‘The Road to the Autonomous Vehicle’ – Automotive and Transport SIG Event – 2nd December 2014

Cambridge WirelessEvent: ‘The Road to the Autonomous Vehicle’ – Automotive and Transport SIG Event
Date: 2nd December 2014
Venue: Silverstone Park, Silverstone Circuit, Towcester, Northamptonshire NN12 8GX

What: Real Wireless are the SIG Champions helping organise this event to discuss all the technologies needed for self-driving cars. These include wireless connectivity, telemetry, radar, navigation, big data and many more. This will be a fascinating event, covering many different areas of technology. It is co-organised with MEPC and will be at Silverstone racetrack.

‘Interoperability of Small Cells & the existing cellular networks – What’s the hold up?’ – 1 October 2014

Cambridge WirelessEvent: ‘Interoperability of Small Cells & the existing cellular networks – What’s the hold up?’ Cambridge Wireless Small Cell SIG
Date: 1 October 2014
Venue: PwC, LondonWhat: Professor Simon Saunders, Real Wireless Director of Technology will chair this event.

Small cells are proliferating in their many forms. To become a true part of the HetNet they need to be automatically and smoothly incorporated into the existing macrocell network, raising questions of standards, interoperability and performance. 3G femtocells created the first fully open interface in cellular history, with Iuh providing both control/data functionality and a management protocol on open standards. Plugfests and individual operator efforts have built on these foundations.

Yet experience shows that there is a big gap between open standards and open interoperability, with a true multivendor environment still not being at anything like the level of, say today’s DSL modems. Is such open interop possible, or even desirable at this stage in the market?

Wireless in stadiums: It’s not all about the spectators

During the World Cup earlier this summer, we saw plenty of articles that examined the wireless infrastructure – or lack thereof – at the host stadiums.  Due to the  scale and attention on the event, it was inevitable that these mainly focused on whether visitors would be able to tweet from the event.

But wireless in venues is about much more than just letting attendees tell their friends on social networks about their evening. There are a host of other benefits for the venue and its staff that are possible when a stable, usable mobile infrastructure is in place – some of which we detailed in our guide.

The attention on wireless during the world cup should have focused on these benefits.  At this point in time, there are a whole host of options available for stadium owners to implement stable wireless infrastructure in a cost effective manner.

As the UK Premier League returned this week, here are four of my favourite potential use cases – hopefully the industry will be more vocal about these in 2014/15. 

Analyze this

Big data was the marketing buzzword de jour in 2013, so it’s surprising so many stadiums are still in the dark about who attends their events, let alone what they do once they’re inside. But imagine not only being able to see where spectators are inside the venue, but also where they’ve come from and where they go after.

With a solid mobile infrastructure, this is all possible. Thanks to focused coverage technologies – like the recently announced presenceCell – and improved analytics packages, it’s possible for network operators to provide data on where subscribers go before an event.

This data can be used for more than just planning footfall. As well as location, data collected can be used to profile visitors – providing insight in to who they are. You can probably imagine the host of advertising and personalization opportunities this opens up.

WFG: “Working from the game’

The idea of a business person wearing a Bluetooth headphone, tapping away on their laptop throughout a Sigur Rós concert is probably enough to strike fear in to the heart music fans. But for long-form sports, such as cricket and baseball, watching the game doesn’t necessarily mean blocking out the rest of the world for the duration.

Particularly for fixtures that occur mid-week, voice coverage is only the beginning of what spectators need, particularly those often found in the members’ stands. While they might technically be on a day off, it’s still essential that they can check email and respond to anything urgent – even from the ground. Something particularly relevant for VIP customers and those in corporate boxes.

Some venues have already attempted to address this; Sussex County Cricket ground has deployed a Wi-Fi system to the seating areas specifically to provide “virtual office” services to their spectators.

Receiving transmission…

The hefty bandwidth demands that come with transmitting mobile video in a stadium means most owners have traditionally shied away from it. After all, if you’re having difficulties meeting current mobile demands, why add further network strain?

LTE-Broadcast is set to change that. Thanks to its improved usage of network capacity, it’s possible to stream content to multiple devices without overloading the network.

Many stadiums already offer their own video channel on venue-controlled television screens, providing unique coverage of the event at hand. With by transmitting this via LTE Broadcast, this could easily be monetized and made available to spectators inside the venue.

Think of how well received Sky Go’s Ashes Cricket application was by fans. If an owner were to charge visitors £5 a head for access to multiple in-game camera angles, the initial costs suddenly look small in comparison to what could prove a very lucrative enterprise.

The future of security

Most venues will have a basic PMR system in place for stewards and other staff to communicate via radio, whilst some larger venues will have a dedicated TETRA system for emergency service use.

Thanks to new developments in LTE push-to-talk radios, it’s now possible for police and security staff to relay images and video of people involved in incidents to their colleagues. This instantly provides everyone with an exact image of who to look out for and what occurred, rather than relying on vague descriptions.

This last point is perhaps made all the more significant as impending changes to the TETRA emergency services radio in the UK will see it wound down. Rather than waiting for this to happen and rushing to install LTE coverage, smarter venue owners should be starting to prioritise this now.

Real Wireless bolsters transport expertise with new consultant

15-year veteran Oliver Bosshard brings a variety of technical, practical and management skills

Independent wireless advisory service Real Wireless has recruited Oliver Bosshard as a managing consultant. Oliver brings a range of expertise, particularly in delivering wireless to transport environments and into venues.

