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To: FUBHO who wrote (1104)9/19/2017 4:48:06 PM
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Report: T-Mobile US and Sprint in active merger discussions

- RCR Wireless News

The merger that the wireless industry has been waiting for is finally moving forward, according to a report out this morning from CNBC. But Sprint and T-Mobile US aren’t commenting, and the two carriers are said to still be weeks away from an actual deal. Talks around an all-equity merger are said to be ongoing, and since none of the various cable operators thought to be interested in buying a carrier has come forward, Sprint and T-Mobile US may finally be motivated to seal a deal.

Of course the final outcome will depend on SoftBank, Sprint’s parent company, and Deutsche Telekom, which owns T-Mobile US. When SoftBank chairman Masayoshi Son first bought a majority interest in Sprint, he was expected to try to follow that acquisition with a purchase of T-Mobile US. But the U.S. Justice Department made it clear that it would not approve that deal. Now, T-Mobile has more subscribers and higher profit margins than Sprint, and most analysts expect the “uncarrier” to be the controlling company if and when a merger happens.

“The fact that TMUS/DT would be the majority holder should not be seen as a surprise at this point,” said analyst Jennifer Fritzsche of Wells Fargo. Fritzsche doesn’t expect a deal to close anytime soon, but she is looking for an announcement within the next few months. “In our view, such a deal would take at least a year to get approval and there is much logic on announcing a transaction before the November 2018 election cycle,” she said.

The two companies are reportedly discussing a deal that would make SoftBank a significant minority shareholder in the new company. Masayoshi Son is said to want to maintain an active role.

T-Mobile’s John Legere is expected to lead the combined company if the merger happens. Legere has been the public face of T-Mobile’s anti-establishment marketing campaign, which has focused on undercutting competitors’ prices.

Ironically, a merger of Sprint and T-Mobile could mean the end of the price wars and data discounts consumers have enjoyed, or at least a leveling off. Analysts say a three carrier ecosystem will be more likely to produce pricing equilibrium, meaning that the carriers could potentially generate more cash to invest in their networks. This could be impactful as the industry moves towards 5G, which will require significant capital outlays.

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To: FUBHO who wrote (1104)9/20/2017 9:49:52 AM
From: hooligan
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This asset tracking market is really starting to take hold. I love the AT&T comment that customers keep asking for different types of devices. Sequans in a great spot here!!

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From: FUBHO9/20/2017 7:33:28 PM
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From: hooligan9/22/2017 1:57:06 PM
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This is interesting

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To: hooligan who wrote (1108)9/22/2017 1:58:42 PM
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Apple watch is a software/OS issue completely unrelated to the baseband, so that guy is wrong.

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To: FUBHO who wrote (1109)9/22/2017 2:29:15 PM
From: hooligan
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I don't think his comments were specific to just Apple products. I think his point was for companies to use products specifically designed to do this type of stuff. Besides connection issues do you think battery life issues are just software based as well?

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To: hooligan who wrote (1110)9/22/2017 2:33:12 PM
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Cat-M would certainly be helpful for battery life on any device. There was no reason to mention Apple connectivity issues in the same sentence as they are an unrelated issue.

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From: FUBHO9/22/2017 2:56:07 PM
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Telstra enables VoLTE across Cat-M1 IoT network

Telstra, Ericsson, and Qualcomm have enabled voice calls across the Cat-M1 network, with Telstra's IoT footprint now extending further than its 4G network.

By Corinne Reichert | September 20, 2017

Telstra has enabled voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) calls across its live Cat-M1 Internet of Things (IoT) network in partnership with Ericsson and Qualcomm, the telecommunications provider announced during the annual Telstra Vantage conference in Melbourne.

"Not only have we enabled [Cat-M1] in our network, if you imagine how we've got this device that's low cost and long battery life, as of around about today I'm announcing we've run our first voice call over one of these chips," Telstra director of Networks Mike Wright said on Wednesday afternoon.

"So with the first voice call with our partners Qualcomm, we now have a device that you could essentially enable anything anywhere and speak to it.

"If you think about the explosion we're seeing in voice-controlled homes ... the number of appliances and devices and things you could enable by putting voice into one of these low-cost chips blows the mind."

According to a blog post published on Wednesday afternoon by Wright, VoLTE across Cat-M1 IoT devices complements its embedded-SIM (eSIM) Telstra One Number offering announced last week.

