Category: LTE


Canada’s new wireless rules are great, but let’s not kid ourselves

The CRTC, determined to reform Canada’s usurious wireless phone cartel, has just issued a strict new “Code of Conduct.”

Effective this December, three-year phone contracts will be available, but unenforceable. If you’re stuck in one of these abusive long-term relationships, you’ll be able to sever it at the two-year mark without penalty.

You know those bill-shocker stories about customers getting hit with thousands of dollars in data overage fees after letting their kids watch YouTube on their iPhones while vacationing in Cuba? Roaming data overage will now be limited to $100 a month, domestic to $50.

You’ll be able to have your subsidized phone unlocked after 90 days, you’ll have a right to a simpler contract and you’ll be able to negotiate changes to that contract.

Hooray, right?

Yes and no. The CRTC’s new pro-consumer stance is, without question, a good thing. But our big three carriers (Bell, Rogers and Telus) still control 95 per cent of the mobile market. Canadians are not going to start using less mobile anytime soon, regardless of the terms we’re offered. In fact, a wireless industry lobby group just sponsored a major study which (they claim) proves that Canadians are actually willing to pay more than we already do for our smart phones. Industry lobbiests are already using the report to suggest that Canadian consumers are getting a bargain. I say charging $50 for an umbrella during a thunderstorm isn’t a good deal just because people would still buy them at $60.

The point is, if the big three can’t maintain their globally-envied RPUs (revenue per user) under the old rules, they’ll find other ways to keep profits up while colouring within the lines of the new ones.

What will that mean? You can expect monthly fees to climb, and new “bonus” add-ons to be fabricated  marketed. We already see carriers offering 4G speed-upgrades — for a fee. I predict that any new speed capacity will be chopped into separate products at separate price points, in a move akin to offering regular, premium and super-premium gasoline. That’s off the top of my head. If there are other ways to sneak new costs into our bills, wireless companies will find them.

The missing ingredient in Canadian wireless is not a tough regulator, but tough competition, backed by unrestrained foreign investment. However, even if Ottawa steps in to untangle the red tape and make this possible, our international reputation may be too tarnished. After the recent experiences of Mobilicity and Wind, who felt “left to the dogs” by Canada’s government once they were wooed in, the Canadian market may be a no-go zone for international mobile firms.

All around the world, smart phones are getting cheaper, wireless speeds are getting faster and people are doing more and more new things with their mobile devices. It’s happening here too. Just less so.

Ryan:  Having worked for the big 3 (Rogers, TELUS & Bell) I can speak on behalf of most Canadians by stating that this is a positive step in the right direction.  Now they just need to adjust the price fixing problems / incorrect roaming bills.  Why not just shut off service to phones when a certain point is reached? Why are we as Canadians still paying for Call Display / Voicemail?  

Source: Maclean’s

Qualcomm raises outlook as mobile chip sales jump

Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O) raised its forecasts for second-quarter and 2011 revenue as sales of its chips for wireless devices accelerate in China and India, and its shares rose 6 percent.

The company, whose chips are used by mobile device makers including Apple (AAPL.O) and HTC (2498.TW), raised its forecast for fiscal 2011 revenue by $1.2 billion, far surpassing Wall Street’s estimate.

The San Diego-based company has said it expected to boost revenue and earnings per share by at least 10 percent a year over the next five years on the back of accelerating demand for chips in smartphones and tablet computers.

“Not only was their quarter much better than expected but guidance for next quarter is even better,” said Charter Equity Research analyst Ed Snyder. “All the suffering of a year ago has paid off in much bigger design wins, and now those are all coming to fruition.”

Qualcomm vies with the likes of Texas Instruments (TXN.N) and Nvidia (NVDA.O) in supplying chips for smartphones, tablets and other wireless devices, sales of which have boomed as consumers rapidly adopt mobile gadgets, sometimes in place of desktop.

Executives told analysts on a conference call that the company’s dual-core chip designs will begin to ramp up later in the fiscal first half of 2011 across “multiple manufacturers” and that mobile devices will increasingly use the latest LTE high-speed wireless technology.

“In the second half of the (fiscal) year, and even the quarter we’re in, you’re seeing increased demand coming out of India and China,” Executive Vice President Steve Mollenkopf told Reuters.

