Info & Phones News
Verizon Wireless today said it completed the first test call using VoLTE on its Cat M1 network. The achievement is worth noting because Verizon's Cat M1 network is reserved for machine-to-machine and IoT applications. Adding voice call capability to M2M and IoT gear opens up new doors for device makers, service providers, and app developers who will be able to connect with customers and end users in a new way. For example, the new technology will make it possible to voice-enable alarm panels or medical devices which can in turn allow people to reach out to and speak with people to gain entry to protected spaces or seek help. Verizon used Ericsson's network infrastructure and Qualcomm's modems to make the VoLTE Cat M1 call a reality. The company didn't immediately say if or when it might deploy voice-calling capability on its M2M/IoT network.
AT&T today said it has kicked off a second trial of mmWave technology in Austin, providing fixed wireless broadband to consumers and businesses alike with speeds up to 1 Gbps. AT&T is testing a handful of applications and services. For example, AT&T is allowing DirecTV Now customers to stream live television over this "5G" connection using Ericsson's 5G RAN and Intel's 5G Mobile Trial Platform. AT&T had previously made it possible to stream DirecTV Now via mmWave in its Middletown, N.J., laboratory. AT&T expects the trial will last for several months. AT&T didn't say what spectrum it is using to conduct this trial, nor what consumer equipment. The mmWave technology is just one of many candidate 5G technologies being considered by the 3GPP and ITU. The 5G standard has not yet been technically defined by the international community, but that hasn't stopped carriers and telecom equipment manufacturers from forging ahead. The goal with tests such as this is to make enough technical progress so AT&T can contribute to the final 5G spec and get a jump on deployment. AT&T says it expects to "deliver 5G speeds as early as late 2018."
T-Mobile today said it is beginning to upgrade its 4G network with LTE-U this spring. LTE-U allows LTE to operate on the unlicensed spectrum in the 5 GHz band, which is typically reserved for WiFi. Devices equipped with LTE-U will take advantage of available 5 GHz spectrum when needed to boost speed and capacity. If or when that 5 GHz spectrum experiences an uptick in WiFi use, the LTE-U devices will scale back their presence on the unlicensed spectrum and return to T-Mobile's cellular network for coverage. T-Mobile is relying on equipment from Ericsson and Nokia to make LTE-U a reality. At the same time, the FCC today approved the first devices to operate on LTE-U. The FCC's chief concern is that LTE-U doesn't interfere with the WiFi operation of 5 GHz equipment in the shared spectrum. The LTE-U Forum, WiFi Alliance, and myriad other technology players have helped shape LTE-U over the last few years. T-Mobile expects LTE-U to help it eventually deliver gigabit speeds over its wireless network. T-Mobile didn't say what mobile devices might have access to LTE-U once it goes live.
Intel today announced the XMM 7560 LTE modem, a fifth-generation wireless radio that can produce broadband-like speeds in a variety of mobile devices. The XMM 7560 is manufactured using Intel's 14nm process and supports LTE Advanced Category 16 for downloads up to 1 Gbps and Category 13 for uploads up to 225 Mbps. The Intel XMM 7560 modem supports 5x carrier aggregation for up to 100 MHz combined bandwidth on the downlink, and 3xCA for up to 60 MHz on the uplink. It also supports 4x4 MIMO and 256QAM. Intel says the XMM 7560 works well with its SMARTi 7 RF transceiver, which supports up to 35 LTE bands and 230 carrier aggregation combinations for worldwide compatibility. The XMM 7560 also packs envelope tracking and other power optimization features to improve battery life in smartphones, tablets, and PCs. The Intel XMM 7560 will sample during the first half of the year and Intel expects to see it in consumer devices shortly thereafter. Separately, Intel this week announced new efforts in its push toward 5G. It is working with Nokia, AT&T, Telefonica, 5TONIC, Ericsson, and others to define, prototype, and deliver early 5G products.
