While Vodafone executives have stated the company will not commercially deploy LTE until 2012, it has announced it will conduct roaming and various interop scenarios starting next March.
The trials, which will be conducted with China Mobile, will be the first to agree to use the MultiService Forum's LTE and System Architecture Evolution (SAE) interoperability test, and will take place at Vodafone's test and innovation centre in Düsseldorf, Germany, and China Mobile facilities in Beijing.
According to a report in Unstrung, the two operators plan to focus on testing the Evolved Packet Core (EPC), the core network for LTE radio access networks. Among the test scenarios are LTE access into the EPC, roaming, backward compatibility with 2G and 3G into the EPC, handover/relocation, and access into the IMS core network.
Separately, Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) has confirmed it will push ahead with its approach to providing voice over LTE using what it calls Fast Track Voice over LTE.
This line of attack, which NSN is alone in backing, steers away from the more widely-accepted VoLGA proposal and is based on the mobile softswitch developments undertaken by Nokia over the past few years. According to Unstrung, Sandro Tavares, marketing manager for converged core at NSN, said that its solution is much more straightforward than adopting the VoLGA approach. "It gets to the objective of providing voice over LTE networks with the same equipment that our customers already have, and [it's] tied to 3GPP standards."
When asked whether NSN would ever join VoLGA if it got enough operator support, Tavares said "It's hard to say. We really believe our solution makes sense for our customers ... [We] would rather not talk about 'ifs' here. Our fellow competitors have decided to propose this solution, but it would be up to the market to decide."
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