Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Backhaul and the National Broadband Plan

by Joseph M. Sandri, Jr., Senior Vice President, Regulatory and Government, FiberTower
Reprinted from Converge! Network Digest

On March 16, 2010, the Federal Communications Commission released the nation’s first ever National Broadband Plan (NBP). One of the key elements addressed in the NBP is backhaul which is generally considered as the transport of voice, video and data traffic from a wireless carrier’s or public safety network’s base station (or cell site) to its mobile switching center (MSC). Backhaul is present in the NBP in some obvious and also subtle ways.

What is the National Broadband Plan (NBP)?

In early 2009, Congress directed the FCC to develop a NBP to restore the U.S. to a global leadership position in telecommunications and to utilize the broadband sector to drive economic development. It includes 198 formal recommendations. Half of the recommendations are offered to the FCC and the remaining half are offered to the Executive Branch, Congress, and state and local governments. The next 2-to-24 months will see a vigorous attempt to implement the recommendations. There are no guarantees that the recommendations will all be implemented.

The FCC will soon publish a timeline of proceedings to implement the plan recommendations within its authority, and related hearings before Congress will include recommended schedules for pursuing the recommendations with the other arms of government.

The 198 NBP recommendations seek specific steps to implement the elements and goals mentioned above, some of which directly address backhaul and middle mile issues. Other recommendations (such as making 500 MHz of spectrum available for mobile networks) create more demand for backhaul. The entire plan can be located at .

Backhaul Rides In

The NBP represents a sizeable “shift” toward supporting competition and making day-to-day broadband deployment tasks easier. The FCC repeatedly recognized that an effective NBP must recognize and support the role that backhaul plays in supporting end-user networks.

During the comment period leading to the NBP release, the FCC reviewed thousands of comments, held numerous workshops, and conducted its own hearings and also reported progress to Congress. Pro-backhaul advocacy centered around the following points:

  • Re-enforce existing federal preemptions and “shot clocks” to reduce burdensome zoning and permitting restrictions for fixed wireless antenna placements,

  • Establish an enforceable, national policy whose net effect is to remove delays and expense from the fiber deployment and wireless siting process,

  • Make available data or maps about the structures, ducts and conduits available to broadband carriers in order to deploy multiple-use shared access systems that support last mile commercial and government networks,

  • Set aside spectrum specifically designated for wireless backhaul,

  • Reform the Universal Service Fund (USF) funding eligibility policy to shift the emphasis from bringing voice services to rural America, to bringing broadband (including funding eligibility for middle mile deployments), and

  • Put in place the conditions to allow for building a physically-diverse National Emergency Backhaul Network (NEBN) to support multiple public safety, government, carrier-class commercial, and other mission-critical broadband services throughout the United States.

The NBP recommendations support the following policy positions:

1. Re-enforce existing tools to speed wireless deployments

The FCC noted that even prior to the NBP it started moving to “reduce costs by expediting processes and decreasing the risks and complexities that companies face as they deploy broadband network infrastructure.” The FCC “shot clock” ruling offers a prime example for how the FCC plans to use its considerable discretionary powers to “speed the deployment of wireless equipment on towers.” [NBP at page 110.]

2. Build an enforceable, national policy that removes delays and expense from the wireless siting and fiber deployment process

The NBP makes clear that the FCC possesses and will use its statutory authority (§224) over access to conduits, ducts, rights-of-way and poles to improve both the wireless and fiber deployment process. This includes:

Set uniformly low access rates to conduits, ducts, rights-of-way and poles (as regulated by §224 of the Communications Act). [Recommendations 6.1, 6.2.]

Establish a comprehensive timeline for resolving disputes regarding the §224 infrastructure access process. [Recommendation 6.3].
  • Currently access disputes can “drag on for months if not years.” The FCC should establish a federal timeline for all forms of communications attachments and for certifying wireless equipment for attachment.
  • Awarding compensation that dates from denial of access could encourage swifter dispute resolution.
The NBP notes that due to exemptions written into the current §224, an FCC-created “national policy” would apply to just over one-third of the nation’s poles, ducts, conduits and rights-of-way, since 19 states (including highly populated states) adopted their own systems. Thus the NBP asks Congress to amend or replace §224 to provide the FCC with a truly national set of criteria that includes FCC-set timelines and FCC authority to award damages for non-compliance. [Recommendation 6.5]

