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3G/HSPA

Voodoo Cranks Up 3G

Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) has announced plans to launch HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access) networks next year, a move that will increase the data transfer rates of its 3G services and potentially combat the threat of future mobile WiMax networks.

HSDPA is a packet-based data service evolved from, and backwards compatible with, earlier Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (W-CDMA) air interface standards, which offer realistic data downlink transfer rates of around 300 to 400 kbit/s.

Used with existing W-CDMA networks, HSDPA-compliant handsets and base stations are intended to crank up transfer rates. HSDPA is a standardized feature in the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP)’s Release 5 specification, introduced in August 2002 (see Release 5 to the 3G Rescue).

Vodafone claims that it has the largest W-CDMA network worldwide, with 50,000 base stations already deployed. Speaking at an analyst and investor day at its company headquarters in Newbury, England, this week, the carrier touted plans to upgrade this network to HSDPA within the next twelve months.

“In the last year and a half we have been testing our four suppliers in four of our networks, and we are increasingly confident about the qualities it can deliver,” said CTO Thomas Geitner. “This is why we think we will be ready for friendly user tests and pre-commercial tests in early 2006, then go to a full commercial launch by the middle of 2006.”

Geitner expects its initial HSDPA networks to offer “four times higher data speeds than the current version of W-CDMA.” A company spokesman adds that "most major markets" will have HSDPA coverage by mid-2006.

HSUPA (High-Speed Uplink Packet Access) services, aimed at increasing the (duh!) uplink data rate, are planned for a “2007/2008” launch.

Vodafone is likely to be one of the first carriers worldwide to commercially launch HSDPA services. Japan’s NTT DoCoMo Inc. (NYSE: DCM) trialed HSDPA back in 2003, but a commercial service launch has been delayed until the second half of 2006 (see DoCoMo Delays HSDPA ).

European players O2 plc (NYSE/London: OOM) and T-Mobile International AG have also announced their intent to offer HSDPA services next year (see MMO2 Preps for HSDPA and T-Mobile Plans HSDPA Launch).

Such plans could be regarded as an attempt by wireless carriers to ward off the threat of future mobile WiMax services. Although the 802.16e standard has not yet been ratified, it is the subject of much hype surrounding its potential to compete with 3G services as a wireless broadband technology (see Mobile WiMax Faces Struggle and Readers Wait on Mobile WiMax).

Unsurprisingly, Vodafone’s Geitner plays down the attraction of mobile WiMax. “It will offer mobility, but it will be a few years before it is going to be available in the market. To us it is not an option because it is three or four years later than HSDPA, and it wouldn’t be incremental to our W-CDMA network to go ahead and put it in.”

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

freetoair 12/5/2012 | 3:00:44 AM
re: Voodoo Cranks Up 3G Given this story and announcements by Dell, Lenovo and others to build support into laptops for Verizon (CDMA) & Cingular (GSM) data services what does this mean for WiMAX & Intel?

Seems this would be an interesting discussion topic for this msg board?

- has Intel been upstaged - again (QCOM/Flarion the other recent event)?
- Is WiMAX too late for the new portable/mobile markets and just a new standard for the legacy microwave market?
- If Tier 1 operators are not building WiMAX networks - can Tier 2/3 operators afford to in any substantial way - or will it just be a niche?
- is OFDM(A) air interace, as a 3G evolution, the only path forward for WiMAX technology?
- what will be the new Intel strategy and when will it be announced?

PacketsRus 12/5/2012 | 3:00:41 AM
re: Voodoo Cranks Up 3G WiMax will be a very low cost, not particularly reliable backhaul technology suited for IP services such as Internet Access, VPNs and VoIP. It will not make significant in roads into true mobility simply because HSDPA and CDMA EV-DO will have true mobility and continue to increase data throughput while WiMax is still struggling with how to accomplish soft handoff between sites and how to get all those old Cisco and Juniper routers to support it.

WiMax will be a fixed, unlicensed (in the US) best effort data service. It will not succeed against cable and DSL due as a residential broadband service - not cost effective and throughput it way to low and unpredictable.

Intel may say they want WiMax CPEs at $40 or so, but it won't matter since the WiMax base station must carve up very limited bandwidth to hundreds of users.

