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MWC 2014 Daily Round-up: Day Three

By Informa Telecoms & Media, February 26, 2014

Telefonica expands its role in the connectivity value chain

Telefonica Digital’s online security announcement at MWC 2014 today is a great illustration of how telecoms operators in general are looking to carve a position for themselves in the mobile broadband value chain. Telefonica Digital announced that “Latch”, an application that enables users to switch their digital services on and off from the mobile, had been deployed by Spanish universities to minimize security risks.

Latch is a great example of how leading telcos are taking advantage of their expertise in connectivity and their existing business relationships to move into new and related areas, embracing more of a start-up mentality than a traditional network-focused telco mind-set. Indeed, the Latch technology was developed by a Telefonica subsidiary, Eleven Paths, itself symbolizing the way telcos are looking outside their own companies to capitalize on new technology developments. Eleven Paths and Telefonica are currently negotiating with Spanish and international financial entities and retailers for the integration of Latch with the online services they offer their customers.

Telefonica’s Latch announcement complemented its earlier MWC 2014 announcement that it was working with LG, Samsung and Sony Mobile to integrate its services in the smart wearables made by these handset vendors. Underlining the move to extend its reach in the value chain, Telefonica said that it is also open to agreements with other market players, manufacturers, content providers and companies in the fashion industry to work with them on the technology for wearable devices.

One of Telefonica’s aims is to integrate some of its own services into wearable technology. Given that the impact on the market of operator-developed services has historically been weak compared with those from the Internet sector, Telefonica will need to weigh how much it wants to help the overall market for wearable technology with its strategy of incorporating its own services into wearable devices. Although Telefonica has moved early into the wearable technology sector, it will not be the only heavy-hitter vying for influence to shape how the market develops.

TDD looks set to play a key complementary role to FDD in 4G after MWC 2014

TDD spectrum looks set to become a much more widely used resource after the operator and vendor interest it received at MWC 2014. TDD spectrum remains an underutilized resource owned by many operators around the world. In 2004, an alliance was set up to promote and grow a TDD ecosystem around 3G, and, although it never quite gained the traction necessary to become a widely deployed technology, it looks certain that TDD will feature much more centrally in operators’ 4G networks than in 3G.

NSN demonstrated at MWC 2014 what it claims is the world’s first TDD-FDD Carrier Aggregation (CA) together with South Korean operators, KT and SKT. The demonstration was carried out separately with the two operators, using NSN’s Flexi Multiradio 10 Base Station. By aggregating spectrum resources on multiple TDD/ FDD frequency bands, NSN says that operators can increase throughput by 50-100%, depending on the level of availability of TDD or FDD spectrum.

Vodafone and Huawei’s joint demonstration of FDD+TDD CA technology at MWC 2014, along with news that the operator will deploy it in Spain, looks set to be a key milestone in demonstrating the key complementary role TDD will have in 4G. Vodafone plans to aggregate 20MHz of 2.6GHz TDD spectrum with parts of its 50MHz of FDD holdings to improve capacity and speeds for 4G users in Spain.