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Mobile broadband to leap ahead of fixed-line services?
Saturday 01 December 2007 10:19:41 by John Hunt

The Washington Post has covered news that Verizon Wireless, the second largest mobile network operator in the U.S., is looking to begin trials next year of a technology called LTE (Long-Term Evolution), based upon UMTS release 8. Further still, it states that Vodafone in the UK, part owner of Verizon, are expected to also take part in the trial.

Whilst not ratified as a standard yet, the 3GPP LTE project is looking to improve efficiency and lower costs whilst improving the service available to users. It offers speeds of up to 100Mbps (Megabits per second) downstream and 50Mbps upstream. This is a step up from HSDPA/HSUPA which is currently being rolled out which offers a maximum data rate of 14.4Mbps. Current deployments in the UK see 7.2Mbps in some areas from Vodafone, with other networks to follow with similar speeds next year.

LTE is similar to BT's 21CN in that it aims to move the mobile network over to an all IP based system running voice and data on top. It should bring advantages of low latency (sub 5ms for small IP packets) and fail-over to previous network technologies such as 3G or GSM. It also helps improve compatibility, particularly if taken up both in Europe and the U.S. as hinted at by the Washington Post; eventually negating the need for phones to support a multitude of platforms like existing tri or quad-band handsets.

This does bring forward one clear advantage that mobile network operators have over their fixed-line cousins. There are no costly cables in the way for the 'last mile' of the connection which need maintaining or upgrading to bring out new technologies. Mobile networks use the cheapest medium available, transmitting their signals as waves through the air. This will always allow faster upgrade paths, particularly in a market where mobile phones are seen as a fashion symbol and a large proportion of users get a new phone every 12 to 18 months to stay with the latest trends and technologies.

So what does all this techobabble mean? It means that perhaps if we continue to wait around for our telephone lines to be upgraded to fibre, we will find that the mobile operators jump in first and offer a similar solution that works wherever you are, allowing you to watch High Definition Television (HDTV) on your big screen TV at home and also on the train to work. Perhaps FTTH (fibre to the home) is something that will be defunct by the time it's available on a wide scale. With commercial deployments for LTE looking to be as early as 2010 or 2011, perhaps the mobile operators have already set their lead over fixed-line services in stone.

Comments

Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
quote"LTE is similar to BT's 21CN"
LOL yeah except for the small issue LTE looks like it could be 4 times faster in download terms and almost 50 times quicker in upload terms.
quote"It means that perhaps if we continue to wait around for our telephone lines to be upgraded to fibre, we will find that the mobile operators jump in first and offer a similar solution that works wherever you are"
Id say theres as much chance of that here as BT actually using modern technology for any service.
Posted by herdwick over 9 years ago
"This will always allow faster upgrade paths" maybe, maybe not. Three are taking a fair time to upgrade multiple base stations to their currently advertised offering.

The other challenge of mobile netowrks is the capacity connecting the base stations - this is often point to point wireless relaying between base stations and I wonder what the realsitic bandwidth available is to a given base station.
Posted by Balb0wa over 9 years ago
All when and good having a fast connection, its the amount they charge for usage, like 3,s 1 gig and 3 gig packages, and if you go over, it costs a bomb.
Posted by ToneDeaf over 9 years ago
I do not see 3G development running any faster than ADSL development. Mobile operators still have to pay for the backhaul capacity and when set against revenue per site that is why only a relatively few 3G sites ae 7.2Mbps. Also the more subscribers to the cell then the speed drops. Mobile operators have been talking it up for the past 10 years and have yet to deliver on the original vision!!!
Posted by chrysalis over 9 years ago
FTTH is up to gigabit and possibly even beyond so this is still a far way off and is also likely to have problems with weak signals etc. I would agree this is probably a step ahead over the copper last mile but a replacement for FTTH no.
Posted by c_j_ over 9 years ago
As pointed out already, there's a huge difference between advertised speed (between phone and basestation), and realistic throughput. Throughput is dependent on bandwidth per active customer, and that's going to be a small number until such time as the 3G folks have fibre to their base stations (WiMax? Haha). If they do fibre up all their base stations, it might be a whole lot cheaper than FTTH but someone still needs to pay, and how much of the UK does that cover? And what's their profit plan, they've been miles wrong so far, starting with the licence prices and then most stuff since...
Posted by ToneDeaf over 9 years ago
The majority of Vodafone basestations have fibre to them, but it happens to be BT fibre and they have to pay for each 2Mb trib used, say £2k p.a. per trib. Therefore it still comes down to the economics of users per base station!! But there is a conflict here. The most economic base stations to run will have too many users and therefore a trade off in speed. Oh what a dilema!!
Posted by AndrueC over 9 years ago
The headline rate sounds good but what happens when everyone in the area is trying to watch Eastenders or download the latest stupid video from YouTube?
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
quote"The headline rate sounds good but what happens when everyone in the area is trying to watch Eastenders or download the latest stupid video from YouTube?"
Err absoulutely nothing should happen, a youtube clip is highly compressed and is smaller in size than an average large update download from MS. As for Eastenders and other copyright TV through official means, how quick you get that and the quality will depend on the protocol used to provide it. Youtube stutters more now because your ISP throttles or is overloaded with users.
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