If you can prove the business case for mobility or residential broadband I would love to hear it.
boracho 12/5/2012 | 3:00:17 AM
re: Voodoo Cranks Up 3G If WiMAX is just a hoax how do you explain then QC paying 600 mil for Flarion. Certainly not for backhaul traffic. OFDM is certainly here to stay due to some merits and despite some limitations. Which version (Flarion, WiMAX, etc.) will capture the market we will see. My presonal opinion is that QC is too late with OFDM as WiMAX has built enough momentum and support from major vendors plus the draw of standarization is too strong to let go. Sure technology is not ready today but which carrier is ready to build a complete OFDM cellular network today? Most vendors I talked to are not thinking before 2008.

I agree with you that WiMAX as a pure replacement for ADSL and cable is facing a dead end. The majority of carrier/equipment vendors/components vendors, etc. invloved in the WiMAX business today have their eyes set on future support for mobility even if they are supporting the fixed wireless market today.

Another market that might develop sooner than the full mobility WiMAX segment is the data access market. 802.16e which is due by end of this year will address the nomadic market and there is already several companies developing products for it.
freetoair 12/5/2012 | 3:00:15 AM
re: Voodoo Cranks Up 3G Lets not confuse OFDM(A) as an air interface technology with WiMAX as a system/service business.

If WiMAX is just a hoax how do you explain then QC paying 600 mil for Flarion. Certainly not for backhaul traffic.

>> I read this as you assume QCOM bought Flarion to create a WiMAX business. Yet Flarion was not / is not WiMAX and not an advocate. Look at what Flarion is offering using OFDM technology. Look at the spectrum, channel bandwidths, etc. - very synergistic with cellular. Then look at QCOMs business.

OFDM is certainly here to stay due to some merits and despite some limitations.

>> Yes. 802.11 is OFDM and OFDM has merits for WWAN applications so it will be around in various forms. Do not see much disagreement there, just look at work in 3G standards, etc.

Which version (Flarion, WiMAX, etc.) will capture the market we will see.

>> Defining the market is critical to making such a statement.

My presonal opinion is that QC is too late with OFDM as WiMAX has built enough momentum and support from major vendors plus the draw of standarization is too strong to let go. Sure technology is not ready today but which carrier is ready to build a complete OFDM cellular network today? Most vendors I talked to are not thinking before 2008.

>> You confused me. QCOM is too late for the market in 2008? Interesting. You seem to be confusing/mixing OFDM technology with WiMAX as a business/service. One of the biggest issues WiMAX has as a business is spectrum. Where is the spectrum? Again go and look at Flarion and you will see QCOM could offer an overlay type network using Flarion OFDM technology in existing spectrum, reusing sites, etc. WiMAX requires new spectrum and building an entirely new network.

>> Support from major vendors? such as? Notably missing are Ericsson & Nokia. Nortel, Motorola and Alcatel have jumped in. But hey, they are filling out the product line. If it takes off - great - if not - they have bets across the board. LG, Samsung, ZTE, Huawai are in there to try to get a toe hold if the market goes but they as well have bets across the board.



I agree with you that WiMAX as a pure replacement for ADSL and cable is facing a dead end. The majority of carrier/equipment vendors/components vendors, etc. invloved in the WiMAX business today have their eyes set on future support for mobility even if they are supporting the fixed wireless market today.
>> Spectrum again is a real barrier. 3.5GHz is not great for mobility. 2.5GHz is interesting, need to resolve some availablity issues there. Unless the spectrum issues are resolved...WiMAX as a system is in trouble.

Another market that might develop sooner than the full mobility WiMAX segment is the data access market. 802.16e which is due by end of this year will address the nomadic market and there is already several companies developing products for it.

>> You confused me again. Data access market? uh, isn't that the whole point of WiMAX???
.16e is the mobile spec. Understand many vendors have a staged roadmap. This since .16d & .16e are not fully compatiable vendors are looking to base products on .16e and operate them in fixed mode as one step, then offer full mobility in a phase approach, etc.
lrmobile_boondocksbandit 12/5/2012 | 3:00:14 AM
re: Voodoo Cranks Up 3G [I read this as you assume QCOM bought Flarion to create a WiMAX business]

No, what Boracho meant was that QCOM bought Flarion as a hedge against OFDM(A) based WiMAX taking off, since QCOM didn't have any OFDM(A) solution to offer interested providers.
If the majority of the wireless industry jumps on the OFDM(A) bandwagon, whether WiMAX or 3G LTE or whatever, QCOM will see its revenues disappear fast without any CDMA. They had to have some hedge, and preferably a proprietary one with some IPR that could be used for retaining the revenue stream.

