Archive for the ‘Broadband’ category

4G Data will blow your…4G explained.

April 30, 2009


The current state of mobile networks is that we use 2.5G and 3G networks—mid-second-gen and newer third-gen data protocols. On the Verizon and Sprint side, known as CDMA, 2.5G is referred to as 1XRTT, or just 1X. On the AT&T and T-Mobile side, GSM, the 2.5G flavor is EDGE. Verizon and Sprint’s 3G is EVDO, while AT&T and T-Mobile have HSDPA (you might not know that one, since they usually just say “3G”).

Second gen wireless was basically just the leap to a digital network, and third gen is a closer attempt at true mobile broadband—kind of. Right now, with their 3G networks, they can all get you typical speeds of around 1 Megabit per second downstream, give or take (though the specs are rated for peak speeds of 3Mbps down on EVDO Rev. A, and 3.6 on HSDPA). 3G has a bit of breathing room left in it—EVDO Rev. B is capable of downstream speeds of 14.7Mbps , while the current HSDPA spec will go up to 14.4Mbps downstream with the right equipment, and depending on how far down the HSPA spec sheet you wanna go, maybe even faster.

But the fourth generation is already on its way. Technically, no wireless technology is officially 4G. But that’s what everybody’s calling WiMax and Long-Term Evolution, because they both promise crazyfast mobile internet speeds that leave the current 3G in the dirt. In the US, the main WiMax player is Clearwire, which Sprint owns 51 percent of after they combined their operations into one company and actually gave WiMax a chance to live. LTE is championed by AT&T (which makes sense because it was developed initially by companies who mainly build GSM networks like AT&T and T-Mobile’s). Verizon also selected LTE, which blew everyone away at first because Verizon isn’t in the GSM camp, but it makes sense because Verizon’s parent company, Vodafone, is gung-ho for LTE in Europe, where everyone’s on GSM.

WiMax and LTE,  use the same fundamental technology, they both use orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing access and they’re both IP (internet protocol) based. More simply, you can kind of think of the difference between WiMax and LTE as a software, not a hardware thing (kind of like Macs and PCs using the same Intel chip). Alcatel-Lucent, who makes the 4G wireless hardware, is actually building hardware that is on a common platform. In fact, some point in the future it’s possible to harmonize”LTE and WiMax.

Here’s what the fundamental difference is: Time division duplexing versus frequency division duplexing. AT&T TDD is like CB radios or walkie-talkies—when one person is talking, the other person can’t talk. The same channel is used for downstream and upstream, so the transmission is divided up over very tiny increments of time. Clearwire’s says they currently use a 2/3 downstream and 1/3 upstream split, so 2/3 of the time, you’re swallowing data, and 1/3 of the time. With LTE, it’s more like a modem or phone conversation. It separates the available bandwidth into two parts—one operating downstream full time, and one operating upstream—so you both can talk back and forth at the same time.

The special think about WiMax and LTE is, how fast can they really get. The amswer is,  The channel width. LTE and WiMax use really fat wireless channels, so they can move a lot of data at once. For example,  peak speed for LTE in 10MHz is about 140Mbps and peak speed in 20MHz is about 300Mbps. The thing about them being OFDM is that it makes them more flexible than 3G, since they can use a wide range of spectrum—LTE can use anything from the 1.4MHz channel up through 20MHz—whereas current 3G always uses 5MHz.

WiMax is no slouch either, technically capable of up to 72Mbps.

Another thing about those superfat channels is that they don’t reach as far out from the tower, and your response drops (obviously) as you get farther away.  They’re going to need to build more cell sites. That’s why building out 4G is very pricey.  If you thought 3G rollout was slow, 4G might be slower.

