More Solutions for Mobile Data Offload as 3G/4G Traffic Continues to Grow Exponentially!

Note: This is a followup article to the excellent Mobile Data Offload panel session report posted by IEEE ComSocSCV Wireless Expert (and webmaster) Daniel Wong, who now resides in Singapore.  Please refer to Daniel’s post:

Summary of Connectivity Week panel session on Mobile Data Offload

http://techblog.comsoc.org/2011/06/06/summary-of-connectivity-week-panel-session-on-mobile-data-offload

Introduction

Several techniques to decrease cellular data traffic, including offloading mobile data traffic to WiFi hotspots, optimized mobile video compression, and elimination of extraneous 3G/4G status checking requests from mobile apps are described in this article.

Solutions for Mobile Data Offload

It is abundantly clear that Wi-Fi hotspots will continue to grow in terms of locations, the total number of connections and their importance to cellular network operators who must keep pace with explosive growth in mobile data traffic.

Market research firm Instat writes:

The (WiFi) hotspot market continues to surge forward with phenomenal growth in footprint and usage, a trend that In-Stat anticipates will continue. As with the past several years, growth in the hotspot market is largely being driven by wireless and broadband providers embracing Wi-Fi as both a competitive differentiator and enhancement to core services.

How WiFi hotspots are being used, the frequency, and the occasion for usage all continue to transition due to a variety of factors, including:
-Wide-scale adoption of Wi-Fi-enabled handsets and a blending of mobile and Wi-Fi experiences
-Further integration of Wi-Fi into mobile operator strategies
-A promise of automatic login and seamless access as next-generation hotspot technologies are implemented in coming years
-Revised payment models shifting to free and bundled access
-New application potential, including mobile video and location-based services.”

Instat forecasts that wireless hotspots will account for nearly 120 billion connect sessions by 2015!

http://www.in-stat.com/catalog/wcatalogue.asp?id=167#IN1105002WS

Notebook PCs are still the No. 1 device for Wi-Fi hotspot use, which is understandable as Wi-Fi radios and cards are integrated into almost all notebook PCs. Most smartphones and tablets now have integrated WiFi as well as 3G or 4G radios.  According to the Devicescape WiFi Report 2010, 81 percent of US Smartphone users prefer using Wi-Fi over 3G provided by their existing mobile carrier for browsing Web sites, downloading data, performing Google searches and sending e-mail. Today, about half the smartphones sold have Wi-Fi functionality. By 2014, the report forecasts about 90 percent of smartphones will offer seamless access to Wi-Fi.

Mobile device owners are apt to take advantage of free or low-cost hotspots to mitigate the risk of mobile broadband data overage charges, as almost all carriers (except Sprint) have done away with unlimited data plans. Another benefit is that the Wi-Fi connections are often faster than 3G.  However, that’s dependent on the number of concurrent WiFi hot spot users and the throughput of the hotspot’s broadband access facility (which is almost always wireline based- fiber is better!). 

Cellular network operators see the benefits of Wi-Fi for mobile data offload and are likely to expand hotspot locations by partnering with businesses directly or through existing hotspot networks, such as Boingo Wireless. In July, for example, Japanese network operator KDDI said it would build out 100,000 Wi-Fi hotspots by March 2012 that will seamlessly work with the carrier’s WiMAX network in Japan.

The WSJ reports, that cellular network providers are turning to outside technology companies to find ways to cope with the broadband burden caused by soaring use of smartphones and tablets.  The methods used include sensing when a WiFi network is near enough to use, compressing mobile video traffic, and eliminating extraneous update requests.

TDC A/S, a Denmark mobile operator, turned to Birdstep Technology ASA, a Norwegian company, to help ease the data overload. Essentially, the technology reaches out to users and urges them to temporarily switch away from the wireless 3G/4G network to Wi-Fi hot spots whenever possible, promising faster speeds as an incentive. Because it costs significantly more to provide mobile broadband coverage than fixed-line Internet, Birdstep’s off-loading technology, in use for two years, helps lower TDC’s overall costs. It also helps keep quality levels high by connecting those in the range of a hot spot to faster, more stable Internet, while also freeing up the mobile Internet for those using the company’s cell sites, says Mr. Langkilde.

Other companies offer systems to compress video, reducing the amount of bandwidth it needs. Another product on the market cuts down in the amount of unnecessary requests for data made to networks for updates.

In March, Montreal-based Vantrix Inc. partnered with Sweden’s Telefon AB L.M. Ericsson, which makes telecom equipment, to sell a “video optimization” system that helps reduce the bandwidth mobile video uses. Allan Benchetrit, president and CEO of Vantrix, says that the system, which is being pitched to wireless service providers, can compress mobile video bandwidth between 30% and 50% and save operators up to 70% in costs related to operating and upgrading the network. Earlier this month, Ericsson said that Mobifone, a Vietnamese carrier, has signed on as a new customer of the system.

