Mobile Operator revenues diminishing, what to do?

March 9, 2012 at 6:09 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Tags: , , ,

Unfortunately for many mobile Operators, their revenues are shrinking: Classic voice is commoditized, and Text has become a diminished, all-you-can eat charge. Analysis forecasts that mobile revenues in Western Europe will not increase until 2014, Analysis forecasts (see figure, illustrating negative growth rates forecast). The US market is similarly seeing mobile revenues decrease (see figure, illustrating reducing Voice and Test ARPU, with growing Data ARPU). The challenge is to increase data revenues, quickly.

Retail revenues shrinking in EU

Retail revenues declining in U.S.

Q: What to do to boost revenues?
A: Make mobile data services mainstream (“Crossing the Chasm”). Also, enhance the value of existing services, to bring in new customers.

Taking data services mainstream

Mobile broadband data is being used by a fraction of the subscriber base, with a lot of growth available. Subscribers are overwhelmingly buying smartphones, but many do not subscribe to a mobile data plan. AT&T notes that “56 percent of all smartphone subscribers are on tiered data plans” [4Q2011 Earnings summary]. Adoption of mobile broadband is less than 50% of the subscriber base in developed countries. Growth rates for adoption of mobile data are moderate (20% more data subscribers in Europe, YoY growth), undoubtedly owing to the poor economy. Mobile data is on the verge of becoming a mainstream service, and Operators urgently need to make it easy for new users to get on board.

As an example of making data a mainstream service, T-Mobile (US) is doing a great job of making data services affordable. To encourage new users to “Try it, you’ll like it,” they build a little data into every plan. Also, they allow subscribers to use it at affordable rates without committing to a contract–removing hurdles to the use of mobile data, and making it easy for new users to add this service without breaking the piggy bank. Further, you are not penalized if you use more than you planned: “T-Mobile is the only nation-wide network with overage-free mobile broadband plans.” And you can use all of your services FREE over Wi-Fi (“Wi-Fi Calling”), so that if you have Wi-Fi, you have service, anywhere on the planet. Voice, text, video, e-mail … all free over Wi-Fi.

Enhancing the value of existing services

Orange is enhancing their existing voice service with an offering that should bring in new subs: HD Voice. Since Orange is leading the pack with HD Voice, and the service delivers enhanced voice when both parties have an HD-compatible phone, then once someone experiences this service, they will want all of their friends and family to have the service, too … causing them to flock to Orange. If HD Voice were to be made available on the iPhone 5, say, it could create a surge of influential customers that (a) quickly enjoy the service with a large percentage of others, and then (b) evangelize the benefits of the service to others.

Similarly, other Operators are working to add Presence info to your Address Book and communications apps. Imagine how much more efficient you would be in communicating on your mobile device if you knew whether your friend was Available or Busy, or whether they preferred that you contact them via IM/Text/Voice/Video. Several, leading Operators are delivering RCS (Rich Communication Suite) services to the market, and plan to succeed in making your communications easier and more fun. The benefits could be similar to the example of HD Voice, above: bringing in more subscribers to your enhanced offerings of classic, mobile services.

Improve voice quality (before HD Voice)

March 4, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Tags: ,

Until we get HD Voice, which is being deployed, here’s how you can improve your voice quality:

Reduce Noise: buy a Jawbone headset, the best-rated bluetooth headset around (in the latest reviews by PC Magazine, others). Choose from among several models.

Improve Audio: replace the stock Jawbone ear bud with a custom ear gel from AverySound. This does not cost a lot, but greatly improves the sound delivered to your ear, physically blocking other noises from disturbing your conversation. Here’s a demo on the process and benefits.

Better sound for you and your caller!

Original Ear piece                                             Upgraded Ear Gel   

Jawbone ERA with stock earpiece

Jawbone ERA with custom ear gel

High-Definition Voice coming to Mobile phones

March 4, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
Tags: , , ,

Although the focus these days is primarily on data and smartphones, it’s exciting that Operators have continued to look for ways to communicate better, such as High Definition voice. Skeptical that improvement is needed? Try out the demo (from Orange, who is leading the charge to deploy HD Voice), check out the convincing 3rd-party evaluation, or compare Standard vs. HD audio. Not only is the voice clearer, but there is less background noise; HD Voice includes active noise reduction (similar in function to the Noise Shield(TM) feature that makes Aliph Jawbone headsets so great). The result is “Wow!” You will want to have conversations over HD Voice, as they are easier to understand, and richer, more nuanced … like a face to face conversation.

