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Virtually unlimited mobile in England from UK Broadband
Written by Dave Burstein   
Tuesday, 20 March 2012 02:48

Huawei MiFi120 MHz means finding customers, not capacity, is the problem. Philip Marnick has enough spectrum to offer 5-10x the capacity of Verizon's LTE network, probably more than the total deployed by all the other British carriers combined. In theory, with good outdoor antennas that’s enough spectrum for a gigabit per cell using LTE Advanced. Intially, Marnick is deploying something closer to 60  megabits over a single 20 MHz carrier but he’s ready to quickly triple that.  

    By going to high frequencies (3.5 and 3.6 gigahertz), UKB was able to get a swath of contiguous spectrum rarely matched in the developed world. Clearwire in the U.S. has done similar and also has enough potential to change everything if the other carriers with them.

   UKB is wholesale only and the obvious first prospects will be existing carriers with a capacity crunch. They put their first towers in London and intend a “smart build” based on where they have customers. Any interested carrier can simply identify what parts of London they need more bandwidth. UKB will be able to massively increase any carrier’s capacity as fast as they can turn up the necessary towers.  

    UKB claims this is “the first TD-LTE 3.5GHz deployment in the world” and start-up problems are inevitable. Verizon, “America’s most reliable network” has recently seen three huge network outages despite using the more developed FD-LTE. What UKB has now is a “technology demonstration” although they hope to offer live service within 90 days. With TD-LTE rollouts moving fast in Australia, Russia, India and the U.S. (Clearwire), everyone will be watching the early results.

   This high capacity LTE is particularly interesting for rural areas with very slow broadband or none at all. LTE at Verizon, the largest deployment so far, is fairly reliably delivering 5-12 megabits. But first generation LTE networks, working in 10-20 MHz, have severe capacity limits and typical caps of 10-15 gigabytes, maximum. The speed is fine, but you can't watch much TV or otherwise heavily use the service. 40-60 MHz provides far more capacity, which increases more than proportionately. Rural areas are by definition low density, so the capacity for each user could be far higher.

    Hundreds of MHz are unused in virtually all rural areas, plenty for a robust mobile offering. Most places that would mean 10's of megabits of speed, dozens of gigabytes before a customer reaches the cap. What this requires is reallocating the unused spectrum to a large block for rural use. Much of the spectrum is in use in some urban areas and those who have a government monopoly for that use continue hog it even in areas they aren't using the spectrum. "Use it or lose it," as recommended by FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein and top Wall Street analyst Simon Flannery, is the obvious way to drastically improve rural broadband.


    UK Broadband has been around for the better part of the decade but hasn't won many customers with earlier offerings. This one could be a winner, however. They are part of Richard Li's PCCW empire, which also owns the incumbent in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is probably the most competitive market in the world, with HKB leading with an offer of $13 for 100 megabits. PCCW has learned to compete in that market and has the finances and organization to ramp quickly in the UK if they find customers.

   Getting TD-LTE data into phones and devices not built for TD-LTE is a challenge. Marnick thinks a small MiFi receiver will be successful. That communicates locally with WiFi and backhauls to the tower with TD-LTE. MiFi tech is now common, but whether customers will go for it in volume is unproven. Huawei is providing the trial units.

    Low capacity, symbolized by very low caps, is the Achilles Heel of LTE. Verizon’s new Cantenna service is charging $60+ for 10 gig, similar to the rates for Vodafone and DT LTE covering rural Germany. With the average broadband user now drawing 20 gigs/month, that’s simply not competitive.

    100 MHz and LTE Advanced could raise that 5-10 times.     

Sources
Interview with Philip Marnick, CTO UK Broadband 14 March and company material
“Virtually unlimited” is my conclusion, not a claim by the company. As the article notes, some form of cap - potentially well above the typical 2-10 gig current on LTE, will still be needed.

From the company

UK Broadband switches on first commercial 4G TD LTE system in the UK

First base stations using Huawei’s TD-LTE solution go live in London Borough of Southwark
UK Broadband, the UK’s largest holder of 4G spectrum, has today announced that it has switched on its first 4G LTE system in London.  This is the first TD-LTE 3.5GHz deployment in the world and the first commercial 4G deployment in the UK.  UK Broadband (UKB) is building its network using Huawei’s Time Division Long Term Evolution (TD-LTE) solution.
UKB will operate a wholesale model, working with partners to offer commercial services from May 2012 to businesses, consumers and the public sector. The network will initially cover the Southbank and Borough areas of Southwark.
The network will use UKB’s 124MHz of spectrum in LTE bands 42 and 43 (3.5GHz and 3.6GHz).  This allows the deployment of 6 x 20MHz wide channels that will enable UKB to deliver LTE Advanced speeds and enough capacity across the network to deliver Next Generation Access superfast broadband speeds to a large number of users simultaneously.
The first devices, jointly developed by UKB and Huawei, include indoor and outdoor units for high-speed wireless broadband to homes and businesses within the coverage area.  Multi-mode mobile devices supporting TD-LTE, FD-LTE and 3G will be available from September 2012.
“We’re very excited to be switching on our first TD-LTE system in the UK using our 4G spectrum,” said Nicholas James, UKB’s CEO.  “We’re working with Huawei because we believe they have the expertise and experience we need to deliver the best solution.”
"Utilising Huawei’s equipment, UKB’s spectrum and our combined expertise, the availability of LTE in the UK from today will give a significant boost to the UK’s Government’s broadband agenda,” said Victor Zhang, CEO of Huawei UK.  “We are proud to be involved in this project and are dedicated to supporting UKB and the Government to help connect more people to high speed wireless broadband networks.’’
UKB’s business model is to build bespoke LTE coverage – large or small – that delivers solutions to where there is demand for high speed wireless/mobile data capacity.  Usually this will be as a result of developing a solution for an anchor or core customer.
UKB has chosen TD LTE because typically, significantly more data is downloaded than uploaded.  Designed specifically to meeting the growing demand for data capacity, TD LTE allows UKB to dynamically manage the network to maximise the download capacity at all times, optimising both the technology and the wide spectrum bands it has available to deliver a very high download capacity.