3. Make available data or maps about the structures, ducts and conduits available to backhaul carriers

The NBP seeks a Congressional amendment to §224 to provide the FCC authority to “compile and update a comprehensive database of physical infrastructure assets” and to set rules, rates and timelines for their access. [Recommendation 6.5]

4. Specifically designate spectrum for wireless backhaul

The NBP devotes a whole section to “Increasing the Flexibility, Capacity and Cost-Effectiveness of Spectrum for Point-to-Point Wireless Backhaul Services.” Supporting recommendations exist in other areas of the NBP. The FCC is asked to revise its rules to allow for reducing backhaul costs and for increased spectrum sharing among compatible point-to-point microwave services. The NBP notes this could include:

Opening TV “white spaces” spectrum for backhaul in very rural areas.
  • Recommendation 5.17 also requests that the FCC proceed with higher powered fixed use for white spaces in tribal lands.
Permitting wider channels in the 6 GHz bands.

Providing faster link activation on additional channels in the 23 GHz band.

Greater special reuse of microwave frequencies, particularly in urban areas.

Modifying minimum throughput rules, particularly in rural areas.

Ease restrictions on antenna size where the economic benefits are clear.

Continue to promote use of higher frequencies where technological innovations make it attractive.

The FCC and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) are also asked to develop a joint roadmap to identify additional federal and non-federal spectrum that can be made accessible for both mobile and fixed wireless broadband use.

5. Shift Universal Service Fund (USF) availability from voice services to high-capacity broadband networks (including middle mile)

The NBP notes that FY2010 USF disbursements, which exist in four funds, are projected to reach $8.7 Billion and that those funds should be redirected from legacy telephone systems to high-capacity broadband networks.[1] Recommendation 8.2 asks the FCC to create the Connect America Fund (CAF) with funds from the currently $4.6 Billion per year High-Cost program, and that CAF funds should be spent on building and maintaining (i.e., Capex and Opex), “including middle mile,” in areas where no private sector business case provides the needed service.

See also Recommendation 8.8 (p. 148) which asks the FCC to examine middle mile costs and pricing in concert with the comprehensive USF/ICC reform program.

6. Set the conditions for National Emergency Backhaul Network (NEBN)

Recommendation 12.1 seeks for the FCC to establish a rulemaking for network redundancy and resiliency standards for commercial broadband networks (p. 251). Recommendation 16.1 asks Congress for $12-16 billion for the creation of a national public safety broadband network that promotes “sharing federal infrastructure, working with utilities, or use of state and local tower sites” (p.319).

Federal agencies are asked to act as broadband anchor tenants for multiple use networks in unserved or underserved communities. [Recommendation 14.1]. State and local governments expressed a strong desire to share broadband infrastructure with federal agencies. “In response to Section 414 of the Transportation, Treasury, Independent Agencies and General Government Appropriations Act of 2005, the President directed the federal departments and agencies to deploy redundant communications links for all facilities.” P. 284.

7. Expand the GSA Networx contract to allow state and local governments to order backhaul and other services

Recommendation 14.2 asks Congress to “consider allowing state and local government to take advantage of [GSA] Networx and other [federal] communications contracts to enable cost savings and encourage broadband deployment.”

Are there areas of concern in the NBP?

Yes. The FCC was clear that the NBP is always in “beta”, and thus will be constantly tinkered with and its priorities may shift. Also, the NBP may create too much optimism and key recommendations may never be implemented. The pro-backhaul and other related recommendations generally need to be defended and promoted to make them a reality. Other recommendations may cause concern, if implemented improperly.

Overall though, Congress should be commended for requesting the NBP and the FCC deserves substantial credit for putting together this significant, detailed and cohesive plan, and for recognizing the central role that backhaul plays.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

WCAI to Hold a Webinar on Spectrum Challenges and Availability for IMT in the Middle East

As the ITU is moving closer to finalizing its work on IMT-Advanced designation, regulators around the world are looking at the potential spectrum bands and working on the rules for these true 4G technologies. WCAI and its Global Development Committee (GDC) will hold a webinar on Wednesday, April 14 at 10 am (U.S. Eastern Time) to examine spectrum challenges, allocations and availability for the IMT and IMT-Advanced services in the Middle East. The webinar will feature Hasan Sharif, Senior Manager Spectrum Strategy at the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This webinar is free of charge and open to all. Register Now!

