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For the last five years or more it has been pretty much impossible to turn up at any broadband or mobile conference around the world without sitting through a panel session on one question: Can operators make money from Wi-Fi?


Views on Wi-Fi are pretty much split down the middle – similar to the Fiber-to-the-Home vs VDSL debate – with some operators insisting that Wi-Fi is a distraction not worth pursuing and others claiming it is an underutilized resource that could be a key tool to have on-board.


To be clear Wi-Fi has played a key role in the strategies of many fixed-broadband and mobile broadband players for a number of years – albeit for different reasons.


Fixed line giants such as NTT East and NTT West in Japan have offered their fixed broadband subscribers – principally their FTTH subscribers – Wi-Fi as an add-on to their subscriptions for a number of years now with subscribers paying an additional ¥295/month for unlimited access to 9,000 hot-spots across the country.


NTT East and NTT West are prohibited by law from bundling their fixed-broadband services alongside any mobile broadband services from sister company NTT DoCoMo so the addition of Wi-Fi to their packages does provide subscribers with an element of mobility.


Other fixed-broadband operators follow a similar model to NTT East and NTT West whilst many others simply opt to include Wi-Fi as a free value-added services to their subscribers – although many doing this impose daily download limits to prevent over-usage.


Fixed-line broadband players offering schemes such as these are essentially trying to add additional value to their subscribers, they are not necessarily trying to make money from the Wi-Fi service itself.

For the mobile operators out there who include Wi-Fi as part of their service package there is a very different motive at play – these operators are not just trying to add more value that will increase customer loyalty they are also trying to – as most folks will know by now – offload data from congested mobile networks.


The idea from the mobile operators is simple, if they can take traffic off of crowded mobile networks – which are using expensive and limited mobile spectrum – and put it onto Wi-Fi networks with far greater capacity and which use fixed-line backhaul then they are making sizeable cost savings.


The idea behind this is that freeing up bandwidth on their mobile networks by offloading to Wi-Fi means that they can accommodate more paying customers onto their mobile networks and avoid the cost of putting more expensive capacity into their mobile networks.


The Wi-Fi offload plan has been around for a number of years now and has some big operators amongst its most devoted fans whilst other operators – including big players like Australian giant Telstra – have taken Wi-Fi off the table.


The reason for the skepticism is simple, many operators feel that Wi-Fi is an unnecessary distraction from their core goal of providing seamless, high-quality mobile connectivity and worry that they cannot guaranteed quality of service over Wi-Fi in the same way they can on their mobile networks.


Moreover, some operators say that in the continuing absence of truly seamless handover between mobile and Wi-Fi networks – although operators like Telefonica are focusing a lot on developing such technology – that it is too difficult for many subscribers to manually find and connect to Wi-Fi hot-spots.

What’s more, some operators say that the benefits of Wi-Fi as an off-loading mechanism for mobile network traffic are over-stated with UK operator O2 commenting at the recent Wi-Fi World conference in London that its Wi-Fi traffic was largely incremental and not offloaded – although this is by no means a universal view.


However, despite the concerns from some operators there are plenty more operators who are willing to bet pretty big that they can profit from Wi-Fi – although there are a number of different models taking shape in the market.


As most things do in the telecom market these days the choice for operators is between under-taking a go-it-alone strategy with Wi-Fi deployment or swallowing their pride and partnering with a specialist Wi-Fi service provider such as Fon, Boingo or iPass.


In particular, many operators are partnering with these Wi-Fi players to offer Wi-Fi roaming services to their subscribers when they travel overseas – in an effort to help their subscribers keep their devices active when travelling without experiencing bill-shock.


Taking this approach a step further German giant Deutsche Telekom has launched its WLAN TO GO venture – in partnership with fast growing Fon – in which users who share their home Wi-Fi hot-spots with other users are granted access to millions of other hot-spots across the world.


The Deutsche Telekom – Fon model is a great example of how out of the box thinking from market newcomers allied to the market power of established players can create a potentially compelling subscriber proposition.


What it also does is remind us that although Wi-Fi may come with some significant baggage – some of which can’t easily be unloaded – that it can play a crucial role in the value chain for operators.


So, whilst Wi-Fi as a standalone product might not be a huge earner for operators it can play a critical role in providing added value for subscribers and providing a point of difference for operators – and that’s not a bad starting point at all.


For all blogs posts by Tony Brown, visit Tony’s community profile.

