Tuesday 31 July 2018

Telstra's LTE-B Push

Telstra is streaming live sports content to a massive base of around 1.2 million devices each weekend and sports fans consume 37 million minutes of live content over our apps on any given weekend.

You have to remember that while Australia is just slightly smaller than USA, Canada and China, its population is just 24 million. A big part of the country is desert with patchy or no coverage. Telstra has roughly 40% subscribers according to Kantar.

Picture Source: Finder

Mike Wright, Group Managing Director, Networks, Telstra has been talking about their LTE-B network in various fora. He has mentioned a few times that they are doing extensive testing of LTE broadcast on compatible devices, mainly Samsung Galaxy S8 or Galaxy S9 when streaming through the official AFL Live app. The AFL app had been developed in collaboration with Samsung and Expway, which supplied middleware.

According to this report on Finder:

Telstra showed off LTE-B at a media demonstration in Sydney today, where over 100 Samsung S8 and S9 phones were simultaneously streaming using LTE-B, alongside a handful that were using the conventional "unicast" method (where each device is pulling its own separate stream). The unicast devices regularly timed out, but there were no problems with the devices streaming LTE-B.

The LTE-B devices also had a higher quality (720p HD) compared to their unicast siblings:

The biggest issue right now is that for LTE-B to work, software updates are needed to both the phone's operating system and to any app that uses it. Wright says that Telstra expects more phones and apps to be upgraded in the near future, though he wouldn't commit to any timeframe for an iOS upgrade.

Given Apple's importance in the Australian market, that will be an essential to keep the majority of Telstra's 1.2 million football streaming subscribers happy. I'd also assume that we'll see an upgrade to the Telstra NRL app pretty soon.

One interesting side note: the 100+ devices were all showing the same stream, but weren't exactly in sync, as you can see in this picture:

Wright explained that this was due to each device having started off on a slightly different frame. The difference is very slight, however, and wouldn't mean that if 30 people were all watching the match in a pub on their phones, they'd cheer at different times as goals were scored.

The Internet wasn't designed to support traditional broadcast methods, so tweaks like LTE-B are going to be ever more important as we continue to switch to streaming. With luck, by the time Game Of Thrones returns in 2019, it will ensure streaming viewers get the best possible experience.

Earlier Telstra also talked about Multicast Operation on Demand (MooD) and Service Continuity features. More technical details on these features are available on 3G4G blog here.

Finally, the slide above details major milestones for Telstra and their roadmap for NB-IoT and 5G network launch.

Related posts:

Friday 27 July 2018

Spain's 5G Spectrum Auction Winners

Source: Elena Neira

The above picture summarises the total amount of spectrum holding by all Spanish mobile network operators. Movistar is a major telecommunications brand owned by Telefónica, operating in Spain and in many Hispanic American countries. Yoigo, legally Xfera Móviles S.A., is the fourth largest mobile network operator in Spain, subsidiary of the Spanish telecommunications company Grupo MásMóvil.

According to Mobile World Live:

Telefonica, Orange Spain and Vodafone Spain took the spoils in the country’s auction of 200 MHz in 5G-suitable frequencies, which netted authorities more than four times the original asking price.

Vodafone Spain won the largest allocation on offer, securing 90 MHz in the 3.7GHz band for €198 million. Telefonica paid €107 million for 50 MHz across the 3.6GHz-3.8GHz bands, while Orange Spain paid around €132 million for 60 MHz also across the frequency range offered.

Each operator will pay in annual installments, with the balance accruing interest each year. Including interest, spectrum reservation costs and other previously levied fees related to the auction, the Ministry of Economy and Enterprise said the treasury would earn €1.4 billion from the tender.

Spain’s other operator, MasMovil, competed in the auction but didn’t add any further 5G-suitable spectrum to the 80 MHz it obtained earlier this year from two separate deals.

The operator acquired 40 MHz from satellite company Eurona and then matched that allocation as part of its acquisition of B2B service provider Neutra Network.

The auction total surpassed the €100 million reserve price with ease and MasMovil and Telefonica were quick to note rivals had paid a greater sum for their allocations.

In a statement to Mobile World Live MasMovil said it had paid an average of €0.57 million per MHz, while the average in the auction was €2.2 million for the same amount.  

Telefonica said it “applied criteria of rationality in the auction that has allowed it to obtain the desired spectrum by paying the lowest price per MHz of all the bidders in it.”

All licences are valid for 20 years.

Analyst John Delaney notes that Spain's mobile operators paid €438 million for 200 MHz of 5G spectrum while in April, UK operators paid £1.15 billion for 150MHz.

Thursday 26 July 2018

Reliance Jio getting ready for LTE-Broadcast (eMBMS) rollout

Reliance Jio announced a bunch of new services and devices for consumers at its Annual General Meeting (AGM). One of the key announcements was of the JioPhone 2, which is touted to offer enhanced functionality over the existing JioPhone. It features a 2.4-inch QVGA horizontal display and some new features like support for VoWiFi and evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service (eMBMS). The JioPhone will also soon be able to run WhatsApp, Facebook and YouTube starting August 15, and the company has also announced a Monsoon Hungama offer for its consumers. Under the offer, one will be able to exchange their existing feature phone for a JioPhone by paying a sum of Rs 501. This offer can be availed from July 21. 
Back in January this year, UltraNews reportedThe true extent of the deployment of the technology by Jio is not clear yet. In its quarterly update, Jio said it performed an “eMBMS broadcast stream across Pan-India.” Still, this alone would make it the largest eMBMS trial or deployment anywhere in the world.