Monday, March 22, 2010

WCAI Members Invited to Attend a Webinar on FCC National Broadband Plan

The FCC this month delivered to Congress a massive, 360-page-long National Broadband Plan setting a U.S. broadband agenda for the next decade and beyond. The Plan outlines dozens of policy recommendations to achieve the ambitious goals of extending low-cost, high-speed Internet service to all Americans by 2020 and transforming the U.S. into a world leader in mobile broadband use and innovation. Mandated by last year's stimulus legislation, the Plan is widely expected to set the FCC's agenda for years to come.

Join the WCAI members-only virtual meeting on Thursday, April 1, 2010 at 2pm EDT and learn from Paul Sinderbrand, WCAI Counsel and a partner at Wilkinson Barker Knauer, LLP, what this Plan means for the wireless broadband industry in general and for your business in particular.

This event is organized by the WCAI's Emerging Markets Committee and is open to WCAI members only. Register Now!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Leveraging 802.16e WiMAX Technology in License-Exempt Bands

By Ashish Sharma, VP, Corporate Communications, Alvarion Ltd.

License-exempt spectrum bands make it possible for operators who do not have access to licensed spectrum to deploy wireless broadband networks. With Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 802.16e WiMAX technologies, license-exempt operators have access to the most advanced wireless broadband products on the market today and can take advantage of performance, ecosystem and volume of scale benefits in the same way incumbent, nationwide wireless operators (with spectrum licenses) do.

Today, 802.16e WiMAX supports fixed and nomadic services, and vertical applications in a range of license-exempt frequencies up to 6 GHz, including the 5.x GHz band. As 802.16e WiMAX products for license-exempt bands are introduced in the market, operators need to understand the value proposition of using these global standards-based wireless broadband solutions compared to alternatives. And, how do operators stand to gain from a proven license-exempt technology that was developed to support mobility? Finally, what are the extra features that 802.16e WiMAX offers that are key for operators to leverage?

Evaluating Performance Requirements

Now more than ever, wireless broadband operators are under intense pressure to achieve profitability rapidly and to provide data and voice services that can successfully compete with wireline services. To achieve these goals, operators need to clearly define their requirements and carefully select the technology that is best suited to meet them.

While some requirements depend on specific applications and services, there are a key common requirements that are independent of the applications and services supported and are crucial to all operators in license-exempt bands, including:

  • High capacity. The technology used has to support high data rates, which effectively bring down the bit-based cost for the overall network. High data rates allow the operator to support a higher number of subscribers within the same sector, or to provide higher data allowances to subscribers.
  • Robust coverage. Operators that deploy equipment in rural or low-density areas or support services requiring only limited bandwidth typically have coverage-driven networks. Establishing good coverage can be especially challenging in license-exempt bands because they typically have lower power allowances and higher frequencies than licensed bands.
  • Interference management. While levels of interference vary by area and band used, wireless operators using license-exempt bands need tools to manage existing interference or to defend their investment from interference that may emerge in the future.
  • Traffic management. Wireless broadband networks are increasingly used to support voice alongside data services, to serve customers with different service plans, access priority or allowances, and to support multiple types of vertical applications. A brute-force approach of providing more bandwidth than needed to avoid managing traffic is no longer cost effective or sufficient because traffic from individual users keeps growing at a fast pace. Quality of service (QoS) and traffic prioritization and management are needed to provide fair access to all subscribers, to support voice and video data, and, more generally, to provide priority access to those applications or services that require it, on the basis of the service level agreement (SLA) in place.
  • Mobility support has not yet become a wide-spread requirement, but is a feature that many operators are interested in addressing today -- even if they do not yet plan to roll out services or vertical applications that require mobile access at launch.

Alvarion’s BreezeMAX® Extreme 5000 is the industry’s first license-exempt WiMAX solution to meet operators requirements and enable the applications such as voice, broadband data and video surveillance. The BreezeMAX was designed to help speed up the deployment of broadband infrastructure into multiple market segments such as public safety, municipality operations and services, smart power grids, and government.

The case for deploying 802.16e WiMAX-based equipment

Over the last three years, 802.16e WiMAX technology has reached a point where there is a well-established evolution roadmap, with strong industry backing and a rapidly expanding ecosystemof more than 500 technology providers. The 802.16e WiMAX has a path toward the next generation in the soon to be ratified IEEE 802.16m version, which 802.16d TDD WiMAX lacks. Operators with 802.16e WiMAX-based networks will be able to seemlessly upgrade their infrastructure to 802.16m WiMAX when the equipment becomes available.

Operators using 802.16e WiMAX-based equipment in license-exempt bands can take advantage of the economies of scale achieved in licensed bands because vendors can modify the existing network equipment and devices to operate in license-exempt bands. Furthermore, having launched commercial products in the licensed WiMAX bands (i.e., 2.3 GHz, 2.5 GHz, and 3.5 GHz), some vendors are expected to extend their produce line to license-exempt bands rapidly.

Support for mobility is another major benefit of 802.16e WiMAX. The prevailing attitude among operators is that mobility is a ‘nice-to-have’ feature that gives them additional flexibility in how they market their services. From a business model perspective, operators in license-exempt bands have so far been focused on fixed services and applications. From a technology perspective, full mobility in high-frequency license-exempt bands has been a challenge.

The interest from wireless operators and vertical market players is mostly tied to the potential to offer nomadic access or limited mobility, which can be easily tied to the service currently available as an add-on service. Mobility will also enable operators to expand the range of services they offer their vertical customers within their coverage area, and to include applications that require, for instance, support for the mobile workforce or in-vehicle connectivity (e.g., for safety and security, government, utilities and transportation applications).

Finally, 802.16e WiMAX-based equipment supports advanced functionality that is conducive to improved performance compared to 802.16d WiMAX and other wireless broadband technologies. The spectral efficiency of the air interface in the two versions of WiMAX in their basic configurations is comparable, but several features that are available or required in 802.16e WiMAX are not implemented in 802.16d TDD WiMAX equipment. For example, QoS is available in both versions of WiMAX, but 802.16e WiMAX can provide better support for voice services though an additional QoS level that makes it possible to dynamically allocate capacity to voice traffic only when needed.

WiMAX deployed in license-exempt bands today


This operator has been providing symmetric dedicated connections to businesses in major metropolitan areas in the U.S. since 2001, accumulating deep experience in many pre-WiMAX wireless broadband technologies.

An early supporter of WiMAX, Towerstream has been conducting trials of WiMAX solutions for the last three to four years, but it was only when 802.16e WiMAX-based equipment became available that the operator decided to make the transition. Any 802.16d WiMAX-based solution would have been a temporary one, eventually requiring a forklift upgrade—most likely before the initial investment could be recouped.

Business considerations were the major drivers to select 802.16e WiMAX-based technology, but performance was also carefully assessed. QoS, for instance, is crucial to provide robust voice services. Advanced antenna technologies including MIMO A and MIMO B bring a substantial improvement in the signal strength in challenging environments.

Adam Internet

Australian operator Adam Internetis the first ISP to deploy a wireless network in partnership with the South Australian Government, which is providing partial funding for the infrastructure development costs. Adam Internet provides both broadband connectivity and VoIP services to its WiMAX subscribers at fees comparable to those for metropolitan ADSL services, which are still the core of the operator’s service offerings.

With no access to licensed spectrum at this time, Adam Internet has chosen to use license-exempt spectrum equipment. When 802.16e WiMAX-based products operating in the 5 GHz band became available, Adam Internet was eager to trial them, and has become one of the first operators to deploy a 5 GHz 802.16e WiMAX-based network, launching in Adelaide in November 2009. The network rollout is done in close collaboration between Adam Internet network engineers, who have experience in point-to-point links used to connect business users and Alvarion engineers. A combination of wireless links and fiber provide the backhaul to the Adam Internet network.

802.16e WiMAX: A Clear Technology of Choice

Whether it’s a wireless operators plan to expand their residential or business service or seeking to grow their vertical market applications, or looking for a future-proof technology, 802.16e WiMAX is becoming an increasingly compelling option for license-exempt bands. Equipment based on 802.16e WiMAX supports full mobile access, but it also supports high-performance fixed networks. Today, Alvarion’s BreezeMAX Extreme 5000 is becoming the solution of choice because of its ability to lower the cost of high-bandwidth, carrier-class broadband connectivity for a variety of applications that fit market’s specific needs.