SInce Voice is still a cash cow for Mobile Operators, it is a great idea to enhance it, to assert the improved quality that you get from a Mobile Operator (vs. an Over The Top service provider, such as Skype). Now that mobile networks carry more Data than Voice traffic, it’s easy to allocate a bit more bandwidth to improved voice. The service uses a new codec, Wideband AMR (an improvement on the current AMR standard used in GSM).

Where can I get it?

As with most new mobile features/services, you will need for your Operator to offer it, and you need a compatible handset (probably a new now, in this case).

Operator Support: At last count, HD Voice is provided by 39 mobile nets, in 31 countries. Orange has been leading the deployment (including pushing the standards development), delivering HD Voice in many of its European and Middle East properties.

Handset Support: Only a few handsets currently support HD Voice, so you’ll have to look carefully. It has been rumored to be a feature of the new iPhone 5 (but, then, what new capability has not been rumored to be in the new, iPhone 5?).

Caller needs it, too: Both Caller and Called must have this feature, for it to work at HD voice quality (see Engadget demo). Makes sense, however, as it is an end-to-end service. Like a Skype video call, both parties need it for it to work, end-to-end.

Tariff: Orange does not charge anything more for this feature, interestingly. It simply establishes Orange voice as a superior service, and encourages callers to use Orange to call their family & friends with HD-capable phones. Nice move.

Soon, you will be able to enjoy HD Voice as more handsets and networks support this important, new feature.

Trend towards Improved Communication

Since mobile phones have become the primary phone that people use–replacing fixed/wireline/VoIP phones–they are incorporating the best features of wireline service:

Done: Caller ID, Call Waiting, Voice Mail, Three-way calling, etc.
Deploying: Calling Name (see related posts)
Coming: High-quality Voice

“Who is Calling” coming to cell phones

September 25, 2011 at 11:35 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Tags: ,

Finally! The most valuable voice feature ever–knowing who is calling–is finally coming to your cell phone. U.S. Mobile Operators are starting to deploy Calling Name (to let you know “Who Is Calling”). The latest, T-Mobile, now offers this service–check out the excellent Engadget analysis at “T-Mobile Name ID finally brings true caller ID to your cellphone.”

Other Operators are planning to offer this. Look for it! Thus far, Sprint, MetroPCS and T-Mobile offer this feature.

As mobile service becomes the replacement for wireline service, it is picking up all of the best features of wireline. Next up, High-Quality Voice!

End Game: Wireline Eliminated (Best of both worlds!)

May 28, 2010 at 9:40 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Tags: , , ,

Continuing the use of mobile phones to its logical conclusion, mobile phone Operators and phone manufacturers are delivering solutions and pricing plans that allow the wireless phone to completely eliminate the wired phone. The End User can get the best of both worlds: lower cost and more functionality. I’ve run the numbers for individuals and enterprises, and it works. (I use it in my Home Office every day.) Benefits: One number, always reachable, one voice mailbox, etc. Users can choose to merge their wireline and wireless systems, but the end game is to completely eliminate the wireline (“cut the cord”).

Wireless + Wireline (Interim Step)

If the administration prefers to keep the desk phone (for regulatory or policy reasons, to track corporate communications), then the wireless device can work as a wireless extension of the desktop phone (see the example of BlackBerry Mobile Voice System). This is a lot more complicated to maintain: more gear added to allow the mobile phone to act as an extension of the office PBX, and more maintenance of that gear. This solution is only desirable for those that must keep the wireline phone.

