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IDC Directions 2012: Mobility and NexGen Wireless Network Architecture for the 3rd Platform

The prestigious IT Market Research firm IDC believes that we are on the cusp of a "Third Platform" that will dominate the IT landscape till 2020 and beyond.  That platform consists of some mash up of: Cloud computing, mobile broadband, mobile services/devices/software platforms-OSs/apps, social networks, and big data- analytics.  Many or all of those technologies will be integrated or combined to offer new types of services to both business and personal IT end users.

IDC predicts a CAGR of 15% for Third Platform IT spending, with cumulative growth (2013-’20)  of 70.4%!  Scale, Community, and Competency will determine the Third Platfrom winners, according to IDC Chief Analyst Frank Gens.

This article focuses on the mobile network- new architectures to deal with congestion and how mobility intersects with cloud computing.

Take aways from John Byrne's outstanding presentation (best of conference) on NextGen Mobile Architectures: Solving the Congestion Dilemma.  The IDC chart below shows global cellular revenue by RAN technology:

Key point:  Exponentially Increasing Mobile Data Traffic Is Driving Major Network Changes. 

In particular, smartphones, tablets and dongles (oh my) driving major changes in wireless network infrastructure:
• Heterogeneous network” architectures required, with the focus rapidly turning to microcells, picocells, femtocells, distributed antenna systems, “cloud RAN”
• Backhaul chokepoints must be resolved through a variety of solutions, including fiber, Wi-Fi offload and other fiber-to-the-cell deployments wherever feasible
• Operators must be able to utilize every spectrum band available, as efficiently as possible, to keep pace with demand

Continued exponential data traffic growth requires a variety of solutions.  A capacity crunch is coming or is already apparent in today's cellular networks, e.g. AT&Ts 3G network: 

• Operator assumptions regarding network traffic growth have been significantly exceeded
• form factor for video, download and upload
• New M2M applications/form factors will develop to take advantage of high data throughput

IDC believes that network operators must take advantage of every solution available:
• Wi-Fi more closely integrated into wireless network architectures
• Multi-technology, multi-spectrum radios are the main focus in the macro-environment
• Heterogeneous Network solutions to solve urban hotzoneand in-building coverage challenges
• FDD, TDDand FDD/TDDcombinations to take advantage of all available spectrum bands

The chart below shows mobile data growing at a 10.9% CAGR- higher than any other type of information transported on carrier networks.  This is what will cause the capacity crunch and mobile network congestion. 

In the Macrocell Environment, Focus of Deployments Turning to support of Base Stations that support multiple frequencies and multiple RAN technologies (e.g. 3G, WiMAX, LTE-TDD/FDD).
Flexibility is the focus, allowing customized approach for each operator’s unique situation
• Ultimately multi-mode, multi-band base stations will be part of the solution for operators in most regions
• Sprint “Network Vision” project represents a good example of network modernization to adapt to the new environment –multiple technologies & frequencies using a single multimode antenna

Heterogeneous Networks represent the "Next Phase" of Wireless Network Development

Wireless telcos and network equipment vendors are focusing on “HetNets”
• AIR, Liquid, Light –regardless of vendor acronym focus is on 10x increase in # of radios to keep pace with network traffic growth
• A host of vendors (and being driven by China Mobile) spending significant R&D on “cloud RAN” and other HetNetconcepts
HetNetSolutions will vary by operator and scenario:
• Pico cell base stations
• Femto cells moving into the enterprise and outdoors
• Microcells
• Managed, carrier-grade WiFi for mobile data offload of the cellular network

As shown by the IDC chart below, wireless access network backhaul represents a major challenge to robust mobile boadband. service.  Operators and vendors will need to solve the backhaul challenge at two main chokepoints:
1. The connection between the base transceiver station (BTS) and the base station controller/mobile switching center (BSC/MSC)
2. The “metro” handoff from the BSC/MSCto the core network

M2M Represents a Great Example of the Third Platform:

• Digital Signage:
–Remote billboards/digital ads (in areas where fixed broadband is not available and/or cost prohibitive)
–Major areas of opportunity: taxis, buses, limousines, ferries and trains; targeted possibilities are enhanced further when combined with location awareness
• Personal Fitness/Healthcare Monitoring:
–Business(B) to Consumer(C): Operator could provide aggregated data to a consumer focused on fitness
–B to B to C: Operator could provide active monitoring directly to clinic or hospital and react in the event of an emergency (call ambulance, forward relevant patient data, contact doctor, etc.
–B to B to C: “Glowcaps” is such a model

"Third Platform" networks must support Trillions of Transactions, which poses challenging new requirements:

• OSS/Policy Management/Device Management:
–Automated response is key to profitable M2M
–Automated customer/service provisioning, authentication
–Device/chip/module certification
• Billing/BSS:
–Revenue sharing among thousands of partners
–Myriad of business models: per MB, per transaction, per month, etc.
• Analytics:
–Value of data gathered rests in the ability to make sense out of it
–Intelligence will rest with network operators –ability to monetize depends on developing and packaging meaningful insights
• Ecosystem:
–In order to get to trillions of transactions, service providers must do much more work to bring application developers into the ecosystem
Essential guidance from Courtney Munroe's presentation on Mobility and the Cloud:
• Cloud Applications and Traffic will grow exponentially by 2015
• All Applications Providers must have a cloud Solution
• Consolidation/Partnership inevitable
• Apps will expand from basic categories to include HD Video/Business Analytics
and LBS (Location Based Services) Apps

Mobile OS/ browser issues:

• Native Apps vs HTML5? The former has many advantages, but the performance gap will close.
• OEM Device Optimization for Cloud Integration
• Mobile Device Management: Blackberry Mobile Fusion: 2012
• Storage/Sync Services- iCloud/SkyDrive: Consumer Oriented
• Cloud Productivity Apps: Google Apps, MSFT Office Web Mobile Operating Systems



It will be a very interesting few years as network infrastructures evolve to accomodate both fixed enterprise premises and mobile workforce access to a variety of cloud resident services.

We think that the network will be a gating item to cloud adoption and that privacy concerns (as well as security threats) have been underestimated.  Also think that social networks will NOT be used as much as forecast for enterprise apps due to security and privacy issues.

Here are a few other opinions, expressed by IEEE ComSocSCV Discussion Group members:

"Maybe the time is ripe for Self Organizing Networks (SON) to finally go mainstream. That could help with the management problems, if done well.

