At a briefing last week, I spoke with Tejaswini Tilak, global head of carrier services at Telstra, who updated me on its newly launched mobile operator IPX (IP Exchange) platform. Marketed as the Telstra Global IPX Service, this service aims to enhance international roaming and next-generation mobility services for operators seeking to exchange long-term evolution (LTE) data traffic. The service promises:
An optimized network. Using a single channel, the Telstra Global IPX Service allows mobile operators to optimize their networks to accommodate growing mobile data consumption while providing end users with a consistent customer experience.
Greater efficiency. This is possible as it runs over a private network — Telstra Global’s own managed IP MPLS core network — which can maximize traffic on both legacy and new mobile platforms.
Diameter signaling support. Telstra provides support for diameter signaling, a relatively new protocol that works with core IMS on IP data traffic. Tilak claims that Telstra will be able to set up multiple roaming agreements by acting as a diameter signaling hub and providing interoperability and mediation between different diameter deployments among mobile operators.
Huawei hosted about 160 industry and financial analysts at its ninth annual analyst summit in Shenzhen, China in April 2012. The main takeaway for its consumer devices business was that consumer devices complete the end-to-end pitch for Huawei. Huawei showcased its growing capabilities across the wireless industry value chain. Most notably, Huawei made a foray into the smart devices domain with its own brand of smartphones and tablets. In 2011, Huawei shipped 20 million smartphones and 60 million mobile broadband devices like dongles. The smartphone market is already overcrowded with heavyweights such as Apple, Samsung, Nokia, and Motorola; thus, it might seem that Huawei may not be able to make a very profitable business from selling these devices. However, we believe that this move will bring indirect benefits to Huawei’s core Carrier Network division in the following two ways:
It spurs the uptake of smart mobile devices. Among all companies, Huawei is best suited to leverage manufacturing capabilities in its homeland, China, to mass-produce smart devices. Moreover, as it can manufacture processors in-house through its HiSilicon subsidiary, it can control and reduce the overall price of these devices. As price is a major buying criterion for consumers in regions like China, India, and the Southeast Asian countries, Huawei will be able to expedite the uptake of devices in these countries. Subsequently, the demand for data will increase and telecom operators in these countries will need to upgrade or roll out new technologies and networks (HSPA+, TD-LTE, FDD-LTE, dual-mode networks, etc.). This is where Huawei will benefit, as it will be able to position itself as an end-to-end supplier for telecom operators including hardware, professional and managed services, security solutions, servers, and storage.
Airtel launched India’s first 4G LTE services in Kolkata yesterday. Airtel delivers the service using TDD technology, making it one of the few operators globally to launch a TD-LTE network. The majority of commercial LTE launches are still based on FDD technology, which begs the question: What impact will TDD have on the LTE landscape? Will TD-LTE get support from equipment manufacturers, or will it suffer a fate similar to that of WiMAX? What does it mean for operators? I believe that TDD will affect the entire mobile ecosystem. Here’s how:
Price parity between paired and unpaired spectra. Both paired and unpaired spectra will be viewed as media that deliver wireless service irrespective of the underlying technology; this will drive price parity between the spectra. The dichotomy between the FDD spectrum (used primarily for coverage) and the TDD spectrum (mainly for capacity) will disappear as technological advancements make it possible to achieve similar capacity and coverage on both spectra. Consequently, the “spectrum crunch” may diminish, as any spectrum will be satisfactory for the deployment of mobile broadband services.
Apple launched its next-gen tablet, the new iPad, yesterday at a San Francisco event. Among the standout features includes a Retina display with 2048×1536 resolution, meaning that the new iPad has 1 million more pixels than a 1080p HDTV. Further, the device packs a dual-core CPU, a quad-core A5X graphics processor, LTE support, worldwide 3G support, and 10-hour battery life (nine hours on 4G). I expect that these upgrades will undoubtedly be enough to attract consumers and enterprises alike and further consolidate Apple’s resounding tablet market leadership globally.
So what will be the impact of the new iPad on the rapidly evolving telecom industry? I believe it will disrupt the market due to the following:
The As will rule the tablet market. The tablet market is moving towards a likely duopoly between Apple and Amazon due to their aggressive pricing strategies. Through Kindle Fire, Amazon has wiped out the competition in the sub-$199 price range while with the new iPad, Apple will knock out competitors starting from $499 upwards. Moreover, as iPad 2 will coexist alongside the latest incarnation and Apple will slash iPad 2 prices to $399, it reduces the market play of other OEMs such as Samsung even further.