Light Reading

EE Shares 4G Lessons Learned

Michelle Donegan
LR Mobile News Analysis
Michelle Donegan
12/5/2012
50%
50%

LONDON -- LTE/EPC & Converged Mobile Backhaul -- EE shared some of the challenges it faced and lessons it learned from launching the U.K.'s first, and only, 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) service here at Layer123's industry conference dedicated to LTE and mobile backhaul on Tuesday.

EE launched LTE services on Oct. 30 using the 1800MHz spectrum that it already had for delivering 2G services. By refarming this spectrum for LTE services, the U.K.'s largest mobile operator with 27 million subscribers will be able to offer 4G services for at least seven months ahead of its rivals Telefónica UK Ltd. (O2), Vodafone UK and 3 , which need to acquire LTE spectrum from the upcoming auction scheduled to start in early 2013. (See How Not to Do 4G, EE-Style, Euronews: 4G Arrives in UK, EE Unveils 4G Price Plans, Brits Braced for 4G and Euronews: Will UK Fast-Track 4G Auction?)

But it wasn't easy, as Mansoor Hanif, EE's director of network integration and LTE, explained.

Among the technical challenges EE faced were lack of device support, uncertainty about voice services and having to support two different legacy networks -- that is, those of Orange UK and T-Mobile (UK) , as EE is the joint venture of Orange (NYSE: FTE)'s and Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT)'s U.K. operations.

Hanif said that it was particularly difficult to convince device manufacturers to add support for EE's 1800MHz band in LTE smartphones. "To get some of them on board and get 1800MHz on their roadmaps involved endless negotiations, discussions and a lot of drama behind the scenes," he said.

Another issue for EE was how to deliver voice services by using the legacy 2G and 3G networks, which is referred to as circuit-switch fallback (CSFB). The operator knew its 4G service launch would focus on smartphones from the start, so it had to be able to deliver voice. But the problems were that there was no device ecosystem in place, especially for 1800MHz devices, to support CSFB and there were "serious doubts" about performance and call setup times. All this caused a lot of "nervousness" for the operator, Hanif said.

The backhaul network design was yet another challenge, which was made more difficult by the fact that EE has a network-sharing agreement in place with 3 for the transport network. That meant EE had to agree on the network design plans with its rival.

"To agree on best design [for backhaul] is a challenge, to agree on that with your competitor is another challenge," said Hanif.

4G lessons
Given all of those hurdles to clear, it seems a wonder that EE got its service off the ground when it did.

Here's what Hanif said EE has learned from the process:

  • CSFB adds minimal call setup time and it's below the threshold for customers to notice. So there's no need to rush to VoLTE -- that is, the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS)-based way to deliver voice over LTE networks.
  • There needs to be careful setting of radio idle times to optimize battery life while balancing signaling load and service performance. Operators have to look at that issue very carefully.
  • The IPSec deployment was surprisingly more difficult than expected. "It caused us serious issues in terms of getting the network up and running," Hanif said.
  • Backhaul decisions had to be optimized to meet tight deadlines and demand for coverage and high quality performance. So, EE opted for Gigabit Ethernet capacity from BT Wholesale and Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED) along with point-to-point, single-hop microwave links in its backhaul network. (See MBNL Backhauls With Virgin Media.)
  • The LTE "uplink is fantastic, it's magnificent," he said. Indeed, Hanif said that the amount of data users have sent over EE's 4G network since it's been launched is the equivalent of uploading the "Gangnam Style" video 19 million times. [Ed note: Now, who wouldn't tire of that?]


-- Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Flash Poll
From The Founder
Ericsson's Hyperscale Datacenter System (HDS) 8000, featuring Intel's Rack Scale Architecture, caused a stir when it was announced at MWC 2015. For more on this revolutionary product, join me on Thursday, April 30 at 12:00 p.m. EST for a Super Webinar event, A New Hardware Paradigm for the Telco Data Center.
LRTV Documentaries
Cox Eyes Cloud-Based Home Networks

4|27|15   |   05:30   |   (0) comments


Cox's Jeff Finkelstein explains how moving services to the cloud will let cable deliver services faster and eliminate constant hardware replacements.
LRTV Documentaries
CableLabs' Clarke Updates Cable Virtualization

