Articles by Joe Madden
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.
A forecast was recently published, predicting "100 million 5G subscribers by 2025." Give me a break. Come on people, 5G is not defined yet. We don't know what the use cases are. We don't know what kind of terminals will be used. We don't know if "subscribers" is a relevant metric for 5G. We don't have any standards for new technology, with only the first study items underway now.
If you're reading this, then you work in the most disrupted market in the history of the world. The mobile telecom market contends with multiple technologies, each disrupting the other simultaneously. Small Cells? Yes. Wi-Fi? Yes. DAS? Yes. Cloud RAN? Yes.
Remember the early days of Wi-Fi? It's easy to forget that Wi-Fi technology went through a period of very slow growth, where proprietary systems did not interoperate well and many companies exited the market due to poor ROI. The Small Cell market reminds me of the 1980's and 1990's unlicensed market, and there are lessons to be learned from Wi-Fi history in today's ecosystem development.
Every time a new "G" comes around, the engineers try to define what it means in terms of technology. This worked fairly well for 2G, 3G, and 4G, where each generation involved a new way of scrambling the bits for highest spectral efficiency.