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Friday, 25 July 2014 18:35

Network Optimization Practices for Customers with Unlimited Data Plans

You rely on our high quality wireless communications service and we strive to continually provide it for you.

Ensuring Reliability. With tens of millions of customers, it’s our responsibility to upgrade and improve our network, services and practices, so you can continue to trust the network. With this in mind, we’ve implemented Network Optimization practices that will affect a very small percentage of customers.

Optimizing Our Network. Our Network Optimization practices for customers with unlimited data plans ensure that you can count on the reliable network you expect. To optimize our network, we manage data connection speeds for a small subset of customers – the top 5% of data users on unlimited data plans – and only in places and at times when the network is experiencing high demand. This ensures that all customers have the best data experience possible. 

95% of our data customers are not impacted. The top 5% with devices on unlimited data plans may experience managed data speeds when connected to a cell site experiencing high demand after reaching certain data-usage levels in a bill cycle. These high data users will feel the smallest possible impact and only experience reduced data speeds when necessary for us to optimize data network traffic in that area.

Helpful Tools to Manage Your Wireless Data Experience.

  • My Verizon and My Verizon Mobile – Monitor data usage in real-time by logging on to My Verizon from a computer or My Verizon Mobile from your device. My Verizon also lets you analyze the amount of wireless data used by each line on your account.  Simply “Run Account Analysis” in My Verizon and then click on “Data Usage” for a breakdown. 
  • Data Usage Calculator – Do you stream music? Surf the web? Upload photos? How much data do you use, and how much do you want to use? The data usage calculator breaks down the common features and activities so you can easily estimate how much data you might use each month.
  • #DATA – Check data use by dialing #DATA and pressing send from your Verizon Wireless phone and you’ll get a free text message with data information. While this tool will not show up-to-the-minute data use, it is a great way to quickly check your general data use amounts while on the go. For real-time data use information, go to My Verizon.

How To Track and Manage Your Wireless Data.

In addition to the tools and widgets, this video guide can help you manage your own wireless use.

Track Usage

"It’s Easy to Track Your Wireless Usage.” Here’s a quick explanation of how to easily check and monitor your wireless use. Our store and customer service reps give the low-down on easy shortcuts you can use to check data, text and minute use, and account balances from your Verizon Wireless phone.

ANSWERS: Frequently Asked Questions

Why did you implement Network Optimization practices for customers with unlimited data plans?
We are well known for our wireless networks and we are dedicated to ensuring that our customers have the best wireless experience possible. Our network is a shared resource with tens of millions of customers. We implemented Network Optimization practices to ensure that all of our customers have the positive experience they expect.

Am I affected by Network Optimization?
Only a small percent of customers will be affected.  To be affected, you must be a data customer on an unlimited data plan who is among the top 5% of data users.  Network Optimization of 4G LTE devices does not apply to government customers or business customers who have signed a major account agreement.

What about the other 95% of data customers?
The overwhelming majority of our data customers, 95%, are not impacted at all. The relatively high data consumption of just a small portion of data users could cause congestion for the rest of users, so we’re making this improvement to ensure that everyone continues to experience the nation’s best, most reliable network.  

Is this the same as throttling?
No, this is not throttling.

How is this different than throttling?
The difference between our Network Optimization practices and throttling is network intelligence.  With throttling, your wireless data speed is reduced for your entire cycle, 100% of the time, no matter where you are. Network Optimization is based on the theory that all customers should have the best network possible, and if you’re not causing congestion for others, even if you are using a high amount of data, your connection speed should be as good as possible. So, if you’re in the top 5% of data users, your speed is reduced only when you are connected to a cell site experiencing high demand. Once you are no longer connected to a site experiencing high demand, your speed will return to normal. This could mean a matter of seconds or hours, depending on your location and time of day.

How will I know if I’m in the top 5% of data users?
As of March 2014, the top 5% of data users were using 4.7 GB or more of data each month.

I’m a small business customer, will this affect me?
Anyone on an unlimited data plan and in the top 5% of data users is subject to Network Optimization.  If you think this will impact your business, contact your sales representative or go into your local Verizon Wireless Communications Store to discuss other service plans to meet your needs.

Does this affect my calling? Texting?
This will not affect your texting or voice calls.

Once my data speed is reduced, am I going to be under Network Optimization forever? 
No. You will be subject to Network Optimization for that billing cycle and the following cycle. When subject to Network Optimization you will only be affected when connected to a cell site experiencing high demand. Otherwise, your data will operate as normal. 

Can my data speed be reduced more than once? Can it be done consecutively?
Yes, if you are consistently in the top 5% on an unlimited data plan, you will continue to be subject to Network Optimization when connected to a cell site experiencing high demand.

Is there a way for me to avoid the possibility of having my data speed reduced?
If you’re on an unlimited data plan and are concerned that you are in the top 5% of data users, you can switch to a usage-based data plan as customers on usage-based plans are not impacted. Information on our usage-based data plans can be found at http://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/explore/?page=data

How slow should I expect my phone to function?
Because this process is in place to ensure the best service to our customers, the speed will vary at any given time. It will depend on how many users are on the same site at that time and what data applications are being used on that site at that time.

What can I do to manage my own wireless experience?
We offer many tools to help you keep track of your wireless use.

