Sprint: Carrier Aggregation at 2.6 GHz

Posted by Sam Churchill on

Sprint is working to deploy a network that will be multi-band and multi-mode, including both FDD and TDD flavors of LTE, according to Doug Alston, director of technology and strategy for the carrier.

Alston was speaking at the LTE Innovation Summit in San Diego, Calif., last week, said that after years of the telecom industry talking about a “killer app” for mobile.

“The killer app is video. And that killer app is eating us alive. It’s putting a great strain on our networks.”

In addition to huge increases in data traffic, Alston said, telecom operators are also in the midst of the transition from voice-centric, best-effort data networks to being broadband networks that implement quality of service functions.

The huge shift from most wireless traffic being generated outdoors, to 60-70% of traffic being indoors, has also impacted operators’ view and strategy.

“Mobility is still important, but indoor and outdoor traffic is important, and high capacity is important,” he added.

In terms of LTE-Advanced features, Alston said that Sprint’s priority is for Band 41 carrier aggregation and not so much its Band 25-26 holdings (its FD-LTE service in the PCS band).

He said contiguous carrier aggregation is easier than non-contiguous, and that carrier aggregation between TDD and FDD can be contemplated, but “it’s not something we’re focused on at this time.”

Support of wider transmission bandwidths than 20 MHz is specified in LTE-Advanced, an advance over LTE (3GPP) Release 8/9. LTE Category 4 downlink provides throughput speeds of up to 150Mbps for operators without 20MHz of continuous spectrum using Qualcomm’s Gobi 4G LTE MDM9225 chipset. Broadcom’s multi-mode, multi-band LTE solution also achieves the equivalent of a contiguous 20MHz channel capable of delivering peak LTE speeds of 150Mbps.

Clearwire’s LTE-Advanced network will reportedly leverage carrier aggregation to bond two 20 MHz channels into a fat 40 MHz pipe. That should deliver 500-600 Mbps, double the speed of a 20 MHz channel, when using 4×4 MIMO. No trenching. Not as dumb as TV.

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Ultra Mobile: $19/mo, Unlimited SMS

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Ultra Mobile, a T-Mobile USA virtual operator, today announced a new $19 per month service plan that will provide 250 voice minutes, unlimited global SMS (which the carrier said would work on any mobile number in 194 countries), 50 MB of high-speed data and $1.25 toward international calling.

Additional calling minutes are 2 cents each, and additional high-speed data costs $2.50 for an additional 50 MB, $5 for an additional 250 MB and $10 for an extra 500 MB.

Ultra’s new $19 per month plan will sit at the bottom of the company’s current pricing options, which start at $29 per month for unlimited talk and text and go to $59 for unlimited talk, text and 2 GB of high-speed data, as well as global texting and $20 for international calling.

Other Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs), which lease network services at wholesale rates from larger mobile operators, include Ting, Jolt Mobile, FreedomPop, Ready SIM and Solavei.

Ultra Mobile, which launched in October, is primarily targeted at the 40 million people who live in the United States but were born elsewhere.

Google Takes Over iProvo Fiber Net

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Google is taking over the troubled iProvo network to provide fiber optic service to residents of Provo Utah, the third city where Google is providing fiber connectivity after Kansas City and Austin.

If the deal is approved, nearly every one of Provo’s 115,000 residents could soon have free Internet access in their homes for at least seven years with a one-time $30 activation fee. Everyone will have access to a minimum of a 5Mb connection (following a $300 construction fee). A gigabit connection is $70/month.

Google proposes to buy iProvo, a network valued at $50 million, for $1, reports Xmission, an ISP that runs on the network. But Google will not assume any of the debt, the Provo city taxpayer will continue paying that.

Founded in 2002 the Utah Telecommunications Open Infrastructure Agency was one of the first regional fiber networks to serve municipalities and individuals. UTOPIA planned to boost the broadband competitiveness of Utah cities, although the largest city, Salt Lake, did not participate, and Provo built their own. UTOPIA only supplies the fiber optic network. Private companies provide the content and services, and pay fees to the network to make their products available.

iProvo is the Fiber to the Home service in Provo, providing fiber backbone for homes and businesses throughout the city, as well as municipal buildings, schools, power stations, and traffic signals. iProvo was run as a public-private partnership.

The city owned and maintained the fiber optic lines and fiber optic equipment, while private companies provide television, telephone, and Internet services to homes and businesses. The network had two service providers: Mstar and Nuvont Communications/Veracity Communications. In 2008, the network was sold to Broadweave Networks.

When the city ran iProvo, it had to subsidize the network to the tune of $2 million a year because it didn’t bring in enough money to cover the bond payments.

Veracity Networks supports the Google Fiber bid.

“Veracity customers, both commercial and non-Provo network residential customers will be unaffected by the announcements. “Veracity remains committed to maintaining seamless and high quality delivery of services to all of its customers, including any currently on the Provo network that eventually will have an opportunity to be on Google Fiber,“ said Drew Peterson, CEO of Veracity Networks, on their web page.

iProvo coordinated work with the Utah Telecommunication Open Infrastructure Agency (UTOPIA), a consortium of 16 Utah cities engaged in deploying and operating a fiber to the premises network to every business and household (about 140,000) within its footprint.