4|23|15   |   05:41   |   (1) comment


Former BT exec now leading CableLabs' NFV and SDN efforts explains key role of open source and updates efforts to virtualize the home network.
LRTV Interviews
Ericsson's CTO Talks Transformation: Pt. II

4|23|15   |   08:19   |   (1) comment


In the second installment of an in-depth two-part interview, Ericsson's CTO Ulf Ewaldsson talks to Light Reading CEO and founder Steve Saunders about cultural change, network slicing and technology advances.
LRTV Interviews
Ericsson's CTO Talks Transformation: Pt. I

4|23|15   |   09:27   |   (3) comments


In the first installment of an in-depth two-part interview, Ericsson's CTO Ulf Ewaldsson talks to Light Reading CEO and founder Steve Saunders about the incredible transformation underway in the communications networking industry.
LRTV Documentaries
LTE Paves the Way for the 5G Revolution

4|20|15   |   4:20   |   (0) comments


Håkan Andersson, head of 5G product strategy of the Radio Business Unit at Ericsson, discusses the role of LTE, the US and other industry verticals in building a true 5G ecosystem.
LRTV Documentaries
The 3GPP's Road to 5G Standardization

4|17|15   |   4:43   |   (0) comments


Satoshi Nagata, chairman of the 3GPP's TSG-RAN group and a manager at NTT Docomo, explains the standardization process for 5G, as well as the biggest challenges and opportunities.
LRTV Documentaries
AlcaLu CTO Makes the Case for a New 5G Air Interface

4|16|15   |   3:54   |   (0) comments


Michael Peeters, CTO of wireless at Alcatel-Lucent, explains why 5G will require a new air interface to meet its diverse performance targets.
LRTV Documentaries
AlcaLu + Nokia: The New Uber-Vendor

4|15|15   |   2:42   |   (4) comments


Heavy Reading Senior Analyst Gabriel Brown discusses the technological and competitive opportunities and challenges if a merger between Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia comes to pass.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Data Center Power Play

4|15|15   |   6:22   |   (0) comments


Huawei has developed industry-leading energy efficiency capabilities for its indoor and outdoor data center solutions, explains Dr. Fang Liangzhou, vice president of Huawei's Network Energy product Line.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei’s Routers, Switches Get the Green Mark

4|15|15   |   2:02   |   (0) comments


TUV Rheinland's Frank Dudley explains how Huawei's routers and switches have been successfully tested by energy efficiency experts and have gained Green Mark Certification.
LRTV Documentaries
A Finn, a Frenchman & a Guy From New Jersey Walk Into a Merger...

4|15|15   |   3:17   |   (0) comments


Stop us if you've heard this one before... Light Reading CEO Founder & CEO Steve Saunders weighs in on the technical and cultural implications of a Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent merger.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Accounting for Better Solutions

4|10|15   |   02:31   |   (1) comment


Murad Yousuf, CTO at Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Finance (Dept. of Zakat & Income Tax), talks about the benefits of deploying router technology from Huawei.
Upcoming Live Events
May 6, 2015, Georgia World Congress, Atlanta, GA
May 12, 2015, Grand Hyatt, Denver, CO
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 8, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 10, 2015, Chicago, IL
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
October 6, 2015, Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
November 11-12, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
In its latest survey covering network operators' plans and strategies for ICT transformation, Heavy Reading asked telecom operators worldwide to identify the most important goals and objectives for their ICT transformation initiatives. Heavy Reading also asked operators about the importance of a "digital first" strategy, which enables customers to complete an interaction across different digital channels, such as web and mobile self-service and social media.
Hot Topics
Comcast Formally Ends Its Bid for TWC
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 4/24/2015
Google's WiFi-First Mobile Service 'Fi' Is Here
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 4/22/2015
Comcast Reportedly Dropping $45B TWC Bid
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 4/23/2015
Adtran Is Developing White Box GPON Tech
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 4/24/2015
Amazon Earnings: What to Watch For
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 4/23/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Many leading communications companies can claim to have undergone significant periods of reinvention during their histories, but none have been through more major ...
Data Center Interconnect, or DCI, is one of the hottest sectors in telecom currently. Since coming back to Light Reading last year, prodigal-son style, I've ...
Cats with Phones
Learning Curve Click Here
Pierre could never remember how to use Excel.
Latest Comment