  • My Verizon and My Verizon Mobile – Monitor data usage in real-time by logging on to My Verizon from a computer or My Verizon Mobile from your mobile handset.
  • Data Usage Calculator –The data calculator breaks down common features and activities that use data so you can quickly and easily estimate how much data you use each month.
  • Data Usage Widget – Download our Data Usage Widget, available on most Android™ Smartphones, for a quick way to track wireless use during your billing cycle with just a glance at the phone screen.  Similar widgets are available for most BlackBerry® phones as well.
  • #DATA – Check data use by dialing #DATA and pressing send from your Verizon Wireless phone to receive a free text message with data information. While this tool will not show up-to-the-minute data use, it is a great way to quickly check your general wireless use while on the go.

How can I tell which cell sites are experiencing high demand?
There is no way for you to easily determine that today.  There are many variables that can contribute to a cell site experiencing high demand including, but not limited to, the number of active users and the type of applications being used on that site.  While we work to ensure we have the most reliable network for every location, these variables combined with other environmental factors determine whether or not a particular cell site experiences high demand at any particular time.

If my data speed is reduced will there be compensation or a credit to my bill?
No. You will still receive unlimited data use, so there is no compensation for reduced data speeds.

For additional questions, please visit your local Verizon Wireless Communications Store or call customer service at 1-800-922-0204.

Explanation of Network Optimization Practices for Customers with Unlimited Data Plans

Beginning in September 2011, Verizon Wireless began using Inter-User Best Effort (IUBE) network optimization technology in its network facilities.  This tool helps Verizon Wireless provide the highest quality wireless service to the largest number of customers through network management practices.  To achieve this goal, IUBE only manages the data traffic of Verizon Wireless subscribers with unlimited data plans who are in the top five% of data users using a disproportionate amount of network resources.  IUBE only reduces data speeds of these users during times of actual high demand at a particular cell sector. IUBE manages data traffic without any identification, consideration or discrimination of any particular end-user application or content.

High demand occurs in a site when all available network resources are allocated to connected users.  The cell sites use queuing to hold data from all users until the high demand event subsides.  High demand is a condition that can stop and start over a very short time (measured in seconds or fractions of seconds).

IUBE capability allows users to be placed into various user categories; each assigned a priority for resource allocation. Verizon Wireless deployed IUBE with two categories.  The two inter-user priority categories are specified as: Category 0 and Category 1. Category 0 is for those customers who subscribe to unlimited data plans who are in the top 5% “high usage” customers and are set to receive a smaller proportion of the resource as users in class 1 during periods of high demand within a cell site sector. Category 1 is the default class for typical use.

IUBE has the following effect in the network:

When a user is operating in a sector where demand is not high, there is no effect on the user experience, even if that user happens to subscribe to an unlimited data plan and be in the top 5% of data users.  All users receive the same allocation of resources that they would if there were no differentiation of best-effort categories

When a user is operating in a sector where there is high demand, users from each category are assigned resources proportionately, with users in category 0 receiving the lowest allocation. The exact proportions are selectable in powers of 2 (e.g., users in category 1 could get half of the resources assigned to users in category 2, users in category 2 could get half of the resources of users in category 3). 

The actual “resource” being allocated is forward link timeslots. Because RF conditions determine the actual amount of data that can be transmitted in each timeslot, we cannot state an exact proportionate relationship in the data speeds each user will actually receive.  However, if the average of all users operating in a congested sector is considered, it is likely that an average user in category 0 will receive lower data speeds than an average user in category 1, roughly proportionate to the ratio defined. In reality, less differentiation is observed on data speeds among user categories.

Explanation of Video Optimization Deployment

Verizon Wireless deployed video optimization technology in parts of its 3G and 4G mobile broadband network. This network management technology is designed to transmit data more efficiently, ease capacity burdens on the network, primarily from video files, and improve the user experience with faster downloads and decreased Internet latency.

Given the increasing web traffic for downloading video files, video optimization in particular benefits both the user as well as the network by facilitating sustainable online video browsing. By downloading only the necessary amount of data, video optimization enhances the video download experience as well makes room for other users to enjoy higher browsing speeds. Although much effort is made to avoid changing the file during optimization, the process may minimally impact the appearance of the file as displayed on a device, though changes to the file are not likely to be noticeable.

The optimization techniques are applied to all content files coming from the Internet Port 80 that use the most common compression formats. The form and extent of optimization depends on the compression format of the content file, but does not depend on the content of the file, the originating web site, or the user’s device. No distinction in the application of these techniques is made based on the source website or originator of the content. The system optimizes files based strictly on the type of file and the relevant file formats (recognizing that some file types are not modified). Accordingly, all content, including Verizon Wireless branded content, of the same type will be subject to the same process.

Why Optimization? Delivering content files requested by an end user over the Internet always imposes some burden on the delivery network in terms of size of the file as well as the distance the file components must travel between the source and end user. These factors also directly affect the user experience in downloading the file.

When the network uses techniques to “optimize” or streamline content files the burden on the network can be lessened and both the speed and efficiency of delivery to the end user can be improved. For example, the size of the file can be compressed by removing pieces of information that are not usable by the end user’s mobile device, or that are not noticeable to the user. Caching the file for subsequent requests can also reduce the time needed for delivery to end users. Such network management techniques improve the user experience without noticeable impact on the content itself.

