Wireless industry in 2015: tough decisions and intense pressure – but users will see opportunities

Independent experts predict a year of acute complexity and flux

25th February 2015 – London, UK – The wireless industry faces a challenging year in 2015, but for consumers and wireless users the outlook is far more optimistic. These are the findings of the second Real Wireless Manifesto, published today.

With increased competition, consolidation and technology pressures all on the horizon, operators, vendors and regulators all have an unusually difficult year ahead. But this is good news for subscribers, who will enjoy the benefits of new services, business models and greater coverage in traditionally difficult areas, such as rural and in-building locations. The successful operators and vendors will be those who provide agile network and service strategies to adapt to this changing landscape.

As a consequence regulators will need to work hard to balance the needs of a rapidly changing market, maintaining competition whilst ensuring investment in national networks can continue.

The 2015 Real Wireless Manifesto draws upon the knowledge of the business’s independent wireless experts, whose technical, regulatory and commercial expertise spans all areas of the wireless industry. It follows 2014’s manifesto, which correctly predicted many of the last year’s wireless industry developments.

The experts also predict that demanding subscribers combined with increasingly popular LTE networks will finally push operators into deploying dedicated in-building solutions. Managing the expectations of new and existing LTE subscribers will be one of the biggest challenges in 2015, driving deployments of new solutions and technologies.

For the organisations that use wireless technology, 2015 will bring new opportunities. The business case for property companies, landlords and transport companies to rollout wireless connectivity remains complicated, but new developments continue to make the end solution a more attractive proposition; new revenue streams are opened up to venue owners and rural businesses gain from improved coverage.

Other key predictions for wireless in the next 12 months include:

  • Indoor coverage and the expectations of new LTE subscribers will become one of the biggest challenges for mobile operators
  • Wireless will become a major differentiator for airlines and railway operators
  • We will finally see a viable business case for the deployment of rural wireless
  • 2015 will see clarification over the spectrum and architecture needs of 5G – but not a full definition
  • Internet-of-Things technology will progress rapidly, but standardised technology will not be widely deployed for years.

“In 2015 we’re anticipating that the wireless landscape will become even more complicated, with operators moving towards quad-play and rolling out new services at the same time as facing increased subscriber pressure”, says Professor Simon Saunders, Director of Technology, at Real Wireless. For operators this means looking at new ways to differentiate and for regulators they need to assess just how much competition is healthy.”

The 2015 Real Wireless Manifesto looks at every aspect of the wireless industry, from 5G to indoor and rural coverage, spectrum, transportation, M2M and more. The issues discussed affect not just operators and vendors, but also regulators and all those that use wireless technology.

“2014 saw a lot of talk around 5G and, while we’re still a long way from an agreed definition, this is the year where we’ll start to get a much clearer idea of what it will eventually look like,” adds Saunders. “We also expect the transport industry to follow the lead of enterprises in realizing the value of wireless as more than just Wi-Fi. With some of this down to pressure from government, there is a clear need for these businesses to ensure they’re clear on the business case for rollout and are considering a holistic approach to their wireless strategy.”

The Real Wireless 2015 manifesto is available to download free of charge here. Bringing together the views of experts across the wireless industry, it highlights the challenges and opportunities for the sector over the next twelve months, with insights from Real Wireless on how to best shape mobile and wireless strategies.

About Real Wireless
Real Wireless is the pre-eminent independent expert advisor in wireless technology, strategy & regulation worldwide. We bridge the technical and commercial gap between the wireless industry (operators, vendors and regulators) and users of wireless (venues, transportation, retail and the public sector) – indeed any organization which is serious about getting the best from wireless to the benefit of their business.

We demystify wireless and help our customers get the best from it, by understanding their business needs and using our deep knowledge of wireless technology to create an effective wireless strategy, business plan, implementation plan and management process.

We are experts in radio propagation, international spectrum regulation, wireless infrastructures, and much more besides. We have experience working at senior levels in vendors, operators, regulators and academia.

We have specific experience in LTE, LTE-A, 5G, UMTS, HSPA, Wi-Fi, WiMAX, DAB, DTT, GSM, TETRA, PMR, PMSE, IoT/M2M, Bluetooth, Zigbee, small cells, radio, core and transport networks – and much more besides.

Our customers include Ofcom, Wembley Stadium, Transport for London, BAA, The European Commission, iBwave, Virgin Media, Amdocs, major network operators and many others.

For more information visit www.realwireless.biz
Twitter: @real_wireless

PR contacts
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+44 208 408 8000

Will we really have Wi-Fi on trains by 2017?

Prime Minister David Cameron announced today that all trains in the UK should have free WiFi from 2017, partly helped by £50M of government funding.

At Prime Minister’s Questions he said the plans would cover services operated by TSGN, Southeastern, Chiltern and Arriva Trains Wales. (It isn’t clear if it is only those will get the funding, or if it is only those that have the expectation of free service?)