Thanks to the wide industry support for the 802.16e version of the standard, operators using 802.16e WiMAX-based equipment will be able to rely on a stronger ecosystem than available based on limited 802.16d TDD solutions, which in turn will translate into more robust interoperability and the availability of a wider range of affordable subscriber devices.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

National Broadband Plan, Chapter 12: How do we get utilities into the spectrum business?

By Clyde Ensslin, Advisor to greentech startup People Power Co

I went over to the Federal Communications Commission this morning for the official release of the National Broadband Plan that FCC has been working on since last year. Various pieces of the Plan have been disclosed over the past few days so I knew that it was going to address the Smart Energy Grid and I wanted to learn more about the details related to that. For the past year I’ve been advising a Palo Alto, California-based greentech startup called People Power, so I am familiar with the work NIST is doing to approve interoperative standards for smart grid equipment.

When I got to the Commission I was directed to an overflow room because the meeting room was packed. There was a very nice, large, high definition flat-screen TV in the overflow room and I saw presentations by the staff and heard statements by the Commissioners. I learned that Congress had asked the Commission, in the statute that spelled out what should be in the Plan, for recommendations that would not only lead to broadband access for more Americans, but also would help reach National Purposes including energy independence and energy efficiency.

I knew that energy efficiency among consumers was the Plan’s Long-Term Goal #6 because that was in the Executive Summary that had been posted yesterday to the FCC Website. That goal states that all Americans should be able to use broadband to track and manage their energy consumption. The remaining parts of the Plan addressing the Smart Energy Grid were in Chapter 12, which was so interesting that I printed up all 15 pages.

Essentially, Chapter 12 is full of ideas about how to get utilities to interact with their customers via broadband. Idea number one is for utilities to give their consumers something valuable that they don’t get today that can only be delivered by broadband. That would be real-time usage data, based in kilowatts and in dollars, which is obviously hugely valuable, but it’s also data that 99 percent of all utility customers have never seen. This requirement would mean that utilities would need to provide the same information that they now mail out once a month, only more frequently, like every five minutes.

What motivation would the utilities have to start doing this within the next 18 months? Well, maybe if their state regulators asked them to do it. That’s what the Plan suggests. It’s not too big a stretch in states like California, where the state legislature has already mandated access for consumers to that data. And if the state regulators don’t get the job done, FCC will ask Congress to legislate that solution. The logic is, and this makes perfect sense, if utilities give this data to their customers, the customers will appreciate it so much that they will do their part and acquire the devices they need to interact with their utility. For startups like People Power, that is great news. It will mean that innovation is rewarded by investment dollars and potential partnerships.

Other ideas in the Plan have a variety of other ways for the utilities to get in the broadband business, including: empowering them to manage their own private broadband networks, either by using commercial networks, by sharing public safety mobile spectrum, or maybe with spectrum leased from, or bought at auction from…who? Maybe broadcasters? That’s in another chapter. I didn’t get to that part.

Monday, March 15, 2010

WCAI to Hold a Webinar on Green Process Management

“Going green” has become a popular concept in recent years, with many businesses claiming to be “green.” But do we know what “green” is? Regardless of what your beliefs are concerning sustainability and climate change, it is clear that “green” is here to stay. And to remain successful in the marketplace, your business has no other choice but to address this growing environmental concern.

Join the WCAI webinar on Tuesday, March 16 at 4 pm ET and learn from an expert about what it means to be green and why green is important to your business. Sam Windsor, the author of an upcoming book on green process management, will talk about green standards and specifications and provide a roadmap with tools that you need to lead your company in the quest to take advantage of cost reductions, improve the image, and increase sales by becoming a truly green company. This webinar is free of charge and open to all. Register today!

Friday, March 12, 2010

The New World of Video Surveillance

By Tim Dodge, product business unit leader, TESSCO Technologies
Reprinted from The Wireless Journal, January/February 2010

We have entered a new realm in the world of video surveillance. Gone are the days of the security guard tethered to a dedicated desktop monitor, reacting to unfolding events within a closed environment. With today’s advancements in Internet protocol-based network infrastructures, management of video surveillance can be a much more valuable endeavor.

Remote Video Monitoring and Surveillance (RVMaS) is defined as the ability to view, monitor, manage and react to video security information -- all from a remote location. This enables a new paradigm of thinking in terms of how video surveillance is used to protect people and assets. By leveraging today’s technology advancements, high-quality, actionable information can be pushed to the network edge with impressive velocity and reliability. The result is a much more agile management infrastructure that can allow more efficient coverage, rapid communication, and proactive management that lowers overall security risk.

