Market intelligence on telecom, wireless and semiconductors.

LTE-U, Wi-Fi Play Nice in Test

SAN FRANCISCO – Qualcomm wants to convince unbelievers that LTE-Unlicensed (LTE-U) will be a good neighbor to Wi-Fi for next generation communications. Following debate about the realities of sharing spectrum, the chip giant discussed coexistence tests conducted at its San Diego lab.

LTE-U aims to extend LTE Advanced to unlicensed 5 GHz spectrum, boosting cellular data speeds over short distances without requiring users to login to a Wi-Fi network. The technology has met with criticism from companies who rely on Wi-Fi and worry about LTE-U inference.

As a test, Qualcomm configured nine access points for media streaming and did not try to counterbalance interference. Engineers measured the throughput of each access point when using Wi-Fi only, then measured again with eight APs configured for Wi-Fi and one using LTE-U over 5 GHz.

Qualcomm found –- and third party firm Signal Research confirmed –- that Wi-Fi access points from different OEMs had variable throughput speeds regardless of the presence of absence of a cellular connection, and LTE-U shared spectrum when it was turned on. The average throughput for the top two access points was 5.8 Mbits/second using all Wi-Fi communications. Using a mix of Wi-Fi with LTE-U, LTE-U use decreased downlink delay by 0.06 milliseconds and increased the uplink delay by 10 milliseconds though LTE-U over 5 GHz has yet to include uplink in its spec.

“LTE-U is inherently a good neighbor to Wi-Fi,” said Mingxi Fan Qualcomm’s vice president of engineering and corporate R&D.

When deployed the technology will rely heavily on small cells and an improved air interface to listen for unused spectrum to offload data to LTE-U, Fan said. In addition, Qualcomm has designed LTE-U chips with “variable on” modes or tiny gaps in use that allow the channels to complete throughput without interference and with low latency, he added.

“[LTE-U is] a great new technology that has tremendous performance advantages for consumers and it coexists very, very well with Wi-Fu,” said Dean Brenner, Qualcomm’s senior vice president of government affairs. “We envision a very long future for Wi-Fi; this is not replacing Wi-Fi.”

The Wi-Fi Alliance recently submitted a request to the FCC requesting additional information about LTE-U and its cousin Licensed Assisted Access (LAA) — a form of unlicensed cellular that will be deployed in Europe and Japan with LTE release 13. The Allaince and others fear unlicensed cellular will degrade performance of services delivered over Wi-Fi. To the contrary, Qualcomm claims that Wi-Fi throughput would improve with more LTE-U access points in use than Wi-Fi but did not provide details.

“I think there is fear, uncertainty, and competitive aspects. Basically there’s a lot of trepidation,” Brenner said. “So we’re doing everything we can to show that this is how it works, how we’ve designed LTE-U for coexistence.”

A Verizon official said the company expects to have small cell technology commercially available in late 2016. Qualcomm will host field trials of this technology alongside its LTE-U capable Snapdragon 820 chip in October 2015.

In the meantime, Qualcomm’s Brenner said the company has weekly conference calls with the Wi-Fi Alliance and will present at an Alliance-sponsored coexistence workshop in November.

— Jessica Lipsky, Associate Editor, EE TimesCircle me on Google+


LTE subscriptions crosses 750 Million Milestone


GSA, the Global mobile Suppliers Association, has declared on the basis of study conducted by Ovum that LTE subscriptions continue to grow faster than any other mobile communications system technology. Analysing mobile subscriptions data provided to the industry Association this week by Ovum for Q2 2015, GSA noted that LTE subscription net additions continue to outpace all other mobile communications technologies. LTE subscriptions reached 755 million worldwide on 30 June 2015.

LTE subscriptions increased by 113.5 million in Q2 2015, which is over 52% higher than for 3G/WCDMA-HSPA which gained 74.4 million. GSM subscriptions fell by over 98 million in the quarter.

APAC increased its share of global LTE subscriptions to 51.2%. North America has almost 200 million LTE subscriptions (198 million) and remains the second largest LTE market, though its share reduced to 26.2% of the global total compared with 42.4% a year earlier.

European share remained at around 16% and the total number of LTE subscriptions across Western Europe markets has just passed 100 million.

