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We’ve moved!

Our new home is at realwireless.biz/blog 

All these posts and many new ones can be found there.

LTE and HSPA: timing of features report

Our report on the features of LTE and HSPA and how they might change over time has just been published. This includes a detailed look at the standards, comparing the roadmap of capabilities which will emerge from the 3G standards. It also includes a roundup of the mobile devices which have been announced by manufacturers and an exclusive look at a survey of manufacturers (conducted by the nice folks at Rethink Research) regarding their plans to support various features and frequency bands in future devices.

The full report is available here, and the wider consultation documents published by Ofcom are here.

800 MHz coverage obligation report published

Our report on the cost of extending an 800 MHz coverage obligation for the UK has just been published by Ofcom, alongside their further consultation on the award of 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz spectrum.

Example of extending LTE 800 MHz coverage for mid and North Wales

We extended our modeling tools specifically for the purpose to allow us to efficiently place new sites – both macrocells and small cells – on a cost-efficient basis, taking full account of terrain and the locations of users.

The full report is available here, and the wider consultation documents are here. Further information on this project is available here.


Long-term Mobile Capacity Issues: New Project for Ofcom

Real Wireless have been appointed by Ofcom to investigate long-term capacity issues for mobile networks. The project involves a cost-benefit assessment which accounts for:

· demand

· technology

· topology (offload and small cell) and

· spectrum issues

over the next 20 years. The study follows our earlier study for Ofcom on the capacity gains associated with 4G mobile technology .

We would welcome input from industry generally to help inform this study. Please e-mail info with any relevant information and we will be in contact.

Speaking at Westminster e-Forum on 10th November

Real Wireless are speaking at the Westminster EForum event Delivering the UK’s Broadband Future. We’re joining a panel of distinguished guests from Neil, Everything Everywhere, Hughes Systems and others to debate the issues involved in covering not-spots and ensuring national coverage.

The event is on Tuesday 10th November at Sixty One Whitehall, London. Full details at:


Handy links to spectrum discussions in UK parliament

There have been several discussions on spectrum in UK parliamentary circles recently. We thought it would be useful to gather these in one place for reference:


Transcript:  http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/culture-media-and-sport-committee/news/committee-announces-new-inquiry-into-spectrum/

Video: http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=8662

“Next-Generation Mobile Broadband: Technology and Business”: New Training Course

Intellect home

Real Wireless is proud to announce that we are collaborating with Intellect – who represent the UK technology industry – to offer a one-day comprehensive update on the latest trends in the mobile market and networks. The course will be run at Intellect’s offices for the first time on 3rd October 2011 and includes details of:

  • Mobile broadband demand
  • Changing mobile business structures
  • Technology evolution (3G, LTE, WiMAX etc)
  • Regulatory framework
  • Spectrum
  • Mobile network topology evolution
  • Future trends
The course covers both UK and International (US, Europe, BRICs and beyond) mobile market trends together with technology insights drawn from deep insights based on working with operators, regulators and vendors at the forefront of this fast-moving industry.  The briefing is suitable for both those in the mobile industry needing a refresher and other businesses, such enterprises and system integrators, with a critical need to keep their mobile strategy updated.
See Intellect’s website for full details of the course and booking information.

Our report on 2.6 GHz technical licence conditions published by Ofcom

Ofcom just published our report which highlights studies relevant to technical licence conditions for the 2.6 GHz band. This accompanies Ofcom’s own consultation document highlighting their proposed licence conditions for both 2.6GHz and 800 MHz.

The specific areas examined are:

  • The need to protect FDD base station receivers from interference from TDD systems operating in the restricted block of unpaired spectrum
  • The optimum frequency placement for low-power FDD  access points (including femtocells, microcells and picocells)
  • Potential coordination rules to limit uplink and downlink interference to standard power networks from low power access points which share spectrum in the ‘hybrid’ approach which we examined in a previous report.
  • Issues which could constrain the number of  licences for shared low power access.

The full report is available here, together with the Ofcom consultation document. The closing date for consultation responses is 28th July 2011.

Ofcom publishes 4G Capacity Gains Study by Real Wireless

Ofcom yesterday published the outcome of our 4G Capacity Gains study ,which was previously announced on this blog.

The full report is now available for free download. At 120 pages for the main report and a further 90 pages of appendices, we thought it would be useful to give a quick summary of the key findings. Scroll to the bottom of the page for media coverage of the report.

