Key Milestones Reached Towards Future Mobile Communications
In his keynote speech Hamid Akhavan (Chairman of the NGMN Board and CEO of T-Mobile International)quoted Informa who have predicted that the number of mobile broadband subscribers will overtake the number of fixed broadband subscribers in the early part of the next decade. "We note that mobile broadband expands the mobile ecosystem to include bandwidth hungry applications and consumer electronic devices. These will provide the industry with tremendous growth opportunities through both operator and 3rd party services," Hamid Akhavan explained, furthermore he added that "in order to continue its growth in a viable manner, mobile broadband players need to address three key challenges;first, they must provide a superior user experience allowing for personalised, easy-to-use devices with desirable and seamless services, second, they must reduce the cost of carrying mobile traffic and ensure the optimised usage of all operator assets, and third, they must synchronise the arrival and readiness of devices, networks and services to avoid years of missed opportunities." Based on these principles, Hamid Akhavan outlined the major imperatives of the NGMN Alliance roadmap for the next years as "to provide all required enablers, to fulfil all customer-centric requirements, and to extensively trial and test all systems, devices and services prior to commercial availability in 2010."
In technology sessions, senior executives from operators and vendors discussed delivery plans for next generation high-performance solutions. It was clearly highlighted that fulfilling NGMN requirements will provide a step change in existing mobile broadband experience and will enable and accelerate mass market access to new products and services. Furthermore, the NGMN Alliance announced that "based on intensive and detailed technology evaluations, 3GPP LTE/SAE is the first technology which broadly meets its recommendations and is approved by its Board" as explained by Dr. Peter Meissner, Operating Officer of the NGMN Alliance.
In order to ensure the successful commercial launch of mobile broadband networks, a roadmap for technology and friendly user trials was developed when the NGMN Alliance was established. The initial trial results shown at the Industry Conference exceed NGMN expectations and proved that future network technology will deliver on its promises. Several on-site live demonstrations also made the same point during the conference.
Customer expectations and demand, the future of mobile devices and potentially successful services were addressed in several speeches and panel sessions. Industry thought leaders clearly pointed out the explosive growth potential in combining the strength of the internet and mobile industries. New business models and commercial arrangements are under development by many players and these new developments will challenge the mobile industry and will lead to new requirements by the mobile operators. During panel sessions on mobile internet and mobile broadband ecosystem it was emphasised that the innovators and developers will require open platforms to deliver new services to the end-users and the operator community needs to ensure that all the right enablers are in place for their use.
Key elements required to make this ecosystem viable include sufficient spectrum availability and a transparent IPR scheme. Major NGMN milestones in the area of spectrum allocation have already been achieved but a number of spectrum issues (e.g. the timely availability of sufficient UHF spectrum) still have to be resolved. Coordinated efforts of the mobile industry are essential to drive the spectrum allocation process and also the process to finalise the new IPR regime. Speakers expressed that IPR transparency is of greatest importance because next generation mobile communication is fundamentally different to 2G/3G, for example as cost and performance are driven by competitive forces outside the mobile industry. A breakthrough in the telecommunication industry has already been reached as a number of NGMN partners owning key patents have recently published their expected royalty rates for the first time.
While highlighting achievements and discussing challenges during the NGMN Industry Conference, consensus was reached on the strategic focus of the NGMN Alliance for the next two years. Key activities of the NGMN Alliance will include securing availability of devices and services as well as developing consistent requirements for trials to be performed prior to the successful launch of mobile broadband networks in 2010.
The Next Generation Mobile Network (NGMN) Alliance currently consists of 52 world leading global network operators, technology vendors and universities. The network operators represent more than half of all mobile phone users worldwide and technology vendors represent more than 90 percent of implemented mobile wireless infrastructure. The key objective of the Alliance is to provide a platform for innovation for mobile broadband communications that enables an exceptional mobile user experience - cost-effective and user-friendly services and a range of end user devices like mobile phones and embedded mobile devices for laptops, consumer electronics, game consoles, etc. The NGMN White Paper summarises the vision for mobile broadband communications and includes common operator recommendations as well as requirements for the standards for the next generation of mobile broadband networks, devices and services.