AT&T today laid out more of it is roadmap for 5G and brazenly said it is moving forward despite the lack of standardization for 5G. "We're not waiting until the final standards are set to lay the foundation for our evolution to 5G," said John Donovan, chief strategy officer and group president, Technology and Operations. "We're executing now." AT&T says its data network has seen a 250,000% increase in traffic since 2007, largely driven by video. It feels it needs to move on 5G now in order to accommodate the growing demand for data. The International Telecommunication Union isn't expected to formally ratify 5G until 2020, though some of the broad definitions of 5G have already been defined, such as 1 Gbps speeds and latency under 5 milliseconds. AT&T claims its lab trials have already delivered peak speeds of 14 Gbps with latency as low as 3 milliseconds. It says some portions of its LTE 4G network will offer 1 Gbps (theoretical max) speeds later this year thanks to small cells, densification, and 3- and 4-channel carrier aggregation. AT&T's DirecTV Now customers in Austin, Texas, will be the first to trial AT&T's 5G network technology during the first half of the year. The trial will involve fixed wireless 5G using mmWave in a handful of locations with a handful of devices in the Austin area. The tests may begin as soon as March. The company has been testing this same technology with Intel and Ericsson in Austin since last fall and says it saw consistent 1 Gbps speeds. AT&T plans more 5G trials this year in the 28 GHz and 39 GHz bands using the framework developed so far by the 3GPP.
AT&T today announced an expansion of its 5G trials with its first business customer. Intel has agreed to test AT&T's mmWave technology at its own Austin-based offices. AT&T and its technology partner, Ericsson, claim to have reached peak download speeds of 14 Gbps with 4K HD video and real-time camera feeds. This field trial will put business-class use-cases to the test, including internet access, VPNs, unified communications, and 4K video streams in the 15 GHz and 28 GHz spectrum bands. "Mobile video streaming continues to be a vital aspect of our 5G work, and this trial gives us an opportunity to test 4K HD video streaming across further physical distances between pieces of equipment," said Tom Keathley, AT&T's senior vice president, wireless network architecture and design. AT&T says the field trial will bring it one step closer to deployment. Until now, it has been testing its 5G technologies in the lab and some real-world spaces in Texas, Georgia, New Jersey, and California. AT&T hopes its technological path will help it contribute to the international 5G standard, which has yet to be defined by the ITU.
A collection of telecommunications companies have banded together with the goal of creating a nationwide LTE voice and data network for first responders. The group formed a new company, called Rivada Mercury, to manage the deployment. The participating firms include Rivada Networks, Harris Corp., Ericsson, Nokia, Fujitsu, Intel Security, and Black & Veatch. Rivada Mercury will use 700MHz spectrum (Band 14), licensed to FirstNet, to build the network. Rivada says a key differentiator in its model is the use of Dynamic Spectrum Arbitrage (DSA) technology. This will allow Rivada to sell excess capacity to commercial tenants without impacting first responders' access to the network. Rivada will rely on this strategy to generate the income needed to fund the network. Rivada Mercury did not say when it expects to begin work on the network, nor when it expects to finish deploying it.
AT&T today announced plans to extend its 5G testing to three more cities. AT&T will continue to test in Austin, Texas, and will also begin testing in Atlanta, Ga., Middletown, N.J., and San Ramon, Calif. AT&T says it recently reached a milestone in testing: it pushed speeds higher than 10Gbps with partner Ericsson. AT&T's tests are all being performed in labs, though the company says its labs are able to simulate real-world environments and scenarios. For example, AT&T can test how its 5G network might react at a sporting event, where a large number of customers might connect at the same time. Aside from speed, latency is an important aspect of 5G. AT&T says its early latency tests are promising, though it declined to share any numbers. Latency needs to be as close to zero as possible for situations such as self-driving cars, so they may react appropriately to unexpected changes in driving conditions. AT&T believes it will move to outdoor testing of fixed locations in Austin and Middletown by the end of the summer. The company hopes its progress will help it contribute to the international 5G standard, which has yet to be defined. Last, AT&T said it has added partner Nokia to the list of vendors helping it with 5G. Nokia is, specifically, researching millimeter wave spectrum use, beamforming, and higher levels of throughput.
