Britain’s Vodafone posted a rise in its quarterly sales for the first time in nearly three years.
This was thanks to improving trends in its key European markets and demand for its 4G mobile services.
The world’s second largest mobile operator said the rise in fourth quarter revenue of 0.1 percent, which followed 10 quarters of declines, meant that its overall earnings could also stabilise in 2016.
Vodafone has been hit hard by the constraints on consumer spending in its big European markets and by regulator-imposed price cuts, forecast a range for 2015-16 earnings of £11.5 billion pounds to “£12 billion.
Compared to the £11.9 billion pounds it reported for the 2014-15 period the company could be heralding a return to growth following seven straight years of earnings decline.
Analysts say Vodafone has a tendency to set a cautious outlook so the figures might even be better than that.
Chief Executive Vittorio Colao said the company had seen increasing signs of stabilisation in many of its European markets, supported by improvements in its commercial execution and very strong demand for data.
Vodafone has 446,000 mobile customers in countries ranging from Albania to Spain, Qatar, India, South Africa and New Zealand. However, in the EU, customers cut back on using their phones at a time when Vodafone needed to invest in new networks.
With growth also slowing in its emerging markets, Vodafone embarked on a programme to either build or buy superfast fixed-line broadband networks to compete with rivals offering mobile contracts alongside television, broadband or fixed-line deals.
Chinese telecomms provider ZTE said higher sales of 4G network kit and smartphones meant that for its financial year it turned in a 94 percent net profit increased.
The Shenzhen based corporation said the net profit rose to $423.5 million in its 2014 financial year.
It claims it is the fastest growing providers of 4G across the world, with strong wins internationally and consolidation of its number one position in mainland China.
It claims its lead in 4G technology is allowing it to take the lead in research on 5G technology and it has already introduced pre G5 base stations for trial.
In addition to telecomms, ZTE made inroads into the cloud computing for the financial services market, and also showed growth in data centre products
Revenues from business outside China accounted for 50.2 percent of ZTE’s results.
The company said that it showed growth for both 4G smartphones and 3G handsets worldwide, and improved its branding, its channel distribution and its services.
By the end of 2014 over 100 million people were using LTE Advanced networks and that’s set to grow so that by 2018 a billion people will be covered.
That’s according to a report from ABI Research which said a number of developments this year will spur the makeup of 4G networks.
Those include an LTE spectrum auction in India on the 25th of this month. France has recently confirmed the 700MHz frequency band can be used for telco services.
ABI Research said it expects “fierce competition” in the marketplace over the next four years as more LTE and LTE Advanced systems are rolled out.
According to ABI, there were 49 commercially available LTE Advanced networks globally, with Europe leading the way, followed by the Asia Pacific region. However, the USA is top in population coverage at 7.8 percent with AT&T, Spring, Verizon and T-Mobile all in the fray to capture the market.
Comms company EE said today it will spend £1.5 billion over the next three years to expand its 4G network in the UK.
EE said that 4G will overtake 2G by 2017, with 99 percent of the British population able to access 4G networks.
And, by 2017, 4G+ will be available in 20 British cities.
It said that it will spend to create data and voice connections in 1,500 places that don’t have either reliable mobile or high speed broadband.
Its “double speed” broadband will be available for 90 percent of the UK population, with data speeds of up to 60Mbps available for both smartphones and tablets.
And in the future it claimed it will be a leader in 5G, because the foundation for even faster speeds will rely on 4G infrastructure being available.
Its 4G+ network will allow speeds of 150Mbps, EE said.
Today it released its “Signalling the Future” manifesto intended to guide the next government of whatever hue to set digital priorities.
The age of TV is not over
, it’s just taken a different shape.
IDC estimates that mobile data traffic will show double digit growth in 2015 – by 59 percent.
The company said in a report that while faster networks and more affordable 4G handsets are playing their part, the real reason for data growth on this scale is mobile video apps and other streamed content.
In 2013, mobile data traffic was 19,049,158 terabytes but by this year that figure will grow to close to 52 million terabytes while in 2016 the figure will not be far off 80 million terabytes.
IDC thinks 4G service prices will continue to fall but 3G still has its place, particularly in the non-Western markets.
By 2018, the company believes that people using 4G handsets will generate 46 percent of data traffic.
By 2018, it estimates that 4G devices will churn 5.5GB of data a month, three times more than a 3G smartphone.
Right now, mobile video generates 50 percent of all mobile data and that number is set to increase. And video calling services are also set to grow.
Cisco believes that by the 2019 there will be half a billion people using wearable devices.
Cisco said that 2.8 million wearables shipped last year and by 2019 there will be 16.4 million of us wearing gadgets of one sort or another.
The Daily Telegraph reports
Cisco’s belief that each gizmo will churn out 569MB of data a month.
