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Policy Implications in the Rise of Mobile Broadband and Heterogenous Network Access

Over the last few months, a growing consensus has emerged pointing to a dramatic change in the way people access the Internet.

In 2011, for the first time ever, worldwide annual demand for smart phones surpassed that of PCs, laptops and tablets combined. Then last month our Mobile Visual Networking Index (VNI) Update reported that global mobile data traffic is growing even faster than previously forecasted and will increase 18-fold over the next five years.

So by this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February, the ‘top of mind’ for network operators, government officials and device manufacturers was the dramatic accelerating impact that mobile data consumption will have on Internet access, networks and users.

When we launched the mobile VNI report on February 14, a panel of industry, academia and government experts glimpsed into the future of mobile broadband and related policy issues, with three key takeaways:

Read More »

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A Data Deluge, Driven by Tablets and Mobile Video, Is Disrupting Mobile Carriers

Only a few years ago, the challenges facing mobile providers seemed well within the realm of their traditional expertise. Their vast and complex infrastructures, built around towers, antennas, core networks, and the like, focused on providing the bandwidth and signal quality necessary for providing clear voice signals. Early mobile Internet applications were limited to services like weather, news, and stock quotes. As video entered the picture, it was mostly limited to a quick, manageable snack here and there on YouTube. After all, on a tiny, phone-sized screen, the prospects for a sumptuous two-hour movie feast were limited.

The situation, however, is being radically transformed. And at this years’ Mobile World Congress, which I attended last week in Barcelona, a clear focus was on a prime disruptor: the tablet and vast, media-rich applications. For with the sudden and phenomenal growth of the iPad—along with its Android-based counterparts—end users who had been limited to quick bites on YouTube are ready to indulge in long-form video buffets, anytime and anywhere. And while those game-changing tablets don’t quite provide an IMAX experience, their larger screens nevertheless offer the perfect mix of visual quality, mobility, and convenience.

For mobile service carriers, however, this has created a certain amount of havoc. Read More »

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Revving for the Mobility Race

A few days before Mobile World Congress, the world’s elite Formula 1 teams tested their cars and skills at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona. F-1 racing is a thrilling blend of courage, precision, technology, and teamwork: the same things service providers use to compete in the race to deploy seamless, profitable mobility services.

This year was my first time at Mobile World Congress, and I got a rush from it as if I were driving an F-1. Cisco CEO John Chambers set the pace for the event, saying, “We are now entering the post-macrocell era, where small cells also will play a critical role in delivering the next generation mobile Internet.”

As part of this shift, Cisco extends its M.O.VE reference architecture for service provider mobility with two major announcements at the show. We announced the industry’s first standards-based small cell solution, providing coverage and capacity solutions built off Wi-Fi and Femto technologies.  Read More »

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Another Mobile World Congress Wraps

Musings and mutterings from the just-completed Mobile World Congress 2012 . . .

  • Darned if this still isn’t the only place in the universe where there are waiting lines leading into the men’s rooms but not the ladies’ rooms . . . Obviously, the planners did not heed my carefully crafted suggestion for improvement made in the wake of the 2011 event.
  • Barcelona did get the weather right this year, though – Each day was darned sunny and fairly warm . . . a decided contrast to the last two Februarys.
  • The show was held two weeks later this year than in previous years, so no one had an excuse for being away on Valentine’s Day.  “Sorry, honey, but I ‘have’ to go to Barcelona this week . . .” didn’t work this time.
  • All that aside, MWC continues to enhance its position as the largest, most important service provider-focused show of the year. 
  • The projected attendance was 65,000, about 12% more than in 2011.  It will be a few days before the official figure is posted, but, judging from the traffic inside and outside the Fira de Barcelona all four days, the estimate seems reasonable.
  • The most prominent theme this year was SP Wi-Fi/small cells . . . which just happened to align perfectly with Cisco’s key messaging and announcement.  Not to mention numerous customer-focused mentions this week and last.   Cisco focused “not only on what we make, but what we make possible.”
  • Other consistent themes included monetization, optimization, reducing capex and opex, and cloud applications. 
  • ARPU continues to stagnate . . . a real problem for operators.
  • Another theme often heard is that service providers are more and more looking for advice from vendors.   There was a time when that was not true.  “They’re looking at the situation and saying, ‘We need some help figuring out what to do with all this stuff,” one analyst remarked.     Another added, “It’s VERY important for a vendor to be considered a trusted advisor.”  Hmmm – Does Cisco’s consulting arm – the Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) – ring a bell?
  • Mobile World Congress has evolved – as it must – in its approximately 15 years of existence.   Real old-timers remember when it was small and very clubby.    Particularly in the last few years, it has changed and broadened as the concept of mobility has become more ubiquitous.  “Three years ago, it was more of a pure infrastructure show with the Huaweis, Ericssons of the world holding forth,” said one.  “Last year, companies like Samsung and Google got much of the attention.  This year, it’s WiFi and small cells.”
  • “Four years ago here, a Hotspot was an oddity,” one analyst said.  “Now, it’s the norm.” 
  • In a Cisco analyst/media event about small cells, Telstra CTO Dr. Hugh Bradlaw said, “It’s the network, stupid.  That’s what makes the cloud possible.”
  • Machine-to-machine continues to grow in importance.   One analyst firm characterized it this way: “M2M = M3 . . . Make More Money”.
  • Overheard while standing in line at the men’s room: “Operators are chasing the consumer too much and not realizing that a lot of SMBs and mid-market companies are dying for solutions that are right in their [the operators’] sweet spot.”

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More – and More – Cisco Mobile Internet Customer News

Mobile World Congress, the huge service provider-focused event in Barcelona, wrapped up today.  Cisco has continued to make headlines with even more news about operator uptake on Cisco Mobile Internet solutions.

To wit:

  • Cisco has been selected by Telefónica to support the company’s newest mobile video pilot in Spain. The trial is designed to deliver mobile video services across both Wi-Fi and 3G networks and was demonstrated at Telefónica’s stand at MWC.  The Telefónica España pilot is built upon the Cisco ASR 5000 architecture, part of the Cisco Mobile Videoscape solution.
  • At Mobile World Congress, Cisco introduced the industry’s first carrier-grade, end-to-end Wi-Fi infrastructure to deliver Next-Generation Hotspots (NGH).  Cisco also announced it is working with leading global service providers such as AT&T, BT, PCCW mobile, Portugal Telecom, Shaw Communications, Smart and True, to deliver innovative mobile services with a new generation of intelligent “small cell” solutions utilizing licensed and unlicensed radio technology.
  • PCCW mobile in Hong Kong has successfully completed a commercial trial of the Next-Gen Hotspot, 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.
  • Bell Mobility continues to build out its 4G LTE mobile services with the ASR 5000. Bell Mobility now delivers 4G LTE services to its most populous markets in western Canada, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia. The ASR 5000 is the foundation of the packet core for Bell Mobility’s LTE network.
  • Cisco announced that du, a leading integrated telecommunications service provider in the United Arab Emirates, is deploying a nationwide mobile broadband network enabled by a Cisco mobile Internet solution based on the ASR 5000 to deliver highly secure, high-speed 4G long-term evolution (LTE) mobile data services. 

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