LTE, spectrum and picos key for data growth
Mobile operators planning their 4G migration roadmap stand to benefit from the capacity, flexibility and self-organizing capabilities of LTE as mobile broadband data traffic continues growing rapidly, particularly when it comes to spectrum-related issues such as traffic offload strategies and spectrum harmonization, says Ericsson’s chief technology officer.
LTE is off to a flying start in Asia-Pacific, with six LTE networks available commercially in Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore the Philippines and Australia. Globally, there are 200 million subscribers covered by commercial LTE offerings – 130 million of them via LTE networks supplied by Ericsson, says company CTO Håkan Eriksson.
As next-gen technologies go, LTE is a major step forward for mobile operators, not least because it’s not competing with rival technologies for market share in the same way that GSM did with CDMA during the 2G and 3G phases, Eriksson says.
“Also, we’re no longer talking about introducing new generations sequentially – as in first you go to 2G, then to 3G, and you give up the previous generation,” he adds. “In actuality you're introducing a new technology while keeping another one, with 2G, 3G and 4G working in parallel.”
Part of that trend is a function of using the frequency bands allocated with each generation, which operators naturally want to keep using as traffic growth increases – which is why spectrum harmonization remains a major issue for mobile broadband, says Eriksson, though he adds the issue is mainly a challenge on the handset side, not for network equipment makers like Ericsson.
“We can make a base station for any frequency, and they don’t move around, so the operator can put them wherever he wants them provided they don’t cause cross-border interference,” he says. “So it’s not as much of an issue for us. The problems are on the handset side where you need devices that can support all those frequency bands.”