Apple

Apple Announces LTE Enabled iPhone 5 Smartphone

­Apple has shown off the long-anticipated upgrade for its iPhone range, with the LTE enabled iPhone 5.

The new model is also claimed to be the thinnest smartphone on the market at just 7.6 mm thick, comes with a larger 4″ screen, which also now comes in the industry standard 16:9 aspect ratio. Although the screen size has been enlarged, it is still smaller than comparable models from its handset rivals.

The new smartphone is also 20% lighter than its previous model. The camera is the same as the previous model at 8 megapixels, although upgraded software is said to improve photography in low light situations.

The handset will come with the improved A6 chip, designed by Apple and is said to be twice as fast as its predecessor.

The most significant omission though was the second upgrade to miss off NFC compatibility for mobile payments.

Fred Huet, Managing Director at Greenwich Consulting noted that the “decision to omit NFC in the iPhone 5 could cost Apple. It is just a matter of time before the smartphone replaces the plastic card, and by skipping this technology, Apple may have missed a valuable opportunity to take the lead in this market.”

The other downside for existing Apple users was the expected confirmation that the connectors will be a different size, requiring a replacement of accessories, or the use of an adaptor the company will offer as an extra.

The iPhone 5 will also use the latest version of the iOS software, which will also be offered as a free upgrade to owners of older iPhones from the second generation (3GS) upwards.

The LTE connectivity is also compatible with networks outside the USA, and the added support for DC-HSPA will fill in European markets where LTE is not available. China was not mentioned in the presentation, although it is expected that a purpose built model will be available shortly.

The new iPhone will go on sale in retail stores on the 21st September with a retail price in the USA of US$199 for the 16Gb model and $299 for the 32GB model.

Pre-orders will be accepted from this Friday in the USA, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and the UK.

GSM

Afghanistan’s GSM base grows to 18.64 mln in June

Afghanistan’s GSM base grew to 18.64 million at the end of June from 18.11 million at end-March. The country also counted 150,874 CDMA users, up from 221,276 three months earlier, according to statistics from the ICT ministry. The number of landlines totaled 86,482, up from 83,904 and penetration of communications services remains at rose to 70 percent from 66 percent. The number of telecommunications base stations totaled 4,670 versus 4,539 in March while total investment stood at USD 1.84 billion.

LTE services

Rebranded EE to introduce commercial LTE by end-2012

Everything Everywhere has made a number of notable announcements, chief among them being a corporate rebranding and the release of a timeframe for the commercial launch of 4G services.

While confirming that it plans to continue using the Orange and T-Mobile brands for customers, Everything Everywhere has revealed that it is rebranding simply as EE, with the new moniker also set to be used as a customer-facing brand for its to-be-launched Long Term Evolution (LTE) services. In line with the name change, EE has also revealed that it expects to open more than 700 EE-branded retail stores across the UK, replacing the existing Orange and T-Mobile shop fronts.

EE has also set out its timetable for the inauguration of LTE services, while also revealing that it will add fibre-based broadband services to the range of products that it offers. The operator has announced that it’s 4G network has already been switched on in four cities – London, Bristol, Cardiff and Birmingham – in order to allow engineers to begin live testing and systems integration, ahead of the consumer launch. In terms of commercial access, meanwhile, the operator has said that it aims to launch in a total of 16 cities by Christmas 2012, with those being: London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Derby, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield and Southampton. This initial coverage, EE claims, will mean that its LTE network covers around a third of the population (or more than 20 million people) by the end of the year. Looking ahead, the operator has said it expects coverage to increase to 70% by the end of 2013, before rising to 98% by end-2014.

LTE services

Spirent Solution Helps Mobile Operators Control LTE Smartphone Return Rates

­Spirent Communications today announced the launch of a new LTE Call Reliability test solution on its 8100 Test System. The company said that it has been validated by an unnamed North American wireless operator for immediate use in its acceptance testing of pre-launch devices.

A significant percentage of returns are attributable to subscribers who experience problems in daily use as a result of device performance shortcomings. Call reliability testing, often called “stress testing” is aimed at identifying issues that can cause returns before devices are commercially deployed. Unlike the standard conformance tests that pre-commercial devices must pass, call reliability testing replicates realistic user scenarios in which the device is used over long periods of time.

Call Reliability test scenarios include subjecting the device to repeat handover and call setup operations under challenging network conditions. The tests help to identify issues specific to a particular device model that can occur after a period of use, such as an inability to handover between LTE and legacy 3G technologies, or a device freeze that requires a hard reset.

“Spirent pioneered stress testing methodology for 3G device testing, which brought substantial value to wireless operators in helping them to control device return rates,” said Spirent Vice President Hesham ElHamahmy. “Our customers’ confidence in Spirent’s extension of this methodology into LTE device testing was reinforced when we uncovered significant issues with some popular commercially-available devices during validation of our LTE Call Reliability solution.”

3G auction

10 Firms Show Interest in 3G Auction in Thailand

Ten companies have picked up application forms for the upcoming 2.1 GHz spectrum auction in Thailand. Mobile operator Advanced Info Service (AIS) has seen three subsidiaries picking up the forms, two DTAC subsidiaries have shown interest, and three subsidiaries from the True Group. Furthermore, Cable Thai Holding and ACT Mobile (a TOT subsidiary) have also picked up forms but said they will only observe, The Nation writes. All ten companies will be allowed to attend the information session. Applications for the auction are due on 28 August and the auction will open on 16 October. The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission is expected to announce qualified bidders on 10 October. On auction are nine spectrum slots of 5 MHz with a reserve price of THB 4.5 billion. Each bidder is limited to a total of 15 MHz.