Regardless of the underlying technology, a well-designed video surveillance system can accomplish a variety of goals, including the deterrence of undesirable behaviors and the ability to respond with rapidity and effectiveness in the event that there is an incident. But today’s technology revolution, driven by a number of industries, is providing a helping hand to the security industry, and is allowing security experts to excel in risk mitigation by introducing the concepts of mobility and remote monitoring into the security lexicon.

At the heart of this revolution are technologies that were developed for other applications but which are now finding their way into the security industry. These technologies can be summarized in Table 1.

How do these advancements really benefit a company that relies on video surveillance and access control to lower risk? The answer can be summed up in one phrase -- lower the total cost of ownership (TCO) -- and there are many factors that contribute to this lower TCO, including the utilization of an existing IP network. In most cases, video surveillance end users have already invested substantial amounts of capital in robust and reliable network infrastructures that include all or most of the aforementioned advanced technologies.

Now that video can be rapidly pushed to many people simultaneously, regardless of physical location, the potential exists for improved response times in the event of an incident. By combining the capability with advanced analytics, systems can often predict events before they happen. In cases where this occurs, system Return On Investment (ROI) is immeasurably high.

One concern in the security industry is that the underlying technologies enabling the IP revolution are daunting. This is simply not the case. These solutions have been evolving for decades, and there is a wealth of training information available to get even the most devoted technophobe up and running in a short period of time. Available information and coursework on networking technology often covers all of the technologies required to hit the ground running.

Additionally, there is substantial overlap between the technologies used in traditional CCTV video surveillance and those of the IP generation. A well-trained technician, who understands cameras, DVR storage technology, and cabling, will have no problem coming up to speed on IP networking technology.

IP networking technology is driving the convergence between the security and information technology industries. This convergence makes sense in most cases because it offers an increase in performance and provides stakeholders with the actionable intelligence they need to safely manage their environments.

Remote monitoring is a reality today because of the leveraging of several technologies that were originally devised for different applications. The large market opportunities for these technologies -- many borne of consumer or commercial need -- warranted trillions of dollars of investment from which the security industry is now benefiting. While remote monitoring seems to be new and unproven, it is actually built upon time-tested technologies that have been validated in other mission-critical applications.

Now that the technology foundation has been laid, the next step will be for the security industry to devise new and innovative ways to capitalize on these technologies to lower cost, lower risk, and maximize the value of the deployments that are installed moving forward.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Strong Growth for Mobile WiMAX Subscriber Base

By Basharat Ashai, Market Analyst, APAC & MEA - Maravedis

At the end of Q3 2009, 4GCounts reported 4.73 million BWA/WiMAX subscribers being served by over 200 operators, representing an 18% growth from Q2 2009, and an 80% growth from Q3 2008.

For the first time 4GCounts reported that the number of mobile WiMAX (802.16e-2005) subscribers has surpassed the number of fixed WiMAX (802.16-2004) subscribers worldwide. At the end of Q3 2009, the 802.16-2004 based CPEs accounted for 1.30 million CPEs. On the other hand, the number of 802.16e-2005 CPEs deployed accounted for 1.45 million. Q309 growth over the previous quarter for the 802.16d based CPEs deployed was 13% compared to 46.5% for the 802.16e-2005 based CPEs. With mobile WiMAX being deployed by heavyweights like Yota (Russia), UQ Communications (Japan) and Clearwire (USA), we expect it to dominate the worldwide WiMAX subscriber base in the coming quarters. For Q4 2009 we expect to see 1.5 million new subscriber additions, for a total subscriber base of 6.5 million by the end of last year.

When looking at the devices that 4GCounts operators are using, indoor modems have the largest market share, accounting for over 3.6 million units or 77%, followed by USB dongles with 595,000 or 13%, and 244,000 or 5% PCMCIA cards. Operators are still mostly focused on indoor modem CPEs and USB dongles, but they believe they will be ready to move to phones and Mobile Internet Devices (MID) in the coming quarters. WiMAX has to work with 3G and Wi-Fi to ensure devices (especially phones) support these interfaces. Devices also have to work on multiple WiMAX networks. Devices need to be certified to ensure interoperability, and to operate on multiple bands to facilitate roaming domestically and internationally.

