.S. carriers have announced of small cell build-outs, including Wi-Fi, metro cell and DAS, according to Thompson.

Collocation will be the key to site acquisition in the deployment of small cells, according to Thompson, and he feels his company is well positioned to provide carriers with the space.

“AT&T is going to have to find locations to put those 40,000 small cells,” he said.  “Step one is to have beach front property in the best urban markets, which we do; step two is to have a relationship with the carriers, which we do; step four is to get a master lease agreement, which we are going to work hard to get through that phase; and step five is deployment.”

TowerStream views small cell deployment as a traditional rooftop collocation, where the carrier pays for the equipment and the installation. Another critical component of small cell deployment is backhaul, according to Thompson.

“We can also supply the backhaul, if needed, but not required. We believe in the first half in 2013, there will be 3G UMTS and HSPA-plus small cell deployments, which will require approximately 20 megabits of backhaul,” Thompson said. “In 2014, we see the migration to 4G small cell, which will require 40 megabits to 50 megabits for backhaul.”

AT&T to Invest $8B to Boost Wireless

Verizon Wireless has been airing an ad showing various charts that all show it well ahead of other carriers in LTE deployments. AT&T is out to change that, as soon as it can. In order to accelerate the growth of its 4G LTE network, the carrier has pledged to spend $8 billion during the next three years on wireless initiatives. Another $6B will go for wireline IP broadband networks to support growing customer demand for high-speed Internet access.

Barron’s said the planned spend should “juice towers.” The investment plan – Project Velocity IP (VIP) – means 10,000 new towers and 40,000 small cells for the wireless infrastructure industry.

“Revenues in our key growth areas — wireless data, U-verse and strategic business services — are all growing at a strong double-digit rate,” said Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman and CEO.  “Project VIP expands our potential in these key platforms and makes them available to many more customers.”

AT&T’s Project VIP consists of several individual wireless and wireline initiatives, including plans to expand its 4G LTE network to cover 300 million people in the United States by year-end 2014, up from its current plans to deploy 4G LTE to about 250 million people by year-end 2013. In AT&T’s 22-state wireline service area, the company expects its 4G LTE network will cover 99 percent of all customer locations.

While the expansion is good news for the tower industry, the mainstream press scoffed at AT&T’s announcement, calling into question the carrier’s credibility because of its statements while trying to merge with T-Mobile.  AT&T had told the FCC that expansion beyond 80 percent coverage would not be possible unless the Commission did not green-light the merger.

CNN’s headline screamed, “AT&T caught in a brazen 4G-LTE lie after fight for doomed T-Mobile wireless merger.”  AT&T responded that the expansion was made possible by the spectrum deals that it has entered into in the last year.

“AT&T has acquired spectrum through more than 40 spectrum deals this year (some pending regulatory review) and has plans to buy additional wireless spectrum to support its 4G LTE network,” according to a press release. “Much of the additional spectrum came from AT&T’s plan to use WCS spectrum for mobile broadband. Between its current holdings and transactions pending regulatory approval, AT&T expects to have about 118 megahertz of spectrum nationwide.”

As part of Project VIP, AT&T expects to deploy small cell technology, macro cells and additional distributed antenna systems to increase the density of its wireless network, which is expected to further improve network quality and increase spectrum efficiency.

“Within the announced $14 billion capital allocation, prioritization of next generation wireless is consistent with consumer demand,” Ted Abrams, wireless consultant, told AGL. “Tens of thousands of small cells will be deployed to augment wireless network capacity. Commitment to this small cell initiative is expected to occur in addition to the planned construction of many thousands of distributed antenna nodes and targeted growth in conventional site count.”

The carrier reported download speeds as fast as 12 mbps over LTE networks with HSPA+ networks clocking in at 2 mbps to 6 mbps.

“AT&T’s 4G LTE network offers speeds competitive with, if not higher than, what is available on wired broadband networks today. And in many places, AT&T’s 4G LTE service will be the first high speed IP broadband service available to many customers,” according to a press release.

Supporting the network expansion is going to tax AT&T’s microwave and fiber IP backhaul capability. Some of that IP connectivity will come from the ILEC topology in areas served by AT&T’s landline plant. Outside those areas, AT&T will opt for the best ratio of CAPEX and OPEX in working with CLECs, MSOs, and dark fiber providers, Abrams said.

“All this investment will challenge the capacity of site and service providers at the same time planning is underway for the nationwide FirstNet build, making wireless the most exciting sector in American business,” Abrams said.