Guiding Principles of Congestion Triggered Video Optimization
. The goal of video optimization is to only optimize video files when necessary and to make intelligent tradeoffs that maximize the total quality of video to all users. The objective is to be proportionally fair as measured (or estimated) in total video quality viewed on the customers device. For example, video stalling is objectionable to the end user. Therefore, a standard resolution video that does not stall is perceived to have a higher total video quality score that that of a high definition video that does stall. An intelligent network decision that reduces the resolution of a video to prevent stalling is deemed to be a good tradeoff for customer satisfaction.

How Optimization Works. All HTTP (Port 80, i.e., World Wide Web) traffic is directed to the optimization process. The first step is to determine if the serving cell site is highly loaded, indicating that any new video flow is likely to be degraded and/or stall. If there is no potential congestion, then nothing is done and the video proceeds normally. If there is a potential for stalling, then the video optimization techniques are invoked. The direction of traffic to the optimization process is established when the user starts an HTTP data session before any requests for content from a specific web site have been made. Accordingly, content files are never selected for optimization based on the nature of the web content itself or the source or provider of the web content file. All web content files delivered over Port 80, regardless of source, are directed to the optimization process (assuming the cell site congestion criteria are met). The system captures all Verizon Wireless branded web content delivered from its web servers, and treats it the same way as content from non-Verizon Wireless sites.

Content files made available on the World Wide Web come in a variety of types (web pages, text, images and videos) and formats. The process uses several optimization techniques that depend on the specific type of content file. Specifically, text files are compressed without any loss of information (“lossless”) and cached for subsequent end user requests. Image files (PNG, JPEG, and GIF formats, for example) are streamlined to remove colors or other data bits that would not be visible to the human eye, or to end users on a mobile device with limited display resolutions, thereby decreasing the size of the file, and are also cached. The output image file reflects “lossy” optimization because some data bits from the original file are lost in the optimization process.

Video Optimization. Video files represent a substantial and growing segment of web traffic, and also come in a variety of formats. Optimization only captures recorded video files and does not affect live streaming video, e.g., a video conference call. Several optimization techniques are applied to video files: transcoding, caching, transrating, buffer, and ABR tuning. All are agnostic as to the source or content of the video.

Transcoding. When preparing a video file for posting on a web site, the video originator must select a codec (compression/decompression format) for the file. All codecs are “lossy” to some degree in the compression process in that they reduce the quality of the original video. But, some codecs are more efficient than others. The Optimization transcodes video files from their source codecs to a more efficient codec, H.264. If the requesting device cannot decode an H.264 file, the file is delivered in the input codec. Also, if the input file codec is H.264, there will be little or no effect on the file from the processes described below.

The goal of this optimization process is to reduce the content file size while maintaining very similar video quality. Re-quantization levels, that is, the size of the output file, are defined by the output video bit rate settings (based on a percentage difference from the original). The loss of information from the input file may result in reduced color accuracy and sharpness of the output video. These effects are offset with optimized de-blocking and smoothing algorithms to retain good perceptual visual quality (as measured by objective video quality tools discussed below). In addition, videos are sent with variable bit rate (VBR), which provides more consistent quality at the same bit rate. 

Optimization processes can range in how aggressively they pursue content file savings. Verizon Wireless is using the Video Quality Measurement (VQM) tool to set the amount of reduction in a video file size. VQM is a standardized method of objectively measuring video quality that closely predicts the subjective quality ratings that would be obtained from a panel of human viewers. Although the tool is free, the technology is covered by four U.S. patents owned by NTIA/ITS. The compression settings utilized equate to a .4-.6 score on the VQM scale, which is considered an “unnoticeable” change.

Transrating. This is similar to transcoding; however the source and destination codecs are kept in the same codec family. For example, the H.264 codec can have a higher input rate and be transrated to an H.264 codec with a lower delivery rate. The VQM treatment is similar to transcoding. Verizon Wireless selects the minimal amount of transrating to keep the overall video quality as high as possible while maintain the objective to not let the video stall. As H264 has become a prominent and commonly adopted industry wide codec, more instances of transrating exist over transcoding. 

ABR Tuning. The newest high technology codecs automatically and continuously adjusts the video bit rate to match the estimated channel conditions. Adaptive Bit Rate (ABR) types of codecs performance can be improved by tuning the actual network conditions to the various codec rates supported for each video.

Caching. When a video file is detected from the Internet stream, the system decodes the first few frames (8 KB) of the video. Based on those frames, the system attempts to locate the video file in its video cache, and, if the file is not in the cache, it copies the video file, catalogs, optimizes and places it into the video cache. (The system needs to look at the first few frames for the cataloging process because the same video may come to the network from different sources and would have different URLs and headers; so, the header information is insufficient to identify multiple copies of the same video.) The caching process is the same regardless of the source or content of the video.

When a requested video is not in cache initially, the input video file is sent on to the requesting device. When the system finds the video in its cache, then the flow from the Internet stops and the video is replaced with the file from the cache. The video cache will retain the video until the staleness filter flushes it from the cache. The video cache has a finite volume so it will regularly flush unused video.