Apple and Ericsson have signed a patent-licensing agreement and put an end to on-going patent litigation between the two. Ericsson said the deal is broad and covers 2G, 3G, and 4G LTE technologies. Royalty payment rates were the heart of the matter. The agreement "means we can continue to work with Apple in areas such as 5G radio network and optimization of the network," said Ericsson's Chief Intellectual Property Officer, Kasim Alfalahi. Apple sued Ericsson in January of this year, and Ericsson countersued. Terms of the patent-licensing agreement were not made public.
Verizon Wireless wants to stay ahead of the curve and be among the first to launch fifth-generation (or 5G) wireless network technology. The company plans to begin field tests at its Innovation Centers, which are dedicated sandboxes for testing apps and services, located in San Francisco and Waltham, Mass., at some point in 2016. Verizon will use gear supplied by partners Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Cisco, Nokia, Qualcomm, and Samsung to conduct the trials. Moreover, Verizon expects to reach "some level of commercial deployment" as soon as 2017, according to Roger Gurnani, chief information and technology architect for Verizon. Verizon's timeline is ambitious, especially considering 5G hasn't been defined. The International Telecommunications Union only agreed on the basic framework for developing what will eventually become the 5G wireless data specification in June of this year. The 5G roadmap is being referred to as IMT-2020, which the ITU hopes to have finalized by the year 2020. The core definition of 5G will be wireless networks that can transmit data at speeds up to 20Gbps. Most of today's LTE networks are allowing for connections as fast as 50Mbps in real-world conditions. Verizon's Gurnani said the company is targeting real-world speeds that are 30 to 50 times faster than current LTE 4G. Verizon didn't say if it intends to adhere to the ITU's vision for what 5G technology should truly be. Verizon is the first U.S. network operator to put 5G on its public roadmap, but others are sure to follow quickly.
Ericsson today stepped up its legal action against Apple with new lawsuits filed in the U.K., the Netherlands, and Germany. Ericsson asserts Apple is using its wireless technology patents without the proper licenses. Apple used to have licenses for the patents, but the licenses expired and the two companies have been unable to come to terms over what constitute fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory licensing fees. "Apple continues to profit from Ericsson's technology without having a valid license in place. Our technology is used in many features and functionality of today's communication devices. We are confident the courts in Germany, the U.K., and the Netherlands will be able to help us resolve this matter in a fair manner," said Ericsson. The company has been trying to come to terms with Apple for two years and recently offered to enter arbitration. Companies are required to license patents deemed essential at fair rates.
The U.S. International Trade Commission agreed to examine Ericsson's claims that Apple is violating its wireless patents. The dispute stems from a licensing agreement between the two companies that expired in January. Since then, the companies haven't been able to agree on fees for Apple to re-license the 2G/4G patents from Ericsson. Apple argues the fees are too high and the patents are not essential to LTE. It says Ericsson demanded rates in excess of what's fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory. Ericsson sued because Apple continues to use the patents without a licensing agreement in place. Ericsson wants the ITC to issue a limited exclusion order and a cease and desist order. The ITC said it will look into the matter.
Ericsson today sued Apple in the U.S. and alleges the iPhone maker is violating multiple wireless patents. Ericsson filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission over Apple's use of its standard essential patents covering 2G and 4G LTE technology. It is seeking to ban sales of Apple's iPhone and iPad in the U.S. The ITC is a popular venue for lawsuits because it can prevent companies form important and/or selling devices. Ericsson also filed complaints in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas seeking both damages and injunctions. Standard essential patents must be licensed at fair and reasonable terms. Ericsson contends that Apple wouldn't agree to terms. "By refusing Ericsson’s fair and reasonable licensing offer for patented technology used in Apple smartphones and tablets, Apple harms the entire market and reduces the incentive to share innovation," said Ericsson. Apple didn't immediately respond to Ericsson's claims.
Apple and Ericsson have filed legal grievances against one another regarding the value of LTE patents. A patent agreement between the two companies expired two years ago and they have failed to come to terms in signing a new one. Apple is accusing Ericsson of demanding prices that are outside the "fair and reasonable" terms dictated by standard-essential patents. Ericsson says every Apple iPhone has its technology inside and believes patent pricing should be based on the total value of the handset. Apple, on the other hand, believes the patent pricing should only apply to the value of the LTE-specific components. Ericsson is asking a separate entity to determine whether or not its terms are in fact fair and reasonable.
