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Entries for June 2010

I spend a lot of time talking to wireless operators and, in preparation for a webinar on Connected Planet sponsored by Motorola, I asked myself what are the features that makes a WISP successful. I do not think there is a single factor or a handful of them.

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The wireless industry has been undoubtedly pleased by the Obama endorsement of the FCC recommendation to make an additional 500 MHz of spectrum available for wireless broadband in the United States over the next ten years. Increased spectrum availability for wireless broadband is a top requirement to accommodate data traffic growth. According to Cisco's VNI index, data traffic will grow 16 times and video traffic 20 times by 2014 wireless broadband. The introduction of new wireless interfaces like HSPA+, WiMAX or LTE will bring some relief, but may be at best capable of accommodating half of the additional traffic due to increased spectrum efficiency.

However, to keep up with data demand and to avoid massive investment, operators in the U.S. and in most other countries will need to do more than roll out an LTE network in the spectrum they currently have. Infrastructure sharing is one of the tools that operators have to increase utilization of their spectrum assets, provide better coverage and throughput to their customers, and to reduce capex and opex.

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More than 90 million WiMAX subscribers worldwide, with 47% of them in Asia Pacific by 2014, generating $24 billion in service revenues. By 2014, 53% of subscribers will use WiMAX as a mobile technology, with 31% of subscribers using dongles, 7% embedded laptops, 27% phones or other devices.

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Electric utilities are reliable, ubiquitous providers of essential services, but have often been seen as resistant to change and innovation. Smart grid initiatives are rapidly reversing this perception, as utilities take a leading role in technological innovation and the efficient use of natural resources.

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Vertical applications are all of a sudden one of the hottest topics in wireless. No longer limited to narrowband connections to monitor truck drivers' location, they are set to create the "Internet of things" with an explosion of connected devices, from your toaster and fridge, to the largest nuclear power plant. The potential for growth is huge--for each person there are multiple devices that may eventually get connected to a wireless network.

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Lithuanian WiMAX operator Mezon (owned by LRTC) is working to bring WiMAX to the public transportation system.

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Yota’s announcement that they will be deploying an LTE network has sparkled much debate. It was the first WiMAX operator to my knowledge to announce a firm plan for LTE. Yota is unusually (but understandably) tight-lipped on this topic, but there are some interesting open questions on how the transition from WiMAX to LTE will take place.

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