One of his key strengths lies in combining his practical knowledge of the engineering and operational requirements for designing and maintaining cellular and multi-point networks, with his extensive knowledge of mobile technologies and how to practically implement solutions in specialist locations.

“Oliver is a great addition to the Real Wireless team and we’re thrilled to be welcoming him to the business,” said Professor Simon Saunders, Director of Technology at Real Wireless. “His experience leading teams in the installation of national wireless infrastructure will make him a valuable asset in the planning and management of wireless projects for our clients. We’re also particularly interested in his knowledge of specialist wireless solutions, bolstering our ability to offer wireless solutions for difficult venues and environments.”

“It feels like there was a perfect opportunity for myself at Real Wireless,” said Oliver. “DAS and transport are real growth areas for the business and projects are becoming ever more complex and technical in their requirements. Having extensive personal experience of working on specialist DAS and transport solutions that incorporated multiple wireless technologies, coverage techniques and business considerations, it was clear that I could bring a valuable skill set to the business.”

Oliver is a 15 year veteran of the wireless telecoms industry, having started his career working on RF planning and optimization for Orange Switzerland. During his tenure, he took on the lead role of the national special projects team, using DAS to deliver multi-operator coverage to shopping malls, airports, trains and railway tunnels.

In 2004 he founded his own technical consultancy company, specializing in network design, rollout and management with project in Africa and various Caribbean islands, before becoming the head of ‘Wireless Innovations Group UK & Ireland’, where he purpose built a team for the design, deployment, management and monitoring of wireless solutions to Wembley Stadium and the O2 Arena.

Competition: the consumer’s friend?

For a relatively small country with 60 million inhabitants, the UK has four (or six, depending on how you count shared networks) operators competing for subscribers.

Add MVNOs in equation and the contrast between the UK and others – like the US – become readily apparent.

The immediate impact of this is good news for consumers. The options on offer mean UK operators need to prioritise low prices to stand out; in fact average revenue per user in the UK can be as low as a third of that in the US.

However the long-term consequences of this could well be hindering the UK – something that is often forgotten about when discussing how the market will develop.

Low pricing for consumers results in lower profitability for operators, which in turn means a lack of investment in infrastructure. This is compounded by the fact that constructing multiple networks results in an inefficient duplication of resources, which could otherwise be used to increase network coverage, capacity and performance.

So whilst we are a small country with a high population density, coverage continues to be a real challenge. Despite being nearly 40 times the size of the UK, the United States generally enjoys far more complete coverage.

Whilst consumers therefore see low pricing as beneficial and advantageous, in the long run they ultimately receive less ‘bang for their buck’.

With profit margins shrinking in a pricing race-to-the-bottom, operators are facing hard times. It’s not hard to see these figures leading to internal pressure for consolidation – which would in turn have a negative impact on competition.

Innovation too is hampered. After all, with multiple competitors watching your every move in an attempt to capitalise on any mistakes, can we blame any operator that doesn’t want to experiment with a non-proven technology?

One would hope that this situation would ultimately self-regulate, with operators folding in times of excessive competition and springing up when potential revenue is attractive enough, but the high stakes that are currently involved in entering or leaving the market make this unlikely.

But recent EC merger decisions suggest that we are beginning to see proactive steps taken towards resolving this. Rather than obsessing over operator numbers, the focus has shifted towards policing their behaviour at the wholesale level. The thought process being that this will encourage MVNOs to compete more intensely in retailing mobile services, whilst increasing efficiency in the underlying networks and allowing network operators to reap the financial benefits from greater economies of scale.

What is implicit in this is an increased recognition of the benefits that resource sharing can bring. However, I would argue that the EC regulators will need to start thinking about more the sharing of more than just networks.

By encouraging spectrum sharing we can begin to enable access to the wide channel bandwidths, that are likely to be necessary to meet future demand for mobile broadband, and avoid exacerbating the issues surrounding spectrum scarcity we may encounter in the future – something that Sweden, France and Mexico have already begun considering.

Real Wireless joins UK Spectrum Policy Forum as funding partner

Wireless experts’ contribution reflects the importance of spectrum policy to the UK economy and telecoms industry 

Real Wireless has joined the UK Spectrum Policy Forum as a funding partner. Acting as a sounding board for the Government and Ofcom, The Forum is at the centre of UK Spectrum Policy and closely aligned with the work Real Wireless carries out for many of its clients.

Professor Simon Saunders, Real Wireless co-founder and Director of Technology, has been working with the Forum since its inception last year, where he examines spectrum applications and demand as chair of Cluster 1.

Launched in September 2013 by Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, the UK Spectrum Policy Forum is chaired by Professor Jim Norton. With the involvement of a full range of spectrum-using companies and organisations, the UK Spectrum Policy Forum is the industry sounding board to the Government and Ofcom on future spectrum management and regulatory policy, with a view to maximising the benefits of spectrum in the UK.

“Spectrum is a scarce resource but it’s also one that is valued at £52 Billion per year to the UK economy. Therefore it’s an area that needs to be properly managed and supported,” said Prof. Saunders. “The work of the Spectrum Policy Forum is essential if the UK is to get the most of this valuable asset and it’s an initiative that Real Wireless is perfectly placed to support.”

“Simon’s work with us over the last nine months has been invaluable and we’re delighted that Real Wireless has now become a funding partner of the Forum through Steering Board membership,” said Professor Jim Norton, Chair of the UK Spectrum Policy Forum. “Real Wireless has an incredible wealth of expertise and experience in spectrum policy and management and this makes them an excellent partner.”