Monday 8 June 2009

The Case for Early LTE in the USA

Doug Wolff,Vice President , End-to-end LTE product management, Alcatel-Lucent spoke about "The Case for Early LTE in the USA" in the LTE World Summit. Here are the main highlights from his presentation:

Overview of US Wireless Market:
  • With the penetration rate approaching 90% and the economy decreasing, customer and revenue growth are both slowing
  • Data is becoming increasingly important to operators’revenue growth –driven by flat rate data plans and the iPhone
  • Operators are developing new revenue models, including M2M and mobile advertising
  • Consolidation continues --the top four operators have recently purchased: Alltel, Rural Cellular, Dobson and SunComWireless
  • LTE deployments are scheduled to begin in 2009, using the already auctioned 700 MHz and AWS spectrum bands
  • Increase in availability and demand for smartphonesand multi-featured devices
  • Verizon & AT&T, with 60% of the market, focus on network quality and coverage –smaller operators jockey for position with pricing
  • Operators have increased their focus on OPEX cost savings related to network spending
The US Wireless Users of Future will demand and consume more data. According to a survey done by Alcatel-Lucent, Consumers are more likely to be interested in video, image, location and Business in collaboration, video conference, data transfer. There is a very high likelihood of people signing up for 4G [sic] when it is available.

The US lags in broadband adoption. It ranked 21st in world in 2008 vs. 6th in 2001. Rural broadband lags urban/suburban areas. 21% of US (nearly 60M people) live in rural areas.

To encourage Broadband rollout especially in rural areas, Broadband Stimulus Bill has been proposed. The Bill highlights can be seen from the picture:

LTE can be an ideal candidate as it leverages wireline/wireless assets for rural access in the USA
  • Digital dividend band (700/800 MHz) offers ideal radio environment for rural access
  • Best available backhaul using microwave, GPON and optical aggregation
  • Common aggregation and service routing offers converged access solution

Along with the technology, focus is also on services, etc. Verizon has recently Wireless LTE Innovation Center to foster the development of new devices and applications for its upcoming fourth generation, long-term evolution (LTE) network (see presentation). The main aim being:
  • Accelerate innovative services
  • Enable new business models
  • Attract open innovation
  • Enable multi-screen experience

Along with this there is n.g connect program that will help various players in the ecosystem to come together.

There is also a Verizon Open device/development initiative and they recently released its initial set of technical specifications for devices that will run on its Long Term Evolution (LTE) fourth generation (4G) wireless network. The specifications are available for download at

So in conclusion, the case for early LTE in the USA driven by End-user demand for enriched QoE and New market opportunities (M2M, rural zone, M-advertising, 700MHz spectrum..). This is being helped by Network & Ecosystem initiatives led by Verizon & Alcatel-Lucent for successful early LTE launch in the USA. Drivers & Enablers of early LTE in the USA are highly relevant in European & Asian Mature markets. An early rollout in USA will encourage early rollout in other markets.

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