[You confused me. QCOM is too late for the market in 2008? Interesting. ]
I suspect what Boracho meant here was that there is enough momentum behind a standards based OFDM(A) solution with multiple vendors that QCOM might find it very difficult to hawk a proprietary Flash-OFDM solution. FYI, Ericsson and Nokia are very much involved in mobile WiMAX. Nokia has teams implementing mobile WiMAX end to end solutions.

As regarding spectrum issues, the assumption you are making is that WiMAX will only happen in the 3.5 Ghz or 2.5 Ghz bands. There is nothing in the standard itself (802.16E) preventing it from being deployed in any band. In fact my guess is that that would be its Achille's heel, too many spectrum possibilities leading to fractured deployments preventing seamless roaming as in 3G. I know of at least 4 operators (and not your mom and pop outfits) who have serious plans on deploying mobile WiMAX, unfortunately at least 3 of them are planning on deploying it in different bands.
boracho 12/5/2012 | 3:00:07 AM
re: Voodoo Cranks Up 3G Thanks Boondocksbandit for the clarification which is inline of what I was thinking. I think the term WiMAX is freely used (not only by me) to refer to 802.16 and/or OFDM/OFDMA in general.

Freetoair if you think of 802.16/WiMAX as a just a fixed wireless standard than you are mistaken. Sure today WiMAX only supports fixed wireless however pretty soon it will evolve into mobile. Actually most of the vendors I talked to expressed interest in developing mobile systems today based on 802.16e provided they can get their hands on some kind of components which seems to be lagging behind (funding issues at component vendors? most likely). That explains why many vendors are turning to internal development.

I think the burden of proof is on QC/Flarion to show that their solution can and will support WiMAX and not the other way around. Handset vendors, etc. are already paying too much to QC for the privilige of using CDMA ($5 per unit is not cheap!). Now that we finally might have an open market solution who do you think will decide to stick with QC proprietary OFDM? I understand that Intel is behind much of the WiMAX push but there is nothing preventing other vendors from joining in. Actually most if not all of the big name cellular vendors (Boondocksbandit is right) are working on some kind of WiMAX solution. However, what I have seen so far is that most of the initial interest seems to be focused on dualmode support 3G + WiMAX.

I fully agree with Boondocksbandit comment that there is too many fragementation in 802.16/WiMAX right now. However I get the feeling that there is at least some sort of unity within regions in terms of frequency usage and bandwidth allocation. There is still a lot of work needed if worldwide bandwidth uniformity is to be achieved (can it ever be?).

Freetoair you seem to beleive that Flarion's OFDM technology is superior than 802.16/WiMAX OFDM, do you care to explain why? Sure there are some already defined profile for specific bandwidth in WiMAX however additional ones can be added if needed. Also the current WiMAX profiles are for fixed wireless and not meant for mobile applications.
wallmann 12/5/2012 | 3:00:06 AM
re: Voodoo Cranks Up 3G Stocks basing the last couple of hours of the day offer low
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freetoair 12/5/2012 | 3:00:05 AM
re: Voodoo Cranks Up 3G I am agreeing with you that OFDM(A) as a technology has merit and will be around for awhile (as does the industry in general).

QCOM is not the issue for WiMAX but apparently this really shook the WiMAX crowd up :)

However, WiMAX as a system faces a major spectrum problem.

3.5GHz spectrum (propogation issues aside especially for mobility)
- there is very little spectrum allocated today (check the worldwide markets; 3.3/3.4GHz may be opening in some markets but not there now. Good luck on launching a major network with 5, 10 or 15MHz to work with.
- in most all markets 3.5GHz is regulated as a fixed service (not mobile)

Regulations can be changed but it takes awhile.

Again that is ignoring the issues with the economics and service quality at 3.3-3.5GHz.

2.5GHz is more viable but no global footprint exists and in most markets is earmarked for 3G expansion. So lots of work to sort that one out.

Do not even mention 5.8GHz. U.S. 700MHz is a long way out.

So where is the spectrum?

Dual mode 3G/WiMAX cellular handsets. OK. And the major datarate advantage then to WiMAX vs 3G?
The power/heat dissipation issues will drop the throughput to equivalant numbers and WiMAX will have no major advantage.

I am not a major supporter of Flarion. My only point is that they at least somewhat fit into spectrum plans that exists so if QCOM incorporates into thier technology then operators may have a viable path forward.

WiMMAX profiles are a nice term for the spectrum band, channel bw, duplexing methods, etc. Please let me know where the WiMAX spectrum is and I will shut up. ( ** Agreeing again that OFDM(A) as a technology can have a lot of applications - just look at 802.11)
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