Wireless-only

Maximum savings of $1,000/year occur when the wireline or IP phone is eliminated. This solution is simple and easy to implement, as it does not add gear, it eliminates it. Eventually, the entire wireline solution will be eliminated, leaving the office with a wireless-only solution. This solution can be implemented using either (a) existing Wi-Fi or (b) a dedicated, in-building femtocell. Read on for a comparison of these two options and existing examples of these solutions, which concludes that UMA over Wi-Fi is best today, but Femtocells will eventually be the best solution.

Voice over Wi-Fi growing, Eliminating wireline phones

May 28, 2010 at 8:49 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Tags: , ,

Voice over Wi-Fi is growing, as predicted, since (a) Operators are happy to offload voice and especially data and, with Operator permission, the (b)Mobile phone manufacturers are building it into their (smart)phone platforms. This is part of the wider solution that Operators are employing to manage the deluge of data swamping their networks (see other articles for more details on how Operators are offloading mobile data to manage the exponential growth that they are experiencing, to prevent their Mobile Internet business from being broken).

UMA is the buzzword: enables Voice connections (transparent to the User) using available Wi-Fi connections. UMA is a piece of software that is built into the phone. It is a lot easier to use than a separate Voice over IP apps that must be installed and configured by the user, and that requires the user to have a IP data plan.

BlackBerry already has UMA  across their model line, and Android may offer it (there are rumors that this is being tested; see petition requesting it). Apple iPhone has Wi-Fi but does not yet include UMA, but it could easily (perhaps we’ll see it in a future release).

UMA can deliver significant savings of $500/year or more, by eliminating a landline phone and allowing the user to solely use their mobile phone. It’s the equivalent of replacing your landline phone by solely using your cellphone (than can also save you up to $1,000/year, surprisingly), but the Operator typically encourages this and includes it at little/no cost! You get free voice in the Home/Office! One can save a lot on International Roaming and Long Distance charges, too, since UMA calls are routed over Wi-Fi back to the Home network, and appear (and are billed) as local calls–as if you were calling from your home/office. In actual use, we found that “Road warriors” could save up to $1,000/month by using a UMA device (such as a BlackBerry) to make calls over Wi-Fi while traveling.

Read on to see how UMA is one of many solutions towards eliminating wireline, in End Game: Wireline Eliminated.

Confirmed: T-Mobile to Discontinue @Home service

January 12, 2010 at 4:33 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , ,

Update (Feb. 2010): T-Mobile confirms this (currently unofficial) rumor: @Home Service will be discontinued as soon as the current set of inventory (@Home routers) is sold, so if you like this service, go get the hardware now. T-Mobile will support existing subscribers. This removes the best wireline replacement service currently on the market in the U.S., as T-Mobile turns instead to focus on wireless-only services. Bad news for anyone that still likes to use a wireline phone (example: I use an excellnt Polycom conference phone for hours at a time in my home office).

Rumors are circulating that T-Mobile is about to discontinue their @Home service (although I have been unable to confirm this officially). Although these rumors refer to a statement made on January 7th by a T-Mobile rep, there is no official mention of it on the T-Mobile web site. Strange.  Even the purported T-Mobile statement is vague, and gives no clear reason for the change.

If true, then my interpretation is that T-Mobile is focusing less on the interim step (supporting wireline use with a VoIP product delivering small profit) and is focusing more on the destination, mobile-only use (and wireline replacement). This is consistent with the original rumor that referenced COO dislike for its lack of profitability, reported by Boy Genius in December.

This would remove an attractive alternative for some consumers that are cutting the cord, but prefer to still maintain wireline (and cordless) devices in their home. For those that are interested in eliminating their telephone and Long Distance bills, please check out the menu of options that I just reviewed.

Here are links to the rumors (and I would welcome definitive news of this, if it exists):

– RUMORS – RUMORS- RUMORS – RUMORS- RUMORS – RUMORS- RUMORS – RUMORS –

T-Mobile shuts down @Home landline replacement service
January 8, 2010 — 7:49am ET | By Sean Buckley

“T-Mobile was so confident that its @Home landline replacement service would be such a draw for consumers that when it introduced the service in July 2008 it had a commercial showing a woman cutting down phone lines with a chain saw. Cautioning consumers not to literally cut down lines, the @Home service tried to sell the idea that you could cut the phone company’s cord and get dirt cheap calling through your broadband line. But with so many new broadband VoIP options on the market, the @Home service never took off the way T-Mobile envisioned it and now it’s going to stop selling the service. T-Mobile will, however, support existing @Home customers.