The jump in Qualcomm’s fiscal 2011 forecast is based on expecting $650 million more from its chipset business and $550 million from its licensing, including the recent resolution of a licensing dispute.

TOOTH AND NAIL

The increasing popularity of smartphones using high-performance processors has helped boost average selling prices for Qualcomm’s products, although analysts warn that could slow as competition increases.

“Even though Qualcomm is an incumbent player, with this whole transition from (cell)phones to smartphones and new product categories, they’re still being very competitive,” said Roth Capital Partners analyst Arnab Chanda.

Verizon Wireless is set to start selling a new version of Apple’s popular iPhone 4 in early February that is expected to include a key chip made by Qualcomm.

Qualcomm faces fierce competition from smaller rival Nvidia in getting its processors into upcoming tablets running Google’s (GOOG.O) Android operating system.

Demonstrating its determination to become a major player in smartphones and tablet computers, Qualcomm this month said it would buy Atheros Communications Inc (ATHR.O), a major producer of chips used in WiFi, bluetooth and ethernet networking, for roughly $3.2 billion in cash.

Qualcomm expects revenue for the current, fiscal second quarter to rise to between $3.45 billion and $3.75 billion, above the $3.1 billion expected by analysts. It projected earnings per share of between 77 cents and 81 cents, also outpacing the Street’s target of 68 cents.

Qualcomm revenue rose to $3.35 billion in the December quarter, up 25 percent from the year-ago quarter. That was above analysts’ average estimate of $3.2 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

It said fiscal 2011 revenue would be between $13.6 billion to $14.2 billion, surpassing Wall Street’s estimate of $12.8 billion.

It posted net income of $1.17 billion for the first quarter ended December 26, up 39 percent from a year earlier. Excluding items, Qualcomm earned 82 cents per share, up 32 percent year over last year.

Shares of the company rose to $55 after closing up 0.66 percent at $51.86 on the Nasdaq.

Source: Reuters / Yahoo!

Nokia, Motorola Extend IP Agreement to Include 4G Technologies

Motorola and Nokia may be competitors for market share in the high-end smartphone space, but the pair knows when to work together toward a common goal. In a shared statement, the two said they are extending an existing intellectual property licensing agreement to include 4G technologies such as LTE (long-term evolution) WiMax and LTE-Advanced.

“We are … confident this agreement will help foster continued innovation and technological advancement for the telecommunications industry,” Kirk Dailey, corporate vice president of intellectual property at Motorola, said in the Oct. 15 statement. “Motorola is committed to leveraging the strength of its industry-leading intellectual property portfolio for the benefit of its customers, partners, shareholders and licensees.”

Paul Melin, vice president of intellectual property at Nokia, added that the “agreement also shows that the industry is making fast progress in resolving LTE licensing issues between the major patent holders. LTE has now become a key element of Nokia’s licensing program, and we expect strong returns for our pioneering development.”

In Las Vegas in September, MetroPCS activated the first LTE network in the United States, and later this quarter Verizon Wireless plans to power up its own LTE-based 4G network nationwide. Currently, the nation’s largest 4G network is offered by Sprint-owned Clearwire, which relies on the LTE competitor technology, WiMax. LTE, however, is expected to become the more dominant technology, and Sprint executives have been open about the possibility of rolling out LTE on top of the Clearwire WiMax network.

For now, the Samsung Epic 4G and the HTC Evo 4G, both offered by Sprint, are the only 4G-enabled smartphones offered by a U.S. carrier. With more 4G networks planned to live, however — Sprint announced its own branded 4G offering Oct. 18; AT&T plans to offer LTE-based 4G service in early 2011; and T-Mobile will eventually also rely on LTE  — Motorola and Nokia are sure to soon be offering consumers more 4G phone choices.

Nokia and Motorola also have in common that each is involved in a lawsuit with Apple. One of the suits Nokia has filed against Apple involves patent violation for GSM, WLAN and UMTS standards. And similarly, 18 patents related to wireless communication technologies are the focus of the suit Motorola filed Oct. 6 against Apple.

“We are pleased to conclude this extension of our IP licensing agreement,” Melin said of the deal with Motorola, “which is a great example of the value that Nokia realizes from our industry leading patent portfolio.”

Source: eWeek