As for carrier revenues, the GSMA's OneAPI initiative is one of the ways that telcos would try to revenue-share, by providing a platform and APIs for 3rd party software providers to build upon rather than go over-the-top. But I wonder how is its momentum these days. Also, there has been talk about carriers charging developers for the bandwidth their software consumes, so something like a netflix could be forced to share revenues that way (even skype - less bandwidth per call, but multiply that by the massive number of calls). Any discussion on these types of approaches at the IDC? Also, some VP of a telco (was it t-mobile) recently spoke out against continuing the practice of heavily subsidizing mobile devices.
As for native apps vs html5, if html5 becomes dominant, the browser becomes the platform rather than the mobile OS, but then, it becomes the browser wars (which browser, rather than which mobile OS)."
"I think there will be is a subtle and un-stated result of this huge traffic explosion: the  substantial  use of cognitive radio(CR) techniques. CR was originally conceived as a means to expand utilization of existing and very limited bandwidth. CR Research has evolved under the general assumption that all the traffic sources would be wireless. But with all this monster core network traffic, there is now strong economic incentive for TELCOs to use every means possible to avoid having to make major capital investments in FO and cables. So they can use some basic CR, like spectrum band splitting and adaptive management, to use existing TELCO bands better. If my speculation is right, then CR will finally get some non-military money driving the research."

"I believe CR now has started to wear what I call the "AI Invisibility Cloak". Remember when AI was all the rage and there was even a company called the AI Company? Or, Expert systems Firm? well all those guys disappeared, simply because you have to focus onproducts and not just horizontal technology. So AI is deeply i mportant now, but no one talks about it--it's buried in the fabric of all adaptive systems. It's like "calculus".

So, I think CR is moving the same way. Weirdly, as I write this, I believe my original claim about core traffic driving CR use makes even more sense!"

Author's Note: 

Cognitive Radio (CR) was not discussed or even mentioned at IDC Directions 2012. So it wasn't included in this article.  Closest new technology to CR which got "air time" at IDC Directions was Software Defined Network (SDN) in a presentation from Rohit Mehra (see referenced article below for more details on what he said about SDN and Open Flow..


Please refer to the Agenda for IDC Directions 2012 

IDC Directions 2012 on the Cloud Ready Intelligent Network
Fox News Opinion piece- Burden on FCC to find more spectrum:

WSJ article:  Wringing Out More Capacity- Wireless Carriers Use Tricks to Ease Data-Traffic Jams, Including Multiple Antennas, Remote Controls

This article assumes the FCCs hands are tied and won't be able to come up with enough spectrum to alleviate the capacity crunch caused by continuous exponential increases in mobile data traffic. WSJ On Line sub required to access the full article:



IEEE 802.16 WG (Wireless MAN, AKA WiMAX) Session #78 Report

This report was written by Roger Marks (
Chair, IEEE 802.16 Working Group (WG) on Broadband Wireless Access Standards


Format and copy editing by Alan J Weissberger, Manager of ComSoc Community website

IEEE 802.16 WG Session #78 was held on 12-15 March 2012 in Waikoloa, Hawaii, USA. This was an IEEE 802 LMSC Plenary Session and co-located with sessions of the other IEEE 802 Working Groups and Technical Advisory Groups. The attendance was 35 (way down from earlier days when there was more commercial interest in WiMAX.

New "HetNet" Study Group

The IEEE 802.16 WG Study Group on the WirelessMAN Radio Interface in Heterogeneous Networks ("HetNet" or "Het" Study Group) was initiated on 16 March and initially chartered through 20 July. Contribution on this topic are solicited for IEEE 802.16 Session #79 of 14-17 May 2012 in in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

New "Metrology" Study Group

The IEEE 802.16 WG's Study Group on Broadband Wireless Access Metrology ("Metrology" or "Met" Study Group) was initiated on 16 March and initially chartered through 20 July. Contribution on this topic are solicited for IEEE 802.16 Session #79 of 14-17 May 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

Maintenance Task Group

The Maintenance Task Group (TG) resolved comments received during recirculation of the IEEE-SA Sponsor Ballots of drafts P802.16Rev3 and P802.16.1. Subsequently, with the two ballot approval ratios of 100% and 99%, respectively, the Working Group requested conditional approval to forward the drafts to RevCom; the IEEE 802 Executive Committee (EC) granted this approval on 16 March. A teleconference has been scheduled for 18 April to resolve comments that arise. The plan is to seek to have both standards approved by the IEEE-SA Standards Board on 8 June 2012. According to this schedule, the documents will be complete prior to Session #79, in which case the Maintenance TG may not meet there. The TG issued a closing report and minutes.

Machine-to-Machine Task Group

The Machine-to-Machine (M2M) Task Group resolved comments arising during the Sponsor Ballot of P802.16.1b and the first Sponsor Ballot Recirculation of P802.16p. Subsequently, with both ballot approval ratios at 99%, the Working Group requested conditional approval to forward the drafts to RevCom; the IEEE 802 agreed on 16 March. After recirculation of both ballots, comments will be addressed at Session #79. The plan is to hold a confirmation ballot on both drafts following Session #79 and then submit both to the RevCom meeting of 29 August. According to this schedule, Session #79 would be the final meeting of the M2M TG. The TG issued a closing report and minutes.

GRIDMAN Task Group

The GRIDMAN Task Group met to resolve comments in WG Letter Ballot #37 and WG Letter Ballot #38, in which the P802.16n and P802.16.1a drafts were reviewed. The two ballot approval ratios were 100% and 98%, respectively. The WG agreed to hold 30-day recirculations on the entirety of both drafts, with comment resolution scheduled for Session #79. The TG issued a closing report and minutes.

Liaison Activities

The ITU-R Liaison Group drafted two contributions to ITU-R Working Party 5D (on IMT-2000 and IMT-Advanced updates) and another to ITU-R Working Party 5D (on cognitive radio and heterogeneous networks). The three drafts were approved by the 802.16 Working Group, the 802.16 Radio Regulatory TAG, and the IEEE 802 EC. The ITU-R Liaison Group also completed liaison statements to its partner organizations regarding the IMT-2000 and IMT-Advanced update activities. The Liaison Group will not meet at Session #79 and will resume meeting at Session #80. For more details, see the closing report.

Project Planning Committee

The WG's Project Planning Committee met for two periods during Session #77. A new project ballot schedule was developed and agreed. Two new Working Group Study Groups were proposed, then later initiated by the Working Group and approved by the IEEE 802 (see details above). The PPC issued closing report and minutes.

IEEE 802.16 WG Officers

Roger Marks was re-elected as Working Group Chair until March 2014; the result was confirmed by the IEEE 802 EC. Rakesh Taori did not seek re-election as Working Group Vice Chair and has completed his term. No candidate sought election as Vice Chair, so the position is temporarily unfilled. Harry Bims was appointed as Working Group Secretary, having served as Acting Secretary at two sessions.

Future Meetings

Future Meetings

-Session #79 will take place on 14-17 May 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA in conjunction with the IEEE 802 Wireless Interim. The M2M TG, GRIDMAN TG, and Project Planning Committee will meet. The ITU-R Liaison Group will not meet. The Maintenance Task Group is not currently expected to meet but might need to. The "Het" Study Group and "Met" Study Group will meet.

