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‘Invisibility’ could be a key to better electronics

A new approach that allows objects to become “invisible” has now been applied to an entirely different area: letting particles “hide” from passing electrons, which could lead to new kinds of electronics. Click here for more.


Green Telecom Networks Could Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 32% by 2016

All told, investments could reduce GHG emissions from the telecom industry by 32 percent by 2016 compared to a business-as-usual scenario, the study concludes. Click here for more.


SDN could reduce carrier opex by up to $9bn globally by 2017

SDN could help operators reduce operating expenses by up to $  9bn globally by 2017, claims Tellabs

SDN could help operators reduce operating expenses by up to $ 9bn globally by 2017, claims Tellabs

Mobile backhaul and optical networking specialist Tellabs has  published  research suggesting that SDN could  help operators reduce operating expenses by as much as $ 9bn globally by 2017. The firm explained that opex savings are expected to be much greater than capex savings across five key network applications in every year until 2017.

In August last year, research conducted by analyst firm Strategy Analytics for  Tellabs suggested that SDN could almost halve a perceived “backhaul shortfall” for operators and save them just under $ 5bn in capital expenses by 2017.

Tellabs said that the value of opex savings will be seen across five key network applications: wifi offload/video redirect ($ 3.14bn); cloud RAN ($ 2.17bn); local breakout/internet IXP ($ 1.83bn); metro aggregation/load redistribution ($ 1.22bn) and small cells ($ 591m).

The Asia Pacific region is expected to save the most over this time period as operators in many markets in this region continue to migrate to all-IP networks. The region is expected to see opex savings of $ 5.62bn as a result of implementing SDN, followed by North America ($ 1.26bn) and Western Europe ($ 1.25bn).

“There’s been no shortage of hype around SDN and what we are putting our work behind is the quantification of it: from lab to commercial deployment,” Stu Benington, director for technology  and strategy at Tellabs told

“Operators need to be comfortable with the financial payback and the return on investment on these technologies, so quantifying those in a way that meets business requirements is very important and that’s why we’ve taken this very quantitative approach.”

Benington even went far as far as to claim that using SDN could enable operators to create new revenue streams, in a sector where operator margins from traditional services are being squeezed.

“We’re seeing now that the ultimate prize is using these technologies to generate revenue sources; to offer new types of services,” he said. He added that in every discussion the firm has with operator customers, they suggest new set of use cases which can indeed be implemented by taking advantage of the flexibility SDN brings to the network.

“It’s been a positive surprise – we thought it would be a bridge too far. One basic use case is the notion of bandwidth on demand.”

He explained that could include services such as “turbo boosts” that provision extra bandwidth for specific applications, based on the customer’s preferences.

“The user could be on an iPad and wants to provision something specifically for an application. They can use what they want and pay for it when they’re done,” he explained. “They just make a request, up pops a pricing menu, you can use it for what you need and turn it off when you’re done. It’s about matching network resources exactly with the end user’s willingness to pay.”

In March last year, Sanqi Li, CTO of infrastructure vendor Huawei’s carrier network business said that the SDN and network function virtualisation (NFV) will bring about more change than the industry has seen in the past century, particularly in terms of business models, and stressed that operators need to move beyond what is traditionally perceived as their position in the digital ecosystem.

“This next change is less about technology and more about business. The operator business model at present is rigid, slow, and hard to change. Network architecture today is closed, complicated, and still focused on elements that the carriers can control,” he said. He added that operator business models can be saved by SDN, characterising the move to this new architecture as a move from closed to open.

Tellabs is a subsidiary of private equity firm Marlin Equity Partners, which acquired the specialist in October last year for $ 891m. In December 2012, the firm also acquired NSN’s optical business Coriant.

Survey suggests LTE roaming premiums could be short-lived

Only around a fifth of respondents to the Intelligence Industry Survey 2014 strongly believe that mobile operators are justified in charging LTE roaming at a premium to other roaming services. But even fewer expect that specialist roaming providers will come to dominate the retail roaming market, suggesting that mobile operators will continue to derive vital revenues from roaming, despite pressure on tariffs from competition and regulation.