As current 802.16e-2005 mobile WiMAX networks are deployed globally, work continues on the next generation of the technology, 802.16m, which will provide greater performance, capacity and flexibility over existing legacy networks. In October 2009 the WiMAX Forum and member companies announced their support of the 802.16m standard for consideration as an IMT advanced technology. Yota is the first operator worldwide to have trialed the new standard in partnership with Samsung. Yota plans to be one of the first operators in the world to install the technology once it becomes available.

802.16m has yet to gain market acceptance among WiMAX operators. While some companies are taking a wait-and-see approach before committing to the technology, companies expressing support include Beceem and Intel on the chip side, and Samsung, Huawei, ZTE, Alvarion and Cisco on the infrastructure side. Clearwire will consider preliminary trials in 2011, which is in line with when the first available commercial equipment will be available. Understandably, Clearwire is focused on growing their existing network and POPs coverage from 30 million to 120 million in 2010 based on commercial equipment that is available today. Yota might become one of the first 802.16m adopters.

The 802.16m profile is currently under evaluation and is expected to be ratified along with WiMAX Release 2 later this year. We should then expect to start seeing the first 802.16m dongles in late 2011 and more widespread commercial deployments starting in 2012.

In the most recent edition of the 4GCounts Quarterly Report (Issue 10), Maravedis has compared the pricing plans of leading 3G and mobile WiMAX operators by region. It would have been ideal to compare 3G and WiMAX pricing plans for identical same speed and data usages within a particular country, but the reality is that plans vary considerably in terms of speed, type of usage plan (minutes, versus bandwidth), and pricing. For the select group of leading WiMAX and 3G operators we found that 85% of WiMAX operators offer unlimited data usage, compared to 41% of 3G operators. This proportion will gradually decrease as operators look for new ways to manage data consumption.

On the LTE side, the second half of 2009 showed progress in terms of new operator commitments – 51 by the end of Q3 – but also in terms of device certification schemes and chipset development. Although dual mode devices including GSM, EVDO, and LTE are not yet commercially available, the first engineering samples of dual-mode chipsets were shipped in early 2009. Devices will become available in the second half of 2010 for dongles/embedded applications, but not until 2011 for handsets and lower power devices such as MiFi WiFi routers.

Although in its infancy, the LTE market has started to reveal its major players. In terms of infrastructure, Huawei seems to be the strongest manufacturer currently, with important awards in Austria, Italy, Uzbekistan and even Norway, which was expected to be under Ericsson and NSN’s veto. NSN and Ericsson are nevertheless maintaining their market share thanks to other awards (such as TeliaSonera’s deployment in Norway and Sweden), but they will surely have to manage this new competitor carefully. Motorola (awarded by KDDI) has been present from the beginning, taking advantage of its experience acquired through WiMAX deployments. This same path has been followed by Alcatel-Lucent, who has won contracts as the LTE infrastructure supplier for Verizon Wireless (USA) and Bouygues Telecom (France). The other official infrastructure supplier for Verizon LTE is Ericsson.
As far as devices are concerned, Samsung appears at the forefront, having signed contracts with TeliaSonera and MetroPCS (USA). In the second case dual CDMA-LTE handsets have been promised by Samsung. LG LTE device development is also quite advanced, which includes an in-house designed baseband chipset. In August last year LG successfully demonstrated the world's first live handoff of an active data session while moving between CDMA and LTE networks. Both Samsung and LG have been selected by Verizon as user equipment suppliers. Apart from these, ZTE is also trying to win contracts with any early commitment, being the sole supplier for the trial CSL is deploying in Hong Kong.

In the core (EPC) arena Cisco, Juniper and Ericsson could be considered the most important suppliers, being chosen respectively by the two biggest deployments in USA and Europe: Verizon and TeliaSonera. Alcatel-Lucent and Motorola also have EPC solutions, although have not been awarded relevant contracts yet.

4GCounts is a unique web-based service tracking 4G operator deployments and providing detailed information on the worldwide 4G ecosystem. 4GCounts currently profiles over 200 operators across 92 countries.
MARAVEDIS is a premier global provider of market intelligence and advisory services for the broadband wireless technology, regulatory and 4G markets, including LTE, WiMAX and backhaul at the RAN, devices and packet core levels.