The system delivers videos online closer to the time frame spent watching them instead of delivering the entire video, helping to save bandwidth when someone clicks off before the video is finished. It can also adapt the video to the quality of the Internet connection, and adapt it for different screens and devices. Vantrix said it is working with a number of companies in addition to Mobifone, but declined to name them.

Sprint is trying to be proactive in addressing the burden from increased data use.  The 3rd largest wireless carrier in the U.S., Sprint is testing software from Seven Networks of Redwood City, CA.  That technology monitors requests for data coming from smartphone or tablet apps and then connects to the cellular broadband network only when new updates are available. The result can mean a 40% reduction in the time a smartphone or tablet is on the network and an improvement of up to 25% in battery life, says Seven Networks. Sprint’s Mr. Yarkosky says that so far the results of the testing have been positive, though he adds that the company is still validating the results.

Read more: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111904070604576518304117541590.html?mod=ITP_marketplace_2

Explosion of Mobile Data Traffic (especially video) to Continue Unabated

Global mobile data traffic this year is expected to more than double from 2010, reaching 0.6 exabytes per month, up from 0.24 exabytes monthly, according to research from Cisco Systems Inc. Mobile video traffic is expected to make up 52.8% of that traffic this year, up from 49.8% in 2010.

Global data revenue for wireless carriers is expected to more than double to $491 billion in 2014 from $214 billion in 2009. Those wins will be offset by a 2% decline in revenue from voice services to $620 billion in 2014 from $633 billion in 2009, according to market researcher Gartner Inc.

Read more: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111904070604576518304117541590.html#ixzz1WSnd9Pei

Another Reference:

http://techblog.comsoc.org/2011/05/29/metro-wifi-reborn-city-wide-mega-hot-spot-for-mobile-data-offload

Sprint will NOT Abandon WiMAX customers or Clearwire after deploying LTE, but no plans for 4G APIs!

Received today from Kristin Wallace, Sprint Corp Communications Mgr:

1.  On the topic of Sprint’s 4G Strategy related to WiMAX, Sprint’s CEO Dan Hesse made the following comment related to Sprint’s 4G strategy at the Credit Suisse Convergence conference earlier this year (March 2011),  “In every option that we’re looking at, every one includes WiMAX and Clearwire, both.” 

2.  Sprint has not made any public announcements about future support related to 4G APIs.

We continue to evaluate potential product offers that leverage and would require the commercialization of QoS capabilities supported by 4G WiMax and other (OFDMA) technologies.

AW Comment:  Note that Clearwire announced several 4G WiMAX APIs at the Oct 2009 Sprint Developer Conference.  Those included Connection Manager, Location, RF Awareness, and (future support) of QoS.  The idea was to be able to have a common API to do those functions that was not dependent on the silicon inside of the WiMAX device/ handset/ adapter card.
 
The Clearwire Silicon Valley Innovation network and Developer Program shut down last year due to lack of funds and Sprint decided not to pick it up.  Now we hear that there will be no support of 4G APIs, which translates into the broadband wireless network (WiMAX or LTE) being just a dumb fat pipe! 
 
In particular, RF awareness would be great for optimizaiton of mobile video, while QoS could be used for a number of delay or jitter sensitive applications. e.g. video conferencing/ video chat or even Voice over WiMAX/LTE.  Kiss em goodbye!  Thanks a lot Sprint!   ::((

Enterprise VoIP and related services drives 7% Gain in Wireline Voice Core Revenues

Disclaimer:  We still don’t know what “core” means in this context of “WIreline Voice Core Revenues.” Does anyone know what is non core voice revenues?

Introduction

Wireline voice core revenues were up 7% in the second quarter of 2011 over the prior quarter, according to research from Exact Ventures, which attributed the growth to continued demand for enterprise Voice over Internet Protocol services. The data also showed the market for IMS core equipment was up more than 50% year-over-year for the quarter because of large-scale deployments in Asia that boosted market share for companies such as Alcatel-Lucent, Huawei Technologies and ZTE.

Where did the Growth Come From?

Exact Ventures (who they?) said that the growth was driven in part by the continued strength of enterprise VoIP services, such as SIP trunking and hosted unified communications.  The enterprise session border controller and voice application server markets each grew over 40% compared to the second quarter of last year.

“Enterprise VoIP is clearly a key factor in the resurgence of the wireline NGN market. The older, more traditional wireline NGN segments of softswitches and media gateways, however, are beginning to show stability as growth in wireline VoIP services will also need to interface with legacy TDM services,” said the firm’s founder and principal analyst Greg Collins.

“While wireline deployments currently dominate IMS Core sales, as voice-over-LTE services are introduced in the coming months and gain subscribers, the market will shift to become dominated by wireless deployments, which will drive the IMS market for well over a decade as the billions of wireless subscribers are gradually migrated to VoIP,” Collins added.

http://unified.cbronline.com/news/wireline-voice-revenue-grew-7-in-2q-2011-report-230811

AJW Opinion: 

Note that if wireless subs move to Voice over LTE or voice over 3G+ technologies, that would certainly canabolize the cellco’s cash cow- voice minutes.  We don’t think this will happen anytime soon.

Instead, we see continued growth in enterprise VoIP and related services, such as SIP trunking and hosted unified communications.  Enterprise VoIP integration with legacy TDM Voice/PSTN will continue to be a “hot ticket,” best exemplified by SIP Trunking (Connects a premises or network hosted VoIP switch with the PSTN/ legacy  TDM voice network).

Cisco Systems to Buy Axioss Management Software to Aid in Convergence of Services and Networks

Cisco Systems has announced its first acquisition since revealing its strategy-overhaul plans this Spring. The company is buying AXIOSS from the UK subsidiary of Comptel.  The purpose of this purchase is to help Cisco’s customer base bring technology services, including video, data and cloud services, to market faster. 

The AXIOSS software will provide management capabilities for network services across Cisco’s five company priorities, and it will enhance Cisco Prime, which enables service providers to better manage their networks and network services.  

“As more users, connected mobile Internet devices and bandwidth intensive applications drive the explosive growth in IP-based networks, service providers continue to invest in their infrastructure to support customers’ needs,” said Jesper Andersen, senior vice president and general manager, Network Management Technology Group (NMTG), Cisco.  “With the acquisition of AXIOSS software and talent, we will help enable service providers to generate greater profits using a single management architecture to drive quick monetization and optimization of their Cisco network investments.”

Upon the close of the acquisition, the Axioss team will be integrated into the Cisco’s NMTG (Network Management Technology Group) and its Advanced Services Group. Gareth Senior- Comptel CTO and member of the Executive Board, will join Cisco. The services group “will offer implementation, customization and integration services”, and the new personnel will “bring strong software development and professional services skills,”  a Cisco spokesperson said.

Under the terms of the agreement, Cisco will pay approximately $31 million in cash to Comptel Corp. for the acquisition.  The acquisition is subject to various standard closing conditions and is expected to be completed in the third quarter of calendar year 2011.  Comptel Corp claims to be “the global market leader in convergent mediation and provisioning software solutions.”

http://newsroom.cisco.com/uk/press-release-content?articleId=462765&type=webcontent

AJW Comment:

Cisco was noted for the huge number of acquisitions it made in the mid to late 1990s.  Three of those acquisitions (Kalpana, Crescendo and Grand Junction) enabled the world’s leading router company to enter the Ethernet switch business, which it quickly took over.  Other acquisitions permitted Cisco to enter other networking market segments. The 1995 acquisition of Stratacom enabled Cisco to get into frame relay and ATM in the WAN.  But most other acquisitions failed badly (e.g. DSL, optical switching and transport, etc). 

Cisco’s largest acquisition this decade was in 2006, when it took over Scientific Atlanta.  That enabled Cisco to enter the Cable TV set top box business, which has not produced the expected revenues, profits or synergies with the rest of Cisco’s product line (especially home networking equipment it acquired through the Linksys acquisition).

While this is a much smaller acquisition than those in its glory heydays, this one is nonetheless important for Cisco to execute on its goal of integrating service management and fulfillment capabilities into Cisco Prime.

Addendum:  One day later, another article on this topic:

http://connectedplanetonline.com/bss_oss/news/cisco-edges-closer-to-the-customer-buys-fulfillment-from-Comptel/

Google’s Acquisition of Moto Mobility ups the stakes in Cell Phone Patent Mania

Viodi View Managing Editor Ken Pyle writes:
“Alan Weissberger may have said it best when he suggested that the Google purchase of Motorola Mobility is representative of what has become a sort of patent mania these days.  At approximately $734k per existing patent and $500k if pending patents are included, this is at least comparable to the the $750k per patent that the Apple/EMC/Ericsson/Microsoft/RIM/Sony consortium paid for the intellectual property assets of Nortel.  That figure ignores Motorola’s business ($3.3B revenue in the latest quarter) and the well reported synergies of having in its fold a hardware manufacturer  with deep ties to service providers. “

Clearly, Google had to play “patent catch-up” after being shut out in the %4.5B winning bid for Nortel’s patents, which was won  by a consortium of unlikely partners (Apple, Microsoft, RIM, EMC, Ericsson and Sony).  Was that consortium a collusion or anti-trust violation?  (See Huffington post article below).  

The search engine giant needs Moto’s patents for both offensive and defensive purposes.  They may also share the patents with Android device makers.  Analysts at Jefferies  estimated that $9.5B of the $12.5B purchase price was for Moto’s patent portfolio!