The idea was simple enough. For $10 a month, a user could make unlimited local and long-distance calls by plugging a T-Mobile provided box into their respective cable or DSL broadband line. Although T-Mobile did not disclose why it’s cancelling the service, it’s likely that T-Mobile realized just as did Verizon when it canceled its Hub service last fall that its customers would just use their wireless phone instead of a new landline replacement service

– MORE RUMORS – MORE RUMORS- MORE RUMORS- MORE RUMORS- MORE RUMORS –

No One’s @Home: T-Mobile Axes Landline Replacement
01/07/2010

T-Mobile USA said Thursday it will no longer sell its @Home landline replacement service, although it will continue to support the customers already using it. The Deutsche Telekom-owned wireless service provider introduced T-Mobile@Home in July 2008; for $10 per month, the product – a box plugged into a broadband connection and landline phone – allowed subscribers to make unlimited local and long-distance calls. T-Mobile didn’t say why it’s yanking @Home, but rival Verizon Wireless last fall axed its similar offering, Hub, because customers relied on wireless services rather than the landline replacement option. It’s fair to speculate that T-Mobile’s users are following much the same patterns. T-Mobile emphasized the @Home decision does not impact the company’s Unlimited HotSpot Wi-Fi service.

– ORIGINAL RUMOR- ORIGINAL RUMOR- ORIGINAL RUMOR- ORIGINAL RUMOR-

T-Mobile to discontinue @Home service

by Kelly Hodgkins on January 7th, 2010

About a month ago, one of our tipsters hit us up to let us know that T-Mobile was probably in the process of shutting down their @Home service. The @Home service allowed T-Mobile customers to make home phone calls via a T-Mobile router connected to the internet. The @Home service was an available add-on to most wireless service plans offered by T-Mobile for a modest $10/month. Bad news for future @Home customers, though, because another circulating rumor confirms what we reported a month ago — T-Mobile has supposedly halted future investment in the @Home service. Current customers can continue to use the service and T-Mobile will continue to support it for the time being. Once the current inventory of @Home routers has been sold, T-Mobile will no longer offer this service to new customers, though. Any T-Mobile customers interested in jumping on board, should do so tout de suite.

Eliminate your phone bill & Save $1,000/year: Cut the Cord!

January 10, 2010 at 4:01 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
Tags: , , ,

Save $1,000 per year by eliminating your Residential and Long Distance charges!
You can get more for far less: eliminating your $70 Telephone and Long Distance bill, and obtain the same services (and unlimited use) for $10/month. I’m saving $100/month in combined savings of telephone, Long Distance, and feature charges. Which would you choose:

Follow the flow chart and see which of the following options is best for you:

Several plans exist that allow you to get more for less: maintain the same telephone service (i.e., no changes in how you use the phone or the features that you expect to receive) at a fraction (15%) of the price. You can use these plans with assurance, as these plans work, are well-reviewed, widely-available, and are mature. These services have been serving customers for 5 years, so jump in the pool! The water is fine.

What you choose depends on your preferences:

  • Fixed at home
    (“I prefer to use wireline and cordless phones when at home, and do not intend to use a mobile phone”)
  • Fixed at home & mobile away from home
    (“I prefer to use wireline and cordless phones when at home instead of my mobile phone”)
  • Mobile-only
    (“I prefer to make/receive all of my calls with my mobile phone”)

A) You prefer: Fixed at home

You just want to reduce your costs without having to change the way that you use the phone.

Your Choices: You can obtain Internet telephone service from Vonage (in the U.S.), your Cable company, and your local Telephone company, in order of increasing cost (and decreasing savings). Many folks that are considering this step will prefer to choose a trusted partner–the existing Telephone company. However comforting, obtaining a replacement service from the phone company will likely save you less. But check out the prices and see for yourself which price plans are best for you. Beware of “teaser” rates, such as $9.99/month (small print: only for the first X months, then increasing to a much higher monthly rate). This option is increasingly unattractive: since nearly everyone has a mobile phone, why not consider a choice that gives you all of these benefits as a bundle with your mobile service (next Option B)? For more information on this option, please see the excellent, recent article “Switch to Internet Calling” [Glenn Fleischman, MacWorld, October 2009]–an excerpt of his article is available online here.

