Sunday, 30 December 2012

VoIP and IP Messaging (Report Informa T&M)

VoIP and IP messaging: Operator strategies to combat the threat from OTT players

Blogger notes: This is an overview of a complete report from Informa Telecoms and Media but it's useful for defining if you need to buy it
One of the key attractions for consumers with regards to mobile VoIP and IP messaging applications is the misconception that they enable ‘free’ voice and/or messaging among their community of users; mobile users will still need to purchase a smart-phone and a mobile data plan in order to use the services.

That the services are ‘free’ however, is not the mobile operators’ only problem. Consumers currently use OTT services because they are free, but the risk for mobile operators is that in the future, consumers use OTT services because they are better than the operators’ own services – eventually rendering the mobile operator invisible.

Today’s OTT players are only having a small impact on mobile operators’ voice and messaging revenues, because the relative user base is small. But as the penetration of smart-phones and mobile broadband grows, so too will the penetration of the services provided by the OTT companies, potentially resulting in a corresponding decline in operators’ voice and messaging traffic.

Mobile operators are pursuing five key strategies in order to protect their revenues from voice and messaging: do nothing, fight, neutralize, partner or emulate. Only three of these strategies are future-proof, according to Informa’s research.

This report provides a detailed analysis of the OTT IP communications market, including an evaluation of the threat that OTT IP communications represents to mobile operators, market enablers and inhibitors, operators’ strategies for OTT communications and the outlook for OTT IP-based messaging for operators and OTT providers. The report also features seven case studies on OTT IP or messaging communications providers, including Viber Media and WhatsApp.

To view a free extract of this report:


Saturday, 29 December 2012

LTE Opportunities and Challenges in Asia - 2013

LTE global growth is forecasted to be led by Asia Pacific with India and China as major drivers. In this whitepaper, a snapshot of the likely changes Long Term Evolution will bring to Asia wireless communication operators and the mobile internet service providers. It compares the differences between LTE and WiMAX, as well as outlook of the LTE network adoption worldwide via the growth of 3G subscriber base from now, until 2013.

Other key takeaways included in this whitepaper are forecasts of 3G subscribers by region, worldwide LTE adoption data, mobile usage behaviour of several Asian countries, as well as the key challenges and opportunities of LTE adoption.


2013 Telecoms Predictions (Ericsson Lab)

Ericsson ConsumerLab has identified some of the most important consumer trends for the coming year. As 2012 draws to a close, Ericsson ConsumerLab has identified the hottest consumer trends for 2013 and beyond.

Here are the 10 hottest consumer trends:

1. Cloud reliance reshapes device needs. More than 50 percent of tablet users and well above 40 percent of smartphone users in USA, Japan, Australia and Sweden appreciate the improved simplicity of having the same apps and data seamlessly available through the cloud on multiple devices.

2. Computing for a scattered mind. From desktops, files and folders to flat surfaces, apps and cloud services, consumers are increasingly turning their backs on a computing paradigm for the focused mind. Tasks are handled at the spur of the moment - as we stand in a shopping line or talk to someone at a café. Purchase intent is higher for tablets compared to desktop PCs, and for smartphones compared to laptops.

3. Bring your own broadband to work. A total of 57 percent of smartphone users use their personal smartphone subscriptions at work. Personal smartphones are increasingly being used for work, to send emails, plan business trips, find locations and more.

4. City-dwellers go relentlessly mobile. By relentlessly accessing the internet always and everywhere, consumers are now an unstoppable force making internet truly mobile. Total smartphone subscriptions will reach 3.3 billion by 2018 and mobile network coverage is one of the most important drivers of satisfaction for city life.

5. Personal social security networks. As a result of economic turbulence, trust in traditional structures and authorities is decreasing and consumers increasingly trust their personal communities. Personal networks online serve as a safety net and social media is shaping up to be a serious contender to the traditional job agency.

6. Women drive the smartphone market. New figures clearly show that women drive mass-market smartphone adoption. No less than 97 percent of female smartphone owners use SMS. A total of 77 percent send and receive photos, 59 percent use social networking, 24 percent check in at locations and 17 percent redeem coupons. The figures for men are lower in these areas.

7. Cities become hubs for social creativity. City center dwellers have significantly more friends online than people in suburban areas. 12 percent of people that live in cities say that the main reason for using social networks is to connect and exchange ideas with others, making it the third most common reason for social networking after staying up-to-date with friends and keeping them updated.

