Year-end US Carrier Coverage Report

Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility say their 3G/4G coverage in the United States is now pretty much universal with more than 300 million pops currently covered, mostly due to both carrier’s extensive 700 MHz LTE networks. Now it’s a matter of keeping up with capacity requirements.

Sprint says its LTE network now covers 260 million people, mostly through the use of 10 megahertz of spectrum in the 1.9 GHz band. Next year, Sprint’s Chief Network Officer John Saw said Sprint will continue to build out its LTE network with its 800 MHz buildout about halfway finished. “We expect to be substantially complete with our LTE 800 MHz build by the end of 2015 in markets where the spectrum is available,” according to Saw.

Sprint’s 2.5 GHz coverage is now available in 62 markets, utilizing the carrier’s Spark program, reports Saw, which combines 800Mhz, 1.9GHz and 2.5 GHz. Their 2.5 GHz network covers about 100 million people.

Meanwhile T-Mobile US CTO Neville Ray said the carrier’s LTE network coverage currently serves a similar 260 million pops, matching Sprint. Ray says T-Mobile is now on track to cover 280 million people with 4G LTE by mid-2015, and expects to hit the 300 million mark by the end of 2015.

T-Mobile has acquired more 700 MHz spectrum in the “A” block, reports FierceWireless, with the carrier making several deals for airwaves with small license holders in the last few months.

Speaking at Deutsche Telekom’s Capital Markets Day, John Legere appeared rational and made a lot of sense.

Cable & Carriers Target 5GHz Spectrum

Cox Communications announced today that it launched more than 1,700 additional WiFi hotspots for Cox Internet customers in the Phoenix and Las Vegas this month. The latest Cox WiFi hotspots bring CoxWiFi service to six markets to date with many more planned for 2015, including hundreds of hotspots in San Diego after the first of the year.

In addition to the current Cox WiFi markets (Connecticut, Northern Virginia, Omaha, Phoenix, Las Vegas and Sun Valley), customers also have access when they travel to the nation’s largest WiFi network of more than 300,000 hotspots made possible by a collaboration of cable companies across the country, called CableWiFi, launched in 2013. The hotspots are strategically located in high-traffic areas such as restaurants, malls, sports arenas, parks and beaches in cities like New York, Washington D.C., Boston, Richmond, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Tampa.

Only Cox customers who subscribe to the Preferred Internet Package ($49/mo for the first 12 months) or higher have free access to the CableWiFi network. Comcast offers a similar “deal” for access to the joint cable WiFi network offered across the country.

CableWiFi uses Hotspot 2.0 technology where visitors will be able to use Passpoint-certified smartphones, tablets, and laptops tied to different service providers to roam across different hotspot networks. Authentication will be tied to the original service provider, but connectivity will be delivered through the local hotspot.

In June, Comcast said its Xfinity WiFi footprint had expanded to about 3 million hotspots nationwide, getting it closer toward a goal of expanding that footprint to 8 million hotspots by the end of 2014.

If Comcast’s strategy is to take over the lower 5GHz band with “free” public WiFi (for cable modem subscribers), they’ll have competition from T-Mobile US which wants to “privatize” as much as 500 MHz of the unlicensed 5 GHz band for “unlicensed LTE, aka LTE-U.

The unlicensed 5GHz spectrum in the US is divided into mainly three different bands with different RF requirements. The three main 5 GHz bands are:

  1. U-NII-1 (5150-5250MHz) – now with increased (250mW) of conducted power with radiated power up to 1 watt for mobile devices and conducted power up to 1 watt and radiated power up to 4 watts for access points.
  2. U-NII-2 (5250-5725MHz)
  3. U-NII-3 (5725-5850MHz).
    The FCC consolidated the provisions for operation at 1 watt in the 5.725-5.85 GHz band into the U-NII rules under § 15.407.

The 5350-5470MHz segment in UNII-2 is restricted from usage by FCC. In addition, the 60MHz in 5590-5650MHz are currently blocked by FCC due to potential Terminal Doppler Weather Radar Interference.

The carrier-focused LTE-U Forum hopes to use the unlicensed 5 GHz UNII-1 and UNII-3 bands for their LTE service, in conjunction with licensed LTE.

Qualcomm championed the so-called “LTE-U” or unlicensed LTE back in November 2013, before the 3GPP switched to the term “License Assisted Access.” According to Fierce Wireless, Macquarie Research analysts Kevin Smithen and Will Clayton said that after having met with T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray, they expect T-Mobile will use LAA “extensively on the 500 MHz of 5 GHz spectrum, with handsets becoming available at the end of 2015.”

A spokesperson at T-Mobile confirmed the plan to use 5 GHz unlicensed technology to FierceWirelessTech, although the timing remains unclear.