Price is expected to remain an important competitive differentiator in LTE roaming, although not the most important. We asked respondents to rate a number of competitive differentiators for roaming services on the same one to seven scale (where seven was extremely effective). Of the six options provided, price differentiation was ranked fourth by respondents in total and third by operator respondents.

It was nonetheless rated highly, with 41.4 per cent of respondents (and 44.4 per cent of operator respondents) scoring it six or seven. Judged most effective, and given a six or seven rating by half of respondents, was service continuity. Close behind, and reflecting responses to an earlier question, was guaranteed Qos (48.6 per cent), followed by integration with wifi (44.7 per cent; this was ranked fourth by operator respondents, given a high rating by 39.7 per cent). Judged least effective, with a high rating from 25.6 per cent of respondents, was geographical differentiation.

How effective do you believe the following differentiators are for operators providing LTE roaming? Where is extremely effective.

How effective do you believe the following differentiators are for operators providing LTE roaming? Where is extremely effective.

We asked respondents to rate eight potential charging models for LTE roaming services in terms of their benefit to the mobile operator. See the story here.

Chris Lennartz, head of mobile services at KPN-owned IPX provider iBasis suggests these results highlight the importance of the IPX model. “LTE Roaming will be limited initially to data roaming but, soon afterwards, delay- and error-critical services like VoLTE, RCS, video, M2M will follow, in order to provide Multi-Service Continuity in the transition to all-IP,” he says. “IPX has been designed to assign differentiated quality levels to specific services over one integrated pipe, using virtual links that can be managed separately. As this model works end-to-end, operators can start introducing a variety of services assigning the QoS they require.”

LTE roaming will not differ from earlier roaming simply in terms of service and business models. With a new signalling paradigm and the opportunity to address the inelegance of earlier approaches to routing there will be some key technological changes as well.

What do you believe will be the revenue and traffic impact of the European Commission's proposed removal of roaming premiums within the EU?

What do you believe will be the revenue and traffic impact of the European Commission’s proposed removal of roaming premiums within the EU?

The 2014 Intelligence Global Industry Survey drew responses from more than 2,000 industry professionals, including more than 700 operator representatives. The full report from the survey will be made available in mid-February. You can register to receive the report here.

Self-healing electronics could work longer and reduce waste

When one tiny circuit within an integrated chip cracks or fails, the whole chip — or even the whole device — is a loss. But what if it could fix itself, and fix itself so fast that the user never knew there was a problem? Click here for more.


Vodafone, O2 could launch LTE in 900MHz band

The UK is finally set to see LTE services launched in the coming weeks

UK regulator Ofcom has said that there is nothing stopping EE’s rivals, such as Vodafone and O2, from putting in an application to alter their 900MHz spectrum licence for LTE usage. A ruling in early 2011 meant that all operators are now free to use their 2G spectrum for 3G services, so extension of that same ruling to encompass 4G would be a small amend.

Potentially, this means that Everything Everywhere, the firm that owns the Orange, T-Mobile and new EE brand in the UK, could have its one-year monopoly on LTE in the market cut short. Its rivals would no longer have to wait for the UK LTE auction, scheduled for early next year, to launch competing 4G services.

At the launch of EE, CEO Olaf Swantee countered claims that the 900MHz LTE ecosystem was not as strong by identifying that three of the five LTE devices to launch on EE’s network are also available with LTE900 connectivity. To be fair, that statement does confirm that the LTE900 ecosystem is indeed weaker, 40 per cent weaker to be exact, but it does highlight the fact that an ecosystem does exist.

However, Bengt Nordström, co-founder and CEO of consultancy firm Northstream, believes that while Vodafone and O2 should be given the option to refarm their 900MHz spectrum for 4G, freeing enough of it up to launch LTE would be a challenge.  This is because operators in the UK are still selling GSM phones and a large chunk of the user base is reliant on GSM900 spectrum.