"When standard voice calls are made on a VoLTE-enabled handset, VoLTE works by integrating the call into the 4G data stream; when it comes to IoT, adding VoLTE to Cat-M1 devices means those devices will have the ability to make voice calls to other devices, applications, and use cases which could benefit from voice," Wright wrote.

"With VoLTE over Cat-M1, this could provide opportunities to further leverage the battery-saving features of Cat-M1 for use in wearables where voice services are required."

The technology could be used in such instances as emergency calling panels in elevators, as well as day-to-day interactions with parking meters, information kiosks, whitegoods, and vehicles, Wright said.

Telstra's Cat-M1 network was switched on last month, with Wright on Wednesday announcing that it now covers more of Australia than its 4G network.

"As of just a few weeks ago, we completed the rollout of our Cat-M1 IoT network in all of our 4G base stations," he said.

"Our 4G network covers 1.4m square kilometres; with a feature called range extension, the system is able to actually send the bits repeated three times if they need to. We pushed the [Cat-M1] coverage range out from 1.4 to 3 million square kilometres.

"So we now have the coverage connectivity, the chipsets maturing, and, as we go up the stack, the capability of managing and activating the devices, the concept of an embedded SIM card ... combined with the enablement of management platforms and ultimately the data analytics platform that's going to unleash this new technology into the world."

In addition to Cat-M1, Wright added that Telstra also sees narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) as another "very important category".

The telco is thus aiming to establish an NB-IoT network within the next six months, according to a roadmap shown during Vantage, with Wright saying this will be enabled via network slicing.

"We've already built and got a network slice up and running for narrowband IoT, which we're just about to bring into the market," Wright said.

"There are two [IoT standards] due to different parts of the world's views on what's important. We don't care; we're going to support both."

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To: FUBHO who wrote (1111)9/22/2017 3:24:41 PM
From: hooligan
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Just following up on your response to the analyst comments. The analyst addressed both issues in the same blurb Just wanted your thoughts on his comments and if you thought battery drain was all software based as well. So it was appropriate for me to address both issues in the same sentence

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From: FUBHO9/24/2017 1:32:28 AM
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Cellular Puts IoT on Speed Dial
| EE Times

China Telecom starts NB-IoT at $3/year

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Carriers are driving aggressively into cellular IoT, with China Telecom leading the way with narrowband IoT (NB-IoT). They are playing a game of catch-up that some expect they will win with low-power wide-area (LPWA) alternatives led by Sigfox and LoRa that had a two-year-plus head start.

That was the picture from the Mobile World Congress Americas, where each side made the case for its play in the emerging Internet of Things. “It feels like we are on the cusp of an IoT explosion,” said Karri Kuoppamaki, vice president of technology development and strategy at T-Mobile, which aims to roll out an NB-IoT network in the U.S. by June.

“What’s next and key is showing an ROI in real networks,” said Hardy Schmidbauer, chief executive of TrackNet, a startup launched this yearusing LoRa and Wi-Fi for asset tracking.

“Carriers would like to wipe out their LPWA competitors, and I believe they will,” said Michael Murphy, CTO in North America for Nokia. “There is zero doubt [that] carriers view this as one of their most important goals.”

China Telecom appears to be in the lead with millions of users on a national network that it switched on in June for NB-IoT that supports 20- to 60-Kbit/s data rates over 200-KHz channels. The carrier charges as little as $3 a year for data, and its hardware suppliers such as Huawei and ZTE say that they soon will be able to deliver NB-IoT modules for less than US$5, said Qi Bi, chief technical officer for China Telecom.

“We ran out of devices; people are lined up … I think NB-IoT will take off big time in China,” he said.

China Telecom was surprised by two early adopters — bike-sharing companies such as Mobike and companies monitoring rented washers and dryers in apartment complexes. “We thought our major app was meters, but bikes became one of our biggest customers,” he said. “The IoT space is full of adventures and surprises.”

China Telecom also supports LTE-M, which supports data rates up to 1 Mbit/s but is less efficient, using about 1.4-MHz channels. LTE-M will mainly serve wearables and will likely cannibalize smartphone revenues, he said.

The carrier has seen its average revenue per user stay flat from 2G to LTE generations. It hopes that NB-IoT breaks with past trends, opening up new revenue streams by offering “better battery life, lower cost and better coverage” than LTE-M, he added.