In another recent news in Financial express, This new Reliance Jio service offering 200 TV channels without Internet could launch soon; all you need to know

Reliance Jio had an unreleased app on Google Play store called the JioBroadcast, mainly for the testing purpose. Its description revealed that it offered HD quality streaming on Jio LTE devices.

Going by the subscription model starting at Rs 400, Reliance Jio might as well ditch the JioDTH for the JioHomeTV service. The JioHomeTV is said to work on the principle of eMBMS or Enhanced Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service that the company is testing over a long time. The eMBMS is a technology that mixes the one-to-many broadcasting technique, mainly used in television and radio broadcasts, with the one-to-one pattern used by the telecom companies, in order to enhance the scalability of the broadcast.

It would be interesting to see if this works out. They have a good value proposition for TV broadcast (not just mobile-TV) over eMBMS and have a huge subscriber base they can tap into, making it probably the largest deployment in the world. I am looking forward to more news.

Related posts:

Sunday 22 July 2018

Average Three UK customer will use 56 GB per month by 2025

Three UK has consistently touted itself as a network built for data, for the next generation of users. In past many of the speakers from Three UK have consistently said that 98% of the network traffic is data.
Though I have not heard this figure being mentioned recently, I wont be surprised if its still the same or even more, considering VoLTE is  data too.

In a recent presentation, Prof. Dr. Erol Hepsaydir, Head of RAN and Device Strategy & Architecture, Three UK talked about the Three UK network transformation and the move from 4G to 5G.
Based on the analysis in Ofcom's Mobile Data Strategy, published in June 2016, Three UK estimates that its customer will use on average 56 GB per month by 2025. This is higher than expected of many other networks but that is because as a smaller network, Three UK has the spare capacity available to spoil their users. Their data packages are very generous too.

I have a feeling that the data use will probably be higher than 56 GB in 2025, partially because of many news apps and services that are being developed with 5G in mind. We will have to wait and see.

Related Posts:

Thursday 19 July 2018

Malaysia: Challenges of 4G

It has been more than 5 years since 4G LTE was officially rolled out in Malaysia. Today, there are six 4G LTE operators in the country and the cost of data is so much more affordable than before. The mobile operators are – Maxis, Celcom Axiata, DiGi, Webe, U Mobile and Yes. In May 2017 Celcom Axiata carried out what is claimed to be Malaysia’s first 5G trial. The test was also said to have demonstrated futuristic 5G use cases, such as robotic control, connected environment, virtual reality, Internet of Things (IoT) applications and 4K video streaming.

Although 4G technology is available 74.88% of the time to Malaysians, its speed leaves much to be desired. According to a report by OpenSignal, a company that specialises in wireless coverage mapping, the 4G speed in the country is only 14.83Mbps.

With that, OpenSignal ranks Malaysia as one of the lowest 20 countries in the list which was led by Singapore at 44.31 Mbps while India being ranked last due its 6.07 Mbps download speed.

However,  LTE availability in Malaysia was more promising. The report pointed out that the LTE connectivity in the country can be accessed 74.88% of the time throughout Q4 2017. While it is better than Algeria which occupy the bottom of the list due its 40.94% rating, Malaysia is nowhere near South Korea whereby users were able to achieve LTE connection 97.49% of the time.

According Open Signal test results regarding the highest 4G/3G download speeds and the lowest latency for both 4G and 3G among operators: Maxis comes out on top overall. 

Coming in at second place is Yes. When it comes to 4G, Yes records an incredibly high 93.18% availability followed by Maxis at 80.45%. OpenSignal notes that 4G availability isn’t a representation of geographic or population coverage, but rather how often its users are connected to a 4G network. It is worth mentioning that Yes itself runs on a pure 4G network so if it goes out of coverage, there’s no 3G or 2G network to fall back on. Yes also records the highest overall average download speed of 19.03Mbps and it isn’t surprising since its users are connected only on 4G, while other telcos have samples measured on 3G.

If we look at the rest, Celcom (16.15Mbps) takes 3rd place followed by Digi (11.77Mbps) on 4th and U Mobile (7.2Mbps) at 5th place for 4G downloads. Webe (or now known as UniFi) is ranked the lowest at 6.76Mbps. When it comes to 3G, 2nd place goes to Celcom (2.9Mbps) followed by U Mobile (2.78Mbps) and Digi (2.58Mbps).

You can read the full OpenSignal report here.

Saturday 14 July 2018

Verizon's 5G Progress & Plans

Verizon plans to launch 5G in at least 4 cities this year, two that have already been announced being Sacramento and Los Angeles. This information is based on Lowell McAdam, Verizon chairman and CEO, speaking to CNBC's David Faber back in May.

Their intention is still to use millimeter wave bands (mmWave) in 28GHz and do a Fixed-wireless access (FWA). Lowell McAdam referred to this as ultra-wideband 5G as he says there will be different flavors of 5G.

The videos (playlist) below shows some of the trials and applications and the first video is particularly interesting as it tries to dispel the myths associated with mmWave bands.

Verizon have publicly announced that they are doing trials with Samsung, Ericsson and Nokia. According to Light Reading, Samsung is supplying the gear for Verizon's fixed 5G network in Sacramento, Calif., while Ericsson's equipment will be used in Los Angeles, the only two markets announced so far.

We will see Nokia equipment being deployed in another city soon as its being heavily promoted by their marketing department and rightly so.

Verizon is also working with innovative universities, start-ups and other companies to develop the use cases that will run on tomorrow’s 5G networks. At Alley, site of Verizon’s 5G incubator, five of these innovators are getting to use real 5G technology to develop, refine and demonstrate ways 5G networks will change the ways we live, learn, work and play.

We are looking forward to seeing real world results after the services are launched on Q4 2018.

Further Reading: