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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Qualcomm Unveils LTE Plans for India

Qualcomm Inc. shook up the mobile broadband market today with plans to bid for 2.3GHz spectrum in the upcoming auction in India. If successful, the company plans to introduce TD-LTE technology into the Indian market with the help of local network operator partners. (See India Watch: The Road to 3G and Qualcomm to Bid for Indian LTE Spectrum.)

The move is interesting on many levels if Qualcomm is successful, though there are many hurdles for the company to leap before it can achieve its aims.

The main potential impact of this move is that it could help create a global market for TD-LTE technology, which, currently, has found significant support only in China -- China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE: CHL), specifically. (See Motorola's Shanghai Hope and China Mobile Fast-Tracks TD-LTE .)

A new face for 2.3GHz in India
If Qualcomm is successful, it would provide a whole new dimension to the Indian mobile market, and likely force the current wireless service providers, such as Bharti Airtel Ltd. (Mumbai: BHARTIARTL), Reliance Communications Ltd. , Tata Teleservices Ltd. , and Vodafone Essar , to rethink their strategies.

Qualcomm plans to bid for spectrum in the BWA (broadband wireless access) auction, where an unpaired slot of 20MHz in the 2.3GHz band is available in each of India's service circles. (See A Guide to India's Telecom Market to find out more about the circles, including a map.)

Until now, the BWA spectrum had been considered of interest to WiMax service providers: Bringing TD-LTE into the equation provides a whole new slant on what could be done with that spectrum, because the technology is capable, theoretically, of delivering downlink connections of 100 Mbit/s or more. Having such capabilities would enhance the potential for broadband service uptake in India, something the country's government is keen to promote.

Two slots of 20MHz spectrum are available in each circle in the 2.3GHz band. An additional slot has already been reserved in each circle for the state-owned carriers, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd. (MTNL) .

Qualcomm won LTE Spectrum in India

Qualcomm has won provisional spectrum in four regions in India following an auction.

Unpaired spectrum in the 2.3 GHz band in Delhi, Mumbai, Haryana and Kerala is more or less now in the ownership of the company, pending approval of the Indian government. The US company says it now plans to roll out a Long-Term Evolution (LTE) network, complementing existing 3G HSPA and EV-DO mobile phone networks in the regions.

Qualcomm will soon announce Indian partners for the roll-out, in compliance with India's Foreign Direct Investment regulations. Apparently Qualcomm's goal is to cooperate with one or more operators already using either HSPA or EV-DO in a joint venture to build an LTE network. It would leave the venture as soon as the network has been implemented. The 20 MHz spectrum slot will cost Qualcomm US$1,04 billion, no amount was mentioned concerning the planned network venture.

"Our bidding objective was to secure an enabling role in the continued success of Indian operators with 3G and beyond, and we are extremely gratified we met that objective. With its ecosystem partners, Qualcomm will now foster the deployment of LTE, so Indian consumers can enjoy the benefits of 3G now and 3G plus LTE in the future", stated Kanwalinder Singh, president of Qualcomm India and South Asia.

Qualcomm's plans can be seen as another nail in WiMax's coffin. Analysts at WiseHarbor recently predicted LTE will rule the world by 2020 and replicate the success of GSM and CDMA, whereas WiMax is set to go the path of dinosaurs. Simply put, LTE is the 4G mobile phone standard and successor of UMTS and WCDMA, not WiMax, despite companies involved with WiMax trying to pitch it as 4G.

Friday, November 19, 2010

3GPP Long Term Evolution - LTE

3GPP Long Term Evolution (LTE), is the latest standard in the mobile network technology tree that produced the GSM/EDGE and UMTS/HSxPA network technologies. It is a project of the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), operating under a name trademarked by one of the associations within the partnership, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute.

The current generation of mobile telecommunication networks are collectively known as 3G (for "third generation"). Although LTE is often marketed as 4G, first-release LTE is a 3.9G technology since it does not fully comply with the IMT Advanced 4G requirements. The pre-4G standard is a step toward LTE Advanced, a 4th generation standard (4G) of radio technologies designed to increase the capacity and speed of mobile telephone networks. LTE Advanced is backwards compatible with LTE and uses the same frequency bands, while LTE is not backwards compatible with 3G systems.

