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Six mobile network stories from the week
Birdstep

Just as it says in the headline, here are six mobile network stories from this week, featuring LTE in Japan, intelligent WiFi, Actix data crunching, and another go at cloud-based synch and back-up.

1. NTT DoCoMo getting close to 20Mhz/150Mbps launch
The Japanese carrier said it was verifying 150Mbps LTE ahead of commercial launch in October.

Sounded interesting so we asked for more details. First off the operator told us it was achieving this by using 4 time 20MHz carriers, which sounded a little odd - that's a lot of spectrum right there, wider than the actual band has available. Then we got a reply confirming that actually the 150Mbps is 20MHz of contiguous spectrum at 1.7GHz, using four 5MHz bandwidths, which makes more sense.

In any case, NTT DoCoMo's approach will see it providing a theoretical max downlink of 150Mbps LTE across many areas by October, in a move that is similar to EE's "Double Speed" launch this summer - and reflective of other operators that have 20MHz to play with.

2. Infonetics says brighter days ahead for networking and "datacoms" vendors
This week's bit of market thinkery from Infonetics took on the entire telco and datacom vendor market. The prolific analyst said in its Telecom and Datacom Network Equipment and Software report that the market only "held steady" in 2012, following good growth in 2010 and 2011.

However, things are set to pick up a bit, with 4.9% CAGR until 2017. That five year period would see service providers and enterprises spend $1 trillion on equipment and software. Jeff Wilson put the impending growth down to "network transformation" projects.

Michael Howard, co-author of the report, wrote: "Asia Pacific took the lead in telecom and datacom equipment spending in 2012, and we expect the region to continue leading at least for the next 5 years, contributing more than a third of global spending through 2017."

So who is winning the lion's share of this trillion dollar market? Well, no surprises that the top names are Cisco, Ericsson, Huawei and Alcatel-Lucent.

3 Big data SON, no customer name
Optimisation and telco data churner Actix released details of a customer use case in Asia where it is processing every single call from the operator's 20 million subscribers and providing a geo-location for each call. That means it is analysing and geo-locating 150 million call and data sessions and billions of messages every day.

Why?

Well, the operator is using the analysis to troubleshoot and resolve issues within its RAN, and also to plan and optimise its network. Actix can't name the operator, but if you know an Asian carrier with 20 million subscribers and an enlightened approach to customer experience and network optimisation, you can form your own ideas.

Neil Coleman, Director of Global Marketing, Actix, wrote in his press release: "Understanding subscriber experience is a pivotal challenge for the operator. Geo-located real-time subscriber data is no longer a specialised activity for just network optimisation; only through accurate interpretation of data, delivered on a national scale, can true insight be gained by the operator to ensure coverage and capacity are provided where they are needed most, delivering the most effective subscriber experience."

4. Lollaksi says to MVNOs: start offering cloud-based back up to your customers
Lollaksi is coming to market with a solution that will let MVNOs provide cloud-based back-up and storage services. The services icalled DeMa-X, and it lets operators sync data on Android, iOS, Windows, BlackBerry and Symbian devices through a single content management platform

Its not the first cloud-based, data storage and synch solution to have a crack at the mobile operator market. Funambol and (now Blackberry-owned) NewBay Networks have both offered something similar. Like these companies, Lollaksi believes customers will pay for storage and synch of content and contacts, and also stick around longer if their carrier offers them such a service.

"Apple iCloud users now top 300 million users and buying additional storage costs from GBP14 to GBP70 per year. This gives an idea of the kind of revenues that MVNOs should - and could - be taking for themselves," Lollaksi's Laxman Karnam bemoaned.

Laxman, we feel your pain. We've been round this block before, but operators find this stuff difficult. Still, your approach to making the network resource element of this as simple as possible is useful, especially to the MVNO market you seem to be targetting.

5. Conform conform to OpenFlow
The Open Networking Foundation (ONF) announced its OpenFlow Conformance Program, giving vendors an opportunity to demonstrate compliance with the OpenFlow specification, a standard protocol developed to enable a Software-Defined Networking (SDN) architecture.

The ONF said that its Certificate of Conformance would be the highest level of assurance available in the market today to validate compliance with a particular version of the OpenFlow specification. Vendors can earn an ONF Certificate of Conformance for networking hardware, including switches and routers, as well as network software.

ONF has selected the Indiana Center for Network Translational Research and Education (InCNTRE) as the first independent lab approved for ONF OpenFlow Conformance testing, and additional labs are currently in the accreditation process.

To obtain an ONF Certificate of Conformance, vendors must contact an approved test lab, complete an application form, and work with the lab to define a mutually agreeable schedule for product delivery.

So what? Well, conformance around approved test cases and standards is a sign of development and maturity in the industry. SDN-related standards are not nailed down, so an effort to provide this sort of conformance validation from one part of the industry creates momentum, and the perception of momentum, around OpenFlow.

More information about the ONF OpenFlow Conformance Program

6. Location, Location, Analysis
Ruckus Wireless announced that is has acquired YFind Technologies Private Limited, a provider of indoor positioning and real-time location analytics.

Ruckus said it wanted to enable new location-based services by combining its Smart Wi-Fi technology with YFind's range of location based services and analytical capabilities. That would turn Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi networks into location-intelligent infrastructures.

Analytics-driven enhanced location services are a hope for many in the carrier WiFi space. O2 WiFi for instance sees traffic offload as minor part of its WiFi strategy, and is building out a range of services based on the location and user analytics it can derive from its carrier wifi properties. Cisco's vision for its SP-Wifi is also built upon this vision of enhanced user and network intelligence. Ruckus' acquisution of YFind can be seen absolutely as of a trend with the industry at the moment.

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Author

Keith Dyer

Date

26th July 2013

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