 

4G

Vodafone Australia launches DC HSPA+ technology

Vodafone Australia has launched a critical phase of its AUD 1.7 billion network upgrade, with all base station sites now equipped with the latest Dual Carrier HSPA+ and 4G-ready network technology. The Dual Carrier HSPA+ services are available in certain parts of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Perth, Adelaide, and Newcastle. The operator also plans to roll out LTE from early next year.

LTE

Sprint announces LTE rollout underway in 100 new markets

Sprint Nextel has announced that its 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network rollout is now under way in more than 100 additional cities across the US and in its unincorporated territories Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands (US).

The network build is taking place at a number of locations in the following states: North Carolina, Indiana, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Massachusetts, Louisiana, Maryland, Illinois, Florida, Kansas, Arkansas, South Carolina, California, New York, Pennsylvania and Missouri. Meanwhile, in Puerto Rico, the following municipalities are set for LTE access: Aguadilla-Isabela-San Sebastian, Coamo, Guayama, Mayaguez, Ponce, San German-Cabo Rojo, San Juan and Yauco. Finally, in the Virgin Islands (US), the island of St Thomas is also set for inclusion in Sprint’s deployment.

Sprint plans to announce commercial availability of 4G LTE in these cities in the coming months. By the end of 2013 Sprint expects to have completed its nationwide LTE buildout. The cellco currently offers LTE technology in 19 metropolitan areas across Kansas, Georgia, Texas and Missouri.

smartphone depriciation

Smartphone Retail Price Depreciation Lower for Premium Branded Models

A study into handset retail prices over time has found a positive impact of branding on handset retail values.

“As a product ages, you expect its retail price to fall. In the case of smartphones, this decline has been difficult to quantify so we applied PriceTRAX to shed light on the figures” explained Stephen Entwistle, vice president of Strategy Analytics.

“Smartphones have a retail lifecycle of around two years. By the end of this, most brands have reduced product retail pricing by 34% on average, although there are notable exceptions; such as Samsung’s S1, Apple’s iPhone 4 and the HTC Wildfire, all holding their pricing well for different reasons. The S1 demonstrates the advantage of being early to market.

As one of the first of the ultra-high-spec ‘super-phones’ it was well positioned to hold its price through the early part of its lifecycle due to fewer competitors” continued Stephen.

“Apple iPhone prices tend not to become discounted due to a tightly managed product branding strategy which focuses on premium smartphones. As a result, depreciation during the first 18 months of the product lifecycle is substantially less compared to competing smartphone handsets. Instead, their value slides by 25% between 22 and 28 months of age. However, iPhones have upheld a clear price differential compared to their counterparts” stated Stuart Robinson, Director for the PriceTRAX and SpecTRAX services at Strategy Analytics.

“The HTC Wildfire shows an extraordinarily low depreciation rate. It was introduced to challenge smartphone prices and has proved to be depreciation resistant compared to others. The crop of second generation smartphones such as the Samsung S2, Nokia N8, LG Optimus and BlackBerry Curve 3 8520 have similar price depreciation rates 12-24 months after their launches. Another influencing factor would be vendor’s handset portfolio refresh rate impacting on the retail value of existing products and this will be the focus of a later study” Stuart concluded.

Huawei

Nokia Siemens Networks Expects to Overtake Huawei in Market Share Next Year

­Nokia Siemens Networks expects to overtake Huawei next year in the mobile network infrastructure market, the company’s USA based head of customer operations has said.

He told the Reuters news agency that the company expects to take the second spot in market share from Huawei for 2013, on a full year basis.

The market leader is currently Ericsson, followed by Huawei then NSN.

In related news, the company’s CEO, Rajeev Suri confirmed previous reports that the firm is looking to sell its business support systems (BSS) division.

qatar telecom

Qatar Telecom Seeking Customers to Test its LTE Network

Qatat Telecom (Qtel) says that hundreds of customers will take part in one of the region’s largest tests of a LTE network before Qtel commercially launches the service in the end of 2012.

Qtel started to rollout its LTE network few months back, and is now confident that it will integrate smoothly with the existing 3G network.

Waleed Al Sayed, Qtel’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “By the end of this year, Qtel customers using the 4G LTE network in Doha will have incredibly fast access to high-bandwidth content such as high-definition (HD) videos and the ability to upload and download big files through the latest generation 4G USB modems and MiFi devices.”

With the launch of the test phase, a group of Qtel customers throughout Doha will test the 4G LTE network, and will provide feedback to validate the network before the service is commercially-launched in the end of 2012.

As part of the build-up phase, Qtel has installed 100 antennas throughout Doha, including in The Pearl, Katara, West Bay, the Corniche, and Sealine. Earlier, Qtel received the 800 Mhz and 2,600 Mhz bandwidth frequencies from the Supreme Council of Information and Communication Technology (ictQATAR).

After the trial, Qtel will launch its LTE network to all customers starting in Doha.

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