Long Term Evolution only a few years away

22 Sep 2008

A future game-changing technology called Long Term Evolution (LTE), which will compete with WiMax for high-speed broadband over wide areas, should be landing in Ireland within the next three years, Vodafone chief executive, Charles Butterworth said.

According to Butterworth, HSDPA will go through a number of stages of development, moving to speeds in excess of 14.4Mbps before LTE arrives on our shores.

In recent weeks, it emerged that the number of broadband subscribers in Ireland has reached one million. The onset of mobile broadband services like HSDPA have been credited with enabling the country to reach this milestone.

Butterworth believes we’re only at the start of a wireless broadband revolution. “The technologies are evolving and we have several iterations of HSDPA to go through before we even get to future technologies like LTE, which is three years away.

“I see constant speed improvements making these networks faster still from 3.6Mbps to 7.2Mbps and soon 14.4Mbps. But while I’m a fan, we have to be very clear that these are contended services and mobile operators have to be careful what propositions they are selling to customers. Average speeds will continue to rise in the years ahead and I’ve no doubt the fact that the customers are getting the higher speeds explains the fantastic growth we’ve been enjoying.”

The mobile world has changed forever and, instead of being superseded by technology, it is in fact more and more central to our lives. “Mobile telephony has become a life necessity as opposed to a luxury for some.

“But as things get tougher with the economy and rising fuel prices, it is key for mobile operators to continue to offer good value. Vodafone has been putting 20pc of unit price reductions into the market.

“We can’t say we’ll be immune from economic issues because we’re a mass-market business. For businesses, we should be helping them reduce the cost of doing business –  whether through home-working or doing away with the fixed line in office.

“Helping customers to be efficient in tough economic times is a role the telecoms industry can play,” Butterworth said.

By John Kennedy

Charles Butterworth will be speaking at the forthcoming TIF annual conference on 21 October next, which takes place at Dublin Castle. For more information go to: www.tif.ie

Pictured: Charles Butterworth, Vodafone chief executive

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