Paul Lopez Unwired

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Results tagged “4g”

Don't meter me "Bro"

VZ4G.jpgI believe there will be a continued demand for unlimited service rate plans in the $40-$60 per month range such as those being offered by providers like MetroPCS, Tracfone and Boost Mobile. The low-end market of pre-paid plans as grown to over 22% of the total market vs. 16% three years ago, according to Sanford Bernstein.  Martin Peers from the WSJ picked up on my idea that we could see the Google Nexus show up heavily discounted to compete in this prepaid space.  Meanwhile the major carriers struggle to grow ARPU in spite of increased costs due to bandwidth "hogs." Even Verizon's CTO, Dick Lynch says metered billing would benefit most consumers because they would not be subsidizing others. With plans to move to LTE by AT&T and Verizon, I see that exacerbating the problem. You provide faster water through the spigot; the users want to drink more water. Carriers and handset makers have created an addiction for what will become an expensive habit. The question is will users trade down-market for cheaper service instead of staying top-shelf at pure 4G.
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With all the focus recently on social media and cloud computing, some might have missed recent developments in the next generation wireless network, LTE. Verizon announced at CTIA their new development center and one thing I find interesting is the fact that the operating system choices will have to collapse for 4G. Developers are still forced to choose between Windows Mobile, Android, iPhone, Qualcomm Brew and Symbian. Maybe what's needed is a mobile hyper-visor of sorts that will run managed code on any device, more on that later. The other thing that will trip us up will be the change in the economics of mobility revenue and profit opportunity. I believe LTE will require operators to abandon flat-rate, monthly unlimited data plans altogether - including wired. Time Warner and other MSOs got some backlash this year with their experimentation of metered broadband. Real-world bandwidth is nowhere near theoretical peaks (I expect users will get 10-20Mbps download links for LTE vs. the 100 Mbps advertised). Busy websites and network congestion happen. Spectrum is a shared and non-deterministic media. Combine this with operator backhaul capacity, device receiver power and cell configuration diversity and you have an industry marching to data caps, bandwidth restrictions and questionable service guarantees. Think about this easy example: when you are able to download data faster, you download more thereby triggering increased usage and reaching your data cap more quickly. Stacey Higginbotham had an excellent example of the difference in downloading HD video in a metered world where you thought you were saving money by not driving to Blockbuster! 

WiMax - Shock the Monkey ...

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Sprint has announced progress with their mobile WiMAX initiative, Xohm, saying they will have the service available in select cities by Q2'2008. The company is enthusiastic about laptop and tablet PC manufacturers claiming they will have embedded Mobile WiMAX in their next generation machines. Sprint has placed a big bet with WiMax. Despite marketing efforts by Intel and the WiMax Forum, the spectral efficiency and overhead signaling in 802.16e-2005 has disadvantages compared with 4G standards, LTE (Long-Term Evolution) and UMB (Ultra Mobile Broadband).

Improvements in standards are all about spectral efficiency. The 3G and 4G debate places LTE as leading with WiMAX and UMB competing for second place. 4G is characterized by larger channels (up to 20MHz) and uses the popular OFDM modulation scheme. GSM and WCDMA carriers will follow the 3GPP (Third Generation Partnership Project) path to LTE as the 4G standard. UMTS is the dominant 3G standard and now with improvements brought with HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) and even HSUPA (uplink), we actually see good broadband performance in the wireless wide area network. The second 3G standard is CDMA EvDO (used by Verizon in the U.S.).

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What is confusing for WiMax is that the IEEE is already working on improving the standard called, "IEEE 802.16m," due to be ready by 2010. No one knows if this will be backward compatible with today's WiMax implementations. The advantage of UMB is it is backward compatible with CDMA systems even though there is a dependency on a single supplier of chips - Qualcomm. With WiMax-802.16e becoming commercially available in 2008 and Intel's delivery of chips in laptops; it has a strong head start. Intel was instrumental in establishing the explosion of 802.11 WiFi networking. The big difference here is you are dealing with licensed spectrum where the stakes are much higher than merely establishing a de-facto standard such as WiFi. As Peter Gabriel says, "Too much at stake, ground beneath me shake; and the news is breaking." I hope the monkey doesn't get hurt.

About Paul Lopez

Paul Lopez Paul Lopez is a 20+ year technology veteran whose career has spanned multiple disciplines such as product management, software development, engineering, marketing, business development and operations... read more

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