The next big thing

LTE emerg­ing as de­fin­i­tive 4G con­nec­tiv­ity so­lu­tion

Finweek English Edition - - Communication & Technology - SI­MON DIN­GLE si­mond@fin­week.co.za

3GPP LONG TERM EVO­LU­TION – or just LTE to its friends – is a wireless net­work­ing tech­nol­ogy that will re­place cur­rent 3G tech­nolo­gies used for mo­bile In­ter­net con­nec­tiv­ity, bring­ing high-speed broad­band to mo­bile de­vices wire­lessly with speeds that eclipse those cur­rently avail­able from ter­res­trial so­lu­tions in South Africa. LTE out­per­forms the other nextgen­er­a­tion wireless tech­nol­ogy in the form of Wi­MAX, which has been used at points by Vo­da­com and other net­works in Africa.

At Mo­bile World Congress 2009, Mo­torola had a work­ing demon­stra­tion of LTE via a net­work it built es­pe­cially for the event in Barcelona. The net­work was used to con­nect a van driv­ing around the city and stream HD video both to and from the van. Vis­i­tors to the Mo­torola booth at the ex­hi­bi­tion could watch live, high def­i­ni­tion footage of the van mak­ing its way through the streets of Barcelona. In­side the van LCD mon­i­tors showed footage of the ex­hi­bi­tion floor and streamed con­tent from Dis­cov­ery Chan­nel.

Joseph Coz­zolino, cor­po­rate vice-pres­i­dent and GM of Mo­torola’s home and net­works mo­bil­ity unit for the EMEA re­gion, says while LTE is emerg­ing as the dom­i­nant 4G net­work tech­nol­ogy there’s still much work to be done be­fore it goes to mar­ket. For one, the tech­nol­ogy must phys­i­cally scale down in size – cur­rently, LTE modems are the size of a lunch­box. “We’re talk­ing about 2012 be­fore af­ford­able, mass mar­ket de­vices will be avail­able,” says Coz­zolino.

Un­til LTE is ready, Coz­zolino says Wi­MAX will serve as a stop­gap so­lu­tion. Wi­MAX is avail­able, proven and al­ready in use else­where. “Wi­MAX will have its day in SA. It’s more cost ef­fec­tive for play­ers to roll out and com­pete us­ing Wi­MAX right now. But LTE is on the way and there are good rea­sons for Gov­ern­ments such as SA’s to be in­ter­ested. There’s a strong as­so­ci­a­tion with GDP and broad­band pen­e­tra­tion.”

LTE will pro­vide su­per-fast In­ter­net con­nec­tiv­ity with net­works quick to de­ploy. When LTE does come to mar­ket rich In­ter­net applications and the abil­ity to stream live footage to cell­phone users will be­come a re­al­ity.

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