Dish Quits Bid for Clear; SK Telecom Enters US

Dish has called off its bid for Clearwire, reports the AP. The decision, announced on Wednesday, officially put an end to a bidding war between Dish and Clearwire’s majority owner Sprint Nextel.

Sprint’s offer of $5 per share trumped the $4.40 per share proposal from Dish and won the support of a key group of dissident Clearwire shareholders as well as Clearwire’s board.

Dish has invested more than $3 billion to buy its own wireless airwaves in the 2.1 GHz (MSS) spectrum, which can be used for both terrestrial and satellite phone communications. Dish, with no experience building wireless services, is looking for a partner to run the terrestrial wireless network.

Meanwhile, SK Planet, the Internet services arm of wireless giant SK Telecom, (which just announced the first commercial LTE-Advanced network in South Korea, along with Samsung’s S4 LTE-A phone), is trying to establish a new home in the U.S., reports the Wall St. Journal.

Jinwoo So, chief executive of SK Planet, said in a recent interview that the maker of popular e-commerce and messaging services in South Korea, will spend between $500 million and $1 billion to buy, invest in and build tech companies in the U.S. over the next three to five years.

The first effort is a new messaging app called Frankly, expected to launch this summer. A U.S. team of around 40, including alumni of Google and Apple, is developing new mobile video, commerce and education services.

SK Telecom has 23 million mobile subscribers, mostly in South Korea. SK Planet had revenues of $1.3 billion in its last fiscal year, reports the WSJ.

Ericsson and Sony have demonstrated voice and video calling using TD-LTE (VoLTE) on Sony’s Xperia SP M35t. The Samsung S4 does TD-LTE as well.

Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia Siemens Network, Huawei, and ZTE are participating in China Mobile’s LTE TDD trial and going after the global market. China Mobile will open up bidding for 207,000 LTE TDD base stations starting July 15th.

In 3-5 years the telecommunications environment could shift significantly. Consider the possibilities:

  • Japan’s Softbank will be a major global player with LTE-A networks in Japan, the United States and elsewhere
  • South Korea’s SK Telecom, with Dish and Apple, could combine the 2.1 and 2.6 GHz band for global roaming.
  • Google with 600 MHz, could partner with Microsoft and T-Mobile to offer low-cost broadband triple play.

Revenue generated by mobile operators in Asia will top $500 billion in 2013, reports
GSMA Intelligence, accounting for 42% of global mobile revenue. That’s equivalent in size to North America and Europe combined – and two-thirds of the growth globally.

AT&T and Verizon? Never heard of them.

Related Dailywireless articles include; Sprint Bids $5 for Clear, Gets Support, SoftBank Upps the Bid for Sprint, Un-Clearwire?, Clearwire Ownership Vote Delayed 2 Weeks, Battle for Clearwire, SK Telecom Launches LTE-A Network with Phones, SK Telecom Does Multi-Carrier LTE, SK Telecom Introduces Voice over LTE , LightSquared + SK Telecom?, Japan & Korea: More LTE than USA, South Korea Completes Nationwide LTE Coverage, Clearwire Committee Likes Sprint Offer Best, Verizon to Buy Clear Spectrum for $1.5 Billion?, Sprint Buyout of Clearwire Fought by Crest Financial, Sprint to Buy Clearwire, DISH Proposes to Buy Clearwire, Sprint Buying Clearwire?, Sprint + Dish?, Sprint Gets Majority Control over Clearwire, Sprint Won’t Buy Clear – For Now, Clearwire Cuts TD-LTE Deployment

Verizon 700 MHz LTE: We’re Done!

Verizon Wireless announced today that its 4G LTE network now covers 500 markets in 49 states and will launch next month in Alaska. It began building out its 700 MHz-based, LTE network in December 2010.

Verizon’s LTE network, using 20 Mhz on the 700 MHz band, is now available to more than 99 percent of its 3G footprint and to more than 95 percent of the entire U.S. population. Today, some 57 percent of Verizon Wireless’ data is carried on its 4G LTE.

With Verizon’s nationwide 4G coverage, the company is now planning the gradual retirement of its 3G CDMA networks on the 800 MHz band and 1.9 GHz PCS band. Verizon will start refarming PCS spectrum for LTE in 2015.

