Mobile World Congress 2014: What Operators Should Look For – Policy Control

David Snow

David Snow

While the term “policy” has a rather general feel about it, in a modern carrier network “policy control” has far more of a feet-on-the-ground role.  As a fitting parallel, meeting companies and clients at Mobile World Congress is a personal exercise in policy control.  From the meeting arranging frenzy we’re now in right through to the exhausting finale on-site in Barcelona, questions arise such as:  Who do I want to see?  Who wants to see me?  How are they to be prioritized?  How many can I manage in a day?  Which do I commit to (“guaranteed QoS”)?  What others do I try to do (“best efforts”)?  Crucially, what do I do on-site when a high-priority company suddenly changes its arrangements and demands more “bandwidth” unexpectedly?

You get the picture.  That’s what policy control is about.

So, what can we expect to see in policy control at this year’s show?  Here are some things to look out for: Read more of this post

Mobile World Congress 2014: What Operators Should Look For – Backhaul

Glenn Hunt

Glenn Hunt

Summary Bullets:

  • Mobile World Congress represents the best opportunity for operators to track backhaul evolutions.
  • Backhaul should be a hot topic again, since the backhaul network is clearly a point of both contention and opportunity.
  • A number of themes should dominate the backhaul discussion: self-organizing network (SON) and automation, scalability, convergence; using routers, switches, microwave and advanced copper-based solutions.

When we launched our backhaul coverage around 2005-2006, the backhaul network discussion was just beginning to transition from TDM to packet; for some, the thought of using a wildly unpredictable packet model to support mobile traffic was considered heresy.  However, 3G mobile data was beginning to rock the boat and IP was beginning to make its way into the mobile core network.  The backhaul portion of the network then began a rather slow and painful evolution, driven not by choice but by necessity.  The primary concerns were how to install more T1 or E1 circuits in a timely fashion to satisfy meager bandwidth increases and whether packet technology could ever provide the resiliency and accurate timing and synchronization so fondly held by TDM proponents.  Flash forward to today and seldom is a TDM discussion heard, and packet discussions are all about capacity and throughput – not surprising given the real demands being placed on the network as a result of LTE.  However, the bigger discussion centers around using multiple media types and the ability to ease operator pain points related to configuration and ongoing operations; in comes an SDN vision for backhaul. Read more of this post

Mobile World Congress 2014: What Operators Should Look For – Small Cells

Ed Gubbins

Ed Gubbins

Small cells at Mobile World CongressHow two years ago.  The last time we all met in Barcelona, even the juggling magicians of small-cell hype couldn’t compete with the fire-eating trapeze act of software-defined networking and network function virtualization.  This year is probably going to be more like 2013 than 2012.

Still, small cells will be there in volume, just as surely as there will be meager slices of Iberian ham hidden inside crusty loaves of bread.  So, what can small-cell enthusiasts expect to see at this year’s show?  Here are some things to look for: Read more of this post

Mobile World Congress 2014: What Operators Should Look For – Mobile Packet Core

Peter Jarich

Peter Jarich

Summary Bullets:

  • With nearly every network vendor gathered in one place, Mobile World Congress represents the best opportunity for operators to track network R&D evolutions.
  • With 4G and IoT dominating service thinking, the packet core deserves a particular focus.
  • In the mobile packet core, a handful of themes should dominate: NFV, feature functionality, scalability, and startup vendors.

When we launched our mobile network infrastructure practice around a decade ago, the mobile packet core was a central component of our initial product assessments and analysis.  3G mobile data was on the horizon and IP was beginning to make its way into the mobile network.  The mobile packet core sat squarely at the intersection of these trends.  Flash forward to our recently updated Evolved Packet Core product assessments and a trip down memory lane almost seems fun.  Read more of this post

CES 2014: The Internet of Things Inflection Point

Peter Jarich

Peter Jarich

Summary Bullets:  

  • CES 2014 presented no shortage of signs that the Internet of Things is becoming a reality.
  • Monetizing the Internet of Things, however, can’t be taken for granted.

Video has typically been one of Cisco’s primary talking points at CES. It makes sense.  Video is a core component of the triple-play consumer service offer and Cisco maintains a deep portfolio of video assets.  Oh, and it gives the company a solid excuse to host a reception where it shows the BCS championship college football game.  Savvy, huh? Read more of this post

CES 2014: Consumer Electronics vs. Consumer Experiences

Peter Jarich

Peter Jarich

Summary Bullets:

  • CES 2014 continued the trend of including high-profile participation from players outside the consumer electronics world.
  • This trend is best understood in terms of enabling ‘consumer experiences.’

Last year, when coordinating with colleagues around CES 2013, a few were surprised that I had set aside time to connect with the likes of Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, and Ericsson.  “They don’t make phones.  They don’t make tablets.  They don’t make TVs.  Sure, Cisco makes set-tops, but why are the other vendors even coming to CES?  I suppose some execs just wanted a free trip to Vegas!”  Okay, in retrospect, I’m probably remembering things in a much more amplified form.  That said, you get the idea.  For a show with ‘consumer electronics’ in the title, it does seem a little strange that vendors traditionally associated with network infrastructure would be exhibiting.

Wait, did I say “exhibiting”?  Scratch that.  Insert “keynoting” in its place.

Read more of this post

Portfolio Assessments: Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beholder

David Snow

David Snow

At Current Analysis, we like to say we’re “different than other analyst firms” in that we don’t focus our analysis on producing market forecasts.  Of course, this approach often raises the question from those who are not familiar with us: “So, if you don’t do numbers, what do you do?”  The snarky answer is “lots of stuff.”  However, one of the more popular aspects of our analysis are our Product Assessments.  Now, we don’t tear down platforms, but we do perform metrics-driven SWOT analysis on a range of vendor offerings.   Here’s a little more about how we approach the task. Read more of this post