4G revolution begins as Nokia Siemens ships towards Long Term Evolution

15 Oct 2008

The long-running third generation (3G) saga that saw mobile operators sink billions into licences and networks that are only today delivering via mobile broadband is about to give way to the era of fourth generation (4G), as Nokia Siemens Networks reveals the first equipment shipments.

At the height of the insane hype surrounding 3G in 2001, mobile operators across Europe threw €22bn into licence auctions – only to unsuccessfully ask for the money back a year later when the telecoms downturn struck.

This time round, 4G networks will come in a number of flavours, and jaded financial markets will have no appetite for such tomfoolery.

The predicted battle that Long Term Evolution (LTE) will invoke will take place against other standards such as WiMAX, but already device manufacturers are being cautious. While WiMAX is being championed by chip giant Intel, HP said it has no plans as yet to include WiMAX in its notebooks.

Nokia Siemens Networks today started to provide its customers with LTE-compatible Flexi Multimode Base Station hardware, which offers a smooth path to the future ultra-high-speed wireless broadband. Only a software upgrade is needed to achieve full LTE functionality.

By the end of 2008, Nokia Siemens Networks said it will be delivering the new LTE-ready hardware to more than 10 major mobile operators in Europe, Asia and North America, reinforcing its position as the frontrunner in LTE with a scalable, flat architecture.

Nokia Siemens Networks’ shipments of fully LTE-compatible Flexi Base Station hardware indicates a major milestone on the journey towards LTE technology, which is the next step in mobile network evolution for both the GSM/WCDMA/HSPA and CDMA operators.

LTE networks will transform the user experience, taking mobile broadband services to a new level where browsing, email, video sharing, music downloads and many more applications will be immediately available, without any noticeable delay. This will be enabled by faster response times and improved throughput, with latency – the responsiveness of the network – down to 10-20ms and peak rates of up to 173/58Mbps (downlink/uplink, 20MHz, MIMO).

By evolving its Flexi Multimode Base Station hardware to support LTE, Nokia Siemens Networks provides a futureproofed, easy and cost-efficient path to LTE via a software upgrade. The software upgrade will be available from the second half of 2009.

“LTE promises an exciting and radical transformation of the wireless experience with rich and fast multimedia services of incredible quality,” said Matthias Reiss, head of LTE Radio of Nokia Siemens Networks.

“And with the start of this LTE-compatible hardware, Nokia Siemens Networks promises its customers the smoothest possible migration to LTE. With only a software upgrade needed, the evolution to LTE radio network cannot be easier than this.”

In parallel with the ongoing first shipments of LTE-compatible hardware, Nokia Siemens Networks said it is working with leading operators worldwide to conduct LTE trials in operators’ live network environments.With these trials, the company is gaining valuable experience on the LTE air interface performance in the field, and receives feedback on end-user experience for this new high-performance technology.

Nokia Siemens Networks will use the results of these trials to ensure its products, solutions and planning processes are fully optimised for commercial network rollouts, expected to start in 2010.

Nokia Siemens Networks is already working on the next step of radio evolution called LTE-Advanced, which is further enhancing LTE capabilities towards the data rate of 1Gbps.

By John Kennedy

Pictured: Nokia Siemens Networks head office in Espoo, Finland

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years