Feature Article

September 10, 2010

TMCnet Interview: Stratuslink and 4G Backhaul

The wireless market is moving at an astounding pace and some find it may be hard to keep up with, much less stay ahead of. As for Mark Kelly, CEO of Stratuslink, innovations within this space have been split between mobile apps and location-based services and network products and service. Kelly recently participated in a MobilityTechzone interview with CEO Rich Tehrani in anticipation of the upcoming 4GWE West event. When asked about the one product or service the wireless market needs the most, Kelly pointed to cheap, high capacity backhaul equipment and systems. As for the roll-out of HD, he doesn’t believe it will be as fast as some project.

Kelly also feels there is a still a novelty to mobile video chat and conferencing and honestly believes it decreases efficiency. As for the wireless operating system that will see the greatest success, Kelly points to Android. He pinpoints lack of backhaul and the speed of HSPA+ as the biggest challenges to a rapid rollout of LTE and doesn’t believe the rapid adoption of the iPad and plans for other tablets puts much pressure on wireless operators to build out 4G networks.

Kelly warns that FCC regulation of net neutrality could backfire, but believes some positive work is in play in the debate. At 4GWE, he will offer a session on network backhaul. Attendees to this session can expect to take away the current state of the industry in traffic consumption and backhaul needs, as well as methods currently in the works to meet those needs. As for the one technology development that will have the greatest impact in 2011, Kelly points to WiFi in most new handsets.

The entire conversation follows:

Is the wireless market innovating fast enough?

Certain areas have had prolific areas of innovation and product and service creation: mobile applications, location based services and products, handset-focused technology. Other areas have not been in the forefront of as innovation the past cycles – such as network products and service

What is the one product or service the wireless market is most in need of?

Cheap, high capacity backhaul equipment and systems

How quickly will HD become prevalent in the mobile market? What impact will Orange’s early play have?

This is an old idea that was pitched to me and others over 10 years ago.  The issue is that you need to experience it to value it and thus pay for it.  There was no way to really do that 10 years ago, but with an increasing number of HD VoIP services that will change.   I don’t think it will roll out that fast as to be widespread it needs to be in a large variety of handsets the source have to have the same vocoder

What are your thoughts on the viability of mobile video chat or conferencing?

We are getting close to the 50 year anniversary of the introduction of video telephony at the World’s Fair in NY where AT&T demonstrated this.  It’s grown slower the ISDN.  There’s certainly a novelty to it, but not enough to make it a part of your life unless you are deaf or want to see your grandkids or girlfriend. 

To the extent that it’s an extension of current video chat it has viability, but in general, video conferences decrease your efficiency as you cannot, for example, drive a car and have a video chat at the same time.  

Which wireless operating system will see the greatest success over the next three years?  Why?


We’ve seen this movie before – lots of operating systems, then consolidation, then a couple left (Remember CP/M?) It appears that:

Apple = AppleAndroid = Windows

Devices using RIMM, Symbian, Windows Mobile and WebOS  will likely either go away, or move to Android.

What is the biggest challenge to a rapid rollout of LTE?

Two things: lack of backhaul, and speed of HSPA+

Why should a carrier role out LTE quickly? It’s unproven, it provides the same basic data speeds as HSPA+ does, requires new multi-mode devices and needs gobs of backhaul.  If you are a CDMA carrier on the other hand you will get a big speed boost from EVDO current (Verizon – early LTE, same with Sprint/Nextel with WiMAX)

Also, there are serious spectrum issues with LTE concurrently operating with 3G and 2G systems.  With LTE, which incorporates MIMO , and operates on a new frequency band, there are plenty of headaches with tower installations, antenna issues, etc.

How much pressure does the rapid adoption of the iPad and plans for tablets from other vendors put on wireless operators to build out their 4G networks?

Not much. These devices are being used indoors for entertainment and get their content from WiFi. 

How does the continued growth in consumption of wireless data impact Net neutrality?

Providing the FCC the tools and means to be internet traffic cops could backfire, but there is so much at stake now, so that’s not likely to happen. Managing data traffic is important for fixed services, but it’s critical for wireless network where the cost of a delivered bit is much higher. In any case, inasmuch as both Google and Verizon agree that wireless networks should be left out, it appears there will be little connection with wireless network

You are speaking at 4GWE in Los Angeles in October.  What is your session about?

Network backhaul

What will attendees take away from the session?

The current state of the industry in traffic consumption and backhaul needs, and methods currently on the drawing board to meet the needs.

What is the one technology development that will have the greatest impact in 2011?

WiFi in most new handsets.  This will allow offloading of traffic on 3G networks and do more to manage the traffic explosion, faster, than anything else.


To find out more about Mark Kelley and Stratuslink, visit the company at the 4GWE Conference. To be held Oct. 4 to 6 in Los Angeles and collocated with ITEXPO West 2010, the 4GWE Conference will focus on the realities of deploying 4G technologies and delivering broadband wireless applications to a growing community of wireless broadband consumers. Kelley is speaking during “Build, buy or rent?- Strategic Network Planning for Wireless Backhaul.” Don’t wait. Register now.

Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for MobilityTechzone and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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