Hotspot 2.0 is a new set of protocols to enable cellular-like roaming. A variety of partnerships are developing nationwide and world-wide, including:


According to Ruckus Wireless, a recent survey of 400 U.S. small businesses with retail places of business, commissioned by Devicescal, found [to nobody’s surprise] that providing free Wi-Fi is good business for increasing:

  • Customer foot traffic
  • The time spent on premises (and most importantly),
  • The amount customers spend.
  • The study focused on independent “mom and pop” retail stores, including bars, nightclubs, restaurants, fast food places, coffee shops, clothing boutiques, book shops, and salons.

A good night’s sleep isn’t as important as good hotel Internet connectivity, according to a recent report.

Infrastructure providers are also enabling small businesses and organizations to “roll their own” Hotspot 2.0 network. Ruckus Wireless gathered a bunch of interesting WiFi stats in a holiday-themed slide show.

Multi-User MIMO promises to handle large crowds better then Wave 1 802.11ac products since the different users can use different streams at the same time.

Public Hotspots serving large crowds will benefit most from MU-MIMO. Several enterprise and carrier-grade infrastructure providers are beginning to roll out their equipment (and backend software) now. LTE using the unlicensed 5GHz band is likely to be several years away, say most industry observers.

How large corporate takeovers of the unlicensed 5GHz band will (or will not) affect any truly “free” municipal network remains to be seen.

The FCC has increased Wi-Fi power in the lower 5 GHz band at 5.15-5.25 GHz, making Comcast and mobile phone operators happy since they can make use of 802.11ac networks, both indoors and out, even utilizing all four channels for up to 1 Gbps wireless networking.

The FCC’s 5 GHz U-NII Report & Order allowed higher power in the 5.150 – 5.250 GHz band.

These FCC U-NII technical modifications are separate from another proposal currently under study by the FCC and NTIA that would add another 195 MHz of spectrum under U-NII rules in two new bands, U-NII 2B (5.350 – 5.470 GHz) and U-NII 4 (5.850 – 5.925 GHz).

Commercial entities, including cable operators, cellular operators, and independent companies seem destined to blanket every dense urban area in the country with high-power 5 GHz service – “free” if you’re already a subscriber on their subscription network

Related Dailywireless articles include; Ruckus Announces Cloud-Based WiFi Services, Cloud4Wi: Cloud-Managed, Geo-enabled Hotspots, Ad-Sponsored WiFi Initiatives from Gowex & Facebook, FCC increases Wi-Fi power in the lower 5 GHz band at 5.15-5.25 GHz, Comcast Creates Hotspot 2.0 National Network,Cloud4Wi Annouces Cloud-Controlled WiFi , PowerCloud: Cloud-based WiFi: $100 a Pop , WiFi & Hotspot 2.0 at MWC, Hotspot 2.0 Moves Out, NYC & Cable Provide Hotspot 2.0 Service, Cities of San Jose and Santa Clara Get Free WiFi, Free Google WiFi for NYC Chelsea Neighborhood,Cloud-based WiFi: $100 a Pop , Meraki Cloud Managed Security

300 Million Smartphones Sold in Q3-14

Gartner today published its Q3 global mobile phone numbers. A total of 301 million smartphones sold in Q3, up 20% on a year ago. Within that, Apple’s and Samsung’s combined smartphone share totalled 37%, down 7 percentage points from the same period a year ago.

Mobile phone sales overall were 456 million — flat from Q3 2013. Within the smartphone space, China’s Xiaomi made its way into the top five for the first time with a sharp rise over a year ago, while the world’s biggest OEM, Samsung, declined.

Android continued to increase its market share with a rise to 83% with IOS rising to 12.7%. On the other hand, Windows lost market share.

By the end of 2014, eMarketer expects 1.76 billion people will own and use smartphones, up more than 25% over 2013. By the end of 2018, half of all mobile users are expected to have smartphones, some 2.7 billion people.

BT Plans to Buy UK’s EE

BT, formerly known as British Telecom, is poised to buy UK mobile operator EE for £12.5bn, if Ofcom and other watchdog agencies approve the deal, reports C/Net. Under the terms of the proposed deal, EE’s owners Germany’s Deutsche Telekom and France’s Orange would take a 12% and 4% stake in BT respectively, according to the BBC.

EE, formerly known as Everything Everywhere, is a partnership between Gemany’s Deutsche Telekom and French company Orange, BT would become the owner of the UK’s biggest mobile phone operator and the most established 4G network, potentially adding 24.5m mobile customers.

The potential deal is subject to regulatory approval by competition authorities.

BT was considering snapping up either EE or O2. In November, BT announced the company was in preliminary talks to buy back the O2 brand for £6 billion. BT currently dominates the UK’s fixed-line markets, with landlines, broadband and TV already in place, but doesn’t currently have a mobile presence. EE now dominates the mobile marketplace in the UK. EE’s LTE spectrum portfolio is also stronger than O2’s.

