Maintaining Profitability on the Path to 4G

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By George Kaichis

Looking for ways to maintain profitability as an operator on your way to 4G/LTE? WireIE’s George Kaichis (Director, Radio Network Services) has some tips to help your company get there.

In order to meet the projected spike in demand and quality of data services, operators will ultimately need to migrate their networks and businesses to 4G/LTE. However, WireIE recognizes that most operators will not have the capital available to upgrade their networks and therefore suggest the following to ease the transition for operators:

  • Outsource non-core activities, particularly around the deployment and operation of your networks
  • Deploy a hosted 3G network
  • Sell operator-owned towers to tower companies and lease back space for your equipment
  • Sell microwave assets to wholesale backhaul providers and lease them back
  • Preserve roaming revenue through RF Optimization, site audits and KPI monitoring in order to maximize network capacity and performance

George recently wrote an article that was published in Cancion Magazine, a quarterly journal issued by CANTO (The Caribbean Association of National Telecommunication Organizations). The article expands upon these different measures that we believe will help operators handle the ever increasing consumer demand for higher speed data services while also maintaining profitability.

WireIE Comments on Canadian Government’s Digital Economy Strategy

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WireIE President & CEO Rob Barlow today formally commented to the federal government on it’s consultation entitled: “Improving Canada’s Digital Advantage, Strategies for Sustainable Prosperity.”

Removing Broadband Deployment Obstacles in Rural Canada

I appreciate the opportunity to share my views in response to the Government of Canada’s Consultation Paper on a Digital Economy Strategy.

As President & CEO of a Canadian based global broadband wireless company, I am keenly aware of the benefits modernized ICT infrastructure bring to an economy. Economic and social development varies from one economy to another, but in every case, significant, measurable increases in GDP are realized when access to broadband is made universal.

Much of my company’s work is in the developing world where access to broadband is extremely limited if available at all. By providing universal broadband access to education, health, industry, business and individual citizens, societies have been transformed in very dramatic ways. Creative minds are unleashed and given access to develop new products and services, not only for their local economy, but often for the world at large.

As a proud Canadian, I am profoundly disappointed that rural Canada is now lagging behind much of the developing world in terms of broadband access. Recognizing the enormity of our nation’s geography, along with the reality that we are one of the most urbanized countries on the planet, it is somewhat understandable that little attention has been paid to rural broadband access up to this point.

A look at the devil in the details reveals further concerns. For example, there is no clear, consistent delineation between urban and rural broadband service offerings. My office, for example, is located in the “technology centre” of York Region, mere kilometers from the City of Toronto boundary. Within five kilometers of my office, broadband service availability becomes very sporadic, even nonexistent in certain peripheral areas. Many businesses and residences encircling our country’s largest city have no access to broadband.

The Government’s digital economy initiative is a vital element in Canada reclaiming it’s prominence as a global telecommunications leader. The government’s paper on the matter does a good job of capturing the challenges, along with the necessity to address them. With that in mind, I offer the following comments.

I believe serious consideration should be given to defining broadband access as an essential service – much in the way access to electricity and traditional telephony services have been regarded for several decades now. I say this fully recognizing that political and economic realities of today are very different from the days when universal telephone service was being deployed in rural Canada.

It is my belief that one of the reasons our country has fallen so far behind is due to the lack of genuine competition in the telecommunications sector. With that in mind, and factoring in the significant capital infusion required to provide such universality, a structure based on private / public partnerships should be seriously considered.

I also recognize that our deregulated, competitive telecommunications environment necessitates that capital is allocated for broadband expansion based on Return on Investment per project. Understandably, areas with low population densities produce poor and very often negative ROIs.

The digital economy, however, is a broad, complex, multilayered concept as the Government’s paper describes so well. While the delivery systems (i.e.: telecommunications infrastructure) may yield poor or negative ROIs in many areas of the country, the creation of content, new products and services as a result of universal broadband have the potential to generate enormous wealth in the longer term. Put another way, universal broadband provides a consistent foundation from which immeasurable wealth can be generated over and above network operator revenue. This modernized infrastructure has the added benefit of providing remote and rural government offices and facilities with broadband, allowing for operational cost reductions, along with greater opportunity to offer services in more areas at a consistent level of quality and overall user experience.