Next page: Carriers haggle over LTE-M versus NB-IoT

China Mobile showed NB-IoT modules for a network that it aims to switch on later this year. (Images: EE Times)

T-Mobile hopes to follow in China Telecom’s footsteps, rolling out a U.S. NB-IoT net by June 2018. “China’s plan to go big on NB-IoT will give a boost to the ecosystem” said Kuoppamaki. T-Mobile will use its 600-MHz band, which “has very good propagation characteristics for most apps” ranging from asset tracking, smart lighting, and flood monitoring to tracking pets and clothes.

Like China Telecom, T-Mobile also will support LTE-M for “selected use cases, but NB-IoT has the most potential and verticals we talk to see it the same way; there seems to be pent-up demand in the space,” he added, noting that few apps need LTE-M’s support for voice.

In the U.S., AT&T was the first carrier to switch on an LTE-M network, leveraging the fact that it’s a software upgrade while NB-IoT requires new servers for some networks. AT&T says that its LTE-M modules are available for as little as $7.50, data plans start at $1.50/month, and starter kits with modules, software, and cloud storage are available on Amazon for $99.

While it monitors NB-IoT, “the cost has not been a big delta between the two technologies, and most of the apps are being served well with LTE-M for us,” said Mike Troiano, an AT&T vice president focused on the industrial IoT. Likewise, “in power consumption, there’s arguably not that much difference,” he said, expressing confidence that LTE-M could support a 5- to 10-year battery life for many nodes.

Module maker Telit aims to cover the waterfront of cellular and unlicensed options. Click to enlarge.
The carrier is supporting the varied business models for IoT. It estimates data use so that OEMs can bundle multi-year data plans into the costs of their products, and it can enable a SIM card in a car to split bills, charging the carmaker for emergency calls and the driver for hot-spot use.

Like other providers, AT&T sees asset tracking as a big but varied market, It includes users such as Otis elevators, McPherson Oil storage tanks, and GE smart streetlights.

3GPP defined both LTE-M and NB-IoT as part of its Release 13. They are expected to deliver two generations of annual upgrades before still-undefined 5G IoT specs get written. The Release 14/15 specs are expected to support mesh networking, better location tracking, and possibly range extensions.

NB-IoT is “already almost as well optimized as possible for LTE. There will be other flavors coming between LTE-M and Category-1 LTE, but our next focus will be on 5G IoT to make smaller, more power-efficient devices, possibly with better coverage,” said Kuoppamaki.

Next page: The unlicensed players fight back

The LPWA space is likely to fragment over the next few years with all players getting significant slices of the pie, especially to early movers in unlicensed 800- to 900-MHz bands Sigfox and LoRa. Sigfox is expected to take the biggest slice, followed by NB-IoT and LoRA with LTE-M a distant fourth, according to a forecast from IHS Markit.

The Sigfox service aims at a broad bottom of an IoT pyramid. It supports the lowest data rates — just a few short, infrequent messages. Modules cost $2 and data rates start at $1/year in the U.S. and half that in Europe.

“It can cost up to US$10 to $12 a year if you have a lot of data, but few users ever get there … you need something below 3GPP, which will never get cheap, battery-efficient, and simple enough for things with a tiny bit of data,” said Allen Proithis, president of Sigfox in North America.

Like its rivals, Sigfox is not reporting the current number of its subscribers, but it claims use in Texas oil fields, large farms, and city water systems in San Francisco. It has networks running in 32 countries and an addressable market of 600 million people.

Sigfox sees itself as a network technology provider, generally working with partners that develop and deploy the final bits of software needed to create an IoT service. “Just in the U.S., there’s a half-dozen asset-tracking devices because everybody wants a slightly different mix of sensors,” said Proithis.

To date, Sigfox hasn’t made many inroads with cellular operators beyond a deal with KDDI in Japan and one with T-Mobile limited to “a market or two, but you will hear about some more because operators want to be a one-stop shop,” he said.

Unlicensed options provide a tier below cellular IoT, said Schmidbauer.

Its closest rival, the LoRa Alliance, has struck deals with more than 40 network operators, including Orange in France and Comcast in Europe. Rather than selling services, the alliance offers an open spec that anyone can adopt for public or private networks and has attracted more than 500 members and 350 trials to date.

LoRa’s asynchronous, spread-spectrum network enhances range and minimizes interference, said Schmidbauer, who was an early representative for LoRa when it was first rolled out by chip maker Semtech. Synchronous cellular IoT nets drain too much power to run nodes for five years or more on the kinds of sub-2,000-mAh, 3.6-V batteries [that] LoRa devices use, he said.

The unlicensed options are “not competing with NB-IoT. That’s like comparing Bluetooth and RFID — they are different apps and the overlap is quite small.”

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