Verizon Adds 22 XLTE Markets

Verizon Wireless announced that it has launched XLTE in 22 new markets, bringing LTE to the AWS band (1700/2100 MHz), in addition to its 700 MHz LTE service. Verizon says that 4 out of 5 LTE markets, large and small, now have Verizon Wireless XLTE service.

According to Open Signal, T-Mobile is the fastest network in the US, with average speeds of 11.5 Mbps. Sprint performs worst of all US networks, according to Open Signal, posting LTE speeds that are scarcely faster than existing HSPA+, with their average speed of 4.3Mbps ranking as one of the slowest networks worldwide.

Open Signal collects data from users of their Android and iPhone application. This data is then stripped of any identifying information, uploaded to their servers, and made openly available.

T-Mobile has been pursuing spectrum license swaps and acquisitions (from AT&T and MetroPCS) to reach the goal of supporting the 20+20 MHz (40MHz) LTE bandwidth.

Sprint is rolling out 8T8R in its latest 2.5GHz installations (8 transmitters, 8 receivers). That results in better range and speed. Unfortunately, Sprint’s subscribers may not see much improvement since current WiMax subscribers utilize 30 MHz (10 MHz times 3 sectors).

Sprint has said they will utilize the same spectrum footprint with LTE, allocating it differently. With Sprint Spark, apparently, the same 2.5 GHz bandwidth will now be shared among both WiMax subscribers (10 MHZ across 3 sectors) and TD-LTE subscribers (20 Mhz across 3 sectors). The net result of this approach is still unclear. It may be that 2.5 GHz will not be the salvation Sprint had hoped.

Sprint doesn’t need 120 MHz of 2.5 GHz – but other carriers – especially AT&T – might find it useful for small cells. Sprint’s John Saw says the company wants to use Sprint Spark and TDD-LTE for small cell solutions to add capacity in densely populated areas.

Verizon is opened up to the possibility of selling its wireless towers, according to FierceWireless, because of AT&T’s agreement last year to sell and lease 9,700 of its cell towers to Crown Castle in a $4.85 billion deal. Verizon has between 12,000 to 15,000 towers and may be looking to sell about 12,500 sites.

Crown Castle acquired the rights to operate 7,200 T-Mobile towers for $2.4 billion in 2012. Tower operators like Crown Castle, American Tower and SBA Communications provide lease space to a variety of carriers.

Any Dish/Sprint or Dish/T-Mobile deal is reportedly unlikely — until after the 600 MHz auction. As a consumer, I’m partial to a move by Google or Facebook into telecommunications. Dish might be a good partner for Google – particularly if it could acquire 40 MHz of 2.5 GHz for small cells. Maybe Starbucks will be the next “carrier”.

4G Americas reports that in North America, LTE technology represented 33 percent or 127 million LTE connections of the total 391 million mobile connections in North America. It’s the largest market share for LTE (45%), compared to any country or region in the world.

China iPhone Launch Delayed: Threat to National Security?

Apple is facing a potential setback in China, reports the NY Times, delaying the introductions of the new iPhone models in China.

On Wednesday, Apple told China’s three big state-owned mobile service providers that it would not release the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in mainland China on Sept. 19, when sales start elsewhere. The carriers had already booked advertising campaigns for the phones.

Apple did not explain the delay, executives at the carriers said, but it appeared the phones had not received approval from Chinese regulators.

The Chinese leadership and the state-controlled news media grew wary of foreign technology providers after revelations last year by Edward J. Snowden of American cyberspying. In July, CCTV, the main state-controlled television network, broadcast a report saying that the iPhone could represent a threat to China’s national security. The accusations were promptly rejected by Apple.

Apple declined to comment on Wednesday, as did representatives for China’s three main mobile carriers, China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom.

In 2012, the US Intelligence Committee declared Huawei & ZTE Security Threats.

Huawei and Bain Capital Partners were forced to give up their bid in 2008 for computer-equipment maker 3Com after the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States raised objections. Huawei dropped plans to buy certain assets from 3Leaf Systems, a computer services company, after more problems with the foreign investment panel. Sprint eliminated Huawei as vendor in its massive Network Vision upgrade, after pressure from the government.

Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), an outspoken critic of N.S.A. surveillance, noted that the report flatly declared that the phone-logging program had not been necessary in stopping terrorist attacks.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper condemned Snowden’s actions as having done “huge, grave damage” to US intelligence capabilities, while lying to Congress.

