Tag: US

Acceleration of the deployment of 4G LTE Technology across the World

The need for faster and sturdier mobile data networks push carriers around the world to accelerate their deployment and trials of 4G LTE Technology.

In the United States,  Clearwire Corporation is announcing the start of trials expected to yield unmatched wireless speeds of 20-70 Mbps in “real-life” situation., significantly faster than the 5-12 Mbps expected from other local operators.

Meanwhile, a Samsung Executive declared last week that MetroPCS Communications Inc. will be the first US carrier to offer commercially 4G LTE services in the country. While Verizon, the nation’s biggest wireless carrier, plans to launch their own Long Term Evolution network by the end of the year, MetroPCS is expected to start its services no later than next month.

Europe is not late either. Sweden is leading the race, thanks to TeliaSonera who is already launching LTE services in a second major city in the country after Stockholm. They declare planning to rollout the service in 25 cities by the end of the year. Erik Hallberg, President of Mobility Services at TeliaSonera, revealed that the company’s rollout plan includes augmenting the 2600MHz LTE network with 800MHz frequencies, which it expects to receive via future bandwidth auctions.

LTE and WiMAX are the main pathways to 4G that MNOs have to pick between, and on which they can build their data handling capacities. While WiMAX has enjoyed a first mover advantage and a clear head-start, LTE is a natural progression for MNOs operating on GSM/UMTS networks, and that it offers the ability to lower the cost of delivering data services. For this reason, many believe that there will be a surge in the deployment of LTE networks in the coming years.

US mobile operators plan to turn Smartphones into credit cards

Three major US operators have announced their intention to venture into the payment and electronic transactions business, a sector until now controlled almost entirely by Visa Inc. and Mastercard according to Bloomberg:

The service, similar to those already available in Japan, Turkey and the U.K., would use contactless technology to complete purchases in stores. They’d be processed through Discover’s payments network, currently the fourth-biggest behind Visa, MasterCard and American Express Co. Barclays would be the bank helping to manage the accounts, said the people, who requested anonymity because of confidentiality agreements.

The technology used, NFC -Near Field Communication- is a parent of RFID. Already present in “wave” credit cards, it would be directly incorporated in the phone. RFID is cheap and easy to deploy but has proven to be not completely secure.

Embedding it within the CSP services and network could provide additional security features and offer new possibilities of payment for services, ticketing or content. The fact that such systems are already up and running in countries like Japan and UK indicates that these issues can be tackled.

This move from American operators is game changing. Visa and Mastercard have been regularly criticized for their transaction fees but this market –estimated to be worth $630 billion in five years- was until now lacking competition.

The business model remains to be clearly defined. Will the consumer follow? Will the shops invest in new payment terminals? Payment with phones in the US is still not for today, but it seems to finally be close to become a reality.