Strong growth was seen in the Latin America and Caribbean region which now has over 22.5 million 4G/LTE subscriptions and over 17.2 million higher than a year ago, equivalent to 324% annual growth. A strong performance for LTE was also achieved in the Middle East where more than 1 million LTE subscriptions were added monthly. The region has 23.7 million LTE subscriptions and an annual growth of 194%. Russia has almost 3x the number of LTE subscriptions compared to one year earlier.

By June 2015 China had passed 225 million LTE subscriptions, 63.5 million in Q2 alone.

422 operators have commercially launched LTE systems in 143 countries, according to GSA data announced in July 2015. GSA forecasts there will be 460 commercially launched LTE networks by end 2015.

LTE-Advanced deployments have taken hold in all markets around the world. Now over 30% of operators are investing in LTE-Advanced system deployments, with the commercialisation of carrier aggregation the first feature to be exploited. 88 operators, i.e. over 20% of all LTE operators, have commercially launched LTE-Advanced service in 45 countries. 15 LTE-Advanced networks support Category 4 devices (above 100 Mbps up to 150 Mbps peak downlink speed) while 73 networks support Category 6 devices (above 150 Mbps up to 300 Mbps). The number of LTE and LTE-Advanced subscriptions is expected to pass the 3G/WCDMA-HSPA global total in 2020.

Intel joins Verizon’s new 5G Technology Forum

Intel logo building

© Flickr/CC-licence/Josh Bancroft

  • Creation of 5G network “sandboxes” in Verizon’s Innovation Centres
  • 5G Technology Forum partners represent $50bn in annual R&D
  • Intel also working with Verizon on SDN network evolution

Intel has announced that it will collaborate with Verizon to accelerate the development of 5G wireless technology, and as part of this effort Intel has joined the Verizon 5G Technology Forum as one of its core industry partners. Intel says it will contribute to the development of 5G requirements and standards, as well as conduct testing to optimise end-to-end mobile broadband and IoT device architectures and network infrastructure.

“Intel’s expertise in computing from the device to the network to the data centre and Verizon’s strong network technology allow the two companies to bring a unique perspective to 5G as computing and communications converge,” said Aicha Evans, VP and General Manager of the Communication and Devices Group at Intel. “Together the two companies will lay the foundation for the next generation networks to achieve the 5G deployment goals.”

They are not the only ones who are keen to play a major part in the developing technology and standards work for forthcoming 5G architectures – it’s becoming a crowded market. As well as the established cellular standards organisations and associated groups, such as 3GPP and GSMA, amongst many others, a wide array of specialist 5G groups are emerging. These include the operator-led NGMN, numerous vendor-backed alliances and associations, and research centres such as the UK’s 5G Innovation Centre.

“The Verizon 5G Technology Forum is perfectly timed to harness technical innovation across our partners and collaborate towards rapid definition and advancement of 5G technologies,” said Adam Koeppe, VP of Technology Planning at Verizon. “We are preparing to usher in a new era of throughput, capacity, and enhanced services and having Intel in the Forum is a great addition.”

Intel says it will begin working in Verizon’s 5G sandbox environments in the telco’s San Francisco and Waltham, MA Innovation Centers. It is also developing its own 5G test beds in Oregon, California and other as yet unspecified locations, in addition to its ongoing work on mobile broadband and IoT devices, mmW technology, virtualised RANs, MIMO and mobile edge computing. Intel is also working with Verizon on SDN network evolution – especially relevant as Verizon sees SDN and NFV as providing the foundation for its 5G future.

Verizon set out its 5G roadmap earlier this month, announcing that it would launch field technology trials next year. Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, Ericsson, Nokia, Qualcomm and Samsung were its inaugural 5G Technology Forum partners, and are helping Verizon construct 5G network test environments (or sandboxes) at its innovation centres.

“5G is no longer a dream of the distant future,” said Roger Gurnani, EVP and chief information and technology architect for Verizon. “We feel a tremendous sense of urgency to push forward on 5G and mobilize the ecosystem by collaborating with industry leaders and developers to usher in a new generation of innovation.”

The US cellular industry has been criticised for its lacklustre support of 5G to date, preferring to focus on the evolution of LTE. This tardiness has enabled the creation of some major 5G alliances between Europe and Asia, with the highest political support. Now though, the US appears to have woken up to the shifting dynamics in the telecoms industry that are being caused by the tremendous potential economic gains to be made from 5G – despite the leadership US had with the introduction of LTE, it made a mess of the earlier 3G and enabled Europe to profit as a result; surely it’s not about to repeat the mistake?

