Here are my impressions of the LTE world summit where I was an analyst – speaker.
This may be a longish blog on account of the significance of LTE (i.e. beyond 3G) and to the Operator momentum for LTE.
Also, I am doing some interesting work in this space and am happy to speak to vendors, operators device manufacturers etc about the topics and trends discussed. I am specifically interested in the innovation aspects of LTE and next generation services within a wider ecosystem i.e. covering telecoms and the web. So please email me at ajit.jaokar at futuretext.com with any comments. Also, I am not adding too many links here. The Informa LTE world summit conference has the links, profiles etc in detail – so you can pick it up from there
The LTE summit was one of the best conferences I attended this year and there was lots to learn. Many publications have covered the key announcements so I won’t add to them. Femtocells and home gateways were also covered in detail – so Herr Sauter will be pleased So, I will focus my own views on this event and LTE in general from a more holistic perspective.
The conference had a feeling of Deja-vu from the mindset of the Operators. Voice and SMS are simple, global and are Operator cash cows. Apart from Voice and SMS, it has not been easy to create globally interconnected systems especially as complexity increases (MMS) and the ecosystem provides options (The Web)
We saw this with 3G and with IMS. Operators deploy a network. They are most comfortable with the network elements. They struggle to deploy services OR the services they deploy are closely coupled with the network. Such services ignore interconnectivity, the Web etc and are generally not successful.
Then one Operator breaks the traditional way of thinking (3 with HSDPA) and the whole industry follows.
Hence, I think there are two sides to LTE:
a) The basics which everyone is talking of and will implement (voice, home gateways) but also
b) The innovative / differentiating strategies which some Operators will implement and others will follow.
The innovative/differentiating strategies are of interest to me i.e. I am interested in studying who takes a more innovation oriented strategy
So, with that in mind – here are the my impressions of the LTE summit conference
1) LTE is increasingly seen as the only game in town beyond 3g and into an all IP world. So there was no talk of wimax integration etc. The focus was more practical and implementation based and less abstract.
2) Both the lack of WIMAX (I.e. options) and the recession have led to a more pragmatic view point as regards to implementations
3) Having said that, different operators are pursuing different strategies towards LTE – and overall the direction is clear but the operator timescales may be staggered.
4) Voice. – VOLGA – was a discussion point. Here, standardization (3gpp) seems to be taking a myopic view (in my opinion). A problem exists for voice in an all IP world. The solution is cs-fallback (clunky) or all IMS(distant). Volga is a more pragmatic solution – but 3gpp explicitly commented that don’t endorse volga!
And what is the solution? Wait for all operators to have IMS.
Note that voice on mobile devices is certainly a bearer aware application – so no matter how you look at it we need a proper network
layer IP solution for voice
5) I found that the vendors(especially Alcatel lucent and Motorola) are driving innovation. Vendors have always driven (some may say hyped!) innovation – difference here being – some early adopter operators are actually implementing these solutions. And the ecosystem is also complete. With HSDPA, there is a precedence of making money on data. Overall this is a good development and it’s nice to see.
6) In contrast, most operators are taking the more familiar position i.e. the reduction of cost per bit – agreement. This is also good but predictable. So many operators had the same slide (revenue is dropping – costs are increasing!) that Informa analyst Thomas Wehmeier presenting on the last day – included it almost as a joke so as not to be left out!
7) The operators define the ecosystem very narrowly and in their minds exclude the Web, Google, Microsoft. Skype etc. I asked this question to a speaker. In my view, this is a big mistake! Dave Marutiak(Microsoft) , Ed candy(3), Paul Steinberg(Motorola) and Doug Wolff (Alcatel Lucent) were only a handful of players that bucked the trend and talked of more interesting services
8) My overall impression is: Operators follow a herd mentality and once one demonstrates a revenue model – the others follow. We saw that with 3(HSDPA). I think as the ecosystem gets mature and there is a precedence of paying for data and we are going to see more operators(like 3) break ranks and become successful with new services.
