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Trying to create a united future

07 марта 2008

In Barcelona last month, the world’s leading makers of telecoms equipment were asked to assist with trials that could pave the way to a handset capable of operating anywhere in the world.

Vodafone, Verizon Wireless and China Mobile convened a meeting at the Mobile World Congress, the telecoms industry conference, about Long Term Evolution, a mobile technology that could become the leading wireless broadband facilitator of the future.

Trying to create a united futureMakers of mobile networks, chipsets and handsets were asked to help with developing a device that can operate on the two expected versions of LTE.

Vodafone and Verizon Wireless are pursuing their interest in LTE FDD, or Frequency Division Duplex.

Under LTE FDD, different slices of radio spectrum are used for inward and outward voice and data traffic. It is regarded as a successor to the third-generation mobile technologies called W-CDMA, used by Vodafone, and CDMA 2000, used by Verizon Wireless.

China Mobile, however, is pursuing LTE TDD, or Time Division Duplex, where the same chunk of spectrum is used for inward and outward traffic. It is seen as a successor to TD-SCDMA, the much- delayed 3G mobile technology that China Mobile is expected to roll out this year.

If a handset can be designed that will operate on both LTE FDD and LTE TDD, it opens up the prospect of a ubiquitous fourth- generation mobile technology that allows people to use mobiles at home and abroad.

The list of those involved in the trials is impressive and underlines how LTE could be an enormous boon for equipment makers.

They include makers of networks such as Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent, which both issued profit warnings last year, plus Nokia Siemens Networks.

The established handset makers, led by Nokia, LG, Motorola and Sony Ericsson are all involved, plus new device manufacturers such as Apple.

Chinese equipment makers, led by Huawei, which are giving their western rivals a competitive headache, are also participating.

Professor Michael Walker, Vodafone’s research and development director, said on Wednesday the trials would, among other things, focus on developing a chipset that could work on LTE FDD and LTE TDD.

He added the results of the trials would be shared among the participants. “That is something the world has never done before,” Prof Walker said.

LTE has been dubbed 4G because it should be a step change for the wireless internet.

3G mobile technology in Europe currently supports download speeds of about 3.6 megabits per second, but in some cities it is increasing to 7.2 mbps, which should provide an experience similar to fixed-line broadband.

Before the end of the decade 3G could enable speeds of close to 30 mbps in Europe, but LTE should take things to another level. Speeds could rise to at least 50mbps and possibly beyond 100mbps.

As a mobile operator with ambitions to expand overseas, China Mobile has a strong interest in promoting convergence between LTE FDD and LTE TDD. Chinese users of TD-SCDMA mobiles initially will be only able to use 2G networks when abroad.

However, it is unclear how far the Chinese government, which controls China Mobile, would be willing to compromise on convergence if it means a minor role for Chinese technology in LTE.

China is determined to play a more significant role in future telecoms technology. Beijing officials see independent technology development both as a matter of long-term national security and a way of reducing the burden of patent royalties on Chinese companies.

Chen Shanzhi, vice-president of Datang Telecom Technology Holding, the state-owned company that has led China’s development of TD-SCDMA, expressed his scepticism about possible convergence between post- 3G wireless technologies.

Источник: Financial Times

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