LTE: Time for Great Speed

The LTE tech­nol­ogy is com­ing to Be­larus

Economy of Belarus - - FRONT PAGE - Svet­lana MIKHOVICH

Sta­tis­tics re­ported by Be­laru­sian mo­bile car­ri­ers in the last 12 months have steadily demon­strated one com­mon trait: the traf­fic of mo­bile data ser­vices is on the rise. Two years ago af­ter ma­jor hol­i­days or events like New Year, In­de­pen­dence Day or the fi­nal of the IIHF World Ice Hockey Cham­pi­onship mo­bile car­ri­ers would re­port the num­ber of min­utes their sub­scribers spent talk­ing or the num­ber of texts they sent. Now megabytes are the mea­sur­ing stick. The fact that LTE will ar­rive in Be­larus by the end of the year has re­joiced both mo­bile car­ri­ers and their sub­scribers. What is it all about? Why was the in­fra­struc­ture op­er­a­tor be­Cloud cre­ated in Be­larus? And how many movies will we be able to watch on our phones si­mul­ta­ne­ously?

Long-Term Evo­lu­tion

Be­larus will get LTE. No doubt about that. The tech­nol­ogy will be made avail­able in Minsk in Q4 2015 to later spread to the rest of the coun­try. There are a lot of spec­u­la­tions go­ing on but do all the con­sumers un­der­stand what LTE stands for and whether they need it?

“It is the most dif­fi­cult thing,” smiled Sergei Poblaguyev, Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of SOOO Be­laru­sian Cloud Tech­nolo­gies (be­Cloud trade­mark). “We can de­scribe the tech­nol­ogy in de­tail, can pre­dict its de­vel­op­ment but we can say noth­ing spe­cific re­gard­ing how users will re­act.”

Long-Term Evo­lu­tion (LTE) is the next step in mo­bile com­mu­ni­ca­tions and the de­vel­op­ment of telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion stan­dards.

“At present we heav­ily rely on the third-gen­er­a­tion (3G) cel­lu­lar com­mu­ni­ca­tion stan­dards. How­ever, vis­ual con­tent is get­ting more pop­u­lar. More traf­fic is pushed around. Peo­ple are no longer sat­is­fied with get­ting a pic­ture or a video. They would like high-def­i­ni­tion qual­ity,” ex­plained Sergei Poblaguyev. “Driven by mar­ket trends, the new tech­nol­ogy LTE was born sev­eral years ago. It al­lows mak­ing video calls, watch­ing online video in HD, and many other things.”

It is worth not­ing that the terms LTE and 4G are not the same thing de­spite what mass media of­ten would like you to be­lieve. 4G stands for the fourth-gen­er­a­tion mo­bile com­mu­ni­ca­tion with high-speed data trans­fer and im­proved qual­ity of voice com­mu­ni­ca­tions. 4G is a fam­ily of mo­bile com­mu­ni­ca­tion stan­dards and tech­nolo­gies that match cer­tain re­quire­ments of the Ra­dio­com­mu­ni­ca­tion Sec­tor of the In­ter­na­tional Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Union (ITU-R). In turn, LTE is a sub­set of the 4G fam­ily, just one of the 4G tech­nolo­gies.

“To be pre­cise, LTE stands out­side the 4G fam­ily of stan­dards since the tech­nol­ogy’s tech­ni­cal pa­ram­e­ters are be­low those 4G spec­i­fies. This is why the LTE Ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy is in fo­cus to­day in­stead of its pre­de­ces­sor LTE that of­fered only data trans­fer. LTE Ad­vanced­can­beright­ful­ly­calle­da4G mo­bile com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nol­ogy,” noted Sergei Poblaguyev.

The LTE tech­nol­ogy has been de­vel­oped by the in­ter­na­tional con­sor­tium 3GPP (an or­ga­ni­za­tion in charge of work­ing out mo­bile com­mu­ni­ca­tion spec­i­fi­ca­tions). The work be­gan back in 2000 while the first de­ploy­ment came in 2009. To be pre­cise, the world’s first LTE net­work was launched by the telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion com­pany Teli­aSon­era in Stock­holm and Oslo on 14 De­cem­ber 2009. At present there are 393 com­mer­cial LTE net­works in 138 coun­tries.

“I should men­tion that the LTE tech­nol­ogy is not set in stone. The 3GPP con­sor­tium regularly up­dates the spec­i­fi­ca­tions to im­prove var­i­ous as­pects of the tech­nol­ogy,” said Sergei Poblaguyev.

Even More Speed

What is the key dif­fer­ence be­tween LTE and all the pre­vi­ous tech­nolo­gies? Speed, said Sergei Poblaguyev with­out hes­i­tat­ing. LTE also boasts low sig­nal lag dur­ing data trans­fer. The two ad­van­tages make the tech­nol­ogy very ap­peal­ing to mod­ern users.

Data trans­fer speed has two lim­its: the the­o­ret­i­cal one and the prac­ti­cal one, ex­plained the be­Cloud Di­rec­tor Gen­eral. Let’s have a look at the for­mer. If the sub­scriber’s phone sup­ports LTE Ad­vanced, it can use sev­eral sig­nal fre­quen­cies in­stead of one. Their speeds are summed up to pro­vide up to 300Mbps per phone. To com­pare, 8Mbps band­width is enough to trans­fer Full HD sig­nal. Sim­ple math tells us that the sub­scriber will be able to re­ceive 37 Full HD chan­nels si­mul­ta­ne­ously.

