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
Network architects aiming to upgrade their networks to support agile, open, virtualized services in the 21st century need to consider new criteria when choosing between technology suppliers.
Live Streaming Video
BTE 2015 Sponsor Keynote: HP
Dr. Prodip Sen, CTO, Network Functions Virtualization, HP
LRTV Custom TV
Red Hat Demo

7|2|15   |   10:53   |   (0) comments


Red Hat's Nicolas Lemieux demonstrates how Red Hat is driving innovation through open source communities.
LRTV Custom TV
Red Hat's Approach to OpenStack Adoption

7|2|15   |   5:17   |   (0) comments


Red Hat's Radhesh Balakrishnan outlines his company's open source strategy for both enterprises and telcos.
LRTV Custom TV
The New IP Goes Mobile With vEPC

7|2|15   |   1:12   |   (0) comments


Heavy Reading's Gabriel Brown discusses results of a Light Reading survey sponsored by Brocade that shows a clear commitment by mobile operators to move quickly to virtual EPC deployment.
LRTV Custom TV
Making Business Sense of SDN

7|2|15   |   1:42   |   (0) comments


Results of a Brocade-sponsored survey show that CSPs have a clear sense of SDN use cases but are wrestling with the business case. Sterling Perrin of Heavy Reading looks behind the numbers.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV Will Be Here Sooner Than You Think

7|2|15   |   2:22   |   (0) comments


Forget the usual ten-year cycle for new technologies – NFV will be a core part of CSP networks in five years, based on results of a Brocade-sponsored survey, says Heavy Reading's Caroline Chappell.
LRTV Custom TV
The New IP Gains Traction With CSPs

7|2|15   |   1:42   |   (0) comments


Roz Roseboro of Heavy Reading analyzes results of a Light Reading survey sponsored by Brocade showing that CSPs are getting serious about making the transition to the New IP era.
LRTV Custom TV
It's (Real) Time for Analytics

7|2|15   |   1:42   |   (0) comments


Heavy Reading's Jim Hodges looks at how CSPs say they plan to use analytics to deploy new services in real time as part of The New IP, based on results of a survey sponsored by Brocade.
LRTV Documentaries
IoT in Action

6|30|15   |   1:39   |   (8) comments


Two co-workers discuss the benefits of IoT technology.
LRTV Interviews
Ericsson Opens Up on OPNFV

6|30|15   |   14:16   |   (2) comments


Martin Bäckström, VP and head of industry area Datacom at Ericsson, talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the emergence of OPNFV, the importance of standards and Ericsson's OPNFV plans.
LRTV Custom TV
NetNumber Founder Discusses NFV/SDN Impact on SP Networks

6|26|15   |   4:15   |   (0) comments


NetNumber Founder Doug Ranalli examines why SPs need a new network infrastructure for service agility. While NFV and SDN are the tools, the old ways of thinking about signaling control are inhibitors. Doug provides his recommendations.
LRTV Custom TV
Orchestrating NFV vCPE Services Across Multivendor Networks

6|26|15   |   5:46   |   (0) comments


Nirav Modi provides an overview of vCPE, the fastest-growing NFV use case, showing how Cyan's Blue Planet orchestrates vCPE services across a multivendor infrastructure to rapidly deliver new managed services for business customers.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE at LTE Summit Amsterdam 2015

6|26|15   |     |   (0) comments


As one of the leading global telecommunications providers, ZTE presented its cutting-edge technology at LTE World Summit 2015 in Amsterdam. On display at ZTE's booth were the latest R&D achievements in wireless, 5G development, HetNet, deep convergence of FDD and TDD, and RCS/IMD/iSDN/vCN.
Upcoming Live Events
September 16-17, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
October 6, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
October 6, 2015, Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
October 14-15, 2015, New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, LA
November 5, 2015, Hilton Santa Clara, Santa Clara, CA
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Hot Topics
Who's Feeding Fiber to LinkNYC Hotspots?
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 6/29/2015
What's a Gigabit Good For?
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 7/1/2015
Colt to Jettison Ailing IT Business
Iain Morris, News Editor, 6/30/2015
Eurobites: Activist Investor Takes Stake in AlcaLu
Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, 6/30/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Casa Systems has been going from strength to strength over the last couple of years. In 2013, it became the first vendor to ship an integrated CCAP device -- the ...
Cedrik Neike, SVP of Global Service Provider, Service Delivery, at Cisco, talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about solving service provider customer problems in a virtualized, DevOps world, including multivendor support and the future of network procurement.
Cats with Phones