Feature Article

September 15, 2010

Wireless Market in Need of Higher Capacity, Faster Networks: ITEXPO Speaker

The explosive increase in smartphone use over the last few years has created a need for faster wireless networks that are capable of handling a higher number of users. As more innovative devices and applications come to market, the demand for high-performance wireless networks will only grow. To keep pace with today’s technology companies, operators are creating networks that enable 4G.

In an attempt to gain a better perspective on the future of the advanced wireless market and how it will affect consumers and operators, TMC CEO Rich Tehrani recently sat down with Paul Obsitnik, SVP of Business Development for BridgeWave Communications, a leading provider of high performance wireless gigabit solutions for cellular 4G network operators as well as enterprise, government, healthcare and education networks.

Obsitnik offers his thoughts on HD in the mobile video marketplace and the biggest obstacle to a widespread deployment of LTE networks. He also weighed in on the net neutrality debate and the viability of mobile video chat and conferencing, which Obsitnik believes is “more of a novelty than anything else.” In order for mass adoption to occur, the quality of video chat service will need to increase, he noted.

At the conclusion of the conversation, Obsitnik gives readers a sample of what he will discuss at the upcoming 4GWE Conference, which will be held Oct. 4 to 6 in Los Angeles. The complete interview can be found below.

Is the wireless market innovating fast enough?

In a short answer, yes. There is significant demand for wireless broadband services and the associated applications enabled by these services. There is a dramatic amount of work being done in these areas and this is evidenced by all of the next devices and applications that have come on the market recently. Additionally, the operators are building out their networks to enable 4G, which will further drive the usefulness of these network devices/applications. The downside of too much innovation is resistance and even animosity created in users. To date, we have not seen any signs other than the iPhone performance issues discussed in the press and driven by AT&T’s backhaul network. By and large, these seem to have faded.

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

Higher capacity and faster networks. In the end, the demand for mobile broadband is still growing. There is the real risk that users could be turned off from adoption if the networks do not meet their performance expectations. These expectations have been set in many cases by the performance of fixed line broadband networks. Right or wrong, this is what end users expectations have become for even the mobile data networks.

How do mobile ecosystems consisting of devices and app stores, etc. impact mobile operators?

First, they are both a huge consumer and driver of mobile operator networks. Operators are being driven to provide the devices and the applications that ride on those devices that end users’ demand. The mobile networks need to function at a high enough level to allow those devices/applications to perform adequately. Second, mobile operators are continuing to see how they can leverage the devices/applications to drive incremental revenue. In some cases, they have been successful and in many others they have not. It remains to be seen whether they will benefit from this in a significant way in the future or not.

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

HD seems to be too early, at this point. There are so many other devices/services that are being digested by end users, and Mobile TV has been of very limited interest due to the screen size, interest and pricing. HD will not have any measurable impact as the reason adoption is not occurring is NOT because of poor picture quality.

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

Mobile video chat will have an impact but the performance needs to be something that is smooth and of high enough quality to not be a deterrent. While I have not used the new iPhone video chat service, it does not appear the quality is there to drive mass adoption. At this point, it is more a novelty than anything else. While I do not see adoption to the extent of SMS, there could be a strong sub-segment that uses the capability.

How about mobile video entertainment such as YouTube, etc?

Video will continue to be a growing part of the mobile network. Cisco’s Feb 2010 report states that by 2014, 66% of all mobile traffic will be video. It will be very significant for the Laptop or iPad devices due to the screen size. For the smaller screen sizes, this will be of smaller interest due to the poor viewing experience.

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

Apple’s IOS and Google Android. IOS due to the innovation and creativity that Apple has shown they can leverage, and Android due to the sheer number of vendors adopting it and Google’s ability to be a fast follower here.

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

Spectrum availability. We’ve seen that, where spectrum is available, there will most likely be a market entrant that will drive deployment of LTE. Once this happens, the other operators typically do not have a choice but to follow suit. After spectrum availability, then economics will be the driver. Even upon initial deployment, coverage will be limited. Expanded coverage will be driven by end user adoption and the ability for the operator to see a positive ROI.

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?

Significant pressure. These new devices are in considerable demand by end users and have expanded the customer base for broadband services beyond the typical businessperson with a laptop and dongle. With ever greater user adoption, the demand for mobile broadband to deliver a similar experience to what you have in your home, 4G will be required to deliver the coverage and capacities required by end users and by mobile operators to drive a positive business case.

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

With continued growth and no preferential treatment by operators, it becomes a non-issue. As the end-user base reaches a critical mass, any attempt by operators to block traffic above and beyond the need to manage their networks will cause it to become a hot button issue.

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

At 4GWE 2010, attendees will be able to see our the world’s most advanced high-capacity wireless backhaul solutions delivering over a Gbps of capacity in a carrier-class, feature rich platform purpose built for next generation 4G networks. Until today, users requiring gigabit speeds were forced to utilize millimeter wave 60 GHz and 80 GHz spectrum, free-space optics, or a complex microwave solution with multiple pieces of hardware for the implementation. BridgeWave will be introducing a new product designed to provide high capacity backhaul for next generation networks while significantly lowering the total cost of ownership for next generation networks.

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

The carriers’ deployment of 4G networks. This is not just the 4G base station but also the 4G backhaul network required to fully leverage the 4G base stations. Without the COMPLETE system, none of the exciting end user applications/experiences discussed above will be realized.

To find out more about Paul Obsitnik and BridgeWave Communications, 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. Don’t wait. Register now.

Beecher Tuttle is a Web Editor for MobilityTechzone. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Beecher Tuttle

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