A likely reciprocal result of this creation of wealth would be made-in-Canada innovation in the telecommunications sector itself. Our once global reputation as an innovator in telecommunications would be reestablished, but this time it would be substantially reinforced by services afforded by universal broadband access to the Internet and World Wide Web.

Realizing the longer term return on such a scenario, it is essential to incent telecommunications providers to expand where shorter-term ROIs are unattractive – even when augmented by public funds. Tax breaks are an obvious option but other incentive-oriented mechanisms should also be explored. For example, an easing, or where practical, elimination of radio frequency license fees in rural areas would aid in the provision of both broadband backhaul and access. Another deterrent for network operators in rural areas – both from a cost and logistical perspective – relates to inflexibility in accessing rights-of-way. Rigidity around collocation of multi-operator telecommunications facilities is another impediment. I believe that by clearing these obstacles, significant progress can be made in delivering universal broadband in rural Canada.

We deservingly pride ourselves on being a well educated society. Creation of wealth and the sharing of knowledge need not be confined to parts of our country where broadband is available. Our rural areas are bursting with clever, creative, educated people driven by an entrepreneurial spirit. Other rural residents long to learn and have access to the same infinitely rich resources enjoyed by their urban counterparts who take broadband access for granted.

I thank you for considering my comments on this extremely important matter and look forward to a bright future where every Canadian has the choice to participate in the Digital Economy.

Robert Barlow

President & CEO

WireIE Holdings International Inc.

Broadband Wireless Takes on Legacy Broadband

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As experts in next generation networks, WireIE has been a strong promoter of WiMAX from the start.  As the impact of Clearwire’s WiMAX network roll-out takes hold, trends in customer behavior are beginning to emerge.

In this article by Marguerite Reardon, the question is asked, “Can 4G wireless take on traditional broadband?”  WireIE believes the answer for many users is “yes”.

Article – “Why Transform Your Network”

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The below article was recently published in The Caribbean Association of National Telecommunication Organisations’ CANCION Second Quarterly Magazine of 2009.

“Why Transform your Network?”

By Jennifer Marron
Marketing & Communications Specialist, WireIE Holdings International Inc.

The Internet and the World Wide Web have revolutionized society. The quality of a user’s experience on the web depends directly on the quality of the communication channel. Today, Next Generation Networks are revolutionalizing the world of communications and are becoming more common, as both consumers and businesses are realizing their long list of benefits. These beneficial qualities include using a great variety of devices and experiences, while promoting economic development at the same time. An opportunity exists to leverage this technology transformation throughout the Caribbean. These networks, supported by the Internet Protocol (IP), have the capability to transport any information or service we associate with the web.Today, IP has become an adopted standard for almost any service or application. IP-based networks are both flexible and economical methods of creating a solution that integrates with established and future network technologies. Transforming to an all-IP network is very beneficial as it extends network coverage, enables operational simplification, allows for rapid disaster recovery, and reduces costs. It is therefore time for the Caribbean to make a change to an all-IP network platform.

Network extensions are an essential part of Next Generation Networks as they improve and extend coverage and coverage areas. These wireless extensions allow client bases to be built for approximately one third of the price of extending traditional cable-based infrastructure. It is difficult and very costly to extend cable-based infrastructure in the Caribbean, as it involves trenching, and rigging for the build of poles, cables, and plants in a very diverse and environmentally sensitive ecosystem. These traditional approaches are quite vulnerable to weather-related damage, and subsequent network downtime. Legacy infrastructure based on Time Division Multiplex (TDM) limits the operator to circuit-switched voice and relatively inflexible data configurations. On the other hand, IP extensions have infinite flexibility. Extending existing networks also allow local clients and users to access the Internet and web-based services at exponentially increased speeds. Additionally, the “IP pipe” empowers multimedia experiences – bringing the user way beyond voice. In addition, IP networks offer significant network redundancy and diversity configurations, and are much more flexible and reliable overall.