-Session #80 will take place on 16-19 July 2012 in San Diego, California, USA in conjunction with the IEEE 802 Plenary Session.

-Session #81 will take place on 17-20 September 2012 in Indian Wells, CA, USA in conjunction with the IEEE 802 Wireless Interim.

-Session #82 will take place on 12-15 Nov 2012 in San Antonio, TX, USA in conjunction with the IEEE 802 Plenary Session.

-The Future Sessions list and the WirelessMAN Interactive Calendar include all session information through 2012.



Infonetics: Small cell market to hit 3 million units in 2016 +Femtocell Forecast!

Market research firm Infonetics Research today released excerpts from its new Small Cell Equipment market size and forecast report. The first-of-its-kind report tracks small cells in the context of low power mobile network nodes known as microcells, picocells, and femtocells (public space, not residential) made by the "Big 5" RAN (Radio Access Netowrk) vendors -- Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia Siemens Networks, and ZTE - as well as small cell specialists like ip.access, Contela, Juni, Minieum Networks, Ubiquisys, and others.

"While small cells, including microcells and picocells, have been used for the past two decades to improve voice coverage, now mobile broadband is shifting the game to capacity upgrades," notes Stéphane Téral, principal analyst for mobile infrastructure and carrier economics at Infonetics Research. "Therefore, the chief objective is to complement and enhance the macrocell layer from a capacity standpoint with a new breed of low-power nodes like public space femtocells and WiFi. But dividing the macro layers into smaller cells remains challenging due to inter-cell interference and backhaul issues. The question is: how small can the cell be? Because the smaller the cell, the higher the number of units required to cover an area, and that will determine the true size of the small cell market."

Principal analyst and Infonetics co-founder Michael Howard adds: "Our small cell forecast is not a pie-in-the-sky, new-technology-honeymoon forecast based on futuristic 2020 technology visions of small cells on every city block. We developed our forecasts after a solid year of work by several Infonetics analysts and our research team with mobile operators, manufacturers, and chip suppliers. We examined, discussed, challenged, and listened-often on multiple occasions-to the major footprint operators to learn about their thinking, planning, testing, and trialing across their realities of today's operations, budgets, target small cell pricing, sizing and form-factor requirements, emerging technology issues, location-sensitive pico-to-macrocell ratios, and small cell layer automation and coordination with the macro layer. And in all of this, we explored with them what they think is realistic over the next few years."

.    Infonetics forecasts the global small cell market to grow rapidly, with about 3 million small cells shipping and the market worth about $2.1 billion in 2016
.    Small cell market growth is being driven by operators seeking to enhance saturated macrocellular networks that are currently struggling to maintain a decent mobile broadband experience for subscribers
.    For the next 3 years or so, most operators are planning small cells only in the urban core
.    Infonetics expects public space femtocells to make up more than 50% of all small cells shipped in 2012
.    In 2013, Infonetics expects 3G small cells to make up 63% of global small cell shipments, with 4G small cells kicking off and ramping up rapidly to make up 37%
.    4G small cell shipments will overtake 3G small cells by 2015
.    From a geographic perspective, early femtocell adopters such as AT&T, Softbank, and Vodafone and macro network density dictate which regions represent the largest small cell opportunities, with Asia Pacific expected to lead with 44% of all units shipped in 2012, followed by EMEA with 32%

Infonetics' new biannual Small Cell Equipment report provides worldwide and regional market size, forecasts, and market analysis for 3G microcells, picocells, and public space femtocells (W-CDMA/HSPA and CDMA2000/EV-DO) and 4G (LTE) FDD and TDD mini eNodeBs and public space femtocells. The 22-page analysis report that accompanies the customizable Excel report includes in-depth analysis and data charts, a Mobile Operator Small Cell Strategies Tracker, Customer Wins and Service Provider and Vendor Announcements, and a Small Cell Specifications Comparison. Vendors whose small cell solutions are tracked in the report include Airvana, Airwalk, Alcatel-Lucent, BelAir, Cisco, Ericsson, Fujitsu, Huawei, ip.access Motorola, NEC, Nokia Siemens Networks, Samsung, Thomson, Ubiquisys, UTStarcom, ZTE, ZyXEL, and others.

.    Femtocell market set to double in 2012, Airvana expands lead
.    Operators turn to femtocells to improve enterprise coverage and capacity
.    Adoption of small cells / public space femtocells reflects a mobile world in transition
.    Small cell survey shows operators plan to run 12% of network capacity on small cells by 2012
.    New study details operator plans for small cell backhaul
.    Femtocell operator survey provides glimpse into the future of femtocell services
Regarding Femtocells, the company states:

“This year the femtocell market will scale up significantly and break out into clearer market segments: consumer, enterprise, and rural and metro public space femtocells. As price points continue to come down, we expect to see global femtocell revenue nearly double this year while unit shipments grow at nearly 140% compared to 2011,” predicts Richard Webb, Directing Analyst for microwave, mobile offload and mobile broadband devices at Infonetics.

•Worldwide revenue from 2G and 3G femtocells used in consumer, enterprise and public spaces grew 9% sequentially in the third quarter of 2011, with 2G femtocell revenue declining and 3G femtocell revenue ramping
•Year over year (3Q10 to 3Q11), global femtocell revenue is up 37%
•W-CDMA/HSPA femtocells accounted for 72% of all femtocells shipped in 3Q11
•4G LTE femtocells are expected to start shipping in late 2012
•Femtocell market leader Airvana is the first to break through the US$25 million quarterly revenue threshold, expanding its revenue market share lead significantly
•The Cisco/ip.access partnership maintains its lead in terms of femtocell unit share, and increased its quarterly femtocell revenue to its second-highest level to date, but did not gain revenue market share as other players also posted notable gains, including Huawei and NEC/Ubiquisys
•A growing number of operators are offering free femtocells to their consumer subscribers, including SFR France, Softbank in Japan, and Cosmote in Greece.  =====================================================================================================

AW Comment:  AT&T has been offering free femtocells in rural areas without cell phone coverage to any customer buying an iPhone.  My neighbor in Blue Lake Springs, CA has one and it works great over for cellular voice and data from his iPhone over limited distance of 50-60 meters. 


Huawei viewed as a Top Telecom Tech Innovator, but Locked Out of U.S. and Australian Markets

In a recent SF Chronicle article, Andrew S. Ross concluded that China's Huawei was one of the world's top technology innovators.  He wrote, "Huawei is now not just the world's largest supplier of telecom equipment, but an increasingly ambitious player in high-tech sectors ranging from network servers to mobile telephony."

"On display inside the company's glass-encased space-age building are a bevy of sophisticated products: data management centers, solar-powered small footprint base stations, cloud-based software services, videoconferencing systems, smart phones and, most recently, a tablet aimed at the business market," Ross added.

