Wednesday, 20 January 2010

LG cementing its LTE handset leader position

LG has been in news recently for showing off their LTE preparedness:

LG Electronics MobileComm U.S.A., Inc. revealed at this year’s CES the advanced capabilities of Long Term Evolution or LTE technology. The company showcased LTE download speeds of 100MBps. Long Term Evolution is also known as the next generation mobile communication service technology.

LG conducted real-time demonstrations of video conferences, full HD video files and web-surfing at speeds up to 50Mbps for uploads and 100Mbps for downloads. All this was executed by connecting to the LTE USB Modem from LG. The offering gives extremely high data download speeds.

The company also unfurled to the CES attendees the ‘handover’ technology. This offering executes hindrance-free network conversion between LTE and CDMA networks. LG displayed endless data transmissions taking place between LTE and CDMA antennas which enables video file downloads, internet calling and web surfing. All this was done via the sleek version of the 4G LTE device which is an LG proprietary product fashioned for the Handover just last August.

LG has also teamed up with Verizon wireless to demonstrate the applications and capabilities that are possible with LTE networks. At the recently held event, the Verizon Wireless Innovation Center demonstrated many applications with Innovation Center member LG Mobile Phones being its main participant.

LG demonstrated LTE network and joined forces with other companies for formulating Home monitoring solutions, an indoor/outdoor IP security camera and a video conferencing product.

Alcatel-Lucent and LG Electronics have completed a successful handoff of an end-to-end data call between Long Term Evolution, or “LTE,” and CDMA mobile networks. The live, over-the-air handover consisted of an uninterrupted streaming video session conducted over Alcatel-Lucent's end-to-end commercial LTE and CDMA/EV-DO infrastructure using an LG Electronics CDMA and LTE dual mode device.

The handoff is compliant with the standards established by the Third Generation Partnership Project, or “3GPP.” According to Ken Wirth, president of 4G and LTE Networks at Alcatel-Lucent, since existing networks were designed primarily with voice in mind, the current explosion in data traffic is creating a challenge for service providers. The successful handoff demonstrates Alcatel-Lucent's readiness to deliver LTE to CDMA operators. LTE provides operators with the opportunity to deploy a system designed specifically to support data.

LG's M13 CDMA/LTE device incorporated for the testing is the world's first modem chipset for 4G LTE devices. It was created with commercial grade components and released in December 2008. The technology behind LG's M13 CDMA/LTE terminal is important in enabling LTE networks to operate transparently with existing CDMA networks.
According to In-kyung Kim, vice president of 4G development at LG Electronics Mobile Communications Company R&D Center, LG's M13 terminal will be an important device in enabling CDMA network operators to deploy a LTE network incrementally over a national CDMA network.

An article in Fierce Broadband Wireless summarises their leadership in these words:

LG has an impressive LTE track record: an LTE demo at Mobile World Congress 2008; the announcement of the world's first LTE chipset and modem prototype in November 2008; the first LTE-enabled mobile device Live Air Demo at Mobile World Congress 2009; the first FCC LTE Device certification built around LG's LTE chipset in June 2009; the first dual-mode LTE/eHRPD in-call handover in August 2009; and a 100 Mbps maximum throughput Live Demo at CES 2010.

3GPP Release8 June 2009 compliance, multiple band support (2.1 GHz Band1 or 700 MHz Band13), various system bandwidth, from 5 MHz to 20 MHz and max throughput with up to 100 Mbps downlink and 50 Mbps uplink, are among the main features supported by the dual-mode LTE/CDMA Vd13 device and LTE-only LD100U device.

In Las Vegas, LG executives recognized that the two devices recently unveiled are intended more to demonstrate their LTE development leadership and, likely, will not be launched as commercial devices. Although they didn't outline their exact plan, they disclosed that their own LTE modem will eventually be integrated into a netbook or notebook, meaning that a more integrated chipset solution will hit the market soon.

Known for its 2G and 3G handset line, LG relied on mature merchant chipset solutions such as Qualcomm, ST-Ericsson or Infineon chips, not LG technology. We can elaborate different scenarios to explain their new positioning as an LTE market driver. Gaining ground in all cellular technologies and capturing more than 10 percent of the total handset market as year-end 2009, leading them to third position worldwide, LG has decided to invest significantly into chipset development in order to become technology independent.

On top of the LTE modem, they will now introduce phones based on their own 2G/3G/4G intellectual properties to save cost and stay ahead. We could also speculate that LG wants to broaden their essential patents portfolio, driving 3GPP groups and initiatives to better compete with their current chip suppliers. In this case, once the LTE market matures and reaches a critical mass, LG will switch to third party players just as they have in the past. One more scenario has to be considered: following Nokia's early strategy, LG could license its LTE modem IP to partners that will manufacture the chipset solution and sell it back to them.

It's difficult to predict LG's long-term strategy in terms of chipset development at this point. The company has the scale to succeed, scale that small WiMAX players who recently announced parallel WiMAX/LTE roadmaps lack. In the new research report released by Maravedis in partnership with Reveal Wireless, entitled "WiMAX Wave2 Subscriber Station Chipset Vendors Competitive Analysis," we have identified the WiMAX chipset companies who have shifted to LTE by offering a flexible programmable base-band solution.

The LTE base-band chipset market is already crowded: incumbent manufacturers who ship in large volume (Qualcomm, ST-Ericsson, and Nokia), new entrants who traditionally relied on merchant solutions (LG and Samsung Electronics), and newcomers who leverage their OFDM expertise, WiMAX chipset background, and WiMAX ecosystem experience (Altair, Comsys, Sandbridge, Sequans and Wavesat) are committed to playing a significant role in the LTE baseband landscape. With Mediatek, Infineon, Marvell, and likely giant Intel poised to enter the market eventually, the field will soon be comparable to the aisles of CES 2010... very packed.

One thing I have learned is that initial leadership doesn't guarantee final outcome but we have to appreciate LG's rise in the LTE technology arena.


Anonymous said...

The first Mbps is written as MBps

Anonymous said...

The issue with the UE chipset is that it needs to be multi-standard, i.e. LTE + UMTS + GSM or LTE + CDMA. As far as LGE are concerned it's not about developing LTE only. That's why the incumbents have a definitive advantage they've to add LTE to mature solutions.