Follow Tony Brown on Twitter @TonyBrownITM

Join Cisco at Small Cells MENA in Dubai, October 6-9, 2013


Small Cells MENA is the first dedicated gathering of regional small cells industry leaders in the Middle East. Senior representatives from mobile operators, regulatory authorities, industry associations, analysts, OEMS and component manufacturers from over 20 nations attend.


Cisco sees a great revenue opportunity for operators in the Middle East and Africa, especially around carrier-grade Wi-Fi, and we invite you to learn more about the opportunity, and about partnering with Cisco to take advantage of lessons we’ve learned from global small cell deployments.  In particular we’d like you to join us for our pre-conference workshop on Wi-Fi monetization, and we invite you to schedule a meeting with our subject matter experts who will be in town for the event:


  • October 6: Cisco will sponsor a half-day pre-conference workshop, “Business Innovation with Carrier-Grade Wi-Fi”


  • Overview of Wi-Fi Market trends, including End User View towards Wi-Fi Usage
  • Service Provider Small Cell Monetization Opportunities
  • Case Study –Wi-Fi Monetization with Regional Customer


  • October 8: Keynote, Jared Headley, Sr. Director Service Provider Mobility Marketing
    • 9:30: Overcoming the Backhaul Challenge: From Satellite to Fibre in the Urban and Rural Jungles: Jared Headley, Sr. Director, Service Provider Mobility Marketing
    • 14:00: Services Panel: How Small Cells Can Deliver Intelligent Services and Create Revenue Streams: Location Based Services—What is possible with Wi-Fi Networks Alongside Small Cells? — Stuart Taylor, Director, Cisco Consulting Services


Please work with your account manager to request meetings.



Learn more about Cisco's SP Wi-Fi solutions, please visit

Small Cells MENA

More Information on Cisco Events here

The deployment of outdoor small cell base stations has been inhibited by a number of complex issues: interference management between the macro and small cell layers, backhaul, traffic localization, logistics and cost of ownership.  Major R&D spend has focused in recent years on small cells networks.  Backhaul has received its share of that spending which I estimate at over $150 million during the last three years poured into new startup ventures and projects to design and commercialize 'small cell friendly' backhaul solutions.


Recently, I co-authored a report with Senza Fili Consulting that mapped the small cell backhaul space. What becomes apparent is that despite the different small cell wireless backhaul solutions available at the disposal of network operators there are fundamentally two technologies: non-line-of-sight (NLOS) and line-of-sight (LOS) solutions. Each of these solutions has their advantage and disadvantage. The investments have been on reducing the disadvantages of each category to reduce the barrier to small cell deployments.


LOS and NLOS solutions are diametrically opposed on the performance-usability continuum. Usability here means deep reach into the urban clutter where small cells are deployed. It also means ease of planning, installation and deployment. 


LOS systems which operate in the microwave and millimeter wave bands provide far superior performance than NLOS systems which operate in sub-6 GHz bands. There's more bandwidth available in the higher frequency spectrum resulting in higher capacity. LOS systems have low latency on the order of a few hundred microseconds.  They are also designed using well proven processes and techniques to achieve high link availability levels such as 99.99% of the time (or only 50 minute down time per year). On the other hand, LOS systems by definition requires clear, unobstructed path between the two end-nodes of the link which restricts the ability to reach a desired small cell location. Any future obstructions that arise can sever the backhaul link. This is no small problem in itself and I have seen many markets with extremely high density buildings rely on fiber backhaul for macrocells as LOS systems are prone to be blocked at some point.


NLOS systems on the other hand do not require clear, unobstructed path between the two link end-nodes. They will continue to operate despite at lower performance which can be managed through a design process prior to deployment. However, NLOS systems offer lower performance than LOS systems: lower capacity, higher latency and jitter, and lower link availability.

Figure 1 Small cell wireless backhaul systems differentiate along the performance-usability continuum


The disadvantages of either solution are inherent to baseline technologies and laws of physics. Mitigating these disadvantages is what vendors have focused on during the past three years. Today, we see two clear trends: attempts by LOS system vendors to improve usability and attempts by NLOS vendors to improve performance. Who will converge on the required solution for small cell deployments is still to be determined. 


