& cplSiteName &

C Spire Engineer: Major Concerns About VoLTE

Sarah Thomas
3/27/2014
50%
50%

SAN ANTONIO -- CCA Global Expo -- When asked about his biggest concern around small cells, C Spire's Manager of RF Design Engineering Mitchell Jordan had one clear answer: VoLTE.

"One concern I have on small cell is it's all LTE focused, and I get that, but in a lot of places, we need that voice option for the small cell," Jordan said on a panel here. "I guess we have to depend on VoLTE for that. I just have major concerns about VoLTE."

His concern with the 4G voice technology is that the Tier 1 operators have said it would be deployed in 2013, then pushed it back to 2014, and now he worries it will be several more years out. The reason that worries him is C Spire is waiting on the Tier 1s to see how VoLTE goes before making any moves of its own. (See VoLTE: So Close You Can Hear It.)

Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) will power VoLTE for the operator, but C Spire hasn't laid out its own timeline for the technology. Jordan said its CDMA network won't be going anywhere until at least 2020, and it won't do VoLTE until the quality is comparable to voice on its CDMA network. (See C Spire Picks AlcaLu for 4G LTE Depolyment.)

That said, the carrier is moving forward on LTE. The engineer said that two-thirds of its network, which spans four southeastern US states, will be overlaid by LTE by the end of 2014, and it will convert nearly all, if not all, of its cell sites to LTE by the end of 2015.

It is also planning to start public-access small cell trials in the second or third quarter this year, and it has WiFi indoors through an agreement with Devicescape Software Inc. , but is working on expanding its managed access points outdoors. (See C-Spire Picks Devicespace for Wi-Fi Reach.)

The regional operator offers unlimited data plans, including a new $65 option it introduced this week, which Jordan said has really challenged its capacity constraints. He said C Spire's vendors have been surprised about how high its per-user data usage is, higher than most other carriers. That's why it's so interested in deploying small cells to help bolster capacity, but is also concerned about the cost of deployment, as well as the significant backhaul challenge. (See Poll: Backhaul Holds Up City Small Cells and Public Access Small Cells: Off to a Slow Start.)

"We embraced [WiFi] because we had to," Jordan said. "That's why femtocells, small cells come in too. We just don't have any other options to address the capacity crunch."

And, given its smaller size, it can't use dedicated carriers and it doesn't have a "war chest of spectrum," Jordan said. Self-organizing network (SON) technology will be critical to its small cell rollout.

"We need better coordination between networks to maximize spectrum," he said. "The FCC is not giving us spectrum as fast as we need it... We haven't deployed SON yet; we are still evaluating. A concern I have is as quickly as you can improve your performance on a network, you can destroy it as well."

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

(2)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Sarah Thomas
50%
50%
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
3/27/2014 | 3:10:47 PM
Re: Waiting on tier ones
Another C Spire exec expressed to me that the carrier is not actually all that concerned about VoLTE and it won't be slowed by tier ones. It's actively exploring it, he said, but it's not in trials yet and has no launch date to announce.
Sarah Thomas
50%
50%
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
3/27/2014 | 1:37:39 PM
Waiting on tier ones
I guess another way small operators get the short end of the stick is that they don't get vendor attention for new technologies until long after tier ones have deployed it. MetroPCS bucked that trend with VoLTE, but I wouldn't say the launch went all that well. I spoke with an Ericsson VP about it, and he just said big operators "have enough heft to move ecosystems. Small carriers can draft off that." It makes sense, but I also think the rural guys are often the most innovative, so it's too bad to see them stymied by the big guys.
Featured Video
From The Founder
Light Reading founder Steve Saunders talks with VMware's Shekar Ayyar, who explains why cloud architectures are becoming more distributed, what that means for workloads, and why telcos can still be significant cloud services players.
Flash Poll
Upcoming Live Events
May 14-16, 2018, Austin Convention Center
May 14, 2018, Brazos Hall, Austin, Texas
September 24-26, 2018, Westin Westminster, Denver
October 9, 2018, The Westin Times Square, New York
October 23, 2018, Georgia World Congress Centre, Atlanta, GA
November 7-8, 2018, London, United Kingdom
November 8, 2018, The Montcalm by Marble Arch, London
November 15, 2018, The Westin Times Square, New York
December 4-6, 2018, Lisbon, Portugal
All Upcoming Live Events
Hot Topics
Australia's Optus on Back Foot After 'Anglo Saxon' Job Ad
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, 4/13/2018
Is Gmail Testing Self-Destructing Messages?
Mitch Wagner, Mitch Wagner, Editor, Enterprise Cloud, Light Reading, 4/13/2018
BDAC Blowback – Ex-Chair Arrested
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 4/17/2018
Verizon: Lack of Interoperability, Consistency Slows Automation
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 4/18/2018
Comcast, Netflix Cozy Up in New Deal
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 4/13/2018
Animals with Phones
I Heard There Was a Dresscode... Click Here
Live Digital Audio

A CSP's digital transformation involves so much more than technology. Crucial – and often most challenging – is the cultural transformation that goes along with it. As Sigma's Chief Technology Officer, Catherine Michel has extensive experience with technology as she leads the company's entire product portfolio and strategy. But she's also no stranger to merging technology and culture, having taken a company — Tribold — from inception to acquisition (by Sigma in 2013), and she continues to advise service providers on how to drive their own transformations. This impressive female leader and vocal advocate for other women in the industry will join Women in Comms for a live radio show to discuss all things digital transformation, including the cultural transformation that goes along with it.

Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed