Archive for the ‘LTE’ category

4G Data will blow your…4G explained.

April 30, 2009


The current state of mobile networks is that we use 2.5G and 3G networks—mid-second-gen and newer third-gen data protocols. On the Verizon and Sprint side, known as CDMA, 2.5G is referred to as 1XRTT, or just 1X. On the AT&T and T-Mobile side, GSM, the 2.5G flavor is EDGE. Verizon and Sprint’s 3G is EVDO, while AT&T and T-Mobile have HSDPA (you might not know that one, since they usually just say “3G”).

Second gen wireless was basically just the leap to a digital network, and third gen is a closer attempt at true mobile broadband—kind of. Right now, with their 3G networks, they can all get you typical speeds of around 1 Megabit per second downstream, give or take (though the specs are rated for peak speeds of 3Mbps down on EVDO Rev. A, and 3.6 on HSDPA). 3G has a bit of breathing room left in it—EVDO Rev. B is capable of downstream speeds of 14.7Mbps , while the current HSDPA spec will go up to 14.4Mbps downstream with the right equipment, and depending on how far down the HSPA spec sheet you wanna go, maybe even faster.

But the fourth generation is already on its way. Technically, no wireless technology is officially 4G. But that’s what everybody’s calling WiMax and Long-Term Evolution, because they both promise crazyfast mobile internet speeds that leave the current 3G in the dirt. In the US, the main WiMax player is Clearwire, which Sprint owns 51 percent of after they combined their operations into one company and actually gave WiMax a chance to live. LTE is championed by AT&T (which makes sense because it was developed initially by companies who mainly build GSM networks like AT&T and T-Mobile’s). Verizon also selected LTE, which blew everyone away at first because Verizon isn’t in the GSM camp, but it makes sense because Verizon’s parent company, Vodafone, is gung-ho for LTE in Europe, where everyone’s on GSM.

WiMax and LTE,  use the same fundamental technology, they both use orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing access and they’re both IP (internet protocol) based. More simply, you can kind of think of the difference between WiMax and LTE as a software, not a hardware thing (kind of like Macs and PCs using the same Intel chip). Alcatel-Lucent, who makes the 4G wireless hardware, is actually building hardware that is on a common platform. In fact, some point in the future it’s possible to harmonize”LTE and WiMax.

Here’s what the fundamental difference is: Time division duplexing versus frequency division duplexing. AT&T TDD is like CB radios or walkie-talkies—when one person is talking, the other person can’t talk. The same channel is used for downstream and upstream, so the transmission is divided up over very tiny increments of time. Clearwire’s says they currently use a 2/3 downstream and 1/3 upstream split, so 2/3 of the time, you’re swallowing data, and 1/3 of the time. With LTE, it’s more like a modem or phone conversation. It separates the available bandwidth into two parts—one operating downstream full time, and one operating upstream—so you both can talk back and forth at the same time.

The special think about WiMax and LTE is, how fast can they really get. The amswer is,  The channel width. LTE and WiMax use really fat wireless channels, so they can move a lot of data at once. For example,  peak speed for LTE in 10MHz is about 140Mbps and peak speed in 20MHz is about 300Mbps. The thing about them being OFDM is that it makes them more flexible than 3G, since they can use a wide range of spectrum—LTE can use anything from the 1.4MHz channel up through 20MHz—whereas current 3G always uses 5MHz.

WiMax is no slouch either, technically capable of up to 72Mbps.

Another thing about those superfat channels is that they don’t reach as far out from the tower, and your response drops (obviously) as you get farther away.  They’re going to need to build more cell sites. That’s why building out 4G is very pricey.  If you thought 3G rollout was slow, 4G might be slower.

Here’s what the real-soon-future looks like: Verizon isn’t dicking around, and is doing commercial rollouts of LTE in 2010, while AT&T is following up with their commercial trials in 2011. (AT&T says Verizon “is in a big rush to move to LTE because their 3G technology gives them no room” to increase bandwidth and that red is a stupid color, nyah nyah nyah.) Clearwire has rolled out WiMax to a few cities already, and plans to have 120 million covered by the end of 2010. Verizon says they’re getting about 60Mbps in testing, but expect it to be more like cable modem speeds when it launches—like Clearwire has now. For the reasons we mentioned above, and also because there won’t be devices that can handle that kind of ridiculous speed—as you probably guessed, battery life being a major reason.

