Raghu Rau is Senior Vice President of Global Marketing and Strategy for Motorola Networks. Mr Rau is involved in the development of strategic plans for the networks business as well as managing the global marketing of communications solutions to wireless and wireline carriers worldwide. Raghu Rau has more than 17 years’ experience in the telecommunications industry. Mr Rau has held assignments in Asia, Europe and the United States, and has prior experience with multinational corporations and the establishment of start-ups. He has guest lectured at reputed universities worldwide and has spoken at numerous industry conferences. Raghu Rau earned a Bachelor's Degree in engineering and an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management (Ahmedabad).
The telecom revolution has several drivers – cellular and the substitution of fixed for mobile service, wired and wireless broadband, hotspots, VoIP and rich IP-Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) applications – and all are fuelling user expectations and accelerating the change. Network, device, and applications, convergence, however, is what ties it all together and makes Information and Communications Technology an integral, moment-by-moment part of people’s lives. Seamless, ubiquitous service is what the market wants and what will sustain operator growth for years to come.
The wave of urgency to deliver more ways to stay connected through fast access to information, entertainment and people is rising at a startling pace. Regardless of whether you are a wireline, wireless or cable operator, you must ride this wave of change to evolve your current business or run the risk of getting left in its wake. To position yourself for future communications growth and profitability, it is critical first to identify the common denominators within these demands. In my experience, these can be boiled down into three essential infrastructure components: • Greater bandwidth to deliver the feature-rich applications that consumers and professionals crave; • Flexible network architectures to support the seamless delivery of these applications across multiple networks and devices; • Mobility to provide the ubiquitous connections necessary to enable ‘personal broadband on the go’. The future of thinking Putting the network infrastructure and services in place to bring these elements to life will require providers to shift their thinking away from traditional telecom business models. Traditionally, the focus has been on the volume of voice minutes, the installation of ‘fat pipes’, and the creation of simplified service offerings and pricing for the masses. Providers, today, need to understand and operate not just in the consumer world but the enterprise market as well. This change in mentality begins with examining current market drivers. As the following figure shows, the urgency to transfer diverse communications between fixed and mobile infrastructures is escalating at an unprecedented speed. Along with demands for convergence, the business parameters – such as usage, bandwidth, access/delivery and pricing —that once separated consumer applications from enterprise services, are also colliding. This transformation is evidenced in the explosive proliferation of cellular, hotspots, broadband, fixed-to-mobile substitution, and next-generation applications. Because providers can anticipate making three to four times higher revenues from more engaging applications, developers, network manufacturers and partners alike are racing to bring new capabilities to subscribers in both mature and emerging markets, such as music, gaming, mobile TV, video messaging and location services. The sheer bandwidth demands from these more complex services will result in doubling the number of broadband users worldwide to 500 million by 2011. By then, our studies show that 55 per cent of customers will receive broadband from DSL, 30 per cent from wireless and 15 per cent from cable. These statistics from our studies help define non-cellular wireless broadband as the next big thing, with the global broadband wireless addressable market growing from US$720 million today to US$7.2 billion by 2010. We owe this universal market change to the continued, expanding use of the Internet. However, where the Internet was once a portal for accessing content using computing devices, it is fast becoming the gateway to triple-play services (data, voice and video content) through more robust computing and telephony devices. This access includes everything from music and video downloads for the masses to personalized services such as email, Push-to-Talk and multimedia messaging. One application, in particular, proves this technology shift as operators aggressively move to offer Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services. According to a worldwide survey of more than 130 operators, done by analyst firm Heavy Reading, 77 per cent have either deployed or are running trials of VoIP. The Internet is also ripe to help deliver television services as well, with global subscribers for Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) expanding from only 3.7 million in 2005 to 36.9 million by 2009. For service providers, this represents a revenue opportunity that was only US $774 million last year growing to US$3.3 billion in the next three years. The future of broadband In order to capitalize on these opportunities, according to a Deutsche Bank telecom equipment study, worldwide telcos alone will spend an estimated US$50 billion in network upgrades over the next five years. Of this, 60 per cent will be focused on broadband, IP and fibre deployments, and 21 per cent on video middleware and