“My perception is that when you are on HSPA, you tend to use 2100MHz, but the coverage isn’t that great, so all operators are really dependent on the fallback to GSM/EDGE,” he said.

He added that launching LTE only really makes sense if operators can allocate at least 10MHz to 20MHz, which would be tough for them to do.

“I’m not sure how viable it really is for them to effectively free up enough 900MHz spectrum without really creating congestion in the GSM band,” Nordström added.

Despite that, he argued that Ofcom must still take steps to repair the damage it has done to the market, by allowing one operator a monopoly on LTE. EE has sunk a significant amount, £1.5bn into LTE already, but  Nordström  advised EE’s rivals that investing more in HSPA may be the best route forward.

“1800MHz is the best spectrum for LTE, so if I was in O2 or Vodafone’s shoes, I would be thinking: How could I offer comparable service? I think that would mean I deploy HSPA more extensively than I had planned to. If they deploy HSPA or HSPA+ more extensively, from a user perspective, there would probably not be a huge difference between that and LTE,” he said.

“Then I would really have an open and honest discussion with the regulator and say they have given one player a tremendous advantage and to maintain their competition, what can you do for us?”

Despite all these arguments, Ofcom stands by its decree that there are only benefits to be reaped by consumers with EE being given a supposed ‘head start’, with no detrimental effects to competition in the long term.

Ofcom has also dismissed the idea that EE could gain from its exclusivity deal with Apple as the next generation iPhone is only available as an LTE1800 device. In a recent report, the watchdog found that O2 UK gained no benefits from its exclusivity deal with Apple for the first generation iPhone. In fact, the deal cost the operator a fortune in unsubsidised handset costs and caused much embarrassment when the operator’s network subsequently fell over under the weight of demand for data services. – telecoms industry news, analysis and opinion

European operators could save £426m a year through improved online self care

A third of mobile subscribers only ever call their mobile operator because they failed to solve a problem through its self-care portal, according to WDS' research

A third of mobile subscribers only ever call their mobile operator because they failed to solve a problem through its self-care portal, according to WDS’ research

A third of mobile subscribers only ever call their mobile operator because they failed to solve a problem through its self-care portal, according to research published this week. As a result operators across Europe are spending an estimated €510m (£426m) per year in unnecessary support costs.

The findings come from customer care services provider WDS, a subsidiary of Xerox. It found that 32 per cent of customers calling their operator were only doing so because they had been unable to find an online resolution to their problem either due to inaccurate, incomplete, hard-to-find or non-existent information.

This represents a waste of resources for operators, since the average cost of resolving a customer issue online is just a fraction of handling a telephone call to a call centre, the firm said.

“Operators’ self-care websites are often managed independently of the contact centre,” explained Tim Deluca-Smith, VP of marketing at WDS.

“This means they have very little exposure to the real support issues customers are facing and are typically only able to resolve 40 per cent of problems effectively. Customers who then go on to call their operator add over half a billion euros in support costs. This is a cost that’s entirely preventable. Online self-care is designed to reduce support costs, not add to them.”

The firm found that the most effective self-care sites had the potential to deflect as much as 50 per cent of an operator’s support traffic away from more expensive contact centre channels.

You can now register for the free webinar in association with WDS outlining a seven-step approach to effective call avoidance on December 10, at 3.00pm GMT.

Google Could Earn $7 Billion a Year from Android Apps by 2017

The potential scale of Google’s apps store, and its growth has been highlighted by a financial analyst report, which predicts that Google could be generating US$ 1.3 billion for the company this calendar year. Click here for more.


‘Smart clothing’ could someday power cell phones with the sun’s rays

Scientists report the first fibers suitable for weaving into tailorable textiles that can capture and release solar energy. Click here for more.

Cellular News

Apple’s Former CEO Could Launch Takeover Bid for BlackBerry

Apple’s former CEO, John Sculley who famously clashed with Steve Jobs and was later ousted from the company could be about to make a counter-bid to buy struggling smartphone manufacturer, BlackBerry. Click here for more.