Here’s what the real-soon-future looks like: Verizon isn’t dicking around, and is doing commercial rollouts of LTE in 2010, while AT&T is following up with their commercial trials in 2011. (AT&T says Verizon “is in a big rush to move to LTE because their 3G technology gives them no room” to increase bandwidth and that red is a stupid color, nyah nyah nyah.) Clearwire has rolled out WiMax to a few cities already, and plans to have 120 million covered by the end of 2010. Verizon says they’re getting about 60Mbps in testing, but expect it to be more like cable modem speeds when it launches—like Clearwire has now. For the reasons we mentioned above, and also because there won’t be devices that can handle that kind of ridiculous speed—as you probably guessed, battery life being a major reason.

Will one standard eventually beat the other into submission, slinking away into the night, arm and arm with Betamax and HD DVD? Well, LTE does have a lot of momentum—the two biggest carriers in the US are rolling with it, and as part of the GSM family, you can bet all of the GSM carriers all over the world will be on board. In fact, there’s no real technological reason to pick one over the other and just like now where multiple technologies exist for economic reasons, it’ll be the same thing with WiMax and LTE.


Broadband bubbles from your wallet…

April 27, 2009


2009, Verizon Wireless & LTE, together.

December 11, 2008

Verizon Wireless CTO Dick Lynch said the operator expects to have Long Term Evolution technology in service somewhere in the U.S. by December 2009. Lynch, speaking at Cisco Systems’ C-Scape conference in San Jose, also said Verizon will offer femtocells, which will likely include WiFi as an added feature, shortly after introducing LTE.

“A femtocell of LTE or an access point of WiFi is a really critical component of the way customers want their broadband delivered,” Lynch said.

Verizon’s move represents an aggressive timeframe for LTE, which has largely been understood to hit the market in 2010. However, speakers at this week’s LTE America’s conference indicated they were skeptical that a 2010 LTE launch was attainable, according to an article in RCR News. LTE was supposed to be standardized by the end of this year, but the date has now been pushed to March.

Qualcomm has also recently issued an aggressive timeline for releasing engineering samples of its LTE/HSPA+ device modem. It is trying for the second quarter of 2009. The company, however, cautioned commercial availability of of the MDM9000 “still depends on a number of very uncertain factors, many of which are dependent on mobile network operators’ plans and investment priorities about how and when to roll out this next stage of wireless technology,” said Enrico Salvatori, senior vice president and general manager for Qualcomm Europe, speaking at the company’s inaugural European Innovation Summit last week.

Why the rush for Verizon? Ken Hyers, analyst with Technology Business Research, said in a recent interview that Verizon desires to push aggressively with LTE because it’s running out of data capacity on its CDMA EVDO network and must compete with higher speed HSPA+ AT&T Wireless is rolling out before its own LTE launch.

“The operator’s entire reputation is built around network quality and coverage and having the best network,” Hyers said. Verizon “will have to continue increasing data capacity.”

RCR Wireless: VZW plan to deploy LTE in 2009 could rely on non-standard technology.

Obama commits to broadband investment.

December 11, 2008


  President-elect Barack Obama indicated in his weekly radio and YouTube address Saturday that broadband and national Internet access would be part of what has been referred to by observers as the “new New Deal,” Obama’s plan to attack economic crisis and rampant unemployment through massive national infrastructure investment. In the early 20th Century, that meant money for highway construction and other public works projects, but in the 21st Century, the Internet is getting added to the list.

Obama said Saturday, “It is unacceptable that the United States ranks 15th in the world in broadband adoption.” Glad we finally know where he stands on that issue-we’re kidding, since among other things, Obama already is being called the first broadband-conscious president. Obama also unfortunately resurrected the phrase “information superhighway.”

Obama’s verbal commitment to broadband and Internet investment comes after an aide to House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) last week indicated that Congress would include technology infrastructure investment as part of a multi-industry economic stimulus package. Also, Obama’s words answered the “Call to Action for a National Broadband Strategy” made by a coalition of dozens of telecom companies just over a week ago.

Broadcasting & Cable: Obama Vows Broadband Expansion in Recovery Plan.

Clearwire + Nextel = The New Clearwire.