To improve usability, vendors of LOS systems began incorporating self-alignment features that allow the two end-nodes of a link to automatically align with minimal human intervention. Today, self-alignment is mechanical and it remains to be seen whether this provides a long-term solutions. But I don't think we are far from seeing one day electronic alignment that eliminates the chances of mechanical failure. As a further improvement to usability, LOS systems can be deployed in a relay configuration to reach deep into the urban clutter. The high capacity of these systems is well suited to carry traffic from multiple small cell in a relay configuration back to a main serving hub.


On the other hand, NLOS vendors have been working to implement techniques that improve performance. NLOS systems have limited capacity, mainly because they use narrow channel bandwidth (typically maximum of 20 MHz in licensed band; higher bandwidth are possible in unlicensed bands at a much increased risk of interference). NLOS also relies on MIMO to double the capacity, but MIMO is highly dependent on signal quality. MIMO also requires distinct propagation channels for its multiple streams which is difficult to achieve within the confines of a limited space. With respect to latency, it is often counted in the milliseconds. Finally, the link availability is a design factor that is governed by a large standard deviation. Hence, investment in this field has been towards hardening the NLOS solutions for carrier grade applications. Vendors have progressively increased the channel bandwidth and incorporated techniques to address the perennial nemesis of performance: interference. This includes beamforming antenna systems and interference cancellation among other techniques.


Small cells have triggered new innovations in the backhaul space because of unique requirements predicated by the deployment scenario. Both LOS and NLOS systems seek to converge on a workable tradeoff between performance and usability, but each is approaching the solution from a different route. Which solution will be there first may not matter as much as who gets to the right price point for total cost of ownership. In the meantime, there is no consensus by operators on a fixed set of performance requirements for outdoor small cells. Unless we can converge on a cost effective solution to a defined set of requirements, predictions for imminent massive outdoor small cells deployments will not be realized.


For all blog posts by Frank Rayal, visit his community profile.

Follow Frank Rayal on Twitter @FrankRayal

My Last Contribution to the SP Mobility Community

My career has taken a sudden change for the good, and for the last two months I have been focusing on mastering a totally new set of skills, situation that has left me with almost no time to write contributions for the community. To write for this space has been enriching at so many levels of my life that is with a sense of loss that I write this last entry. I want to thank all the people that read my blog entries and have left comments and questions, all of you helped me to become a little better in something I never thought I could do. From December 2011 to September 2013 I have addressed many aspects of the wireless industry, a field that not only makes my living, but also is my passion and my hobby.


For this last entry I wanted to let go a little bit the restrictions I impose myself on the sources and scope of the content, to envision the wireless industry of the future, ahead 15 to 20 years; for sure, without hard restrictions this landscape is shaped more to my desires and expectations on the field, but it also includes concepts; like current and past industry evolution trends, current emerging technologies and normal service demands from the user, aspects that I have identified over my years of experience working in the industry. So here are nine aspects of the wireless industry of the future:

Image courtesy of Paola Buelvas (


1.       The Terminal

As today, several wireless devices will be used, but let’s talk about those which we will carry on at every moment. The multi-tool device or device set integrated with our anthropomorphism may be the norm in the future. Today’s smart glasses and smart watches fuel my expectation for the terminal of the future, my idea is that the user will have two main devices one “hands free” device maybe in the form of glasses and one “handheld” device in the form of a “bracelet”, both used together through Enhanced reality technology will extend the capabilities of the user interface making possible to have an enhanced virtual display without the need of a physical one. Each one also can work independently based on user needs, the bracelet will count with its own display made of flexible materials making it practical to wear and use. The set will be complemented by optional body sensors implanted or mounted on the human skin controlled by one or the two main devices.        


2.       The Subscription


Democratization” will be the concept ruling user subscriptions; users consume connectivity (access to service) and services per se, connectivity would be based on the type of service demanded by the user, meaning that one access provider will not always be chosen to deliver all services on that can run on top of the connectivity, for example the user may select one carrier provider for video streaming and another one for VoIP, the selection process will be heavily influenced by QoX (Quality of service or experience) that carrier provider can deliver for specific services, this doesn’t mean that the user will have to switch between providers each time he or she needs to use a service, but it means that the user will be able to, and will have its preference when it comes to each kind of specific service. This will change the user databases structure of the wireless industry and the charging mode. The main idea is to count with a global subscriber database (to ease the roaming service as well), which will be consulted by carrier and service providers (both providers will be needed), each time a subscriber attach to a carrier provider, the service profile of this user will be downloaded from the global database. Services will be added from various service providers depending on user’s needs, like so carrier providers will charge based on time and amount of connectivity demanded and service providers will charge based on agreed service.


