Archive by Kevin Fitchard

Femtocell interoperability gaining momentum

The Femto Forum said today that it will begin the first interoperability testing for femtocells in March, a critical step in ensuring the miniature base stations become practically interchangeable from carrier to carrier. more

AT&T greenlights 3G VoIP for the iPhone

iPhone customers can now use VoIP services over AT&T’s 3G network–not just over WiFi. That’s the ruling today from AT&T (NYSE:T), which has been dealing with regulatory and cosumer fallout from banning iPhone versions of Skype and other VoIP applications from its high-speed packet access (HSPA) network, even though it has allowed such 3G access on other devices. more

VZW looks to venture capitalists for LTE development

Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ, NYSE:VOD) has added a new wrinkle to its 4G development program. Not only is it encouraging early development of applications and devices for its forthcoming long-term evolution network, it’s partnering with some of technology’s biggest venture capitalists to fund many of those of the new ideas.

The carrier announced today the creation of the 4G Venture Forum (4GVF), a collaboration between Verzion and several investment firms with a total of $1.3 that could be potentially tapped for new ideas keying off of mobile broadband networks of the future–not just Verizon’s and not necessarily just LTE networks. The funded companies won’t be contractually obligated to work with exclusively–or at all–with Verizon, meaning their innovations could apply equally to AT&T’s (NYSE:T) forthcoming LTE network. Nor are they limited to working with LTE, meaning Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR) or even 3G providers could benefit from whatever emerges from the fund.

The venture firms are Charles River Partners, New Ventures Partners, North Bridge Venture Partners, Norwest Venture Partners, Redpoint Ventures and Alcatel-Lucent Ventures, the investment arm of one of Verizon’s primary vendors. Both of VZW’s radio network suppliers Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE:ALU) and Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) will work with 4GVF to provide their technical expertise and Verizon itself, of course, will contribute access to the network.

ALU, NEC still partnered for LTE (but they’re seeing other people)

Remember that joint venture to develop long-term evolution technology Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE:ALU) and NEC announced at Mobile World Congress two years ago? Those of you that do remember might have been slightly puzzled by Telefonica’s LTE trial announcement today, which named both Alcatel-Lucent and NEC as separate competitors for their contract. If they’re developing the same base station, there’s not much point in doing separate trials, right?

According to Alcatel-Lucent spokeswoman Christine de Monfreid, our eyes are not deceiving us–ALU and NEC are, in fact, competing with each other for the Telefonica (NYSE:TEF) business and they’re bringing their own separately developed LTE kits to the party. It turns out that the two vendors re-evaluated their proposed joint venture last year and decided to scale it back a bit. Instead of developing a joint product line they’re attacking the market with their own portfolios but have agreed to collaborate on a case-by-case basis when going after specific customers, de Monfreid said.

I doubt that means that Alcatel-Lucent and NEC are going to custom build base stations for specific customers, but the implication is that, in the future, ALU and NEC could leverage each other’s customer relationships in their respective markets to land deals, i.e. a Japanese carrier long accustomed to dealing with NEC wants Alcatel-Lucent gear in its network.

Telefonica LTE trials blends vendors from east and west

Telefonica (NYSE:TEF) has become the latest global operator to commit to long-term evolution trials and like Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ, NYSE:VOD), Vodafone (NYSE:VOD) and China Mobile (NYSE:CHL), it’s casting a wide net in search of suppliers. more

No 360 for VZW, but it stays commited to LiMo platform

Vodafone (NYSE:VOD) is puttingthe LiMo Foundations Linux-based operating system at the heart of its new social-networking centric mobile Internet portal, called 360, and plans to bring the phones and service to most of its global subsidaries this year and next. The big exception is Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ, NYSE:VOD), which tends to go its own way anyhow. But while VZW may not be participating in Vodafone’s global cloud applications extraveganza, it is still following its lead on the device. more

Can mobile operators out-Skype Skype?

If you can’t beat Skype, you might as well join Skype–at least that’s what Kineto Wireless is proposing to mobile operators. The fixed mobile convergence (FMC) software developer today announced a VoIP client for smartphones that allows mobile operators to offer a cheap IP phone calls over WiFi. more

4G World: T-Mobile forges ahead with HSPA+

Though AT&T (NYSE:T) may be bypassing evolved high speed packet access (or HSPA+), T-Mobile (NYSE:DT) has no intention of skipping the newest evolutionary step in 3G. Delivering a keynote address at 4G World in Chicago today, senior vice president of engineering and operations Neville Ray reiterated T-Mobile’s plans to deploy HSPA+ in 2009 and 2010, as well as revealed that T-Mobile’s first HSPA+ networks are already up and running in Philadelphia.

Using higher-order modulation techniques embedded and new software, HSPA+ dramatically boosts the downlink capacity available over a 3G channel. Most HSPA networks in the US now support between 1.8 Mb/s and 3.6 Mb/s, though both T-Mobile and AT&T are in the process of upgrading those capacities to 7.2 Mb/s. HSPA+, however, would increase bandwidth to 21 Mb/s, six times faster than current networks speeds.

4G World: WiMax vendors broaden their scope to LTE

A few specialty WiMax vendors aren’t content with the smaller of the 4G markets and have decided to expand their horizons to long-term evolution (LTE). WiMax packet core vendor WiChorus and WiMax chipset maker Sequans Communications are two of the latest. more

4G World: What is this 4G thing anyway?

A Yankee Group survey of general consumers found that 60% of users are interested in mobile Internet access, but when asked about 4G mobile broadband services, 43% said they’ve heard the term–my guess would be from Dan Hesse in a Sprint commercial–but have no idea what it means. And what about those anxiously awaiting the mobile broadband bonanza of 4G? Yankee puts that number at 3%

The industry obviously still has a lot of work to do to educate the masses about 4G. more

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