Vonage, for example, offers a basic $18/month 500-minute plan. Please note that this is far inferior to the $10/month bundle that you can achieve with T-Mobile’s @Home service (described is the “Savings Example” above, and below under “Fixed at home and Mobile away”).

Note: You do not have to lose your phone number; you may keep your home phone number and “port” your number to your Internet phone (or to another service, such as Google Voice, that bridges your home phone number with one or more devices, including your mobile phone, office phone, etc.). To keep your phone number, be sure to request this when you sign up for service with your new carrier, as they will take responsibility to promptly and seamlessly make this change.

Advantages:
Average cost savings of $37/month (using FCC averages, your savings will depend on your current bill)

Disadvantages:
Obtaining telephone service from a cable/Internet company means that you are more likely to keep their service.
Potentially poorer customer service (harder to troubleshoot than keeping service from the Telco).

B) You prefer: Fixed at home & Mobile away from home

You want to keep your existing home phone number and devices (along with cordless phones and answering machines), but you also use a cell phone

Your Choices: Mobile phone companies are starting to offer this option: a bundle that replaces your wireline service, while allowing you to keep your home phone number and devices. T-Mobile offers an excellent choice (in the U.S.) that gives you every feature that you can imagine for $10/month … if you use their cellular service. That’s the catch: each of these service bundles replaces your telephone service. For more information on this option, please see the excellent, recent article “Save Cell Phone Minutes by Placing Calls over Broadband” [Glenn Fleischman, MacWorld, October 2009]–an excerpt of his article is available online here.

Note: You do not have to lose your phone number; you may keep your home phone number and “port” your number to your Internet phone , your cellular phone, or to another service, such as Google Voice, that bridges your home phone number with one or more devices, including your mobile phone. To keep your phone number, be sure to request this when you sign up for service with your new carrier, as they will take responsibility to promptly and seamlessly make this change.

Advantages:
Average cost savings of $45/month (using FCC averages, your savings will depend on your current bill)

Disadvantages:
Obtaining telephone service from a cellular company means that you are more likely to keep their service.
Potentially poorer customer service (harder to troubleshoot than keeping service from the Telco).

C) You prefer: Mobile-only

Your Choices: Mobile phone companies are starting to offer this option: an option that lets you reliably and inexpensively use your mobile phone in place of your home phone. You have options, so choose depending on your preferences:

C1: You prefer Mobile-only, and get great coverage at Home

Any mobile carrier will sell you service that includes ample minutes (allowing you to use the phone all that you want, including at home), but there are even better options (read on).

Advantages:
Average cost savings of $40/month (using FCC averages, your savings will depend on your current bill)
Choice of cellular company; if you do not like the coverage or service that you receive, you can readily change carriers.

Disadvantage:
You lose use of any cordless phones, answering machine, FAX devices in your home.

C2:  You prefer Mobile-only, and want better coverage at Home

Some mobile carriers will sell you service with an option for an in-home cell site. Really! You don’t have to be John McCain to get your own cell site (called a “femtocell”). Verizon Wireless and Sprint already offer this option, and AT&T will shortly. T-Mobile offers a different solution that lets their phones make high-quality calls over any Wi-Fi (in your home, or around the world), so it requires that you use a phone with UMA (Unlicensed Mobile Access) with Wi-Fi. For a more detailed comparison of the implementation costs, please see my review comparing the Sprint vs. T-Mobile solutions.

Advantages:
Average cost savings of $45/month (using FCC averages, your savings will depend on your current bill).
Choice of cellular company; if you do not like the coverage or service that you receive, you can readily change carriers.

Disadvantage:
You lose use of any cordless phones, answering machine, FAX devices in your home.
@Home service requires that you use a compatible (UMA) phone that makes calls over Wi-Fi, when possible.