Operating in 140 countries, Huawei recorded $32 billion in sales last year and looks to triple that number in the next 10 years. The Shanghai center, where much of the mobile phone R&D occurs, employs 10,000 people out of a global workforce of 140,000. That includes approximately 700 employees in its Santa Clara, CA based Research Center.  The company operates 23 R&D centers worldwide.  Some of the hot longer term research projects include: photonics, optics and  LTE (Long Term Evolution) Advanced devices. Huawei installed the world's first LTE network in Oslo in 2009.  LTE Advanced (True "4G") is several years from commercial implementation.

Huawei was rated the fifth most innovative company in the world by Fast Company magazine in 2010 (behind Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Google).  The company serves as a model for what the Chinese government would like its economy to be.  Innovation in technology is a key component of China's five-year plan for "rebalancing" the economy and "higher quality growth." That cannot be achieved without greater involvement of the private sector, say analysts, including the World Bank and the Development Research Center, a Chinese government agency, which in a recent report called for substantially scaling back the role of the country's giant state-owned enterprises.

"Huawei is building some of the best, most innovative and fastest equipment in the industry," Fortune magazine wrote last year.  

"Up to now, the (communist) party has seen SOEs as the driving force of Chinese innovation," said David Wolf, a Beijing-based corporate consultant and author of a soon-to-be-published book on China's telecom companies. "They still think they're the horses to back, and it will take a great deal to persuade party leaders to change course. But if they do, it will change the face of Chinese business."

Read more:

In addition to its 700 employees in Santa Clara, another 1,000 are employed elsewhere in the United States, where Huawei spent $230 million on R&D alone last year. Earlier this year, Huawei awarded $6 billion worth of contracts to three California companies, including advanced semiconductor maker Avago Technologies, in San Jose.

But that seems not to have impressed the U.S. government, which has killed at least four deals involving Huawei and U.S. companies in recent years, including the acquisition of 3Leaf -a failing Silicon Valley virtualization and cloud computing company, based on national security concerns.  Another huge scuttled deal was Huawei prohibited from selling network equipment gear to Sprint for Network Vision- its next generation broadband wireless network (Samsung, Alcatel-Lucent, and Ericcson were selected).  The U.S. believes that the Chinese military still controls privately held Huawei.

The Australian government has just recently banned Huawei from providing network systems for the A$36 billion (US$37.6 billion) national Next-generation Broadband Network (NBN)- also because of security concerns.  

Australia's Prime Minister Julia Gillard has confirmed that Huawei will not be allowed to participate in the NBN for (unspecified) security reasons that are in the "national interest," and, reports Reuters, went on to highlight China's rules on overseas investments in communications networks.

This presents a huge road block for Huawei's fast growth and global dominance of the telecom network equipment business.  Will they fight back?


For more information, please see:


Telecom Industry Fiber Optic Building Spree- Will It Lead to Another Fiber Glut?

According to the WSJ (Optical Delusion? Fiber Booms Again, Despite Bust), the telecom industry has embarked on another fiber optic building spree.  Some 19 million miles of optical fiber were installed in the U.S. last year, the most since the boom year of 2000, research firm CRU Group says.

This new fiber build-out bonanza comes 11 years after the last one fizzled out.  When the telecom bubble burst in 2001, it wiped out $2 trillion in stock market wealth, caused major dislocations at optical networking firms like Ciena and Nortel.  It also led to many start-ups going bust, especially those building Multi Service Provisioning Platforms (MSPPs or "God Boxes).  Will this time be any different?

The Journal article states, "It is early days in what some in the fiber-optic business are calling a new boom for their long-beaten-down industry. Demand is being driven by skyrocketing Internet video traffic, requests from the financial sector for ever-faster trading connections, and soaring mobile phone use—which has to be tied into landline networks. Even the 2009 economic stimulus plan, which set aside $7.2 billion for telecom projects, is pitching in."

But already some skeptics caution whether enough demand exists to warrant more fiber build-outs. While stock market and commodity futures  trading firms are currently willing to pay a premium for faster connections, some worry that potential new regulations governing high-frequency trading could crimp the market. Skeptics also question how large a mobile traffic surge will materialize given the high cost of delivering wireless data.  And even if it does, the amount of fiber needed for mobile backhaul will not be that great.  That pales in comparison to the fiber already installed in telco's long haul, backbone networks.

The WSJ concurs, "There is also plenty of excess capacity available on the nation's core fiber-optic networks, according to TeleGeography, a telecom market research firm. And capacity is expected to increase as engineers find new ways of squeezing more data traffic into a single strand of glass."  And that's due to continuing advances in DWDM (Dense Wave Division Multiplexing) technology, which facilitates more optical channels, at higher speeds, to be transmitted and received over a Single Mode Fiber (SMF) cable.

"A lot of us look at the current construction boom and question if history may be repeating itself," said Will Hughs, the top U.S. executive for Australian telecom giant Telstra Corp., which sells long-haul telecom services to U.S. customers. In the underwater-cable market, he said, "the possibility for system excess is even greater" than it was a decade ago because technological advances mean that new cables can be built more quickly.

Telecom build out construction firms say it is the location of the fiber-optic networks—rather than their capacity—that is driving new demand. Networks don't exist where they are needed—at cellphone towers, suburban office parks, and remote data centers, for instance. Carriers that prize reliability want alternative routes. And new uses, such as high-frequency trading (HFT), are also emerging that call for new routes and "carrier hotels."

In most cases, new fiber build projects aren't started until customers have been lined up. But some speculators are installing unsold "dark fiber" that has yet to be lighted up for customers, raising concerns that builders may again be getting ahead of themselves.  Veterans of the 2001 collapse insist they are mindful of the lessons they learned and are being much more careful about where they deploy new cable.

"We are a lot smarter than we ever were 10 or 15 years ago," says James Crowe, chief executive of Level 3 Communications Inc. His company helped define the telecom boom by building its own network from coast to coast, beginning in 1998. It lost more than 90% of its stock-market value a year after hitting its high in March 2000, but it was one of the few to survive the bust.

In recent months, for the first time since the 1990s, Mr. Crowe has started extending Level 3's fiber-optic network into areas where he hasn't yet signed up any customers, betting that the demand he needs to make money is there.

He is starting small, investing $50 million in such projects, less than 10% of Level 3's capital investments this year. But he says the company built a database of three million office buildings, data centers and cellphone towers, pinpointing areas where Level 3 can risk expanding its network without first selling the new capacity.

"The demand has become so obvious," Mr. Crowe said in an interview at his headquarters in Broomfield, Colo. referring to the surge in bandwidth intensive uses, like streaming video and smartphones. "You've got residential neighborhoods that consume more bandwidth than all of New York City did 15 years ago."