Related Dailywireless articles include; NSA Spying Threatens Global Internet?, Snowden Pursuaded Co-workers to Give Up Passwords, NSA Stores Social MetaData on US Persons, GCHQ Stores and Searches Oceanic Fiber Data, NSA Decrypts Everything, Concerns Linger over Huawei and ZTE, Huawei Before Intelligence Committee, CISPA Passes House, NRO: The Real Ice Station Zebra?, DEFCON 20, FISA Amendments Extended, ISPs Adopt Cyber Security Recommendations, Russians Not Controling Springfield Water Pumps,

LTE Multicast Tested by 16 Operators

A new report from the Global Mobile Suppliers Association says sixteen operators, spanning 13 countries, are currently trialing LTE Multicast, also called eMBMS (evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Services. LTE Multicast allows wireless operators to broadcast live video over their LTE networks to multiple users simultaneously.

Today’s unicast streams require a dedicated channel for each user and can easily overload the network. Major sporting events, such as the Super Bowl, are good candidates for LTE Multicast.

AT&T, Verizon and Dish networks all own 700 MHz frequencies and are likely to utilize those frequencies for LTE broadcast.

Verizon has 98% of the country covered with LTE, with some 55% of customers now on it, generating almost 79% of the company’s data usage.

Other technologies, such as Qualcomm’s defunct MediaFLO, DVB-H, ATSC-M/H
or ISDB-Tmm, use a dedicated television channel to transmit data. LTE Multicast uses cellular channels so no special antenna or tuner is required.

Tablet TV offers a free over the air DVR-type service jointly financed by Granite Broadcasting and Motive Television, a London-based television software and services company. Rechargeable “T-Pods” capture the over-the-air digital TV signals and retransmit them to tablets using their own Wi-Fi signal. They are nearing a beta launch in the Bay area. Tablet TV will allow users to watch and record live over-the-air HDTV signals and will also allow on-demand packages for downloading in conjunction with local broadcasters—all without a cellular connection.

South Korea’s KT Corp. launched the first commercial service in January of this year and remains the only operator with an actual commercial service. Now, however, it’s joined by operators in Australia, China, France, Germany, India, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Portugal, Singapore, South Korea, UAE, UK and the US, all of which are at least trialing the technology currently.

During the World Cup, Brazil welcomed over 1.5 million tourists and over 3.3 million fans watched the games live. They used smartphones, laptops, tablets, and even smart watches and glasses to access the Internet, updating Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and WeChat. They shared in real time every twist and turn of each game by uploading pictures and video clips or chatting.

Streaming television to multiple users may seem like it has limited appeal in the age of Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. But perhaps streaming providers could, in essence, create their own “networks” by leasing cellular channels for wireless delivery.

LTE Multicast may come into its own for data delivery. Imagine multi-player games played on a massive scale. Amazon’s purchase of Twitch this week for nearly $1 billion, a case in point.

In addition to the shared transmission capability, the two-way capability of the eMBMS system allows users to dynamically interact with the broadcast network.

Parks Associates said about 61 percent of all U.S. homes with high-speed Internet own at least one tablet, and found that the weekly video viewing time on tablets has increased from an average of a half hour in 2012 to 1.3 hours this year.

Related Dailywireless articles include; Australia’s Telstra Tests LTE Broadcast, Dish Network’s 700 MHz Spectrum, Dish: Lower 700MHz Power Ups Speculation, AT&T Gets Heat on MediaFLO Spectrum, LTE Broadcast Mobilizes at MWC, H.265 Gets Real, Aereo Vs LTE Broadcast: Fight!, Mobile Video on Diet with Social Graph, DIAL: Smart TV App Browses for Movies, Mobile: The New Television, Verizon & AT&T Launch Targeted Advertising CBS Helps Launch Dish Hopper with Sling, What is Miracast?,Mobile TV at NAB 2012, Mobile TV Handsets: Two Flavors

State Fair Apps

The Minnesota State Fair has seen data usage on Verizon’s wireless network increase 156 percent compared to the first four days of the 2013 state fair. The State Fair runs through Labor Day and is expected to draw 1.8 million people.

The Minnesota State Fair created a mobile website and a mobile app to help navigate the massive event. In addition, most of the vendors are promoting their booths via social media.

In anticipation of the increased usage, Verizon Wireless boosted its data capacity more than 300 percent by increasing its mobile cell sites from four in 2013 to six and adding more 4G LTE data capacity with the addition of its XLTE network which utilizes Verizon’s AWS spectrum.

State Fair apps for Android and IOS are an obvious application. Crowdsourcing Labor Day Adventures in state and national parks is helped with Crowdflower mapping. Visualized on Mode Analytics, the map lets you sort by activity and links to official websites, Wikipedia, TripAdvisor and Yelp pages.