“A lot of development and requirements for 5G networks have so far come from Asian operators,” said Rima Qureshi, chief strategy officer for Ericsson. “It’s exciting to see a US company accelerate the rate of innovation and introduce new partners.”

“When you’re planning a technological evolution at this scale it must be a collaboration of players in the ecosystem,” added Marcus Weldon, CTO of Alcatel-Lucent and president of Bell Labs. “Having Verizon initiate this effort now, even as 4G LTE technology has so much headroom left, will no doubt add to the rich fabric of our digital lives for many years to come.”

In addition to working with communications companies, Verizon’s 5G Technology Forum also includes a group of leading US venture capital groups focused on a variety of emerging technologies.

“Together we represent more than $50 billion in annual research, development and technology investments and thousands of patents,” Gurnani said. “Collectively we are bringing to bear an incredible amount of resources and intellectual capital to introduce the next generation of wireless technology.”


NFV: What’s Good? Price/Performance for Starters

The LTE World Series Blog

Guest post by 6Wind

TL;DR: NFV Promises To Alter The Value Proposition For Network Operators Of All Sizes

As we prepare for SDN Asia 2015 in Singapore this October, we look forward to discussing how executive telecom decision makers want to capitalize on the APAC market’s propensity for rapid technology adoption by providing an abundance of services at the lowest costs. NFV enables rapid service creation while lowering costs, but it is necessary to not sacrifice performance in the process.

Performance continues to drive the NFV discussion because without proper oversight, virtual machines and cloud infrastructure can be real headaches by demanding increasing requirements of hardware to accommodate an increasing software footprint. To achieve an abundance of services at the lowest costs, enabling performance in the initial design architecture will help further drive the costs down. There are two major areas of performance bottlenecks that organizations should evaluate to enable…

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3GPP agrees ‘harmonized’ proposal for narrowband IoT radio technology

vatican chimney

Smoke from the Vatican chimney via Flickr © Diario Critico Venezuela (CC BY 2.0)
  • Rival technologies harmonised
  • Disharmony expected, but agreement ensued

What was expected to be knock ‘em down, drag ‘em out battle (virtual, of course) in the 3GPP over technology choices for the so-called NB-IoT (narrow band Internet of Things) radio technology this week, has turned out to have ended in apparent smiles all round.

Today, the 3GPP RAN (Plenary meeting #69), announced that a decision to standardize a new narrowband radio technology for IoT had passed with what appears to be undue friendliness all round.

According to Dino Flore, the chairman of 3GPP RAN, “We entered the meeting with competing technology proposals for standardization. After lengthy discussions we came up with a harmonized technology proposal with very broad industry support,” he said, which is standards chairman-speak for “we expected blood on the carpet and deadlock but in the end we seem to have pulled off a compromise.”


There was a lot riding on this decision with two powerful rival camps (Huawei in one corner, Ericsson in the other) and a nascent IoT industry waiting outside for chimney smoke. It’s thought the burgeoning growth expected for IoT (the low-cost, consumer device end of the market at least) is contingent on having a strong set of radio and remote device standards upon which economies of scale can work to drop the price, so the characteristics of the chosen cellular network technology will be key to the competitive landscape.

What’s been harmonized in and harmonized out is, as yet, unclear. “It took us some twists and turns to get there, but we have now set a clear path in Release 13 to meet the needs of the 3GPP industry to further address the promising IoT market.” the press release has Dino Flore saying.

According to the 3GPP RAN statement, “the new technology will provide improved indoor coverage, support [for a] massive number of low throughput devices, low delay sensitivity, ultra-low device cost, low device power consumption and optimized network architecture.”

The technology can be deployed “in-band”, utilizing resource blocks within a normal LTE carrier, or in the unused resource blocks within a LTE carrier’s guard-band, or “standalone” for deployments in dedicated spectrum. NB-IoT is also particularly suitable for the re-farming of GSM channels,” says Flore.

Intel, Nokia and Ericsson collaborate on NB-LTE wireless for IoT

By Scott Bicheno September 14th, 2015,Source:

A consortium comprised of network companies Nokia and Ericsson, together with chip giant Intel, have announced their collaboration on narrow band LTE (NB-LTE), an LTE variant designed specifically for IoT.

