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Live From CTIA: Broadband Is Not Telephone
|06 апреля 2009|
Last year, U.S. wireless subscribers burned through 2.2 trillion minutes and 1 trillion worth of SMS. As such, mobile data accounts for 25 percent of a carrier’s revenues, and all that from 270 million users.
Based on this information, the talk of the CTIA 2009 show in Las Vegas is broadband, broadband and more broadband. But what kind of broadband? Clearly, Long Term Evolution (LTE) is the favored acronym this year, although the term “WiMAX” is being bandied about with abandon; some 26 carriers worldwide already have committed to LTE, with Verizon Wireless apparently leading the pack, with first deployments scheduled for sometime next year. But there is controversy regarding whether the next generation of technology really is needed so quickly.
Some analysts have predicted 250 million U.S. wireless broadband subscribers by 2013, and there are two schools of thought on how to prepare to serve them. One way is via LTE deployment and additional spectrum, although Perry LaForge, executive director at the CDMA Development Group, believes the advanced technology is not appropriate for all markets, leading to the second methodology of just beefing up the 3G networks already in service. “We’re just now getting carriers to get into EVDO Rev. A around the world, They will maximize their investments and say they will ‘support’ LTE, but they won’t say when.”
His opinion is echoed by Samir Khazaka, senior director/technical marketing at Qualcomm, who adds, “Broadband already is here, and we use it every day for all sorts of things. There is no revolution out there enabling IT services, so why do we need to look at new technologies? The carriers already have made their choices, and competition will come from differentiation.”
WiMAX gear maker Alvarion just got the nod from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Utilities Service for its BreezeMAX platform that works in the 3.65 GHz band, a necessity for carriers requesting funds from the Rural Broadband Access Loan program for the purpose of purchasing and deploying broadband systems. Alvarion’s RUS approved products are field-proved and commercially deployed in the United States. Mohammad Shakouri, corporate vice president/innovation and marketing at the company (and he also serves as vice president of the WiMAX Forum), also doesn’t believe throwing more spectrum at the market is needed for increased consumption of next-gen mobile data.
“There is plenty of spectrum out there, and we do lots of business at 3.65 GHz,” he says. “Consumers don’t care how they are connected. They just want to be connected. You can’t look at mobile broadband with a cellular mindset. 4G is not all about mobility. Broadband is not telephone.” Alvarion President and CEO Tzvika Friedman adds, “It’s all about the end user doing all things from all places.”
So What Else Is New?
Here are some snippets from a few of the product/service announcements made during Day One of the show:
Skype says the “lite” version of Skype, a “thin” Skype client for mobile phones, will be available soon as a free download for BlackBerry smartphones. A beta version will be available in May for the BlackBerry Bold and the BlackBerry Curve, with support for other BlackBerry smartphones coming later. The app works wherever a mobile phone works, without a Wi-Fi connection. It uses local air time and a mobile Internet connection to sign in to Skype, to update a contact list and presence, and to send/receive calls or messages. Users must have both a calling plan and a data plan to use Skype “lite.”
Skype “lite” will be available in 10 countries: Australia, Brazil (Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo), Denmark, Estonia, Finland, New Zealand, Poland, Sweden, the United States and the U.K. English will be supported first, with additional languages to follow.
Clearwire Communications LLC, an operating subsidiary of Clearwire Corporation, unveiled the CLEAR Spot Personal Hotspot, an accessory it says enables standard Wi-Fi products to connect to the Internet, “at true broadband speeds,” via the company’s CLEAR mobile WiMAX service. The CLEAR Spot creates a personal Wi-Fi hot spot that travels with wireless subscribers anywhere they happen to be within the CLEAR service area. Manufactured by CradlePoint, the device is a portable, battery-powered router that seamlessly connects as many as eight Wi-Fi devices to the Internet. Customers simply insert the CLEAR USB Modem (available for $49) into the router and an instant Wi-Fi hot spot is created. The CLEAR Spot router will be available soon, priced at $139.
The Mass.-based Verizon Wireless LTE Innovation Center “will leverage the wireless leader’s experience to help developers assess what types of new products and services may best succeed in the marketplace,” the carrier says. Adds Roger Gurnani, its senior vice president/product development, “With support from two of the most important wireless infrastructure companies on the globe, Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent, we expect to provide innovative companies with the tools they require to launch a whole new generation of wireless consumer and business products and services.”
The Center is expected to see significant activity across three product areas: 1) consumer electronics and appliances; machine-to-machine products in the areas of health care, security and utility metering; and telematics. It will support early stages of product development, including concept validation, usability studies, product design analysis, prototyping, and lab and field trials. Verizon Wireless then helps the developer bring that product to market.
Alcatel-Lucent introduced its Evolved Packet Core, an all-IP portfolio designed specifically for carriers planning to offer mobile broadband services using LTE technology. It incorporates four elements: the Mobility Management Entity; the Dynamic Services Controller, which manage dynamic mobility and policy; the Serving Gateway; and the Packet Data Network Gateway, implemented as plug-in hardware and software modules for the Alcatel-Lucent 7750 Service Router. With the 7750 SR, carriers reportedly are able to deploy a single router that supports 2G, 3G and LTE as well as wireline networks, thus reducing cost, complexity and space requirements.