Fifty years ago, at the 1964 World’s Fair, plans for industrial farming on the seafloor and a machine for cutting down the rain forest to build roads were exhibited.

A world’s fair today would be different, says Paul Saffo, on NPR. Now the new and innovative is just a mouse click away.

Digital Life in 2025, from Pew Research, predicted state control, reduced public trust, and increased commercialisation of every aspect of web culture. Saffo says today’s fair would be about questions. Instead of showcasing ways to build roads through the rain forest, the fair would ask: How do we save the forest? How can we preserve the oceans? Are we, as a species, capable of understanding how our minds work?

One way to get people to go to a world’s fair today, Saffo says, would be to crowdsource it. Make it like a real-world version of Wikipedia. Today’s fair might be a lot like Burning Man.

Expo 2010, in Shanghai China was a major World Expo, the first since 1992, with over 73 million people attending – a world record. China Mobile exhibited LTE-Advanced at the fair for the first time.

Computational photography chips like the Movidius Myriad 2 may enable Streetview video with fast, efficient OpenVX computer vision algorithms for body and gesture tracking, object and scene reconstruction, and augmented reality. Sounds of Street View lets you create 3D sound experiences in a street view environment.

A virtualized World’s Fair may be an idea whose time has come. Stargates might provide free gateways though a Twitch stream. Local VR headsets could provide full immersion.

Spacemaker VR was an (unsuccessful) Kickstarter project for Oculus Rift walk-throughs. 3D modeling programs like 3dS Max, Blender, LightWave, Sketchup, Revit, Autocad and many others can create and export 3D models.

Unity is a cross-platform game creation system used to develop video games for web sites, desktops, consoles, and mobile devices. Unity3D and similar products such as the Unreal Engine and CryEngine helped democratize game development, making the kinds of tools used by the world’s largest game companies available to developers at little or no cost.

There are lots of free tools for Android App Design. Google’s Material Design provides a framework for responsive (crossplatform) design.

Google Cardboard is here today. Essentially, it’s a cardboard housing for a smartphone. You get a $10 lens kit, about $7 in off-the-shelf magnets, $3 worth of velcro, a rubber band, and an easily programmable $1.50 Near-Field Communication sticker tag for launching the companion mobile app. It lets you cruise through a landscape or city street in Google Earth, watch YouTube videos in a virtual theater or Chrome Experiments, visiting the Great Barrier Reef in a helicopter, or riding a roller coaster.

Screw the World’s Fair. Let’s travel along the Champs-Élysées tonight!

Sprint: Drama Queen

Sprint named billionaire entrepreneur Marcelo Claure its new CEO, reports the WSJ in a background piece. Marcelo Claure, a 6-foot-6-inch Bolivian billionaire, built a global mobile-phone distributor from scratch.

Claure is in while Sprint’s $32 billion merger plan with T-Mobile is out.

Regulators with the FCC and Department of Justice were apparently not persuaded that more wireless consolidation was a good thing.

Claure’s stature was growing inside Sprint, as concerns hit a tipping point in mid-July, people familiar with the matter said. Claure’s job is to turn around the 38,000 person company that has spent the better part of a decade losing customers and money.

Mr. Son, whose confidence in Mr. Hesse had been waning, spoke to him a number of times about his role at the company over the past several weeks, according to The Journal.

Meanwhile, on a July 30 conference call, Sprint told analysts and investors that its network overhaul was “substantially complete” and that it is testing new price plans in preparation for an aggressive push for customers later this year.

The progress on its network overhaul and a viable CEO candidate gave the board the confidence that the company could stand alone, says the WSJ. The plan now is for Sprint to be a “price leader” later in the year, the Sprint executive said.

Sprint Spark combines Sprint’s 800 MHz, 1900 MHz and 2.5 GHz spectrum to offer devices faster speeds while minimizing tower infrastructure. Sprint is deploying 8T8R antennas, using 8 transmit and 8 receive antennas, that are expected to boost range and speed some 1.5 times in the 2.6 GHz band. Sprint hopes to make coverage similar to its LTE network on their 1.9 GHz PCS band, which is currently limited to 5×5 MHz bandwidth.

Sprint Spark is expected to cover 100 million POPs by year-end. But Sprint Spark coverage is a long way from the 250 million of AT&T and Verizon. Sprint says its LTE is available in 488 cities covering approximately 254 million people (pops), but only in their narrow (5×5 MHz) PCS spectrum slice. Lots of Sprint’s LTE bandwidth is also spoken for by wholesale providers.