The technology is an attempt to minimise the bandwidth used by IoT devices which, if forecasts are remotely accurate, will number in their billions before long and could flood the network. NB-LTE also promises to allow smaller, lower-powered modems, which will be vital for the kind of embedded modules needed, and is where Intel comes in.

“We are excited to collaborate with two leading network vendors, Ericsson and Nokia, on the next wave of wireless innovation to connect the growing IoT market segment, and to further grow the momentum for Intel’s LTE portfolio and roadmap with NB-LTE,” said Stefan Wolff, VP of the Platform Engineering Group and GM of the Multi-Comms Business Unit at Intel.

“Cellular networks already cover 90 percent of the world’s population so it makes sense to leverage this global footprint to support and drive IoT adoption through the standardization of Narrow-Band LTE,” said Thomas Norén, Head of Product Management, Business Unit Radio at Ericsson. “Working with Intel and Nokia, Ericsson is driving the ecosystem to accelerate IoT growth and ensuring a global foundation for a vast range of new IoT applications for consumers, industry and government.”

“We believe in building an ecosystem around NB-LTE to speed up the takeup of the Internet of Things,” said Stephan Litjens, VP of Portfolio Strategy & Analytics at Nokia. “This development will bring consumers benefits, such as enhanced and improved connectivity of devices and at lower cost.”

This marks yet another move in the great IoT land grab with providers of wireless technology, platforms, components and devices all jostling to be associated with what they hope will be the default IoT standards when the dust settles. Huawei has already announced its support for ‘cellular IoT’ and moves such as this seem to be as much expressions of strength and influence as simple R&D partnerships.

4G : l’Arcep attribue à Free Mobile de nouvelles fréquences en 1800 MHz

Cette décision permettra à l’opérateur de tripler ses fréquences dans la bande des 1800 MHz à partir de mai 2016 et d’améliorer sa couverture 4G.

Free Mobile va pouvoir étendre encore davantage sa couverture en 4G/AG+. L’Arcep a annoncé ce 10 septembre l’attribution à l’opérateur de nouvelles fréquences sur la bande des 1800 MHz, jusqu’ici utilisée en 2G. Pour l’instant, il ne disposait dans cette bande que de 5 MHz. A partir du 25 mai 2016, il pourra exploiter 10 MHz de plus, ce qui va lui permettre d’augmenter significativement sa présence en 4G sur le territoire français.

Les premiers 5 MHz avaient été récupérés auprès de Bouygues Telecom, ces 10 MHz étaient exploitées par Orange et SFR avant que l’Arcep ne les réattribue. Une façon pour le gendarme des télécoms de rétablir un certain équilibre entre les opérateurs, pour leur permettre à tous d’afficher une bonne qualité de réseau.

Ce transfert effectué, Free Mobile devrait pouvoir proposer un débit mobile de 100 Mbit/s à ses abonnés 4G et de monter à 300 Mbits/s en 4G+. A l’issue de cette réattribution de fréquences, Orange, SFR-Numericable et Bouygues Telecom disposent chacun de 20 MHz dans la bande des 1800 MHz, soit plus qu’un tiers de plus que Free Mobile.

Free compte bien se positionner également sur les enchères pour la bande des 700 MHz, dite des fréquences en or, dont le lancement est prévu d’ici la fin de l’année. Cela lui permettra d’accroître encore sa couverture 4G, qui à ce jour s’élève à 50% de la population.

LoRa : Bouygues Telecom va créer une division dédiée à l’internet des objets

L’opérateur Bouygues Telecom mise sur l’internet des objets : le membre fondateur de l’alliance LoRa, va créer une division spécialisée cet automne. Elle proposera des offres B2B basés sur cette technologie de transmission radio bas débit longue distance.

Si Paris a accueilli le congrès de l’alliance LoRa, les 9 et 10 juillet, cela tient beaucoup à l’implication de Bouygues Telecom, l’un des 11 membres fondateurs du consortium. Preuve que l’opérateur français mise plus que jamais sur cette technologie de transmission radio bas débit longue portée, idéale pour l’internet des objets. Il a d’ailleurs commencé le déploiement d’antennes LoRa en France. Avec l’objectif de couvrir 500 villes d’ici fin 2015. “Fin 2016, ce seront 5 000 antennes qui seront déployées, affirme Yann Tanguy, responsable marketing IoT. On se donne trois ans pour couvrir tout le territoire.”

