Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Nicole Bryan, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Greg Schulz

Blog Feed Post

Forget 5G for Now, LTE Still Has a Long Ways to Go

It has been over four years since Telia Sonera Sweden and Finland launched the world’s first commercial LTE networks and ushered in the age of true mobile broadband services.  By the end of 2014 we expect there to be nearly 300 LTE networks serving upwards of 300 million users, with nearly 1,400 different devices connecting at speed up to 300Mbps. Users from the GSM and CDMA worlds have to think the pinnacle has been reached, but far from it.  LTE is just beginning to get its legs.

Advances such as VoLTE and LTE-A will expand beyond South Korea into the US, UK, Japan in 2014; and we have yet to see the impact of 40MHz channels, let alone 100MHz channels, which will usher in the Gigabit age for mobile networking.  LTE still has far to go to reach its full potential, in particular in areas such as SDN/NFV/Cloud architecture and Small Cells, and I fully expect standards bodies, MNO’s and equipment vendors to draw from the experience of LTE in these two key areas as 5G standards shape up.

Virtualization of LTE infrastructure holds promise, but faces significant challenges.

The mobile network infrastructure is roughly a USD50B market globally in 2014 according to our estimates of RAN and core investments across all network technologies.  A growing trend among the infrastructure vendors is to cannibalize their own hardware-based revenues streams to take advantage of the growing enterprise push towards software defined networking (SDN), virtualization (NFV) and Cloud architecture.  The major network equipment vendors have already been discussing their solutions in these areas.  These solutions are intended to lower mobile network solution costs through the use of simpler, commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) hardware running virtualized functions in both distributed and centralized architectures depending on the needs of the operator.

Every major MNO I spoke with this year at both our Singapore Research event in January 2014, and at MWC 2014 expressed interest in these new architectures to help reduce Capex and Opex costs, deal with network scale, and simplify network operations.  However, these MNO CTO’s have also expressed a uniquely similar set of concerns regarding Cloud-enabled/Virtualized network solutions:

  • What is the reliability of the virtualized solutions?  One comment from the CTO at a multi-national MNO underscores a general concern: ‘some of the LTE core systems today are not at five nines reliability.  How do they expect systems running on IT hardware to be five nines reliable?’
  • How do I troubleshoot virtualized systems? With network functions such as MME, BBU and the packet core running on COTS hardware, how do I pinpoint and remedy problems quickly and effectively? How do I isolate the network from rogue processes to minimize impact on my subscribers?
  • Will the systems scale as expected?  A number of CTO and network heads mentioned the early network failures at DoCoMo and Verizon as software issues not hardware failures and questioned whether or not the virtualized functions could handle the network loads.


Cloud RAN was also a key area of interest, but responses from a selected set of MNO’s revealed the fibre-rich requirements of Cloud RAN may limit its use in 4G network to somewhere between ‘0% and 1%’ of sites according to one European MNO CTO, with the high estimate being 5% of sites. Fibre-dense locations such as Seoul, South Korea; Hong Kong; Singapore and certain major cities around the world may find a home for Cloud RAN, but the fibre requirements may prove a hindrance to wider deployment.

MNOs technical leadership has clearly given the trends towards cloud and virtualization significant mind-share and we are seeing some tests, trials and commercial deployments of limited functions, for now. The challenge for the vendors is sharpening the deployment opportunities for Cloud RAN, and addressing the Telco-grade concerns regarding the virtualized functions.  The good news is that the CTO’s I spoke with see virtualization as a 10 year project, so lots of time for the vendors to address their concerns.

Small Cells for LTE will undergo an extended development cycle.

Small Cells continue to solve key coverage problems for the MNO’s in both 2G and 3G networks.  The expected market growth is in additional 3G expansion and especially in 4G networks providing capacity and coverage to the macro network and solving the increasing problem of indoor coverage for higher order (>2 GHz) 4G networks. The Small Cell Forum continues an impressive march towards market development with the release at MWC of its Urban Foundations release helping operators address Small Cell deployment in dense urban centres.

I expect that in 2014 operators will be moving to broaden their small cell installation activities, particularly in the dense urban areas where most of the high-use clients tend to congregate.  However a number of operators have also indicated a need for multi-band small cell systems supporting up to five bands, which are not yet on the market.  Vendors have dual-band small cells either released or in testing but the bulk of the market seems to be waiting for the more capable systems. 

