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Good News: Alcatel LTE in China Telecom
Written by Dave Burstein   
Tuesday, 08 October 2013 23:43

China Telecom LTE purchasesAdds giant China Telecom contract to China Mobile. I'm glad I can break some good news for Alcatel. China Telecom is upgrading 60,000 towers to LTE, a network larger than Verizon or any western European network. Alcatel-Shanghai Bell was one of the three big winners along with Huawei and ZTE. They are the purple segment on this chart from C114, a very useful Chinese site. http://bit.ly/15ZsJpp No prices were announced, but this may well be a multi-billion dollar deal. Datung, Nokia and Ericsson also won part of the contract. I believe I'm the first to report this in English.

    Alcatel-Shanghai Bell also won a substantial share of China Mobile's giant 207,000 site TD-LTE rollout. China Mobile's contract is for at least 3 times as many towers as any other network build in the world. PR below. Alcatel is also working closely with China Telecom on vectored VDSL. There's no public announcement yet but CT is likely to deploy tens of millions of vectored lines over the next few years. 

   Alcatel remains among the best in the world. 

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Dumbly Disrespecting FCC Four Freedoms
Written by Dave Burstein   
Thursday, 19 September 2013 01:17

Verizon refusing to connect Jeff Jarvis' LTE Nexus a very, very dumb move.  If I buy a new LTE tablet and want to shift my SIM card to it, the FCC rules would seem to require Verizon to allow me to do that. 70% of Verizon's traffic goes over 20 MHz of spectrum that was auctioned with clear open access regulations. Mike Powell's finest moment was his Four Freedoms speech at the 2004 Silicon Flatirons http://fcc.us/19hUz0S. "Freedom to Attach Personal Devices. Third, consumers should be permitted to attach any devices they choose." His FCC successor, Kevin Martin, repeated the principles, codified them and incorporated them into the rules for the 2008 spectrum auction. Both are conservative Republicans who understood that the Carterphone decision allowing connecting to the phone network strongly encouraged competition.

     We now have a prima facie case of Verizon breaking the rules. 

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Confirmed: Wireless Data Growth Rapidly Slowing
Written by Dave Burstein   
Thursday, 02 May 2013 09:28

Cisco and Washington estimates much too high. The almost unbelievable 100% per year growth in wireless traffic is over, with the growth in 2012 down to 69% in 2012 compared to 123% in 2011. The data is from CTIA, the wireless association, and is based on direct reporting carriers representing over 90% of U.S. subscribers. It's definitive, and corresponds to the trend I reported last year. 

   The growth rate drop will continue as the once in a generation surge due to the introduction of smartphones is winding down. I'd expect 2013 to fall under 50% but that's back of the envelope thinking, not analysis.

    40-50% growth is still pretty substantial, but the technology is keeping up. LTE Advanced, starting to deploy, provides 5-10 times the capacity of today's LTE. There's now no doubt the spectrum crisis was wildly exaggerated.

   I reported this last year as 2012 U.S. predicted 259 PB/month, actual 222 PB/month. World predicted 1,252, actual 884. The 100% growth rates for mobile data are disappearing, as predicted since 2009 by most experts and ignored by JG and other policy people. 86% in 2012 and a predicted 70% in 2013 remains high growth. There's an even lower number using some revised Cisco data - 62% instead of 86% - that I need to check out. The latter is closer to the CTIA data reported by Tim Farrar. Of course, even the 42% Cisco predicts for 2017 will require first rate engineering to serve, but the “crisis” was an invention of D.C.

   There is a hump in demand as people get smartphones and 3G/4G. That began early in the U.S. with the iPhone but is running its natural course. More than half the U.S. has smartphones so that growth is tailing off. Craig Moffett notes the same phenomena on the financial side. Smartphones have lifted revenue but the effect is playing out.

    As carriers start metering data, people learn not to watch video on their phones outside of WiFi range. Glen Campbell of Merrill Lynch predicted back in 2009 that pricing would cut demand and that’s kicked in with a vengeance. Cisco sees 46% of smartphone traffic offloading to WiFi by 2017. (Also predicted by Campbell in 2009.)

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France's $13 Unlimited Voice, SMS Confirms Mobile Glut:
Written by Dave Burstein   
Saturday, 21 September 2013 04:15

French mobile prices plummetUnder $20 with 1 Gig of Data. Coriolis, riding the excellent SFR network, has brought French mobile prices down even further. For $13, you get unlimited voice + SMS and 100 meg of data, enough to occasionally check in when you're out of WiFi range. That doesn't go very far, but it's enough to load in a few Google maps and check your email when traveling. No contract, a few rules that will not be onerous for most people. 

   Pricing like that, half the cheapest prepaid plans from Sprint or AT&T, convinces me that the capacity glut I'm seeing extends far beyond the U.S.

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First Look: How the Spectrum Shortage is Solved
Written by Dave Burstein   
Tuesday, 03 September 2013 09:16

An outline of a detailed four part report. The serious over-supply of wireless capacity is a big story I'm confident enough to print although I may never find the time to write it. This is important, whether you're trying to understand the Verizon-Vodafone deal or why the biggest battle in European policy is over whether a few giants will swallow up everyone else. (That's a very bad idea, incidentally.) A full analysis could fill a book, however; here's a first look that's just an outline.

