Apple SIM: Sidestepping Carriers?

AT&T Mobility, Sprint, T-Mobile US and UK operator EE support a new SIM card for Apple’s iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 that lets customers switch between carriers. Although Verizon Wireless will provide wireless service for Apple’s new tablet, it is not listed as a supporter of the new Apple SIM card, notes Fierce Wireless.

With Apple’s SIM card, customers will not need to buy a different SIM card to switch service to a different carrier. As GigaOM notes, it’s unclear how the provisioning process will work if customers want to switch between carriers.

The new Apple SIM is preinstalled on iPad Air 2 with Wi-Fi + Cellular models,” Apple explains. “The Apple SIM gives you the flexibility to choose from a variety of short-term plans from select carriers in the U.S. and UK right on your iPad. So whenever you need it, you can choose the plan that works best for you–with no long-term commitments. And when you travel, you may also be able to choose a data plan from a local carrier for the duration of your trip.”

It’s easy to see how this concept could significantly disrupt the mobile industry, says Dan Frommer.

“Imagine booting up your iPhone for the first time and seeing four competing offers for your business from different operators—with short or no contract duration.”

Apple’s new tablets are thinner, faster and golder.

The Pad Air 2 delivers faster connectivity with 802.11ac Wi-Fi with Multiple-In-Multiple-Out (MIMO) at data rates up to 866 Mbps. iPad Air 2 with Wi-Fi + Cellular integrates even more LTE bands and comes with expanded LTE for up to 50 percent faster cellular connections, plus support for DC-HSDPA and HSPA+.

The iPad Air 2 has full support of most LTE bands.

But Apple’s iPad Mini 3 page shows only support for LTE bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, and 26, but not Sprint’s band 41.

The new iPad mini 3 is powered by the Apple-designed A7 chip and M7 motion processor compared to the newer A8X and M8 chips incorporated into the iPad Air 2 as well as a similar A8 chip in the iPhone 6 and 6+ which support Band 41 (2.5 GHz) for LTE on Sprint, as well as China and elsewhere.

Clearly, if Apple hopes to move many iPad minis in the Chinese market, they will need Band 41 support (and perhaps an A8X chip). Apple launched its latest iPhone 6 in China today. According to China Mobile, subscriptions reached 799.13 million, compared to 755.19 million a year ago. That included 244.5 million users of 3G services, and 40.95 million largely on their new TD-LTE network using band 41.

The Nexus 6, by contrast, supports virtually all LTE bands world-wide as well as all three commercially used US 700MHz bands (bands 12, 13, and 17), making the Nexus 6 the very first device to be fully interoperable on the 700MHz band, completely eliminating the interoperability problem with this phone. Sprint plans to support 700 MHz Band 12, and expand its LTE network partnerships to new locations, making it comparable in size and coverage to AT&T and Verizon’s LTE networks.

Verizon and AT&T both told the FCC that compliance with the lower “A Block”, which smaller carriers use in the United States, would not be practical or cost/effectice. Guess that problem was solved when Dish lowered their potential power on the single channel “E Block”. Perhaps adding FirstNet compliance (on Band 14) may also be comparitively easy. Of course they’d have to deal with Motorola Solutions, the part of Motorola not sold to Lenovo.

Motorola Mobility consists of the Mobile Devices business which produces smartphones and the Home business which produces set-top boxes and cable modems. Google sold most of Motorola Mobility to Lenovo for $2.91 billion.

Aerohive Announces Verizon LTE compliant WiFi Router

Aerohive Networks, a leader in controller-less Wi-Fi for the enterprise market, has introduced their Verizon-embedded LTE plus Wi-Fi branch router. The Aerohive BR200-LTE-VZ Router provides embedded Verizon 4G LTE capabilities. The turnkey solution allows granular control and security, with the ability to set up Quality of Service (QoS), time-of-day access schedules, firewall policies and web security settings.

Aerohive’s BR200 series comes in three models: the BR200, the BR200-WP (which includes PoE and 3×3 3 spatial stream), and the BR200-LTE-VZ which runs on the Verizon network. The BR200-LTE-VZ allows enterprises to instantly deploy Aerohive’s Personal Engagement Platform for retail, enabling retailers to prototype and test new loyalty solutions

Aerohive has been named a Gold-tier member of the Verizon Partner Program. The Verizon Partner Program tailors regional and national opportunities for systems integrators, value added resellers, agents and solutions providers.