This year Verizon will start turning on LTE cell sites in its newly acquired Advanced Wireless Services spectrum. Verizon plans on launching LTE small cells using the 1.7/2.1 MHZ AWS band to add capacity in urban cores. Verizon paid $3.6 billion to buy cable’s (AWS) spectrum in 2011 (from SpectrumCo). Cox Communications also agreed to sell Verizon Wireless its 20MHz slice of AWS spectrum for $315 million.

Verizon will deploy 5,000 AWS sites by the end of 2013, and a lot more next year. Verizon says AWS will mostly be used for small cells in urban cores. T-Mobile is deploying LTE-A in the AWS band in some markets this year, while Clearwire is deploying LTE-A in the 2.6GHz band this summer.

The two dominant owners of AWS spectrum, by far, are now Verizon and T-Mobile. Both have comprehensive nationwide coverage. After AT&T lost their $39 billion merger bid with T-Mobile, they forfeited much of their AWS holdings to T-Mobile.

Verizon later swapped AWS spectrum with T-Mobile to give both sides more contiguous spectrum within the AWS-1 band.

As part of the failed merger deal, AT&T agreed to pay T-Mobile a cash payment of 3 billion dollars and AWS spectrum in 128 Cellular Market Areas, including 12 of the top 20 markets.

Verizon says their 700 MHz C band and AWS will be the two bands that will be for roaming. The big test will be whether Verizon will lock out T-Mobile on the AWS band.

Both AT&T and Verizon told the FCC that roaming was technically impractical for smaller LTE operators using the 700 MHz “A” block. That froze out the phones and LTE service of smaller operators, making them isolated islands, lowering their worth.

Trying to cut-off T-Mobile’s AWS service from roaming might be a tougher sell since both Verizon and T-Mobile’s AWS service share more power and operational specs. How Tom Wheeler plays his cards may be revealing.

According to Verizon Wireless Chief Network Officer Nicola Palmer, by late 2014, Verizon will launch its first all-VoIP LTE-only phone. But VoLTE is not just about squeezing more voice calls into a given channel. With their large LTE footprint, LTE-only smartphones and single-mode LTE devices could be cheaper by eliminating 3G voice fall-back.

Palmer said Verizon’s service would include video-casting and other real-time multimedia communications features. As an IP service, VoLTE could be integrated into other applications such as over-the-top video applications.

Verizon is already testing VoLTE in trials and plans to launch the service, at first using traditional CDMA-LTE combo phones. Later it plans to launch cheaper VoIP-only phones.

According to Juniper Research, the total number of LTE subscriber globally is estimated to be 105 million this year and is expected to nearly double to 220 million world-wide in 2014.

The real growth of LTE happens in 2014-2017 as the Asia-Pacific region kicks in with their TD-LTE systems in China and India, with Japan and South Korea also adding significant numbers. The primary bands for LTE world-wide is expected to be 1800 MHz and 2600 Mhz. Unfortunately, the PCS and AWS bands in the United States are not globally aligned, so the 2.6 GHz band appears to be the most likely to provide global roaming.

Some 915 million LTE global subscribers are forecast by 2016, eclipsing one billion in 2017.

Related Dailywireless articles include; Verizon Buying Nationwide AWS Spectrum from Cable , FCC to Okay Verizon/Cable Spectrum Buy, T-Mobile Gets AWS Spectrum from Breakup, FCC Wants More Data on AWS Verizon Buy, T-Mobile Gets AWS Spectrum from Breakup, Verizon Buying Nationwide AWS Spectrum from Cable, 300 MHz Expected from Refarming and TV Spectrum, AT&T Wants 2.3 GHz for LTE and T-Mobile USA Upgrades to LTE, T-Mobile and MetroPCS Petition FCC for Dish Spectrum, Cable MSO’s Create “CableWiFi” Network, Time Warner Cable Beams Muni WiFi,

SK Telecom Launches LTE-A Network with Phones

Korea’s SK Telecom has launched the world’s first commercial LTE-Advanced network, along with the first phone running the faster network technology, the Samsung Galaxy S4 LTE-A.