Buffer Tuning. The fourth video optimization technique is used in delivery to end users.  Whenever the video is requested, it is delivered on a “just in time” basis. That is, rather than the entire file being downloaded when requested, the video is downloaded on an as-needed basis. A sufficient amount of video would be delivered to fill the user’s buffer to start viewing, and the remainder would be delivered as needed in time for the viewer to see it without interrupting the flow, calculating the video bit rate and the actual bandwidth available. This progressive download achieves significant network savings if the viewer chooses not to view the entire video, and it conserves data usage that would count toward the end users’ data allowance, and may result in savings if the end user is on a pay-for-usage plan. As with caching, the buffer process is the same regardless of the source or content of the video.

These video optimization techniques generally reduce the time for a video to start and eliminate external network fluctuations that sometimes cause videos to stall. They also speed up the time for the video to pick up when jumping forward in the video. The cache responds to the video request much faster than a remote location. The end result is a much smoother video that starts faster.  

Triductor, the New Chinese VDSL & G.hn Chipmaker
Tuesday, 15 July 2014 21:51

Yaolong Tan "Our chips are 8% faster than Broadcom's" Yaolong Tan earned his doctorate at UCLA’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering in 2000. He worked in Silicon Valley for years, and now is back in China. He's CEO of Triductor, founded in 2006. He is shipping VDSL2 vectored cpe chips to Chinese manufacturers who in turn are distributing the boxes worldwide.

Tan received his UCLA degree directly from Henry Samueli. He has enormous respect for Broadcom. But he's not afraid to take on Broadcom's chips. China is deeply committed to replacing imported chips with Chinese designs. Tan said,"The technology of this chip used to be monopolized by America, so our country had to spend tens of millions of dollars importing from overseas. What my team and I want to do is realize the localization of this chip in the new developing wave of semi-conductor industry, to equip Chinese people with their own high-speed video networks."

Triductor, like HiSilicon, has also announced a G.hn chip. While G.fast is getting the publicity, thanks to an effective campaign by the ITU, it's two years or more away. G.hn, a much simpler system, is already being used to extend "fiber to the basement" to apartments at hundreds of megabits. China Telecom & Unicom, the monopoly landline providers, are fiercely resisting government demands they upgrade something like 100 million apartments from DSL to fiber. Fiber to the basement + G.hn might be an attractive alternative.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 July 2014 12:57
Broadband Growth in One Chart
Thursday, 03 July 2014 16:55

Africa 5%, U.S. & West ~1%; China huge. This chart from Point-Topic makes wireline clear in 2014. The West is almost saturated, espcially the U.S. China, Latin America and East Europe are going two or three times faster. Africa, with nearly no wires, has the most to grow.

     This would look different if wireless smartphones were included. The countries with few wires - India, Indonesia and most of Africa - are seeing fantastic growth in mobile broadband. By around 2017, there will be more Africans than Americans on the net, I've calculated from Cisco data.

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 July 2014 17:26
700M Broadband Subs (Wired)
Wednesday, 07 May 2014 00:20

Broadband sub growthGrowth down from 15% to 5% in five years.  China's about to reach 200M, but even there the growth rate of wired connections has gone down from over 20M/year to closer to 10M/year. The brown line in the chart alongside (and larger below) is the rate of growth. The trend is clear. The main cause of the slowdown until now has been the approaching saturation of the developed world. But with LTE speeds now faster than DSL in much of the world, we're starting to see some homes "cutting the cord" on data as well as voice. That's probably still less than 10% of the current market in the richer parts of the world, growing modestly. In Africa and Indonesia, we're seeing explosive growth in wireless broadband, with Cisco estimating Africa - nearly all wireless - will have more Internet connections than the U.S. around 2017. 

The Point-Topic/Broadband Forum yearend 2013 figure is 679M with growth of ~10M/quarter. Sometime between July and September, the world figure will pass 700M. DSL will be 400M+, Cable and fiber each are less than half the DSL figure.  


Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 May 2014 01:25
No One Buys Cable Caps at Time Warner
Thursday, 13 March 2014 15:35

MSlavik No DogFewer than 1 in 100 take 30 gig cap for $5 discount. CEO Rob Marcus reports only "thousands" of Time Warner's 11M customers are taking the discount after 6 months. He still supports the idea because he wants to charge heavier users more. "Notwithstanding the low uptake of usage-based tiers, I think it's a very important component of our overall pricing philosophy." Thanks to Jon Brodkin of Ars Technica for catching the comment and also finding a great picture. http://bit.ly/1i8rQmy Another interesting datapoint from Marcus was that only about 8% of data customers buy their own modem. His pr person was unhappy I included the modem rental in my previous articel on TWC http://bit.ly/1hfPIpR but I think that appropriate if more than 90% of customers rent.

    Marcus explained that Comcast deal was much more attractive than Charter because he had "significant concerns about the value of Charter stock" inspired me to look at the price of Charter stock. A market cap of $13B and debt of about $14B values the company at ~$6,000/subscriber. That's very hard to justify on any plausible earnings, even if John Malone is a financial magician and Tom Rutledge a strong operations manager. 

   My latest bill from Time Warner for regular cable modem service was $63/month, up about 40% in just a few years.