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White Spaces in Real Deployment
Written by Dave Burstein   
Saturday, 20 April 2013 10:32

California TreesOften 3 meg when no other technology works. Ken Garnett at Cal.net has been serving heavily forested Northern California since 2006, forested country where many couldn’t get DSL. His Wimax/WiFi network couldn’t reach many prospective customers because of hills and trees. His new “White Space” network, using lower frequencies, generally solves that problem.

  As Dave Farber taught me a decade ago, there’s massive unused spectrum in most of the United States. Even in “crowded” space like New York, the majority of spectrum is unused. In Ken’s rural California territory, he tells me 90 MHz - 15 television channels - is typically unused. Garnett adds “We see that continually with newly transplanted residents in our service area who call us desperate for something, stating something along the lines of 'when I bought my house and moved here from [wherever], it never occurred to me that [cable/DSL] was unavailable.'" 

Unused TV channel space is the first target of “White Spaces,” which naturally can extend to other frequencies as well. “White spaces throughout the spectrum” is a key part of the technologist’s plan for wireless. Jim Carlson, a pioneer in this technology, is providing the equipment. The base station serves from 470 to 796 MHz in the international version, less to keep out of the way of 700 MHz LTE in the U.S. version. That requires a customized baseband modem, two million gates of Xilinx FPGA, as well as other components to be “frequency agile.” The CPE, currently fixed only, incorporates an optimized antenna. Google is using Carlson Wireless gear in their African trials as well.

  Current U.S. versions of Carlson’s RuralConnect peak at about 12 megabits, with 3-6 megabits the typical customer speed. Jim tells me that will double in a few months when he supports “bonding” two channels. Garnett confirms that in extreme rural areas like his, two adjacent channels are generally available. In a year or so, Carlson plans to bond four channels for at least another doubling of speed.

  Costs remain high because this is currently customized, low volume design. CPE costs about $600/home, base stations about $200/home if they serve 15-20 customers. Carlson’s confident he’ll keep lowering the price as his volume builds. I’m told white space equipment is not terribly more complex than WiFi and in large volume would have similar cost to WiFi. Chipmakers haven’t yet jumped in, however.

  The “spectrum shortage” is mostly a myth, with both Craig Mundie of Microsoft and Eric Schmidt of Google affirming the issues can be solved with different policies.

    Here's the pr

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New iPhone Doesn't Suck: Twice as Fast Processor, Multipath TCP-IP ...
Written by Dave Burstein   
Friday, 20 September 2013 22:48

Anandtech finds iPhone processor very fastApparently one helluva camera as well. Apple stock dropped $40B - 10% - because the new iPhone has a low wow factor. Pundits worldwide are explaining how Apple has lost it. B______ . Samsung, HTC and others are now also making great little computers sold as phones so Apple has plenty of competition, but David Pogue is on target: the iPhone has not been overtaken.

   Apple is delivering but isn't talking about Multipath TCP-IP, the first deployment of the new tech designed to speed phones dramatically by combining signals from both LTE and local WiFi. Multipath in theory also allows a smooth handoff from WiFi to LTE, a grail of current network design.

Update 9/23: Apple released a 9M sales figure for the first weekend. The stock jumped $20B and the pundits are busy reversing themselves. The real story is much more complicated, of course, and will play off over years, not days.

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$10 Qualcomm Quadcores will Push $99 Phones Past iPhone 4
Written by Dave Burstein   
Tuesday, 07 May 2013 20:26

iPhone 4 $99 for perfectly fine web surfing. Qualcomm, a top tier vendor, has dropped prices of an quadcore mobile below $10 in China according to Digitimes http://bit.ly/16foJoS. Mediatek and Spreadtrum are proving tough competition and Qualcomm would be losing market share if they hadn’t dropped prices. Mediatek $426M monthly sales were a company high. There’s over capacity for medium quality screens even as the high end scrambles. Other components. are in good supply. China’s “white box” are now producing hundreds of millions of inexpensive phones. Some models cost as little as $50 in China. I use the iPhone 4 as a comparison point because it provides a perfectly decent Internet experience except for folks like me with older eyes. Tablet prices are also below $100, with EE Times reporting Chinese vendors vendors have taken 20% of the market. They sell dual-core ARM chips at $4 or $5 and quad-cores at $8 or $9, http://bit.ly/10gzzUz

    How many people will give up their landline and go mobile-only for data is crucial to any estimate of future broadband. “Weibo’s several hundred million users now access the service more from mobile devices than from PCs,” according to NYT http://nyti.ms/10Fcgmd. Japan saw an actual drop in landline connections in Q4 despite 80%+ fiber coverage.http://bit.ly/18Vjes5 It was only a fraction of a percent but is a powerful symbol.

   An informal analyst survey I did in 2009 delivered estimates of 5% to 25% dropping landlines for data by the middle of the decade. As that time approaches, the lower estimates of line losses appear most likely in most countries. DSL, Cable and fiber combined for 44M net adds in 2012, reaching 646M.

  More than 1B Internet-capable 3G and 4G phones will be sold in 2013 and 2014 combined, swamping the landline total. Today’s wireless networks will mostly have low caps and relatively few will cut landlines. 300-500M of those Internet phones will go into India, Africa and Indonesia, which will change the net profoundly. In a few years, there will be more Africans on the net than in the U.S..

   A well-designed quadcore mobile will be faster than many of the older computers being happily used by netizens.

 

 
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