“The ques­tion is whether the sub­scribers need the speed. Does

the reg­u­lar user need such high num­bers? Well, that fig­ure is the the­o­ret­i­cal limit. Things are a bit more com­pli­cated in real life. Sev­eral fac­tors are at play, for in­stance, the dis­tance be­tween the sub­scriber and the base sta­tion and the num­ber of users will­ing to ac­cess the In­ter­net at the same time. Speak­ing in Full HD terms, we are left with ten chan­nels. I be­lieve the num­ber can sat­isfy any user,” noted Sergei Poblaguyev.

The other mas­sive ad­van­tage the LTE Ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy of­fers is the lower sig­nal lag dur­ing data trans­fer and faster con­nec­tion setup. It means that users will be able to open and browse web pages faster and en­joy faster web ap­pli­ca­tions.

“The 4G stan­dard sig­nal is sup­posed to move from the net­work core to the sub­scriber’s de­vice within 10 mil­lisec­onds. The fig­ure is ten times that high in 3G. The dif­fer­ence is huge. Another ad­van­tage LTE of­fers is bet­ter sup­port for mo­bile users. In

other words, users will be able to en­joy steady data ser­vices while trav­el­ling at high speeds,” said Sergei Poblaguyev.

It seems that LTE has only ben­e­fits to of­fer. How­ever, there is one disad­van­tage. Sub­scribers with out­dated phones will need a re­place­ment. Not all mod­ern de­vices sup­port LTE. Sub­scribers will ei­ther have to buy new phones to use the tech­nol­ogy or buy ad­di­tional equip­ment (modems, routers).

Users should bear in mind that LTE uses dif­fer­ent fre­quen­cies in dif­fer­ent coun­tries. This is why the mo­bile de­vice ei­ther has to work with mul­ti­ple fre­quency ranges or has to match the fre­quency range of the user’s home coun­try.

Part­ner­ship In­stead of Com­pe­ti­tion

The in­fra­struc­ture op­er­a­tor be­Cloud has been granted the ex­clu­sive li­cense to use LTE fre­quen­cies. Another op­tion was to give such li­censes to all the mo­bile car­ri­ers.

“I think it was the right de­ci­sion. Users do not care who cre­ates the in­fra­struc­ture and what kind of hard­ware is used for the base sta­tions. In the end they need good ser­vice. It will cost about $300 mil­lion to de­ploy the LTE net­work in Be­larus, at least in all the dis­trict cap­i­tals with the pop­u­la­tion of at least 50,000. If the li­cense were granted to all the mo­bile car­ri­ers, the costs would be mul­ti­plied. Each car­rier would have to build its own in­fra­struc­ture with the to­tal cost of $900 mil­lion in­stead of $300 mil­lion. Re­spec­tively, the car­ri­ers would charge three times as much for their ser­vices. But we are part­ners of mo­bile car­ri­ers, not com­peti­tors,” ex­plained the be­Cloud head.

In 2014 be­Cloud sat to­gether with spe­cial­ists of the Be­laru­sian mo­bile car­ri­ers to de­fine sev­eral busi­ness mod­els re­gard­ing the joint uti­liza­tion of the fu­ture net­work in­fra­struc­ture. The tech­ni­cal model and the com­mer­cial model for co­op­er­a­tion with the car­ri­ers are ready now.

The abil­ity to smoothly in­ter­act with In­ter­net ser­vice providers is another ad­van­tage ow­ing to the fact

that there is one LTE in­fra­struc­ture op­er­a­tor in Be­larus. “Some of them have al­ready con­tacted us. They would like to of­fer LTE ser­vices as well. If mo­bile car­ri­ers had to build their own in­fra­struc­ture, it would be un­prof­itable for them to let fixed ISPs ac­cess the mar­ket. But we are go­ing to have sound com­pe­ti­tion the way things are,” said Sergei Poblaguyev. He went on say­ing that ef­forts to cre­ate the LTE in­fra­struc­ture are in full swing.

The ten­der to buy the equip­ment and the re­lated ser­vices for the sake of cre­at­ing the uni­ver­sal LTE net­work has been held this year. All the ma­jor equip­ment ven­dors such as NSN, Eric­s­son, Huawei, ZTE, Sam­sung, and Al­ca­tel-Lu­cent turned up for the event. In­stead of re­ly­ing on one ven­dor be­Cloud opted for a mul­ti­ple-ven­dor ap­proach. Apart from that, in 2014 the com­pany was granted the right to use LTE and LTE Ad­vanced lo­gos by the Euro­pean Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Stan­dards In­sti­tute (ETSI), which owns rights to the logo and the LTE trade­mark.

LTE fa­cil­i­ties are be­ing de­signed now. The com­pany is busy tak­ing care of the elec­tro­mag­netic com­pat­i­bil­ity with ex­ist­ing ra­dio­elec­tronic de­vices.

“We plan to get the first LTE net­work in Be­larus up and run­ning by the end of 2015. It will be built in Minsk and will use the fre­quen­cies 1,710-1,730/1,805-1,825MHz, 2,5302,565/2,650-2,685MHz. Thanks to ac­cess to the 2,600MHz range the com­pany will be able to of­fer high ser­vice qual­ity and high through­put of the LTE net­work,” stressed the com­pany’s Di­rec­tor Gen­eral.

Ac­cord­ing to Sergei Poblaguyev, be­Cloud has great plans re­gard­ing the net­work’s ad­vance­ment into the re­gions. There is no doubt that a lot will de­pend on the suc­cess of the LTE tech­nol­ogy in Minsk. But in 2016 the tech­nol­ogy is sup­posed to be­come avail­able in the oblast cap­i­tals — Brest, Vitebsk, Gomel, Grodno, and Mogilev. By 2020 the tech­nol­ogy will be made avail­able in dis­trict cap­i­tals and other lo­cal­i­ties pop­u­lated by at least 50,000 peo­ple.

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