|Latin America 2006
|IP for quad-play
|G. Bickley Remmey
|Corporate Vice President and General Manager
|Motorola, Inc, Connected Home Solutions business
G. Bickley Remmey is Corporate Vice President and General Manager of Motorola, Inc. Connected Home Solutions business. In this role, he leads sales and support for the company’s Latin American organization. Mr Remmey previously headed the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) sales and support team, and served as Corporate Vice President and General Manager, transmission network systems (TNS) for Motorola Broadband (formerly General Instrument Corporation). Prior to this position, Mr Remmey was Vice President of marketing for GI’s TNS business and Vice President of sales/national accounts. Mr Remmey also held a variety of increasingly responsible positions in sales and product management at Texscan. He began his career in telecommunications as a sales engineer at C-Cor Electronics. Mr Remmey is a graduate of Penn State University and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics.
Fixed-mobile convergence refers to seamless mobile communications between a cellular and a WiFi environment, using dual-mode mobile handsets that automatically switch between cellular networks and wireless Voice over IP, VoIP. With quad-play – mobile voice, data and video – it permits a common application experience from any device, anywhere, at any time. The benefits include greater cost control and convenience; without interrupting a call, users can switch from a per-minute cellular plan to a flat-rate broadband plan when in range of wireless access.
The triple-play service bundle has long been the ideal for service providers across the Americas. While North America put the idea in motion, Latin America and the Caribbean are now just as intent on realizing the future of bundled services. From triple-play, we have now evolved to quadruple play, or quad-play, adding in mobility to the triumvirate of fixed-line voice, video and data. The vision of quad-play takes a number of factors into account. First, it assumes that the infrastructure exists to support the mass deployment of services. Second, it includes significant basic benefits for both service providers and consumers. Third, it lays a foundation for advanced applications that cross networks and expand multimedia functionality via an Internet Protocol, IP, platform. After a period of economic crises in Latin America and the Caribbean, and a virtual technological freeze in most of the region’s countries, service providers are now putting the pieces together for quad-play. Telecom and cable operators are approaching the puzzle from opposite ends of the spectrum, and with different strengths in their existing portfolios, but their goals are the same. The aim is to have a system in place that allows for the mass distribution of content and instant communication across different networks, devices and domains – a system for seamless mobility. Unlike North America, Latin America and the Caribbean have both the advantage and disadvantage of limited legacy infrastructure and technology. Telecom providers have been in the business of providing voice over copper lines, but their coverage is not as robust as it could be. On the positive side, this creates an incentive to build out wireless technology, which is the subject of much hype now due to the auctions for wireless frequencies. In some cases, telecoms have also decided to leapfrog directly to Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) deployments, which they can do without having to justify earlier infrastructure investments. On the negative side, telecom operators are still working to reach a majority of consumers with voice and high-speed data, and expanding to quad-play services only increases the technical challenges they face. As telecom operators address issues of network reach, they have an opportunity to build out services on an IP platform. Using IP as a common language, operators can tackle quad-play on multiple fronts, knowing that when each service is market-ready it will smoothly interoperate with its sister services. The concept of services that talk to each other, or interoperability, is the ultimate promise of quad-play. However, between now and then, there are still several benefits to enjoy. When innovators first envisioned quad-play, they touted the benefit of offering one bill for many services. The one-bill concept is appealing, but it misses the point for the Latin American and Caribbean market. First and foremost, the push toward service bundling means that citizens of the region will have better access to all kinds of electronic information, communication and entertainment. For service providers, quad-play brings obvious rewards. In addition to direct increases in revenue, providers can look forward to increased customer retention and greater pricing flexibility. Quad-play is also a market driver for other technology vendors, who may benefit from increased devices sales of handsets, modems, access points and gateways, increased core network equipment sales and new opportunities for integration and deployment of services. While the trend toward service bundling will deliver successes in the near-term, and is in fact already spurring the market forward, the development of IP-based technologies is setting the stage for the longer-term future. Once service bundling is achieved – whether a bundle includes two, three or four service categories – the next logical evolution is to create crossover between and among services. An IP platform will enable content to move seamlessly from one network to another, from one device to another and from one domain (home, work, car) to another. Fixed-mobile convergence For telecom operators and consumers, the most compelling, early-stage example of cross service, IP-based technology is fixed-mobile voice convergence. Fixed-mobile convergence refers to seamless mobile communications between a cellular and a WiFi environment. A consumer transmits and receives voice communication on a single device, a dual-mode mobile handset, without needing manual transition between a cellular network and a wireless Voice-over-IP (VoIP) network. Fixed-mobile convergence allows operators to take advantage of the strongest available voice network at any given time. In the house, that may mean a home WiFi network connected via a broadband connection, while on the go it likely means a cellular network. Operators get cellular capacity relief through WiFi network usage and improved quality of service for in-home WiFi phone calls. From a pure technology standpoint, fixed-mobile convergence is a network efficiency mechanism. From a service perspective, fixed-mobile convergence means consumers experience the best possible voice connection wherever they are. Despite the growing strength of cellular networks, call quality often suffers when cell phone users are at home. By switching automatically to a local WiFi network, users can receive audio quality comparable to a landline phone call courtesy of a higher-rate codec available through the high-speed broadband connection. Higher quality means fewer dropped and missed calls. Consumers also benefit in the fixed-mobile convergence scenario from greater cost control and convenience. Without interrupting a phone call, users can switch from a per-minute cellular plan to a flat-rate broadband plan once they are within range of a wireless access point. They can also carry a single mobile number and voicemail service with them, whether inside or outside the home. Finally, inter-working voice services make it possible to create a shared ‘family’ number as well as ‘individual’ mobile and landline numbers. The multiple benefits for consumers mean that operators can develop deeper relationships with their customers by implementing fixed-mobile voice convergence. By following consumers through different environments, they can also extend their opportunities to introduce new products and applications. Greater opportunity drives greater innovation, both from operators and from third-party technology vendors. IP Multimedia Subsystem – IMS Beyond applications like fixed-mobile convergence, there are also broader IP-based innovations like IMS. While the IMS open standard for multimedia communications over IP networks is still being defined by a number of organizations and interwoven with a number of standard protocols, IMS will surely mean the ultimate in the convergence of the various services hosted and delivered today by the cable, wireless and wireline operators in the IP domain. IMS, simply, is the most universally accepted proposal for the interleaving and interoperability of services and features between operators, as well as for the individual consumer of telecommunications services. IMS is expected to be a revolutionary and disruptive force in the industry. It will change existing static service models and – based upon ongoing, dynamic, analysis of the end users’ requirements – the network itself will deliver personalised programming, applications and content to each individual consumer or other service provider. No longer will users have to adapt to network requirements; the networks themselves will adapt to the user’s needs based upon a user profile maintained on the IMS-based service platform that evolves as the users’ requirements change. Technical challenges Still in their infancy, IP technologies are not without their challenges. IMS is still being defined, and the fixed-mobile convergence, power management, Quality of Service (QoS) and security issues are all complicated by the act of switching between networks. Without effective power management, active talk time on a dual-mode phone may be reduced from hours to minutes. The designers can address this issue by choosing a low-power 802.11 chipset in the handset, running the handset with one radio at a time (cellular network or local wireless network), and providing fast-switching technology to select which network is in use. The new 802.11e standard also includes a new power management approach for wireless networks, referred to as Unscheduled Automatic Power Save Delivery (U-APSD). QoS is difficult primarily on the WiFi side of the dual-mode telephony equation. There are a number of solutions, and some of them, again, are embedded in the 802.11e standard. However, precisely because there are so many solutions, end-to-end QoS for Voice-over-IP remains complex. Standards bodies will continue to refine methods for QoS implementation. Security for a dual-mode handset operating on a WiFi network is necessary to prevent user traffic – voice or data – from being denied, stolen or eavesdropped upon. Not only do users need standard wireless protection, such as that provided by WPA, Wi-Fi Protected Access™, but they also need end-to-end security ensuring handset authentication and authorization. This type of security must be done at the network level, and therefore provided by the operators distributing the service. Seamless mobility – everything IP Fixed-mobile convergence and IMS are only two examples of the future world of ‘seamless mobility’ that is the natural evolution of quad-play, but they are reflective of what is ahead for Latin America and the Caribbean. Other application examples include home monitoring and control services, purchased content management (transferring purchased, digital content securely across devices) and personal content management (transferring personal assets from storage to a personal device and back). On the telecom side, as regulatory issues are solved and IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) comes into play (likely in 2007), these types of applications get closer to reality. In the most general sense, seamless mobility is more than the handover between networks; it is the ability to access a common application or user experience from any device, at any time, in any location. Technologists with the right expertise at both the device level and the network level – whatever network that may be – can address the inevitable challenges. The benefits are worth the challenges. For Latin America and the Caribbean, quad-play means connecting people to the information that is important to them – often for the first time. Building on an IP platform makes that vision possible, and it is a starting point today for the seamless mobility future of tomorrow.