Industry will be ready for LTE

A major new report from the UMTS Forum presents a positive picture of LTE’s transformation of the global market for mobile broadband.

Offering major enhancements in speed, capacity and support for new services, LTE will dominate the global market for mobile broadband over the next few years, according to the report. Designed for all-IP traffic, LTE supports a flatter, more efficient network architecture that allows operators to reduce their long term CAPEX and OPEX. In parallel with this, LTE allows operators to deliver a more compelling, service rich mobile broadband user experience for consumers and business customers alike.

The lower latency and higher capacity access inherent in LTE will reduce functional delays and render a wide range of applications and services more accessible. According to Ovum’s survey of currently active 3G users undertaken for this report (28% use mobile broadband as their exclusive means of consumer broadband access), LTE will stimulate the greatest growth in demand for video and media services (35% to 40%).

However it is access to email, web browsing, online shopping and social networking that will be the most used consumer services, with usage growth of 15% to 25%. This growth is expected within one to two years of users moving to LTE, as existing broadband contracts expire. It’s also to be expected that the base of mobile broadband users will increase as more consumers switch from 2G to LTE in line with standard adoption cycles.

Location-based (GPS-linked) and in-car services are also seen as major application areas that end users will find attractive. Broadband users are demanding increasingly higher bandwidths to access media-rich content. The primary demand for bandwidth is not just from music and video downloads. Newspapers, blogs and social networking sites are increasingly media-rich: all these benefit from being accessed through higher speed and lower latency connections.

Devices will become more complex, some with application-specific form factors which vendors will have to understand and develop. New devices will need greater processing capability to deal with video processing and applications. They will also need larger screens supporting a clean, intuitive, multi-touch interface. Other requisites include multi-standard and multi-frequency band operation to support roaming and increase coverage area; multiple antennas; and improved battery life.

The report, titled LTE Mobile Broadband Ecosystem: the Global Opportunity, and produced by global consulting firm Ovum with inputs from UMTS Forum project team members, offers detailed analysis and insight into key issues shaping tomorrow’s mobile broadband ecosystem.

The report confirms widespread commitment and co-ordination across the industry, with most leading mobile network operators planning to deploy LTE.

Many major operators have already declared their intent to deploy LTE as the ultimate stage of 3G Evolution. This will allow them to take advantage of performance improvements in the radio access network and the service and operational benefits of an all-IP core network.

In the longer term, LTE, together with major business transformation by operators, will provide an environment that allows capital and operational cost reductions in an increasingly competitive market. All major systems vendors have LTE product roadmaps, and these companies are engaged in technology trials in line with their market and company strategies. LTE standards are already being implemented by chipset vendors, and early pre-standard chipsets and devices are being used in interoperability and performance trials. The report confirms that these initiatives are benefiting from strong cross industry support.

The study is based on over 30 interviews by Ovum with operators, vendors, regulators and standards bodies, plus end user research with 550 respondents in the US, Korea, Japan, Germany, France, Italy, the UK and Spain. It considers both consumer and enterprise market segments, as well as vertical markets that will benefit from the deployment of LTE.