No, not cars that move quickly — cars that move data quickly via fast built-in connections. Today, GM announced that most of its US and Canadian 2015 model year Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC vehicles would come equipped with built-in LTE connections — supplied by AT&T — powering a range of OnStar safety, security, diagnostic, and infotainment services. No surprise in cars getting LTE or in GM's leadership — the next logical step in the connected car chain that started with GM's launch of OnStar in 1996. More noteworthy are:
AT&T winning GM's business. Verizon Wireless powers the existing OnStar service, and, considering how vital coverage is to OnStar's safety and security services, Verizon's superior LTE coverage (273.5 million people versus 170 million for AT&T today) would seem to make it a logical choice for GM. Apparently GM was convinced by AT&T's public commitment to cover 300 million US consumers by year end 2014 — in addition to the ability to use the same technology globally and the superior performance of AT&T's network when LTE is unavailable.
If you still believe that tablets are merely a fad or just a way to engage more affluent early adopters in their 30s or 40s, you need to change your mind — now.
According to our latest Technographics® data, European tablet ownership is highest among 18- to 24-year-old online users — 25% of them own one! 2012 saw a surge in the popularity of tablets among this age group. Why? As with any technology that’s reaching critical mass, the profile of its adopters evolves over time — and it will continue to do so.
With double-digit growth in tablet uptake across Western Europe in 2012, about one in seven online Europeans now owns a tablet. And with further double-digit growth expected in the years ahead, tablets are changing the consumer technology landscape. According to the Forrester Research World Tablet Adoption Forecast, 2012 To 2017 (Global), 55% of European online consumers will own a tablet by the end of 2017.
Tablet owners are not precious about their devices: Of those that have a spouse/partner, 63% share their tablet with them; one-third of parents share their tablet with their children. This makes tablets a far more social device than smartphones, which are much more personal and intimate.
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.
Today Softbank — whose assets include the third largest mobile carrier in Japan — announced its intent to purchase a 70% share of Sprint in a complex financial transaction. It's a gutsy move by a company that has proven success as a market disruptor, first in fixed broadband service and more recently in mobility. Assuming the deal passes regulatory and shareholder muster, Sprint will receive a massive cash infusion that will expedite its implementation of its Network Vision update and its deployment of LTE technology across its national footprint.
But for Sprint to have any realistic chance of wresting market share from the Verizon and AT&T behemoths, it requires additional spectrum to expand its LTE capacity beyond the puny 5x5 MHz of its current plan. And there's a carrier rich in that spectrum resource: Clearwire. Sprint holds a minority interest in Clearwire, some of its customers use Clearwire's network, and it has designed support for the company's spectrum into its Network Vision, but Clearwire needs capital to complete its network and to effect the network's transition from WiMAX to LTE.
If Softbank's president Masayoshi Son is serious about enabling Sprint to disrupt the US mobile market, he needs to add control of Clearwire to his shopping list. CIOs looking to exploit Sprint as a viable alternative to the Verizon-AT&T duopoly need to see this additional step on the roadmap before making a commitment to Sprint for the long-term future.
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.
Huawei hosted about 160 industry and financial analysts at its ninth annual analyst summit in Shenzhen, China in April 2012. The event showed us that Huawei’s carrier network activities are becoming increasingly software-focused. Huawei is building up its network software and professional services capabilities. This drive is reflected in its SoftCom solution, driven by the cloud computing delivery model in the network space. Huawei is well aware of the role software will play for future distributed and virtualized network infrastructure and network-centric solutions, where the data center is effectively becoming the phone switch for ICT solutions. In fact, Huawei goes as far as to say that hardware will be fairly commoditized and that differentiation will be based on software. Huawei is a member of more than 130 industry standard-defining bodies; as such, it influences the development of industry standards. Huawei maintains its own silicon chip fabrication capabilities (HiSilicon), which help deliver opex reductions and greater energy efficiency as part of its networking solutions for wired and wireless (WiFi, WiMAX, and LTE) environments. Huawei has been designing and assembling servers for a decade and offers blade and rack configurations designed to support cloud and virtualization environments. Huawei’s security solutions, greatly enhanced by Huawei buying the remaining 49% stake in its Huawei Symantec joint venture recently, include firewall, VPNs, intrusion detection, application gateways, and unified threat management. Huawei also works with other leading ICT vendors to deliver solutions according to customer requirements. Huawei’s GalaX Cloud operating system delivers large scale virtualization capability for compute and storage resources in a cloud deployment. Huawei assists carriers and enterprise customers with design implementation and operation of deployments through its SmartCare Services solution, which monitors and ensures the
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.