8. In-line shopping. A total of 32 percent of smartphone users already shop with smartphones; they now start to combine in-store and online shopping aspects. They want to see products, get information and make price comparisons, and make purchases immediately without having to que up at the cash register.

9. TV goes social. A total of 62 percent of viewers use social forums while watching video and TV - and 42 percent of  those who use social forums or chats while watching discuss things they currently watch on a weekly basis. Over 30 percent are more likely to pay for content watched in social contexts. The majority of video and TV consumption on mobile devices takes place in the home.

10. Learning in transformation. Learning is transformed through both internal and external forces: Young people bring their personal technology experience into the classroom, driving a bottom-up pressure for change. Simultaneously governments and institutions look for new ICT solutions in order to be more efficient. Connectivity changes the outlook for children on a global scale. In India, around 30 million of 69 million urban children aged 9 to 18 own mobile phones.

Link to "10 hot consumer trends for 2013" report:


Wednesday, 26 December 2012

2013 Telecoms Predictions (Informa T&M)

Analyst group Informa Telecoms & Media has revealed its Top Ten trends for 2013 for the telecoms and media sectors. Five of the predictions relate directly to telecoms operators and the other five cover the TV, digital media and OTT communications sector.
“We reckon that 2013 is going to be another tough year for the telecoms industry with a continued emphasis on cost control,” said Mark Newman, Chief Research Officer at Informa. “For operators, the migration to a data-centric business and revenue model will continue apace. And we see risks for those operators that do not invest properly in building wide-area networks that can deliver high-quality data services”.
“When it comes to new services, there will be a continued usage migration to smartphones and tablets. But both established and new players are trying to figure out how best to monetize mobile usage. Don’t be surprised to see some of the disruptors being disrupted by new technologies and business models in 2013”.

1. Wifi will become a victim of its own success
There will be a shift in operator sentiment away from public wifi as it becomes evident that the growing availability of free-to-end-user wifi devalues the mobile-broadband business model. Mobile operators will respond by articulating the value of their cellular networks better, but others not affected by this trend will double down on their public wifi investments to continue to propel the deployment and monetization of wifi.

2. Facebook goes all in on mobile
Facebook is having a tough time translating its popularity on mobile devices into revenues. Although its most recent financial results at last showed some improvement in mobile advertising revenues, we do not believe that this alone will be enough to sustain and grow its mobile business. There are three new monetization strategies currently available to Facebook: 1) develop new premium services to sell to its existing customers; 2) take a share of revenues from third-party content providers that develop services on its platform; or 3) expand into the device or device software business. We believe that the first two are Facebook’s preferred options and that billing and marketing / distribution relationships with operators, particularly in emerging markets, could bring tangible benefits. With regards to the devices business, we expect Facebook to emerge as a strong backer of the new Mozilla mobile operating system which is expected to challenge Android in the low-cost smartphone device sector.

3. What’s up with WhatsApp
The hype bubble around WhatsApp and other OTT messaging services will continue to expand in 2013, especially driven by frequent acquisition rumors, but the emergence of early anecdotal evidence that some consumer segments are starting to migrate their attention and usage to alternative services, both old and new, will start to dampen expectations and highlight the fickle and fragmented nature of consumer behavior.

4. Digital services: Show us the money
Investors will demand a clear path to revenue from investments into digital services before operators begin to feel any share-price benefit from initiatives. PR-friendly they may be, but demands and expectations from shareholders will grow that they are also friendly to the bottom line. It will become apparent to many operators that material revenue streams that can shift the dial of group-level revenues will be very hard to come by.

5. Content providers continue to spend on infrastructure
Google, Netflix et al will continue to invest heavily in extending their infrastructure closer to users in 2013. Informa recommends that operators consider these proposals carefully and recognize where they are likely to gain more from reduced costs and increased network efficiency than lose out in terms of uncertain revenues from so-called two-sided business models.

6.Subsidies under the microscope, but not necessarily for the right reason
Handset-financing models established themselves in Europe in 2012 and will continue to spread globally in 2013. But a reduction in subsidies and changes to traditional ways of retailing devices will come at a cost to operators. Physical and online retailers, such as Amazon, as well as device-platform owners, such as Apple or Google, will accelerate their own initiatives to disrupt traditional device distribution models. Every slip in the share of devices sold through operator channels will serve to further erode the balance of power between operators and internet and platform owners at the negotiating table.

7. Shared network, shared pain?
The logic of network-sharing will increasingly be questioned by the industry given the core strategic importance of a differentiated network platform. In Europe, especially, we expect more operators to forsake dividends and free cash-flow in order to ramp up investments into network infrastructure in the hope of establishing a competitive advantage built upon network quality of experience. However, despite this reversal of attitude by some, network-sharing and operator consolidation will sweep through emerging markets, especially in Africa.

8. Voice over LTE: Only fools rush in
Boosted by a lack of any negative customer feedback about interim voice for LTE solutions (such as falling back to circuit-switched 2G and 3G networks), more operators will join Verizon Wireless and EE in pushing out their timelines for the commercial deployment of VoLTE. A business case that looks to be based solely on spectrum efficiency will struggle to gain enough executive support to justify a rushed investment plan.

9. APIs: The new currency of the digital economy
APIs will become the leading currency of the digital economy – speeding service activation, configuration, customer experience management and time to revenue. Whether directly monetized or not, APIs are the new “interconnect standard” among digital service stakeholders.

10. Netflix will have a breakout TV hit in 2013
In 2012, a previously niche channel player, AMC, owned the most popular show on US TV – “Breaking Bad”. In 2013, it will be the turn of an OTT provider to break through – perhaps with “House of Cards”. Pay-TV operators should respond by looking at how they might partner with Netflix, rather than seeing it only as a threat.


Monday, 24 December 2012

SP M2M - CISCO presentation

VoLTE tested on the live Swedish LTE network

Tele2 AB,  announced that Tele2 is the first operator in Europe to have tested voice over LTE (VoLTE) in the live Swedish Tele2 LTE network. The tests proved much better voice experience in the IP based LTE network compared to 2G and 3G networks.

The tests have been conducted in a fully end-to-end standards compliant manner using technology from Mavenir Systems and Nokia Siemens Networks implemented in the live LTE network in Sweden.

VoLTE technology improves voice quality significantly and enables much faster call setup times.
Joachim Horn, CTIO Tele2 AB, commented: “We have consciously built in support for VoLTE in the 4G network, covering almost the entire population of Sweden. The tests we have conducted have shown tremendous results in a multi-vendor environment. From a technical standpoint we could be ready to launch commercially within a year.”

VoLTE is the next generation technology for transporting voice traffic as an IP data stream in LTE. Today the LTE networks are solely used for data traffic whilst voice traffic is still handled in the 2G and 3G networks. By moving and converting the voice traffic to LTE data, the opportunities for a superior and seamless user experience of voice integrated in new LTE services and applications are increasing.

Joachim Horn continued: “Not only does VoLTE enable superior voice and data experience simultaneously for our customers, but the technology is also more cost efficient”.


2012 LTE Market Trends

Recently IDATE presented a study regarding LTE Market Trends/ Forecasts and Strategy.

Here is the link: IDATE - LTE 2012 MARKET TRENDS

Saturday, 22 December 2012

2013 Telecoms Predictions (Analysys Mason)

In 2013, roll-out of LTE services will have limited immediate economic impact, social media giants look set to stir up IP-based messaging services and smartphone penetration growth rates will slow considerably, according to Analysys Mason’s top telecoms predictions for the next 12 months. The company also predicts that Apple will continue to lose market share in the tablet space and the VoLTE investment case will come into the spotlight for operators.
1. LTE arrives, but with limited immediate impact: in 2013 LTE will become a commercial reality in many more countries, but will have limited economic impact in the next 12 months. Some European countries and emerging markets in Latin America are set to launch the network, as well as countries in South-East Asia via the Asia–Pacific band plan. Some developed markets such as South Korea will also start to deploy LTE-A and take advantage of features such as carrier aggregation to craft larger channels for higher-speed services.
However, the immediate economic impact of LTE will be limited in countries where it has been priced as a premium product and the economy remains sluggish (e.g. Italy and Spain). The industry will also realise that consumers are unwilling to pay a premium for LTE mobile broadband, and that this service will not compete with next-generation fixed access on anything other than a complementary basis. The effect will be to push down the price of 3G/HSPA mobile broadband services.

2. The ‘big switch-off’ will accelerate: 2013 will see growing operator focus on ‘the big switch-off’ – legacy mobile infrastructure for mobile network operators, copper networks and PSTN for fixed operators. Approaches to this will be varied. One operator in South Korea, for example, has already switched off its 2G network.

