LTE:Technology & Business Drivers
What is LTE?
Fourth generation wireless technologies offer much higher data speeds, much lower latency, more sophisticated Quality-of-Service, lower cost per bit, and simpler/less expensive/more robust network architectures. LTE, Long Term Evolution, is a fourth-generation wireless technology.
Mobile data traffic is outstripping voice traffic. The new digital consumers – armed with an array of mobile devices – are driving this phenomenon, which is seeing data traffic overtake not just voice, but also approach DSL usage, as users make increasing use of the same applications on both fixed and wireless networks.
Demand for bandwidth continues to grow while this is not reflected in additional revenues with HSPA and HSPA+ technologies struggling to keep pace.
It is increasingly evident that the need for a new technology is imminent. Seizing the profitable opportunities resulting from this boom in mobile data depends on having an infrastructure in place that can scale with total cost of ownership (TCO).
Long Term Evolution (LTE) enables operators to achieve the necessary throughputs, in some cases offer an alternative to their DSL service, and add crucial premium value through mobility. The evolution in access infrastructure in Africa is just the beginning. The real challenge for operators will lie in the transformation of operations and business models. To successfully deliver what digital consumers are asking for, it is fundamental that operators move their focus from selling voice minutes to selling data services – where the future lies.
Goals of LTE
- Reduce operating expenses (OPEX) and capital expenditures (CAPEX)
- Dramatically increase data speeds and spectral density compare to 3G technologies
- Substantially reduce latency, to provide superior voice-over IP and other latency-dependent services
- Flatten the network architecture so only two node types (base stations and gateways) are involved, simplifying management and dimensioning
- Provide a high degree of automatic configuration for the network a high degree of automatic configuration.
- Optimize interworking between CDMA and LTE-SAE so CDMA operators can benefit from huge economies of scale and global chipset volumes
Higher Spectral Efficiency: with a new radio interface based on Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing Access (OFDMA) for downlink;
All-IP Network: which significantly reduces the cost and complexities of the transport network;
Self Organizing Network (SON): the SON capabilities of LTE regroup a set of self-configuration, self-optimization, self-healing, and energy-saving features that significantly reduce the OPEX costs of an LTE network;
Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO): although not specific to LTE, MIMO is a mandatory feature in LTE increasing the average data rate even further;
High Spectrum Flexibility and Scalability: from 1.4, 2.5, 5, 10, 15, to 20 MHz (and further with advanced-LTE) with both paired and unpaired spectrum arrangements;
Higher Peak Data Rates: 100 Mbps Downlink, 50 Mbps Uplink (with 20 MHz spectrum);
Lower Latency: < 5 msec, by flattening the network and reducing the number of network elements in the access to only one (i.e. eNodeB); PAGE 2 C ONFIDENTIAL BriskWave Consulting
Network Sharing: LTE encompasses mandatory features, both on the network-side and the device-side to support network sharing in a way that is completely transparent to the end-users. Shared network partners can substantially reduce both their CAPEX and OPEX costs while still competing on services, tariffs, and devices;
Lower costs per bits with the higher spectral efficiency, the all-IP network, the SON, and the network sharing capabilities of LTE;
Improved User Quality of Experience with reduced latency and higher data rate; and
Monetizing the network: through the Policy and Changing Rules Function (PCRF), LTE opens up many more intelligent traffic management and charging options for carriers.
Support for Voice: LTE being a data-optimized and data-focused technology, it has relegated voice to a simple data application with no special status. Carriers looking for standard-based LTE networks have three options with regards to voice: no native support for voice i.e. either no voice offering at all or possibly an “over-the-top” voice service established through a pure data connection; the Circuit-Switched Fallback (CSFB) option where all voice calls are handed-over to the 3G network; and an IMS-based solution. Each of these options has significant impacts and ramifications on the carrier’s overall LTE strategy.
Spectrum Harmonization: LTE has been adopted by both 3GPP and 3GPP2 and is therefore on the evolution path of both the UMTS/HSPA and CDMA technologies, each of them bringing:
1. their own set of targeted frequency bands in which LTE will be deployed; and
2. their own set of legacy standards and frequency bands to interwork with.
For equipment vendors, but particularly for device makers looking at producing a “multi mode multi-band global device”, supporting all the possible combinations of 2G/3G and LTE bands in a cost-effective manner is a major challenge. For carriers, it is crucial to understand when and how their required combination(s) of technologies and bands will be supported.
Overview of the device and network LTE ecosystem in terms of focus & positioning, roadmap, availability of standard and non-standard features, strengths & weaknesses, and others. On the device side, LTE will witness the explosion of different form factors of data-centric devices from smartphones, to data cards, USB dongles, netbooks, tablets, home routers, and others.
Overview of the current state of LTE deployments around the globe and the different marketing and technology strategies taken on by the early-adopters.