3GPP says LTE standard on track for March completion

The 3GPP has confirmed that it has completed the majority of specifications for LTE technology, meaning the full Release 8 standard is on track for completion for March.

Adrian Scrase, vice president of international partnership projects for the European Telecommunications Standards Institute has told Unstrung the 3GPP still has to work on the evolved packet core, because the specifications currently aren't compete enough.

But Ovum analyst Steven Hartley (see today's analystwire for full commentary) warns that operators should not get overexcited about the rolling out LTE networks just yet. Hartley believes the transition phase will take eight to ten years for most operators, and it could take almost as long for operators to feel the benefits of LTE.

"Operators [transitioning to LTE] can't charge for additional speed that they can't guarantee.  They may want to charge a premium but history suggests that this will only be possible for additional value-added services or new devices at the outset," he said.

"LTE's key benefit will be to reduce opex. If revenues are unlikely to grow, then at least margins will not be eroded by increased data traffic costs. [Yet this] may be true when an operator's entire customer base is on LTE, but how long will that take‾"

Hartley has advised operators to view migration to LTE the same way fixed-line telcos view NGN deployments - long term and holistically.

"In order to benefit from LTE's promised efficiencies, operators must embark on a long-term mission to strip out legacy networks, systems, business processes and working practices," he says.

"In parallel they will need to implement new operational systems and processes to effectively manage the new architecture."