Friday, January 23, 2009

China’s Handset Market Expansion Continues in 2009

According to iSuppli Corp research analysts, China’s domestic wireless phone market is set to maintain its growth in 2009, with a 7.7 percent increase for the year. The forecast calls for the domestic handset market to reach 239.1 million units in 2009, up from 222.1 million in 2008.

“China’s three wireless operators are attracting new subscribers by reducing service fees. This will greatly contribute to demand from first-time buyers,” said Kevin Wang, senior manager of China research at iSuppli. “New subscribers are expected to exceed 90 million in 2009. Furthermore, more existing mobile users will be subscribe to a second number. Beyond that, the government’s broadened subsidy policy for consumer electronics purchases will stimulate demand in rural areas.”

Domestic authorized handset market shipments surpassed 180 million units in 2008. Meanwhile, the domestic gray market decreased to about 40 million units in 2008, down from more than 50 million units in 2007. A number of gray market suppliers became authorized brand-name companies. Their business grew dramatically in tier-three and tier-four urban and rural markets.

Foreign handset OEMs occupied 56 percent of China’s handset market for 2008. Nokia was the largest handset supplier in China in 2008 with a 37 percent market share. At the same time, Samsung expanded its share of handset shipments. Tianyu will continue to be the leading Chinese brand in terms of domestic shipments.

3G arrives
The Chinese government will issue 3G licenses in 2009. However, domestic 3G handset shipments will not increase dramatically during the year. The total domestic 3G handset market is expected to reach 8 million units in 2009. Low-cost multimedia GSM and ultra-low-cost CDMA handsets should be among the best-selling products of 2009. However, smart phones and handsets supporting 3G and the China Mobile Multimedia Broadcasting (CMMB) standard also will represent high-growth segments.

In term of total unit shipments, Huawei and ZTE are likely to be the leaders in China’s 3G handset market. Both were anticipated to ship more than 30 million units in 2008. Moreover, Huawei is now the largest 3G data card supplier in the world. At the time this was written, Chinese handset manufacturers collectively were projected to ship more than 300 million handsets by the end of 2008. iSuppli forecasts that Chinese handset manufacturers will ship more than 360 million units in 2009 driven by both domestic and export markets.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Nokia OSC Technology Extends GSM Capacity and Lowers Costs

Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) has successfully carried out field trials of Orthogonal Sub Channel (OSC) technology that is said to double the voice capacity of GSM radio networks using standard handsets. The OSC test demonstrated the use of four handsets sharing only one radio timeslot without compromising the call quality. NSN says the demonstration with existing commercially available GSM handsets was the first of its kind and is a "significant step in GSM evolution."

The aim is to help mobile operators cope with their cost challenges due to declining revenues per call minute. With OSC technology, operators can gain more capacity from the same base station hardware, meaning fewer base station sites are needed in network rollouts and capacity extensions, which in turn saves energy and decreases the CO2 emissions.

"This successful demonstration is made possible by a software upgrade to existing Flexi EDGE Base Station and Base Station Controller. OSC is fully interoperable with existing handsets, so it promises immediate cost saving for operators", said Prashant Agnihotri, Head of GSM/EDGE product management, Nokia Siemens Networks.

Cellular Growth Expected in 2009

The Strategy Analytics (SA) has posted a new Wireless Network Strategies service report, “US Wireless Market Outlook: 2009 Key Trends,” and predicts that US cellular subscriber growth will remain strong despite the economic situation but growth levels will scale back slightly from 2008. US cellular service revenues will also continue to grow, albeit at a slower growth rate of 3.9%, down from 7.5% in 2008. This is consistent with some surveys I have heard about saying that the technology products people expect to continue to buy are cell phones and HDTVs (those products are part of our everyday life and we are not willing to give them up easily).

SA says that in the current economic climate, carriers must address tightening consumer wallets. “Rather than just pushing prepaid as the perfect recession-proof tariff, carriers will work to make postpaid plans more attractive to budget-conscious customers who are re-examining their cellular spend,” explains Phil Kendall, Director of the SA's Wireless Network Strategies service. SA predicts more positioning for value rather than straight out price competition. “All-you-can-eat operators MetroPCS and Leap Wireless should fare well and present a challenge, especially to T-Mobile USA. Strategy Analytics expects that Sprint will continue to struggle,” predicts Susan Welsh de Grimaldo, Senior Analyst at SA and author of the report.

“The year 2009 will see heightened competition between AT&T Mobility and the new number one, Verizon Wireless—fresh from its acquisition of Alltel. These two will jockey for technology leadership on Long-Term Evolution (LTE), push wireless connectivity in consumer electronics devices and increasingly represent a larger share of total subscribers and service revenues.”

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

NY cancels $2B M/A-Com contract

The New York Office for Technology said last Thursday that it has terminated a contract with M/A-Com Inc., a Massachusetts company that was tasked with building and leasing a wireless network worth $2 billion. This was the largest contract ever awarded by this office and the cancellation will severely hamper progress toward a goal of building a statewide wireless emergency network.

The contract was canceled as the state tries to resolve a combined, record-high deficit of $15.4 billion over the next 15 months. The state warned M/A-Com in August 2008 that it was in default of its contract because internal tests and independent audits found 19 flaws in initial systems installed in western New York. Problems ranged from radio equipment failures and outages to “unreliable” and “inconsistent” infrastructure and coverage areas. Subsequent testing in November 2008 revealed that 15 of the 19 flaws had not been fixed.

“We are extremely disappointed,” said Melodie Mayberry-Stewart, director of the state Office for Technology. “We have given M/A-Com every opportunity to remediate existing deficiencies. However, the state’s testing concluded that M/A-Com is unable to deliver a system that meets the needs of New York state’s first responders.”
The state has spent $59.2 million on the project, including equipment purchases. Tyco Electronics has spent $51 million to date, and was expected to spend up to $75 million in its 2008 fiscal year, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The state is in line to recover much, if not all, of its investment through a $100 million credit line that M/A-Com established, per the terms of the contract. Half of that money is in escrow. The state has already sent a letter demanding payment to the financial institution managing the credit line.

M/A-Com, a division of Tyco Electronics Ltd. (NYSE: TEL; BSX: TEL), outbid Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) for the 20-year contract in early 2004. The deal is reportedly the largest high-tech project ever undertaken in the state’s history, and the largest statewide, public-safety communications project ever.