It's been more than two years since operators first started hinting that Voice over LTE would be widely deployed as a way to make their networks more efficient and provide customers with more advanced voice services. But after many fits and starts, the technology has yet to see any widespread traction in the U.S. market.
What the Cincinnati Bell Wireless collapse means for the industry and the upcoming spectrum auctions
Cincinnati Bell, the nation's ninth-largest wireless carrier, announced that it will shut down its wireless network and sell its spectrum--essentially an acknowledgement that it cannot compete in today's wireless industry. So what does this mean for the rest of the nation's smaller regional wireless players that continue to struggle to compete with the Tier 1 wireless operators?
Moving away from a costly licensing model is definitely a major step for Microsoft. It should finally make it more attractive than ever before for handset makers to support Windows Phone. Ultimately, it was a quiet announcement here, but it could shake the world.
Sprint, the nation's third largest wireless operator, is largely finished with the mammoth Network Vision network modernization project it started more than three years ago. The result, however, is an LTE service that only covers around 200 million people and is, by most measurements, the nation's slowest. Compare this to T-Mobile, which covered roughly the same number of people with LTE in half the time as Sprint with speeds that often rank at or near the top. And T-Mobile is enjoying significant momentum thanks to its "uncarrier" branding. Nonetheless, Sprint executives are arguing that 2014 is "the year" for Sprint. I think that remains to be seen.
Next week the Competitive Carriers Association kicks off its annual spring show, this time in San Antonio, Texas, and attendees can expect keynote presentations from SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son and Roger Sherman, the new chief of the FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau. (Sherman is filling in for FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, who was scheduled to keynote the CCA event but instead now has to testify before Congress.) And key topics at the CCA event will include how to ensure smaller carriers can fully participate in the FCC's upcoming spectrum auctions, as well as how LTE roaming will work, whether competitive carriers will be able to offer Voice over LTE technology, and how they can offload data to Wi-Fi networks.
We're not in a price war right now, despite multiple competitive changes in pricing plans over the last few months. So if we're not in a price war, what would one actually look like?
BARCELONA, Spain--As I walk the floor of Mobile World Congress 2014, I've had numerous moments of déjà vu when listening to vendors and operators talk about their vision of 5G. You see, I've been covering the wireless industry as a journalist for a couple of decades (much longer than I'd like to admit). And during that time I've witnessed first-hand the evolution from analog to digital to 3G to 4G. With nearly 160 million LTE connections worldwide, 4G is rapidly maturing--and that's prompting many in the industry to begin the 5G debate. What is 5G? What services will be enabled with 5G? How fast will 5G data speeds be?
One of the major themes I'm hearing here at the Mobile World Congress trade show is that handset makers across the board are focusing on affordable smartphones.
BARCELONA, Spain--Wireless operators for years have been worrying about over-the-top service providers. Indeed, OTT services are the main reason that wireless carriers in the United States and elsewhere launched unlimited calling and texting pricing plans--they were a way to remove the leverage that services like iMessage, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger had over users. Why shift your communications to WhatsApp when your wireless carrier already offers unlimited calling and text messaging?