Aerohive’s cloud-enabled wireless network can deliver a zero-touch, auto-provisioned network, complete with wired and wireless connectivity, for secure access.

Aerohive’s HiveManager Network Management System has the ability to manage devices from the cloud, so a central administrator can control wireless access remotely, regardless of where the routers are located. Corporate networks can then easily deploy secure, wireless networks and reduce complexity and time-to-operation of Wi-Fi deployments, says Aerohive.

Aerohive’s BR200-LTE-VZ router is available today and starts at $1,199 US list.

IDC predicts that the number of connected “things” will grow from 11.4 billion in 2014 to 28.1 billion in 2020. As a result, branch locations in industries ranging from hospitality to banking must be equipped to meet connectivity needs while ensuring secure, compliant access to corporate resources, says Aerohive.

Alcatel-Lucent: Virtualization Gets Real

Alcatel-Lucent has struck a carrier virtualization partnership with South Korea’s national operator, KT. The two companies have signed a “technical collaboration agreement” that will involve the development of NFV capabilities for KT’s “Giga” Network, based on the vendor’s CloudBand platform, reports LightReading.

KT’s Gigatopia strategy involves building a high-speed, integrated wired/wireless next-gen network that is ready for all manner of future media and data transport and geared up for the Internet of Things. The Cloud-based wireless network approach was largely developed by AlcaLu subsidiary Nuage Networks.

KT chief executive Hwang Chang-gyu urged the world’s leading mobile carriers and manufacturers to collaborate in establishing the so-called “GiGAtopia,” referring to a mobile environment connected through superfast gigabit technology.

Evolved Packet Core is an evolution of the packet-switched architecture used in GPRS/UMTS. The use of individual circuits to carry voice and short messages are now being replaced by IP-based solutions. The radio access network (RAN) provides the radio access technology. Much of that cellular hardware is now being “virtualized” in the data center.

Alcatel-Lucent is delivering virtualized mobile network functions to KT with evolved packet core (EPC), IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) and radio access network (RAN).

Cloud RAN virtualizes the hardware. Hardware that was once located on the mast or at the base of a cellular tower is now being replaced by software running in a data center, creating a virtualized radio network. A fiber link connects the remote RF head to the data center. Alca-Lu’s CloudBand platform is one of the leaders bringing cloud computing and IT technologies to wireless networks.

China Mobile showed VoLTE via virtualized network at Mobile World Congress using Alcatel-Lucent’s virtualized proof of concept LTE RAN basestation and virtualized evolved packet core solutions.

The Alcatel-Lucent opened a Customer Network Center in Japan this month. It was created to make the trend towards cloud-based networking, tangible for customers. It will allow for demos and interoperability testing of virtualized solutions over the CloudBand NFV platform to support Alcatel-Lucent’s Japan NFV/Network Transformation initiative which is already under way in Japan.

Alcatel-Lucent’s Light Radio uses smart active antenna arrays to deliver multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) gains and sophisticated beamforming in a very small footprint. RF energy can then be dynamically beamed where it is needed based on changes in cell loading and traffic density.

Saudi Arabia’s Mobily is the first service provider globally to deploy Alcatel-Lucent’s lightRadio Wireless Cloud Element Radio Network Controller (WCE RNC), a new platform that underpins Alcatel-Lucent’s virtualized LTE RAN activities.

Alcatel-Lucent is collaborating with Intel to speed industry move to cloud-based radio access networks while China Mobile conducted a proof of concept demonstration of Lucent’s Cloud RAN at Mobile World Congress 2014.

Alcatel-Lucent and Qualcomm are collaborating to develop small cell base stations that enhance 3G, 4G and WiFi networks to improve wireless connectivity in residential and enterprise environments.

Small cells aren’t just about adding coverage. Location-based services with targeted marketing and advertising are big drivers.

EE UK: Quad Play Video Service

EE, the UK’s largest mobile operator, with 775,000 subs, is moving into TV services, providing on-demand audio and video. EE has launched its own TV service, offering live and recorded content which can be viewed on TVs, mobile devices and tablets via a set-top box. EE, formerly Everything Everywhere, is a 50:50 joint venture between Deutsche Telekom and Orange.

Their smart TV box is said to be worth £300 but will be free for all EE mobile customers who sign up to an EE Broadband (landline) plan. The EE TV app enables smartphones to be used as remotes for controlling content broadcast from the TV box.

