Wednesday, March 31, 2010

LTE- New Broadband Wireless Techology

The broadband wireless access (BWA) spectrum auction may ring in the entry of a new technology — long-term evolution (LTE). LTE, a fourth generation super-fast wireless communications technology, is a successor to 3G. With the universal service licence being technology-neutral, and the 2.3 Mhz BWA band being compatible with LTE, it is a matter of time before operators roll out 4G services, a quantum leap for India’s telecom sector. 3G auctions will start on April 9 and BWA auctions will start two days after 3G spectrum sale ends. LTE will be ready for commercial deployment in around 18 months, while spectrum winners have three years to roll out services. Those with existing WiMAX operations, such as Tata Communications (TCOM), may opt for LTE to avoid future upgradation costs. Also, players such as Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Essar are expected to overlay BWA networks over 3G. This will allow users to latch on to 2G or 3G for making voice calls and on BWA for data applications, said industry analysts and officials. TCOM has been implementing WiMAX, another BWA technology, since 2008, using the spectrum it received under an ISP licence. It is now planning to expand those services and also switch to LTE at a later date. According to Alok Shende, principal analyst at technology research firm Ascentius Consulting: The 3G and BWA auctions provide an excellent opportunity for savvy bidders to launch 4G services in the next two to four years, much ahead of Trai’s schedule. Trai has invited comments for a consultation paper on 4G launch. LTE offers tremendous increase in capacity and speed of mobile telephone networks The main advantages of LTE are high throughput, low latency and plug and play. Eleven players including Airtel, Vodafone, Reliance Communications, Qualcomm and TCOM have bid for two BWA slots. It is believed that 3G spectrum, being offered in blocks of 5 Mhz each, will be used for easing voice congestion and will not be adequate for offering data services. Qualcomm is already working on a technology that will allow consumers get access to 3G, GSM and LTE services using a single chipset. Mr Shende said a facilitator for the adoption of this model will be the availability of handsets that offer seamless blend across frequency bands between 3G and LTE.

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