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UK lacks spectrum to support LTE

17 декабря 2009

Telecoms consultant Bengt Nordström late on Tuesday warned that the U.K. currently has insufficient spectrum to support 3G Long Term Evolution (LTE) services.

Nordström's comments came as he shared some of his predictions for 2010, including the possible demise of one of the telecoms industry's major vendors.

"More spectrum is needed to support LTE – the digital dividend is just 30 MHz and normally you would expect to share new airwaves between three to four operators," said Nordström, co-founder of telecoms consultancy Northstream.

He told Total Telecom he expects the march towards LTE will help drive U.K. regulator Ofcom's plans to refarm 2G airwaves for 3G services.

In the U.K.'s 3G auction in 2000 Ofcom divided some 120 MHz of spectrum into 10 MHz and 15 MHz chunks, awarding five licences. However, as Matt Hatton, research director at Analysys Mason, explained to Total Telecom, 3G services can be provided using as little as 5 MHz of bandwidth.

Nordström's comments are particularly relevant this week after Sweden's TeliaSonera on Monday switched on the world's first commercial LTE networks in Stockholm and Oslo.

Meanwhile O2 on Tuesday announced it has successfully trialled LTE services near its U.K. headquarters in Slough, during which peak downlink speeds of 150 Mbps were recorded.

However, Nordström said spectrum requirements are still likely to cause problems.

"LTE spectrum is more fragmented than 2G and 3G. The EU is going to be using the 2,600-MHz band, but this will be invalid in other parts of the world.

For instance, U.S. mobile giant Verizon plans to launch LTE services using airwaves in the 700-MHz band, while in Japan, DoCoMo's planned LTE services will operate in the 1,500-MHz band.

"Verizon is probably the lead operator in the world for LTE at the moment because the magnitude of its rollout is significant, and it's operating in a band that can provide good coverage," commented Nordström.

Vendor consolidation
Nordström said he also expects further consolidation in the global network vendor market to take place in 2010.

Ericsson and Huawei have emerged as the leaders in the mobile network equipment market and it is hard to see how a Nokia Siemens Networks, Alcatel-Lucent or a ZTE could secure third spot by itself, he said.

"The mobile infrastructure market has never been more competitive... I think it is impossible that we will see five vendors at the end of the year," said Nordström.

"You need to have a global reach and the only one that really qualifies is Ericsson, which also has presence where the volumes are. Huawei has earned a lot of respect but it hasn't had a real breakthrough in the U.S., and NSN has lost share in India and China," he said.

He added that Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia Siemens are the two more likely participants in any consolidation, although given that both players have been through protracted mergers, he pointed out that neither company is likely to have the appetite for another larger merger.

"Maybe we will see a situation in 2010 [in which] one player disappears altogether," he suggested.

Источник: Total Telecom

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