UTOPIA operates as a wholesale fiber optic network and is prohibited by law from providing retail services. There are currently 7 service providers on the UTOPIA network and the network is open to additional service providers.

In all, 11 of the founding UTOPIA cities, from Brigham City in the north to Payson in the south, pledged about $500 million over 32 years to back the bonds that UTOPIA sold to finance network development. Some cities, it noted, “have begun to raise property taxes to keep their municipal services whole while making UTOPIA payments.”

But a state audit of UTOPIA has fueled questions about its viability (pdf), notes Fierce Telecom.

The Audit (pdf) has led The Salt Lake Tribune to question whether the 11 cities paying the bills for the agency should just “pull the plug.

For UTOPIA, the newspaper said, “The audit suggests providing broadband infrastructure at wholesale to independent content providers may never work”, but it stops short of drawing a final conclusion.

UTOPIA has reacted to Google’s decision to take over Provo’s public fiber optic network by touting it as a vindication of its own business model . It “validates the vision our member cities have been working toward…” a statement on the consortium’s web site says.

UTOPIA might be considered similar to Google’s fiber effort in Kansas City (except UTOPIA charges $2,750 to bring fiber to a home).

iProvo passes 36,000 homes, businesses, government buildings, and schools at speeds up to 1,000 times faster than cable or DSL.

Provo spent $47.5 million total, they sold for $40.5 million, so in the end the city’s out about $7 million. iProvo was the largest municipally owned fiber-optic network in the United States.

Construction of the FTTH project in all of Provo was completed in 2006. An iProvo RFP (.pdf), issued on April 18, 2007, sought qualified companies to run it.

iProvo was struggling with churn and other problems similar to Utopia’s. They ditched the wholesale-only model, which Utopia still shares. Separating service providers from the network operator created inefficiencies, said Steve Christensen, iProvo’s new CEO.

Provo sold the network three years ago to Broadweave/Veracity, becoming the sole owner and operator of what was the largest municipal fiber-to-the-premises network in the United States. Since the payments from the sale go toward the city’s bond payments, that’s millions of dollars the city has not had to pay over the last three years.

Ten months ago, Provo put out a request for proposals, hoping to attract some group or entity to buy the thing, reports the Deseret News.

“Originally, we wanted to sell it for cash,” he said. “But it became evident no one would pay cash.” The thing was worthless. “Potential buyers looked at the network and said it’s not worth anything.”

And why was it not worth anything? Because the technology the city bought with bond proceeds several years ago is now hopelessly outdated.

In a nutshell, this is the problem when public entities try to compete in a fast-moving industry such as Internet delivery.

While the fiber optic cable the city had planted remained good, everything else about the system needed a serious upgrade. Curtis said he faced the prospect of either asking Provo residents to assume a lot more debt to bring everything up to date (only to watch it deteriorate again with time), or eventually having to shut it all down.

Instead, Google Fiber came along and saved the day, offering to assume the fiber optic infrastructure and make Provo the fourth city in which the Internet giant will provide broadband virtually free to anyone willing to pay a $30 hookup fee.

Verizon gained 188,000 FiOS broadband customers, as part of its strong first-quarter 2013 results, taking its total to 5.6 million, and added 166,000 video service subscribers, taking that total to 4.9 million. Internet service penetration jumped from 37.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012 to 38.2 percent in the first quarter of 2013, while video service penetration jumped from 33.3 percent to 34.1 percent.

Construction of a $1.2 billion NSA data center in Utah is expected to be completed in September, according to an April 15 Reuters report.

Related Dailywireless Fiber articles include; Trouble in UTOPIA?, NSA’s Utah Data Center, UTOPIA: FTTH Now Focused on Business, FiOS: Too Risky?, Municipal Fiber: Fits and Starts, Be Your Own Fiber Net, RUS Awards $1.2B for Broadband, City Fiber Strategies, US Broadband Sub Count, Hawaii Plans Broadband Initiative, Unlicensed Muni Broadband: Take Two?, Ten Largest Data Centers, The Fiber Utility, 1 Gbps Fiber Comes Home, City Fiber Networks, National Broadband Policy?, Connecting the Nation, Utopia Spreads,

Samsung Galaxy S4 in Stores April

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The Galaxy S 4 will be available on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless as well as U.S. Cellular, Cricket and C Spire starting during April. Additionally, consumers can find the Galaxy S 4 at Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile, Costco, Radio Shack, Sam’s Club, Staples, Target and Wal-Mart.

It will be available in late April 2013 on 327 networks worldwide and in 155 countries and on or before May 1.

Exact pricing and retail availability will be announced by each of the carriers and retailers in the coming weeks. The S4 reached 10 million pre-orders in the first two weeks after its announcement.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 features a 5-inch display features Super AMOLED (1920 X 1080) with 441ppi. It runs Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean), a 1.9 GHz Snapdragon 600 CPU (in the US), with 2GB of internal RAM. It features a 13- megapixel rear-facing camera and a front-facing 2- megapixel camera, along with a Dual Camera shooting mode that takes pictures with both the rear and front cameras simultaneously.