C3: You prefer Mobile-only, and want unlimited, free calling at Home

Free, unlimited, at Home service

T-Mobile’s @Home service is a great deal (available in the U.S.) that gives you unlimited calling (including Long Distance calling to U.S. numbers), voice mail, three-way calling, caller ID (including Name) – a service bundle costing $50 or more from your Telco – for only $10/month. This is one smokin’ deal. (I use it in my Home Office each day).

Note: You do not have to lose your phone number; you may keep your home phone number and “port” your number to your cellular phone (or to another service, such as Google Voice, that bridges your home phone number with one or more devices, including your mobile phone). To keep your phone number, be sure to request this when you sign up for service with your new carrier, as they will take responsibility to promptly and seamlessly make this change. For more information on this option, please see the excellent, recent article “Save Cell Phone Minutes by Placing Calls over Broadband” [Glenn Fleischman, MacWorld, October 2009]–an excerpt of his article is available online here.

Advantages:
Average cost savings of $45/month (using FCC averages, your savings will depend on your current bill)
Choice of cellular company; if you do not like the coverage or service that you receive, you can readily change carriers.

Disadvantage:
You lose use of any cordless phones, answering machine, FAX devices in your home.
@Home service requires that you use a compatible (UMA) phone that makes calls over Wi-Fi, when possible.

Mobile-only is an increasingly compelling choice for nearly all consumers. Already, 25%of U.S. households have cut the cord in favor of mobile-only telephone service. For more info on this trend, see my earlier post on how and why consumers cut the cord.

P.S. This recommendation is written by a Bell Labs engineer who spent many of his early years designing and delivering the world’s best telephony service. So you can be assured that I do not make a recommendation to ditch it unless the options are clearly better. But technology moves on. In fact, AT&T recently asked the FCC “How long do we have to maintain the wireline network?” which effectively says that the wireline network is becoming obsolete and consumers will increasingly migrate away from fixed to mobile and Internet telephone service over the next few years.

Your Savings vs. Typical Savings

Your savings are best determined by your monthly bill—go grab one to determine what you are paying now and what you can actually save.

Typical Telephone charges of $43/month: The FCC reports that the average, residential telephone bill (in an urban center, in October 2007) is $43/month.

Typical Long Distance charges of $12/month: The FCC and other organizations report that the average Long Distance bill is approximately $12 (120 minutes x $0.06/minute), although this varies widely, depending on use.

Typical savings could be $540/year. A “typical” consumer would save less than I experience: an average bill is $55/month could be reduced to $10/month., yielding a savings of $45/month.

FAX & Alarm Support for T-Mobile @Home

February 19, 2009 at 4:46 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 18 Comments
Tags: , ,

Good news for @Home users that desire to send or receive the occasional facsimile (FAX): support for incoming and outgoing FAX is coming in YE2009 (from my friends at T-Mobile). This feature has been delayed (original target: 2Q2009) as it requires an upgrade of T-Mobile’s cellar network (scheduled for 4Q2009). Note: This is the current target delivery date, so the actual deployment may vary. I presume that this will be available for existing and new users as a firmware update to the Linksys routers (e.g., the Linksys WRT54G-TM).

Personally, I will disconnect out my last, remaining wireline service when this feature is available. I already use @Home service for my Home Office, but have held off on using it for my residential service due to my need to occasionally send or receive a FAX. When that box is checked, I’ll have completely cut the cord from my wireline service, and I will be saving over $1,000 per year (versus my previous Qwest charges for voice, long distance, and features).

It is with some remorse that I celebrate cutting the cord, since I was hired by AT&T and spent my early years, as an engineer, designing and enhancing the AT&T Bell System wireline network. Great work, but progress is relentless, and the future is mobile … and IP.

Enterprises: UMA or Femto?

February 14, 2009 at 5:38 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Tags: , ,

Q: Which solution best serves an Enterprise or Campus: UMA or Femto?

A: UMA, then Femto

Summary: the best approach for an enterprise is “UMA first, Femto later”—the same recommendation that I’ve made for individual subscribers at Home, but for different reasons. Enterprises can start savings today with UMA. This allows the enterprise to reap significant savings now, with an Enterprise Mobility solution that can evolve and use Femtocells as they become available. No use waiting on a cool, new technology to save the day … especially when you have no idea on what benefits and pricing will be offered to you.