3.       The Providers


As mentioned above, users will be more obviously seduced by two types of providers than today; those who will let you connect, and those who will provide the final service, I don’t infer that a company cannot provide both (which will be pose a regulation challenge since there’s no way to foresee network neutrality in such scenario), but my intention is to highlight that user will not “belong” to any carrier provider, he/she will be able to choose among the available providers based on many factors, forcing carriers to fiercely compete in terms of presence, quality, options to deploy innovative services, information about mass behaviors of wireless users (Big Data) to construct those innovative services, among others. Service providers will benefit from the fact that their service can be delivered by multiple networks and can foster new business models based on Carrier-Service interactions. Finally taking into account the options available today to construct service from Network capability abstraction platforms, I think that users in the future will become protagonist in the production of new services that other users will subscribe to.     


4.       The Usage habits

The concept of “Transparence of the service”. The idea behind this concept is that you can transfer your ongoing service or subscription details among your devices on the go, in real time, for example, if the user has a communication session going on his wireless device set, while walking to his car from the office, when entering the car the on-board system set identifies a communication session going and asks the customer if a transference to the on-board system is required, if the customer decides to transfer the session it will resume from the car system, if such session last long enough up to the user final destination, when at home the TV set or the home conference system will execute a similar procedure to ask permission to the customer to transfer the session to a more convenient communication set depending on user situational context. This will require the development of heavy coordination features and architectures covering, Radio Access Types, Networks, Devices and others. 


5.       The Wireless Access Network


The “Multiple Layers” concept will be pervasive in the wireless access, massive numbers of small cells within small cells, the separation of cells for uplink and downlink will be possible; an optimized control plane will enable to handle the coordination of the multiple layers and modes of the RAN, additionally this coordination will include the interworking with various RAT (Radio Access Technologies, i.e. WiFi) to ensure seamless mobility of the user, capabilities like SON (Self Organizing Networks) and integration of the Cloud concept to the handling of resources (Pool-like) will be common. Specific new applicability scenarios superseding M2M/MTC/D2D will emerge requiring the development of new access technologies, Adhoc mesh networks using vehicles and user devices will be mature adding flexibility and capacity to the RAN, so practical download speeds around 1Gb per user may be realizable. Last but not least, energy efficiency for the access network will become so important that national regulation bodies will consider this aspect as a priority.


6.       The Wireless Core Network


The core of the network will function mainly with the objective of provide quality of experience to the user, this means the core must be able to implement, identify, communicate, modify, control, report, provide matching and translation capabilities between different inter domains of the core network, of quality service parameters to realize the service; the core will also include context inference platforms that will aggregate real time environment and social sensor information to identify the situational context of the user to provide the right type of quality and services  under the specific usage contexts. Virtualization and Cloud concepts will also become common for core network structures, another concept that will grow into the future will be the production (and maybe commercialization) of Big Data models information taking advantage of the data aggregation platforms receiving information from all the sensors and MTC that will be functioning in the network. Finally the network will have very mature Self-service composition engines, based on the concept of today network abstraction layers; these engines will give the user the power to create services from other services and network capabilities without the need of deep technical knowledge of telecom networks or software developing skills.


7.       The security



Security breaches will grow exponentially accompanying the growth of the wireless industry, new business models will emerge founded in the premise of provide security not only at corporate level but at an individual user level as well, the wireless user will be 5 to 10 times more exposed than today to digital threats due to the proliferation of devices, new usage habits, multiple network connection options and many other aspects. Many security regulations and guidelines will be produced, but such dispositions will also be quickly outdated and overruled by the cyber criminals. Unfortunately I don´t see a brighter panorama for this topic.    



8.       The Spectrum



The infamous scarce resource. New chunks of spectrum will be included to the mobile broadband usable resource both for the upper and lower extremes, techniques of spectrum exploitation like shared spectrum, secondary usage through dynamic cognitive radio and probably new techniques will be common and will be implemented in several markets, at the same time the line that divides unlicensed and licensed spectrum for the cellular service provider will fade to become a common pool. Global harmonization process will be well ahead in the majority of big markets. And yes… it will continue to be referred as a scarce resource. 