As more operators turn towards LTE-A and carrier aggregation to combine multiple spectrum positions (28% of MNO’s have 3 or more spectrum bands according to the Analysys Mason Spectrum Auction Tracker) the need for the small cell to match or exceed the macro cell for band support grows.  We look for a wave of multiband small cells to be launched by the end of this year for installation beginning in late 2015.

5G and LTE: Friends, or Frenemies?

In the past four months I have seen six different vendor presentations of what is needed in the 5G standard and I’ve discussed with four major MNO’s their views on what issues 5G should address.   So I’m describing the current 5G development status as this: we are at the ‘Wish List’ phase. The numbers mentioned are impressive: 1000x data volume, Gigabit data rates, 99% reliability, 100% coverage, 1ms latency. The feature list is even more impressive.  Pretty much everything is on the table, and I’ll go into this in more detail in another post. 

For now, MNO’s and enterprises should be looking at the near future, the next 3-5 years, with a view towards how can multi-megabit mobile services change how the offer and how they do business?  If the old brick and mortar retail establishments are under fire from internet-based firms, what about other businesses as well?  If I can get the performance of my fixed office and provide tools for even better coordination and interworking for individuals and teams of people wherever they are, what does that do for my business?

About the Author
Follow Chris Nicoll on Twitter @Canicoll
View Chris Nicoll's Community Profile

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Deborah Strickland

The articles presented here are blog posts from members of our Service Provider Mobility community. Deborah Strickland is a Web and Social Media Program Manager at Cisco. Follow us on Twitter @CiscoSPMobility.