Ericsson today said it will cease to make wireless modems for mobile devices and cut about 1,000 jobs as a result. Ericsson cited fierce competition in the space as playing a role in its decision. More and more handset companies are demanding modems that are built into application processors, such as those made by Qualcomm. Ericsson does not have its own application processor business, and has seen its share in the market drop accordingly. Ericsson said it will shift some employees from the modem business to an R&D facility in its networking and M2M business. Earlier this year, Broadcom made a similar decision to stop making basebands for cell phones.
Samsung and Ericsson have reached a patent-licensing deal that will put an end to litigation between the two companies. The deal concerns telecommunications patents that Samsung previously licensed from Ericsson. The original agreement between the two companies ended in 2011, and Ericsson sued Samsung in 2012 after the two failed to come to terms over the value of the patents. The new cross-licensing agreement covers an unknown number of patents, some of which are deemed to be standard essential. The companies did not disclose terms.
HTC, Sony, Ericsson, and Alcatel-Lucent did not infringe on four Wi-Lan patents, according to the patent-licensing firm. Wi-Lan sued the four companies for infringing on a handful of its wireless patents, but a Texas jury cleared all four firms in the case. Wi-Lan expressed disappointment in the outcome. Patent-licensing firms often use litigation to generate income. Wi-Lan filed similar litigation against BlackBerry late last year.
ST-Ericsson today revealed that it has sold its mobile GPS business to Intel for an undisclosed sum. ST-Ericsson is a joint venture between STMicroelectronics and Ericsson. The two parent companies revealed earlier this year that they were preparing to wind the struggling venture down. ST-Ericsson's GPS-related assets and engineers will be added to Intel's existing GPS business. Intel, which recently named a new CEO, is making a concerted push to become a mainstream player in the mobile chip business. This acquisition can help it in that pursuit.
Sprint's Network Vision project has been plagued by problems with its equipment providers, the company said in paperwork recently filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. "During the second half of 2012, we experienced delays with vendor execution, backhaul connectivity delays, shortages in equipment such as fiber cable and antennas, as well as other regulatory and environmental issues," said Sprint. Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, and Samsung are the three companies providing Sprint with its networking gear, each of which is responsible for a select geographical area of the country. "However, we expect that we will recover from these delays and we are still forecasting to have the majority of the sites on-air by the end of 2013 with expected completion of Network Vision deployment by the middle of 2014." Sprint has been slow to deploy its LTE network, which first launched during the second quarter of 2012. It had expected to cover 250 million POPs with LTE by the end of 2013, but has revised that estimate downward to 200 million. It says it is still on track to reach 150 million POPs by the middle of 2013.
Ericsson today announced that it has agreed to acquire Devoteam Telecom & Media of France. Devoteam provides consulting and IT management services, which Ericsson will add to its own consulting organization. The acquisition includes about 400 employees, as well as Devoteam's StartVision operations. Ericsson expects the acquisition to close during the second quarter of the year, pending regulatory review.
The U.S. International Trade Commission on Thursday agreed to investigate Ericsson's patent infringement claims against Samsung. Ericsson filed the ITC complaint in December after it and Samsung were unable to agree on licensing terms for Ericsson's wireless patents. Samsung claims that Ericsson wants royalty rates that are far above what would be considered fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory. At issue are Samsung's smartphones, tablets, TVs, PCs, and base station equipment. Ericsson filed a separate patent-infringement lawsuit, seeking compensatory damages, in U.S. District Court againt Samsung in late November.
Ericsson today filed a petition with the U.S. International Trade Commission seeking to block the sale of some of Samsung's telecommunications equipment in the U.S. Ericsson filed a separate patent-infringement lawsuit againt Samsung last week. Ericsson filed the lawsuit after it and Samsung were unable to are on licensing terms for Ericsson's wireless patents. Samsung claims that Ericsson wants royalty rates that are far above what would be considered fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory.