The Caribbean has a unique need for rapid deployment of communications networks in the event that a hurricane hits a certain region and connectivity is lost. Being non-reliant on traditional legacy infrastructure allows networks to be up and running quickly if disaster or weather-related incidents occur. IP-based wireless remote sites are fast, easy, less expensive, and have more “plug and play” features than what we are currently used to with traditional technologies. Furthermore, an all-IP philosophy has the greatest degree of design flexibility while also retaining relative simplicity, meaning it can be set up to cater to the specific environment. Channelized voice and circuit switching infrastructure is also no longer needed, since IP utilizes Voice-Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) instead. IP networks also enjoy a very wide selection of network equipment choices at comparatively low prices. They facilitate simplified device connectivity and configuration in a deployment process that is repeatable. Therefore, relying on an IP-based network rather than legacy infrastructure-based networks allows for rapid recovery time should a hurricane or other weather-related incident occur.

The primary benefit of adopting an all-IP network are the cost savings, in that they diminish hardware costs and offer operational improvements since one converged network is used, rather than a patchwork of disparate networks using other less standardized equipment and protocols. This process is much simpler and costs less. New applications can also be added and used, which is another benefit from switching to IP. These applications can be used as a source of new revenue by providing value to enterprises and users. Among other things, IP standards allow for seamless interconnectivity of both network devices and user devices. An example of this is demonstrated utilizing the power of “cloud” computing where applications are served, documents are created and collaborated upon within the application, and ultimately stored, a popular example being Google Docs. on the Gmail platform. Cloud computing allows users to store files on the web, making it an ideal environment from which to share and collaborate. Innovations such as the cloud computer dramatically reduce the cost of end-user equipment (e.g. Netbooks). With these kinds of networks, many different users are able to communicate via a standardized connection. The web offers enriched services targeting capabilities of new wireless mobile devices. Rich onboard applications draw on web resources wirelessly. Web browsers’ power mobilizes the web, which allows for infinite capabilities for the end-user. IP is also essentially future-proof, in that it allows growth to be a relatively seamless, non-disruptive task. Therefore, transforming to an IP network allows for cheaper operations and network maintenance overall.

Next generation IP-based networks are rapidly emerging as the fundamental starting point in exploiting the full potential of the web. This technology is now reducing costs without sacrificing any capabilities or benefits from older IT platforms. IP networks address many of the problems associated with traditional wireless technologies, as well as providing an elegant solution for today and tomorrow’s future communication needs. IP-based architecture creates great opportunities for new applications, in that the ones that were previously impossible to implement can now be successfully launched and completely integrated. Transforming into IP-based networks permits virtually effortless interconnection with neighbouring networks – even if it is a different operator. However, the length of time required for this overall transformation will depend on the size of carrier. WireIE can add value to a carrier as we offer turnkey solutions, network design and deployment. WireIE is a global leader in providing professional services and innovative solutions for the wireless network operator. WireIE offers a consistently high level of skill and experience in the design, deployment, and management of radio access, backhaul, and IP core network solutions. Where appropriate, WireIE will support a legacy network’s transition to IP by designing customized hybrid solutions. Therefore, IP-based networks – the most popular network protocol in the world – are truly the way of the future, as their benefits far outweigh those of traditional networks. There has never been a better time for the Caribbean to take advantage of the benefits of IP networks in order to realize the full potential.

MSN Demonstrates IPTV at WireIE CANTO Booth

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WireIE was pleased to have representatives from MSN performing a demonstration of Internet Protocol Television (ITPV) at our CANTO booth last week.

WireIE CTO Tim Brown (Left), with MSN Representative Brian W. Gutiérrez Alba (Right)

WireIE’s President & CEO Robert Barlow (Far Left) and VP of Business Development – Emerging Markets Ray Bulengo (Far Right) interacting with CANTO Conference delegates.

IPTV (Internet Protocol television) is the streamed delivery of video content encoded as a series of Internet Protocol (IP) packets. Traditionally, IPTV is distributed by a service provider and can deliver either live TV or stored video. IPTV is often bundled with other broadband Internet services — VoIP (Voice over IP) being the most common.

Unlike the broadcast model with digital or analog cable television, IPTV sends only one program at a time per set top box.  When a viewer changes the channel, delivery of the original stream is stopped and a new stream is transmitted from the provider’s server directly to the viewer.

“Opportunities in the World of Open Mobile” Presentation

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This past Tuesday, July 14, WireIE CTO Tim Brown presented “Opportunities in the World of Open Mobile”, at the 25th Annual Caribbean Association of National Telecommunication Organizations’ (CANTO) Conference and Trade Exhibition in Trinidad & Tobago.

A PDF of the presentation may be found here.