Près de la moitié des sites de l’opérateur, soit 7 à 8 000 points hauts de l’opérateur français sur 15 000, seront alors équipés d’antennes LoRa. Le maillage pourra être plus dense sur certaines zones pour mieux servir les clients les plus importants, “et tenir notre promesses de connectivité loin à l’intérieur des bâtiments”, précise Yann Tanguy. Bouygues entend garder une longueur d’avance sur ses concurrents tricolores : Orange débute seulement ses tests de LoRa, deux ans après Bouygues.


Les déclarations fracassantes de Sigfox, principal rival de l’alliance LoRa, (dont le directeur général a prédit, sans ambages, “l’échec” de Bouygues dans l’IoT), n’ont donc pas altéré la confiance de la filiale télécoms du groupe Bouygues. Si la direction de n’a pas souhaité répondre directement aux attaques frontales de la start-up toulousaine, son responsable marketing IoT rappelle la méthodologie retenue avant d’opter pour LoRa : “En 2013, nous avons regardé de très près les deux technologies, et mené des tests en conditions réelles. Nous les avons finement comparées et sur tous les aspects, LoRa s’en est mieux sorti. Notamment en termes de flexibilité, de ‘scalabilité’ du réseau. Le choix s’est purement fondé sur des questions techniques. Nous sommes très sereins sur le niveau de qualité que nous allons proposer à nos clients grâce à LoRa”.

Bouygues y croit tellement que la société va créer à l’automne une division, façon start-up, spécialisée dans la fourniture de services à des clients B2B grâce au réseau LoRa. “L’entreprise mène déjà des tests avec de grands acteurs industriels français”, précise Yann Tanguy. Bouygues Telecom dévoilera ses offres commerciales LoRa à la rentrée.


D’ores et déjà, la division télécom explore les possibilités de synergies avec les autres entités du groupe de BTP. Et elles sont nombreuses. “Avec Colas, il y a le sujet des capteurs dans les routes, ou de la maintenance des matériels de chantier. Avec Bouygues Energie, il y a bien sûr la problématique du smart building, de la qualité de l’air, du smart metering, de la maintenance des équipements… énumère Yann Tanguy. Comme l’a dit Martin Bouygues, cela représente de fabuleuses opportunités”. Ce potentiel à exploiter explique sans doute en partie pourquoi le patron du groupe n’a pas voulu laisser filer sa filiale télécoms dans les mains de SFR-Numericable…


Orange commits to IoT with LoRa network investment

By Scott Bicheno September 18th, 2015
French operator Orange has confirmed its commitment to the Internet of Things by announcing its investment in a narrow-band network based on LoRa technology.

This announcement doesn’t come as a great surprise given Orange’s recent investment in IoT startup Actility, which is focused on LoRa. It was joined in that investment by KPN and Swisscom, so maybe we’ll see similar announcements from them.

Orange plans to generate €600 million euros in revenue from IoT by 2018, so it needs to get a move on. This LoRa network will be developed in parallel with efforts to optimised existing networks for IoT – essentially enabling very low bandwidth, low power communication.

Stéphane Richard, Chief Executive Officer of Orange, said: “The development of the Internet of Things is expected to surge in the coming years. By 2020, we believe that there will be more than 25 billion objects connected in the world.

“As a part of our new strategic plan Essentials2020, Orange has an ambition to become the number one operator for the Internet of Things,” said Orange CEO Stéphane Richard. “To answer all the needs, we decided, as a supplement to the cellular networks, to deploy a national network dedicated to objects that need narrow-band connectivity, and also to low energy consumption. This network, based on the technology LoRa, will gradually open from the first quarter of 2016.

“Beyond connectivity, Orange is also involved in the distribution of connected objects, in the aggregation and data processing stemming from these objects as well as proposing value-added services in the field of health and well-being, the connected home and Smart Cities.”

Orange has been trialling a LoRa network in Grenoble together with over 30 partners. Orange validated the interoperability of certain sensor suppliers with its network and its platform, which manages the data from these objects. It’s safe to assume it considered that trial a success, which is why it’s moving things along now.

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