But what's so remarkable about this new fiber boom is that it doesn't seem to be targeting commercial buildings in most metropolitan areas.  Recent market research reports indicate that only 15% of commercial buildings have direct fiber access.  The reason given is that "fiber to the business building" weren a much more difficult if not onerous buildout.  Especially when compared to the long-haul fiber connections that could easily be plowed along railroads or highways.

Opinions differ on whether another fiber glut will result from the new buildout.  Analyst Stephan Beckert says there is no lack of fiber in the country now—and with communications technology continuing to improve, it is hard to see a limit to how much data existing fiber can carry. 

However Allied Fiber's CEO Hunter Newby says there is an opportunity to offer fiber-optic capacity to Internet companies, wireless carriers, hospitals and others who want an alternative to entrenched carriers like Verizon Communications Inc. and AT&T Inc. "The notion there's a fiber glut is not true," Mr. Newby says, arguing that much of the fiber-optic cable that is available is simply not in the right place—not at the suburban office parks and cellphone towers that need it.

We think a key driver of new fiber optic construction will be 40G/100G Ethernet in Internet exchanges and high capacity data centers.  We also see the need to interconnect many such "cloud resident" data centers to enterprise customers private networks and also to each other.  So cloud computing and cloud storage could be a big boon to the fiber optic connectivity industry.

For more information, please see:

"Mobile Patent War" to be explored at May 9 IEEE ComSocSCV Meeting

The seemingly never ending "Mobile Patent War"  will be examined from many different perspectives at the May 9 IEEE ComSocSCV Meeting in Santa Clara, CA.   Samsung is co-sponsoring the event and will chair the panel session. Participating companies include: Google, HP, Qualcomm, Rambus, SCU Law Dept and AJIS LLC (our own IEEE member Jonathan Wells).  The panel will look at patent issues pertaining to smart phones, media tablets (which are now generating more Internet traffic than smart phones) and other mobile devices.  All of these devices are actually minitiarized, special purpose computers.

Here is the latest information on the program: MOBILE PATENT LITIGATION LANDSCAPE

Introduction:  Ken Korea of Samsung- Head of Silicon Valley Patent/IP Office

I.       Patent suits between competitors  (John Scott of Qualcomm) - Apple v. HTC/Motorola/Samsung, Microsoft v. Motorola, etc.

II.     NPE (Non Patent Entities) patent suits (Cynthia Bright of HP) are they increasing or decreasing?  Has the AIA had any impact?

III.    Acquiring patents for protection (Josh McGuire of Google)  - CPTN’s acquisition of Novell patents, Nortel patent auction, Google’s purchase of IBM patents etc.

IV.    Patent remedies (Colleen Chien of SCU Law School)- Patent remedies, case of ITC v district court

V.     Companies’ transfer of IP Assets to NPEs (Tom Lavelle of Rambus)Micron to RRR, Nokia to Mosaid, Apple to Digitude, etc.

VI.    What does this mean for engineers? (Jonathan Wells of AJIS LLC- IEEE ComSoc Discussion Group member)

For meeting details please visit:


Background Information

Below is an edited version of a related article, which appeared April 13, 2012, on page B1 in some U.S. editions of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Smartphone Patents: The Never-Ending War.

The WSJ notes that Apple is waging a patent crusade against mobile-phone giants it believes ripped off the iPhone.  Take the iPhone's  "slide to unlock" feature, as an example.   Apple has secured two key U.S. patents on slide-to-unlock—a technology that lets users wake a dormant phone with a finger-swipe across the screen. And it is wielding those patents like swords against rivals around the world.  (Even though slide to unlock has nothing to do with mobile or wireless communications!)

In recent months, Apple has sued HTC Corp. in Delaware and Germany over one of those patents and others. It has used the patents to fight back against suits Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. filed against it in Miami and Germany. And it has invoked them in lawsuits against Samsung Electronics Co. in Australia, the Netherlands, and San Jose, Calif.

As competition in the more than $200 billion global smartphone industry becomes more cutthroat, Apple and its competitors argue that even the most minor unique features are crucial to getting an edge. They are engaged in a lawsuit-filing frenzy, asserting their rights to dozens of patents to block rival products. Their goal: to find a patent that sticks, and to force competitors to work around it or strike a licensing deal.

About five years ago, the computer and mobile-phone industries collided. Technological advances turned phones into minicomputers, complete with email, Web access and other features.  Companies from different corners of industry saw opportunity—and moved into the smart phone market.  Among them: phone makers like Nokia Corp.and Motorola Mobility (soon to be owned by Google); hardware makers like Apple; software giants such as Google Inc. and Microsoft as well as South Korean electronics giant Samsung.

Behind the scenes, another battle was brewing over intellectual property. Almost overnight, every player had developed a gripe. The traditional phone makers claimed, for instance, that Apple was abusing their long-held rights to data-transmission designs. Apple complained others were ripping off its designs.

In the past two years, legal disputes have erupted over digital-image storage methods, camera designs, Wi-Fi technologies and well-known software applications like email and calendars, as well as secondary features most consumers barely notice.

The stakes are rising for Apple. Despite the iPhone's popularity, its market share has been eclipsed by phones that run Android, Google's mobile operating software.  Fueling the fire at Apple: a sense among executives there that rivals are blatantly stealing its designs. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who died in October, said in an authorized biography that he would "spend every penny" to fight copycats.  Apple CEO Tim Cook told investors in October that Apple spends "a lot of time and money and resource in coming up with incredible innovations. And we don't like it when someone else takes those."

A joint effort by the government and major wireless carriers to clamp down on stolen handsets, will likely raise the resale value of used smart phones, Through litigation—or the threat of it—Apple has prompted companies to install time-consuming and, in some instances, costly "workarounds" to avoid infringing its patents.

But Apple has yet to permanently knock any of its competitors' products out of the market. Several rivals, meanwhile, have struck back against Apple, accusing the company of using their own patented designs.

At the center of the war is "slide-to-unlock." feature.  It dates to late 2005, more than a year before Apple announced a product with a touchscreen. The first iPhone was in the works at the time, and Apple's software engineers, including one of its current senior vice presidents, Scott Forstall, felt the need for a feature that would prevent the phone from accidentally making a call or sending a text message when pulled from a pocket or jostled in a purse.

Apple's engineers regarded slide-to-unlock as important because it flavored a user's first experience with the device, according to a person familiar with the matter. The team tried many iterations, this person said, from different finger-swiping speeds to different-shaped motions.

Two days before Christmas 2005, Apple filed a patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office containing a handful of rudimentary drawings with ovals and circles.  The diagrams showed an early version of the design that current iPhone models use: a white rectangle with rounded edges that, when touched and dragged to the right, slides alongside a horizontal channel until the device "unlocks" and opens to the home screen.

