Tag Archives: lte

iPad Killed Wireless Unlimited Data Plans

With the coming of the iPad, we started to hear about MiFi, tethering and mobile hotspots.

The case for the MiFi is simple. You pay a single data plan for your MiFi (or your smartphone with tethering), and there you connect all your iPads, laptops,  iPods,  and any future connected mobile device with Wifi. As LTE comes, you just get one unlimited LTE data plan for your MiFi and that is all you need from the Telco! A single pipe that you take with you anywhere!

Heaven for the consumer!! Hell for the Telco!!

Still wondering why AT&T, Telefonica O2, Vodafone and other telcos STOPPED offering unlimited data plans soon after the iPad arrived? They have four good reasons for that:

  1. The obvious: Tiered plans avoid heavy users to congest the network  (e.g. with P2P traffic). It also creates affordable plans to lure more users.
  2. The not-so-obvious: video is what drives traffic volume. Capping give telcos an (unfair?) advantage to distribute video content, compared with over-the-top. Example: Let’s say Verizon offers 1 GB data plan for your iPad and a Video-On-Demand App to stream all the movies you want at $8/month. The movies that you see with the Verizon App do not count for the 1GB monthly limit. Would you take Netflix at $8/month, considering it will soon kill your 1GB limit? Or do you take the Verizon video App?
  3. The real game: Telcos want you to get one separate data plan for each mobile connected device: One for your smartphone, one for your laptop, one for your iPad, one for your connected car, one for each of the future Machine-to-Machine connected devices. Telcos will bundle packages, but they want you to value each device connection with its plan and its cap.
  4. Protect Wireline: Telcos must avoid that LTE replaces the Wireline broadband connection. All fiber investment and IPTV play could go to waste if put to compete with 100Mbps+ Unlimited LTE plans. The easy differentiation: Wireline broadband is unlimited. Wireless broadband is capped.

The telco end vision for a consumer:

  • One unlimited wired pipe for the home (bundling TV and TV apps)
  • Many capped wireless pipes for each of the mobile connected devices, phone, laptop, tablet, car…  (bundling TV and other value-added services)

Back from MWC 2009 in Barcelona


After a few weeks traveling I am back in KL after the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. I was planning to link any comprehensive report  from the blog-sphere with the highlights from last week, but strangely enough I did not find any. So I will summarize my high level impressions from the show:

  • The news with most press coverage was incredibly the handset that a pickpocket stole from a Telstra exec, with the yet-to-be-released Windows Mobile version 6.5, and loaded with “secret product information”. Is Microsoft using new viral marketing techniques? or was really the show lacking any more striking news?
  • Where are the Android handsets? After more than one year of Android birth many were expecting 2009 MWC to unveil stunning new handsets. But Android devices were missing. HTC only showed  its T-Mobile’s G1. Are HTC, Motorola, Sony-Ericsson and others preserving their weapons for the Xmas season?
  • Still some interesting devices, like LG’s Watch Phone also shown at CES, or the INQ Social Mobile Phone, a web-centric budget phone that got the best mobile phone award. This is a $50 mobile phone optimized to enjoy Facebook, Skype and IM from a mobile, in Om Malik’s words, “chasing what is going to be the biggest trend in the mobile industry: application-specific mobile phones”.  Also grabbed my attention the Texas Instruments’ pico-projectors embedded in mobile phones.
  • There were also major annoucements of large Network contracts with less attention from the general public. The most significant was Verizon’s annoucenment for LTE deployments as early as 2009! Verizon also disclosed their selected vendors, with Alcatel-Lucent as the biggest winner, followed by Ericsson.

In general, less visitors than previous editions,  more sun, a few Lara Crofts in Hall 8, and occasional pickpockets making it into the headlines.

Back from Barcelona Mobile World Congress

I am just back in KL, after an interesting week in Barcelona. Apart from customer dinners and meeting old friends, the Congress reflected the opportunities and concerns of a changing industry, where Telcos fight to retain value, Telecom Vendors bring innovations to help Telcos, and new Media and Internet companies enter the Mobile space.

Apart from iPhone, Android and other Mobile OS talks, the most spoken topics around wireless technology were:

-Many announcements and discussions about LTE, as the one of Alcatel-Lucent and NEC joining forces to bring 4G faster to the market. Speculation that some emerging markets might go from 2.5G to LTE, skipping 3G/UMTS.

– Intel kept reinforcing their support for WiMAX on the CPE, as new telecom vendors contracts were announced

Mobile Advertisement, with companies as Alcatel-Lucent showing video ad insertion , and other as Yahoo positioning for agreements with operators for mobile advertisement in the search and WAP area. See our previous post on the matter.

But the two topics that will have the biggest impact in 2008 are : Femto Cells and Mobile TV

Femto cells are IP based BSR (Node-B and RNC in one box) that provide indoor 3G/UMTS at home backhauled through broadband (ADSL, fiber, etc). Femto will be used by 3G telcos to sell to the user a better indoor coverage for both voice, data and high quality video. More interestingly, Femto will enable straight-forward HomeZone charging with lower rates: e.g. unlimited data flat rates at home, as no radio resource is shared, will make 3G data plans more appealing, even replacing Wifi. Femto will also allow Mobile telcos to bundle their offering with broadband ADSL or similar. And furthermore, once a telco has a Femto cell at the end-user home, the telco can easily handle the complete family communications budget, including broadband, all the 3G mobiles at home, and all 3G data-enabled laptops of the family, all in the same bill.

Mobile TV is getting more and more traction with Mobile Operators, specially those who already have a sister company managing content rights. The model forward is to offer an easy-to-use Rich Media Client to handle both broadcast channels (via DVB-H or DVB-SH), as well as unicast channels for VoD, Catch-up-TV, or other pre-recorded channels. The Telco needs to work as a broadcaster, making sure content is updated, and channels are conveniently packaged. Mobile operators will face competition from Internet sites, such as YouTube, already offering the service on the mobile, but with proper exclusivity agreements for premium content, operators can relegate YouTube to be a complementary service for user-generated free content.