Last week I attended Huawei’s Global Mobile BroadBand Forum in Oslo. It featured a host of speakers leading a wide-ranging discussion that touched on LTE roll-out, network congestion, technical innovations and commercialisation.
So, after listening to all the speakers, and with a large tip of the hat to Sports Illustrated’s celebrated columnist Peter King, aka the Monday Morning Quarterback, here are “ten things I think I think” about what’s happening in mobile broadband…
1 – LTE roll-out is easy
According to TeliaSonera’s Tommy Ljunggren, rolling out LTE is a piece of cake. “Do it now” was Tommy’s over-riding message. Of course, when you deploy LTE as a stand-alone overlay data network some of those pesky issues of integration with the existing network disappear. What’s more, customers don’t seem to complain when the data call drops as they move out of the service area and they have to re-establish the connection. Let’s face it – they probably blame Windows anyway. But TeliaSonera’s approach meant they got there first, are establishing a market, and can tackle integration later.
2 – Telenor goes for all-in-one
In contrast, Sigurd Thunem of Telenor outlined the operator’s step-by-step path to integrate LTE right across the network, deploying a Single RAN to ease the process. Telenor’s vision takes longer to roll-out and presents more initial challenges – but the resulting nationwide network will combine 3G and 4G from day one.
3 – Let the sunshine in
Those boys at Qualcomm don’t stop pushing the technology. Their latest target is battery life and screen performance; two normally contrasting demands. Qualcomm’s newly developed Mirasol screen technology uses the sun and mirrors to replace traditional backlighting and reflect light from the front in all weather conditions. The screen is brighter and easy to read, and the battery lasts longer. If it works in London in February they are on to a winner and, in any case, it makes a change from the ‘smoke and mirrors’ approach tech companies sometimes employ.
4 – The rise of the app market and the birth of the HetNet
Huawei’s Zhu Haobing revealed that the number of apps currently available in the marketplace had reached 350,000 in 2010 – up from just 1000 ten years ago. Not to be outdone, he also outlined how the company’s SingleRAN@Broad development is designed to set the stage for a 500-fold increase in total network capacity through the creation of a multi-layered Heterogeneous Network – or HetNet as he called it. Long suffering journalists and other writers will surely support the shorter form of words.
5 – All-you-can-eat lives on – but don’t be greedy
Emma Mohr-McClune of Current Analysis said the company’s ongoing research project covering 17 markets and 60 operators shows that ‘all-you-can-eat’ data plans are not on the way out – it’s just that the plates are getting smaller. As usage builds, networks re-define the term ‘unlimited’ and introduce new tariffs for the heaviest users.
6 – It’s hotting up inside
Jorge Delrio of Telus confirmed the importance of femtocells in LTE and mobile broadband networks. Jorge revealed that since launching the network’s HSPA+ technology last November the network had discovered that some 75-80 percent of mobile data traffic was generated indoors. Femtocells play a vital role off-loading traffic in what he termed “self-organised networks.”
7 – YouTube loves mobile
Apparently, the second most-searched website in the world is now YouTube – and the results are often more fun. But the iconic video platform is not fully satisfied with its next generation and much improved mobile browser interface, codenamed Blazer. It gets us “closer” to ticking all the boxes, said the company in a refreshing outbreak of honesty.
8 – How to ease congestion in a heartbeat
Working with Huawei, Singaporean operator StarHub is using the network paging channel to allow smartphones to maintain an always-on heartbeat connection that can reduce the signalling load at the RNC by as much as 83 percent. StarHub’s Peter Cook said this innovation could help operators weather (so to speak) what he memorably termed the ‘smartphone signalling storm.’
9 – Different strokes
The panel discussion at the end of the Forum broadly agreed that mobile broadband suppliers will quickly need to develop different tariff approaches for consumers, corporations and small businesses to attempt to ease and spread the traffic load. The operator that suggested “aggressively throttling” the bandwidth hogs drew some sympathy but not universal support. Design a tariff for them was the more popular suggestion – see point 5 above.
10 – No age restriction here…
And finally, the Forum heard the story of a Facebook user in China some 105 years-old, who is using a mobile broadband connection to access the site and publish memories and stories about his life – attracting thousands of ‘friends’ in the process. The greatest story never sold perhaps.
The editorial views expressed in this article are solely those of the author(s) and will not necessarily reflect the views of the GSMA, its Members or Associate Members