The patent office granted Apple the patent four years later, in early 2010. That March, Apple sued HTC in Delaware for allegedly infringing slide-to-unlock and other features.

According to a person familiar with the matter, Apple felt that it would be a good starter case because the company thought it was particularly easy to see that HTC had imitated the iPhone interface—by using similar rows of icons, for example.

Several months later, Apple asserted claims against Motorola in Florida, where Motorola was already suing Apple, alleging that over a dozen Motorola products violated Apple's slide-to-unlock patent.

The slide-to-unlock used on many Motorola phones resembles Apple's in many ways. Users open the phone by dragging a finger from left to right across the bottom of the phone's screen. But the visual representations of the sliding motion are somewhat different.

Apple users see a white rectangle move across the screen while, with the Motorola phones, the slide of a finger extends a bar across the screen. Partly for this reason, Motorola claims its so-called "stretch to unlock" doesn't infringe Apple's patent.

Samsung, however, posed a unique challenge for Apple on slide-to-unlock. While Apple was waiting for its patent to be issued, Samsung unveiled phones that opened when a user touched the center of a circle on the screen, and dragged a finger to any point outside the circle.

Samsung's design was different, but in the mind of Apple executives, not different enough. So, in 2009 Apple went back to the patent office, according to a person familiar with the matter, and asked for a patent that would cover a wider variety of slide-to-unlock designs.

Apple got such a patent last October, and in February the company filed suit in San Jose against Samsung, alleging Samsung violated an array of patents, including slide-to-unlock.

Earlier this year, the combatants all got a surprise: an obscure Swedish touchscreen maker called Neonode Inc. disclosed that it had received a patent for a version of slide-to-unlock. Its technology let a mobile-device user switch from one application to another by swiping a finger across a screen.  The company, which briefly made a line of phones prior to a 2008 bankruptcy, had used the mechanism in one of its models.

In a recent Apple-Samsung battle over slide-to-unlock in the Netherlands, Samsung held up Neonode designs as examples of "prior art," or evidence that Apple's patents on slide-to-unlock should never have been granted in the first place because someone else had actually beaten Apple to the idea.

A person close to Samsung said the company is likely to use Neonode's patent to try to knock out Apple in the San Jose case. Samsung has other arguments as well: "Sliding locks have been around since the Middle Ages, and Apple didn't invent touchscreens," this person said. "And the combination of the two fits the definition of obvious."

In Apple's only win so far on slide-to-unlock, a judge in Munich ruled in February that two of Motorola's designs violated a European version of Apple's slide-to-unlock patent.

Motorola, however, quickly "designed around" Apple's patent, and its phones remained on the German market.

Many intellectual-property experts think that the smartphone war will end in a flurry of licensing and cross-licensing agreements, but that it's taking way too much time and money to get there.

"When you have companies spending hundreds of millions in litigation, something is seriously wrong with our patent system," said Michael Carrier, a professor at Rutgers School of Law in Camden, N.J. "You've got to wonder whether it's doing more harm than good," he added.

Write to Ashby Jones at and Jessica E. Vascellaro at

Copyright 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved


Also see this related NY Times article:  Smartphone Patent Wars: The Coming Sequel

Billions of dollars are being spent to amass patent arsenals, and lawsuits are flying worldwide. Apple, Samsung, Microsoft and Motorola Mobility (or Google, after that patent-inspired acquisition is complete) are the heavyweights in the fray, seeking an edge in the fast-growing smartphone market, using intellectual property as a weapon.


Acknowledgement: The author deeply thanks and is indebted to Samsung's Ken Korea for doing such a splendid job of organizing this panel and accomodating many late panelist changes.  IEEE ComSocSCV also thanks Samsung for their generous co-sponsorship of this event.

Wireline Broadband network providers take largest slice of IT infrastructure pie in 2011

U.S.-based wireline-broadband network providers last year accounted for 41% of the $66 billion spent on information infrastructure in the U.S., while wireless carriers kicked in 40% of the total, according to a report by USTelecom. The other 19% came from cable operators (AKA MSOs).  This information is contained in the research brief: Updated Capital Spending Data Show Continued Significant Broadband Investment in Nation’s Information Infrastructure.”

2011 capital expenditures for the industry as a whole—including wireline, wireless, and cable operators—were approximately $66 billion, roughly the same as 2010.  Furthermore, the data show that broadband providers have made nearly $1.2 trillion in capital investments from 1996 through 2011.

Although the overall investment level has not changed much in the last year, the amount of data traffic that networks carry has increased dramatically– from the equivalent of 8.3 million DVDs per month in 2000 to the equivalent of more than 1.4 billion DVDs per month in 2010, USTelecom said. The association expects traffic levels to triple again over the next five years.

The largest driver of bandwidth demand in 2010 and 2011 was consumer video over fixed networks, representing more than two-thirds of U.S. data traffic in 2010 and approaching three-quarters in the next five years, said USTelecom.

According to the USTelecom research, 96% of Americans now have access to fixed broadband, up 1% since 2010. Researchers also noted that 80% of U.S. households have at least two broadband providers from which to choose.  The research brief does not indicate how researchers defined broadband.

It appears that some of USTelecom’s landline carriers may be feeling overshadowed by wireless carriers, which have garnered much of consumers’ attention in recent years. “Nearly all of U.S. wireless data traffic, the fastest growing data traffic segment, utilizes fixed network connections,” the research brief notes. “Fixed backhaul connections link cell towers to the network and, increasingly, mobile data traffic is offloaded onto Wi-Fi enabled fixed network connections via dual-mode Wi-Fi cellular devices in order to alleviate mobile network capacity limitations.”


Separately, AT&T reported that it netted 718,000 U-verse broadband and 200,000 TV customers in the first quarter. Broadband users signed up for faster service in greater numbers than a year ago with 45% opting for speeds of at least 6 Mbps. Overall, AT&T exceeded analysts' estimates in the first quarter on a 5.2% increase in net profit due largely to higher wireless data service revenue. 

But the U.S. cellular market is nearing saturation after a growth spurt fueled by sales of the iPhone last year. Wireless penetration in the U.S. is 105 percent when including mobile devices like tablet computers, said Bob Roche, a statistician with CTIA, a wireless-industry trade group.

The slowing market is forcing AT&T into more intense competition with Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel Corp. (S), with the carriers fighting over a shrinking pool of people who don’t yet have mobile phones. They’re also trying to get customers to upgrade to smartphones such as the iPhone that let users browse the Web and stream video.

Google's largest internal network interconnects its Data Centers using Software Defined Network (SDN) in the WAN

Google's use of SDN in its internal WAN backbone:

Urs Hölzle,Sr VP of Technical Infrastructure at Google presented the opening keynote speech at the 2012 Open Network Summit, April 17 in Santa Clara, CA.  The audience was surprised to learn that Google had built its own switches and SDN confrollers for use in its internal backbone network - the one which is used to interconnect its data centers.

