Throttling video streaming is not criminal but Xfinity has botched the move

Comcasts’s Xfinity Mobile is going to limit video streamed over cellular to 480p resolution and cap hotspot speeds at 600 kbps unless customers pay more.

In a letter sent to current customers, which inevitably got posted online for all to see (on Reddit), Xfinity Mobile announced two changes to its service: it will limit the resolution of video streaming over cellular networks to 480p (so-called “DVD quality”), and it will cap the speed of hotspots powered by mobile device to 600kps. Although it may help customers’ data plans last longer, ultimately this is a measure to control cost. Comcast does not have its own mobile network and is reselling Verizon Wireless’s data.

Limiting the resolution of mobile video streaming is nothing new. YouTube will fall back to SD (240p or 360p) when the network quality degrades, prioritising continuous play over picture quality. For a long time, Netflix had by default capped the resolution of streaming over cellular at 600p before it gave users the choice to go for higher resolution.

Neither is limiting tethering using mobile hotspots. When T-Mobile launched its Uncarrier programme “One”, mobile tethering speed was limited at 128kps. Even with the expensive “One Plus” the hotspot speed was only lifted to 512kps.

However Xfinity could have handled the issues better to avoid the backlash on its reputation. Xfinity should realise that the increasing popularity of video streaming is the main driver for data consumption. Therefore when designing the products it should either raise the data plan cap of its “Unlimited” data plan, currently at 20GB, or go for real “unlimited” but bill different customers based on the speeds offered, like the common practice in Finland, where per capita mobile data consumption is the highest in the world.

More importantly, Xfinity should have given its existing customers the grace period till their current contracts ran out if it wanted to avoid antagonizing them. Exerting new limitations and charging additional fee for services that are in the original contract is even potentially a breach of contract on the service providers’ side.

Shuffle Sites: Lighting and Connecting the Smart City

This article is brought to you in partnership with Huawei

 

The MBB Sector Is Set for a New Wave of Explosive Growth

As the number of mobile broadband (MBB) users explodes with an ever-increasing demand for diverse services, data traffic is experiencing sharp growth like never before. Network quality is a key differentiator for data-savvy customers. Towns and cities across the world need a highly performing network and broadband infrastructure to implement their smart initiatives that will bring huge benefits for their citizens.

Telecom operators need to improve the coverage and the capacity of their mobile networks. As site acquisition becomes increasingly difficult, the focus is turning to new ways to roll out services, improve the user experience and develop 5G networks while meeting strict government requirements on integration and appearance.

Shuffle Site – a joint innovation

Partners of cities worldwide, Huawei and Schréder, having been working together for the past year to deliver Shuffle Site – a multi-functional street lighting platform that incorporates Huawei’s built-in small cell to provide wider broadband coverage and boost capacity while meeting government regulations.

Technological cooperation turns street lights into base stations

With street lights widely available throughout towns and cities, they are ideally placed to quickly deliver extensive coverage, support large amounts of data traffic, and improve the user experience.
Huawei’s outdoor integrated small cells as well as their antennas and transmission devices have been perfectly integrated into the Shuffle to meet the requirements of the local municipalities and carriers regarding the appearance of small cells. The small cell has also been designed to accommodate 5G networks in the future.
The Shuffle Site represents much more than a high-value data traffic hub. It can also integrate public address systems, surveillance cameras, WiFi modules and sensors to enable cities to provide multiple services in one aesthetic column, reducing their carbon footprint. It is simply, the ideal platform for cities to implement smart city initiatives.

In addition, by collaborating with telecom operators, cities could give themselves an enormous economic advantage. The first cities to have 5G, which is 100 times faster than 4G, will undoubtedly, attract technology companies who want to develop new products and services.

Success across industries

By adopting the Shuffle Site, telecom operators will save time and money in new site deployment, reducing CAPEX and OPEX by over 40%. The acquisition period will be cut from six months to one. Pilot installations have proven that the download rate for subscribers increased by three times.

The Shuffle Site can be installed in densely populated areas, including pedestrian areas, squares, railway stations, metro stations, residential areas, urban roads, and tourist attractions.

In addition to providing a solution to the recurrent problem of site acquisition this joint innovation contributes to enhancing the city landscape. It provides the perfect infrastructure to ensure a successful collaboration for many stakeholders.

Let’s not obsess about FTTH – Broadband World Forum 2017

The first full day of Broadband World Forum 2017 saw both operator and vendor keynote speakers explore strategies for achieving ubiquitous gigabit connectivity.

On the operator side Franz Seiser, VP of Core Network and Services at Deutsche Telekom (pictured) set the tone by urging the industry discard its legacy systems and habit in order to embrace the possibilities offered by 5G. “We can only enable the new if we throw away the old,” he said, adding that the current focus on enhanced mobile broadband is still too narrow.

Seiser also touched upon what was probably the central theme of all the morning’s talks: that it’s most unrealistic and blinkered to focus solely on FTTH as the answer to our future bandwidth needs. He noted that it would cost €80 billion to build fibre to every home in Germany, so that’s not going to happen anytime soon. To satisfy short and mid-term demand we need to be investing in technologies like G.fast and fixed wireless access.

This was echoed by the CIO of BT Group Howard Watson, when asked about G.fast, who agreed that the technology will do just fine for now, as BT has been insisting at this event for years. He spent most of his talk bigging up the work of his company and its subsidiaries EE and Openreach, as well as delivering a montage of recent BT press releases, but he also confirmed DT’s assertion that on the 5G side it’s all about eMBB for now.

The vendors were all keen to stress the multi-technology approach for satisfying bandwidth demand. Both Huawei and Nokia echoed a major theme of yesterday’s keynotes that wifi is an often-overlooked piece of the puzzle. Both companies now offer managed wifi solutions to their customers and seem to think that can be a differentiator.

Federico Guillén Nokia’s president of Fixed Networks, was especially keen to stress the need to embrace a number of technologies and strategies in order to solve tomorrow’s connectivity challenges. “The strategy of deploying fiber to the most economical point in the network is still valid, but the combination of fixed fiber, wireless and other access technologies is now even more crucial to the operator’s business case,” he said.

“Fixed networks are going to be essential for the growth of 5G, for example, as they will complement wireless for mobile transport. We will also see a combination of fibre and fixed wireless access to deliver ultra-broadband to the home using technologies such as WiGig.”

Guillén also insisted that virtualization has finally reached the mature end of the hype cycle and has become a reality, but we’re not sure all operators would share his bullish stance. He did, however, concede that virtualizing everything is not, by itself, the answer to our connectivity challenges, once more stressing the need for a hybrid approach.

The morning session concluded with a talk from Ronan Kelly, EMEA and APAC CTO of Adtran, who chose to reflect on the underlying trend of symmetry being introduced to previously asymmetrical industries, such as video entertainment being disrupted by user-generated content or the taxi industry turned on its head by Uber.

Telecoms are having to invest in capacity without getting any return because it’s all being used by OTTs that cut them out of the commercial loop – the old ‘dumb pipe’ dilemma. Kelly reckons greater flexibility of product offering – such as the ability to buy ad hoc increased bandwidth when needed – is going to be a key part of tackling that issue for CSPs.

On the whole this was a balanced, mature set of keynotes that avoided some of the buzzword hype of previous years and focused instead on looking facts in the face. Gone too is FTTH dogma, replaced by an acceptance that if alternative ‘last mile’ technologies like G.fast, DOCSIS 3.1 and FWA get people close to 1 Gbps fixed-line connectivity, then that will do for now.

Global Mobile Broadband Forum: An Overview

By Anne Morris, Contributing Editor. This blog was sponsored by Huawei.

Mobile AI, the evolution of mobile broadband architectures and the latest insights into 5G will all feature prominently at this year’s Global Mobile Broadband Forum in London.

The mobile broadband world is moving inevitably towards 5G, but how will the industry transition from 4G LTE to the promised world of 5G?

That’s a key topic to be explored in London in November when the great and good of the mobile industry gather to discuss latest progress in the development of the next generation of mobile technology, as we move closer to the point when 5G standards will be ratified.

The two-day Global Mobile Broadband Forum (Global MBB Forum) 2017 provides an opportunity for the industry to explore developments in the 5G standard to date, as well as gain an overview of the huge advancements that have been made with 4G. It’s now recognised that 4G will continue to play a significant role both in the standardisation process for 5G as well as in the types of services that will be available in the future.

The title of this year’s event, which takes place on November 15 and 16, is “Mobile Reshapes the World” — and few would regard this as mere hyperbole given the huge changes that mobile technology has already brought to our lives. The purpose of the event is not only to provide a snapshot of progress to date, but also to make some important decisions regarding future steps. Indeed, some of the most influential decision makers from the ranks of operators, vendors and other participants in the mobile ecosystem will be attending. Importantly, representatives from vertical industries — which are expected to provide key use cases for 5G technology — will also add a further dimension to discussions on how to achieve sustainable growth.

What can you expect to see? As things stand, the event expects to attract more than 900 attendees with many holding C-level positions within their companies. The impressive line-up of keynote speakers includes: Ken Hu, rotating CEO, Huawei; Rajendra Rao, CEO, Ford Smart Mobility; Johan Wibergh, CTO, Vodafone Group; Enrique Blanco, GCTIO, Telefonica Group; and Hiroshi Nakamura, CTO, NTT DoCoMo. There will also be live demos and an innovation expo to show some real-world examples of what is already being trialled in labs as well as on live networks.

On Day 1, the focus will be placed firmly on the development of the future 5G ecosystem and the types of services that this extremely advanced mobile technology will be able to support. As well as perspectives from mobile operators on what 5G will mean for their businesses, there will also be discussions on how vehicles are set to become the “next mobile”, as well as the impact that mobile is having on how video services are distributed and consumed. Day 2 will look at the innovations that have been made with LTE-Advanced technology, also dubbed 4.5G.

A key topic during the event will be Mobile Network AI (artificial intelligence). The Huawei team will show how a combination of mobile broadband and AI capabilities can improve efficiency, performance and business, and will unveil the world’s first Mobile AI prototype during the Forum.

In addition, a number of roundtable events will delve deeper into aspects such as how the mobile industry can work with vertical industries in the 5G era in order to devise new business and use cases. That will also involve improving network capabilities to enable these use cases as the industry moves towards 5G network rollout and delivery.

Running in parallel with the Global MBB Forum will be a series of summits and roundtables held under the banner of Wireless Industry and Technology Talks, or WIT Talks. These discussions will focus on key aspects relating to the realisation of 5G, such as the thorny issue of spectrum and the physical construction of the networks themselves. The latter issue will also incorporate discussions on core network transformation, the co-existence of 2G/3G/4G and 5G, and how to ensure sustainable investments and network evolution. In addition, no network discussion would be complete without an examination of how 5G will affect back-office systems; the OSS roundtable will enable leading operators to share their experiences and discuss what they intend to do next.

Of course, the Internet of Things (IoT), virtual and augmented reality, and vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication — underlining the importance of the car industry as a blueprint for other sectors with regard to its collaboration with the mobile industry — will also feature heavily in the talks. Last but not least, security challenges and the prevention of cyber-attacks remain a pressing concern for the sector, which is still seeking ways of how to cope with new and more sophisticated threats in future.

Overall, the aim of the conference is to ensure that all participants in the ecosystem better understand what future actions are now required to make 5G both a reality and a business success.

The Global MBB Forum 2017 will take place at the ExCel centre in London on November 15 and 16. To register for the event, please click here.