Jefferies & Co analyst Youssef Squali said:  “We believe that Google is paying approximately $9.5B for MMI’s patents, assuming $3B in value for MMI’s home and devices businesses. This implies $560K per MMI patent vs. $700K that Apple/Microsoft consortium paid per Nortel patent.”

 

Here are what some respected news sources wrote today about the patent based motivation for this huge deal:

Google Primes Patent Pump-

Google Inc.’s $12.5 billion deal for Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. provides the latest evidence that patents have become the hottest currency in high technology.  Tech companies, particularly in the market for mobile devices, have been furiously snapping up patents to use as weapons in lawsuits and bargaining chips in settlement negotiations. That was a key reason Google cited for buying Motorola Mobility, though some experts disagree about the value of that company’s intellectual property.

In some such cases, companies buy patents to go on the offensive against rivals, seeking hefty royalties for patent licenses or injunctions that could bar sales of competing products. Google, by contrast, expressed defensive motivations; the company, which has relatively few patents on mobile technologies, could theoretically use Motorola Mobility’s patents to countersue companies that sue Google or companies that use its Android software.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405311190348090457651061220870619…

In the World of Wireless, It’s All About Patents

That intellectual property portfolio is a treasure trove for Google because the battle in wireless is one that is increasingly being fought in court.

Corporate warfare over patents is not new. Companies historically preferred to reach truces, choosing to cross-license their intellectual property rather than risking bigger losses in court.

But patent battles are no longer waged between just two competitors, like Intel and Advanced Micro Devices. Platforms like Android and Windows Phone 7 are built upon a handful of device makers, adding more players with different stakes at risk.

That has changed the calculus of settling, as product makers have become increasingly willing to sue rather than reach peaceful settlements.

“Now you’re seeing more suits being brought by product companies willing to step up and say we will defend our patents,” said Colleen Chien, an assistant professor at the Santa Clara University School of Law.

Apple has sued important Android phone makers like HTC and Samsung, while Oracle has taken Google to court. The fighting has been likened to a “patent arms race.”

“The best way to fight a big portfolio of patents is to have your own big portfolio of patents,” said Herbert Hovenkamp, a law professor at the University of Iowa. “That appears to be what Google is doing here, arming itself with patents to be able to defend itself in this fast-growing market.”

Large sums hang in the balance, especially if phone makers are forced to pay out royalties for each handset they make. Microsoft has already persuaded HTC to pay a fee for every Android phone manufactured, and is seeking to extract similar royalties from Samsung.

If left unchecked, such payments could make creating new devices for Android prohibitively expensive for manufacturers, forcing them to turn to alternative platforms like Windows Phone 7.

“With a slim patent portfolio, Google is especially vulnerable to lawsuits against its Android licensees, if not itself,” Charlie Wolf, an analyst with Needham, wrote.

By acquiring Motorola Mobility, Google is seeking to ensure that growth in the Android market will not be choked by the burden of royalties.

The importance of bulging patent portfolios became clear this summer after a consortium led by Apple, Microsoft and Research in Motion, the maker of the BlackBerry, paid $4.5 billion for some 6,000 patents held by Nortel Networks, the Canadian telecommunications maker that filed for bankruptcy.

Google, which initially offered $900 million for the collection, fell short after several bids. Shortly afterward, Google executives complained that the company’s rivals had banded together to smother its Android system with patents.

“We’re determined to preserve Android as a competitive choice for consumers, by stopping those who are trying to strangle it,” David Drummond, Google’s chief legal officer, wrote in a blog post earlier this month.

Mobility’s Benefits for Google Not Patently Obvious

Google is hoping to secure the long term future of its business—by turning that business on its head. With its proposed $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility, Google is jumping into a lower-margin, cut-throat hardware business. Even for a company with as varied ambitions as Google, this is a risky deal.

Google’s willingness to buy Mobility highlights how much it needs to protect its Android mobile operating system, now caught up in a raging patent fight. Along with other Android-powered handset makers such as Samsung and HTC, Mobility has been sued for patent infringement by Apple and Microsoft.

Google’s purchase of Motorola Mobility was cheered by the street, as Google looks to control more of its handset maker of its Android phones. The deal also gives Google access to a library of patents, which can be used to protect the Android operating system

Even settling the patent lawsuits could be harder, argues patent expert Florian Mueller. Google may want to use Mobility’s patents to negotiate a settlement that covers all Android handset makers. For Apple and Microsoft, agreeing to an Android-wide settlement may be unpalatable.