Will one standard eventually beat the other into submission, slinking away into the night, arm and arm with Betamax and HD DVD? Well, LTE does have a lot of momentum—the two biggest carriers in the US are rolling with it, and as part of the GSM family, you can bet all of the GSM carriers all over the world will be on board. In fact, there’s no real technological reason to pick one over the other and just like now where multiple technologies exist for economic reasons, it’ll be the same thing with WiMax and LTE.

2010, Verizon LTE.

February 19, 2009

Verizon plans on a full deployment of LTE by 2010, utilizing the newly acquired 700 mHz spectrum. Trials are already under way, with 3 markets set to start real-life tests sometime in the second half of this year.

No pricing plans were set, and no specifics were mentioned of actual data download speeds; rather, Verizon CTO Richard Lynch would only say that the real speeds would not be known until the real-world tests are made. Peak trial speeds have been set at 60 Mbps so far. Two lucky to-be-named cities will be recipients of the 4G action — which sounds suspiciously similar to Sprint and Clearwire’s current WiMAX situation — where the company will get a better sense of the data rates commercial users can expect.

From the other hand AT&T is in no hurry to deploy LTE since it is very careful on how it deploys HSPA, which is slow to evolve enough as it is.  AT&T will observe Verizon’s rollout of LTE and learn from any mistakes made from it, so as to avoid making the same mistakes on its own rollout.

NetworkWorld: Verizon conforms details of US LTE deployment.

2009, Verizon Wireless & LTE, together.

December 11, 2008

Verizon Wireless CTO Dick Lynch said the operator expects to have Long Term Evolution technology in service somewhere in the U.S. by December 2009. Lynch, speaking at Cisco Systems’ C-Scape conference in San Jose, also said Verizon will offer femtocells, which will likely include WiFi as an added feature, shortly after introducing LTE.

“A femtocell of LTE or an access point of WiFi is a really critical component of the way customers want their broadband delivered,” Lynch said.

Verizon’s move represents an aggressive timeframe for LTE, which has largely been understood to hit the market in 2010. However, speakers at this week’s LTE America’s conference indicated they were skeptical that a 2010 LTE launch was attainable, according to an article in RCR News. LTE was supposed to be standardized by the end of this year, but the date has now been pushed to March.

Qualcomm has also recently issued an aggressive timeline for releasing engineering samples of its LTE/HSPA+ device modem. It is trying for the second quarter of 2009. The company, however, cautioned commercial availability of of the MDM9000 “still depends on a number of very uncertain factors, many of which are dependent on mobile network operators’ plans and investment priorities about how and when to roll out this next stage of wireless technology,” said Enrico Salvatori, senior vice president and general manager for Qualcomm Europe, speaking at the company’s inaugural European Innovation Summit last week.

Why the rush for Verizon? Ken Hyers, analyst with Technology Business Research, said in a recent interview that Verizon desires to push aggressively with LTE because it’s running out of data capacity on its CDMA EVDO network and must compete with higher speed HSPA+ AT&T Wireless is rolling out before its own LTE launch.

“The operator’s entire reputation is built around network quality and coverage and having the best network,” Hyers said. Verizon “will have to continue increasing data capacity.”

RCR Wireless: VZW plan to deploy LTE in 2009 could rely on non-standard technology.

Mobile Operator Capital Expenditures Analysis.

July 8, 2008


ABI Although North America’s mobile capital expenditures will likely remain flat this year, globally CAPEX investment will rise from more than $113 billion in 2007 to $163.5 billion in 2013, according to ABI Research. In the Asia-Pacific region, that growth will primarily be driven by markets that are expanding current 2G footprints and new 3G rollouts. In North America, look for carriers to be spending on 3G upgrades to HSDPA/HSPA and EVDO Rev. A, as well as activities around mobile WiMAX.

