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LTE set to emerge as a key technology: Fredrik Jejdling, Head of Region, Ericsson India

August 26, 2011
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Long term evolution (LTE) meets, and in most cases exceeds, the requirements of 4G technology. By offering a range of innovative 4G functionalities, LTE enables operators to manage more traffic and meet growing data rate demand, and is therefore a key future mobile broadband technology.

In parallel with 3G evolution based on HSPA, LTE radio access technology has been developed by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) to offer a fully capable 4G mobile broadband platform. LTE is the natural mobile network evolution step for both 3GPP (2G/3G) and 3GPP2 (CDMA 1x/DO) operators, ensuring that they can meet this challenge and maintain a profitable business that encompasses basic voice services and text messaging to advanced multimedia and high speed internet connectivity over mobile broadband networks. It also enables interoperability, roaming, backward compatibility and device availability, and offers economies of scale.

LTE also provides operators flexibility and simplicity in deployment. It offers a choice of carrier bandwidth – from 1.4 MHz to 20 MHz – and supports both frequency division duplex (FDD) and time division duplex (TDD) access. LTE offers high spectrum efficiency and a simplified all-IP network environment that provides higher capacity and lower costs per MB as compared to existing access technologies. This will enable mobile broadband operators to maintain profit margins from these services.

The latest version of LTE, also referred to as LTE Advanced or LTE Release 10, provides bandwidth extension and spectrum aggregation, extended multi-antenna transmission, relaying functionality and enhanced support for heterogeneous 4G mobile broadband network deployments.

Coexistence of LTE, WCDMA/HSPA and other 3G technologies is crucial to ensure service continuity as LTE rollout and service uptake vary across regions. This is why Ericsson has developed multi-standard radio equipment that can deliver LTE, WCDMA/ HSPA and GSM services from a single base station. This provides mobile operators the freedom to balance voice and data traffic across their networks as well as the ability to serve all subscribers from the same radio base station.

Our consumer lab study shows that 80 per cent of mobile broadband users demand any time, anywhere access. The study was based on 4,580 consumers in six mature markets. It also found that as mobile data traffic increases, the mobile broadband connection is becoming as ubiquitous as the mobile phone. About 80 per cent of respondents said they would not share their laptop and 65 per cent would not share their mobile broadband connection.

Globally, the first fully commercial LTE network was launched by TeliaSonera in Sweden in December 2009, well ahead of schedule. The showcase mobile broadband network is currently the fastest in the world and provides coverage for almost 30 Swedish cities, delivering data rates of up to 100 Mbps. Several other operators are in the process of deploying commercial mobile broadband networks based on LTE. These include AT&T, Verizon and MetroPCS in North America, T-Mobile in Europe, and NTT DOCOMO and KDDI in Japan. LTE has become the main migration path not only for network operators using 3GPP-based technologies, but also for those using CDMA2000/1x-EVDO, a 3GPP2-based radio access technology. In fact, 3GPP2-based operators such as MetroPCS, Verizon and KDDI are among the first to have commercially deployed LTE on a large scale.

Several Wi-Max operators are now planning to move towards LTE. These include Russia-based Yota and North American service provider Clearwire. Another indication that LTE would be the preferred long-term solution for mobile broadband is the Next Generation Mobile Networks Alliance’s selection of LTE as the radio access technology for next-generation mobile broadband.

Broadband access is gaining importance because of its convenience and benefits of “always on” high speed internet access. Broadband connections are a key interface for delivering and managing media, as well as for entertainment services such as TV, music and gaming. These services and im-proved device capabilities mean that mobile broadband traffic and consumer data rate demand are growing at an unprecedented rate. Increased use of smartphones, data cards, USB modems and embedded mobile broadband modules like tablets, netbooks and notebooks is facilitating faster access to the internet. 4G technology can also support live high definition TV.

In July 2010, we conducted the first LTE TDD trial in India using the 2.3 GHz band. The tests demonstrated the high capabilities of LTE networks to mobile operators, application developers, content providers, etc. It also showed that the Indian telecom sector is prepared to deploy LTE TDD. We have also successfully conducted field trials with Reliance Communications and Qualcomm.

Unlike other mobile technologies, LTE offers a truly global standard for 4G – it is the only technology that can be deployed in paired (FDD) and unpaired spectrum (TDD).

LTE is a 4G technology and is positioned to meet the growing requirements of not only today’s mobile broadband networks but also those of the future. Ericsson believes that there will be 300 million mobile broadband subscribers in India in the next five years.

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