Here are the key points made in Mr. Hölzle's presentation:                                                                                        

Google currently operates two WAN backbones, according to Hölzle:

1] I-Scale is the public Internet-facing backbone that carries user traffic to and from Google's data centers. It must have bulletproof performance.

2] G-Scale is the internal backbone that carries traffic between Google's data centers worldwide. The G-Scale network has been used to experiment with SDN.

  • Google chose to pursue SDN in order to separate hardware from software. This enables the company to choose hardware based on necessary features and to choose software based on protocol requirements.
  • SDN provides logically, centralized network control. The goal is to be more deterministic, more efficient and more fault-tolerant.
  • SDN enables better centralized traffic engineering, such as an ability for the network to converge quickly to target optimum on a link failure.  Determinist behavior should simplify planning vs over provisioning for worst case variability.
  • The SDN controller uses modern server hardware, giving it more flexibility than conventional routers.
  • Switches are virtualized with real OpenFlow and the company can attach real monitoring and alerting servers. Testing is vastly simplified.
  • The move to SDN is really about picking the right tool for the right job.
  • Google's OpenFlow WAN activity really started moving in 2010. Less than two years later, Google is now running the G-Scale network on OpenFlow-controlled switches. 100% of its production data center to data center traffic is now on this new SDN-powered network.
  • Google built their own OpenFlow switch because none were commercially available. The switch was built from merchant silicon. It has scaled to hundred of nonblocking 10GE ports.
  • Google's practice is to simplify every software stack and hardware element as much as possible, removing anything that is not absolutely necessary.
  • Multiple switch chassis are used in each domain.
  • Google is using open source routing stacks for BGP and ISIS.
  • The OpenFlow-controlled switches (designed and built by Google) look like regular routers. BGP/ISIS/OSPF now interfaces with OpenFlow controller to program the switch state.
  • A preliminary version of the Open Flow protocol is being used now.  (The Open Flow standard is still maturing).
  • All data center backbone traffic is now carried by this new SDN based network. The old network has been shut down.
  • Google started rolling out centralized traffic engineering in January.
  • Google is already seeing higher network utilization and gaining the benefit of flexible management of end-to-end paths for maintenance.
  • Over the past six months, the new network has seen a high degree of stability with minimal outages.
  • The new SDN-powered network is meeting the company's SLA objectives.
  • It is still too early to quantify the economics.
  • A key SDN benefit is the unified view of the network fabric -- higher QoS awareness and predictability.

Mr. Hölzle said that Google’s software-defined networking system has been running for about six months and that it was therefore too early to accurately benchmark cost savings. “This will have a bigger impact in costs than any technical change like a larger router, or 10 gigabit optical switches instead of 2.5 gigabit.  I would expect the cost reduction to come from better system utilization, and substantially easier management,” he said.

“In utilization alone, we are hoping for a 20 percent to 30 percent reduction,” he continued.  Google’s very specific network applications, like search, made it hard to say what others could expect to save. Hölzle thought that the savings would be enough to compel large Internet service providers to change their systems to S.D.N. over the next five years.

Surprisingly, perhaps, Mr. Hölzle thought that the incumbent networking providers would lead the transition. Start-up networking companies likeNicira have created a stir with their SDN approaches, but Mr. Hölzle thought that the big service providers would have a level of trust with the incumbent network equipment companies (We don't necessarily agree- there are no incumbent networking companies that are leaders in SDNs).

“The natural players are the ones already in the field – Cisco, Alcatel, Juniper,” he said, noting that NEC was an early leader in S.D.N. “They have the networking management software, just at the level of hardware ports, not data flows.” Google talks with all of these companies about their S.D.N. plans, Mr. Hölzle said. Within a year or two, he thought, Google would be purchasing S.D.N.-related products from one or more of these companies.


SDN use in global WANs:

There were also presentations from NEC, NTT, Verizon and other WAN players endorsing SDN and Open Flow at this conference.  NEC said it's Open Flow controller, together with IBM switches, would be deployed in the WAN as early as this July.   NTT stated that a global  cloud virtualization service that leverages SDN will also be launched this summer.


Complete program with selected presentations is at:



GigaOM wrote that the conference was like "a giant science fair for the networking industry. There are arcane demonstrations detailing how software-defined networks and the OpenFlow protocol will change the way networks are built, managed and operated. There are speakers from Google, Verizon and Yahoo detailing their projects and successes with OpenFlow as well as investors and bankers swarming the whole event."

"The creation of the OpenFlow protocol, which separates the act of directing how packets move across a network from the physical act of moving those packets, has helped create excitement around networking, and is precipitating change. The change is actually the creation of software-defined networks that are programmable (for the record, a software defined network doesn’t need OpenFlow). There’s also a third change that’s been going on regarding the commoditization of networking hardware and the rise of merchant silicon."

Opinion Piece:

Forbes magazine pointed out that SDN networks are “more secure, more dependable and much easier to manage” because the software that controls network traffic is separate from the physical routers and switches.

"By separating the software that controls network traffic from the physical routers and switches, SDN should make networks more secure, more dependable and much easier to manage. Because SDN runs on commodity hardware, it could translate into siginficant savings for network operators. Perhaps most important, it opens up the network to the possibility of vast innovation.

For Google, software defined networking represented a better way of moving traffic between its global data centers. According to Holzle, things that were hard to do on processors embedded in a networking box become much easier when they separately designed and merely communicated to the hardware using OpenFlow. “You can use all the [computer] tools for software development and that makes it faster to develop software that is higher in quality,” he said.

One of the big advantages for Google is better traffic management—this new approach basically ensures that every lane on its global network of data highways is smoothly moving packets toward their destinations. “Soon we will be able to get very close to 100 percent utilization of our network,” Holzle said. This is a big increase from the industry expectation of thirty to forty percent utilization."


The market segments where SDN might be advantageously used include:

  • Cloud Services Providers / large website data centers
  • Universities and research campus networks
  • Metro Area CSP data center interconnect 
  • Enterprise data centers
  • Internet service provider core routed networks
  • Campus LAN
  • Enterprise WAN


Author's NOTE:  Also see this blog post:


Check out IEEE ComSocSCV July 11 meeting: 6pm-*45pm @Texas Instruments Building E, 2900 Semiconductor Dr., Santa Clara, CA 95051.   Software Defined Networking (SDN) Explained- New Epoch or Passing Fad?

Session Abstract:  After several years of research, Software Define Networking (SDN) has finally become a reality. At this year's Open Networking Summit, Google announced it had already deployed its own SDN design in the backbone network that interconnects all its Data Centers. NTT and Verizon hinted that they'd deploy SDN soon, while network equipment vendors indicated they were committed to the concept. IT executives and managers are also taking notice. One pundit predicted a 'new epoch' in networks based on SDN- for data centers, campus networks and WANs. But what exactly is SDN and the associated OpenFlow protocol that the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) is standardizing?


