Just scratching the 4G surface
BOSTON – “It seems to be a bit premature to talk about 3G,” said Berge Ayvazian, chief strategy officer for Yankee Group, in opening Mobile Internet World. Especially premature considering wireless operators are still trying to build out and maximize their 3G networks.
He also bemoaned the global financial crisis and the United States’ $700 billion bailout. “What a time to try to introduce 4G, huh?”
And yet, 4G is exactly what the industry is pursuing, whether you look at Xohm’s mobile broadband network introduction in Baltimore last month (story here), the GSMA’s recent mobile broadband branding initiative or the elevation of Long-Term Evolution (LTE) standards-setting.
Ayvazian said each of the operators is jockeying to get in the driving position, where 4G is concerned, so that it may be considered the leader with its customers.
“The 4G wars have just started, but there is still a long way to go,” he said. And although WiMAX has officially launched, it is still a long way from the real 4G, he said. He said the real 4G will be all-IP based, commercial mobile networks based on (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing) OFDM, capable of providing data speeds of more than 100 Mbps.
He said that 4G will be much more than an evolution of the current 3G. It will be a revolution comparable to the introduction of electricity. “When you think about the zillions of devices that are connected to the electrical grid, that is how big 4G will be,” he said.
Later, speakers from two associations discussed how disruptive 4G would be for the incumbents. Joe Lawrence, vice president of marketing for the CDG, said the challenges will be twofold in getting and clearing spectrum, as well as increasing backhaul, which is capex intensive.
Chris Pearson, president of 3G Americas, agreed but said that’s standard business fare for operators. At the end of the day, he said customers just want the key ingredients to their successful mobile experience: devices, applications, performance and coverage.
The one question mark that lurked for speakers and had no easy answer is whether the economy would hold up, and what impact that may have on the rollout of future 4G efforts. Stay tuned.
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