In a sign of how badly it appeared to want Motorola Mobility’s patents, Google offered $40 a share, a rich 63 percent premium to Motorola’s closing price on Friday. Analysts at Jefferies calculated that, of the $12.5 billion offer price, Google was essentially paying $9.5 billion for the patents.

http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2011/08/15/in-the-world-of-wireless-its-all-about-patents/

Google, until now largely on the sidelines of that fight, has good reason to get directly involved. As an increasing portion of people’s Web surfing shifts to mobile devices, Android gives Google a vital position in mobile advertising. Having snared 47.7% of global smartphone shipments by operating system in the second quarter, according to Strategy Analytics, it is clear why Android threatens rivals like Apple and Microsoft.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903392904576510570512191428.html?mod=markets_newsreel&mg=com-wsj

Google’s Motorola deal seen as Cold War arms race

Open warfare between technology giants is nothing new, but when Google this week announced it was acquiring Motorola’s mobile division, the conflict over mobile phones went nuclear.

Behind the headlines of the $12.5 billion deal, say analysts, is a Cold War-style arms race, with leading firms racing to stockpile the patents that will serve as weapons of mutually-assured destruction.

But as Google squares off against Apple, Microsoft and the creators of BlackBerry, the question is: will anyone benefit from this escalation in potential hostilities or, like the standoff between America and the Soviet Union, will it ultimately prove futile?

Industry observers say Google’s latest deal, which saw it pay a 63% premium on shares, is primarily aimed at laying its hands on Motorola’s arsenal of patents — legally protected innovations built up over years at the frontline of cell phone development.

Most of these estimated 24,000 patents have little intrinsic value, says Lee Simpson, a London-based analyst at Jeffries International, but a core 500 or so represent the mother lode, giving Google ownership of key cellular communication technology.

And it is these patents that Google will turn to should it be accused of stealing Apple’s own legally-protected iPhone innovations to enhance Google’s Android operating system — a software now used on many popular handsets.

http://edition.cnn.com/2011/TECH/mobile/08/16/google.motorola.patents/

Verizon Says Google Deal May Stabilize Patent Fights

Verizon Communications Inc. said Google Inc.’s $12.5 billion bid for Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. was a welcome development because it may bring “stability” to a recent slate of smartphone patent disputes, though it stopped short of totally endorsing the proposed acquisition.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903392904576512360865045134.html#ixzz1VEndvWVj

Patent Wars and Blackmail in Silicon Valley

The U.S. Justice Department’s Antitrust Division is investigating another possible conspiracy among Silicon Valley companies. This one arises out of the collective bid in the late spring of nearly every wireless phone operating system manufacturer, except Google, for a portfolio of 6,000 cell phone patents formerly held by bankrupt Canadian company Nortel. Simply put, Google started the bidding at about $1 billion, but the others joined forces to lift the price to an astounding $4.5 billion and win the prize.

That’s the legal background to Google’s just-announced Motorola Mobility acquisition, and it’s one that could have serious anticompetitive consequences. If the curiously named “Rockstar Bidco” consortium — which includes Microsoft, Apple, RIM, EMC, Ericsson and Sony — refuses to license the erstwhile Nortel patents to Google for its Android wireless operating system, they will be agreeing as “horizontal” competitors not to deal with a rival. Classically such group boycotts are treated as a serious antitrust no-no, and a criminal offense. If the group licenses the patents, on the other hand, they could be guilty of price fixing (also a possible criminal offense), since a common royalty price was not essential to the joint bid and would eliminate competition among the members for licensing fees.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/glenn-b-manishin/microsoft-motorola-patent-wars_b_928728.html

2Q-2011 VC Investment Survey: Internet 2.0 Bubble while Telecom & Networking Start-ups Struggle for Funding!

Introduction

The just released PricewaterhouseCoopers National Venture Capital Association MoneyTreeTM Report for 2Q-2011 contains some very revealing information about the amounts and types of companies venture capitalists (VCs) are investing in.

https://www.pwcmoneytree.com/MTPublic/ns/moneytree/filesource/exhibits/M…

VCs opened their wallets and invested $7.5 billion in 966 deals in 2Q-2011. That was an increase of 19% in terms of both dollars and the number of deals compared to the first quarter of 2011 when $6.3 billion was invested in 814 deals. The quarterly investment level represents the highest total in a single quarter since the second quarter of 2008.

Internet Companies are Hot (or in Bubble 2.0)

Here’s an Eye Opener: Investment in Internet-specific companies surged in the second quarter with $2.3 billion going into 275 companies. That’s about one third of all VC money invested this quarter! It represents a 72% increase in dollars and a 46% increase in deals from the first quarter when $1.4 billion went into 189 deals. The second quarter marks the most dollars going into Internet-specific companies in a decade, since the second quarter of 2001!

Five of the top 10 deals this quarter, including the top two deals, were classified as Internet-specific investments, which is a discrete classification assigned to a company with a business model that is fundamentally Internet based, e.g. e-commerce, on line games or daily coupons, social networking, etc. These are generally software companies which have nothing at all to do with the underlying Internet infrastructure that they use to generate revenues (and hopefully profits).

