Operators will soon be able double mobile broadband speeds for consumers at the edge of a base station cell, by allowing devices to connect with a second base station that serves a neighbouring cell, Nokia Siemens Networks has said.
NSN and Qualcomm will be jointly demonstrating the HSPA+ Multiflow feature at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, next week.
The feature enables the simultaneous transmission of two data streams from two adjacent cells to one single consumer device. Currently, technology on the marketonly enables one data stream to be transmitted to a device from one base station, except for when a user is moving from one cell area to another, when the consumer can benefit from a “soft handover”.
However, NSN claimed that HSPA+ Multiflow can up to double throughput and data speeds for users at cell edge and provide up to 50 per cent faster response compared to existing HSPA+ networks.
The feature is expected to be 3GPP standardised by mid-2012, and will be available commercially from NSN by second half of 2013. Operators will be able to add the feature to their existing HSPA networks with a simple software upgrade, according to the infrastructure vendor.
US operator T-Mobile USA is offering 200MB of free LTE data each month to tablet users across the States, even if they are not already a T-Mobile subscriber.
The operator said that it made the move because 90 per cent of tablets in the US use wifi only, yet they were designed to be truly mobile devices. The free data allowance is the equivalent to sending approximately 800 Instagram photos, more than 2,500 emails or streaming 200 minutes of music, T-Mobile said.
“Tablets are supposed to be un-tethered like smartphones, but it hasn’t worked out that way because people know carriers will charge them an arm-and-a-leg for mobile data,” said John Legere, president and CEO of T-Mobile.
“Carriers figured out a long time ago that they could make money – a lot of money – by forcing customers into restrictive, overpriced data plans. We changed it for smartphones and we’re changing it for tablets.”
Customers who want to purchase more data have a choice of options with no annual service contracts or data overages. T-Mobile offers daily, weekly and monthly options for adding 4G LTE data.
Speaking at the Broadband World Forum in Amsterdam this week, Alcatel Lucent corporate CTO Marcus Weldon noted that tablet devices are now processing more data globally than desktop PCs and laptops. He argued that this makes small cells are a vital part of the future broadband network.
“If you look at a tablet, it has no wires and no Ethernet port; if the dominant computing device is wireless that means we have to build capacity not just coverage into the network,” Weldon said. “These devices also have limited storage and rely predominantly on the cloud for storage, so we need high capacity networks. Furthermore, we use our tablets at home, at work and on the go, so we need to build ubiquitous networks that are always on.”
US operator T-Mobile has announced that it is cutting data roaming costs for its customers when they are travelling in more than 100 countries worldwide. The move, announced Wednesday evening by CEO John Legere, builds on the firm’s pricing overhauls in March, when it cut contract lengths and separated the cost of device from the cost of service, lowering monthly rates.
Legere described roaming costs as “completely crazy” and “insanely inflated” before announcing that data roaming and text messages would generate no extra costs for “most” users on its Simple Choice plans. Voice calls for these users will be charged at a flat rate of $ 0.20/minute across the same geography.
“It doesn’t have to be this way,” Legere said. “The truth is that the industry’s been charging huge fees for data roaming. But what’s most surprising is that no one’s called them out – until now.”
T-Mobile also announced that it had achieved nationwide coverage for its US LTE network. The firm claimed that the network is delivering faster speeds than those of both Verizon and Sprint, citing “recent third-party tests”.
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US carrier Verizon Wireless has announced a promotion that doubles the data allowances for its LTE subscribers. From now on, customers on the 2GB for US$ 30 package will receive 4GB a month, while 5GB for US$ 50 move to 10GB and 10GB for US$ 80 hits 20GB. The new allowances will be given automatically to new subscribers, while existing customers will receive it upon request from customer services.
The higher caps will help ease the pressure on LTE adopters who, thanks to the faster speeds available, tend to go through their data allowances quickly. The offer is billed as ‘for a limited time only’, but is expected to run indefinitely.
The move comes as a report from Informa Telecoms & Media highlights Verizon’s global LTE leadership with its 1.4million LTE subscribers, which help the US market in total account for 63 per cent of all LTE subscriptions worldwide. Verizon Wireless launched its LTE network in December 2010 and since then it has seen its share of US mobile subscriptions increase from 31 per cent to 33 per cent.
According to Mike Roberts, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media, much of that growth came from the addition of the iPhone to Verizon’s device portfolio, but the draw of LTE was also an important factor, accounting for 53 per cent of Verizon’s post-paid subscriptions in 3Q11, an increase of 30 per cent over the second quarter.
The reports notes that with the widespread availability of LTE in the US on networks such as AT&T and MetroPCS, the US is set to become the dominant player in LTE through to 2016, with a predicted figure of 100 million LTE subscriptions, compared to 613 million in the rest of the world. After this point though, it will be overtaken by China.