A Snapshot of NTCA Members' Wireless Successes

New Edge  NTCA members continue to make advances in bringing wireless service to their customers, despite the numerous inherent obstacles, according to the just-released NTCA 2016 Wireless Survey Report.

One-half of survey respondents are currently providing wireless service to their customers. Of those, 89% are offering fixed broadband, 41% fixed voice, 39% mobile broadband, and 36% mobile voice.

Of those not currently offering wireless service, 17% are currently considering doing so, 62% have considered it in the past and deemed it not feasible, and 21% have never considered offering wireless.

Fifty percent of survey respondents hold a 3650–3700 MHz license, 35% a lower 700 MHz license, 29% an 800 MHz license and 27% an AWS license.

Survey respondents have invested considerable resources in their wireless operations. The median total (cumulative) investment in wireless facilities, excluding spectrum, is $1.2 million, and the median total (cumulative) investment in spectrum $65 thousand.

Looking Closer at 5G

Cisco recently released a white paper titled Cisco 5G Vision Series: Laying the Foundation for New Technologies, Use Cases, and Business Models that lays out their vision of how the cellular industry can migrate from 4G to 5G. It’s a highly technical read and provides insight on how 5G might work and when we might see it in use.

As the white paper points out, the specific goals of 5G are still in the process of being developed. Both 4G and 5G are basically a set of detailed standards used to make sure devices can work on any network meeting the standards. Something that very few people realize is that almost none of the supposed 4G networks in this country actually meet the 4G standards. We are just now seeing the deployment around the world of the first technologies – LTE-Advanced and WIMAX 16m – that meet the original 4G standards. It’s been typical for cellular providers to claim to have 4G when they’ve only met some tiny portion of the standard.

And so, long before we see an actual 5G deployment we are first going to see the deployment of LTE-Advanced followed by generations of improvements that are best described as pre-5G (just as most of what we have today is pre-4G). This evolution means that we should expect incremental improvements in the cellular networks, not a big swooping overhaul.

Want Happier Wireless Customers? Sign 'Em Up...

New Edge  A recent J.D. Power study found that customers who subscribe to wireless service on a contract basis have higher levels of satisfaction than those subscribing on a non-contract basis.

According to the market research firm’s “2016 U.S. Wireless Cell Phone Satisfaction Survey, Volume 2,” overall satisfaction among wireless carriers in the full-service carrier segment was 8.30 out of 10.00, compared to 7. 86 for customers purchasing service from non-contract carriers.

One possible explanation for the discrepancy is the fact that contract customers tend to have more up-to-date handsets, which allow them to do more with their service. Non-contract customers, on the other hand, generally have older and/or less sophisticated phones.

Reports of the Death of Fixed Broadband Have Been Highly Exaggerated

New Edge  In his keynote address at the Broadband World Forum (BBWF) in London this week, Federico Guillen, president of Nokia’s Fixed Network Business Group, underlined the role that fixed networks will play in achieving network transformation and true convergence with mobile as the world moves relentlessly into the seamless communications era of 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT.)

“A few years ago some people saw mobile as the only technology and, to some, fixed, wireline networks were effectively ‘dead,’” Guillen said. “Reality is, however, that fixed is very much back, stronger than ever, and it is a necessary technology to realize our gigabit societies of the future, delivering higher speeds than mobile, and being highly complementary.”

“This is especially true in the world of 5G and if we are to cope with the incredible opportunities of the IoT as we move towards digital societies of the future,” he added.

T-Mobile Changes Eyed with Skepticism

  A classmate in college once complained that the student newspaper had published an unflattering account of his student council leadership. Our professor, who seemed at once wholly uninterested in the student's lamenation and keenly interested in his own sylabus raised an eyeborow and asked, "Did the paper spell your name correctly?" The student blinked and said, "Yes, it did." Our professor, no stranger to controversial press coverage himself, looked back at his papers and said, "Well, that's about the best for which you can ever ask. Move on."