Ericsson has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against competitor Samsung after the two companies failed to reach a licensing agreement. According to Ericsson, the two telecom giants negotiated patent licensing agreements for more than two years, but never came to a settlement. "Ericsson has tried long and hard to amicably come to an agreement with Samsung and sign a license agreement on FRAND terms. We have turned to litigation as a last resort," said the company in a statement. In this case, the patents pertain to telecommunication networking gear, which both companies provide to wireless network operators. In its own statement, Samsung said, "Samsung has faithfully committed itself to conducting fair and reasonable negotiations with Ericsson over the past two years, but Ericsson has demanded prohibitively higher royalty rates to renew the same patent portfolio." The lawsuit was filed in the United States.
Ericsson today announced that it has acquired ConceptWave for an undisclosed amount of cash. ConceptWave, which is based in Toronto, provides operational support systems and business support systems. ConceptWave's customers are based worldwide. According to Ericsson, the acquisition will help it to strengthen its own support services for its wireless network operator customers. For example, Ericsson manages Sprint's cell towers. Ericsson acquired ConceptWave's approximate 170 employees as part of the deal, which has already closed.
Nokia Siemens Networks is in talks with several companies that are interested in purchasing its business support systems unit. Nokia Siemens CEO Rajeev Suri said the company continues to pare down non-core business units as it restructures. Suri didn't mention what businesses are interested in the support unit, but Reuters reports that Ericsson is among the top contenders. Nokia Siemens has already divested its wired broadband and WiMax businesses.
Sprint today announced measures it has taken in order to acquire more capital for on-going business operations. The company secured a $1 billion credit agreement from Deutsche Bank and other banks to finance equipment purchases from Ericsson for its Network Vision project. Sprint today also announced that it is retiring $1 billion in fourth quarter 2013 debt maturities. Sprint raised several billion in capital in late 2011 and early 2012 through the sale of notes. Sprint is using the funds for general operations, the build out its LTE network, and to help fund Clearwire. Sprint expects to launch its LTE network in several markets in the coming months, with 120 million POPs covered by the end of 2012.
Ericsson today announced that it has devised a way to triple the upload speeds across HSPA networks by making some alterations to how base stations handle such traffic. Ericsson said that a new set of software algorithms allows it to surpress the interference that WCDMA/HSPA base stations have to deal with on the uplink. Using the interference suppression technique in combination with configuring base stations with four antennas allows it to triple uplink speeds from 4Mbps to 12Mbps for a given 5MHz carrier. Ericsson says that this technique will not require network operators to invest in new base station equipment other than software updates and additional antennas. The solution works with existing consumer cell phones.
Sony announced that it has finalized the acquisition of Ericsson's shares of the two companies' joint venture, Sony Ericsson. Sony Ericsson is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sony Corp. and has been renamed to Sony Mobile Communications. Sony said that it will work to integrate Sony Mobile and its handsets across Sony's line of consumer electronics.
Qualcomm today announced that it and partner Ericsson have successfully completed the first voice call handover from an LTE mobile network (using voice over LTE — or VoLTE) to a WCDMA network. The call used Single Radio Voice Call Continuity (SRVCC), which is required for VoLTE calls to seamlessly switch to a WCDMA network when a consumer on a VoLTE call leaves the LTE network's coverage area. SRVCC and its predecessor CSFB (circuit-switched fall back) allow both LTE and 3G network connections to be supported on a single chip, which lets handset makers design smaller, less expensive, more power-efficient phones. The test was completed using an Ericsson handset with Qualcomm's Snapdragon S4 MSM8960 3G/LTE multimode processor.
Ericsson and ZTE today announced that they have come to terms over patent litigation between them. The companies have both signed a global cross-licensing agreement and agreed to drop all litigation. ZTE has also signed a royalty-bearing license agreement to certain Ericsson patents. The patents in question concerned GSM and 3G/UMTS cellular technology. Companies in the telecommunications space often use litigation as a tool to forge such licensing agreements.
Sony Ericsson today revealed that the Xperia Active Android smartphone is available to U.S. buyers through a handful of online retailers, including Newegg. It costs $339.99, is being sold unlocked, and is compatible with AT&T's 3G network.
