For some operators, LTE cannot come soon enough, states the latest report from Analysys Mason, Operator strategies for network evolution: the road to LTE, which details how wireless data traffic will grow tenfold in developed markets in the period to 2015.
However, there are many roads to a data-optimised RAN and LTE is only one component.
LTE can provide data at a sixth of the price of basic W-CDMA. In the long term, it may be the only way to profitably manage the increasing demand for data traffic, but it also offers other advantages.
These include reduced latency, which will improve data services such as video, TV and gaming. It also offers an evolution path: LTE is just at the beginning of its product life cycle.
LTE is expected to bring opportunities and a huge challenge for operators - there are many solutions to the problem of defining the new access network architecture. Existing basic W-CDMA, HSPA and GSM will all have a role to play for the foreseeable future: integrating LTE with them is the big issue. More than that, LTE it will bring about a big change in the way operators and vendors do business.
Operators face complex strategic choices, with are as many roads to a data-optimised RAN as there are operators. Spectrum availability, their legacy infrastructure and demand for data services will all contribute to the operators' strategies.
There are four key factors that help to formulate each operator's LTE deployment strategy: technology, spectrum, data growth and device availability. Key findings from Analysys Mason's research into LTE and mobile data traffic include:
"¢ network operators are likely to begin LTE deployments in 2010, with the bulk;of deployments following within 2-3 years;
"¢ LTE-enabled devices will be available from 2H 2009;
"¢ wireless data traffic will increase tenfold in developed markets by 2010.
Dr Terry Norman, Helen KarapandÅ¾i, Analysys Mason