Saturday, October 27, 2007

3G Round Up - Infrastructure

I ran some searches on the Wireless Trends CSE for the latest 3G deals and trawled the following results.

Ericsson chosen by Siminn in Iceland for deploying WCDMA/HSPA network.

Ericsson chosen by Emobile in Japan for deploying WCDMA/HSDPA network.

Ericsson chosen by Vodafone Spain for deploying WCDMA/HSPA network.

Ericsson chosen by Mobily in Saudi Arabia for deploying WCDMA/HSPA network.

Nortel chosen by FarEasTone in Taiwan to provide WiMax network.

Nortel chosen by Chunghwa in Taiwan to provide WiMax network for healthcare service.

Nokia-Siemens chosen by Mobile Telesystem OJSC in Russia to provide WCDMA/HSPA network.

Huawei chosen by Moroccan Telecom in Morocco to provide UMTS/HSPA network.

Huawei chosen by KPN Mobile in the Netherlands to supply UMTS/HSPA network

ZTE chosen by ClearTalk Wireless in the USA to supply CDMA2000 EV-DO network

ZTE chosen by PGH in Estonia for UMTS/HSPA network

Alcatel-Lucent selected by Siminn for GPON access solutions to migrate fixed voice services

Make out your own scores.

Qualcomm targets WiMax with 3G technology for laptops

In its strategy to counter WiMax, Qualcomm has announced [InformationWeek] a 3G chipset that provides connectivity to laptops on UMTS HSPA and CDMA2000 EV-DO networks worldwide. Along with 3G connectivity the Gobi chipset also has support for GPS.

Qualcomm claims it is enough that laptops are equipped with the Gobi chipset for 3G connectivity clearly taking a potshot at Intel-backed WiMax.

Qualcomm has the support of laptop maker HP and telcos Vodafone and Verizon Wireless all of whom have come out with statements welcoming the Gobi chipset.

For the telcos the chipset is an exciting prospect with possibilities of tying in the laptops with data plans a la mobile phones. However it has to be seen as to how the chipset will be bundled -with both the HSPA and EV-DO options together or if the users will have to choose one of them.

Intel would have an edge in persuading laptop vendors to bundle WiMax chipsets and Qualcomm would have to forge more deals with laptop vendors to take its Gobi chipset forward.

3G is just happening and if telcos roll out more of UMTS HSPA and EV-DO networks then it is good news for companies like Qualcomm and Ericsson. On the other hand if it were WiMax networks that get rolled out the most by telcos then Intel and Nortel would benefit the most.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Number Portability Directions

Mobile number portability has been introduced in the U.S. , the U.K., Australia, Korea, Japan, Canada, Pakistan and most countries in Europe. Introduction in India needs a push from the telecom department in terms of setting firm goals for the telcos. Telcos obviously are apprehensive about the move since they have to invest a lot all for opening the gates of churn. But they have to realize that number portability would make them more competitive and better organizations striving to meet the expectations of their subscribers and raise their levels.

Since number portability has been on the table for quite some time now, I am sure telcos would have had devised their strategies for it. The telecom department can go ahead on this front boldly as the move is after all a long overdue benefit due to the consumers. One opportunity for the telecom department is to mandate number portability for all new 3G service rollouts. This can be a given for the telcos so they do not have to complain at a later stage. This is good also as 3G with its focus on value-added-services has an inherent deterrence on churn.

There is one more point in favour of the telcos going in for number portability. What it is! Their new 3G services will take off well with number portability introduced across the spectrum of services. 3G adoption will be faster with number portability.

One more thing I can see is that telcos would start looking at new markets including rural hinterlands as part of their number portability strategy offsetting telecom department's apprehensions on this front.

To conclude this piece, I believe after the initial churn Indian telcos would learn to manage it quite well by building value and devising strategies.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Nokia, Motorola, Qisda gear up to launch WiMax devices in 2008

Digitimes reports that Nokia, Motorola and Qisda (formerly BenQ) are gearing up to launch WiMax devices in 2008. Motorola has plans to release a dualmode CDMA/WiMax handset in the first half of 2008. Nokia is expected to launch an Internet tablet around the same time supporting WiMax. Taiwan-based Qisda plans to launch an EDGE/WiMax device in 2008.

In most markets 3G spectrum auctions are around the corner and service providers in some countries such as India have already thought to have completed trials of WiMax technology.

Handset manufacturers are gearing up for the launch of their devices in time for availability when the 3G rollout happens.

BSNL's broadband, WiMax moves

I read a story in LightReading about BSNL, the state-owned telecom service provider calling for a tender to supply GEPON (Gigabit Ethernet Passive Optical Network) for its planned broadband network. GEPON is a popular network access technology delivering 1Gbit/sec over ethernet on a passive optical network and would be an essential part of the triple-play services rollout planned by BSNL. If we go by past business record with the ADSL rollout, UTStarcom Inc is considered to have a good chance of landing the deal.

Coming to WiMax, BSNL is all set to call for a wireless broadband tender very soon according tot the same story. For this tender there are many vendors who could fit the bill including Alcatel-Lucent, Motorola Inc, Nokia-Siemens Networks, Nortel Networks and the Indo-US vendor Telsima. Telsima has already supplied WiMax equipment to Reliance Comm and Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited.