6:00 - 6:30pmNetworking and Refreshments
6:30 - 6:40pmOpening remarks
6:40 - 7:25pmSDN Overview & Research Projects by Guru Parulkar
7:25 - 8:10pmONF: Taking OpenFlow and SDN from lab to market by Dan Pitt
8:10 - 8:40pmPanel Session, Discussion & Q&A


 More info at:


Infonetics Research: Comcast, Verizon top Business VoIP Service Providers in North America

Comcast and Verizon are the top North American Business VoIP service providers, according to Infonetics Research just released report: North America Business VoIP Service Leadership Scorecard.  The report analyzes and ranks the top service providers in the hosted VoIP and unified communications (UC) services market and the IP connectivity market.

A few Highlights:

  • Comcast earned a high overall score of 33 out of 35 for hosted VoIP services; West, Verizon, and 8x8 are also among the top hosted VoIP providers in North America
  • Verizon Business earned a high overall score of 32 out of 35 for IP connectivity providers; AT&T, Comcast, and XO Communications are also among the top providers in North America
  • At the end of 2011, many of the top hosted VoIP service providers had over 100,000 VoIP and UC seats, while others had fewer than 50,000 seats, signaling further consolidation to come, and likely the shuttering of some businesses
  • On the IP connectivity front, the bulk of the installed base has become concentrated with the large operators, as scale is necessary for a successful business in a service market based on lower-prices
  • The competitive landscape for hosted VoIP services is shaking up, with the traditional PBX and Unified Communications equipment vendors such as ShoreTel, NEC, Mitel, Avaya, and Cisco jumping into the cloud.


"Comcast’s acquisition of New Global Telecom, the former perennial leader in our business VoIP scorecards, propelled Comcast to the #1 position in Infonetics' hosted Business VoIP Leadership Scorecard this year,” announced Diane Myers, principal analyst for VoIP and IMS at Infonetics Research. "And, for the fourth year in a row, Verizon Business is #1 in our IP Connectivity Leadership Scorecard, followed by AT&T."

Ms. Myers adds: "After a banner 2010, 2011 was another year of consolidation in North America among business VoIP service providers. Though there are still a large number of VoIP service providers in North America, consolidation is starting to separate the large providers from the rest of the pack."

Last month, Infonetics said that the VoIP services market is growing strongly as businesses seek flexibility and easier management.  Myers said, "Global service provider revenue from business and residential/SOHO VoIP services totaled nearly $58 billion in 2011, up 16% from the previous year."

"The revenue that service providers derive from their residential and SOHO VoIP subscribers still eclipses what they get from businesses, but the business segment is growing about twice as fast, due in large part to the surging popularity of SIP trunking and hosted VoIP and UC services. Adoption of VoIP services across both the residential and business segments continues to grow, and we expect strong global growth in VoIP service revenue over at least the next five years," according to Ms. Myers. 


Infonetics' North America Business VoIP Service Leadership Scorecard profiles, analyzes, and ranks leading hosted VoIP and unified communications (UC) service providers and leading IP business connectivity service providers in the U.S. and Canada. Service provider scores are based on criteria such as installed base of lines/trunks or seats, financial stability, market strategy, service capabilities, and support options. Service provider scores and data are displayed in charts and tables in the report, accompanied by service provider profiles describing their offerings and analysis of the individual scores.

Service providers ranked in Infonetics’ 2012 North America Business VoIP Service Leadership Scorecard include 8x8, AT&T,, BroadView Networks, Cbeyond, Comcast, Cox, Level 3, Megapath, RingCentral, ShoreTel/M5, Sprint, Thinking Phone Networks, Verizon Business, West, Windstream, and XO Communications.

For more information on Infonetics' Reports: 


Verizon's LTE Network: Better performance than Sprint's, LTE for rural homes, but no VoLTE anytime soon + T-Mobile's LTE build

At an Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS) event on May 8th, Verizon Communication's CTO Tony Melone said: "there is no way" that Sprint Nextel Corp. forthcoming Long Term Evolution (LTE) network will beat the performance of his company's existing 4G cellular network which uses larger communications channels.   Mr. Melone made the statement in response to a question about Sprint's claim that it will offer a comparable LTE experience to AT&T Inc. and Verizon using smaller channels.

AT&T and Verizon have started with 10MHz by 10MHz channels in the 700MHz band for their 4G LTE deployments. Sprint will use 5MHz by 5MHz channels in the 1900MHz PCS band for its LTE service, due to launch in six cities by mid-year.

"There's no way a 5 X 5 network can perform like a 10 X 10 network," Melone said.  He did note that if a network is "fully loaded" with users, it could start to drag on performance. All things being equal, however, larger channels always provide better LTE performance, according to the Verizon CTO (and Shannon's Channel Capacity theorem).


For the consumers who cannot get such cable modem based Internet access (from a MSO), but are in rural areas that are covered by the LTE network Verizon is pushing its LTE based "HomeFusion" connection.  It's expense, at $199 plus a monthly service fee.  The HomeFusion costs at least $60 per month for a 10GB bucket of data. Consider that a two-hour HD movie eats through about 2GB of data in one sitting.;contentBody;1r


During an interview with Network World today, Verizon Vice President of Network Hans Leutenegger said that the carrier won't be deploying any voice over LTE (VoLTE) services on its network until late next year at the very earliest. The reason for this, he said, is that Verizon is already largely satisfied with its current (CDMA based) voice network and doesn't see the need to push both handset manufacturers and its own customers to use a new technology just yet.


Separately from Verizon's huge presence at CTIA, T-Mobile announced that Ericsson and Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) would be building its $4B LTE network, which is scheduled to be deployed in late 2013.  The contracts cover LTE network installation at 37,000 cell sites owned by T-Mobile.  That's a big step up from it's current HSPA+ network, which the carrier erroneously calls "4G."

Ericsson now is supplying LTE gear to all four of the major U.S. operators, as well as to tier II operators MetroPCS, U.S. Cellular and Canadian carrier Rogers Communications, helping cement its dominant position atop the global 4G market.  On the other hand, NSN needed to keep T-Mobile a customer in order to remain relevant in the U.S. 4G market. T-Mobile is now NSN’s sole LTE radio contract in the U.S., though it is building the Telus and Bell Mobility 4G networks in Canada and is supplying parts of Verizon’s LTE core.

Part of the spectrum to be used for T-Mobile's LTE network came from AT&T.  T-Mobile is planning to combine the new AWS band spectrum it got from AT&T with what it's able to refarm from its existing wireless network. The company believes these two sources will be enough to offer "up to 20MHz of LTE in 75 percent of the top 25 markets."