The next big thing
LTE emerging as definitive 4G connectivity solution
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.