Whispers & Screams
And Other Things

Forget about 3G, here comes 4G (LTE)

The LTE hits just keep coming: Chunghwa Telecom said this week that it plans to start testing LTE with Ericsson gear, in northern Taiwan. Meanwhile, in Japan, Ericsson customer NTT DoCoMo has started its 4G upgrade. It plans to launch commercially in 2010.

Along with Cisco's recently approved purchase of Starent Networks, these are the latest moves in a market that is rapidly heating up, putting a spotlight on the opportunities for infrastructure vendors. Ericsson has been in the spotlight all week, since Swedish incumbent TeliaSonera launched the first commercial LTE network on Monday, using equipment from Ericsson as well as Huawei.

It’s likely that an infrastructure vendor battle will soon heat up as more trials get underway. Huawei is looking like a big threat to the Tier 1 vendors; it’s signed on to 25 trials and deployments worldwide, it says, including plans to integrate Belgium incumbent Belgacom’s GSM, HSPA and future LTE networks in a converged radio access network and all-IP core. The Chinese vendor will also replace Belgacom’s existing RAN supplier, which happens to be Nokia Siemens Networks.

Also, Telecom Italia said it is working with Huawei for an LTE trial in Turin.

That said, NSN and Alcatel-Lucent are determined to also be a part of the LTE story. NSN recently announced that global operator Telefónica will run a six-month 4G trial in the Czech Republic on NSN’s end-to-end LTE solution. Meanwhile, it also has been tackling the voice-over-LTE goal, and completed successful IMS-compliant voice calls and SMS messaging using 3GPP-standardized LTE equipment, and says it will also soon conduct VoLTE test calls with a fully implemented IMS system.

Not to be outdone, Alcatel-Lucent said that it too has called and texted across standard LTE equipment, but using the interim standard from the 3GPP known as VoLGA.

The first carriers out of the gate after TeliaSonera with the 4G broadband technology – which promises 20mbps to 40mbps in throughput, initially – will likely be Verizon Wireless and NTT DoCoMo. Regional carriers MetroPCS and U.S. Cellular also have plans to deploy LTE next year, along with KDDI in Japan, and Tele2 and Telenor in Europe. AT&T and China Mobile are planning LTE rollouts for 2011. Most incumbents have LTE on their to-do list at some point, making for a rich new vein for infrastructure vendors to mine.

Some markets will be richer than others. "Spectrum availability is the primary factor impacting deployment plans," said senior ABI analyst Nadine Manjaro. "In countries where telecommunications regulators are making appropriate spectrum available, many operators have announced plans to launch LTE. These include the U.S., Sweden, China and others. Where no such spectrum allocations exist, operators are postponing LTE plans." The United Kingdom, surprise surprise, will likely be slower to roll out LTE because of spectrum availability.

Continue reading
1043 Hits
0 Comments

Cisco finally given the go ahead to buy Starent Networks

starentLooks like Cisco's move into the world of radio/wireless is a go. The company announced yesterday that they have been given regulatory clearance and have now satisfied the regulatory approval requirements under the merger agreement to complete the acquisition of Starent Networks.

 

The have paid $2.9 billion, for Starent Networks, which makes products that help wireless telecommunications companies ship large volumes of data to phones and computing devices.

The deal represents about a 20 percent premium over Starent’s closing price on Monday 12th Oct  of $29.03 a share. After the announcement, Starent’s shares rose $4.88, or almost 17 percent, to close at $33.91 on the following day.

Starent counts carriers like Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel, Vodafone Group and China Telecom as customers.

The company’s recent deals reflect that optimism about the growing importance of video traffic to mobile networks. In October, Cisco began a tender offer to buy Tandberg, a Norwegian maker of videoconferencing systems, for $3 billion. And in March, Cisco agreed to pay $590 million for Pure Digital Technologies, a start-up that developed the popular Flip video cameras. The purchase of Pure Digital bolsters Cisco’s video and nascent consumer electronics efforts while also giving the company a way to promote devices that create bulky files that consume great deals of bandwidth.

While the Starent purchase has a video element, it is primarily a sign that Cisco expects smartphones and wireless data plans to rise in popularity. In addition, the acquisition offers another door through which Cisco can approach telecommunications companies that have turned to Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent and Huawei Technologies for networking equipment that feeds mobile devices.

In a research report, Mark Sue, a networking analyst with RBC Capital Markets, valued the mobile carrier infrastructure market at $47.5 billion.

Starent, was founded in 2000 and has traded publicly since 2007. Last year, the company reported a 74 percent rise in revenue, to $254.1 million. Starent Networks is a leading provider of infrastructure solutions that enable mobile operators to deliver multimedia services to their subscribers. Their solutions combine significant computer power, memory, and traffic handling capabilities with highly distributed software architecture designed to provide high availability, flexibility, and performance built on the power of a Linux operating system. 

They have created solutions that provide several core network functions and services, including access from a wide range of radio networks to the operator's IP, or packet core network, mobility management of subscriber sessions, and call control. Their access-independent solution integrates multiple network functions needed for the delivery of advanced multimedia services, such as video, Internet access, voice-over-IP, e-mail, mobile TV, photo sharing, and gaming. 

They have developed multimedia core platforms and proprietary software specifically to address the needs of packet-based mobile networks. These products are designed to provide mobile operators with new revenue opportunities while also reducing their costs and they possess a high degree of system intelligence, which allows a mobile operator to understand the details of each subscriber session, enabling individual subscriber management and network traffic flow control.

Their products also enable mobile operators to continue to evolve their core networks to the Long Term Evolution (LTE) Evolved Packet Core (EPC) specification to provide multi-megabit bandwidth, latency reduction, and improved mobility to their subscribers.
Other product areas include CDMA, HSPA, WiMAX, WiFi and Femtocell which make for an interesting complement to Cisco's existing portfolio.
Continue reading
773 Hits
0 Comments