9.       The Regulation bodies


As commented above and to summarize, the national regulation bodies’ main items in their agenda will be: Network power efficiency, Network neutrality, Harmonization of the spectrum resources, protection of the user against cybercrime, and regulation of electromagnetic emissions and the human health.



So there you have it, my final blog post for the community about my vision of the future wireless industry.


For more, follow me on Twitter, @jomaguo

For all blog posts written by Jorge Guzman Olaya, please visit his Community Profile



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Mi última contribución a la comunidad SP Mobility Community

Mi Carrera ha tomado un cambio repentino para mejor, y durante los últimos dos meses me he enfocado en dominar un conjunto de habilidades totalmente nuevo para mí, dicha situación me ha dejado con muy poco tiempo para escribir contribuciones para la comunidad. Escribir para este espacio ha si enriquecedor en tantas formas que al escribir esta última entrada siento que estoy abandonando algo de mí. Quiero agradecer a todas las personas que leyeron mis entradas de blog, y que dejaron comentarios y preguntas, todos ustedes me han ayudado a ser un poco mejor en algo que nunca pensé poder ser capaz de hacer. Desde diciembre de 2011 hasta septiembre de 2013 he abordado diversos temas de la industria inalámbrica, un campo que para mí no solo es mi profesión sino también mi pasión y mi pasatiempo.


Para esta última entrada me quise liberar un poco de las restricciones que me impongo sobre fuentes y alcances del contenido, para visualizar la industria inalámbrica del futuro, dentro de unos 15 o 20 años; de seguro, que sin dichas restricciones este panorama tundra la forma de mis deseos y expectativas sobre el sector, pero también incluirá conceptos como, tendencias actuales y futuras de la industria, tecnologías emergentes actuales y requerimientos de servicio del usuario, aspectos que he identificado durante mis años de experiencia trabajando para la industria. Así que aquí presento nueve aspectos de la industria inalámbrica del futuro:

Imagen courtesía de Paola Buelvas (


1. El  terminal

De la misma forma que hoy, se usarán diversos dispositivos inalámbricos, pero discutamos aquellos que llevaremos con nosotros a cada momento. El dispositivo multi-propósito o conjunto de dispositivos integrados con nuestro antropomorfismo será la norma en el futuro. Las gafas inteligentes así como los relojes inteligentes de la actualidad inspiran mi expectativa del terminal del futuro, mi idea es que el usuario tundra dos dispositivos principales uno que le permita “movilidad total” posiblemente del tipo anteojos y otra clase como “movilidad específica” tal vez en la forma  en la forma de un brazalete, ambos dispositivos usados simultáneamente junto con tecnologías de realidad aumentada extenderán las capacidades de la interfaz de usuario haciendo posible contar con un pantalla virtual mejorada sin la necesidad de una física. Cada uno funcionará también de forma independiente de acuerdo a la necesidad del usuario, el brazalete contará con su propia pantalla hecha con materiales flexibles convirtiéndola en fácil de usar y llevar puesta. El conjunto será complementado con sensores corporales opcionales implantados o impuestos en la piel humana y que serán controlados por uno o ambos dispositivos principales.        


2. La suscripción


La “democratización” será el concepto que gobernará las suscripciones; los usuarios consumirán conectividad (acceso al servicio) y servicios como tal, la conectividad podrá estar basada en el tipo de servicio solicitado por el usuario, esto significa que un proveedor de acceso no siempre será el mismo que entregará todos los servicios que pueden montarse encima de la conectividad, por ejemplo, el usuario podría seleccionar un proveedor para el servicio de difusión de video y otro para VoIP, el proceso de selección se verá altamente influenciado por la QoX (Calidad de servicio o experiencia) que un proveedor de acceso pueda entregar para cierto tipo de servicios, esto no significa que el usuario tendrá que alternar entre proveedores cada vez que él o ella requiera de un servicio, lo que significa es que el usuario podrá hacerlo, y muy seguramente tendrá sus preferencias a la hora de utilizar un servicio específico. Esto alterará la estructura de las bases de datos de usuarios de la industria y la forma en la que se tarifica. La idea principal es que exista una base de datos de usuario global (para facilitar el servicio de roaming al mismo tiempo), que será consultada tanto por proveedores de acceso como de servicio (los dos tipos de proveedores serán necesarios), cada vez que el suscriptor se registre con un proveedor de acceso, el perfil de servicio de este usuario será descargado de la base de datos global de usuario. Los servicios serán añadidos desde varios proveedores de servicio dependiendo de las necesidades del usuario, así los proveedores de acceso cobrarán basados en tiempo y cantidad de conexión y los proveedores de servicio cobrarán con base en el servicio acordado.