Our company agreed to deploy “UMA now, Femto later.” We easily came to this conclusion after a recent, enterprise-wide review of UMA vs. Femto with our IT and Telecom team for a moderately large, multi-location company (2,500 employees in large and small offices around the world). It is a relevant question for enterprises, with UMA available and Femto coming. We concluded that we should start the savings now for several, independent, use cases:

  1. At Work or On Campus: Reduce Mobile Charges, and potentially eliminate Wireline service (PBX/CENTREX/VoIP)
  2. When Roaming: Eliminate Roaming Charges
  3. At Home Office: Eliminate Wireline + LD Charges

Note: Any Enterprise can start using UMA for selective End Users, for each Use Case.

uma-vs-femto-for-enterprise-and-home

What Benefits Will Operators Provide With Femtocells?
Start saving with UMA today, as we do not know what the future holds. The undeniable truth is that Enterprise femtocells do not yet exist, we don’t know for sure when they will be deployed, or what benefits (if any) will be offered to the Enterprise by the Mobile Operator. So it makes no sense to put off savings, if your operator is offering them (as is our case in the U.S., with free, unlimied voice and data service using UMA over Wi-Fi).

Femtocells, when available for the Enterprise, will be welcomed by the End User but will present new concerns for the Enterprise:

  • It is easier for the End User to use Femto—no change is required (versus learning how to use UMA over Wi-Fi).
    To eliminate any learning curve, I suppose that the handset could be pre-configured for the user to use the (a) enterprise WLAN and/or (b) Home WLAN, but that is still a manual process that is not fun to consider for 1,000 handsets. I believe that this step (and others) can be automated for some devices, such as automatically configuring BlackBerry devices with the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES). However …
  • It is not easier for the Enterprise to use Femto—many changes are required.
    As I discussed with my IT organization, it requires a lot of carrier- and equipment-specific work for the carrier and IT organization to integrate the femtocells with the Enterprise routing and power, resulting in a carrier-specific configuration that locks the Enterprise to a single carrier. The enterprise will, quite literally, be an extension of the Mobile Operator’s Network, with lots of femtocells attached to their walls and routers. I worked for AT&T Mobility when we pioneered this solution (“Wireless Office Service,” using an earlier, more costly and complex microcell technology), and once installed, it is likely to stay in place due the inconvenience and cost of installing a new solution. Enterprise Mobility solutions are very “sticky” (and therefore extremely attractive for the Mobile Network Operator to lock in high-ARPU subscribers).

Eventually, for nearly all of us, Enterprise femtocells will be a wonderful thing for End Users on campus, just as they are in the Home. However, the technology is not there yet. Nearly all femotcells are low-capacity (up to 4 simultaneous calls), suitable for the residence. Only Huawei has a product that supports significant capacity (16 simultaneous calls) [see Light Reading report] and the first Mobile Network trials are starting (by Orange/FT and AT&T Mobility) [see Femto Trials and Deployments]. We simply can not predict certain, near-term success for enterprise femtocells with the confidence that we embrace Home femtocells. And, most importantly for enterprises, we will have to wait and see what service plans and benefits are offered to enterprises that allow their buildings to be an extension of the operator’s radio network. Will the mobile operator generously offer free, unlimited, on-campus voice and data service (as is offered with most UMA plans today)? Or will the operator be stingy, and offer no cost savings (as does Verizon Wireless with their “Network Extender” Home Femtocell, requiring the End User to purchase the unit, and offering no discounted/free usage)?

Conclusion: Reap savings now using free voice and data (using UMA over Wi-Fi) in the Enterprise just as at Home.

UPDATE: What Qs should an Enterprise ask regarding in-building wireless? Which technology would you deploy? Check out the excellent discussion on this topic, “Six Questions for Enterprise IT departments deploying Femtocells” at ThinkFemtocell. David & I discuss the pros and cons of Femtocell and UMA deployment in the Enterprise.

Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.