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LTE phones may come early

19 февраля 2010

Handheld LTE devices may hit the market earlier than many expect, according to a leading test and certification vendor.

Nigel Wright, Vice President of Product Marketing at Spirent, told Mobile Europe that he expects handheld LTE devices to be available in the first half of 2011 - earlier than many have predicted.

But early availability of LTE phones will not come without problems, he warned. The first is that certification testing for LTE devices will not be in place until the first quarter of 2011. That means there is the risk of devices coming on the market that have not been certificated against agreed standards,and with US regulators watching issues like RF interference very closely the pressures on the device manufacturers is going to be intense.

"With the US LTE band sitting right next to the public safety band, and the harmonic of the band sitting right next to GPS, the radio is going to have to be squeaky clean," Wright warned.

The second issue with a push for early LTE devices is that voice over LTE becomes an immediate priority - and standards for voice over LTE are far from complete. The GSMA put its shoulders to the One Voice initiative this week - forming the VoLTE initiative, and Wright said that he expected Verizon to follow the One Voice path. AT&T, he said, seemed to be more likely to follow a Circuit Switch Fallback path.

The third issue with early device release is that, in theory, you cannot currently enable MIMO at 700MHz in a device with a handset form factor, because there is not enough room in the device for the antennas. So producing a device would necessarily mean some compromise on performance - or not enabling MIMO, thereby negating much of the

Wright, whose company is currently providing performance testing of LTE devices for Verizon and AT&T, said that there are also unresolved issues with LTE roaming. If operators are deploying at 700MHz in the USA, and at 2.1GHz and 2.6Ghz in other markets, then the phones will need to be multi-band to roam, Wright claimed. And there could be up to 15 bands supported in three years, Wright said, to add to the complexity.

A further complicating factor is that there may be more chipset diversity in the LTE market. Many of the OEMs are developing their own LTE chipset programmes, Wright said, in a bid to protect themselves from over-relying on the likes of ST-Ericsson and Qualcomm. This of course introduces further variations in implementation and interpretations of standards - increasing the need for solid test cases.

Wright said that although AT&T and Verizon are being extremely rigorous in their approach to LTE device testing, he expected European operators to follow the existing conformance test approval model for LTE devices.

"We'll see how that works out," he said.

Источник: Total Telecom

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