MetroPCS, Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility in the United States and several worldwide carriers announced plans, beginning in 2009, to convert their networks to LTE. The world's first publicly available LTE-service was opened by TeliaSonera in the two Scandinavian capitals Stockholm and Oslo on the 14th of December 2009. LTE is a set of enhancements to the Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) which was introduced in 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) Release 8. Much of 3GPP Release 8 focuses on adopting 4G mobile communication's technology, including an all-IP flat networking architecture. On August 18, 2009, the European Commission announced it will invest a total of €18 million into researching the deployment of LTE and the certified 4G system LTE Advanced.

While it is commonly seen as a mobile telephone or common carrier development, LTE is also endorsed by public safety agencies in the US as the preferred technology for the new 700 MHz public-safety radio band. Agencies in some areas have filed for waivers hoping to use the 700 MHz spectrum with other technologies in advance of the adoption of a nationwide standard.


The LTE specification provides downlink peak rates of at least 100 Mbit/s, an uplink of at least 50 Mbit/s and RAN round-trip times of less than 10 ms. LTE supports scalable carrier bandwidths, from 1.4 MHz to 20 MHz and supports both frequency division duplexing (FDD) and time division duplexing (TDD).

Part of the LTE standard is the System Architecture Evolution, a flat IP-based network architecture designed to replace the GPRS Core Network and ensure support for, and mobility between, some legacy or non-3GPP systems, for example GPRS and WiMax respectively.

The main advantages with LTE are high throughput, low latency, plug and play, FDD and TDD in the same platform, an improved end-user experience and a simple architecture resulting in low operating costs. LTE will also support seamless passing to cell towers with older network technology such as GSM, cdmaOne, UMTS, and CDMA2000. The next step for LTE evolution is LTE Advanced and is currently being standardized in 3GPP Release 10.


Much of the standard addresses upgrading 3G UMTS to 4G mobile communications technology, which is essentially a mobile broadband system with enhanced multimedia services built on top.

The standard includes:

* Peak download rates of 326.4 Mbit/s for 4x4 antennae, and 172.8 Mbit/s for 2x2 antennae (utilizing 20 MHz of spectrum).
* Peak upload rates of 86.4 Mbit/s for every 20 MHz of spectrum using a single antenna.
* Five different terminal classes have been defined from a voice centric class up to a high end terminal that supports the peak data rates. All terminals will be able to process 20 MHz bandwidth.
* At least 200 active users in every 5 MHz cell. (Specifically, 200 active data clients)
* Sub-5 ms latency for small IP packets
* Increased spectrum flexibility, with supported spectrum slices as small as 1.4 MHz and as large as 20 MHz (W-CDMA requires 5 MHz slices, leading to some problems with roll-outs of the technology in countries where 5 MHz is a commonly allocated amount of spectrum, and is frequently already in use with legacy standards such as 2G GSM and cdmaOne.) Limiting sizes to 5 MHz also limited the amount of bandwidth per handset
* In the 900 MHz frequency band to be used in rural areas, supporting an optimal cell size of 5 km, 30 km sizes with reasonable performance, and up to 100 km cell sizes supported with acceptable performance. In city and urban areas, higher frequency bands (such as 2.6 GHz in EU) are used to support high speed mobile broadband. In this case, cell sizes may be 1 km or even less.
* Good support for mobility. High performance mobile data is possible at speeds of up to 350 km/h, or even up to 500 km/h, depending on the frequency band used.
* Co-existence with legacy standards (users can transparently start a call or transfer of data in an area using an LTE standard, and, should coverage be unavailable, continue the operation without any action on their part using GSM/GPRS or W-CDMA-based UMTS or even 3GPP2 networks such as cdmaOne or CDMA2000)
* Support for MBSFN (Multicast Broadcast Single Frequency Network). This feature can deliver services such as Mobile TV using the LTE infrastructure, and is a competitor for DVB-H-based TV broadcast.

A large amount of the work is aimed at simplifying the architecture of the system, as it transits from the existing UMTS circuit + packet switching combined network, to an all-IP flat architecture system.

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