@CloudExpo Stories
When it comes to cloud computing, the ability to turn massive amounts of compute cores on and off on demand sounds attractive to IT staff, who need to manage peaks and valleys in user activity. With cloud bursting, the majority of the data can stay on premises while tapping into compute from public cloud providers, reducing risk and minimizing need to move large files. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Scott Jeschonek, Director of Product Management at Avere Systems, discussed the IT and busin...
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform and how we integrate our thinking to solve complicated problems. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, will demonstrate how to move beyond today's coding paradigm ...
The cloud market growth today is largely in public clouds. While there is a lot of spend in IT departments in virtualization, these aren’t yet translating into a true “cloud” experience within the enterprise. What is stopping the growth of the “private cloud” market? In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Nara Rajagopalan, CEO of Accelerite, explored the challenges in deploying, managing, and getting adoption for a private cloud within an enterprise. What are the key differences between wh...
"My role is working with customers, helping them go through this digital transformation. I spend a lot of time talking to banks, big industries, manufacturers working through how they are integrating and transforming their IT platforms and moving them forward," explained William Morrish, General Manager Product Sales at Interoute, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
The pace of innovation, vendor lock-in, production sustainability, cost-effectiveness, and managing risk… In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Dan Choquette, Founder of RackN, discussed how CIOs are challenged finding the balance of finding the right tools, technology and operational model that serves the business the best. He also discussed how clouds, open source software and infrastructure solutions have benefits but also drawbacks and how workload and operational portability between vendors ...
SYS-CON Events has announced today that Roger Strukhoff has been named conference chair of Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo 2016 Silicon Valley. The 19th Cloud Expo and 6th @ThingsExpo will take place on November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. "The Internet of Things brings trillions of dollars of opportunity to developers and enterprise IT, no matter how you measure it," stated Roger Strukhoff. "More importantly, it leverages the power of devices and the Interne...
"We work in the area of Big Data analytics and Big Data analytics is a very crowded space - you have Hadoop, ETL, warehousing, visualization and there's a lot of effort trying to get these tools to talk to each other," explained Mukund Deshpande, head of the Analytics practice at Accelerite, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
The idea of comparing data in motion (at the sensor level) to data at rest (in a Big Data server warehouse) with predictive analytics in the cloud is very appealing to the industrial IoT sector. The problem Big Data vendors have, however, is access to that data in motion at the sensor location. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Scott Allen, CMO of FreeWave, discussed how as IoT is increasingly adopted by industrial markets, there is going to be an increased demand for sensor data from the outermos...
The initial debate is over: Any enterprise with a serious commitment to IT is migrating to the cloud. But things are not so simple. There is a complex mix of on-premises, colocated, and public-cloud deployments. In this power panel at 18th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, Randy De Meno, Chief Technologist - Windows Products and Microsoft Partnerships at Commvault; Dave Landa, Chief Operating Officer at kintone; William Morrish, General Manager Product Sales at Interou...
So you’ve heard how click-to-call widgets can really enhance a website’s potential for customer interaction and you want to try it out for yourself. Or you’re considering offloading pieces of your VoIP infrastructure, but want to see how that would unfold first. Where can you find this technology, that’s free and available to try out? Spotting the potential in a space where customers can experiment with these types of features, Voxbone is launching The Workshop.
Internet of @ThingsExpo has announced today that Chris Matthieu has been named tech chair of Internet of @ThingsExpo 2016 Silicon Valley. The 6thInternet of @ThingsExpo will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
As organizations shift towards IT-as-a-service models, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and now cloud environments grows with it. Commvault can ensure protection, access and E-Discovery of your data – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud, or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enterprise. In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Randy De Meno, Chief Technologist - Windows Products and Microsoft Part...
Dialogic has announced that ZVRS chose Dialogic® PowerMedia™ XMS software media server as part of its latest video relay and translation service offering. ZVRS uses Dialogic’s PowerMedia XMS technology to provide a robust solution that supports a broad range of legacy devices and any-to-any video capabilities with its flagship Z70 videophone. ZVRS selected Dialogic’s solution to facilitate a release of Z70 that met its stringent requirements for legacy device support (H.263 and H.264) with high...
CenturyLink has announced that application server solutions from GENBAND are now available as part of CenturyLink’s Networx contracts. The General Services Administration (GSA)’s Networx program includes the largest telecommunications contract vehicles ever awarded by the federal government. CenturyLink recently secured an extension through spring 2020 of its offerings available to federal government agencies via GSA’s Networx Universal and Enterprise contracts. GENBAND’s EXPERiUS™ Application...
Basho Technologies has announced the latest release of Basho Riak TS, version 1.3. Riak TS is an enterprise-grade NoSQL database optimized for Internet of Things (IoT). The open source version enables developers to download the software for free and use it in production as well as make contributions to the code and develop applications around Riak TS. Enhancements to Riak TS make it quick, easy and cost-effective to spin up an instance to test new ideas and build IoT applications. In addition to...
In addition to all the benefits, IoT is also bringing new kind of customer experience challenges - cars that unlock themselves, thermostats turning houses into saunas and baby video monitors broadcasting over the internet. This list can only increase because while IoT services should be intuitive and simple to use, the delivery ecosystem is a myriad of potential problems as IoT explodes complexity. So finding a performance issue is like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.
You are moving to the Cloud. The question is not if, it’s when. Now that your competitors are in the cloud and lapping you, your “when” better hurry up and get here. But saying and doing are two different things. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 18th Cloud Expo, Robert Reeves, CTO of Datical, explained how DevOps can be your onramp to the cloud. By adopting simple, platform independent DevOps strategies, you can accelerate your move to the cloud. Spoiler Alert: He also makes sure you don’t...
Edge Hosting has announced a partnership with and the availability of CloudFlare, a web application firewall, CDN and DDoS mitigation service. “This partnership enhances Edge Hosting’s world class, perimeter layer, application (layer 7) defensive mechanism,” said Mark Houpt, Edge Hosting CISO. “The goal was to enable a new layer of customer controlled defense and compliance through the application of DDoS filters and mitigations, the web application firewall (WAF) feature and the added benefit ...
Digital Initiatives create new ways of conducting business, which drive the need for increasingly advanced security and regulatory compliance challenges with exponentially more damaging consequences. In the BMC and Forbes Insights Survey in 2016, 97% of executives said they expect a rise in data breach attempts in the next 12 months. Sixty percent said operations and security teams have only a general understanding of each other’s requirements, resulting in a “SecOps gap” leaving organizations u...
"A lot of times people will come to us and have a very diverse set of requirements or very customized need and we'll help them to implement it in a fashion that you can't just buy off of the shelf," explained Nick Rose, CTO of Enzu, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.