3. Los proveedores


Como se mencionó arriba, los usuarios serán seducidos de una forma más obvia que en la actualidad por dos tipos de proveedores; aquellos que le permiten conectarse, y aquellos que proveerán el servicio final, no quiero inferior que una sola compañía no pueda proveerlos ambos (lo que plantearía un reto regulatorio ya que no habría forma de garantizar neutralidad de red en dicho escenario), sino más bien mi intención es resaltar que el usuario no “pertenecerá” a ningún proveedor de acceso, él/ella podrán escoger entre los proveedores disponibles basados en varios aspectos, forzando una competencia feroz en términos de presencias, calidad, opciones de despliegue de servicios innovadores, información sobre comportamientos de masas de usuarios móviles (Big Data) para construir otros servicios innovadores, entre otros. Los proveedores de servicio se beneficiarán del hecho que su servicio podrá ser entregado por múltiples redes lo que puede propiciar nuevos modelos de servicio basados en la interacción Acceso-Servicio. Finalmente teniendo en cuenta las opciones disponibles actualmente para construir servicios usando plataformas de abstracción de capacidades de la red, considero que los usuarios del futuro se convertirán en protagonistas en la producción de  nuevos servicios a los que otros usuarios terminarán suscribiéndose.     


4. Los hábitos de uso

El concepto de “transparencia del servicio”. La idea detrás de este concepto es que usted pueda transferir cualquier servicio en funcionamiento o detalles de suscripción entre dispositivos en tiempo real, por ejemplo,  si el usuario tiene activa una sesión de comunicación en su conjunto de dispositivos inalámbricos, mientras camina hacia su carro desde la oficina, cuando entre al automóvil, el sistema de abordo identifique la sesión de comunicación en curso y le pregunte al usuario si se requiere una transferencia de la sesión al sistema de abordo, si el usuario decide transferir la comunicación, ésta continuará desde el sistema del automóvil, si dicha sesión dura lo suficiente hasta el destino final del usuario, una vez que se encuentre en su casa el sistema de televisión o el sistema de conferencia casero, ejecutará un procedimiento similar para solicitar permiso al usuario para transferir la sesión a un sistema más conveniente dependiendo del contexto situacional del usuario. Esto requerirá el desarrollo de complejas funcionalidades de coordinación y arquitecturas que cubran; tipos de acceso de radio, redes, dispositivos y otros. 


5. La red de acceso inalámbrico


Las “capas múltiples” será el concepto omnipresente del acceso inalámbrico, cantidades masivas de celdas dentro de celdas, será posible la separación de celdas para subida y bajada; existirá un plano de control optimizado que permitirá manejar la coordinación de varias capas y modos de la RAN, adicionalmente esta coordinación incluirá la interacción de varios RAT (Radio Access Technologies, i.e. WiFi) para asegurar la movilidad del usuario, funcionalidades como SON (Self Organizing Networks) y la integración del concepto de la nube (Cloud) al manejo de recursos (estilo reserva común) será común. Nuevos escenarios de aplicabilidad reemplazando a M2M/MTC/D2D emergerán requiriendo el desarrollo de nuevas tecnologías de acceso, las redes en malla tipo Adhoc usando vehículos y dispositivos de usuario estarán maduras agregando flexibilidad y capacidad a la RAN, así velocidades prácticas de bajada de alrededor de 1Gb por usuario serán realizables. Por último pero no menos importante, la eficiencia en el consumo de energía para las redes de acceso será tan importante que los entes de regulación nacionales considerarán este aspecto como prioridad.


6. El núcleo de la red inalámbrica


El núcleo de la red funcionará principalmente con el objetivo de proveer calidad de experiencia al usuario, esto significa que el núcleo de estar en capacidad de implementar, identificar, comunicar, modificar, controlar, reportar, proveer capacidades de correlación y traducción entre dominios diferentes al interior de la red, de parámetros de calidad de servicio; el núcleo también incluirá plataformas de inferencia de contexto que combinarán en tiempo real información de sensores ambientales y sociales que identificarán el contexto situacional del usuario para proveer el tipo adecuado de calidad y servicios bajo contextos específicos de uso. Los conceptos virtualización y la nube serán comunes para estructuras del núcleo de la red, otro concepto que se consolidará en el futuro será la producción (y muy posiblemente la comercialización) de información de modelos tipo Big Data tomando ventaja de plataformas de agregación de información recibida desde todos los sensores y MTC que funcionará en la red. Finalmente se tendrán motores de composición de autoservicios maduros, basados en el concepto actual de abstracción de las capas de red; estos motores le darán al usuario el poder de crear servicios a partir de otros servicios y funcionalidades de la red sin la necesidad de poseer un conocimiento técnico sobre redes de telecomunicaciones o habilidades de desarrollo de software.