Last Updated on Friday, 14 March 2014 13:58
G.fast DSL has Momentum but G.hn Networking Wants Some Action
Monday, 24 February 2014 12:51

Upperside Conference ad

Production-ready G.hn/G.now silicon for fiber to the basement. The G.hn "home networking" folks are promising 200-400 megabit service 50 & 100 meters. They hope to steal some of the quickly mounting clamour for G.fast. (see pr at end) They are ready with high speed chips while real performance of G.fast chips remains speculative. This initiative, called G.now, shouldn't be surprising. The G.hn and powerline folk pioneered using frequencies to 100 MHz and 200 MHz, which is the heart of G.fast. Key G.fast engineers like Dudi Baum at Sckipio previously worked on powerline,

G.now's TDD architecture allows them to vary the split between upstream and down. Between both, speed "is 600 Mbps @ 50m, 500Mbps @ 100m, 350 Mbps @ 200m." They also promise bonding where the second line is available. That should almost double these speeds. They have Korea Telecom as a respected reference customer ready to begin. (Press releases below"

On the other hand, a senior engineer at a world-class telco writes me, "I do not foresee any service provider deploying a non-standard solution. For my point of view, it is not a threat at all for G.fast."

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 July 2014 17:16
OFCOM: Vectoring and Unbundling Can Work Together
Tuesday, 11 February 2014 07:29

Practicalities not determined. The British regulator in an updated paper declares "there are two ways in which vectoring and SLU may work together." http://bit.ly/MfNLwI They add that BT has already begun a trial and may very soon roll out vectoring, as I previously reported http://bit.ly/ZAGM3w. BT now seems to be wavering on vectoring. In technical committees, they are fighting competitors because they don't want to cede control.

   In the interim, British cable competitor Virgin was bought up by Fries and Malone at LGI, who strongly believe in tacit cooperation and higher prices rather than winning away customers. In half the country, BT has a monopoly because there is no cable. So they have little pressure to upgrade. In practice, European telcos tend to spend money to upgrade only when they fear competitors taking customers.

    Incumbents love the idea that vectoring imust be a monopoly and have been pushing that hard. Competitors strongly disagree. 

Last Updated on Thursday, 13 February 2014 11:33
Deutsche Telekom Installing Millions of Vectored Ports
Wednesday, 16 July 2014 17:44

Still not turned on and not all 100 megabits. Deutsche Telekom has promised 24M lines of vectored DSL at 100 megabits in three years. They are taking delivery on several million ports, many from Adtran. Adtran had a surprising increase in DSL sales this quarter, with profits also up. Adtran's financial call also announced a Tier 1 customer is cutting sales. That's AT&T, which I've separately reported has nearly frozen U-Verse builds to influence D.C. on the DirecTV merger.

   German regulator Matthias Kurth told me five years ago that DT had no choice but to upgrade where they face cable, but they've been delaying in hopes of persuading the government to cripple their competition. Deutsche Telekom loses 89K subscribers because they delayed VDSL upgrades. Cable offers twice the speed for the same price as DT and covers 2/3rds of Germany. They finally blocked most unbundling in 2013 and began the build of fiber/DSL hybrids. CEO Tim Hottges,"The fiber is the answer on what we are doing," but of course he means fiber/DSL. 

   German regulator Jochen Homann and EU Commissioner Nellie Kroes are doing what politicians do, claiming their policy of raising prices created the build when everyone in the industry knew DT would do it anyway. 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 July 2014 17:58
Huawei/HiSilicon Coming on Fast
Tuesday, 15 July 2014 12:21

Producing a vectored VDSL chip. Like Henry Ford steel & timber mills, Huawei seems to be following the path to "vertical integration." Their latest DSLAM board features vectored VDSL chips from their HiSilicon subsidiary. There is no announcement and I haven't been able to find any article about the chips in either English or (Google-translated) Chinese but I have multiple sources within the industry. HiSilicon also has a G.hn chip close to market.

    Huawei is the chosen supplier for vectoring to Telecom Italia & Fastweb/Swisscom and bids on nearly all other large contracts. The Italian deployment is struggling, however. TI & Fastweb agreed to link their vectored DSLAMs and unbundle local loops. Huawei promised they would be able to have separate terminals, possibly 50 meters apart, but still vector the local loops. As far as I can determine, they haven't delivered yet and the companies are scrambling.

    HiSilicon did $1.3B in chip sales in 2013. Growth is well into double digits although 90% of chips still go to the parent company. Digitimes believes HiSilicon, like Samsung, is actively looking for outside customers. R & D budget is well into the $hundreds of millions. HiSilicon chips are in Hewlett-Packard terminals. They have an 8 core cell phone application processor (ARM Big-Little) that is among the leaders. They are among the first with 300 megabit CAT 6 LTE, possibly beating Qualcomm to market. These are fabricated at 28 nanometers and soon below. TSMC, with massive orders from Apple, is essentially sold out at advanced nodes for the rest of the year. HiSilicon will probably be capacity-constrained.

    TSMC 16nm FinFET chips will be TSMC's best in 2015 and HiSilicon is the first vendor to commit.    

Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 22:35
DT: "We had in the fourth quarter minus 47, Q4 minus 22, minus 7 in the first quarter"
Sunday, 18 May 2014 20:44

Deutsche Telekom loses 89K subscribers because they delayed VDSL upgrades. Cable offers twice the speed for the same price as DT and covers 2/3rds of Germany. German regulator Matthias Kurth told me five years ago that DT had no choice but to upgrade where they face cable, but they've been delaying in hopes of persuading the government to cripple their competition. They finally got their way in 2013 and began the build of fiber/DSL hybrids. CEO Tim Höttges, quoted above bit.ly/1o5a85S , now hopes that the 24M lines of vectored VDSL saves his company from disaster. "The fiber is the answer on what we are doing."

   BNetzA is playing dumb, acting as though the regulatory changes were the reason that DT did what we all knew they had to do.


Last Updated on Sunday, 18 May 2014 22:59
Gigabit and More Wireless Surprisingly Close
Sunday, 06 April 2014 13:59

Stanford Professor Andrea Goldsmith believes wireless capacity can increase 50 times in the next 5 to 10 years. We'll soon have gigabits rather than the tens of megabits now typical. The cost of delivering each bit - or gigabyte - is dropping at a ferocious rate. Prices are staying high in most countries.

   Inability to sell the capacity coming online at the prices they want is far more of a problem for telcos than the wildly exaggerated spectrum "crisis." The result is a desperate effort to eliminate competitors around the world. It's easy to see price-fixing is the goal behind Sprint/T-Mobile, Bouygues/SFR, Telefonica/E-Plus, Softbank/eAccess, AT&T/Leap and the massive CEO support for ETNO's campaign to shrink the industry.

   Cell phone inventor Marty Cooper points out "we've never had a spectrum shortage." By and large, the "spectrum crisis" has been invented by politicians and lobbyists who pull politicians' strings. In all but  limited situations, there's plenty of bandwidth and spectrum.

Last Updated on Saturday, 31 May 2014 04:11
~$1,000/home Fiber at CenturyQwest
Wednesday, 12 March 2014 18:15

The Enola Gay was built in Omaha 45,000 homes passed in Nebraska. Randall Stephenson of AT&T last year claimed "fiber costs have come all the way down" and Stu Ewing of Century just confirmed a figure of about $1,000 in modestly dense areas. "In Omaha, where we have done fiber-to-the-home to about 45,000 homes and it costs us about $600 per home passed to do that in Omaha. When you enable a house, a home and get the drop and the ONU and the set-top boxes, it’s $1,000 to $1,200 per home." http://bit.ly/1frXuH1 Obviously, fiber costs can be much higher. But Verizon, Bell Aliant and now Century are reaching the majority of homes at a relatively modest cost.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 March 2014 23:00
Vectoring Goes Live After 10 Years
Thursday, 20 February 2014 17:52

Belgacom world's first commercial deployment. Thousands of homes are connected at a solid, reliable 70 megabits down in Belgium, Ten years ago John Cioffi and George Ginis wrote the paper that introduced vectoring and it's been a long wait. Customers previously getting 30 meg down are now receiving 70 meg.  The DSLAMs are Alcatel-Lucent with Broadcom chips inside. The DSLAM are true nodes, not simple Board Level Vectoring. 48 lines true System Level Vectoring capable to vectorized 192 lines. The new home boxes (BBox 3)  are from Sagemcom and Technicolor, with Broadcom chips for vectoring. It wasn't easy, but the previous home box (BBox 2) with Ikanos chips has been made "vector-friendly."

   "Many but not all the lines up to 200 meters are testing at 100 megabits. We chose to be conservative and cap speeds at 70 meg. So far, the vectored lines are proving highly stable, G.inp and Seamless Rate Adaptation are proving helpful." Everyone's talking about 100 megabits from vectoring so I asked Patrick whether they will upgrade. "As we accumulate data from the rollout, we hope for a future move to 100 meg service."

Last Updated on Friday, 21 February 2014 14:03
France Telecom Wants Fiber to the Basement, Not All the Way Home
Saturday, 08 February 2014 16:49

ARCEP_FTTB Should France go gigabit or is 50-100 meg just fine. As part of the "incumbent takeover" spreading across Europe, France Telecom is fighting against government policy for full fiber home. Amidst pushback, ARCEP has called for a public consultation. (see below). Fiber home can deliver a reliable gigabit today, but Germany, Australia and England have decided the cheaper 50-100 megabits of DSL is all they will need for a decade and probably more. FT hopes to save a few hundred dollars per install, especially because they will draw power from the customers rather than the electric company. 

    Prettified with the name "fiber to the distribution point" (FTTdp), FT's plan uses puts a box in the basement and uses the copper to the apartment. They are already testing this in Poland with a box from Aethra, an Italian company using Lantiq VDSL chips. The Aethra box is single user, making vectored performance unlikely. There's no obvious way to connect the boxes for exchanging the information required for vectoring. As you can see from their release at bottom, they claim 200 megabits down although it looks like they are using VDSL2 chips normally considered 100 megabits. They did a demonstration at last year's BBWF of their box with 50 meters of direct wire. The speeds in the Youtube video were 227M down, 89M up http://bit.ly/1lrBz8g. Speeds in real world deployments will be lower. The boxes are a little clunky for now. I'm sure they (and their Lantiq partners) are working hard to reduce both size and cost. They need to get the cost well under $100 to be attractive for volume deployment.

