COMET News - September 2014

By: Jesse Cryderman

Neck and neck in networks:
AT&T and Verizon

RootMetrics drove nearly a quarter of a million miles and conducted more than 5.6 million tests during the first half of 2014 in order to test out wireless networks “in the wild.” The results? Verizon has the best performing wireless network in the U.S., with AT&T close behind.

“Increasingly, a good mobile experience has become a fundamental part of our daily lives, but determining which network performs best seems to have become more difficult,” said Bill Moore, CEO of RootMetrics. “We conducted such a large-scale study on mobile network performance to provide depth and transparency around how the networks really perform. We firmly believe consumers deserve clear, unbiased, and accurate information in order to make the most informed decisions to improve their everyday mobile experience.”

According to this round of testing, AT&T and Verizon are neck and neck at the top, and the distance between competitors T-Mobile and Sprint is nearly as close:

1st – Verizon (81.6) 
2nd – AT&T (79.5) 
3rd – T-Mobile (71.5) 
4th – Sprint (69.6)

In Carrier Ethernet, however, the story is different. According to a report from Vertical Systems Group, more Ethernet ports were installed in the first half of 2014 than any other period, and the market share leader is AT&T, with Verizon close behind. 

Network performance doesn't always equal business performance, however. In the growing prepaid market, T-Mobile is now the leader in the U.S. Based on the latest earnings reports, T-Mobile leads the prepaid mobile marketplace with 15.64 million customers, followed by Sprint (15.19 million), AT&T (11.34 million ), and Verizon Wireless (6.04 million). 

NTT DOCOMO tests LTE over unlicensed spectrum

What if LTE could operate over unlicensed spectrum, similar to the way Wi-Fi operates? According to NTT DOCOMO and Huawei, it can, and with greater capacity than 802.11an. The two companies have been testing Licensed-Assisted Access (LAA), a technology that expands LTE-compatible spectrum to unlicensed spectrum bands. An indoor test found that LAA can work in 5GHz bandwidth, leading to cell capacity of approximately 1.6 times greater than that of IEEE 802.11n, a standard specification for WLAN. 

"We are very pleased to have confirmed that LAA is a viable technology for LTE and future LTE-Advanced," said Seizo Onoe, Executive Vice President and Chief Technical Officer at NTT DOCOMO. "We aim to contribute to the standardization of this technology, which inherits the highly advanced features of LTE, to further enhance the global user experience with wireless broadband."

Word on the street is that the new tech is slated to be discussed by the 3GPP later this year.

Six companies construct FASTER

While the wireless wars are waged, other battles are being fought in the wired domain. Just as in wireless, faster is a key performance metric, so a six-company consortium announced FASTER, a next-gen cable system linking Japan with the West Coast of the U.S.  NEC scored the supplier contract for the 60Tb/s fiber link. The consortium itself is comprised of China Mobile International, China Telecom Global, Global Transit, KDDI, SingTel, and Google—yes, Google. Why? It's a classic application for network evolution; when FASTER is finished, Google will have a leg up on its stateside competition. 

M+A activity

Several significant acquisitions began in the final month of summer.  PTC announced that it was further bolstering its M2M/IoT credentials by acquiring Axeda for $170 million, Nokia Networks moved to purchase Panasonic’s wireless base station business, and Ericsson purchased MetraTech, a software company known for its innovative, metadata-based billing and settlement solutions. Nokia Networks also finalized its acquisition of SAC Wireless.


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