LTE tested on unlicensed spectrum; AT&T, Google face off over fiber

In telecom news, tests show that deploying LTE over unlicensed spectrum can offset growing data usage, and Silicon Valley is ripe for fiber competition.

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In telecom news this week, tests completed by NTT DoCoMo Inc. and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. show that LTE can be deployed over the unlicensed 5 GHz spectrum. These tests could be an alternative for mobile operators looking to increase their network capacity to support growing data usage. Meanwhile, Silicon Valley is looking to be a fiber services battleground between AT&T and Google. AT&T has the OK to build its GigaPower home Internet...

service in Cupertino, Calif., near Google headquarters.

A recent report shows that the market for in-home Internet of Things (IoT) devices will grow exponentially in the next five years as consumers look to buy devices focused on health and safety. Meanwhile, revenue for the global carrier routing and switching markets has remained flat year-over-year, but operators are seeing the biggest growth at the network edge.

Tests expand unlicensed 5GHz spectrum beyond Wi-Fi to LTE

NTT DoCoMo and Huawei have successfully completed tests to deploy LTE over the 5 GHz unlicensed spectrum, according to the two companies, which is good news for mobile operators looking for ways to boost their network to support increased data usage.

While the 5GHz spectrum is used for Wi-Fi, the tests showed that LTE can work in the 5 GHz spectrum band at speeds up to 100 Mbps, NTT DoCoMo told PC World. The test used Licensed-Assisted Access (LAA) to expand the LTE-compatible spectrum to unlicensed spectrum bands. While mobile providers pay for access to the licensed spectrum, unlicensed spectrum usage is free.

The Japanese mobile operator said in a press release that the successful completion of these tests means LAA can be used to enhance LTE and LTE-Advanced, which will launch early next year.

The standardization of LAA is expected to be addressed later this year by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project, an industry initiative to drive wireless standards. "We aim to contribute to the standardization of this technology, which inherits the highly advanced features of LTE, to further enhance the global user experience with wireless broadband," said Seizo Onoe, executive vice president and chief technical officer at NTT DoCoMo.

AT&T, Google competing for Silicon Valley high-speed fiber services

The city of Cupertino, Calif., has given AT&T the go-ahead to build its GigaPower fiber-optic based home Internet service close to Google's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.

Cupertino, which already offers AT&T's U-verse TV and Internet services, will be one of four Silicon Valley cities where AT&T plans to offer its symmetrical upload and download service, with speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second.

The Cupertino service launch is several months away, according to Bloomberg news. AT&T is also looking to offer the service in San Jose, Calif., which although it is in the heart of Silicon Valley has had a bad rep for slow Internet speeds. Nationally, AT&T is assessing up to 100 cities and municipalities for its U-verse and GigaPower services. Other areas with access to AT&T GigaPower services can be found here.

For its part, Google offers its own gigabit fiber connections in Kansas City, Mo., Provo, Utah, and Austin, Texas, but it has no offerings in California. Google lists San Jose as one of its candidate cities, as well as surrounding cities including Mountain View, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale and Palo Alto, Calif. -- Kate Gerwig

In-home IoT adoption 'inevitable'

Home ownership of Internet of Things devices is expected to reach 69% by 2019, according to a report from the Acquity Group.

"While consumer adoption of connected technology will be more gradual in the short term, widespread adoption will be inevitable over the next five years," the group wrote in the report.

The Acquity Group surveyed more than 2,000 consumers and found that 4% of consumers currently own in-home IoT devices, ranging from smart thermostats to security cameras. Ownership of in-home IoT devices is projected to grow by 13% by the end of 2015, and explode to 69% in the next five years.

"The Internet of Things: The Future of Consumer Adoption" report found that the most popular devices driving consumer IoT adoption are wearable fitness devices, smart thermostats and connected security systems. Consumers are looking for devices that emphasize health and safety and are focused on how IoT devices can "provide integration to help them live more conveniently long term," wrote the researchers at the Acquity Group.

As adoption of IoT devices grows, wireless providers and network engineers will feel the pressure of home automation stressing network capacity. The transition to IPv6 may help ease network infrastructures from being stretched to their limits by IoT devices.

Carrier routing/switching has biggest growth at the edge

The global carrier routing and switching markets increased revenue by 7% in the second quarter of this year but remained flat year-over-year, ACG Research reported last week. ACG expects the routing and switching market to be challenging in the second half of the year, with providers pushing out projects to 2015.

"The router market outlook is uncertain because of architectural transitions, consolidations and larger than expected spending in the first half," said Ray Mota, CEO of ACG. "The good news is that projects are not being cancelled but just pushed out."

In terms of operating margins, ACG said AT&T and Verizon surpassed the industry average, by 17.2% and 24.4% respectively. Other service providers also saw operating margin increases, which has a positive impact on equipment vendors that sell to carriers, Mota said.

Operators are more focused on the drivers at the edge of the network, and the outlook for the edge router segment is projected to reach $12.2 billion in 2018, That is more than three times the size of the core router market, which is expected to increase to a projected $3.3 billion in 2018. -- Kate Gerwig

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