   The Aethra box anticipates G.fast with "parasitic power." It draws power from the customer connection, eliminating the need for the carrier to connect mains power in the basement. The cost to the customer of that power is modest, perhaps $1-2/year. 

Last Updated on Monday, 10 February 2014 19:07
Berlin, Paris, Palo Alto, Brooklyn Gigabits everywhere
Wednesday, 16 July 2014 17:25

As I travel, world class engineers are telling me what's coming is almost ubelievable. Palo Alto 6 February �Wireless capacity will go up 50 times in the next 5-10 years,� Stanford Professor Andrea Goldsmith predicted at a Marconi webinar. Her Stanford colleague A.J. Paulraj and Broadcom�s brilliant Henry Samueli thought 50X reasonable. Both have won the Marconi Prize, the "Nobel Prize" of communications.

Berlin. 8 April 2014 G.fast came out for the first time at the Informa Fixed Access Summit.  Deutsche Telekom, British Telecom and France Telecom all described active programs and an intent to deploy. European and American telcos want the hundreds of megabits from G.fast to match cable speeds going to a gig. I�ve been skeptical: the cost is nearly as high as fiber all the way home, it will take until 2016 or 2017 to get the kinks out and the coverage is more like 100 meters than 500.

Brooklyn, 30 April Ted Rappaport�s NYU 5G Summit had an amazing group of speakers. AT&T #2, John Stankey, keynoted and is damned serious about moving to 5G before the end of the decade. CTO Seizo Onoe of giant NTT Docomo was also there and soon after the event announced plans for 5G in 2018 with Ericsson, Samsung, Alcatel & Huawei. (3 of which sent CTO level speakers to Brooklyn, flying from around the world.) The enormous support for Ted and his NYU Brooklyn Institute has made him �The Prince of the 5G World.�Rappaport is concentrating on 28 GHz, a top down build which needs access points on nearly every crowded urban block. Others raised the possibility of WiFi �bottoms-up� to deliver similar capacity. The debate is raging, with FON, Free in France and probably the U.S. cablecos on the �bottom-ups� side.

Paris May 20-22 2014 A dozen of the absolute top engineers developing G.fast came together at the outstanding Upperside G.fast Summit. Les Brown provided an in-depth overview of the 300! page standard. CTOs and their peers from Sckipio, Broadcom, Ikanos, Lantiq and more spent three days trying to resolve the details. Top folks from BT, FT, Alcatel & Adtran joined in. Sckipio promises full standard chips in 2014. Broadcom�s customers are being told they will have something in 2014, probably far less than the standard. Some folks thought deployments were possible in 2016. Others thought later. (Deutsche Telecom�s CTO has said trials in 2014. He misspoke.)

Paris May 21 At that same G.fast event, John Cioffi introduced his remarkable plan to get to a gigabit using 100 meg vectored DSLs and gigabit WiFi. It sounds impossible but it definitely could work. In my apartment I see 20-25 WiFis. There�s no technical reason we couldn�t all share bandwidth; WiFi is already at 1.3 gigabits and going higher. Even if 25 homes were watching 2 HD TV and surfing, there�s over a gigabit unused that could be shared. Check http://bit.ly/GIGADSL   

Forbes: India has more net users than the United States
Sunday, 13 July 2014 20:59

Their 243 million Internet connection estimate is high but the result is inevitable soon. I wouldn't count 2G smartphones with minimal data allowances who rarely if ever connect to the net, so my figure would be lower. However Indian 3G & 4G connections will soon pass the 315 million population of the U.S.. Fewer than 20M of these connections are fixed, mostly DSL. With fewer than 40M landlines in place, the Indian future is inevitably mobile.

    Newly elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi talks about the "broadband highway" and has promised almost $10B over five years for broadband, smart cities, wireless in Naxalite territory and more. Much of that money will be needed to prop up ailing government carriers BSNL & MTNL. There's an ongoing project to connect 250,000 villages that's two years behind schedule. Completion is now set for 2017, but the local loop is not included. 69% of Indians - 700M - still live in villages.

   New Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad is promising to meet the revised schedule. He may be the right man to overcome the inertia and corruption that has plagued so many Indian projects. Prasad prosecuted a corrupt Governor of Bihar state and put him in jail. 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 23:46
16 Week Chip Logjam Driven by 1B Smartphones & China Mobile's 500K Basestations
Friday, 09 May 2014 17:07

Both Alcatel & Nokia can't keep up with demand. Smartphones take a lot of chips and sales are up 25-30% this year. China Mobile is installing nearly a thousand base stations per day, and China Telecom is now rushing to catch up. "Supply is tight," Dan Heyler of Merrill Lynch believes, and Digitimes reports TSMC, the largest foundry, has a four month backlog. As word gets out, companies are double and triple ordering. The result: what probably would have been a small problem now has become a crisis.

    "An apparently disastrous shortage of components for the Sony Xperia Z2 means we may not see the thing landing in the flesh for another seven months" http://bit.ly/1m8wyDq Ray LeMaistre of Light Reading, one of Europe's best reporters, hears from Nokia "a shortage of 'certain components' hurt sales during the first three months of this year. The company expects the problem to persist." Alcatel "has identified the same problem."