If successful, the deal could result in BT dominating four media and telecoms services — a “quad-play”.BT currently dominates the UK’s fixed-line markets, with landlines, broadband and TV already in place. EE dominates the mobile marketplace in the UK. If successful, the deal could result in BT dominating four media and telecoms services — a “quad-play”.

“With its fixed-line and TV assets,” industry analyst Kester Mann of CCS Insight told CNET recently, BT “could assume a very dominant position. Rivals such as TalkTalk, Virgin, Sky and Vodafone will be concerned.”

Vodafone, a British multinational telecommunications company headquartered in London, is the world’s 3rd-largest mobile telecommunications company, behind China Mobile and SingTel, with 434 million subscribers as of 31 March 2014. Vodafone owns and operates networks in 21 countries.

EE was formed in 2009 by the merger of Orange, owned by France Telecom, and T-Mobile, owned by Deutsche Telekom. The two European companies have held a 50/50 stake.

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.

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:

Related Dailywireless articles include; EE UK: Quad Play Video Service, 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,

Carriers Track Users with “Supercookies”

Verizon and AT&T, the largest wireless carriers in the US, are using “supercookies” to track users, but they could be a boon to advertisers, hackers, says C/Net.

Cookies can be used to remember the information about the user who has visited a website in order to show relevant content in the future. Many websites use cookies for personalization based on users’ preferences. They’re commonly used on desktop browsers, but mobile phones and tablets generally have not used them.

“You’re making it very difficult for people who want privacy to find it on the Internet,” Paul Ohm, a senior policy adviser to the Federal Trade Commission and associate professor at the Colorado Law School, told The Washington Post, which reported the tracking programs last week.

Verizon’s solution is called the PrecisionID. When consumers visit certain websites or mobile apps, a request is sent through a Verizon network. Precision ID packages the request, as a hashed, aggregated and anonymous unique identifier, then turns it into a lucrative chunk of data for advertisers.

According to eMarketer, U.S. adults now spend nearly 24% of their media consumption time with smartphones and tablets, but marketers only spend an average of around 10% of their ad budgets targeting those devices.

Marketers say that’s largely because of technical limitations related to targeting and measuring ads on phones and tablets using “cookies.” The problem is, cookies don’t work well on smartphones and tablets, and that makes it difficult for marketers to understand who their ads are reaching, and the effect they’re having on consumers.

Facebook, the No. 2 digital advertising platform in the world, analysis the data on its 1.3 billion users to sell individually targeted ads. Facebook’s rebuilt ad platform called Atlas (product tour) will allow marketers to tap its detailed knowledge of its users to direct ads to those people on thousands of other websites and mobile apps, while online ad giant Google is evaluating non-desktop alternatives to cookies as well.

The potential legal issues, experts say, stem in part from the Communications Act, which prohibits carriers from revealing identifying information about their customers or helping others to do so. That is at the heart of complaints by the EFF, which is contemplating a lawsuit or other action to stop Verizon, said one of the group’s lawyers, Nate Cardozo.

McDonald’s Gets Softcard

Softcard (formerly Isis), a mobile payment system that competes with Apple Pay and Google Wallet, announced today that it is accepted at more than 14,000 McDonald’s locations around the country beginning today. Smartphone owners can make NFC-based mobile payments at the register and the drive-thru at all McDonald’s restaurants. McDonald’s will also accept Apple Pay.

Last month, Subway also announced a partnership with Softcard to support mobile payments.

Softcard is free to download and is compatible with more than 80 Android handsets sold by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. Softcard combines payments, offers and loyalty in one app. Softcard uses the EMV Contactless specification and SmartTap technology to enable payments, offers and loyalty redemption through one tap.

Apple Pay saw more than one million card activations within 72 hours of launch, reports NFC World, and is already the leading NFC payments player in the US, according to Apple CEO Tim Cook. Cook outlined future growth plans for the service at the WS Journal D Live conference this week, including a potential partnership with Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba.

US pharmacy chains Rite Aid and CVS plan to launch their own CurrentC mobile payment service in 2015, and have stopped accepting NFC payments, blocking mobile payments services like Apple Pay, Google Wallet and Softcard.

Unfortunately, CurrentC is now warning people that hackers have already swiped some of the beta tester’s email addresses.

Mobile proximity payments have to date proven lacklustre despite the hundreds of millions spent on developing these platforms. But loyalty rewards and benefits of the digital wallet is now seen by many as potentially the killer app that will help to finally ignite the long simmering mobile proximity payment market.

Ovum’s research indicates that 53% of consumers globally report they’ve either used or are interested in redeeming offers and coupons with their handsets, while 44% have used or are interested using their mobile device to pay for things in store and restaurants, explains Gilles Ubaghs, Senior Analyst, Financial Services Technology at Ovum.