7. La seguridad


Las brechas de seguridad crecerán exponencialmente acompañando el crecimiento de la industria inalámbrica, emergerán nuevos modelos de negocio basados en la premisa de proveer seguridad no solo a nivel corporativo sino también a nivel del usuario individual, el usuario inalámbrico estará expuesto entre 5 a 10 veces más de lo que lo está en la actualidad a las amenazas digitales debido a la proliferación de dispositivos, nuevos hábitos de uso, múltiples formas de conexión a la red y varios otros aspectos. Varias regulaciones y lineamientos de seguridad serán producidos, pero al mismo tiempo serán obsoletos o derribados por criminales digitales. Desafortunadamente no veo un mejor panorama en este punto.    


8. Espectro


El infame recurso escaso. Nuevos segmentos de espectro serán incluidos al recurso usable para banda ancha móvil tanto para el extremo superior como para el inferior, técnicas de explotación del espectro como espectro compartido, uso secundario por medio de radio consciente y probablemente nuevas técnicas de aprovechamiento existirán y serán implementadas en varios mercados, al mismo tiempo se desvanecerá la línea que divide el espectro licenciado del no licenciado para proveedores celulares convirtiéndose en una reserva común. El proceso de armonización global estará muy adelantado en la mayor parte de los mercados más importantes. Y sí... seguirá siendo referenciado como el recurso escaso. 




9. Los entes reguladores


Como se comentó anteriormente y para resumir, los entes de regulación nacional contemplarán como puntos claves de su agenda: Eficiencia en el consumo de potencia, Neutralidad de la red, Armonización del espectro, protección del usuario contra criminales digitales y control de las emisiones radioeléctricas dañinas para los humanos.




Ahí lo tienen, mi último blog para la comunidad sobre mi visión del futuro de la industria inalámbrica.


Para más, sígame en Twitter, @jomaguo


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Long Term Evolution (LTE) is central to the growth strategies of Middle East operators. In the past two years, there have been commercial launches in countries such as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), as well as trials in places such as Qatar. However, a lack of spectrum availability remains central to the LTE discussions currently taking place in the region. In fact, I wrote about this in one of my earlier blogs (Prospects of Small Cells in the Middle East Region), detailing how small cells could help solve this issue to some degree.


However, while additional spectrum remains elusive, operators have found others ways to support their LTE ambitions. One of the most popular and flexible approaches for such LTE launches is spectrum refarming. Spectrum refarming relates to reusing existing 3G spectrum licenses for launching new technologies such as LTE. The costs associated with this approach are significantly lower than acquiring new LTE spectrum licenses (Source: Deloitte). By adopting this approach, operators free up a part of their spectrum (usually to the tune of about 30%) and use it to support LTE services.


The Middle East region has already witnessed a wave of spectrum refarming. In KSA, all three mobile operators launched LTE services in September 2011. The LTE networks of STC and Mobily LTE networks, which operate on the 2.3 GHz and 2.6 GHz spectrum bands, respectively, are based on the time-division duplexing (TDD) version of LTE (TD-LTE). The third operator, Zain, operates a frequency-division duplexing (FDD) version of LTE (FDD-LTE) in the 1.8 GHz spectrum band. All three are refarming existing spectrum for their rollouts. Similarly, within the UAE, Etisalat launched its commercial FDD-LTE network in December 2011 using the 2.6 GHz spectrum. By the middle of next year, Etisalat will also start refarming its 1.8 GHz spectrum to ensure better LTE coverage. In June 2012, du announced the launch of its own FDD-LTE network on the 1.8 GHz refarmed spectrum.


