09 Feb 2012

Mobile World Congress 2012: the main issues (Page 2 of 2)

While the technology itself plays a major role within the overall cellular communications arena, so do many of the other issues.

Aspects such as business models, service assurance and the ways of maximising ROI are all key issues.

Without the correct business models many ideas have failed. DMB, DVB-H and the like have all dropped from the headlines where they were just a few years ago.

However at this year’s MWC there will be many updates on technologies that are actually being deployed – for which the business models exist.

However in the current economic climate, it is still necessary to proceed with caution. How are the operators and others coping – that is something we can look to find out.

Service assurance

The first LTE networks that have been deployed have had their teething problems. Not all users have been impressed. In many ways it is to be expected that a new technology will have its teething problems, but this is no excuse for new users who have paid a premium for a new and enhanced service.

In a hall at MWC

Said Lyn Cantor, President, Tektronix Communications: “Each new technology turn raises a unique set of challenges. In the case of LTE the operators are breaking new ground with the deployment of the very first all-IP mobile networks. The delivery of voice, data and video over an all-IP network is completely different from that of a circuit switched or hybrid network architecture, and operators will face interoperability challenges when LTE is integrated with other network elements. Mobile networks are similar to a patchwork quilt made up of various different standards ranging from 2G, and 2.5G, to 3G and now LTE, these integrated network environments can be difficult to manage. This complexity can impact on the quality of service, leading to dropped calls or the loss of data throughput. Operators need to be aware of the need to address these interoperability issues before they impact on the experience of the end-user.”

In a similar note, Paul Beaver, Products Director at Anite commented: “Device manufacturers and mobile operators can work together to help prevent a signalling overload across mobile networks worldwide. This can be achieved through a process of device testing conducted under controlled circumstances, which allow service providers to quantify the behaviour of ‘chatty’ devices. By developing a comprehensive quality assurance system, based on network simulator device testing, operators are able to significantly minimize the possibility of launching devices that affect the quality of the network and the end-user experience. “

Business models

The offerings by service providers are likely to undergo a revolution. With LTE providing an all-IP network. Also the overall environment is starting to change.

Commented Mark Windle, Head of Marketing at OpenCloud: “OTT players are threatening to derail operators by delivering their services for free over their networks - often at the expense of the operators’ own services. Without developing and delivering new services to fit subscriber demand, operators run the risk of being overrun and face a ‘bit pipe’ future.”

“However, service innovation can be a time-consuming and costly process for operators. Dependence on traditional service layer equipment vendors leaves operators exposed to high-costs, delays in getting services to market and this all leads to little differentiation in the marketplace.”

“In order to break away from vendor lock-in operators must be free to innovate and this can be achieved by implementing an open-standard based service layer framework into their core network. By adopting a flexible open platform, CSPs can develop new services and applications and transform existing ones rapidly and cost-effectively.”

He went on to say: “We also expect the data traffic explosion and how to effectively manage data to be a major focus at the show. Moving forward from API exposure and operator app stores, there will be a big appetite for pragmatic discussions around service differentiation and innovation. I would expect this to extend out to OTT and telco collaborations.”

Adding to this discussion, Doug Suriano, CTO of Tekelec commented: “LTE will remain a hot topic at this year’s show as more operators globally migrate to all-IP networks. We also expect to see operators taking shared data plans more seriously. Shared data plans will provide operators with a greater market share and higher profitability as they bundle families and devices into single contracts, with everyone sharing the same bill. Shared data plans will help to boost the uptake of new services and improve subscriber loyalty and brand advocacy.”

Doug Suriano also said: “Cloud and M2M services will also receive a lot of attention. They require new business models, new ways to think about network design and new partners and competitors to fulfil their promises.”

Maximising ROI

Further comments came from Warren Dumanski, VP of Marketing and Sales at Newfield Wireless. He said: “The migration to LTE is a global trend, driven by the need to develop business models focused on the delivery, and monetisation, of mobile broadband and data services.”

“However, LTE is breaking new ground and operators have limited historical references to measure the performance of their new data-focused networks against. This means carriers are effectively operating ‘in the dark’ when it comes to LTE. If an operator is going to make sure that its network is living up to its promise, and that bandwidth is available for voice calling, data services and applications, it will require an entirely new visualization and optimization tool for a new type of network. Internally questions are being asked by RF and network performance engineers about coverage, traffic patterns and data throughput.”

“To find the answers to these questions, and have visibility of the data rates their subscribers are actually experiencing, operators can adopt ‘network visualisation applications’ developed specifically for LTE. By adopting next-generation visualisation and optimisation technology operators will have the means to understand the performance of their LTE network in real time.”

So there is plenty happening in the mobile communications arena. Mobile World Congress will certainly bring issues like these to the fore, although sometimes it is easy to get carried away wit the hype. What ever happened to things like DMB and DVB-H. That said, LTE is here and the data explosion is happening, so there is plenty that is real rather than the hype.

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