Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sprint to Introduce 4G

Sprint announced plans for 4G services based on the network that its Clearwire subsidiary is building, which currently provides peak downlink speeds of up to 12 Mbps in Baltimore today and average downlink speeds of 2-4 Mbps.

Sprint plans to deploy Sprint 4G service in many markets in 2009, including:

  • Atlanta Honolulu
  • Charlotte Las Vegas
  • Chicago Philadelphia
  • Dallas Portland
  • Fort Worth Seattle

Sprint also expects to launch service in multiple markets in 2010 including Boston, Houston, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

Sprint has several new 4G devices planned for 2009 and 2010, including a single-mode 4G data card, embedded laptops, a small-office-home-office broadband modem, and a tri-mode phone that supports WiMAX (4G), EV-DO (3G), and WiFi.

The Clearwire WiMAX deployment is giving Sprint a head start with 4G services in the U.S. It looks like Sprint may have a two year advantage over Verizon, given the delays in the availability of 700 MHz spectrum and the availability of LTE technology. Sprint will have to make the most of this lead in order to prosper over the long term. It is not clear at all that it has the financial capability to succeed.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Telefonica and Vodafone to Share Facilities

Telefonica and Vodafone have formed a program to share mobile network assets across European operations. They are also exploring opportunities to cooperate in related areas such as the provision of transmission services.

This program is expected to generate cost savings of hundreds of millions of euros for both companies over the next 10 years. It is also expected to reduce the environmental impact of both companies due to the consolidation of existing sites and the joint build out of new sites. Both companies will continue to manage their own traffic independently.

The details of the agreement include:

  • Germany: Both companies to share existing 2G and 3G sites. Shared masts can also be used for microwave back haul.
  • Ireland: Both companies to open all network sites for sharing by the other party. New builds will also be conducted jointly where roll-out plans are aligned.
  • Spain: Both companies to extend existing site share agreement from 2007, which includes the shared usage of power, cabinets and mast. To date 2,200 sites are shared under this agreement. During 2009 and 2010 additional sites will be included.
  • UK: Both companies to focus on joint build of new sites and consolidation of existing 2G and 3G sites.
Facility sharing will be an important approach to minimizing costs and the environmental impact of wireless networks during the next decade. It will be a key strategy for deploying 4G networks, in particular.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

FTTH in Europe

Light Reading has published an article describe the state of FTTH in the Netherlands and in Slovakia. The Netherlands has 163,000 active fiber connections, about 2.4 percent penetration. There are several important carriers operating in Slovakia, including France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom that are deploying fiber.

The situation in Netherlands shows how government policy can stimulate the deployment of fiber. Slovakia shows how competition can do the same.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

UK Ofcom Publishes Fiber Strategy

Ofcom, the UK telecom regulator, has published a report Delivering Super-Fast Broadband in the UK that outlines its policies for fiber deployment. Ofcom stated that it will:

  • allow wholesale pricing flexibility to enable returns appropriate to the considerable risks of building new networks, but constrained by the market in the interests of customers
  • ensure that any regulatory pricing allows investors the opportunity to earn a rate of return that genuinely reflects the cost of deployment and the associated level of risk
  • minimise unnecessary inefficiencies in network design and build as a result of regulatory policies, while continuing to protect the consumer interest
  • support the use of new, more flexible wholesale services by BT to offer super-fast services to other service providers and consumers at competitive prices
  • safeguard the opportunity for further competition based on physical infrastructure, by facilitating fair opportunities for companies to synchronise their investments with BT’s deployments, should reasonable demand arise, and encouraging network design that takes future potential competition into account.

Ofcom will work with BT to resolve its concerns about generating a return from its intended investment in fiber to the home. It will be interesting to see how it maintains a balance through this process.