Articles by Joe Madden
Two years ago, we published our first 5G Architecture predictions, and our first 5G business case analysis. We made the outrageous claim 16 months ago, that 5G will target fixed broadband applications first, not mobile handsets. We hit the bull's eye on that one. We also said that we didn't expect meaningful deployment until the standards were finished in 2020. It looks like that prediction was wrong.
The mobile industry loves its acronyms, like a dog loves a bone. We chew on them until they're ragged and shapeless. CRAN is a good example. The original meaning of the term has been lost in a flurry of marketing hype.
Sometimes I write about what I see in the marketplace. This time, I'm writing about what I DON'T see in the marketplace.
Are you getting tired of waiting for the small cell "hockey stick"? Over the past seven years, several companies have fizzled because they predicted more rapid adoption for femtocells or other small-cell variations. Some suppliers got tired of waiting and left the market.
The LTE market, over the past 20 years, has developed like the market for jumbo jets or nuclear power plants. Four major suppliers and one standard dominate the market because all customers have essentially the same requirement.
Nokia's acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent will combine two complex companies, with millions of base stations in the field and thousands of different products. In some ways, this is a good move for Nokia, as they will gain a footprint in the USA along with vital optical and IP networking business lines. This deal doubles the Nokia small cell customer base. On the other side, Alcatel-Lucent has no choice -- this deal is a lifeboat as the ship slowly sinks.
Here in California, the term "squirrelly" means that your surfboard is unstable and makes quick and unpredictable turns at any time. We're seeing this in the Chinese mobile market now.
LTE operators have a major problem. ARPU is dropping, but data consumption continues to grow. The big LTE operators are forced to give bigger data bundles for lower prices. This will not end well. Wi-Fi operators also have a major problem. They're spending more money on equipment than they collect in Wi-Fi service revenues. Frankly, that's unsustainable without some way to create revenue from the Wi-Fi network. The basic problem: Nobody pays for Wi-Fi anymore.
Recent field trials have shown important results for CoMP and eICIC. Mobile Experts has been tracking these technologies for years, and frankly, I was getting tired of hearing about the theoretical gains of CoMP or simulated results. Recently in Japan, Softbank and Airspan conducted a trial, and they've recently released some hard data on how these features work. This was a solid field trial, testing performance under heavily loaded conditions and testing of multiple scenarios.
We found that a major American city reaches "Super Bowl" levels of data traffic between 2 and 3 years after its benchmark sporting event. New York City has recently reached 2013 Super Bowl levels of traffic density in its hotspots. We can expect San Francisco to reach the level of the 2015 Super Bowl in about 2017.