Even T-Mobile now covers 230 million POPs with its LTE network. The carrier plans to cover 250 million POPs with LTE by the end of 2014. T-Mobile’s CTO Neville Ray noted in June that T-Mobile is now offering “Wideband LTE,” with 15×15 MHz service, in 16 U.S. markets.

AT&T Mobility says the company’s LTE network now covers nearly 290 million POPs in more than 500 markets across the country. AT&T bought Leap Wireless (Cricket) for $1.2 billion, largely for their AWS spectrum. Leap’s PCS and AWS spectrum covers approximately 137 million potential customers

Verizon Wireless’ 700 MHz LTE network covers around 306 million POPs. The carrier has also been busy deploying its LTE service on its AWS spectrum to bolster its network capacity. Verizon bought 122 AWS licenses from cable giants for $3.6 billion.

Perhaps Son (and Marcelo Claure) are betting on the miracle of small cells in urban environments. In July 2013, South Korea’s LG U + launched LTE-Advanced service using carrier aggregation of 800 MHz and 2.1 GHz spectrum. Softbank and vendor Huawei have also deployed LTE-A in the 3.5GHz band.

Killing the T-Mobile merger is undoubtedly good news for Dish, which has 55 Mhz of spectrum, mostly in the 2 GHz band, and no tower partner. Craig Moffett of MoffettNathanson Research said a network-sharing deal with Sprint and T-Mobile or an outright acquisition of T-Mobile by Dish now looks more likely than a sale of Dish’s spectrum to a carrier, such as Verizon Wireless.

Of course, there’s the Iliad odessy. French upstart telecommunications company Iliad, which is known as “Free Mobile” in France, has made an offer for T-Mobile US, reports the Wall Street Journal. That bid countered one by Sprint for the fourth-largest wireless carrier in the U.S.

Iliad, in a news release, said it offered $15 billion in cash for 56.6% of T-Mobile US at $33 a share. Iliad added that the remaining 43.4% of T-Mobile US would be worth $40.50 a share, based on expected cost savings, giving the deal an overall per-share value of $36.20, or 17% higher than T-Mobile’s closing price Wednesday.

Related Dailywireless articles include; French Operator Iliad Bids for T-Mobile US , Viva la Free Network!, Sprint and T-Mobile: Joint Bidding on 600MHz?, T-Mobile/Sprint Agreement?

Sprint/T-Mobile: Real Deal?

FierceWireless says that SoftBank and T-Mobile US parent Deutsche Telekom have reportedly reached a “basic agreement” for Sprint to merge with T-Mobile, according to a report in the Japanese business publication Nikkei.

Deutsche Telekom, which owns 67 percent of T-Mobile, has agreed sell more than 50 percent of T-Mobile’s shares to Sprint, the Nikkei report said.

Reportedly, SoftBank will pay cash and will use stock swaps to cover the estimated purchase price of more than $16 billion. Multiple reports in early June indicated that Sprint would pay $32 billion for T-Mobile in a transaction that would combine the No. 3 and No. 4 U.S. wireless carriers, so a $16 billion price tag for around 50 percent is inline with those reports.

According to the Nikkei report, the two sides are still hammering out the details of the deal, which would give the combined carrier close to 100 million customers, nearing the scale of AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless. Eight financial institutions will reportedly help SoftBank finance the deal.

The FCC says AT&T and Verizon command around 70 percent of all low-band spectrum licenses (below 1 GHz). Sprint and T-Mobile hold around 15 percent of all low-band spectrum licenses, so the combined company should be eligible for bidding on large chunks of 600 MHz spectrum next year.

Duplicating 600 MHz macrocell infrastructure would not be cheap. Combining towers, infrastructure and management is anticipated to save big bucks.

The tricky bit would be FCC and Justice approval.

The loose cannon is Dish Networks. They will also bid for 600 MHz spectrum. Would Dish partner with Google, Amazon or Facebook to create a new “4th Network”? If it pencils out, sure. But who would “host” such a network? A combined T-Mobile/Sprint would have spectrum to burn. They wouldn’t need Dish spectrum.

AT&T hopes to buy DirecTV for $49 billion, so Verizon could be a possibility for Dish — but that would just eliminate a competitor (after Dish acquires 600 MHz frequencies). God help us if Comcast joined forces with Dish, an outcome that could be increasingly likely if T-Mobile and Sprint merge.

Perhaps a Japanese or South Korean carrier could run the show for Dish for a 50% stake. Consider that a Softbank takeover of Sprint seemed far-fetched 2 years ago.