Telecom and Networking Start-ups Continue to Suffer

In sharp contrast, there were only 29 deals totalling $169M invested in Telecom start-ups of all types (wireless, wireline, metro, WAN, etc). That was down from 35 deals worth $188M in the 1Q-2011 and basically flat from one year ago.

Networking and equipment companies fared even worse. They received only $115M in 21 deals in 2Q, which was flat from 1Q but DOWN from $303M in 24 deals one year ago!

Telecom combined with networking & equipment only accounted for 3.7% of all 2Q-2011 investments- an insignificant percentage, especially when compared to Internet related companies. As we have pointed out in several other articles, this does not augur well for future Internet infrastructure or for technology innovation in general.

San Jose Mercury had 2 recent articles about the Money Tree VC Survey, but didn’t accurately report the sorry state of telecom and networking start ups. In particular, this Sunday’s SJ Mercury VC report didn’t explicitly mention telecom start-ups http://www.mercurynews.com/business/ci_18664212?nclick_check=1

Saturday’s SJ Mercury article was more interesting:  Silicon Valley in another tech-stock bubble? (Really means private equity bubble, since the companies receiving huge investments and high valuations are NOT publicly traded)

“New figures from the National Venture Capital Association show more venture money poured into Internet startups last quarter — $2.3 billion — than in any period since the dot-com bubble, driven largely by investments in social media companies.”

While VCs are throwing lots of money at Internet start-ups, telecom and network equipment companies are struggling to get funding from VCs (or even angel investors)!


This article is continued at: 

http://viodi.com/2011/08/14/vc-falling-over-internet-start-ups-telecom-tie-angels-wins-for-smaller-deals/

More info on early stage company funding and the role of TiE Angels

AT&T to Throttle Heavy Mobile Data Users with "Unlimited" Data Plans

On July 29, 2011, AT&T surreptitiously announced it would reduce throughput for the top 5 percent of their heaviest mobile data users in a billing period. These customers falling into this highest mobile data use group on average use 12 times more data than the average of other smartphone data customers. The move does not apply to the 15 million AT&T smartphone customers on a tiered data plan nor to most smartphone customers who still have unlimited data plans. 

AT&T wrote: “The amount of data usage of our top 5 percent of heaviest users varies from month to month, based on the usage of others and the ever-increasing demand for mobile broadband services.  To rank among the top 5 percent, you have to use an extraordinary amount of data in a single billing period.”

In announcing this new policy, AT&T said that “nothing short” of wrapping up its T-Mobile merger “will provide additional spectrum capacity to address these near term challenges.”

http://www.att.com/gen/press-room?pid=20535&cdvn=news&newsarticleid=32318&mapcode=corporate

Streaming video apps, remote Web camera apps, uploading large data files like video and some online gaming as well as streaming music daily over a wireless network can ratchet up data use and may push a customer into the top 5 percent category. The company pointed out that users of its Wi-Fi network do not contribute to the wireless network congestion.  That’s because the WiFi backhaul normally uses a broadband wireless Internet connection.

The new data throttling will begin Oct. 1st for AT&T customers with unlimited data plans. Customers will experience reduced data transfer speeds once they reach a level that pushes them into the top 5 percent of heaviest data users. Unlimited transfers will continue to be available, although at a reduced speed, and speeds will be restored with the beginning of the next billing cycle.

Points to Ponder: We wonder whether heavy mobile data users will balk when they notice a significant slowdown or buffer underrun in streaming video or other real time applications.  Will they then switch to tiered data plans and pay substantially more in overcharges?

No Surprise: Clearwire to shift from WiMAX to LTE – But Who WIll Fund It?

LTE is now being deployed in the US by Verizon Wireless and Metro PCS, with AT&T and LightSquared to follow (the latter’s LTE deployment depends on resolving the GPS interference issue with the FAA and other U.S. government regulators).

Clearwire had announced last year that it had begun testing LTE technology in Phoenix, AZ.  Those Clearwire LTE tests achieved data speeds of 120 megabits per second – 10 times faster than the fastest networks currently in operation. So we predicted at that time that Clearwire would opt for LTE rather than IEEE 802.16m (AKA WiMAX 2.0).  Now its for certain.

Today, Clearwire’s CEO John Stanton said that the company’s new LTE network would initially target densely populated urban areas in its existing 4G markets where current 4G usage is highest. It said it will be able to use its existing WiMax infrastructure in these markets to serve the company’s LTE needs, delivering substantial capital cost savings compared with similar rollouts by rival operators.

“Our leadership in launching 4G services forced a major change in the competitive mobile data landscape,” Mr. Stanton said. “Now we plan to bring our considerable spectrum portfolio to bear to deliver an LTE network capable of meeting the future demands of the market.”

John Saw, Clearwire’s chief technology officer, said: “Our extensive trial has clearly shown that our ‘LTE Advanced-ready’ network design, which leverages our deep spectrum with wide channels, can achieve far greater speeds and capacity than any other network that exists today.