services. These network technology choices should not focus solely on providing greater bandwidth or broadband services; rather, they should address the long-term network evolution that will provide the standardized framework for supporting convergence and ubiquitous services. In fixed environments, wireline operators, for example, can move beyond voice to offer high-speed Internet and digital video entertainment by deploying fibre to the premise (FTTP) technology. FTTP provides a universal access architecture solution that uses Passive Optical Networking (PON). By enabling a common framework for deploying deep fibre, operators can consolidate their access network into a solution capable of migrating to bring quickly a full range of narrowband and broadband services to homes and businesses. Migration paths for VoIP and IPTV in the home can also be supported through GPON (gigabit PON) technology, which offers a converged point of delivery for triple-play services over a single fibre. GPON solutions eliminate the need for fibre re-work and integrate the MLT (multi level transmission) and standard voice, video and data interfaces that work with existing in-home wiring to minimize deployment complexity and time, as well as to deliver higher quality of service (including increased bandwidth of up to 2.5 Gbps and IP transport efficiency) at lower costs. In wireless landscapes, operators have several choices for altering their networks and bringing increased bandwidth and broadband services to consumers, business users and residential customers. Many 3G operators are currently incorporating 1xEV-DO to enable true broadband services over mobile. With a peak data rate of 2.4 Mbps and an average data rate similar to wireline broadband technologies, 1xEV-DO offers a superior end-user experience in wireless access to the Internet, while supporting more complex applications, including email, audio and video streaming and location based services. While some UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications Service) carriers in the 3.5Ghz space are taking a similar approach by deploying 1xEV-DO Rev. A, which offers the enhancements needed to support VoIP and video telephony (such as short packet support and reduced latency), others are leveraging High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) technology to achieve the same results. This 3GPP Release 5 standards compliant modification to the UMTS air interface provides peak network speeds of up to 14 Mbps, lower latency, and the ability to better manage voice traffic to reduce data delivery costs per bit. For non-cellular frequencies such as 2.5 GHz, 3.5 GHz and 5.8 GHz, Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX) is currently one of the hottest technologies for broadband wireless access. Based on the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ standards for 802.16, WiMAX will support fixed, nomadic, portable and mobile applications by delivering greater broadband performance than technologies such as Wi-Fi, along with enhanced coding schemes, advanced antenna techniques and lower power requirements. Fixed WiMAX (802.16 Revision D) will provide the point-to-point broadband access solutions to meet a variety of needs, including: • Providing last mile access to basic telephony services in developing countries or rural areas where wireline infrastructure does not exist; • Offering T1/E1 service for small business and enterprises; • The provisioning of wireless Internet service provider (ISP) services; • Delivering competitive access backhaul for business and cell sites; • Providing temporary backhaul for sporting events and tradeshows; • Provisioning for broadband backhaul for 3G cell sites. Mobile WiMAX (802.16 Revision E) will further extend the benefits of this emerging technology through its ability to support mobile telephony services using VoIP and mobile multi-media services based on IP. It will also lower the costs of data downloads through hot zones. The future of service ubiquity When network solutions such as these are deployed in tandem with IP-Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) and softswitch technologies, operators can provide standardized methods for delivering signals to different devices across diverse networks, so that services can be delivered seamlessly to either a stationary or a mobile user. By moving and managing signals consistently across multiple access networks – cable, FTTx (fibre to whatever destination), fixed, cellular, WiFi or WiMAX – instructions such as how to set up data streams, how to monitor data and how to send data from the session to the network’s billing system can be shared and put into action. This is what service ubiquity or seamless mobility is all about – the ability to carry your personalized service profile with you as you move from device to device, from home to automobile to office, and wired to wireless networks – and pay for it through one bill. IMS is receiving a lot of attention these days for this distinct value proposition, yet it should be recognized equally for giving existing and emerging providers the power to evolve their networks as standards migrate from 2G to 3G to all-IP, without losing their original capital expenditure or the portability of their services. This ability to satisfy existing and new customer bases with communications that bring people what they really want — more productivity wherever they are, greater access to higher value information, and the ability to see and be seen — will enable providers to ride the wave of change. It will also let operators get out in front of the wave and to capture new revenue opportunities well into the future.