C Spire Wireless today announced the launch of Sony Ericsson's Xperia Play gaming smartphone. The Xperia Play is available immediately through most C Spire retail channels for $49.99 after rebate with a new two-year agreement.
Sony Ericsson recently revealed that it is going to discontinue its Sony Ericsson Sync service, which was meant to help users of Sony Ericsson devices, such as the Xperia line of smartphones, keep their contacts synced properly across devices. In a note posted to its support forums Sony Ericsson lays out the steps users need to take to make sure their contacts and other date are backed up. Sony Ericsson recommends that its users switch to Google Sync or other similar services for their future syncing needs.
Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg has indicated that the company plans to flex its patent muscle in order to generate more revenue. "By 2015 two thirds of all consumer electronics devices will have some sort of connectivity," Vestberg said in an interview with BusinessWeek. "Any company or manufacturer that wants to get in there will need an agreement with Ericsson." Ericsson owns the rights to about 27,000 patents, which cover "basically everything in the telecom industry," according to Vestberg. The company is looking at its Wi-Fi patents, as well as those concerning Web search and optical transmissions in particular. The company has yet to decide the best coarse of action to take, though it appears to want to steer clear of bilateral agreements and may instead target chip makers directly. Patented technology has become a source of income — and litigation — for many players in the telecommunications and smartphone industry. Vestberg said that using its patents to earn additional revenue could help even out its quarterly performance.
Sony Ericsson today announced that it has made the Xperia neo V and arc S available to U.S. buyers through the online Sony Store. Both handsets are being sold unlocked. The neo V costs $349.99 and the arc S costs $449.99, no contracts required.
Sony Ericsson today announced on its blog that it will update its entire line-up of Xperia-branded Android smartphones to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. This includes the Xperia arc and arc S, Xperia Play, Xperia neo and neo V, Xperia mini and mini pro, Xperia pro, Xperia active, and Xperia ray. Sony Ericsson said that it is working to merge the features of its Xperia software with those of Android 4.0, and will have more information on the availability of the system updates at a later time.
Sony Ericsson today announced that it has partnered with Ingram Micro to help distribute its unlocked smartphones to retail points in the U.S. Ingram Micro ships devices to retailers world wide, and has a number of U.S.-based reseller partners, including Amazon.com, Best Buy, Buy.com, and Newegg.com. When Ingram Micro starts shipping Sony Ericsson's smartphones later this month, they will become available to U.S. buyers from the aforementioned retailers. The agreement covers a number of devices in Sony Ericsson's Xperia line of Android smartphones.
ST-Ericsson today announced that it has won a deal to supply wireless chips to Nokia for the Finnish phone maker's future Windows Phone smartphones. To-date, all Windows Phone devices have included chips from Qualcomm. ST-Ericsson said it believes its chips will allow Nokia to build Windows Phone devices at a lower cost, allowing it to target different market segments and regions. Nokia recently revealed its first two Windows Phone 7 devices, the Lumia 800 and Lumia 710. Both use Qualcomm chips.
Sony today announced that it is going to purchase Ericsson's share of the two companies' Sony Ericsson cell phone joint venture for $1.47 billion. Once the purchase is complete, Sony Ericsson will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sony, which intends to integrate the handset division into its other consumer electronics products. As part of the deal, Sony gains five essential patent families related to wireless technology, and also struck a cross-licensing agreement with Ericsson concerning other, non-essential patents. The transaction has been approved by the boards of both companies, and is expected to close in January 2012, pending regulatory review. The joint venture originally launched in October 2001.
Sony Ericsson said that it is going to shift its entire cellular phone business to smartphones only starting in 2012. According to Sony Ericsson, smartphones already account for 80% of its sales and its Android phones account for 12% of all worldwide Android sales. The company still makes some feature phones, but will cease doing so come next year. Reports surfaced last week that Sony might buy Ericsson out of the joint venture so that the company can more closely integrate its smartphone products with Sony's large line of consumer electronics. Sony Ericsson CEO Bert Nordberg declined to verify that report.