Monday, February 23, 2009

Mobile World Congress 2009 Viewpoint

With Mobile World Congress 2009 completed, my five net impressions of the show are as follows:

  1. MWC 2009 was a solid event. There was much enthusiasm for the future. However, the sentiment is that next year’s show will be the testament of the industry’s economic viability and ability to weather a worldwide “financial Tsunami”

2.     The industry wants an Open Eco System for collaboration among vendors, standards bodies, and operators. Open API to allow for apps to traverse networks just like SMS. Any device, any network + common charger for devices, the focus for 2010 and beyond. What’s next, a common platform for charging our handheld devices? Oh, yes, that’s coming too (2012 target).

  1. LTE infrastructure deployments may start as early as late this year with commercial services taking off in 2011-2012. Femto products and indoor wireless systems will play an important role to fill coverage and capacity holes for HSDPA/HSPA and support LTE in 2012 (WiMAX for Backhaul?)
  2.  More Spectrum is needed but there will not likely be a uniform worldwide band for LTE by 2012 (400/700/900MHz, and 1.7 +2.6GHz the likely candidates? Time will tell)
  3. No focus on Wi-Max…it’s now been relegated to backhaul and remote areas such as Africa. Today, MOTO also confirmed layoffs in its Wi-Max group which makes

Since Femto got some play at the conferenc, let me address the viability of this segment:

FEMTO and other indoor wireless solutions are indeed gaining momentum. This year will see 3 or maybe 4 major operators conduct controlled field trials (or labeled “commercial launch”) to test acceptance of these solutions to improve coverage and capacity for voice and broadband data and consumers and business’ willingness to pay. Unfortunately, the current startups will likely be pushed aside if the market takes off and hundreds of thousands of units are need. That’s when Cisco, Huawei, NSN, ZTE and Alcatel-Lucent step in.

Qualcomm is aiming to provide reference design in this space and given their 2H10 time-line, it may be well timed with market take off for this emerging segment of the industry.

Feedback from Telecom Italia was that consumers and business alike want an integrated ‘box’ for DSL/Wi-Fi/Femto. Netgear displayed an early demo box at the show. This “combo box” may be the home or SMB set-top box of the future (something Cisco will agree with)

This week, Brian Modoff of Deutsche Bank Securities sent out their Point of View on Femto.

“Most people we spoke with, including carriers, believe that the femto cell will not be a stand-alone box in the home. In many instances its features will be integrated into residential gateways or set-top boxes. This is particularly true of wireless operators who have wire-line assets.”

“We see this as toe-dipping by both carriers, seeking to fill some holes in their network coverage areas. The Samsung box can only handle voice and not data connections. It is also expensive, at an unsubsidized $250. Our understanding is that the box was built by Samsung’s handset unit, while femtocells under development by other vendors feature advanced network designs.”

“The biggest question around femtocells remains the operators’ interest.  Femtocell deployments still carry some thorny issues. The largest of these is how the femto will integrate back into the carriers’ core network. Much of this work has now been finished, with the standardization of the Iu-h interface, but final details are still being ironed out. Other technical issues, particularly interference management, are still being resolved.  If past roll-outs of new technologies are any good we would not be surprised if femtos get delayed by “unforeseen challenges” as we move through the year and into 2010.”

Overall, a good show in Barcelona. Next year, we hope to see less Thievery and no prostitutes on Las Rambla and more Police presence. More, cheaper, smarter mobile devices. A clear plan with regard to transitioning to a 20Mb mobile broadband experience around the world (and which bands to use). 

I’m sure, next year will be the year when personal video-casting makes its entry into handheld devices (early trials) which makes 2011 the year the entire mobile network crashed J


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