Making LTE even better: the role of R&D

2012-02-17 Categories: Technology, Portfolio

The last article in our series on LTE focuses on Ericsson’s dedication to continual development of the technology through research and development, consumer understanding, standardization, and working directly with customers to meet specific needs.

While the origins of LTE go back to the early 1990s, the technology is not standing still. Ericsson's LTE research and development team is working constantly to improve the technology further, based on leading-edge work in the lab as well as input from live networks around the world.

Ericsson has a long history of mobile technology innovation. With more than 27,000 patents to our name, Ericsson is the largest holder of standard-essential patents for mobile communication across 2G, 3G and 4G technologies. The company is a net receiver of licensing royalties and has more than 90 patent-licensing agreements in place.

Our highly active R&D program means we are continuing this leading position in patents into LTE, in which Ericsson holds around one-quarter of all standard-essential Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) – making us the largest single holder of essential patents for the technology.

Ericsson has been at the forefront of standardization efforts for LTE. An analysis of 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) meetings reveals that Ericsson has influenced the released LTE specification more than any other company.

Our influence in the standardization process goes hand-in-hand with a highly active R&D program, which benefits from early participation in standardization groups. In addition, Ericsson interacts regularly with our customers to ensure efforts are being made in the right places.

This works in two ways. First, we hold regular workshops with senior technology representatives from our customers to ensure we understand what they are looking for. Second, we put some of our best R&D engineers – and maintenance and support engineers – to work alongside customers on long-term secondment to get hands-on experience and understanding of live commercial network environments.

These R&D engineers are looking at areas such as traffic and signaling load patterns, developing models and feedback methodologies for network testing and optimization. Another key area is the way user behavior is changing, with the adoption of new smartphones and other devices, and the effect this is having on networks.

Our aim is to complement high-quality lab-based work with real-life fieldwork to arrive at the smartest possible solution. We believe this kind of teamwork is vital not only to gain a deep technical understanding of LTE networks, but also of how different customers use features in different ways.

Getting this end-to-end and top-to-bottom view of how LTE works in the field – and continuously feeding this information back into the design, implementation and testing process – has helped create the best-performing and most stable LTE platforms on the market.