WiMAX Featured Articles

More WiMAX Community Stories

July 27, 2009

Federal Funds to Drive WiMAX, LTE Technology Adoption

By Amy Tierney
TMCnet Web Editor

funding from the U.S. government, a representative of Tokyo, Japan provider of IT and carrier-class telecommunications solution told TMCNet in an interview.
According to James Orr, principal network architect for Fujitsu Network Communications, money from the government’s stimulus package, in particular, will help fuel the latest WiMax certification efforts, which will result in smoother interoperation of various parts of the network.
“As the certification protocol continues to develop into more robust testing scripts, the industry as a whole can only benefit,” Orr told TMC CEO Rich Tehrani (News - Alert) in an interview (printed in full below). “Increased confidence from the carrier and investment communities will remove many of the reservations some hold that WiMAX (News - Alert) is at risk of becoming a stranded technology.”
In addition to WiMAX, carriers are hopeful they can use funding to deploy LTE plans to expand coverage and replace the at-capacity network with new spectrum, he said.
Orr, who is participating in a talk during ITEXPO West in September,
Fujitsu: Migrating the Core: Wireless Backhaul, also said that when it comes to challenges involved in learning a new technology, age is only a state of mind.
Their full exchange follows.
RT: Much of the communications and tech worlds – including companies focused on broadband and healthcare technology, for example – are now availing themselves of money available through government stimulus. How will stimulus packages, including the United States’, affect your company, if at all?
James Orr (pictured left): Fujitsu is a strong telecom vendor in the U.S., with very high levels of penetration and nearly a one-third share of the optical network market. Any increased usage of the network – such as demand created by expansion of high-speed data into underserved areas – will create additional demand for our products.
We have seen evidence of this, as carriers looking to take advantage of low-cost capital investments have been planning the network deployments that will be funded by this initiative. Fujitsu has been spending considerable time in building proposals to support our customers’ applications, and we anticipate several orders for equipment and services.

RT: The WiMAX Forum’s (News - Alert) certification process promises releases at the end of this calendar year. Any thoughts on that?
JO: The WiMAX Forum certification process has been in operation for some time. Even before that, the WiMAX Forum sponsored interoperation plug-fests.
The latest versions of certification allow for smoother interoperation of various parts of the network. As the certification protocol continues to develop into more robust testing scripts, the industry as a whole can only benefit. Increased confidence from the carrier and investment communities will remove many of the reservations some hold that WiMAX is at risk of becoming a stranded technology.