1Di8seNRo6bK8c9xq5Cw_Italia FerrisBut another facet is that is likely this will be a prerequisite of tender submissions: TOCs will have to offer Wi-Fi as part of the criteria for in the next round of franchise submissions – and will need to compete on the level of service they offer.

It is clear the operators see the benefits: Wi-Fi is a great way to make train travel more productive and hence more attractive than driving.

A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents Network Rail and train operators, said: “It is good news that even more rail passengers will be able to benefit from Wi-Fi on their train. Rail plays a crucial role in keeping people connected to friends, family and jobs and the wider rollout of Wi-Fi on the rail network will mean people can make even better use of their time on the train.”

But saying people should do it is the easy bit: actually making this work is extremely challenging, and this is an area where Real Wireless has done a lot of work.

Trains are an extremely challenging environment for on-board connectivity, whether via Wi-Fi or small cells. For a start, there are very strict safety standards, which complicates installations. But most challenging is the issue of backhaul: trains move fast, though difficult terrain (tunnels, cuttings) and often through remote areas. To get that connection to work reliably is not trivial, and might need specialist links or dedicated spectrum.

That makes it critical that there is appropriately designed trackside network, on-train equipment and spectrum.

We have worked on these issues for a number of clients, and have some in-depth expertise in this area.

An example, which is in public domain, was done with Mott MacDonald for the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB), that considered both Spectrum and Technology: “Supporting the Rail Industry’s Wireless Communications”.

We analysed spectrum (the characteristics of different frequency bands, the status of regulatory policy) and technology (capabilities that would be suitable to both operational and passenger services, and both Wi-Fi and LTE).

We have done a number of other projects on train communications and how to make them work, reliably and cost-effectively.

A few things to consider:

  • It may seem surprising, but one of our findings was that it is not actually as expensive as often thought to install mobile equipment on all the carriages of all the trains in the country – if it’s done in a coordinated fashion.
  • What’s more, that the cost is massively outweighed by savings in necessary trackside infrastructure, given the right use of technology and spectrum. But too many people are not doing that right.
  • There are significant benefits from operational use: looking only at passenger use omits many of the opportunities for telemetry, maintenance and other in-house savings.
  • If you are looking at WiF-i, you should consider cellular service at the same time. Including a small cell to improve cellular connectivity is a small incremental cost but has a major benefit for passengers in serving all devices with both voice and data services.
  • People need to anticipate the future and plan ahead. These solutions need to be robust with the right technology, capacity and QoS to support the number of travellers using the service – especially as passenger numbers rise by 2017.

For some more details please contact us, or see our white paper “The business opportunities for wireless in transport” explains how network operators can invest in infrastructure to support better connectivity and new business opportunities on trains and other modes.



Real Wireless and Tech4i2 to evaluate licence-exempt equipment across Europe

Real Wireless and Tech4i2 are undertaking a study for the European Commission, to assess the extent and range of licence-exempt equipment being sold and used in the EU between now and 2030. The study will be used to help the European Commission in its goal of making available sufficient licence-exempt spectrum, harmonised at EU level, for future wireless innovation.

Concluding in September 2015, the study will enable a clearer understanding of the use of harmonised frequency bands by different categories of radio equipment in Europe, essential information for planning current and future spectrum requirements and managing congestion. It will also examine how the condition of such equipment differs between Europe and other regions.

This report follows previous work by the European Commission in constructing an inventory of equipment operating in licensed spectrum.

The analysis will cover the full range of license-exempt equipment: from Wi-Fi to garage door openers, baby monitors, and even key fobs. It will both consider whether the use of such equipment fits into existing spectrum without excessive congestion, and identify new bands where positive action could be taken to stimulate currently dormant – but potentially valuable – markets.

“The European Commission is keen to promote the shared use of radio spectrum resources, in order to foster innovation in new and existing markets,” said Professor Simon Saunders, Director of Technology at Real Wireless. “Real Wireless brings extensive expertise in both assessing the current landscape, and providing a detailed forecast of future spectrum requirements that can be used by regulators and businesses across Europe.”

“This will be an important study for how the European Commission examines harmonised spectrum, and could impact a significant number of current and future markets,” said Professor Paul Foley, Director at Tech4i2. “At a workshop in Brussels on 10th March 2015 we will be presenting an overview of the project to interested stakeholders. As part of this, we will be seeking responses from attendees to our initial research, which will highlight current capacity, as well as potential radio equipment and spectrum requirements to 2030.  To find out more see the project’s LinkedIn group here.

The results of the Real Wireless and Tech4i2 study will support the implementation of the Article 9 “Inventory” of the Radio Spectrum Policy Programme (RSPP), developing a reliable approximation approach for assessing the medium and long-term spectrum usage densities in harmonised licence-exempt bands.   It will also compare devices and spectrum policies for licence-exempt spectrum in Europe and the US as input to discussions on achieving greater trans-Atlantic scale economies for radio equipment in the context of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).