So you can see the pace gathering and we can watch out for more news on the infrastructure deals that would start the 3G rollout in India.

Monday, October 22, 2007

WiMax gets nod as a 3G standard

WiMax has been approved as a standard for 3G services by ITU as reported by IHT, WirelessWeek. What this means is that WiMax technology can be now deployed in the 2.5 - 2.69 GHz licensed spectrum bands. This announcement will push forward 3G spectrum auctions in many geographies at a rapid pace.

WiMax technology brings broadband to wireless offering data applications 10 megabits per second to 40 megabits per second speeds under most conditions. Intel has been promoting WiMax for sometime now and the approval is seen a shot in the arm for the technology's adoption in devices ranging from laptops to mobile phones.

WiMax had been contending for approval with at least two other technologies - LTE ( long term evolution ) promoted by Ericsson and Ultra Mobile Broadband promoted by Qualcomm. WiMax had gained momentum by the backing of personal computer makers - Acer and Lenovo and mobile phone leader Nokia among others.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

CDMA player to foray into GSM space

The government has given the goahead for existing telecom providers to expand their services by using alternate technology according this ET story. What this means is that existing CDMA players can offer GSM services in all the circles they are currently serving and vice versa for GSM players.

Anil Dhirubhai Ambani promoted Reliance Comm's application for providing GSM services on a pan-India basis gets approved with this policy direction and Reliance Comm's spectrum needs are virtually assured.

Subscriber-based based spectrum allocation and spectrum auctions are currently not in favour. Existing players would be able to get additional spectrum in areas where they are not present, on a first-come-first-serve basis. Bharti Airtel which is the largest GSM player and is present in almost all circles would find this as a downside.

The need for existing pan-India GSM players is to increase their subscriber base and consolidate their positions. However the policy direction has an effect of opening the market in an unprecedented manner.

Cellular services are set to see fierce competition with this move. If the consumers are benefited then so be it.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Nokia uncorks N95 8GB

Nokia has finally uncorked the N95 8GB in the Symbian Show. Its not only about the higher capacity but also about the bigger screen size and the stunning black color. The battery life is extended by changing the batteries of course and because of this there is not lens protector for the camera. What a deal!

The original N95 did well but its battery life was on the lesser side. Now the 8GB model should help with the battery life. Nokia has realized this well and has even gone to the extent of dumping the lens protector to solve the problem. It has to be seen as to how this move is taken in the market.

With the shopping season around the corner Nokia may have an ace in the new N95 8GB.

Spectrum Wars in India

Okay this story continues on the last one. Spectrum... In a story attributed to IE I read about the big problem at hand for the regulators in India on allocating spectrum to the existing and new licensees.

The players like - Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Reliance have among themselves earmarked $8billion worth of plans for expansion and this is not going to happen without addtional spectrum.

On the other hand there are new players who are awaiting their licenses and in turn their spectrum allocations - AT&T/Mahindra (see previous post), Verizon/Videocon are some. The regulators would like the new players to come in as it is bound to be beneficial to the consumer with better services and better tariffs - but can they ignore the existing players and their long pending requests for addtional spectrum ?

Well the spectrum allocation issue is bound to get very contentious and the authorities should given premium to greater transparency and do a fine balancing act with respect to existing players and new licensees. The government has said that it will announce new terms and condtions for the sector within a week. If there is going to be no change in the first-come-first-serve policy of spectrum allocation followed by the government, then the existing players who have long pending applications would walk away with the spectrum and the new entrants would have to wait for 3G spectrum auction whenever that happens. However in an ET report , CCI has approached the authorities to moot an auction mechanism which by which the available spectrum can find a market determined price. It is not known if this proposal cuts favor with the government.

In the ensuing scenario, new players may find that they will have to defer their expansion plans for want of spectrum. They may have to wait as the existing players did for their expansion plans. If the spectrum allocation has to be so finely balanced then entry of more than one new player would be a doubtful at least in the present scenario. Of course there is the M&A route too.

India is the place to be for wireless operators

I read a story in CNNMoney about AT&T applying for wireless licenses covering all of India in association with its local partner Mahindra Telecom. Now this is an interesting move considering the recent developments - Vodafone has come in a big way with by winning its bid for Hutch and making announcements it is going to splurge $2billion to carve up the market. The largest player in the market Airtel at present is doing just well with 43 million subscribers. With less than 20% of 1.12 billion people using mobile phones and usage steadily catching up big players are taking a fancy to the Indian market. This seems to be the best growth scenario among all emerging economies.

The CNN story goes on to emphasize that after getting the license and spectrum AT&T would have to contend with the stiff competition to make a dent. Though early it has to be seen how AT&T plans to rapidly expand its network infrastructure. On its business model, I think AT&T would have attractive corporate plans and a killer smartphone (*) for the consumers. Let us see...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Samsung Intros GPS Phone

Samsung has introduced its first GPS equipped phone with the launch of i550. Running on Symbian S60 platform, it marks the debut of the OS on Samsung phones along with the i400, i450 and the higher-end i560. The phone features a Blackberry-like trackball, has 150 MB flash memory, triband GSM, 3.2 MP camera and HSDPA. The featureset compares well with N95 and can be expected to give a boost to Samsung during the Christmas season.