Friday 15 June 2007

AT&T bets on LTE

AT&T says its next-generation roadmap leads to LTE, though it's evaluating the use of WiMAX technology for backhaul according to a report in Wireless Week.
AT&T's Chris Hill, vice president of Government Solutions for Mobility, commented during an interview at the Wireless Communications Association (WCA) conference that, "LTE provides similar throughputs, so we're taking a wait-and-see approach to WiMAX. We just don't see the value proposition for mobile WiMAX."
After reading this i started digging around on who is betting on WiMAX and i found an excellent summary:
Mobile wimax equipment which utilize beam-forming and MIMO technologies will become available towards the end of this year. Broadband wireless deployments using pre-802.16e compliant equipment have already begun. In Korea both KT and SK Telecom have implemented mobile broadband wireless networks in specific locations throughout the country.

Sprint/Nextel are deploying an 802.16e compliant mobile wimax network which will reach 100 million Americans by the end of 2008. BT will bid for 2.5GHz RF spectrum in the Ofcom auctions which will take place towards the end of the year 2007. Gaining such spectrum will allow the incumbent to deploy an efficient wimax service and compete with companies such as Vodafone for triple play services. Cable companies are gradually acquiring spectrum and are looking at distributing their content to mobile devices. Greenfield operators are expected to utilize mobile wimax technology in order to secure a 3G/4G market position by attracting consumers with an early new level of service. Clearwire is such a carrier with operations in the United States, Denmark, Belgium, Ireland and in Mexico (via MVSnet).

Equipment manufacturers are becoming increasingly active in mobile wimax. Vendors such as Samsung, Nortel Networks, Alcatel and Nokia-Siemens Networks are all involved in 802.16e projects globally. Motorola have just announced a major deal in Pakistan. Companies that have been heavily involved in operator proprietary broadband wireless implementations such as Alvarion and Proxim are also developing 802.16e compliant platforms. Various chipset providers such as Wavesat, Runcom Technologies and Beceem Communications are developing OFDMA chips and are testing their products for interoperability with solutions from other vendors. Dual mode handsets will be very popular with mobile wimax deployments with GSM/OFDMA and CDMA/OFDMA handsets dominating the market.

But there is confusion. Ericsson believe that by the year 2010 mobile wimax will account for only 5-10% of global broadband wireless revenues and are therefore more focused on broadband cellular technologies. Who is right? Availability of 2.5GHz spectrum is crucial to the success of mobile wimax particularly throughout the western world. In Europe HSPA is dominating the cellular market and this combined with the current unavailability of 2.5GHz spectrum throughout most of the continent is leading to little interest from mobile operators. In the U.S a lot of the 2.5GHz spectrum is owned by Sprint. The carrier will start its deployment by using 10MHz channels to deliver services and could use even larger bandwidths in the future.
Meanwhile in the US, everyone is concentrating on the 700MHz spectrum auction that will be happening soon. The spectrum is in the upper 700 MHz range, not the lower 700 MHz band where companies such as Qualcomm’s MediaFLO already are deploying services. It’s desirable for wireless carriers because at 700 MHz, fewer base stations are required than at higher ranges, making it more economical for buildouts. But numerous other parties also are interested in the spectrum, as evidenced in FCC filings. Everyone from Cyren Call Communications to Frontline Wireless and Google are giving advice on how to use the spectrum.
Among the more neutral players in the cacophony of lobbyists trying to affect the outcome of the auction is Nortel. The company has been sending executives to Washington, D.C., mainly to serve as educators around technologies that could be deployed in the space. Those include OFDM/MIMO and others around WiMAX, as well as evolutions of the GSM and CDMA technologies in long-term evolution (LTE) and ultramobile broadband (UMB), respectively.

“We are keeping a very close eye on where the 700 MHz auction goes,” says Danny Locklear, director of Nortel wireless product marketing. “We see this 700 MHz space as being a very large opportunity for us,” as well as for the overall U.S. market, where it will add more competition and improvements for end-users.

It’s important for companies like Nortel to be involved now, he explains, because typically there is an 18-month cycle from the time standards are developed to the actual product. Delivering products for a new or different band of spectrum is nothing new; vendors know how to do it, but it still takes time, not only in the hardware but software as well.

Discussions over 700 MHz are expected to continue through the coming months, with a final ruling possibly toward the end of the summer and an auction start time anywhere between the third quarter of this year and January of next year. Even then, some of the winners of the spectrum probably won’t be moving in immediately. Analog TV users currently in the spectrum have until the first quarter of 2009 to vacate.

No comments: