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 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,

Free Hyperlapse App from Instagram

Instagram today announced Hyperlapse, one of the company’s first apps outside of Instagram itself. Using an algorithm, the app makes it easy to use your phone to create smooth tracking shots and time-lapse videos.

The app is available free for the iPhone. Instagram hopes to develop an Android version soon, but Instagram says that will require changes to the camera and gyroscope APIs on Android phones.

The product team shared their story with WIRED. Instead of using power-hungry algorithms to model the camera’s movement, smartphone’s gyroscopes measure it directly. By using those measurements in a simple algorithm it maps one frame to the next, giving the illusion that the camera is being held steady.

Microsoft also announced their hyper-lapse research recently. According to Microsoft, simple frame sub-sampling coupled with existing video stabilization methods does not work for time-lapse videos, because erratic camera shake is amplified by the speed-up.

Their algorithm first reconstructs the 3D input camera path as well as dense, per-frame proxy geometries. They optimize a novel camera path for the output video (shown in red) that is smooth and passes near the input cameras while ensuring that the virtual camera looks in directions that can be rendered well from the input. Microsoft is currently making their Hyperlapse algorithm available as a Windows app.

Amtrak Building Broadband Wireless Network

Amtrak plans to upgrade its WiFI along the Northeast Corridor, according to Railway Age, and has issued a Request for Proposals to implement it.

Amtrak plans to build its wireless network, at first offering Internet speed as fast as 25 Mbps per car, improving to 100 Mbps by 2019, according to the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP). Amtrak plans to start the revamp in the Northeast Corridor, and will be accepting proposals from contractors up until July 28.

High demand, combined with spotty and slow coverage have generated criticism of Amtrak’s WiFi

Unlike most airlines, Amtrak said it would continue to provide free Wi-Fi service. The railroad said that Wi-Fi was available on trains that serve 75 percent of Amtrak passengers, and that it routinely supported 30 percent to 50 percent of passengers on a given train.

Airlines are addressing the WiFi capacity issue by using Ka band High Throughput satellites.

JetBlue is moving to ViaSat’s high-capacity Ka-band system. Branded Exede In The Air, nearly 400 aircraft on JetBlue and other U.S. carriers are expected to have it by the end of 2015. It can also operate on the ground.

The ViaSat Mantarray low-profile antenna works on ViaSat’s Ka-band satellite fleet of ViaSat 1, WildBlue 1 and ANik F2. The Echostar Ka band competition offers similar capabilities with satellite capacity well in excess of 100 Gbps, about 10 times that of previous Ku band satellites.

Amtrak, which already uses some satellite connectivity, is sharing existing cell towers to provide most of its capacity. Now, Amtrak says, it will build a dedicated wireless network just for its trains.

The new network will use base stations near the rail line, connected via fiber or microwave to the nearest Internet connection. With trains traveling up to 160 miles per hour, providing 25 Mbps per car would be a neat trick.

They’ll need frequencies to link to the rail cars. A 20 x 20 LTE channel might deliver 150-300 Mbps (peak). Category 6 LTE supports 300 Mbps. Unlicensed White Spaces or WiFi in the 5 GHz or 3.5 GHz range, won’t deliver the necessary range.

Here’s a suggestion: use FirstNet. Amtrak could be just the ticket for first responders. Passenger trains could provide ubiquitous service and share channels only periodically (while maintaining priority access). Only one city has activated a 700MHz LTE responder network (video).

Union Pacific is the largest of the four remaining transcontinental railways, with BNSF the second largest. Both have extensive fiber layed next to the track. Amtrak mostly leases railway from freight operators. There’s lots of metro fiber, of course.

Related Dailywireless stories include Nomad Digital for Amtrak Nationwide, WiFi on Trains Conference, Amtrak WiFi Going National, How to Create Transit Applications, Realtime Ferry Tracking, Dubai WiMAXes Metro Train

Cloud RAN: Coming Home?

Cloud-based LTE networks, where basestations are located in central data centers and connected to tiny small cells via fiber, are gaining traction, according to Alcatel-Lucent. When small cells are controlled by centralized basestations (Cloud RAN), then small cells can be small and cheap. At least that’s the vision.

Alcatel-Lucent has added 19 companies to its CloudBand Ecosystem Program NFV (Network Functions Virtualization), the first open community of platform and virtual application vendors and service providers.

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.

Whether the current 20 million DirecTV subs or 14 million Dish TV subs will sprout small cells on their rooftops is anybody’s guess. Fiber to the home may have to come first.

Amazon’s TV Box: Next Week

Amazon’s TV set-top box is coming next week, says Amazon has invited reporters to gather for an “update on our video business” in New York next Wednesday, April 2. Amazon is considering a free (or not), advertising-supported streaming television and music-video service, a departure from its strategy of linking video to its $99-a-year Prime subscription service, reports the WSJ.

Amazon’s device will compete with the Apple TV box, which has sold 13 million units; Roku, which has sold 8 million units; and Google’s Chromecast, which has said it has sold “millions” of its Chromecast sticks.

Roku’s new $50 streaming stick makes nearly any TV a smart TV. Like Google’s Chromecast, the Roku Streaming Stick only requires your television’s HDMI port — and a nearby USB port or outlet for power.

Unlike Google’s Chromecast, however, the Roku Streaming Stick also has access to the hundreds of free and paid channels that Roku has in its stable including PBS, MGo, Vudu, and ESPN. Roku, however, doesn’t do YouTube, Google Play or Apple iTunes.

Amazon, however, has access to Amazon Instant Video (formerly Amazon Video On Demand) an Internet video on demand service by Amazon in Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States with access to television shows and films for rental and purchase. Amazon’s Prime Instant Video has additional offerings.