“In addition, the 2.5GHz spectrum band in which we operate is widely allocated worldwide for 4G deployments, enabling a potentially robust, cost-effective and global ecosystem that could serve billions of devices.”

In a sideswipe seemingly aimed at rival LightSquared, he added: “Since we currently support millions of customers in the 2.5GHz band, we know that our LTE network won’t present harmful interference issues with GPS or other sensitive spectrum bands.”

Clearwire said its LTE implementation will use Time Division Duplex (TDD) LTE technology. The LTE deployment will take advantage of the company’s all-IP network architecture and will involve upgrading base station radios and some core network elements. Clearwire said it will use multicarrier, or multichannel, wideband radios that will be carrier-aggregation capable.

A key question is where will Clearwire get the needed capital to buld the planned LTE-TDD network?  The company said that plans to build the new LTE network “are subject to raising additional capital,” which has been a problem for Clearwire for the past three years. Furthermore, Clearwire states that it will need “substantial additional capital” to continue running its WiMax network “over the intermediate and long-term,” although the company says it currently has enough capital to maintain and operate the network “for at least the next 12 months.”

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/eebc4628-be22-11e0-bee9-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1U2GQTZHb

http://www.fiercewireless.com/story/clearwire-deploy-lte-if-it-can-get-additional-funding/2011-08-03


Here is what CEO Stanton said about LTE during today’s earnings call;

Based on the success and insights from our now completed Phoenix trial, we plan to add LTE services to our present network in areas with high usage concentration where we can meet the needs of our current partners and other major carriers. Our carrier customers would use LTE capacity to supplement their offerings.

LTE will be implemented by overlaying most of our existing 4G network. We will not use Sprint’s project vision in our existing markets because it is substantially more expensive compared to the cost of overlaying our own network. We are in discussions with Sprint about using vision in new build markets in the future.

We plan to maintain the WiMAX network for a significant period of time to serve our present customers. We believe WiMAX will continue to represent an appealing product for certain market segments.

There are two key reasons we can implement this strategy, our spectrum and our network. We have the largest, deepest spectrum position in the industry on the best and only globally coordinated band, differentiating ourselves from any other carrier or want-to-be 4G operator.

With an average of 160 megahertz of spectrum nationwide, we have more spectrum than even AT&T and T-Mobile combined. With all of our spectrum in one contiguous band, our spectrum depth enables us to deploy wider channels or fatter pipes to enhance the throughput speed and capacity.

Spectrum in the 2.5 gigahertz band is ideally suited for high-volume wireless data. High-frequency spectrum is much more conducive than low- or mid-band spectrum to meeting the usage and speed requirements of heavy tonnage users in densely populated markets.

The 2.5 gigahertz band is also the sweet spot of global TDD LTE evolution. Earlier this year, Clearwire cofounded the GTI consortium with China Mobile, Vodafone, SoftBank and Bharti. Clearwire was the only American carrier included in the consortium. The members of this consortium serve more than 1.3 billion customers, representing 4x the population of the U.S. This means that this group will be driving the lowest possible cost and greatest variety of devices.”

http://seekingalpha.com/article/284461-clearwire-s-ceo-discusses-q2-2011-results-earnings-call-transcript

Opinion:  Clearwire’s announced plans for LTE along with Sprint overt hints that it will also deploy that technology sounds the death bell for mobile WiMAX.  It almost guarantees that IEEE 802.16m- WiMax 2.0- will be DoA.

Who is to blame for this market failure?   I’ll give you three guesses, but the 1st two don’t count!

Smart Energy Home Area Network (HAN) Consortium=HomePlug Alliance, Wi-Fi Alliance, HomeGrid Forum and ZigBee Alliance

Background:  SEP 2 was selected in 2009 by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) as a standard profile for smart energy management in home devices. The profile is suitable for operation on a variety of IP-based technologies. This consortium establishes a communications technology-agnostic forum to unify and accelerate the realization of interoperable SEP 2 products through a joint test and certification program. The consortium intends to utilize the processes and best practices recommended by the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP) for smart grid testing and certification programs.  The Consortium for SEP 2 Interoperability invites participation from other trade associations in communications technology that have an interest in developing an interoperable smart grid.

The Main Message:  The HomePlug Alliance, Wi-Fi Alliance, HomeGrid Forum and ZigBee Alliance have agreed to create a Consortium for SEP 2 Interoperability. The new consortium will enable organizations whose technologies support communications over Internet Protocol (IP) to certify SEP 2 according to a consistent test plan. Recognizing that the vision of interoperable SEP 2 devices across the network will only be realized with consistent certification and interoperability testing, the Consortium is being structured as an open organization. This cooperation among alliances builds on the work of many industries to bring smart grid benefits to consumers.    
      
