Vendors: There will be two 4Gs

The heads of the world's three largest mobile infrastructure vendors, Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson and Nortel, tackled the topic de jour for the mobile industry during yesterday's keynote address: 4G.

In a panel moderated by CTIA Chairman and Verizon President and CEO Lowell McAdam, the vendor executives noted that unlike previous iterations of technology, 4G is actually being driven by carriers themselves as the demand for wireless broadband services grows.

"Operators are pushing us to go faster with 4G," said Mike Zafirovsky, CEO of Nortel. "It's definitely a different environment."

That sentiment was echoed by Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin earlier in the morning when he said the global operator is making mobile broadband a priority. Members of the panel also reacted to Sarin's suggestion that LTE should be the 4G standard and WiMAX should become a component of that.

"Alcatel-Lucent does have an aspiration to have a global standard because there are some real positives," noted Patricia Russo, CEO of Alcatel-Lucent. "In WiMAX there are specific applications with uses based on spectrum and business models. The underlying technologies are similar in terms of radio access and all IP, but I think we are going to see a co-existence of some of these choices for some time."

Ericsson, which has stayed out of the mobile WiMAX market to date, prefers one standard. Carl-Henric Svanberg, CEO of Ericsson, said "in a perfect world it would be better for our resources to have one standard, but also different standards have pushed each other. But now we have a world where 85 percent of the world is on the GSM/WCDMA path and is poised to dominate the world going forward."-Lynnette