Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) has put a more concerted effort behind its push to commercialize LTE Direct, a device-to-device technology that leverages licensed LTE spectrum and can be used to enable a host of proximity applications without severely impacting device battery life. The vendor recently posted a new PowerPoint presentation heralding the benefits of LTE Direct and also released a video about the technology.
Qualcomm has been pushing the concept of LTE Direct for a few of years and is already engaged in operator trials of the technology. For example, during the 2014 Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, Spain, the vendor announced it was engaging in the first LTE Direct operator trial with Deutsche Telekom in Germany. In addition, Qualcomm claims developers are testing use cases using its LTE Direct Trial software development kit (SDK).
Qualcomm Research is one of several 3GPP participants working to standardize LTE Direct in 3GPP Release 12, which is expected to be completed at the end of this year.
Qualcomm has coined the phrase "digital 6th sense" to describe LTE Direct's proximal discovery platform. On its website, the chipmaker says LTE Direct can be used to discover thousands of devices and their services in the proximity of about 500 meters.
The vision for LTE Direct is that apps would be used to identify a user's interests and then identify relevant services nearby. A handset could be used to advertise a bike for sale, enabling a passerby interested in buying a bike to immediately contact the seller, be that a store or an individual. Or a user might be alerted whenever friends are close by.
According to Qualcomm, LTE Direct can operate in an autonomous and "always-on" mode without drastically affecting device battery life, unlike other proximity solutions, including over-the-top offerings that rely on GPS, Bluetooth Low Energy or Wi-Fi Direct. Further, the technology is touted as being privacy sensitive because devices do not need to reveal their identity or location, thus minimizing privacy barriers.
Qualcomm contends LTE Direct is the type of technology necessary to enable the wireless industry to scale up from today's location-based and proximity beacon solutions.
A major selling point for LTE Direct from the service provider perspective is that it would be an "operator-owned" platform rather than an OTT platform operated by a third party. "LTE Direct uses licensed spectrum, allowing mobile operators to employ it as a way to offer a range of differentiated applications and services to users. It relies on the LTE physical layer to provide a scalable and universal framework for discovery and connecting proximate peers," the company said.
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