    Bitter experience is that serious slumps often follow shortages like this. When people believe the factories are catching up, they slow orders and "work off inventory." I learned that lesson many years ago selling computers. Epsons were in such demand that you couldn't get them from the wholesalers. Suddenly, all my back orders came in C.O.D. It was a true crisis.

     Although sales of DSL chips and the like are not booming, they require much of the same production lines as wireless. The result is that even slow-selling items will see spot shortages and perhaps worse.

      TV host Johnny Carson once made a joke about a (nonexistent) shortage of toilet paper. So many rushed out and bought a supply the next day the shortage was real. 



Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 July 2014 18:06
$200 for Fiber to the Basement in East Europe
Sunday, 06 April 2014 13:20

I didn't believe Rupert Wood's estimate but he has strong evidence. The going estimate for fiber to a typical neighborhood is $300-$500/unit, based on actual experience at DT, BT, AT&T and others. Analysys-Mason's Rupert Wood surprised me with the $200/unit estimate so I asked for details.

    This is an actual figure from several, not just one, Eastern European carriers, Rupert tells me. He shared enough details to convince me $200 corresponds to what these operators are seeing. Unfortunately, client confidentiality prohibits my publishing the specifics. 

Cisco: Africa in 2017 to Have More Internet Users than U.S.
Sunday, 02 March 2014 15:18

Size of Africa300,000,000 smartphones coming soon. Carlos Slim of Telmex tells me the world is about to change. “Two billion more people will connect to the Internet when smartphones cost $50. The phone makers are promising me a $50 phone in 2014.” If Spreadtrum and Firefox deliver a $25 smartphone, as promised, that could accelerate takeover.

   ~310,000,000 Africans will be connected to the Internet in 2017, Arielle Sumits of Cisco predicts. The population of the U.S. is about 310,000,000, Africa over a billion. It’s inevitable that the U.S. will be dwarfed by the rest of the world. In Africa, there are already about 450,000,000 mobile phone users with substantial growth continuing. Most of them will get Internet-capable phones in the next few years. 

    There are fewer than 10M broadband landlines on the continent, about one line per hundred people.

Last Updated on Sunday, 02 March 2014 18:23
Perlman's pCell Loaded with Hype But NY Times Calls 48 Megabits Over 100 Megabits of Spectrum Breakthru
Wednesday, 19 February 2014 08:29

Steve Perlman's pCell claims require a reality distortion field. Update: 2 professors confirm below.  Second Update. Met with Perlman and engineers. He has real engineers who did a slick trick using iPhones as LTE receivers. They may also have some neat tricks in MU MIMO and SON. Not close to their claims and most not new. Update 3: They don't give details about the software inside their server. It could be seriously interesting as improvements on how cells work together. Or it could be not.  More to come.  Original: Nick Wingfield in the Times believed a demo that could be reproduced on a cheap home WiFi router demonstrates a wireless breakthrough nyti.ms/1cZx3rS.  The Times showed 8 iPhones simultaneously playing HD video. Reporter Nick Wingfield wrote, "that would ordinarily bring a cellular network to its knees." Netflix streams at 5.5 mbps or less, so 8 streams is less than the 50 megabits even a modest cell site delivers, with 100-150 megabits becoming the standard rapidly. Within the space of a loft, speeds would be much higher. A 300 megabit router at Fry's this week costs $44.95 http://http://bit.ly/1ghadhU; Fry's is selling a gigabit router for $129.95 http://bit.ly/O9rWQM. Ericsson has demo'd 800 megabit LTE in a van driving around Stockholm. 48 megabits or even 400 megabits in a small space is not an advance.

    What Steve really has is a lot of hot air and what appears to be a prototype MU-MIMO system. If he has that production ready, that would be an important advance similar to work going on at all the major wireless vendors. That's similar to what Stanford researchers and many others have been working on for years. Literally in the last century, Stanford Professor AJ Paulraj described such systems. He predicted MIMO would one day produce a 1,000x and higher improvement in wireless speeds and that the theoretical limits could be 1,000,000x. Paulraj in 1993 invented MIMO, likely the heart of pCell.

Last Updated on Friday, 21 February 2014 20:50
FTTH Cost ~$1,000/home for Million Canadian Lines
Wednesday, 05 February 2014 09:35

Karen SheriffMerrill Lynch: "Right decision for the business." Eastern Canada's Bell Aliant intends to pass their millionth home with fiber by the end of 2014. The results in fiber areas are so much superior they are accelerating the build to 200,000 this year. This will cover 70% of the homes where they compete with cable. A few years ago, BA was being clobbered by Eastlink, an aggressive local cableco. They decided the only way to fight back was with fiber, even though majority owner Bell Canada wasn't doing the same.

   Glen Campbell of Merrill calculates they are spending $550-$600 per home, in line with Verizon's current costs for a similar build. Add the cost of connecting the homes and ~$1,000 is a reasonable estimate. Note that the next 30% of homes is predictably more expensive. Going from 70-90% wiould include maney homes that cost $2K to pass. The last 5-10% can cost $3,000-5,000 per, which is why even ambitious builds like Australia's don't intend to cover the last 5-10%.

   Kudos to Sheldon MacDonald and Karen Sheriff for demonstrating how efficiently fiber can be deployed. 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 February 2014 11:01
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