The EE television service will offer 70 Freeview channels, a 24-hour replay service and extra on-demand and catch-up TV channels, including BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Demand 5, Daily Motion and Wuaki.tv. The set-top box contains a one terabyte (TB) hard disk, which the firm said could store up to 25 days worth of standard definition content and five days worth of high-definition shows.

“Today we’re taking EE somewhere completely new. We’re going to introduce EE TV, a personal TV that puts mobile at heart of the home TV experience,” EE CEO Olaf Swantee said.

The service will be free with EE’s home broadband and landline packages, but will cost from £9.95 per month for EE mobile customers. The replay and recording features help in differentiating it from similar offerings by BT or Netflix. Vodafone has also been pursuing a similar quadplay strategy in other European markets.

The launch of the service brings EE into competition with the likes of Virgin Media and BT, which will reportedly launch consumer mobile services in the first quarter of the next year.

BT’s plan is to undercut mobile operators by enabling calls and data use via its 5.4 million wifi hotspots instead of 4G networks. BT also bought a ton of 2.6 GHz spectrum in the UK’s auction last year, as did Vodafone and EE.

Some 13 years ago, BT spun off their cellular holdings to O2. BT is now expected to entice customers by offering full packages covering broadband, TV, mobile and fixed line phone services using its 2.6 GHz frequency, and re-enter the consumer mobile market.

EE TV tech specs

  • 4 HD (high definition) tuners – DVB (digital video broadcasting) – T2
  • 1 terabyte hard drive
  • Dual-band WiFi (2.4/5 gigahertz)
  • 1 gigabit per second ethernet
  • Latest Broadcom processor (3000 DMIPS)
  • Full home broadband TV support

The EE television service allows users to watch different programmes on a TV and up to three smartphones or tablets at the same time via a set-top box. It also provides the option to record four programmes simultaneously, with the set-top box having a 1TB capacity. EE TV is free with EE’s home broadband and landline packages which start at £9.95 per month for EE mobile customers, who will receive an increased data allowance to support the service.

There are plans to enable the EE TV service on EE’s 4G network in the future, with video content already accounting for more than half of the data traffic on EE’s 4G network.

Olaf Swantee, the CEO of EE, said that as the UK’s largest and fastest network, EE has “unrivalled insight into people’s changing viewing habits”, which helped it to create “a service that has mobile at its heart, and makes the TV experience more personal than ever before”.

The launch of the service brings EE into competition with the likes of Virgin Media, Vodafone and BT.

The UK has decided to break the 190 MHz-wide band of 2.6 GHz frequencies into two groups, 140 MHz of paired frequencies and 50 MHz of unpaired.

United Kingdom has a total of 80 million subscribers, with a 130.55% penetration rate. Mobile operators in the UK include:

French upstart telecommunications company Iliad, which is known as “Free Mobile” in France, made an initial offer for T-Mobile US, which was rejected. It is broadly expected to have another go at T-Mobile US, shortly.

Iliad’s French operator Free Mobile, launched in 2012, built their own 2.6 GHz network to cover at least 25% of the French population. Free is now the second largest ISP in the country.

Free offers 20 GB/mo 4G service along with unlimited voice and messaging for $US27/month. The Freebox Revolution router, which delivers a triple play of broadband, TV and landline telephone calls to Iliad’s 6 million subscribers.

More than 8 million consumers flocked to Free Mobile as Orange and France’s two other wireless operators, Vivendi’s SFR and Bouygues suffered steep declines in sales. In April, Vivendi vacated the market altogether by selling SFR to Luxembourg-based Altice in a deal valued at 17 billion euros, reports Bloomberg.

Could any Comcast, Google, Netflix or Amazon launch a quad-play start-up in the United States and blow up mobile, broadband and cable in one shot? I’ll take you there.

First you’d need a chunk of 600 MHz (for voice and mobile data), a chunk of 2.6 GHz, and then some 5 GHz (free) WiFi spectrum. Dish, Google and CBS would be a good partnership. Billboards and street furniture could be the infrastructure to hang it on.

How hard could it be. AT&T plans to buy one 10 x 10 block at 600 Mhz for $9 billion. Add 40MHz at 2.6GHz for $1.5 billion and $6 billion for infrastructure. And you’re done.

Will mobile ad revenue make wireless a practical option for greenfield operators like Google? Who knows. Somebody is running the numbers.

