Friday, May 1, 2009

LTE: Few thoughts

I have jotted down few things about LTE that were going through my mind.

Backhaul: With LTE wireless bandwidths shooting sky high there is a need for more stronger backhaul. To say we need a intelligent backhaul. Many proposed MPLS but still there is work to do.

Second biggest challenge is making the customer to move to LTE. At present we have 2G and 3G. With LTE there will three technologies running together and making the customers to move to LTE will be a hard task. To the customer technology doesn't matter. All consumer will ask for a high speed and ensured quality of service no matter if it is LTE or HSPA or HSPA+.

LTE has excellent data capabilities. But voice on LTE is still to be finalized. No matter how much bandwidth you give to a consumer voice is a must. Voice will stay. Is Volga just doing that?

From the operators perspective the timing has to be right to move to LTE. With the whole world on HSPA now, operator has tough time choosing the technology they want to move to. Should they move to HSPA+ or wait and move to LTE.

Migrating is one challenge, data plans and charging is other. With LTE how will be the data plans and charging. Cost per MB of data should go down else it doesn't make any sense to go to LTE.

LTE as a technology is challenge in itself. The specification are not clear yet. More over there is LTE Advance coming. Technology has to mature which will definitely take time. There were some issues with roaming when 3G was deployed. Such issues should be handled with LTE.

Making devices is a big challenge.

LTE shouldnt be deployed too early nor too late. The timing has to be proper.

Spectrum: Getting spectrum is tough task. I am not much aware of the spectrum issues and at what spectrum LTE is planned to deploy. Could some one enlighten me in this area please? :)

With LTE I feel there will be convergence and open devices will emerge. Take the latest skype integration in Iphone or N97 for example. With skype integration dependence on operator for voice call will fade away. For me using conference bridges in US through skype is free. So with the latest skype integration I can do a skype call from my device. This will reduce the dependence on laptop for skype call. Isnt it a nice Idea. Do keep your eyes open in this "Open Cloud" area. Share with me similar ideas.

Finally LTE is not only a technology, its business. Every has to share and eat. If single person eats everything he will die of indigestion and others die of starvation. Co existence is must.

Free free to post your thoughts here or email me.


Anonymous said...

Great thoughts and questions.

Let me try and answer a few.

Backhaul - Yes this is going to be a huge challenge, LTE is promising at least 33Mbps in each sector (Average sector throughput not peak, key is what users get not what the standards say -in 10Mhz channel)which amounts to ~100Mbps for an eNodeB site, so operators have to think about that challenge. However I believe a lot of operators have started considering this with new IP based transmission link radios and by putting fibre in the ground.

With regards the number of technologies, as you have stated, the subscriber does not really care, operators will roll out LTE to relive traffic on 3.5G networks which are already heading towards bottle necks in some markets. For emerging markets they may leapfrog and go straight to LTE. This takes us to your voice question, as 2G still exists it will probably be the key voice networks until operators refarm the GSM spectrums and yes Volga will deliver voice, it is really built up from VOIP and I want to believe it will not take long to achieve, I have been using a VOIP phone as a home phone for the last 2 years.

Time to market - This will depend on the markets, spectrum availability, and devices. Data is growing exponentially and operators are screaming, with advancement in video encoding techniques and with devices becoming more advanced, the traffic is only going to grow. LTE offers a lower cost per bit to deliver data to subscribers; I read a report recently that in Sweden the average user data consumption is in the region of 1.4Gbps per month. So as an operator you will surely want to reduce the cost of delivering such data.

Charging - Honestly I don't expect this to change, one of the drivers for huge data has been the flat tariff structure, so why would they want to change it, and I hope they don't.

Still developing - It is true LTE is still evolving but I think this is a positive thing rather than a negative one, so really we will get more advancement. I think the fact that the 3GPP2 operators are also coming to LTE will ensure a faster integration.

Spectrum - LTE supports flexible bandwidth allocation 1.4 MHz to 20 MHz, so really this is one of the advantages over HSPA+. It is expected that we will see LTE in 2.5-26Ghz, refarm bands 900Mhz, 1800Mhz, 2.1Ghz and the digital dividend bands Sub 800Mhz.

Yes, LTE is a business and will change the way we communicate.......I hope I was able to answer some questions

Santosh said...

Very insightful answers. Thank you.