 

PCCW mobile Becomes World’s First Operator to Successfully Complete Commercial Next Generation Wi-Fi Hotspot Trial

Powered by Cisco’s Service Provider Wi-Fi

HONG KONG, February 29, 2012 – PCCW mobile announced that it has successfully completed a commercial trial of the Next Generation Hotspot (NGH) in Hong Kong at the end of 2011, becoming the first operator in the world to have achieved this milestone. The NGH rides on IEEE 802.11u and 802.1x specifications in conjunction with Cisco's Service Provider Wi-Fi solution. PCCW mobile is an operating division of HKT, Hong Kong's premier telecommunications provider.
PCCW mobile has been operating its Wi-Fi offloading solution in its Hong Kong networks since 2007. With the NGH trial success, PCCW mobile leads the market towards adoption of the new NGH industry standard that provides seamless authentication and roaming between its 3G and Wi-Fi networks and offers customers an unparalleled and secure data network access experience by using PCCW mobile's advanced NextGen network, state-of-the-art EAP-SIM authentication infrastructure and authorization solution.
With adoption of the NGH industry standard, PCCW mobile customers can enjoy seamless international roaming on partnered Wi-Fi networks in overseas countries. It provides faster Wi-Fi network discovery and selection, enables mobile devices to log on automatically and helps provide secure access to partnered Wi-Fi networks.
Mr. Richard Midgett, HKT's managing director of Wireless Business, said, "PCCW mobile is pleased to have collaborated with Cisco in the development and application of the most advanced NGH Wi-Fi technology. PCCW mobile is targeting to commercially deploy NGH when NGH-enabled devices become available in the market."
Ms. Barbara Chiu, general manager of Cisco Hong Kong and Macau, said, "Cisco is pleased to collaborate with PCCW mobile, a visionary telecommunications provider, in successfully completing the pioneering commercial trial of NGH in Hong Kong. This first-of-its-kind NGH trial, powered by Cisco's Wi-Fi solutions, reaffirms Cisco's innovative NGH strategy, enabling carriers to optimize their networks for delivering a host of new services that enhance end-user experiences. We look forward to the commercial deployment of NGH and are committed to continuing our efforts toward transforming Hong Kong into an advanced hotspot city."
PCCW mobile chose to collaborate with Cisco, the market leader in delivering licensed and unlicensed small cell solutions, on its NGH trial. Cisco's Service Provider Wi-Fi solution scales to support millions of users, and features standards-based NGH for a highly secure mobility experience for the end user. The Cisco Wi-Fi solution contains the industry's largest portfolio of intelligent access points, with support for all business plans, including indoor, outdoor, large venues, and entire metro areas. The solution's comprehensive converged core delivers maximum capacity, performance, and operational efficiency. With Cisco Wi-Fi, subscribers can enjoy high-bandwidth applications like mobile video and conferencing simply and reliably, while operators can enjoy the reliability and scalability only Cisco can provide.
About PCCW mobile
PCCW mobile is an operating division of HKT, Hong Kong's premier telecommunications service provider which is majority-owned by PCCW Limited. As well as providing high-quality voice and data communications, PCCW mobile serves a broad spectrum of customers by offering media content and interactive services as one of the PCCW Group's unique quadruple-play platforms. This enables subscribers to tailor their own lifestyles with a rich mix of innovative mobile services, such as real-time TV, streamed digital music, shared viewing of photos and video clips, remote monitoring, ticketing, instant messaging, email solutions and an integrated fixed/mobile office communications solution. To learn more about PCCW mobile, please visitwww.pccwmobile.com
About HKT
HKT (SEHK: 6823) is Hong Kong's premier telecommunications service provider. It meets the needs of the Hong Kong public and local and international businesses with a wide range of services including local telephony, local data and broadband, international telecommunications, mobile, and other telecommunications businesses such as customer premises equipment sale, outsourcing, consulting, and contact centers. Together with the highly successful media business of its parent company, PCCW Limited, HKT offers innovative media content and services across the PCCW Group's unique quadruple-play platforms – fixed-line, broadband Internet access, TV and mobile.
About Cisco
Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) is the worldwide leader in networking that transforms how people connect, communicate and collaborate. Information and ongoing news about Cisco can be found at http://www.cisco.com and http://newsroom.cisco.com. Cisco products are supplied in Hong Kong by the channel partners of Cisco Systems International, B.V., a wholly owned subsidiary of Cisco Systems, Inc.
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For further information, please contact:

Stella Wong
PCCW Group
Tel: +852 2888 2253
Email: stella.wm.wong@pccw.com
Mona Wong
Cisco Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2588 4708
Email: monwong@cisco.com