The American LTE dream

As president of the 4G Americas association, Chris Pearson has a unique vantage point of the US LTE industry. He will be giving more detail in his insights as a keynote speaker on the opening day of the LTE North America 2011 conference, which is taking place on the 8-9 November 2011 at the Fairmont Dallas Hotel in Dallas, Texas, USA. Ahead of this, we get his views on whether the industry has moved on from 3G too quickly.

Why is LTE an important technology to you and what are its key benefits?

LTE provides a next-generation world standard with low latency, higher speeds and improved capacity. For a subscriber, it will provide video anywhere, greater personalisation and an opportunity for a converged fixed/wireless experience.

However, LTE isn’t a destination; it is part of the continuing evolution of technology that occurs in wireless, and that evolution will lead to new 3GPP network technologies in the future such as LTE-Advanced.

In terms of reaping the benefits on economies of scale has the industry moved from 3G too quickly. Does the wireless industry really need LTE now?

As of September 30 2011 there are 30 commercial LTE deployments, and 4G Americas expects 75 LTE commercial deployments by year-end 2012. With over 250 commitments to LTE worldwide, the timing is perfect for gradually introducing LTE into the marketplace. HSPA and HSPA+ have provided a tremendous foundation for mobile broadband service to society and LTE is ready to take that even further. As of September 2011, there are over 400 HSPA deployments worldwide and 164 HSPA+ commercial deployments.

Are you satisfied or concerned at the state of the LTE terminal devices market?

The LTE terminal devices market is making great progress. According to the GSA there are over 160 LTE devices that have been introduced by vendors. This exemplifies the momentum of LTE.

Do you believe that LTE will really help solve the data crunch?

LTE will help improve spectrum efficiencies, but will not solve the incredible demand for mobile broadband. It is part of a larger toolkit that includes new enhanced techniques to increase spectrum efficiencies; however, the key ingredient and most significant opportunity to meet society’s mobile broadband needs is for governments to provide additional internationally harmonised spectrum to the industry.

What are your thoughts on spectrum issues and with its scarcity would to what extent would you say we have spectrum crises on our hands?

Countries where new additional spectrum is made available enable both economic and technologic growth. Considering the time it takes to allocate, clear and auction new spectrum, we are close to a spectrum crisis in many countries in the Americas.

To what extent do you think the huge number of frequencies used for LTE round the world is a cause for concern?

It is not a cause for concern. There are undoubtedly a number LTE frequencies identified in the 3GPP standard, however, only a handful will be provided in most devices. It would make a great deal of sense for LTE frequencies to be at least harmonised internationally in a specific region (i.e., Americas, Europe). However, mobile broadband roaming for international subscribers most likely will be provided through HSPA and HSPA+ technology.

What’s your view on operators’ backhaul strategy?

Throughout the Americas operators are upgrading their backhaul to ensure that it is not a bottleneck in providing great service. Operators are utilising all of the various methods including fibre, Ethernet and microwave to improve backhaul.

Will VoLTE be the real game changer for lowering cost-per-bit?

VoLTE improves efficiencies for providing voice services; however, it should be noted that UMTS-HSPA is extremely efficient. Also, voice service in most countries throughout the Americas is still growing, but the biggest demands on the network are from increased data usage.

What is the biggest challenge you’re facing over the next 12 months?

4G Americas works in three major areas: advocacy and regulatory policy; technical facilitation and coordination; and educational outreach for 3GPP technologies. There is much to be done by 4G Americas to support the wireless industry in the Americas region. It needs to work closely together to foster an environment where technology and regulatory policy provides a driver for mobile broadband growth to serve society’s growing connectivity needs. Society will continue to progress economically and technologically with wireless industry innovation.

Please gives us a brief overview of your company and its achievements?

4G Americas is an industry trade organisation composed of leading telecommunications service providers and manufacturers. The organisation’s mission is to promote, facilitate and advocate for the deployment and adoption of the 3GPP family of technologies throughout North, Central and South America.

4G Americas contributes to the successful commercial rollout of 3GPP mobile broadband technologies across the Americas and their place as the number one technology family in the region. The organisation aims to develop the expansive wireless ecosystem of networks, devices, and applications enabled by GSM and its evolution to LTE. 4G Americas is headquartered in Bellevue, Washington, with an office for Latin America and the Caribbean in Dallas.

The LTE North America 2011 conference will take place on the 8-9 November 2011 at the Fairmont Dallas Hotel in Dallas, Texas, USA.

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