ABI researchers say that currently most of the CAPEX is still going to voice services and 2G networks expansion. However that will change. “CAPEX for data services will surpass that for voice sometime in 2009 as 4G starts to arrive,” says Hwai Lin Khor, analyst with ABI. By 2013, the firm expects 28 percent of CAPEX spending to be for voice, 67 percent for data and 5 percent for mobile TV.

ABI Research: Historical and Projected CAPEX Based on Regions, Network Components, Services, and Mobile Technologies.

32 Million 3G LTE Network Subscribers in 3 Years.

June 22, 2008

LTEAccording to a new study from ABI Research there will be more than 32 million LTE customers by 2013. Around a third of these will be in Asia-Pacific with the remainder split about 60-40 per cent between Western Europe and North America. This growth rate would be remarkable given that the original standardisation and specification process for Long Term Evolution (LTE) aka ‘4G’ only envisages commercial deployment in the 2011-2012 timeframe. It would appear that the mobile industry is once again doing what it does best, overhyping new technology whilst it is still in development. Announcements about LTE arrive almost daily, each more positive than the next. U.S. CDMA operator Verizon Wireless announces its intention to migrate its network to LTE, Nortel and Motorola announce plans to focus on LTE, perhaps at the expense of WiMAX and so it goes on. Only time will tell whether the hype is justified or if the mobile industry is about to get another dash of cold reality.

WiMax Forum: The number of WiMAX deployments around the world now stands at 305 in 118 countries.

June 18, 2008

It’s a significant jump from the 260 WiMAX deployments in 110 countries, which was announced by the WiMAX Forum at its Congress Asia event held in Singapore little more than two months ago.

Key to Mobile WiMAX progress is product certification. The first batch of WiMAX Forum Certified Mobile WiMAX products, in the 2.3GHz frequency band and at Wave 1, was announced at Congress Asia.

To scale up capacity for Mobile WiMAX product certification, the WiMAX Forum intends to open two new testing labs this year-one in India and one in Japan-as well as another in Brazil in 2009. This will add to its six testing labs currently active in the US, Spain, China, Korea and two labs in Taiwan.

The WMAX Forum predicts there will be 133 million WiMAX users by 2012. “Analysts are saying that LTE will only have around 20 million subscribers by that time [2012], so we have a clear lead,” says Resnick. “And trade shows like the Global Congress will speed up WiMAX deployment announcements further. It’s going to be a place to bring equipment vendors, operators and application developers together to take care of business.”

Source: WiMax Forum from WiMAX Forum Global Congress.

OPA – Open Patent Alliance Formed to Advance WiMAX 4G Technology.

June 11, 2008

Wimax Intel announced that it joined forces with Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, Clearwire, Samsung Electronics and Sprint Nextel to form the Open Patent Alliance (OPA). The group will create a WiMAX patent pool to help participating companies obtain access to patent licenses from patent owners at a predictable cost. The OPA will initially focus on the IEEE 802.16e-2005 standard.

The patent pool will aggregate essential patent rights needed to implement the WiMAX standard as defined by the 802.16e-2005 standards and the WiMAX Forum. This approach will focus on providing a competitive royalty structure by charging only for the features required to develop WiMAX products. The patent pool will incorporate a variety of royalty licensing solutions, including accounting for cross-licensing among individual members within the pool. 

Essential WiMAX patents to be considered for the pool will be identified through a “call for patents” process. An independent third-party reviewer will serve as the “patent referee” and will evaluate submitted patents to determine how essential they are to the WiMAX standard and WiMAX Forum profiles. The six founding companies expect six to nine additional investor companies to join the alliance. The group will serve as the licensing agent for the WiMAX patent pool, representing the licensors who agree to participate in the pool. 

The WiMAX Forum conducted an independent IPR study in October 2006 finding about 1550 WiMAX-related patents owned by 330 companies. Samsung has the largest share of patents at 20%. Also, the study found that 74% of companies with more than 10 patents were WiMAX Forum member companies. Outsiders who have essential patents that might attempt a legal block to stifle WiMAX deployments appear limited. While the OPA initially will focus its efforts on the WiMAX standard, it may work with other industry groups in the future.

Press Release: Open Patent Alliance, LLC.