Who will be first with LTE?

Numerous operators are now braced to launch the first LTE networks. Verizon, Vodafone, DoCoMo, China Mobile, T-Mobile and, in the Nordic region, TeliaSonera, Tele2 and Telenor have all stated that they want to be among the pioneers with this 4G standard.

CTO Håkan Eriksson says: “It does not necessarily mean that those who are biding their time with the latest technology are always lagging behind. The maximum speeds in good conditions are only one of the many features a network offers. We have tried to play down the references to generational shifts, but a lot of operators want to highlight them for competitive advantage.”

The first to place an order with Ericsson for LTE was TeliaSonera, on January 15, 2009, for the initial rollout of a network in Stockholm. An hour later, TeliaSonera announced a corresponding order with Huawei for an LTE network in Oslo. On February 18, at the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona, Verizon announced that Ericsson together with Alcatel-Lucent had been commissioned to build its LTE network.

Brian Higgins, heading the LTE Development Center within Verizon, says Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent are each to open an LTE network in a US city at the end of 2009. Then the networks will be compared. An important aspect is interoperability – how the networks work together.

Ericsson was awarded Seattle; Alcatel- Lucent got Boston. On 15 July Verizon tested Ericson’s equipment in Seattle by sending videos, surfing the net and making voice calls. One month later similar tests were carried out on Alcatel-Lucent’s equipment in Boston. Verizon’s target is to launch LTE commercially in 30 markets in the US.

WiMAX is more or less seen as a thing of the past. At the beginning 2009 Nokia decided to stop sales of its only WiMAX terminl.


Yrjö Neuvo, former head of development at Nokia and now a professor at the Institute of Technology in Finland, says of the decision:  

“A global company like Nokia has to develop new technology within its core competence over a fairly wide front. This means that occasionally you are going to invest in something that in the end does not take off. At one stage, several leading companies considered WiMAX to be very interesting. I do not think there was that much interest in WiMAX at Nokia because the technology had no direct links with the 3G approach, but they could not rule out the mobile version of WiMAX being some sort of success. Taking part in the development also meant being able to steer it in the best possible direction.

“Now that LTE is the obvious winner for future wireless networks, interest in WiMAX has declined correspondingly and it is wise to focus on LTE. GSM/WCDMA/LTE is the winning approach and it is difficult to envisage any development path that would deviate from that.”

Author: Svenolof Karlsson & Anders Lugn

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