Mobile Milestone: Data Surpasses Voice Traffic

Mobile data traffic outnumbered voice traffic for the first time last December, according to wireless equipment vendor Ericsson. Worryingly, that data traffic was generated by an estimated 400 million smartphones compared with 4.6 billion mobile subscribers making voice calls. What happens when everyone has a smartphone?

Sprint Will Pay Ericsson $5B to Run Its Network

sprint-logoUpdated: Sprint (s S) today said it will turn over the day-to-day management of its wireless network to Ericsson (s eric), and spend between $4.5 billion and $5 billion over the next seven years for the service. The two companies will host a conference call later in the day to discuss the agreement, which Sprint is calling Network Advantage. It looks like Sprint is doing this to benefit its balance sheet — switching the capital expense of running its own network to an operational expense. Read More about Sprint Will Pay Ericsson $5B to Run Its Network

Is It Time for Ericsson to Ditch Its Sony Partnership?

Sony (s sne) CFO Nobuyuki Oneda said today that the joint handset manufacturing effort between Sony and Ericsson (s eric)  will need to raise at least 100 million euros ($135 million) this year, according to the Nikkei English News. This prompted ratings agency S&P to issue a note saying that the telecommunications equipment vendor should sell its stake in its cell phone partnership with Sony:

We view this capital need as unsurprising given the weak recent results from SEMC and our forecast for further losses. We think the strategic value of SEMC to ERIC is minimal and believe a resolution requiring a cash infusion would be viewed negatively by ERIC investors.

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Like Facebook or Google, Wireless Carriers Need to Scale

Most in the technology world think about scaling in relation to web sites and data centers, but the carriers operating the world’s wireless networks are worried about scale as well. As they transition to fourth generation (4G) wireless networks, they’re not just thinking about increasing data speeds; they’re also trying to figure out how to deliver more data-consuming new services over their networks in a way that generates more money for them. Otherwise they’re planning to sell your personal data to advertisers to boost their bottom lines. Read More about Like Facebook or Google, Wireless Carriers Need to Scale

China’s 3G Plans to Benefit Local Vendors

Three Chinese mobile networks plan to spend a total of 280 billion yuan ($41 billion) over the next two years building out 3G networks, for which the government will announce licenses at the end of 2008 or in early 2009. Plans like that would normally have equipment vendors around the world salivating, but in truth it’s Chinese vendors Huawei and ZTE that will likely gain most of the yuan in this transition. The two vendors are rare among their telco equipment-making peers in expecting growth in 2009 and both have cited the Chinese transition to 3G has the reason behind their optimism. Read More about China’s 3G Plans to Benefit Local Vendors

Cisco’s Grand Video Plan

Cisco, having determined that its growth in the enterprise has pretty much stalled, has decided that video — from teleconferencing to cable — is the answer to its growth problem. To that end, it’s positioning video traffic as the new data — ready to take over the web. And Cisco is betting that cable operators and carriers panicked by the rise of video content are going to start building their own optimized video networks that the company calls a medianet.

Femtocells or Wi-Fi? That is the Question

Femtocell frenzy is how one paper described the Mobile World Congress Show in Barcelona last week, but at the Portable Computer and Communications Association meeting held Tuesday and Wednesday in Plano, Texas, the solution to the fixed part of fixed-to-mobile convergence seemed to be Wi-Fi.

As Tammy Wheat, director of Ericsson’s enterprise solutions division, noted, Wi-Fi is the solution of choice among enterprise vendors because it gives them the illusion of control and because it’s “free.” Of course, configuring a wireless network that’s robust enough to deliver quality voice over cell phones is expensive, but it is something the corporate IT guys can take care of. By contrast, femtocells are essentially equipment provided by the carrier that rides on the incoming broadband network.
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Ericsson Expects Mass LTE Deployment in 2012

Just when the average consumer was learning to take advantage of the 3G network (while perhaps noticing the limits of the 2.5G Edge network on the iPhone), it’s time to prep for 4G. Verizon and Vodafone are already testing 4G equipment that relies on the Long-Term Evolution standard.

Arun Bhikshesvaran, VP of business strategy and CTO for Ericsson North America, said the equipment maker has launched a trial of its LTE baseband equipment with an unnamed carrier. He expects it will be completed toward the end of the year.

He expects 2008 and 2009 to be the trial and test years for the standard and anticipates 2012 will see widespread deployment. Bhikshesvaran further expects the U.S. and Japanese markets to lead the way, with Europe to follow. Although China Mobile announced an LTE test at Mobile World Congress last week, Bhikshesvaran is uncertain if the Chinese market will skip 3G deployment entirely. India chose not to.

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