By 2019, according to Cisco, 4G networks will represent 88.2 percent of data traffic. Last year, 4G traffic amounted to 42.2 percent,
Cisco believes too that there will be 5.2 billion mobile users in 2019. It estimates last year there were 4.3 billion mobile users.
Where does Cisco get these figures from? No doubt it gazes into its crystal ball and extrapolates current figures using an abacus.
The jury is still well and truly out on wearable devices however – not everyone is totally convinced that having a gizmo built into your clothes is necessarily the flavour of the day.
A report from US
firm Strategy Analytics said that while Qualcomm still had a 64 percent lead in the third quarter of 2014, its lead is being eaten into by Mediatek.
Mediatek has 17 percent share of the top five baseband revenues, followed by Spreatrum with six percent revenue share.
Qualcomm did have 85 percent share in the LTE baseband market but that fell to less than 80 percent in the period, mostly due to incursions from the Chinese company.
Mediatek overtook Marvell and Strategy Analytics believe it is set to continue its growth in LTE.
During the quarter, HiSilicon, Intel and Marvell made progress in the marketplace. Intel won some major design wins with Samsung.
EE, Qualcomm and Huawei have completed a 4G trial which aimed to speed up internet connection and reliability on mobile gear.
The three said that they managed to achieve download speeds of up to 410Mbps when going downhill and with the wind behind it.
It is the first time that LTE Category 9 testing has been tried in Europe and should dramatically improve EE mobile broadband speeds across greater areas.
The test has proved the operator can aggregate 20MHz of 1800MHz spectrum with another 20MHz of 2.66GHz, and a third carrier of 15MHz of 2.6GHz.
Apparently they conducted the test using QTI’s Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor and an integrated LTE-Advanced modem, on Huawei’s commercial infrastructure solution across EE’s LTE-A 4G+ network. Double sided sticky tape was not used and apparently the tests were conducted in front of a responsible adult.
Qualcomm said that transitioning from Category 6 to Category 9 LTE-A connectivity will mean 1.5x faster peak download speeds, swift application response times, reliable connectivity and connections to the fastest networks.
EE claimed that using its remaining 15MHz of the 2.6GHz spectrum enables the fastest speeds and an increase in capacity across its network.
EE’s director of network services and devices, Tom Bennett said that working closely with Qualcomm and Huawei on the next generation LTE Category 9 connectivity enabled the company to make full use of our spectrum holdings, and continue to offer world class network capabilities, innovating to stay one step ahead of operators in Europe.
Huawei described the test as “a truly ground breaking moment” in the move towards the 5G era. However, none of the firms confirmed when these speeds will become a reality.
BT has confirmed it will acquire EE in a move that will scare the beejeesus out of the UK mobile market.
Buying EE will give BT the biggest 4G network in the UK which it is says will complement its fibre network.
BT had been using EE’s network for its mobile virtual network operator deal, but hopes the deal will enable it to create a complete network for its customers so they are using its services, whether at home on fixed connections or on the go using the mobile services, or its existing WiFi services.
It also gets 24.5 million customers currently on the EE network.
We expect to see deals involving telephone, mobile phone, broadband and mobile services in one bundle.
BT accountants already think that they will save a pile through network and IT rationalisation as well as in areas of procurement, marketing and sales costs.
Still it is bad news for O2 which was touted to be the other company that BT was thinking of buying. The decision not to go with O2 will be a blow to the Spanish Telefónica which had been keen to flog its business unit in the UK.
If approved the deal will mean Deutsche Telekom as a 12 percent share in BT and a seat on the company’s board. Orange will take just a four percent share and will not have a seat on the board.
It is not all clear sailing though. The deal has to be approved by the Ofcom regulator. While it is not likely to block the deal, the combined entity could be forced to dispose of some spectrum. BT’s Openreach and Wholesale units might have to be hived off from the main company.
Following up on its report earlier this week on 5G standardisation, market intelligence company ABI Research has firmed up what it believes will be the subscriber base.
It predicts it will take between five and 10 years for 5G to get to 100 million subscribers – that’s two years longer than 4G subscriber.
Take up of 4G has been fast because of the availability of 4G devices and more powerful smartphones.
By 2025, ABI estimates that the top countries to take up the 5G baton will be the US, China, Japan, South Korea and the UK.
There’s some technicalities to take care of – 5G will use high grequency spectra and your device will link to numerous cells for good connectivity.
ABI said a 5G network will consist of a network of small cells and practical for both industrial and urban environments.
While most people haven’t even moved to 4G phone networks yet, manufacturers are already talking about standards for the next faster generation of 5G phones.
Major vendors are engaging with the formal standards process, according to ABI Research. Those include Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, Qualcomm, Samsung, mobile operators and academic bodies.