3. Social media giants to further shake up IP-based messaging: in 2012, operators responded to SMS cannibalisation by launching RCS-e, which was followed by a number of ‘telco-OTT’ services. In the next 12 months, competition will heat up further as social media giants such as Facebook move in. Analysys Mason forecasts that European operator revenue from messaging will decline by 34% in the next four years, from EUR28 billion in 2011 to EUR18.6 billion in 2017.

4. VoLTE investment case to come into the spotlight: the first voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) services came to market in 2012. Though widespread commercial deployments are still some way off, operators will need to make some tough decisions about the future of their voice services. Potential cost savings are currently driving the IMS investment case, but revenue implications are uncertain, and a clear vision for how voice services should evolve in an LTE world has yet to be articulated. HTML5/WebRTC will further stimulate the debate about whether ‘voice is just an application’.

5. Smartphone penetration growth rate to slow markedly: the smartphone market will continue to grow but the rate at which it grows will be markedly slower than in previous years. The number of annual global smartphone shipments will grow from 691 million in 2012 to 869 million in 2013. However, the rate of growth in the rate of new smartphone connections will significantly decline: from 39% in 2011 to 29% in 2012. In 2013, this growth rate will decline further to 20%.
Analysys Mason predicts continued, incremental development of the smartphone OS market share situation. Both Android and iOS are predicted to marginally grow their share of smartphone sales in the next 12 months globally (from 56.4% to 58.1% and 21.5% to 22% respectively). However, Symbian’s market share for sales will fall from 5.9% to 2.7%, reaching zero in 2016.

6. Apple to fall below 50% market share for tablet sales: as the tablet market continues to grow, Apple’s dominance of it will continue to decline, faster than many expect. Apple will fall below 50% market share for tablets by the end of 2013, with the iPad mini expected to have only a limited impact on sales numbers due to its high price point (USD329 versus less than USD200 for a Kindle Fire HD). Both Apple and Samsung lost market share in 2011-12 to the benefit of other vendors such as HTC, Motorola, RIM and Sony.
Content ecosystems for tablets will be a key "differentiator" in 2013 and as important a feature for tablets as the quality and size of the screen or processing power. Vendors who focus on expanding their content line-up and international footprint will be most likely to capture non-Apple tablet users.

7. Multi-device subscription pricing to emerge: selling prices for smartphones and tablets have been falling in the past five years; the average price of a smartphone has declined by EUR300 since 2007. This trend has supported increasing data penetration and the emergence of the multi-device user segment, which will result in many more operators launching multi-device subscription plans to capture additional revenue. This is particularly true for LTE subscriptions where per-gigabyte pricing covers a wide range of USD14–85 per gigabyte.

8. Traditional TV under more pressure: OTT/Connected TV and non-linear TV will continue to force broadcasters/pay-TV and telecoms operators to re-think their strategies. The take-up of paid-for OTT video services to the TV in the USA and Canada will more than double to 53.1 million households between 2012 and 2017, representing 37.4% of households.
The take-up of paid-for OTT video services in Europe will reach an estimated 2.3 million households in 2012, representing a mere 0.7% of households. We expect this to increase to 32.2 million, or 10% of households, in 2017. Compared with the USA and Canada, growth in Europe will continue to be constrained by a lower propensity to pay for video services, because of the widespread availability of high-quality free content from public broadcasters.

9. Wi-Fi to the rescue: small-cell/service-provider Wi-Fi solutions will address mobile operators’ needs for dense urban wireless coverage and capacity, but limited backhaul availability, standards maturity and solution costs will blunt major deployments until late 2013 or early 2014. LTE 2600 will emerge as a key option for small-cell spectrum gaining network and device support to address capacity needs of developed-market operators, complemented by growing 5GHz Wi-Fi providing improved Wi-Fi performance.
Service-provider Wi-Fi solutions based on HotSpot 2.0 and devices supporting Passpoint 2.0 will come to market in late 2013, helping to bridge the chasm between cellular networks and the emerging ‘carrier grade’ Wi-Fi service. Operators will also start to look at providing various grades of service: cellular, SP Wi-Fi and ‘Best Effort’ Wi-Fi to help differentiate their service and brand as well as support "monetisation" of the wireless experience.