9) ‘Chasing the traffic hotspots‘ seemed to be a key theme as well i.e. use LTE at cell hotspots to gain initial leverage especially in high density urban areas
10) Emerging markets – Chile, Kuwait(zain) and Brazil were interesting. There is definitely a case for LTE in these markets based on the presentations.
11) Do operators want to innovate? On one hand – no. Most thinking goes on protecting cash cow and reducing costs. This leaves them vulnerable to new players who may completely bypass them. On the other hand there are many instances of Operators (both in advanced and emerging markets). I also think that the recession and the LTE voice quagmire will mean that operators will start to think of differentiation. I am somewhat disappointed with standards bodies like 3gpp and I think that bodies like OMTP, NGMN forum etc are taking a more pragmatic step forward
12) Ericsson LTE demo – We(analysts and invited experts) had a demo from Ericsson for LTE. Interesting but I need to know more – especially the LTE component i.e. what’s new in comparison to existing (IMS)
and Moray Rumney(Agilent). All clued on folk.
14) It’s interesting that of a group of about 12 analysts invited to discuss LTE and by Ericsson to see LTE – 4g demo; three were forumoxford members(Sean Zahid and me) fourth Moray Rumney played a prominent part in the conference. I co-chair forumoxford -so this is good to know!
Finally, I summarise the most interesting LTE services as follows
- Advanced services(ex ngconnect) http://www.ngconnect.org/
- HSDPA like services
- Deep integration services: Deep integration between device, service and network) and the bursty traffic nature and also appstores
- Home gateways – femtocells etc to extend to home and management of home devices
- Non phone devices
- Cloud services – (Google – Android, MSFT Cloud etc)
- MVNOs and smaller Operators like METRO PCS
- Operators who will go for voice only in an LTE world including VOLGA
- Rural deployment of LTE
So, that’s it. The following speakers were interesting and will be very likely topics of separate blogs
Marc Fossier, Group CTO, France Telecom Group, France
Klaus-Jurgen Krath, EVP Radio Networks Engineering & Quality , T-Mobile International,
Mauricio Cascao, CTO, Innovation Technology , TIM Brasil, Brazil
Ulf Ewaldsson, Vice President and Head of Product Area Radio, Ericsson
Alex Sinclair, CTO GSMA
Ed Candy, CTO, 3 UK
Mauricio Cascao, CTO,Innovation Technology, TIM Brasil, Brazil
Alan Hadden,, President,GSA, UK
Dave Marutiak, MCB Business Development,Microsoft, USA
Enrico Salvatori, SVP and GM, Qualcomm Europe
Jörgen Lantto, Vice President Mobile Platforms and CTO of ST-Ericsson
Sami Jokinen, Nokia Devices R&D,
Michael Lemke, Huawei Technologies, Germany
Adrian Scrase, Vice President International Partnership Projects, 3GPP, France
Hans Erik Karsten, VP Network Technologies – Telenor R&I , Telenor, Norway
Julius Robson, Chairman, Proof of Concept Group,, LSTI and Nortel, France
Paul Steinberg,Fellow and Chief Architect – Telecommunications Wireless Infrastructure, Motorola
Doug Wolff, Vice President End-to-End LTE Product Management,
Moray Rumney, Lead Technologist, Agilent, UK
Dr Shahram G Niri,, Director of Global LTE/SAE Strategy & Solution, NEC Europe
Johan Wickman,,SVP Mobility R&D, TeliaSonera, Sweden
Rodrigo Cárdenas, Deputy Director of Technological Evolution,Entel PCS, Chile
Rick Keith, Director of Global Strategy – Broadband Access Solutions, Motorola
Javier Sanchez, Strategy & CEO Support Director, Zain, Kuwait
Prof Simon Saunders, Chairman,, FemtoForum, UK
Thomas Wehmeier Informa
And aricnet (exhibitor)
Many thanks to Informa/Sabah Hussain for inviting me to this event
All comments welcome.
If you want to be included in my future LTE related research, please contact me at ajit.jaokar at futuretext.com