Sprint and T-Mobile plan to sell Samsung’s flagship for $150 in 16GB form, but with different pricing strategies: T-Mobile’s plan includes twenty-four months of $20 payments, while Sprint is discounting the phone from its normal $250 price through a $100 instant credit for those switching to the network.

Intel: Change Afoot

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Windows 8 touch devices will dive in price this year, reports C/Net.

“If you look at touch-enabled Intel-based notebooks that are ultrathin using [Bay Trail] processors. Those prices are going to be down to as low as $200,” said Intel CEO Paul Otellini.

The Bay Trail chip, a 22 nm Atom SoC, is a complete redesign of the Atom micro architecture and is expected to get Atom chips closer to mainstream Intel chips in performance. Previously, Intel had said its Bay Trail Atom chip was meant for tablets. Now Intel expects convertible and detachable PCs, along with desktops, will also use the processor,

Along with Bay Trail, Intel is launching this quarter its fourth-generation Core processor, codenamed “Haswell“, which the company said can bring laptop battery life to nine or ten hours. Haswell is a new architecture that will be built on the same 22nm process as the current Ivy Bridge “core” processors.

The price of Windows 8 touch devices, including laptops, is expected to sink to price points that penetrate inexpensive tablet territory using the upcoming quad-core “Bay Trail” chip, Intel executives said, during the company’s first-quarter earnings conference call this week.

Intel profit dropped 25 percent this quarter as it grapples with weak PCs Windows 8 tablets. The company reported net income to $2.05 billion, a decline of 25 percent from $2.74 billion in the period a year earlier.

Intel CEO Paul Otellini will retire in a month. He looks back on four decades with Intel in an Infoworld article.

Analysts have suggested Intel’s future might lie in a full-fledged foundry strategy, where it manufactures chips for third parties like GlobalFoundries and TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.). Intel will start making chips in 14-nm factories later this year, with chips due to ship next year in PCs.

TSMC is the world’s largest contract manufacturer of computer chips. Officials in Southwest Washington say the company is close to a decision on building a second fab at its only current U.S. site, on the WaferTech campus in Camas.

There has been no decision on building a new fab in the United States, according to TSMC officials. A new fab now costs $5 billion.

“We have 20 fabs in Taiwan, and that’s an advantage because when a machine goes down in one plant we can ship one over from another. You can’t do that for a fab in the US.”

Additionally, a mysterious “Project Azalea” is considering a massive electronics factory – which appears to be a fab – in either upstate New York or Hillsboro, Oregon, reports The Oregonian today.

Other fields that Intel might explore include health.

In a TED Talk, Intel Fellow and GM Eric Dishman calls into question our current approach to healthcare. Eric Dishman does health care research for Intel — studying how new technology can solve big problems in the system for the sick, the aging.

Intel’s Eric Dishman spoke at the City Club of Portland recently about “Technological Innovation and the Future of Aging” (video).

Intel’s Health Initiative utilizes technology to assist an aging population. Dishman was promoting a state-wide initiative to develop a hub of independent living technologies, much as the state has funded green energy and biotech. His vision is to move 50% of aging health care in Oregon out of institutions and into homes and the community in 10 years. Care Innovations, for example, is a joint venture between Intel and GE to produce disease management, independent living, and assistive technologies for the home.

The mHealth field has emerged as a sub-segment of eHealth, using computers, mobile phones, patient monitors, etc., for health services and information.

Related Dailywireless articles include; FCC Okays Medical Body Networks, Wireless Health Initiatives, Medical Devices Mobilize, Apps Enter the Twilight Zone, Mobile Health: Fast Growth , Open Source Tricorder and Mobile Health: Alive and Well

Genachowski to Aspen Institute

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Outgoing FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski will become a senior fellow at the Aspen Institute advising it on telecommunications policy, the group announced Monday.

Genachowski follows several previous FCC chairmen in his move to the Aspen Institute, a nonpartisan research group dedicated to “fostering enlightened leadership, the appreciation of timeless ideas and values, and open-minded dialogue on contemporary issues.”

Chairman of the FCC since 2009, Genachowski oversaw the Commission during a period of rapid change. His commission sided with consumer groups when blocking AT&T’s takeover attempt of T-Mobile, but angered them after allowing the Comcast-NBC merger.

Tom Wheeler, a venture capitalist and former cable and wireless industry lobbyist, is the frontrunner to be the next chairman, according to some observers. He was President of the National Cable Television Association (NCTA) from 1979 to 1984 and lead the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA), where he was CEO until 2004.

FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell, a Republican, is also leaving the FCC.

Michael Powell current NCTA president, said, “We extend our gratitude to Commissioner McDowell for his excellent service to the Federal Communications Commission and American public. Michael Powell was FCC chairman from 2001 – 2005.

No word if Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T Wireless or Dan Mead, CEO of Verizon Wireless was offered the position.