RT: Though analysts say the ceiling for long-term evolution subscriptions is very high, carriers increasingly appear to be stalling in their LTE rollout plans. Realistically, when are you expecting to see these roll-outs?
JO: Each carrier has different motivations that drive their LTE plans. Some are very strongly driven to deployment as soon as possible. These leaders are well known – NTT DOCOMO in Japan, Verizon and AT&T (News - Alert) in the U.S. – and have little reason to delay deployment.
There will be networks that start deployment this calendar year, with extensive deployments in 2010. 
There are primarily two situations where we’ll see LTE deployed initially.  The first type is where the current network is completely out of capacity and new spectrum must be used. No carrier is going to place old technology in service – HSPA or EVDO – on new spectrum. The long-term operational inefficiency and future exposure to high capital costs will prevent this in all, but the most extreme situations.
The second type of LTE deployment is where there is little coverage today. Deploying service to underserved areas carries significant political and financial advantages.
Very long deployment cycles mean that any delay now will put carriers at a disadvantage when the economy does recover.
RT: Apple’s business model for peddling applications for its iPhone 3G, the virtual App Store, is seeing copycats across the industry, and analysts expect to see more. But is that what’s best for the mobile space? What other models, if any, can we expect to see?
JO: Our view is that the more value end users see in their personal devices (hard to call them phones anymore), the greater the pull to maintain and even increase their spending on wireless data services. Millions of Americans – and people all over the globe – are beginning to carry their handsets everywhere as the impact to their daily lives continues to increase.
Are a multitude of app stores the best model for the industry? In the long-term, no, we do not believe that it is. This inefficiency will be wrung from the market by innovators yet to appear. In the meantime, the typical handset is becoming more and more of an indispensible appendage, and not just a voice tool.
Carriers and manufacturers are already in discussions about how to create a more robust applications delivery model. There are many ideas, but for the moment, the “app store per phone manufacturer” model seems to be the most efficient way to deliver the value that consumers insist on. 
RT: Many of us who cover or work in the mobile space are a rarity among parents who can relate to their children and kids’ obsessions with smartphones and mobile technologies in general? What does the next generation teach us about wireless usage and services?
JO: Young people, and the young at heart, have no sense of privacy whatsoever. They love to let everyone know where they are and what they are doing – unlike us older folks who understand the value of being hidden occasionally.
I would argue that the smartphone obsession is not limited to the young – but to the young at heart. My 71 year-old mother-in-law bought an iPhone and uses it extensively to manage her life in retirement. She saw what kinds of things my wife could do with the features in today’s network and devices. My wife got a lot of it from me (I have poisoned her), but a large part, as well from our 12year-old daughter.
The young and flexible are generally the early adopters of new technology. Being less set in their ways and with (generally) far more free time and fewer fixed expenses, they grasp onto new technologies sooner than those us of with technological inertia. At first this may seem like frivolity, and many new applications are indeed meant to entertain us, but many of these games and social networks lead to far more productive ways of doing business.
As in most things, the youth of today are, well, youthful – and it is in our best interest to retain big parts of their carefree attitude toward trying new ways of being productive.
RT: VoIP dominates the way voice is transported on the PSTN, but the end-user rarely connects directly. What can we expect in terms of a parallel for wireless migration to 4G?
JO: As in landline voice, the access part of the wireless voice network is in place and fully capitalized. There is little incentive for carriers to hasten voice off of a network that works very well and is extremely cheap to implement.
VoIP will come online over 4G networks as it is driven by consumers that appreciate the cost benefits of VoIP, and by mostly greenfield carriers that don’t have an existing circuit voice network. Some carriers will also turn to VoIP as data traffic continues to grow, requiring the spectrum running the voice network to be reclaimed for LTE.
RT: Think about feature devices that leverage the wireless Internet – such as GPS systems and netbooks – or may someday do so – think of Flip-brand camcorders. What cool new features and functionality might be coming down the road for these devices?

JO: Two big trends are coming toward us. Form factor and Enhanced Virtual Reality.
Form factors must adapt to the expanding requirements to get information in and out of the devices. Fujitsu has begun to demonstrate our Secure Cloud concept model devices, where the radio, the input device (keyboard, touch screen, etc), and the display are all separate physical entities. This resolves the issues created by the multiple situations that you would like to use your all-powerful device.
EVR enables information about the world around you to be displayed in real time, enhancing the way that we interact with our environment. Whether this means having a visual representation of where key contacts are physically at any point, or giving us a real time representation of what is going on around us – traffic, restaurant information, sales, taxi stands, whatever.
At the same time these advancements are coming at us, the wireless network is expanding and becoming robust enough for us to trust a personal repository for all of our data. We should not have to keep up with four digital copies of every piece of information we own. The content can be stored on one central and robust network element and then can be served across the network to wherever you need it at that time.
RT: Talk to me specifically about your speaking engagement at the 4G Wireless Evolution conference. What will you be discussing and what people or companies should come?
JO: I will be presenting on the reality of LTE network deployment. The discussion will focus on the global adoption of the technology and the drivers/enablers to the rapid adoption by the carrier community. It has generally taken years longer than forecasted for any new wireless technology to be widely adopted, but this is not a likely scenario for LTE. 
I will explain why the business drivers and network architecture are driving the world to early adoption and the massive strain this will create for backhaul.

Learn more about Fujitsu Network Communications at ITEXPO West — the biggest and most comprehensive IP communications event of the year. ITEXPO (News - Alert) West will take place in Los Angeles, Sept. 1 to 3, 2009, featuring three valuable days of exhibits, conferences, and networking opportunities you can’t afford to miss. Don’t wait. Register now!


Amy Tierney is a Web editor for TMCnet, covering unified communications, telepresence, IP communications industry trends and mobile technologies. To read more of Amy's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Amy Tierney

comments powered by Disqus