With LTE gaining strategic prominence, operators are evaluating the best possible approaches to offer LTE in an ideal combination of broadband tariffs, coverage area, and network capacity. As is evident from the above examples, the 1.8 GHz spectrum band has emerged as one of the prime candidates for refarming initiatives. Launching LTE on the refarmed 1.8 GHz band is very advantageous for operators. As this spectrum is usually reserved for 3G services, large chunks of this spectrum are easily available. Operators can make use of this available spectrum to offer LTE and therefore enhance the revenue potential of their spectrum (as LTE services are usually more expensive than 3G services).


Overall, there are quite a few reasons why refarming has become so important to the region's operators:

  • Lack of Additional Spectrum Usually, there is not much spectrum available to exclusively launch LTE services. Even when the suitable spectrum is identified, it usually takes a few years to free it for the use of telecom operators and, when available, the cost of this spectrum is usually very high (I discussed this concept in a bit more detail in one of my recent IDC reports, Nationwide LTE in South Africa: Is It Now a Step Closer?, July 2013). As such, operators are trying to refarm their 1.8 GHz spectrum in a bid to squeeze out the maximum returns from their existing spectrum assets.
  • Better Coverage Area – Operators, such as Etisalat, that initially launched LTE on the higher spectrum bands (e.g., 2.6 GHz) have realized the advantage of the lower bands (e.g., 1.8 GHz) for LTE services. The lower bands are able to cover almost double the area than the higher bands, meaning they can reduce the cost of LTE roll outs by about half. (The concept of frequency bands and coverage area was discussed in much greater detail in one of my earlier blog posts – Digital Dividend Within the Middle East Region: LTE and the Sub-1 GHz Spectrum
  • Supporting Device Ecosystem There are quite a few devices available on the market (e.g., Nokia Lumia 920, Apple iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S4) that support LTE on the 1.8 GHz band. This has allowed operators to support both their LTE and non-LTE customers on the same band.


It is for the above reasons that spectrum refarming will continue to gain importance as an interim LTE solution while telcos wait for new spectrum to be allocated by the relevant regulators. However, operators that refarm their spectrum for LTE also need to account for some key challenges.


Firstly, there is the question of 3G service quality. The key to an efficient refarming of the 1.8 GHz band for LTE is to ensure that the quality of experience for 3G subscribers is not diminished. The main concern with refarming is that operators find it challenging to clear enough spectrum to efficiently deploy LTE while maintaining adequate capacity in the remaining spectrum to support non-LTE traffic.


The other big issue with refarming is that of interoperability, which relates to a smooth hand over between the LTE and non-LTE (2G / 3G) traffic. Currently, most of the developments in LTE are focused on enabling faster data access, while the enablement of voice is still in its nascent stages. To ensure interoperability, operators could follow one of two possible approaches: The first approach is to enable 'Circuit Switched Fallback (CSFB)', which involves transitioning a subscriber from LTE to an existing 3G (or 2G) network in order to use voice services. The other approach is to use IMS-based VoLTE (voice-over-LTE), which provides VoIP services and high-speed data services simultaneously.


Currently, CSFB is proving to be a short-term solution for voice enablement, but it is riddled with drawbacks that include high call setup times, coverage concerns, and greater strain on device batteries. In the long run, VoLTE solutions are expected to become the default voice standard for LTE. Operators in the Middle East region have also backed VoLTE. During 2012, Etisalat was conducting trials with smartphone vendors to test VoLTE solutions. Similarly, du and STC also expect to implement VoLTE when the optimal solutions are available.


Even when all the technical solutions are available, refarming is usually implemented in a phased manner so as to ensure smooth transition between LTE and non-LTE subscribes. The Middle East region still has a lot of subscribers using non-LTE handsets. Consequently, a considerable amount of traffic (especially voice traffic) still exists on these non-LTE devices, and this is not expected to change in the immediate future. To achieve a full LTE throughput, operators require about 20 MHz of bandwidth. However, they usually implement this in phases, beginning first from 5 MHz or 10 MHz and slowly increasing further, in proportion with the reductions in non-LTE traffic. During its initial LTE launch, Etisalat has anticipated this process to take about two years (Source: Telecoms).


As LTE services gain further momentum, more and more subscribers will upgrade from non-LTE to LTE connections. Refarming has emerged as a key solution to help achieve this LTE migration in a network-efficient manner that reduces not just the overall investment required, but also the speed of the LTE rollouts themselves.


Note: Read more about the prospects of LTE in the Middle East in my recent IDC report – LTE in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar: 2011–2012 Market Analysis and 2013–2017 Forecast, July 2013.


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