Netflix, one of the largest sources of streaming films and video, reported 33.1 million U.S. subscribers at the end of 2013.

Amazon Prime Instant Video may not have the same kind of household cachet as streaming services like Netflix or Hulu Plus, but it’s been growing in popularity over the last few years.

Amazon’s tablets may be an important platform for consuming streaming media. For the full calendar year 2013, worldwide tablet shipments totaled 217.1 million units, according to IDC. Meanwhile, China’s tablet shipments during the same period are said to be 90 million units, according to China’s local reports. That translates into China holding a staggering 40 percent share.

For optimal connections, tablets might connect to a WiFi router using 802.11ac, while a wireless connection to a big screen television might be optimized by 802.11ad (WiGig), using the 60 GHz band and streaming standards like Miracast, a peer-to-peer wireless screencasting standard.

Dish in Merger Talks with Sprint?

Japan’s SoftBank is in talks with Dish Network on a fixed wireless broadband partnership, the chief executive officer of SoftBank told Reuters on Thursday.

Dish, which has some 55 MHz of frequencies, mostly in the 2GHz, would likely use some of Clearwire’s 120 MHz of frequencies in the 2.6 GHz band. Dish, of course, is looking for towers and infrastructure to support its own frequencies.

Dish now has 10 MHz near 2GHz (recently acquired from the H Block auction), and 40 MHz of MSS spectrum adjacent to it. Dish also owns a 5 GHz swath on the 700 MHz band. That totals 55 MHz.

Today Sprint Spark is delivering wireless peak speeds of 60Mbps, although coverage is limited. Sprint’s Network Vision currently combines 4G FD-LTE at 800 MHz and 1.9 GHz and TD-LTE at 2.5GHz spectrum, with carrier aggregation in the 2.5GHz band. With more than 120 MHz available at 2.6 GHz and 8×8 MIMO, Sprint’s Spark network unites the 800, 1.9 GHz and 2.5 GHz bands.

Dish may install either a ruggedized outdoor router or an indoor solution on Sprint’s 2.5 GHz spectrum using high-gain antennas to receive the 4G TDD-LTE signal.

Dish is also working with nTelos in Virginia using the same 2.5 GHz spectrum. Both trials use Clearwire’s TD-LTE spectrum.

Sprint has rolled out 4G LTE to 70 more cities, bringing the total number to 300 LTE markets. By mid-2014, Sprint aims to cover 250 million Americans with 4G LTE. By the end of 2014, it expects 100 million people will have Sprint Spark, utilizing 2.5GHz. Sprint’s rollout of Network Vision might make good timing for Dish to start its “big bang”.

“They [Dish] have the satellite and we have the network that we can collaborate on. We are looking at a technology alliance and we are doing some tests together,” Masayoshi Son, the billionaire CEO of SoftBank who gained control of Sprint last year, said on the sidelines of a conference in San Antonio.

Any merger between Sprint and Dish would result in an embarrassment of spectrum. Selling excess spectrum to other carriers in any merger between Dish and Sprint would seem to be in the cards.

T-Mobile has also been mentioned as a possible partner with Dish. A T-Mobile/Dish merger might better match their combined spectrum needs. Both companies have large AWS spectrum holdings. T-Mobile has the AWS infrastructure ready to go.

What Son really wants is to merge Sprint with T-Mobile, reports the NY Times. But American regulators have told him that the prospects are not good for joining the third- and fourth-largest mobile phone companies. Sprint is continuing its thrust to merge with T-Mobile.

Earlier this month, Son called the U.S. wireless market an oligopoly plagued by slow speeds and high prices and said Sprint could shake up the competition, but it would require a scale that Sprint cannot reach alone.

If a Sprint/T-Mobile merger hits a wall of opposition, then a Sprint/Dish partnership might be the next best deal.

Dish is reportedly also in talks with DirecTV. DirecTV is the largest U.S. satellite-television operator with about 20 million paying subscribers. Dish is No. 2 with about 14 million subscribers.

Charlie Ergen, CEO of Dish, made the approach to DirecTV. According to Ergen, it was in response to Comcast’s $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable, announced in mid-February. A combined Comcast and Time Warner Cable would have roughly one-third share of the high-speed Internet market.

DirecTV and Dish’s 2002 attempt to merge was blocked by regulators.

Look at the numbers. A combined DirecTV/Dish would total about 34 million subs, while a combined Comcast/TWC would be about the same 34 million subs.

According to GigaOm, the Comcast and TWC together will control about half the triple-play services — video, voice and internet — in the U.S., with a combined 33 million broadband connections.

Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox, Bright House and Cablevision also joined together in 2012 to share Wi-Fi hot spots to provide Internet access for paying customers. Comcast alone added 1 million hot spots by deploying Wi-Fi routers that beam an additional “public” hot spot available to its customers.

“Given the rapidly changing industry dynamics, everyone should be talking to everyone, and if you’re not you might be left behind,” said Walt Piecyk, an analyst with BTIG LLC.

Related Dailywireless articles include; Dish: 5th Biggest Spectrum Holder, Dish and Sprint Test Fixed TD-LTE, H-Block Auction: Dish Closes In, Sprint Spark: Firestarter or Blowing Smoke?, Small Carriers Enter the Twilight Zone, AT&T Buying Leap Wireless (Cricket), MetroPCS Merges with T-Mobile USA, T-Mobile & Leap Wireless Do Spectrum Swap, T-Mobile to Pay More for MetroPCS, T-Mobile/MetroPCS Merger Okayed by FCC,