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Cable, TV, and Telecom at CES

It’s been three years since Comcast made a splash at CES with the unveiling of Tru2way, and since then, both cable and telco providers have kept a pretty low profile at the show. However, with the growth of mobile broadband, and broadband video, operators are likely re-evaluating how they should approach the annual Vegas shindig. Verizon is already set to deliver a keynote speech at CES 2011 with a big focus on LTE. Will there be room for FiOS discussion as well given the new features on the horizon?

Comcast, meanwhile, doesn’t have an official presence planned, but given the presumed-pending merger with NBCU, and the company’s recent iPad app frenzy, it seems quite likely that there will be Comcast folks around and about. NBCU always has a big production booth at CES, and tablet mania is sure to keep new TV apps front and center.

AT&T has exhibited at CES in previous years, and Clearwire made a big show with WiMAX at CES 2010. Will either company follow up in 2011?

As the worlds of cable, telecom, and CE collide, the make-up of CES is likely to change over the next several years. I suspect that shift will gain momentum in January.

Motorola and Clearwire from CTIA

Need another CTIA fix? I just got the heads-up on a WiMAX video from the show (see above) that includes Motorola and Clearwire execs along with Clear customers. The focus is on WiMAX growth, how much data WiMAX users use, and what Clear subscribers use their mobile broadband for.

Motorola WiMAX Devices – More than 2M Shipped

There have been a lot of radical changes in consumer tech in the last five years – the birth of YouTube, the explosion of Facebook, the launch of Twitter. But I’ve had a close-up view on one new technology in particular. When I started paying attention to WiMAX two and a half years ago, it still felt a little like vapor tech; lots of talk, very little in the way of implementations. As sexy as the Motorola boat ride in Chicago was, it was a demo only. But since then, WiMAX has hit the big time.

According to the WiMAX Forum, WiMAX service providers were covering more than 621 million by the end of 2009, with that number expected to skyrocket to one billion people by 2011. Meanwhile, Motorola announced today that it has shipped more than two million WiMAX devices. That doubles the one-million milestone the company hit just five months ago. In the US we’re familiar with WiMAX shipments through Clearwire, but Motorola actually has 40 WiMAX contracts with operators worldwide, up from 23 a little over a year ago.

I get the feeling most folks are unaware of how far and wide WiMAX has spread, and also how big a role Motorola has played in global deployments. The numbers say a lot.

Motorola at CTIA

Headed out to Vegas for CTIA? Here’s what Motorola has cooking on the 4G front.

LTE

Last week Motorola announced a new TD-LTE eNodeB 4Tx/8Rx product with multiple input/multiple output (MIMO). It will be on display at CTIA as part of a full portfolio of TD-LTE and FDD-LTE solutions. Motorola will also demo its LTE self-organizing network (SON) for lowering total network costs in LTE deployments.

WiMAX

Once again Motorola will have Clear WiMAX service live at the show along with a full line of WiMAX products. Motorola also announced a new WiMAX customer this morning in St. Maarten. CaribServ has chosen the Motorola Low-Teledensity ASN 1000 Gateway for its WiMAX deployment. And Sprint  just awarded Motorola a new services contract, the fifth one in five consecutive years.

More to come from the show floor. Stay tuned for talk on 2G/3G migrations to 4G, the move to 802.16m, and a World Tour display of Motorola’s 4G technology.

Is LTE Enough?

Although LTE is just getting off the ground, the word on the street (already) is that LTE on its own may not be enough to satisfy wireless broadband demand. At the same time, according to an article in The Independent, mobile broadband sales in some mature markets are not growing fast enough to support major capex spending for 4G upgrades. Put those two issues together, and you come up with the conclusion that LTE isn’t a broadband panacea. By itself, LTE isn’t enough.

Motorola’s Bruce Brda spoke on the topic of combining wireless broadband technologies while in Barcelona last week. In the short video below, you can hear his argument that operators will need a mix of technologies including FDD LTE and TD-LTE, WiMAX, and even Wi-Fi. It’s a big change from carrier models in the past.

MWC News of the Week

You can follow along with all the news coming out of Motorola at Mobile World Congress over on the MWC digital press kit site. However, in case you’ve missed any news to date, here are some highlights from the press announcements I haven’t yet covered here. A little GSM, WiMAX and LTE all rolled into one.

New Dual-Mode Radios Optimized for LTE and GSM/E-Edge

Early on Monday Motorola announced new dual-mode base station radios designed to support migrations from GSM to LTE. The new CTU8m series radios support up to eight GSM carriers, or a combination of up to eight GSM and LTE carriers. At the same time, Motorola also introduced a new next-gen 19″ rack-mountable GSM base-band unit, the Horizon 2G-nx BBU.

Service Quality Optimization for Mobile Operators

On the second day of MWC, Motorola launched service quality optimization (SQO) as part of its global professional services portfolio. The SQO service includes analysis of end-user data streams, performance measurement against key quality indicators (KQI), and adjustments to both network elements and business processes. Given the complexity involved in managing diverse network environments, the new SQO offering is well-timed for operator migrations to 4G technology.

FITEL Awards Motorola a Second WiMAX Contract

Also today, Motorola announced a new WiMAX contract with First International Telecom (FITEL) in Taiwan.¬† It’s the second WiMAX contract with FITEL, following an initial WIMAX deployment back in 2008. WiMAX rolls on.

Photos from Mobile World Congress

Missing out on the Barcelona experience? Not to worry, between blog and Twitter coverage, it’s not difficult to stay up to date on MWC happenings. And in case you’re the visual kind, here are some photos from the show floor. Check out the LTE cafe in the second thumbnail below. The white box on the left includes a live, working Motorola LTE chipset. Meanwhile the photo of men in suits includes the Russian Minister of Telecommunications, Igor Shegolev. He’s the one right under the sign for optimization services.

UPDATE: I just learned that at one point today the LTE network running in the cafe hit 166 Mbps. That’s just two Mbps off the theoretical max. Lots of buzzing around the Motorola booth when that happened.