The carrier ordered an initial 20,000 units of the the Samsung Galaxy S4 LTE-A. Samsung said LG also plans to offer a LTE-A phone and Qualcomm announced competitor KT, will also carry the phone.

The Samsung S4 LTE-A phone features the new Snapdragon 800, 2.3GHz quad-core processor from Qualcomm, as well as a 2,600 mAh battery, 5.0-inch full HD screen, 13 megapixel camera, Android 4.2 and 32 GB internal storage.

SK Telecom, a provider of mobile service in South Korea, has a 50% market share. It launched the Korea’s first 4G LTE in 2011 and commercialized the Multi Carrier (MC) technology in July 2011.

The company has built a total of 20,000 RU (Radio Units) as of June 2013. Some 13 operators in 8 nations, including Verizon, AT&T, NTT Docomo and Telenor, have announced plans to launch LTE-A, and among them Sprint, Telstra, 3 Italia and Yota said that they will do so within this year. However, no carrier, besides SK Telecom, has yet launched an LTE-A network and a LTE-A phone.

The multi-carrier technology allows SK to utilize both its existing 800MHz frequency band and the 1.8GHz band. With an additional 20MHz uplink/downlink spectrum, it will be using a total of 40MHz for its LTE services. Currently, around 10 countries in Asia and Europe have chosen the 1.8GHz band for LTE services

The LTE-Advanced service will initially be available in central areas of Seoul and 42 cities in Gyeonggi-do and Chungcheong-do, as well as 103 university areas. SK plans to expand the service with seven supporting smartphones by the end of this year and cover 84 cities.

The network offers up to 150 Mbps, double the speed of the existing LTE network. It employs carrier aggregation and coordinated multi point technology to enhance coverage and bandwidth, and SK plans to add enhanced inter-cell interference coordination next year.

LTE-Advanced will offer a data speed increase over current LTE networks by deploying upgrades at the radio access network (RAN) and handset. Key features of LTE-A include:

  • Carrier aggregation that bonds two or more separate radio channels for more speed and capacity.
  • Multiple input, multiple output (MIMO) antenna arrays of 2×2 or more on the devices and infrastructure.
  • Relay nodes, low power radios using a single channel for backhaul and local access to provide improved coverage and capacity at the cell edge.
  • Coordinated Multipoint enable the dynamic coordination of transmission and reception over a variety of different base stations

The faster speeds on LTE-A are expected to support a group calling service for up to four users, based on the 3G videoconferencing service but with better video and audio quality, and full HD (1080p resolution) over the Btv mobile video streaming service (550,000 subscribers) from early July.

The company will also launch ‘T Baseball Multiview,’ to enable users to watch two different games on one screen in July. T Baseball is a free baseball broadcast service optimized to the LTE network. Launched in August 2012, the service has 1.1 million users.

In addition, SK Telecom plans to launch ‘T Freemium 2.0,’ an upgrade of its free multimedia content package with TV shows, music videos and sports highlights and introduce in August an HD video-based shopping service with six channels on one screen.

To further boost content creation, SK Telecom will hold the contest ‘LTE-A i.con’ to support applications optimized for the LTE-A network.

First Four O3B Satellites Launched

The first four of O3b Ka-band broadband satellites have reached equatorial orbit, the first of three Soyuz flights that startup O3b says could ultimately total up to 120 satellites, reports Space News.

The four O3b medium orbit satellites are not “stationary” like Geo orbit satellites. They operate over the equator, but at an altitude of 8,063 kilometers, close enough to the Earth’s surface to eliminate the signal latency, although ground terminals will require a tracking dish.

O3B, funded by satellite giant SES and Google, among others, hopes the satellite will provide low-cost backhaul for cell sites in remote locations.

Thales Alenia Space is under contract to build the first 12 O3b satellites. A total of 12 O3b Networks satellites are to be orbited by Arianespace in groups of four, with the next mission planned for later this year, and another in 2014.

O3b and SES officials have said that the company has regulatory rights to sufficient spectrum to put as many as 120 satellites in the same unusual orbit.

According to SpaceNews, O3b is making use of radio spectrum originally won, following a long battle, by a U.S. company called Teledesic, which had envisioned more than 800 satellites to provide broadband links worldwide. Teledesic ceased operations before launching its satellites.