The joint certification and test program will be used to certify wireless and wired devices that support IP- based smart energy applications and end-user devices such as thermostats, appliances and gateways. It will address devices operating on one or more of a variety of underlying connectivity technologies and provide the smart energy ecosystem – including utilities, product vendors and consumers – assurances of application and device interoperability.

“As the hybrid wireless and wired home of the future takes shape, the need for easy interoperability becomes key,” said Rob Ranck, president of HomePlug Alliance. “We are excited to bring HomePlug Alliance’s strong expertise to this collaboration and help provide a robust certification program.”

“The smart grid will be comprised of all types of devices connecting in many different ways, and we must ensure those devices interoperate and communicate seamlessly, regardless of how they connect,” said Edgar Figueroa, CEO of Wi-Fi Alliance. “This collaboration represents a groundbreaking step in the industry. Through this collaboration, the smart grid ecosystem will benefit from interoperable smart energy products that use some of today’s most popular connectivity technologies.”

“HomeGrid Forum, which is responsible for certifying and promoting G.hn technology, is excited to be working with other leading industry organizations to help accelerate the adoption of the Smart Grid throughout the world,” said Matt Theall, president of HomeGrid Forum. “We believe SEP 2 will be an important factor in ensuring that wired and wireless technologies combine together to deliver Smart Grid and other services inside and outside the home and we are committed to using our expertise to help drive industry adoption.”

“As the organization that initiated the home Smart Energy standards activity, the ZigBee Alliance is committed to ensuring that the years of work invested by a broad stakeholder community in developing it translates into success in the marketplace,” said Bob Heile, chairman of the ZigBee Alliance. “The
ZigBee Alliance is pleased to contribute its considerable experience and expertise certifying Smart Energy products today to this new independent certification and testing consortium to ensure that consumers get smart products that are easy to use, independent of communications technology.”    
  
Quick take: Will this end the standards connundrum for residential smart energy management systems?  Let’s see!

Related articleNew Telco Services Enable the Connected Home

http://viodi.com/2011/07/25/new-telco-services-part-1/


About HomePlug Powerline Alliance (see Comment below)
The HomePlug Powerline Alliance, Inc is the leading industry-led initiative for powerline networking, creating specifications, marketing and certification programs to accelerate worldwide adoption of powerline networking. With HomePlug technology, the electrical wires in the home can now distribute broadband Internet, HD video, digital music and smart energy applications.

The Alliance works with key stakeholders to ensure HomePlug specifications are designed to meet the requirements of IPTV service providers, power utilities, equipment and appliance manufacturers, consumer electronics and other constituents. The HomePlug Certified Logo program is the powerline networking industry’s largest Compliance and Interoperability Certification Program and the program has certified over 240 devices. For more information, visit www.homeplug.org.

About the Wi-Fi Alliance
The Wi-Fi Alliance is a global non-profit industry association of hundreds of leading companies devoted to seamless connectivity. With technology development, market building, and regulatory programs, the Wi-Fi Alliance has enabled widespread adoption of Wi-Fi worldwide.

The Wi-Fi Alliance launched the Wi-Fi CERTIFIEDTM program in March 2000. It provides a widely-recognized designation of interoperability and quality, and it helps to ensure that Wi-Fi enabled products deliver the best user experience. The Wi-Fi Alliance has completed more than 10,000 product certifications to date, encouraging the expanded use of Wi-Fi products and services in new and established markets. For more information, visit www.wi-fi.org.

About HomeGrid Forum
HomeGrid Forum is a global, non-profit trade group promoting the International Telecommunication Union’s G.hn and G.hnem standardization efforts for next-generation home networking and SmartGrid Applications. HomeGrid Forum promotes adoption of G.hn and G.hnem through technical and marketing efforts, addresses certification and interoperability of G.hn and G.hnem-compliant products, and cooperates with complementary industry alliances. For more information on HomeGrid Forum, please visit www.homegridforum.org or follow us on http://twitter.com/homegrid_forum.

About the ZigBee Alliance
ZigBee offers green and global wireless standards connecting the widest range of devices to work together intelligently and help you control your world. The ZigBee Alliance is an open, nonprofit association of approximately 400 organizations driving development of innovative, reliable and easy-to-use ZigBee standards. The Alliance promotes worldwide adoption of ZigBee as the leading wirelessly networked, sensing and control standard for use in consumer, commercial and industrial areas. For more information, visit www.zigbee.org.

Contacts:
Megan Shockney, The Ardell Group for HomePlug
megan@ardellgroup.com

+1 858-442-3492

Karl Stetso
n, Edelman for Wi-Fi Alliance
karl.stetson@edelman.com

+1 206-268-2215

Brian Dolby
for HomeGrid Forum
+44 7899 914168
Sheila Lashfor
d, for HomeGrid Forum
+44 7986 514240
pr@homegridforum.org

Kevin Schader
ZigBee Alliance
kschader@inventures.com

+1 925-275-6672

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