LTE is coming – 4G mobile services to be launched in 2010 and 2011

6 Mar 2009

Twenty-six mobile operators, including Hutchison’s 3 operation in Ireland, have committed to deploy LTE networks in the next two years. These will provide consumers with up to 48Mbps broadband, according to the Global Mobile Supplier’s Association.

Business users and consumers can today browse the internet or send and receive emails using HSPA-enabled notebooks, or using HSPA modems including USB dongles, as well as send and receive video or music using their 3G/HSPA phones.

Several operators are upgrading their networks this year with evolved HSPA (HSPA+) technology using 64 QAM (Quadrature amplitude modulation) modulation, enabling up to 21Mbps downlink peak data speeds.

Combining with 2×2 MIMO (multiple-input and multiple-output) will mean 42Mbps is a future step when devices supporting these speeds come to market.

LTE will deliver significant further capacity, data-rate speed and throughput enhancements, and reduced latency, supporting new services and features which require higher levels of capability and performance.

LTE is the next step in the user experience that will further enhance more demanding applications such as interactive TV, mobile video blogging, advanced games and professional services.

LTE can be deployed using existing 2G and 3G system spectrum, as well as using new spectrum, such as 2.6GHz, which is currently being auctioned in many parts of the world. It can also be deployed using the 700MHz band, which was auctioned as part of the digital dividend, a trend which began in the US.

There is strong interest in opportunities arising from the digital dividend, particularly for the UHF spectrum, including the 790-862MHz band in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, as well as the 692-806MHz band in the Americas.

LTE is also the next-generation mobile broadband system of choice for many CDMA (Code division multiple access) operators, particularly the leading players.

Aside from the Global Mobile Suppliers Association’s (GSMA) confirmation list, which confirms the 26 operators committed to LTE, Meteor in Ireland – which launched its 14.4Mbps 3G broadband service just this week – told that its Ericsson-based 3G network will be LTE-ready, with just a software upgrade required to bring services on stream.

According to the company’s chief operations officer Brendan Lynch, later this year, the company will be trialling 21Mbps broadband based on HSPA+.

Lynch also said the company is interested in the digital dividend rollout in Ireland, and has particular plans around the use of 2G spectrum in the 790-862MHz band.

According to the GSMA’s list, Hutchison’s 3 operation in Ireland plans to launch its LTE service in 2011.

The list also includes Verizon, MetroPCS, CenturyTel, Aircell, Cox and AT&T Mobility in the US, which aim to launch their LTE services in 2010 and 2011; NTT DoCoMo and KDDI in Japan, which aim to launch LTE in 2010; T-Mobile in Germany and Orange in France, which will launch in 2011; and TeliaSonera in Norway and Sweden, which will launch in 2010.

China Mobile and China Telecom will launch their LTE services in 2011 and 2012.

By John Kennedy