November 30, 2008
Clearwire and Sprint Nextel announced today that they have completed the transaction to combine their next-generation wireless Internet businesses. With the closing, Sprint contributed all of its 2.5 GHz spectrum and its WiMAX-related assets, including its XOHM business, to Clearwire. In addition, Clearwire has received a $3.2 Billion cash investment from Comcast, Intel, Time Warner Cable, Google and Bright House Networks.

The transaction with Sprint and the new cash investment were completed on the terms originally announced on May 7, 2008. The new company retains the name Clearwire and remains headquartered in Kirkland, Washington. The deal, announced in May, will provide funding for Sprint and Clearwire to build the network and allow cable providers to offer wireless services to help them compete with rivals AT&T and Verizon. It will use Sprint’s existing broadcast wireless towers and its wired fiber network.

On Monday, December 1, 2008, at 10 a.m. Eastern Time (7 a.m. Pacific Time), Clearwire will hold a conference call for press and industry analysts to share its perspective and provide other details about the new company.

Sprint, which had earlier said they’d spend some $5 billion by 2010 building their WiMAX network across the United States, will now own about 51 percent of the new company. Sprint’s new partners will invest some $3 billion. Clearwire will own about 27 percent. Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Intel, Google and Bright House will get a combined 22 percent.

The partners have put the value of the deal at $12 billion, a figure that includes radio spectrum and equipment provided by Sprint Nextel and Clearwire, and the $3.2 billion invested by the partners.

Clearwire will be the only company allowed to sell 4G access as a standalone service, according to Sprint CTO Berry West. Sprint will essentially access the network as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), selling combined 3G and 4G access plans. Clearwire CEO Ben Wolff told the Seattle Times that, ultimately,the company could “get to 20,000 or 30,000 employees” nationally. Clearwire has about 2,000 employees now, including 350 to 400 at its Kirkland headquarters. Sprint has about 700 in its WiMax unit, including a research and development group in Herndon, Va.

Clearwire’s next rollout is expected to be in Portland, Oregon, early next year, where the company has been testing the system with partner Intel for the last year.

Clearwire: Next Stop, Portland 2009.

November 11, 2008

While Clearwire still isn’t revealing the details of its WiMAX rollout plan, reports Telephony Magazine, CEO of New Clearwire, Ben Wolff, said that will come after the Sprint deal closes. That will probably be after the stockholder meeting on November 20th.
Clearwire’s trial in Portland—its first planned market launch—is now hosting 200 friendly users. In December, Clearwire will begin to allow commercial customers on the network, but unlike Sprint, Clearwire won’t be launching any commercial networks this year.

Portland will commercially launch in the beginning of 2009, followed by Las Vegas, Atlanta and Grand Rapids, Mich., according to Telephony. Sprint has already launched Xohm commercially in Baltimore and has promised to bring Washington, D.C., and Chicago online by the end of the year.

FCC telecom overhaul vote delayed.

November 4, 2008

 Under pressure from Congress and consumer groups, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Kevin Martin has canceled a vote tomorrow on a plan to overhaul intercarrier compensation and Universal Service Fund (USF) regulation.

Martin had proposed a “dramatic” update of inter-carrier compensation, along with a review of the way phone companies receive and can spend Universal Service Fund monies, but lawmakers and advocacy groups wanted to get a look at the details as to what would be proposed while giving affected parties the chance to comment. 

Reform details had been closely held, but reports said the rule changes would have resulted in the abolishment of the complex set of accounting “settlements” between larger carriers and rural phone companies, in exchange for a simplified rate policy that would have likely boosted rural phone line fees by a couple of dollars.

In addition, Universal Service Fund monies would have been used to compensate rural carriers for lost moneys, but USF funds would have to be specifically invested in broadband expansion.

If intercarrier compensation was reformed, large phone companies would stand to save the most money between lower fees and simplified accounting, while smaller rural carriers would lose out on a major source of revenue.

Last week, 100 members of Congress publicly petitioned the FCC to delay the vote while behind-the-scenes discussions took place between Capital Hill and the FCC commissioners.

FCC: FCC announces the removal of vote on wireline compensation.