Research director Philip Solis sad: “These companies are all waving their 5G flags, although 5G definitions and visions remain very vague. But this is not merely marketing. These companies are most certainly putting a stake in the ground that will leverage their, work, competitive strengths, and, most crucially, patents.”
He said that Qualcomm in particular is keeping its head low, but other vendors such as Apple and Google are getting actively involved.
Solis said that efforts by vendors to use their patents will be fiercer than for 4G.
But despite the competitive edge, Solis said that companies are working together “so the standardisation process can hit the ground running”.
Shipments of smartphones worldwide slumped by 25.9 percent in 2014 and will fall again next year by 12.4 percent.
That’s the opinion of market intelligence company Trendforce which said 1.17 billion smartphones left the factories this year and 1.31 billion will ship next year.
The reason, according to Avril Wu, an analyst at Trendforce, is because the penetration rate “is already very high while the market is saturated”.
She said that Chinese brands will represent 17 percent of handset shipments in 2015 – with competition intense. Lenovo, Huawei, Xiaomi, Coolpad, ZTE and TCL are competing on price meaning their margins are as thin as a cigarette paper. Trendforce thinks mergers and acquisitions over the next few years will be the inevitable conclusion of this trend.
Meanwhle, the iPhone 6 continues to sell well but brands using the Android and Windows operating systems find themselves competing on price. This will continue in the coming year.
The 4G network, she says, is now in place and will mature next year, with Qualcomm taking the lead over Mediatek in the semiconductor infrastructure required.
Although category 9 and category 10 LTE modems are not expected to be released until the end of 2016, take up of the devices will soar meaning that by 2019 there will be 64 million smartphones using the protocols.
That’s according to a report from ABI Research, which said that they’ll have downlink speeds of up to 450Mbps.
ABI pointed out that Qualcomm last week released its first mobile modem semiconductor – the Gobi 9×45 – to support such speeds but they won’t be incorporated into smartphones until the third quarter of next year.
But while the rest of the world will benefit from high mobile broadband speeds, that isn’t going to be true for the USA – ABI estimates that people there aren’t going to be able to enjoy speeds of 300Mbps in the near future.
In Western Europe, LTE (4G) penetration remains low and operators want to shift people to LTE before they even consider implementing LTE-Advanced.
In fact, it will be Chinese and South Korean operators who will be first off the block with networks allowing up to 450Mbps downloads.
Whatever the time scales, it’s obvious that many smartphone users worldwide are going to enjoy some pretty satisfactory download speeds over the next few years.
Broadcom Chief Executive Scott McGregor claims high-end smartphone makers will keep using his company’s Wi-Fi chips even though it is no longer pursuing 4G technology.
The outfit said in July it was winding down its money-losing cellular baseband chip business after struggling to compete against larger rival Qualcomm.
While getting out of baseband reduces costs and lets Broadcom concentrate on its better-performing networking and broadband businesses, it leaves the chipmaker at a competitive disadvantage flogging its Wi-Fi chips in the smartphone market.
McGreggor admitted to Reuters that Broadcom was “definitely at risk,” but the reality of it remains to be seen.
“The higher-end smartphone space is most likely to stay with Broadcom because that’s where they care most about the features and capabilities we offer.”
Broadcom currently makes Wi-Fi chips for Apple, Samsung and other high-end handsets. But without baseband technology, Broadcom’s Wi-Fi chips may be less attractive to low-end smartphone makers, who typically choose platforms that integrate both Wi-Fi and baseband in order to save money.
Apple and other manufacturers making top-tier phones could also eventually opt to combine Wi-Fi and baseband as technology improvements make it possible to squeeze more and more features onto single chip.
McGregor said steady improvements in Broadcom’s Wi-Fi technology, like increasing range, reducing interference and using wifi to determine precise locations, were reasons for manufacturers to keep buying Broadcom’s chips.
Shares of Broadcom have surged 26 percent since the company said in June it was deciding how to get out of baseband technology, which was costing about $600 million a year in research and administration costs.
The widespread adoption of LTE for fast internet access on smartphones and tablets will have a knock on effect on the broadband wireless market.
That’s according to ABI Research, which foresees the widespread adoption of LTE making it easier for people without DSL, cable or fibre optic broadband to have fast internet connections in their home.
And a number of chipset and other vendors will accelerate that push, according to Jake Saunders, 4G director at the market research company.
Those include vendors including Huawei, ZTE, and Netgear, which are all readying routers based on LTE that will let people have 4G connections at home. Chipsets from Intel, Sequans, Qualcomm and GTE are all competing in this space.
Shipment numbers for residential and commercal LTE gateways is set to grow to 44 million units by 2019. Many people living in rural areas who have been excluded from fast net access are likely to have an answer to their problems sooner rather than later.