Google will also use high-flying balloons to deliver Internet to remote areas. Google’s Project Loon sails through the stratosphere, where there are different wind layers. Using wind data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the balloons are maneuvered by identifying the wind layer with the desired speed and direction and then adjusting altitude to float in that layer.

Related DailyWireless Space and Satellite News includes; Google Backhaul: Balloons & Satellites, O3B: Funded for Launch, Arianespace: Busy 2013, Gilat Does Satellite Cell Backhaul, SkyTerra 1 Launched, Broadband Satellites: Black Hole?, LightSquared: Phase 1, Intelsat Announces EpicNG Satellite Platform , Satellite 2012, Formation Flying Swarmbots, Flying Cell Towers,

Sprint Shareholders Approve Softbank Deal

Sprint’s shareholders overwhelmingly approved the proposed purchase by SoftBank on Tuesday, with approximately 98 percent of the votes cast at today’s special shareholders meeting voting in favor of the merger agreement, representing approximately 80 percent of Sprint’s outstanding common stock.

Earlier this month SoftBank revised its original proposal to counter Dish’s $25.5 billion counterbid. Dish subsequently abandoned its attempt to get Sprint.

Under the revised deal with SoftBank, Sprint shareholders will get more money and Sprint will get less cash than originally proposed. Softbank’s new $21.6 billion offer in cash and stock.

Sprint shareholders will now be paid $5.50 per share instead of $4.02 under the old agreement, with some $16.64 billion delivered to Sprint shareholders. SoftBank will get shares from existing Sprint investors for $7.65 per share, up from the previous offer of $7.30.

Sprint CEO Dan Hesse said “the transaction with SoftBank should enhance Sprint’s long-term value and competitive position by creating a company with greater financial flexibility,” in a prepared statement released after the vote.

The companies expect the merger to close early next month, after which it will be subject to standard regulatory scrutiny.

Central to CEO Masayoshi Son’s strategy is Sprint’s bid to acquire the rest of Clearwire, reports FierceWireless.

Dish has offered $4.40 per share for Clearwire, but Sprint recently increased its bid for Clearwire to $5 per share, and has since received support from Clearwire’s board and minority shareholders.

Clearwire commands around 160 MHz of spectrum in the top 100 markets which Sprint plans to use for TD-LTE offload in urban cores.

Dish’s options may be narrowing to T-Mobile or DirecTV, say some analysts.

But Dish may have an ace in the hole – 14 million rooftop terminals. How hard would it be to add 2.1 GHz small cells to those dishes? With a partner like Google, perhaps 600 MHz could supply backhaul and roaming. Dish could provide nationwide streaming video infrastructure, while Google could supply behavioral advertising.

Just saying. Charlie Ergen is still in the game.

Traffic from wireless and mobile devices will exceed traffic from wired devices by 2016, according to Cisco with Internet video increasing fivefold by 2017.

Related Dailywireless articles include; Sprint Bids $5 for Clear, Gets Support, Clearwire Board Backs Dish, SoftBank Upps the Bid for Sprint, Dish Makes $25.5 billion Bid for Sprint, Dish Demos Rooftop LTE, Un-Clearwire?, Clearwire Ownership Vote Delayed 2 Weeks, Battle for Clearwire, Clearwire Committee Likes Sprint Offer Best, Verizon to Buy Clear Spectrum for $1.5 Billion?, Sprint Buyout of Clearwire Fought by Crest Financial, Sprint to Buy Clearwire, DISH Proposes to Buy Clearwire, Sprint Buying Clearwire?

Apple Reports 802.11ac Issues

Apple is investigating new MacBook Air Wi-Fi issues, and customers are receiving replacements, reports 9-5 Mac.

WiFi issues are reportedly plaguing the new 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air models released last month. It features faster WiFi thanks to new 802.11ac cards.

In the United States, Apple Geniuses and Advisors have been instructed to capture MacBook Air (13-inch, Mid 2013) and MacBook Air (11-inch, Mid 2013) computers with any Wi-Fi issues.

These units will then be sent back to Apple for further testing. Apple is not confirming the new MacBook Air is flawed, but is trying to determine why at least some units are seeing WiFi problems.