GSM Association aims to create one big happy family

Remember those good old days when the CDMA Development Group and the GSM Association were at war over 3G? The CDMA camp favored CDMA2000, while the GSM camp wouldn't budge from W-CDMA. It was a big political fight that was fun to write about.

Now enter the era of 4G, and things appear to be tipping in favor of Long Term Evolution (LTE)--the 4G plan for GSM and WCDMA operators--and the GSM Association is seizing the opportunity to be the one trade association that represents everyone.

Last week during the Mobile World Congress (no longer call 3GSM World Congress), Chairman Craig Ehrlich said there was a need for a shared view on technologies and convergence models within mobile companies because the industry had become more services-oriented.

"We need to be agnostic about the precise technologies being used--or not used--at the radio access layer," Ehrlich was quoted as saying in "For some operators, for example, WiMAX may be a threat. For others it may be an opportunity. Irrespective of these individual considerations the GSMA needs to embrace the entire constituency, including CDMA operators."

Ehrlich even said that CDMA carriers would have representation at the GSM Association inside a year. No doubt CDMA operator Verizon will be involved since it announced it will be deploying LTE as its 4G standard to align itself with partner Vodafone.

With this new openness, the GSM Association is effectively helping to put the final nail in Ultra Mobile Broadband (UMB), the 4G path for CDMA, by giving CDMA operators a home and a voice--whether they choose LTE or WiMAX, which some are doing. Moreover, the WiMAX vs. LTE debate looks to be abating as the two technologies are initially appealing to operators with different spectrum holdings and launch plans. And Vodafone Chairman Arun Sarin suggested last week that that WiMAX could find a place within the LTE standard. Of course, that is a suggestion the WiMAX community scoffs at.

Could the operator industry actually become one big happy family?--Lynnette