4G to Overtake 3G services in India

Long-Term Evolution (LTE) standardised by the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) has emerged as the next generation wireless technology that will lead the growth of mobile broadband services later in this decade.

PASS OVER 3G, the Fourth Generation mobile phone technology, better known as Long Term Evolution (LTE) is already here. “It is not why LTE, but when and how?” says Telecom Additional Secretary Subodh Kumar.

LTE standardised by the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) has emerged as the next generation wireless technology that will lead the growth of mobile broadband services later in this decade. Its adoption by service providers around the world has the potential to generate economies of scale unprecedented by any previous generation of wireless networking technology as it becomes the universal 4G mobile platform used by both GSM and CDMA service providers, the technology experts claimed at India’s first conference on LTE, LTE INDIA 2010.

“Quite a lot of spectrum for this is possibily available for this purpose” Subodh Kumar told at LTE India 2010 today. “If it is not now, certainly later” he added discussing different bands in which Fourth Generation technology could improve upon the customer richness of 3G and reduce costs for the 3G operators. “It is the leading star for the next generation when high speed Internet would become pervasive narrowing the digital divide” claimed Shashi Dharan, managing director of Bharat Exhibitions, the orgnisers of the conference.

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The Fourth Generation is on offer globally by 64 telecom service providers in 31 countries, said Mr. Adrian Scrase, head of Mobile Competence Centre of the 3G Partnership Project(3GPP). Most of them are the largest in the world, like Horizon of US and China Mobile. Some 22 LTE based networks would be operational by the end of this year, he added. “Why should India be different?” was the question he proposed.

How LTE would serve the mobile telecom industry was defined at the conference. Also there should be no apprehension for the 3G operators who have offered in this country Rs 70,000 crores for the 3G spectrum. “3G is part of the Fourth Generation” that would subserve 3G also, said Abhay Savargaonkar, senior vice-president, 3G networks, Bharti Airtel. It improves richness of customer experience, reduces cost per megabit and also increases average revenue per user for the operator. For customes also it would bring down cost per bit for heavy users. It would be essential as the “on demand culture” was spreading fast. There were 1.5 billion Apple users, 100 billion You Tube customers, 245 billion Yahoo fans and 413 million Google key-ins at any moment and this was spreading fast- that gave an idea of the bandwidth that would be needed in future. LTE provided the answer.

LTE would enable reuse of 2G/3G spectrum promoting efficient roll out and reduce costs by more than 50 per cent for 3G networks.. It would also reduce latency by a factor of 2 to 3 and enable networks to be optimized for efficient roll-out, Mr. Savargaonkar said. Due to all round advantages for the user, operator and equipment provider, the “chase for LTE is on” he added.

“LTE is shaping the future” according to Mr.Vineet Agarwal, head of business development, Nokia Siemens Networks. How that future would appear, could be seen from the projection that by 2015, 6.3 billion people will be downloading digital books every day, 50 per cent on laptops and the other 50 per cent on small devices like mobile phones. The demand on laptop capacity would go up by 1000 per cent and on small devices by 10,000 per cent. LTE would enable a 1GB file to be downloaded in your laptop quickly or upload a 500 MB file is less than minute through your mobile device or regular monitoring of health condition and send updates to your doctor’s monitoring system. “The average bandwidth per subscriber is expected to grow more than ten fold with LTE over 3G networks”, he said.

Nokia-Siemens executive claimed that the networks for LTE made by his company would need 70 per cent less hardware, generate 55 per cent in energy savings, 25 per cent less site costs and boosts the service experience. Dr. Sandeep Sibal, country manager of mobile technology company Qualcomm India, pointed out that LTE would be”future proofing” 3G networks and that 3G eco system was “committed to LTE”.

“It is right time for LTE in India” according to Anil Tandon, CTO, Idea Cellular. However, he cautioned that though equipment might be available, “developing the eco-system would take time.” One reason was that in India voice was the dominant use in mobile phones, in Europe it was data. “The shift from voice to data will take time” he added. “You cannot skip a generation” he told the LTE fans. “It would take next four to five years for the right eco-system for LTE to develop.” The mass market for data was a basic requirement for LTE to be profitable. LTE would be very useful in a country like India where spectrum is a very scarce resource. “A strong lead from India is needed for most efficient spectrum use like 900 MHz band re-farming,” he underlined. [pr]

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