Though Long Term Evolution (LTE) offers cost savings and performance improvements, integrating LTE into existing operations presents challenges for carriers, according to a report from Analysys Mason.
“LTE can provide data at a sixth of the price of basic W-CDMA. In the long term, it may be the only way to profitably manage the increasing demand for data traffic,” says Helen Karapandži?, Mason analyst and co-author of the report.
Incumbent technologies such as W-CDMA, HSPA and GSM will have a role to play in the foreseeable future. Among the challenges for operators is integrating LTE into their existing access infrastructure to make the most of the 4G technology.
Most LTE deployments likely will begin in 2010, though the bulk of deployments will come a few years out. Technological advancements will accelerate growth in wireless data traffic, which is expected to increase tenfold by 2010.
Meanwhile, wireless data traffic also will grow on mobile WiMAX, another 4G player. WiMAX has growth opportunities beyond traditional mobile operator networks, such as data-centric deployments in developed and developing regions, states a report from ABI Research.
“To ignore a growth market in a down economy would be a mistake,” says ABI Research principal analyst Philip Solis. WiMAX is ahead of LTE as far as deployments and has already been rolled out in some U.S. markets. ABI expects growth to be “more modest” for WiMAX base stations in 2009, with increased expansion in 2010.
Many infrastructure vendors support both competing technologies. Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia Siemens Networks both have products for WiMAX and LTE. Though it is commonly perceived that Alcatel-Lucent has backed off from WiMAX, it ranked first in 2008 market share for mobile WiMAX base station deployments, followed by Alvarion, Motorola and Samsung, Solis says.
The research firm found that Alcatel-Lucent views WiMAX as more of a wireless broadband solution than a fully mobile wireless solution, and that A-L moved research and development spending toward LTE since WiMAX is already productized. ABI predicts that many WiMAX deployments will start with fixed and portable services, and will possibly evolve to mobile use down the line.