Related Dailywireless articles include; UK Auction Winner Announced, UK Begins 800/2.6GHz Auction Process, Joint LTE Network in UK Planned by Vodafone and Telefónica, Ofcom: LTE This Year for Everything, Everywhere, Joint LTE Network in UK Planned by Vodafone and Telefónica, UK Spectrum Auction: Delayed Again?, UK Spectrum Auction: Legal Threat from 02UK?, UK Delays 4G Auction, Ofcom: White Spaces by 2013, UK Gets Free Public WiFi, Europe’s Digital Divide Auction, German 4G Auction: It’s Done,

Sprint WiMax: RIP Nov 2015

Sprint confirmed to Fierce Wireless that it will shut off service on its mobile WIMAX network on or around Nov. 6, 2015. The date was first unearthed in an internal company email posted by Android Central.

In April, Sprint said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that it would “cease using WiMAX technology by the end of 2015.”

It will also mean that Sprint will be decommissioning at least 6,000 of their 55,000 towers in the process. Sprint is going to take their new combined assets with Clearwire and continue building out their new LTE-Advanced “Spark” network.

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.

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 is rolling out 8T8R in its latest 2.5GHz installations. Sprint, however, has said that it no longer expects to put the 2.5 GHz band on every tower, instead focusing on urban centers.

Sprint Spark is expected to cover 100 million POPs by year-end. 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 and their newly repurposed 800 MHz band. 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.

Sprint rolled out WiMAX, called “Xohm” in August 2007 in Baltimore and in Portland in January, 2009. But WiMax coverage was limited by the high frequency and the delay bringing it to market didn’t help. Only one year later, 700 MHz LTE was launched by Verizon and AT&T, with vastly better coverage. Phones and tablets soon adopted the telco-developed LTE standard and WiMax, using a single channel Time Division data transmission became an also ran.

China Mobile, India, Sprint and others are now utilizing TD-LTE, with the latest revisions allowing larger carrier aggregation, MIMO, and direct, device-to-device communications.

Related Dailywireless articles include; Clearwire’s Launch Party in Portland, Clearwire Portland Launch: Jan 6th, Clearwire in Portland, Clearwire: Let’s be “Clear”, Green Light for New Clearwire, iPCS Withdraws Injuction Against Sprint WiMAX, Clearwire: Show Us the Money, Xohm Marks the Spot, Chicago Xohmed Next?, WiMAX Doomed? Not., Mobile WiMAX: Fast, Cheap and Out of Control?, Mobile WiMAX Cooking- But Still in the Kitchen, WiMAX Roundup, Australia Unwired, Australian Blowup, BT’s European WiMAX Plan, Backhaul Delays Xohm Rollout, Hesse on WiMAX, Sprint’s WiMAX Rollout?, Sprint-Clearwire Deal Dead, Sprint Considering WiMAX Spinoff?, Sprint Forces Forsee Out, WiMAX Demoed on Chicago River, The Launch, ICO Wants Its Mobile TV – via DVB-SH, Google Apps for Clearwire, Sprint WiMAX: It’s Called “Xohm”, Xohm “Partners”?, Death to WiMAX?, Verizon: It’s LTE, and Sprint: It’s WiMAX!

LTE Direct Gets Real

LTE Direct, a new feature being added to the LTE protocol, will make it possible to bypass cell towers, notes Technology Review. Phones using LTE Direct (Qualcomm whitepaper), will be able to “talk” directly to other mobile devices as well as connect to beacons located in shops and other businesses.

The wireless technology standard is baked into the latest LTE spec, which is slated for approval this year. It could appear in phones as soon as late 2015. Devices capable of LTE Direct can interconnect up to 500 meters — far more than either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. But issues like authorisation and authentication, currently handled by the network, would need to be extended to accommodate device to device to communication without the presence of the network.

At the LTE World Summit, Thomas Henze from Deutsche Telekom AG presented some use cases of proximity services via LTE device broadcast.

Since radio to radio communications is vital for police and fire, it has been incorporated into release 12 of the LTE-A spec, due in 2015.

At Qualcomm’s Uplinq conference in San Francisco this month, the company announced that it’s helping partners including Facebook and Yahoo experiment with the technology.

Facebook is also interested in LTE Multicast which is a Broadcast TV technology. Enhanced Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Services (also called E-MBMS or LTE Broadcast), uses cellular frequencies to multicast data or video to multiple users, simultaneously. This enables mobile operators to offer mobile TV without the need for additional spectrum or TV antenna and tuner.