Ten in the net: ten stories from the mobile network this week

From tower-tops to cloud services, Sierra Leone to Japan, The Mobile Network rounds up the week's network news.

1. You’re the (tower) tops:
Commscope claimed that it had, along with Ooredoo, developed “new approach to building wireless networks”. The operator formerly known as QTel and Commscope have co-designed a pre-assembled tower-top for base station remote radios.

Commmscope said that pre-assembly of of the tower tops reduces the installation time by approximately half, leading to safer working conditions for installation staff and reduced network downtime for customers. In addition, by installing the radio equipment on tower tops instead of large air-conditioned shelters, Ooredoo said it expects to halve electricity costs.

The tower top solution will become Ooredoo’s standard cell site design across its markets in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia, as the company upgrades or replaces 15,000 of its base stations over the coming years.

Paul Salmon, Group Chief Technology Officer, Ooredoo, said, “Working with CommScope to develop a new tower top solution that is assembled in a factory will enable us to deliver a distinctly different approach to building and operating a wireless network. We believe this is a first for our industry, and it is a source of considerable pride that it was designed and developed within the region to serve our customers.”

2. Good week for Samsung, which has been hammering on the door of European operators’ network departments for the past two years. The company, which has previously claimed success lay just round the corner, scored an LTE RAN and core network deal with Hutchison 3G Ireland. The company had, in August 2012, already announced a deal with the Hutchison-owned Three UK.

3.Network sharing good: Telefonica O2 Germany is considering the benefits it could gain from sharing bits of network with E-Plus. Although a full merger seems off the table, exploratory work into “potential network synergies” between the two companies may yet results in a network sharing deal,Bloomberg reported.”

(EXTRA: Hutch Italy and TIM are making eyes at each other).

4. Network merger bad: Two networks owned by the same company cannot merge because it would reduce competition. Work that one out.

5. SON and LTE product upgrade: Celcite said that its Cops-Geo optimisation platform can now locate LTE users. A Celcite statement said that the introduction of complex heterogeneous networks (HetNets), involving the integration of small cells alongside the UMTS and LTE macrocell ecosystem, has created a need for more rigorous subscriber location-based planning and optimisation of networks.

COPS-Geo’s UETR Call Browser enables an operator to track, drill down and troubleshoot subscriber call flows, including drops, blocks, and handover failures. It also provides network optimisation reports and analyses on poorly performing cells, as well as performing statistical analysis on various measurements and KPIs.

Further, IMEI/IMSI reports and analyses enable performance drill-down on specific subscribers and specific mobile devices.

With the growing number of complex indoor locations requiring flawless mobile connections, it is necessary to have a tool that allows us to easily plan and predict high capacity network designs.

6. Indoors and undergound: Bougues Telecom announced that it has selected iBwave to provide tools for the design and management of future in-building wireless projects. This includes iBwave Design with the Collection module, iBwave Unity and iBwave Mobile. The deal comes shortly after ARCEP authorised Bouygues Telecom to use their 1800MHz spectrum for deploying LTE.

“With the growing number of complex, high density and high profile indoor locations requiring flawless mobile connections, it is necessary to have a tool that allows us to easily plan and predict high capacity network designs,” said Jean-Paul Arzel, Bouygues Telecom Networks Director.

One of the first projects that Bouygues Telecom will undertake with its newly acquired tools is its part of the shared wireless network for the Paris Metro and RER. This multi-operator project promises full coverage of the RATP network by 2015, with 170 of the major stations ready by the end of 2014.

7. Mobile cloud service news: Not stricly speaking “mobile” but definitely related – NTT DoCoMo’s latest release to OpenStack. Japan’s leading mobile operator announced that it has developed a cloud server management technology that shortens the service response time of cloud services by up to 50%. The source code that enables this technology to be used with a variety of cloud services was provided by DOCOMO to the OpenStack Foundation and is a standard feature of Grizzly, the new version of the OpenStack cloud platform announced on April 4. The server management technology developed by DOCOMO enables physical servers that do not utilize server virtualization technology, which normally slow cloud service response, to be directly assigned to individual services via OpenStack, thereby speeding up the response time by 10% to 50%, DoCoMo said.

8. Advanced Active Antenna trial from Huawei: A world first?
Huawei says it has completed the world’s first advanced active antenna technology trial, featuring such goodies as vertical beam forming that “allow for data throughput gains of up to 70%.” Huawei’s AAS solution integrates the active transceiver array with the passive antenna array to reduce cable loss and simplify site engineering, said Huawei in this press release.

9. Staying with Huawei , the company was also tooting its trumpet over news that it had won an LTE deal in New Zealand replacing long-term supplir Alcatel-Lucent. Huawei was particularly pleased with a report that stated that Telecom chief technology officer David Havercroft said Huawei was 18 months ahead of competitors in 4G technology .

(EXTRA BONUS HUAWEI story admittedly from last week: Carrier aggregation trial between 1800MHz and 800MHz spectrum bands, in Lebanon. Operators with 800 and 1800 spectrum might be taking note of this one.)

10. Doing good. Using technology to save lives in Sierra Leone

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is using an SMS alert system developed by Trilogy International Partners to enable it to alerts up to 36,000 people an hour with warnings of impending fires, floods, or outbreaks of disease.

Sierra Leone is only the second country in the world to launch the TERA SMS system, where it is being delivered in partnership with the country’s largest mobile operator Airtel. Starting in April, the Red Cross and Airtel aim to reach 1 million people nation-wide in its first month with information on preventing malaria ahead of World Malaria Day on April 25th 2013.
TERA was developed in response to the devastating 2010 Haitian earthquake by then local mobile operator Trilogy International Partners. Now the Red Cross wants to launch TERA in 40 countries within the next five years, with regional hubs capable of sending out disaster warnings to millions of people.

Ian Beckett, Vice President of Trilogy International Partners, comments: “What is unique about TERA is that is a real joint effort between ourselves and the Red Cross. TERA takes into account the needs of the aid agencies, but also the concerns of the mobile operator in terms of capacity and security. For example, SMS are targeted to those who need them avoiding the spam effect and can be timed to deliver at off peak times reducing the impact on the networks.”

Airtel’s Managing Director RVS Bhullar said, “At first we were worried about the impact this might have on Airtel’s network but once we looked into the architecture of TERA we could see it had been designed with the needs of the mobile operator in mind. No other disaster warning system is capable of reaching such large numbers of people in such a short space of time and in such a direct, personal way as SMS.”

In Haiti where TERA has been operating since 2010, more than 100 million SMS have been sent covering a wide range of topics. In a 2011 evaluation, 95 per cent of those interviewed said Red Cross SMS provided them with practical and useful information, and 90 per cent reported changing something in their life as a result of these SMS.