Industry debates mobile broadband's challenges

Spectrum and network technology are the main hurdles faced by providers of mobile broadband according to the Next Generation Mobile Networks Alliance (NGMN) conference at CeBIT yesterday.

Hartmut Kremling, CTO, Vodafone Germany, told delegates, "Increasing network traffic load beyond Pentabytes/month and the demand for high data rates indicate a clear need for a step-change in spectrum and network technology. Spectrum - the blood of our industry - is a scarce resource. Sufficient spectrum allocation and its efficient use is therefore essential for NGMN. The performance of LTE/Mobile WiMAX is getting closer to the NGMN requirements; however, there is still a way to go. Most importantly, network deployment must be feasible on the existing 3G site grid, and transmission costs need to be drastically reduced through advanced backhauling solutions."

In response, Matthias Reiß, Head of LTE Radio, Nokia Siemens Networks, said, "Reduced network cost per Megabyte is a clear prerequisite for maintaining the profitability of mobile broadband network. LTE/SAE offers an evolutionary network migration path enabling investment protection for operators and low network cost per Megabyte by flat architectures, optimised backhaul transmission, high spectral efficiency, and a scalable bandwidth."

He added. "We are enthusiastic as LTE live on Air field trials carried out in Berlin have shown very encouraging performance results for LTE including the feasibility to deploy it on existing 3G sites."

Dr Jinsung Choi, Vice President Mobile Communications Technology, LG Electronics argued that success of the mobile Internet would be about more than the infrastructure, saying "Drastic handset performance improvements will make the internet experience portable and more personalised. Two major trends will be the convergence of mobile-centric devices integrating many different functions and the divergence of specialised application-centric devices. In either case, service personalisation delivers lasting incremental value "” increased revenues and customer loyalty."

Dr Choi pointed to the importance of semiconductor technology and chip sets to allow this transformation of handsets to take place. Bill Krenik, CTO, Texas Instruments, thought the industry was well-placed to meet this needs. He pointed out, "Whereas implementation of 3G terminal chip sets was a big challenge over 2G, OFDM-based next generation mobile broadband technologies are much more manageable. Advanced semiconductor process technology maximises integration and minimises cost. And integration drives features and functionality. The mobile future is bright. Chip sets for next generation include devices that will enable a ten fold application processing performance, eight or more hours of continuous video viewing, 100+ hours of music, and much more."