10. Operators in emerging markets come of age: process transformation, opex and network cost optimization will become major issues in emerging markets as operators within these regions are coming of age and an apparently endless growth in mobile penetration rates is finally slowing down.
The penetration rates of active SIMs in some African and Middle Eastern countries, for example, already exceed 100% of the population (eg. South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and the United Arab Emirates).


HD Voice - G.722 vs. AMR-WB vs Skype (SILK)

As the major telecom players (including Portuguese PT and Vodafone) and other carriers start to push HD voice in the mobile and fixed world, advocates are lining up behind their favorite bits of codes for delivering higher quality sound.  There are three different battles shaping up among the codec-heads.

Battle #1 - G.722 vs. AMR-WB (G722.2) – Wireline vs. wireless
G.722 is the granddaddy of wideband HD voice codec, codified as a standard back in 198xx by the ITU.  Designed in the days the era of single core CPUs running at Mhz speeds, it doesn’t use a lot of cycles and requires 64 kbit/s for a call – a lot of bandwidth back in the day,  but practically noise on any sort of broadband pipe these days.
IP phone guys have lined up behind G.722 because it’s easy to implement and there’s no licensing fees since the patents have expired. It’s the de facto standard for businesses and is also found in a lot of consumer gear.  Aastra, Allworx, AudioCodes,  Avaya, Cisco, Panasonic, Polycom, ShoreTel, Thomson, Siemens, Snom and practically every no-name on the planet have put it in their phones.

Designed by the cellular crowd and build on the GSM AMR narrowband standard, AMR-WB uses more CPU – and hence more power -- to deliver a HD voice session in 24 kbit/s.  Cellular guys want to squeeze every last Hz of RF bandwidth they can get, but heavier compression means shorter battery life.

Getting AMR-WB into wide circulation has been an uphill battle because it is a complicated piece of work with several different profiles to implement and test.  Further, the underlying technology has a bunch of patents on top of it. Patent holders include France Telecom and Ericsson – no big surprise the two are among the biggest advocates of the technology.

France Telecom and other carriers would like to see the HD voice world move to end-to-end AMR-WB because they then wouldn't have to worry about transcoding between cellular and broadband worlds.  VoiceAge, holder of the AMR-WB patent pool, has tweaked its royalty schedule to encourage incorporation of the codec into core network boxes and desktop IP phones.

Creeping up behind AMR-WB is the threat of over-the-top (OTT) softphone clients running on 4G networks.  Global IP Solutions (GIPS) has provided its proprietary iSAC codec to a number of softclients and D2 Technologies has added G.722 support to Android, so there's a lot of room for both G.722 and AMR-WB to proliferate.

Sampling comparing:

Bloggers note: Future of HD Voice in fixed IP communications is soon to be a reality although there are some challenges regarding the full support of AMR-WB, like support for deployed IP Phone models and special licensing (eg: 

Battle #2 - Skype's SILK vs. world
Skype stirred up a lot of people around this time last year when it announced its SILK superwideband codec.  The tech-geeks love the fact that SILK is a "superwideband" codec, that it's an adaptive bit-rate codec, adjusting quality based upon available CPU and network resources, and that it's available on a royalty-free basis.

At least one vendor - AudioCodes - has hinted it will roll SILK into its IP desktop handsets. However, some developers speaking off-the-record  have been less than enthusiastic with the process of working with Skype; more than one person indicated it's not clear who is calling the shots between Estonia, the UK, and California with a "non-linear" business evaluation process when it comes time for decisions.

Battle #3 - Large number of HD voice codecs vs. limited enthusiasm for supporting all
Free is one of the biggest myths on the planet.  While a codec may be royalty-free, each codec put into a software program or phone requires  space in the code/firmware, programming and integration support into a product, and another check-box on the testing laundry list before a product is finalized. 

One you plunk through G.722, AMR-WB, and SILK, plus legacy codecs for narrowband, each additional codec starts adding expense to the end-product for implementation and testing. At some point, you have to stop and get the phone out the door.

If you really want to muck things up, start throwing around phrases like "software indemnification" and start mumbling things about patents.  You're safe with code like G.722, where all the patents have expired and AMR-WB, since you pay royalties to use it.

Finally, carriers want to avoid transcoding between formats - especially between HD voice formats. Having to support a large number of codecs is not something to make a service provider of any size happy. 

Edited by the blogger