#TBT: LTE device boom; Virtualization threatens; T-Mo/Sprint merger rumors … this week in 2014

Editor’s Note: RCR Wireless News is all about “Throwback Thursdays,” tapping into our archives to relive the best headlines from the past. Start the time machine, put on the sepia shades, set the date for #TBT and enjoy the memories!

LTE device numbers boom

The Global Mobile Suppliers Association reported this week that there are now more than 1,500 LTE-enabled user devices available, confirming more than 90% annual growth. The GSA said 742 new LTE devices were launched in the past year, and the number of manufacturers increased 58% to 154 companies. Smartphones make up the largest category of devices, accounting for more than 40% of the total, but the GSA noted that LTE-enabled tablets and personal hotspots (MiFi) are also growing. Also, 99% of LTE smartphones are multi-mode and work on both 4G and 3G networks. The most widely used band for LTE remains 1800 MHz – however, LTE still faces significant spectrum fragmentation, as 1800 MHz represents less than half of LTE single-band or multi-band networks: 43%. Among LTE user devices, 589 using 1800 MHz (Band 3) have been announced with an annual growth rate of 152%. TDD continues its emergence at the LTE stage. While the majority of devices are still FDD, the GSA noted that 387 products can now operate in TD-LTE, which is 221 more than a year ago. Only about 11% of LTE mobile operators have implemented TDD – however, the technology is being used or tested by some of the largest operators in the world, including China Mobile. …Read more

The virtualization comes despite concerns

A new report from Maravedis-Rethink predicts that nearly three-quarters of mobile operators will implement some form of network function virtualization by 2018, noting that the transition to NFV will be one of the key ways in which carriers will “transform their cost base and their service delivery for the next few years.” However, the firm cautions that obstacles must be overcome for airlines to realize the full potential of NFV. “This figure has already increased from our previous estimate of 67%, made six months ago, indicating the accelerating momentum behind NFV,” explained Caroline Gabriel, research director at Maravedis-Rethink and author of the research note. “This faster adoption reflects growing confidence in the platform, often as part of an SDN strategy, and the urgent need for operators to reduce costs and deliver new services faster and more responsively.” In its report, “The pace of NFV adoption is accelerating, despite many risks,” Maravedis-Rethink noted that carriers are targeting TCO savings of up to 35% over the next five years using NFV, with savings from “key elements as the package core.” The firm added that 16% of the providers it interviewed claimed that NFV was a first step towards a broader software-defined networking policy that is expected to generate greater benefits. … Read more

Cisco aims for the cloud

Cisco says the sky’s the limit for the billion-dollar cloud services company it announced today. The network equipment giant says it will build “a network of clouds” with a set of partners including Telstra and Ingram Micro. Cisco says it plans to build “the world’s largest global intercloud” for the Internet of Everything. Cisco intercloud is aimed at service providers, enterprises and resellers and will feature APIs for rapid application development. Partners will contribute technology and investment to the project, and Cisco itself plans to invest more than a billion dollars. “Together, we have the ability to enable a seamless world of many clouds, where our customers have the choice to enable the right, highly secure cloud for the right workload, while creating strategic advantages for rapid innovation and ultimately business growth.” said Robert Lloyd, president of development and sales, Cisco. Platform-as-a-Service and Infrastructure-as-a-Service will be the cornerstones of Cisco Cloud Services. The offering will also include WebEX, Cisco’s Meraki cloud management, voice and contact center as a service and desktop virtualization solutions from Cisco, VMware and Citrix. … Read more

Patent issues delay Microsoft’s purchase of Nokia’s handset business

Patents appear to be holding up Microsoft’s plan to buy Nokia’s handset business. The purchase price of $7.2 billion does not include Nokia’s patent portfolio. Instead of buying these patents, Microsoft plans to continue licensing them after the deal closes. The terms of the agreement call for a non-exclusive patent licensing arrangement, meaning that other companies can also continue to license Nokia’s patents. These other companies are believed to be delaying the shutdown by pressuring Chinese regulators. Google and Samsung are reportedly pushing Chinese authorities to help limit the amount Nokia will charge them to license their patents. Right now, rival device makers have leverage over Nokia as they license their own patents to Nokia’s smartphone device. Going forward, Nokia’s primary business will be its NSN infrastructure unit, and it will not need to license as many device-related patents. The Microsoft Nokia deal was supposed to close this month, but now Nokia says talks with Asian regulators are delaying the closing. But the company still hopes that the deal will close next month. … Read more

Mergers highlight this week’s roundup of issues affecting the telecom capital markets, as a T-Mobile executive comments on a potential merger with Sprint:

Sprint/T-Mobile merger speculation rises

There have been numerous developments in recent weeks regarding a potential merger of Sprint and T-Mobile assets. As RCR Wireless previously reported, Sprint representatives Masayoshi Son and Dan Hesse met with U.S. officials last week to make their case for the proposed merger, arguing that the resulting organization would be able to better compete with AT&T and Verizon in the US mobile and wireless markets. T-Mobile executives have also had their say in recent days. Reuters reported that the carrier’s CFO, Braxton Carter, reaffirmed the company’s dedication to getting a deal done, and directed his comments at investors and shareholders. “It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when,” Carter said on a recent conference call, according to the source. He later added, “Taking on a third-scale national player that has the economies of scale with the right business model could be very competitive in the U.S.” Skeptics of such a deal ever being finalized point to the US Justice Department and federal communications secretary. The Commission’s blocking of an attempt by AT&T in 2011 to acquire T-Mobile. … Read more

AT&T guards AWS-3

With the Federal Communications Commission’s scheduled AWS-3 auction expected to begin later this year, wireless carriers are getting out in front of proposed rulemaking in hopes of influencing those plans. AT&T this week re-entered the lobbying effort, throwing its support behind rumored plans to include up to 40 megahertz of a planned 50 megahertz of paired spectrum to be auctioned off in the advanced 1.7/2.1 GHz wireless service band. on the size of economic areas. The remaining 10 megahertz of paired spectrum is reportedly set aside in commercial market areas. Commenting on a proposed draft order reportedly circulating at the FCC, AT&T VP of Federal Regulation Joan Marsh said in a blog post: “Incorporating the large block and license sizes will not only ensure that the FCC drives the greatest efficiency out of this spectrum, but also that it attracts the most turnover at auction.” The FCC’s plans for EA licenses currently divide the country into 176 markets, while the CMA license plan numbers 734. The recently concluded H-Block auction was based solely on the EA license size for the 10 megahertz of spectrum in the 1.9 GHz band, that had to be offered.… Read more

Check out the RCR Wireless News Archives for more stories from the past.

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