In short:

  • The report was commissioned by Ofcom to assess the realistic scope for capacity improvements in 4G technologies (including LTE, LTE-Advanced, WiMAX and WiMAX 2) relative to earlier technologies, especially 3G (including UMTS, HSPA and HSPA+).
  • Wireless Network capacity depends on three key factors (see our white paper on this):
  1. Technology – the cell spectrum efficiency that can be realised by a given feature set from a given wireless technology
  2. Spectrum – the bandwidth allocated to a network
  3. Topology – the mixture of cell sizes and local environments in the network
  • This study focuses on Technology and Topology as a contribution to the debate on dimensioning of spectrum for 4G networks
  • We found that technology evolution alone will deliver substantial gains in spectrum efficiency, but that these taken alone will not be sufficient to meet forecast traffic growths without also having increases in the available quantity of spectrum and moves towards more numerous and smaller cells.
  • This finding is based on:
    • Our forecast that spectrum efficiency in UK cellular networks in dense urban areas could grow at 18.5% annually (CAGR) between 2010 and 2020 due to technology enhancements introduced via the predicted roll out of 4G networks.
    • The lowest of analyst mobile broadband traffic forecasts which show an annual growth rate of 17% in the same time period. Most traffic forecasts are many times higher this low end forecast, with the highest traffic forecast in 2020 being around 15 times higher than this.
  • Initial 4G deployments will deliver a 1.2 times improvement over high end 3G configurations with considerably larger gains when compared with earlier 3G systems. We estimate a 1.2 times improvement in cell spectrum efficiency between a high end 3G configuration (2×2 HSPA+ 64QAM Release Eight) and typical initial 4G deployment (2×2 LTE release 8). Comparing against a more typical high end 3G device on the market today such as a HSUPA release 6 1×1 handset gives a gain of 3.3 times.
  • Spectrum efficiency in deployed networks will grow by approximately 5.5 times between 2010 and 2020 Our forecast roadmap of 4G feature set roll out and device mix produces a blended spectrum efficiency for 4G over 10 years in an ITU base coverage urban macro environment of 1.5 bps/Hz in 2010, reaching 2.32 bps/Hz/cell by 2020. Combining this with the spectrum efficiency of 2G and 3G devices already deployed we estimate that the spectrum efficiency of UK networks will rise from 0.43 bps/Hz/cell in 2010 to 2.32 bps/Hz/cell by 2020 i.e. 5.5 times. This gives a CAGR of 18.5% which only satisfies the low end traffic forecasts.
  • Our findings on absolute spectrum efficiency challenge assumptions in previous spectrum dimensioning studies Previous studies on behalf of Ofcom and the FCC into dimensioning spectrum assume values from 1.3 to 1.5 bps/Hz/cell for LTE. This matches reasonably well with our estimate of cell spectrum efficiency for 2×2 LTE release 8 of 1.32 bps/Hz/cell in an “idealised” ITU base coverage urban scenario. However, this assumption is optimistic for spectrum dimensioning as it does not allow for realistic loading or the impact of mixed traffic types.
  • Capacity gains via small cell topology will gain importance in 4G We anticipate that network topology will become important to capacity in 4G networks to an even larger extent than in 3G networks. This is based on:
  • Capacity gains from technology not being sufficient to meet forecast demand increases so that a combination of spectrum and topology will be needed to address the balance.
  • Small cells being built into the 4G standards from an early stage, building on experiences from 3G femtocells.
  • Consistent view from stakeholders that small cells and the associated heterogeneous networks will be an important part of delivering sufficient capacity in 4G networks.
  • OFDMA, as used by 4G technologies, lending itself better to interference mitigation via dynamic resource scheduling across frequency and time resources than WCDMA as used in 3G.
  • Small cell topology improvements in 4G should mitigate against demand peaks so that dense urban deployments are still the bottleneck for dimensioning spectrum Our study has found that using small cells in three example “hyper dense” scenarios in urban office, shared accommodation and railway stations would be enough to provide the capacity boost needed to mitigate the demand peak. This implies that dimensioning spectrum for dense urban deployments and assuming that topology improvements will serve peak demand in these hyper dense scenarios is still a reasonable assumption for 4G networks. Our findings rely on small cells being cost effective to deploy and that vendors can overcome interference and management issues

Coverage of our report in the media:

Ofcom publishes Real Wireless study as part of UK’s 4G spectrum auction proposals

Ofcom have today published a technical study by Real Wireless as an important element of their proposals to auction the 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz spectrum, which is ideal for LTE and WiMAX “4G’ deployments.

In particular, we studied the opportunities for a portion of the 2.6 GHz FDD band to be used for ‘concurrent’ low power use by several operators, which  would allow femtocells and other low power cell types to be used to deliver service, without needing separate spectrum for every operator.

Details, including our full report, are available now from: the Ofcom web site.

Update: Ofcom media briefing gives a good overview of the consultation.