What will it take to get users who are still holding onto 3G rate plans and devices to give them up so carriers can re-farm 3G spectrum?

More compelling 4G rates plans, for one, according to new analysis by OpenSignal. The network and device performance analysis company took a look at its installed base of users to look at why lingering 3G subscribers are 3G subs, rather than 4G subs.

The GSMA has said that as of the end of 2018, about 17% of U.S. mobile users were still using 3G technology. OpenSignal’s analysis drew on data collected between July and September of this year.

For most of the 3G-only users, it’s not the device that’s holding them back. Carriers haven’t commonly sold 3G devices for years, and only about 4% of 3G-only users didn’t have a 4G-capable phone, OpenSignal found. But OpenSignal’s numbers did show that some 3G-only users are sticking with 3G out of necessity: nearly 13% of 3G-only users “spent time exclusively in areas where 4G does not reach” and where the company “[had]never seen a 4G measurement on their mobile network operator.”

But the most common limiting factor was rate plans. More than 83% of 3G-only users don’t have a 4G rate plan, according to OpenSignal’s analysis. Carriers often let customers keep 3G plans — and their lower rates — until they upgrade to a new device.

“This indicates that if U.S. carriers market compelling 4G rate plans, they can transition the vast majority of 3G-only users and accelerate their 5G deployment strategies,” OpenSignal’s Sue Marek wrote in a blog post on the analysis.

The states with the largest populations also had correspondingly high numbers of 3G users. California, by far the largest state by population, had 9.7% of 3G-only users, while Texas had 7%. OpenSignal also found that the 3G-only user experience wasn’t particularly great: those with 3G rates plans who had a 4G phone only connected to mobile data networks about 61.7% of the time, and and when they did, their average download speed they experienced average 3G download speeds of only about 3.5 Mbps, which OpenSignal noted is one-sixth of the average speed experienced by 4G users when connected to the mobile data network.

AT&T has indicated that it plans to shut down its 3G network in early 2022 — only about two years from now — and that it is already re-farming some spectrum formerly used for 3G services, to use for 5G. Verizon, meanwhile, has said in SEC filings that it is already “aggressively” refarming 800 MHz and its PCS holdings; the carrier had intended to shut down its 3G network as soon as the end of this year, but ended up delaying that until the end of 2020.

“U.S. carriers will need to continue to entice existing 3G-only users to migrate to newer technologies so they can repurpose their mid-band spectrum for new generations of wireless technologies,” Marek wrote. “Otherwise, these users may become a barrier to 5G.”

In other test news:

Keysight Technologies said that it is extending its collaboration with AAC Technologies, which provides 5G radio frequency front-end integrated components for smartphones and other wireless products. Its product portfolio ranges from miniature acoustics, haptics, RF and precision mechanics to optics components and micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) components.

AAC will use Keysight’s 5G test offerings to validate new antenna designs for 5G New Radio devices.

Meanwhile, Keysight’s Ixia Solutions Group is working with industrial cybersecurity firm Nozomi Networks on a joint solution for companies seeking to leverage the industrial internet of things. The solution uses an Ixia Vision packet broker for data collection from operational network connections, and Nozomi Networks Guardian provides real-time data processing and analysis.

“Today’s industrial OT networks are often connected to the internet and almost certainly converged with enterprise IT networks which, without effective security, can increase operational risks and jeopardize reliability and safety,” said Chet Namboodri, VP of business development for Nozomi Networks. “The combination of Ixia’s packet-level visibility expertise and Nozomi Networks’ knowledge in OT and IoT cyber security and visibility, enables customers to accelerate incident response and threat detection, prevent outages and ensure uptime in IT, OT and IoT network environments.”

-IoT company Telit says that two of its LTE modules have completed interoperability testing with Japanese telco NTT DoCoMo. The LE910C1-AP module supports LTE Category 1 speeds of 10 Mbps upload speed and 5 Mbps download speed. The LE910C4-AP module, meanwhile, is an LTE Catetory 4 device, enabling upload speeds of up to 150 Mbps for downloads  e. Telit now has a total of ten IoT modules with NTT DOCOMO interoperability testing completed and available for IoT integrators and customers to leverage NTT DOCOMO’s network.

Sierra Wireless will be using Rohde & Schwarz’s R&S ATS1800C compact antenna test range (CATR), complete with gold reflector, for millimeter-wave over-the-air testing. The 1.3-meters-square chamber has a gold reflector in order to create a 30-centimeter quiet zone for device and component testing, and Rohde & Schwarz said that the CATR reflector has an ultra-smooth surface and rolled edges in order to minimize scattering and deliver precise measurements at very high frequencies. Manufacturing such a reflector “requires processes that are accurate in the micrometer range,” the company added.

The chamber can handle devices weighing up to eight kilograms, which R&S noted could include anything from chip modules to tablets, laptops and small cells.


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