3G LTE (Long Term Evolution) is still technically a pre-standard technology and yet is seeing unprecedented interest from vendors and operators alike. The question is: can operators who are only just starting to see returns from their 3G licenses really justify investing in what is essentially a new replacement technology? This report examines the technical and market dilemmas faced by operators and vendors in their migration to LTE, examining the LTE business case in the context of a converging communications world. The report looks at the risks associated with the upgrade to a totally new technology and the progress made by the principal vendors and standards bodies involved.
The report goes on to discuss the key technologies involved in LTE – such as System Architecture Evolution (SAE), Orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) and multiple-input and multiple-output (MIMO) – and the specific timing and logistics involved in rolling these technologies out. The report also analyses the spectrum issues faced by mobile operators and the specific issue of IPR and how operators and vendors are working to prevent it becoming a barrier to launch. The report profiles operators like DoCoMo, Orange and Verizon, showing their mobile broadband strategies and their expected moves to LTE.
ARCchart forecasts that the first LTE network will be rolled out in Japan in 2010, but subscriber numbers will not start to pick up until 2011, when European and North American operators begin to launch their networks. By 2013, the forecast number of global subscribers to LTE is 68.9 million, with European operators making up 28.8 million of this number, followed by 21.5 million in Asia Pacific and 17.5 million in North America.
Topics of coverage include:
- The factors that are driving increased demand for high-speed mobile broadband services
- The relative prospects of LTE compared with HSPA+, UMB and WiMAX 802.16m: the other main technology contenders for high-speed mobile broadband services
- Advanced antenna technologies used to achieve higher data rates and spectral efficiency in LTE, compared with earlier wireless broadband standards
- Frequency bands that can be used for LTE and how LTE exploits paired (FDD) and unpaired (TDD) spectrum
- The business case for operators to deploy LTE and the critical factors for LTE deployments to succeed
- The applications that are enhanced or enabled through the introduction of LTE, such as those requiring low latency and high peak-rate (e.g. gaming and IPTV) and those that demand more uplink bandwidth (e.g. user generated content)
- The viability of HSPA and HSPA+ as cheaper alternatives – compared with LTE and mobile WiMAX – for achieving high-speed mobile broadband
- The prospects for a new generation of consumer devices enabled for mobile broadband through embedded LTE chips
- Profiles of some of the key operators of mobile broadband services – Vodafone, T-Mobile, Orange, DoCoMo, Verizon – covering their background and LTE strategies
Companies mentioned, discussed or reviewed include:
Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA)
ITU Radiocommunication Assembly
Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications
LTE/SAE Trial Initiative
Nokia Siemens Networks
Personal Broadband Australia
Telecom Italia Mobile
Wireless Business Systems
Answers and opinions are provided with respect to the following
- How can operators decide whether their business case justifies investing in an LTE upgrade?
- What are operators and vendors doing to squeeze more performance out of HSPA and HSPA+ as interim measures before LTE is introduced?
- What are the IPR licensing implications of adopting LTE?
- Which major operators are planning to launch LTE services and when?
- What strategies are available to operators and vendors in addressing the opportunities for future LTE services?
- What are the performance and service enhancements that are enabled by the move to LTE technology?
- What is a 4G system and to what extent can LTE be characterised as 4G?
- What changes are required in the regulation of spectrum allocations to promote the uptake of LTE and related technologies?
- Which advanced antenna and network technologies are utilised by LTE?
- Which vendors are set to dominate future LTE markets?
- What options does LTE provide for the exploitation of different frequency bands?