While summer is normally a time when people take vacations and major industry announcements are in a lull, we continue to have our plates full researching the rapid pace of technology, product, merger and acquisition activity, and major deployments that proceed at a rapid pace. If there is a second dip recession, it provides little opportunity for the industry to take a breather.
Momentum has accelerated and expectations firmed on a few notable fronts:
- Both 3GPP and IEEE have moved rapidly to develop and submit standards according to the requirements of the International Telecommunications Union for IMT-Advanced, with strong reliance on advanced wireless architecture methods using increasingly higher order MIMO to achieve needed levels of bandwidth performance while reducing costs of deployment.
- The dramatic growth in use and traffic stimulated by Apple iPhone and Android phones, including Sprint/Clearwire's HTC Evo 4G, and a growing number of WRAN to WiFi mobile hotspot router devices, has prepared the stage for entry of the first LTE mobile devices.
- Major market deployments of LTE are said to be on schedule:
--Verizon sticks to their guns for taking the wraps off a number of major metropolitan markets by the end of the year, with indication that a launch may take place as early as Nov. 15. While Verizon has remained mum on specifics of devices beyond USB dongles, we continue to be optimistic that it will launch a few phones by December.
--MetroPCS has been more forthcoming about their plans: Braxton Carter, MetroPCS Executive VP CFO, said they expect to beat Verizon with a launch within weeks that will feature an LTE/EVDO phone from Samsung branded the "Craft," followed by additional phones, pads and laptop devices throughout 2011. On further discussion, Carter explained that MetroPCS is reluctant to offer WiFi hotspot, USB dongles or laptop devices, as these would compromise its focus on smartphones that has been successful in gaining market share. MetroPCS said they are actively pursuing opportunities to gain access to more spectrum, including partnership arrangements.
--In the case (pun intended) of the Samsung Craft, not a lot can be judged from the cover. Much of the success, of course, will depend on the software and pricing of the inclusive voice and data plans. MetroPCS said they are also working aggressively to provide video services with their sole supplier, Ericsson, eager to show its industry-leading capabilities. We have unearthed that the major reason for early availability of the Craft is that the SoCs and device are both sourced from Samsung, which also leverages experience gained in 3.5G and WiMAX devices.
--While Verizon has held back details of phone device availability coincident with the roll out, we have to believe that MetroPCS will not be alone at the party dancing with the Samsung Craft.
--Clearwire and Sprint have reiterated their stance as being open to deployment of LTE, saying that they will do evaluations of vendors for both FDD and TDD versions.
A major trend in wireless technology and deployments has developed: The SDWN, Smart Distributed WBB Network, which includes microcell architecture devices with SONs capabilities, has come from the computer design screens to being actively deployed in HSPA and LTE networks. We will have more on this in an upcoming article.
For more information, take a look at Maravedis' new 4G Gear Infrastructure Report. MARAVEDIS is a leading analyst firm focusing on disruptive technologies including smart networks using WiMAX, IEEE, and 3GPP/LTE. Maravedis works with system and service providers, vendors, regulators, and institutional investors. Learn more at www.maravedis-bwa.com.