LTE Jumps Ahead in the Race to 4G

24 thoughts on “LTE Jumps Ahead in the Race to 4G”

  1. Om,

    Nice article. LTE got ahead the moment Vodafone threw its weight behind it and also suggested that Verizon was going to take it up. Besides, the backing for LTE from most European companies coupled with Qualcomm’s aggressive development activities is also a good sign that this standard will win the 4G race. Remember that UMB is almost Qualcomm’s proprietary technology. Qualcomm also purchased the mobile WiMAX division of TeleCIS last year. The fact that the company has moved full steam with LTE tells a lot.

    I maintain a blog covering mobile wireless value chain. I am currently covering various chipset vendors to build a matrix in collaboration with Sramana Mitra. I have covered Qualcomm, Broadcom, InterDigital and TI so far and have moved on to Marvell now. I have also talked about the various 4G technologies and how it affects the strategies of these companies. You can read my insights from

    Hope my site helps your research. I look forward to your matrix and analysis.

    Vijay Nagarajan

  2. On its 700 mhz conference call last week, the Verizon folks reiterated taht China Mobile is a participant in its LTE testing process (along with Vodafone of course). So I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Chinese market tip toward LTE in due course. India may be a different story, of course.

  3. Migrating legacy networks has never been easy for operators. No matter how much you tweak things, there will always be certain inflexible legacy elements that will limit the potential of a network. Most of the time it makes sense to build a new house rather than renovate an old one. Look at the wireline guys. They have not been able to bridge the narrowband and broadband at all. All such projects have failed. So what we are left with is two parallel networks. Same will happen with the cellular guys implementing LTE. They will end up with seperate wireless data network (which will ultimately consume apps) and narrowband gsm voice network.

  4. Not knowing LTE too much, I’m just wondering with 100 Mbps download, what kind of backhaul would be needed from the basestations to the core network? Would this drive new demands for “fix” broadband e.g., fiber, etc?

  5. What people keep forgetting, LTE (and as Sprint has pointed out and media keeps ignoring) is, cell towers have mostly T1 lines running to them. You need to put the bandwidth 4G requires on something and current T1 lines can’t handle it. Sprints “logistical” problems? Backhaul. Not the one at the CO’s, but the ones from the POP’s to the tower. People keep going off about LTE and how it’s so golden as compaired to Wimax. Don’t forget, in the lab, LTE looks great. But put it out in the REAL WORLD and it will run into the SAME issues wimax is having. It’s going to be no faster then the copper it rides to the pop. It’s going to cost AT&T and VZW big bucks to overcome this, unless they rush to set up microwave links. Again, costly.

  6. To emphasize what Jahangir Raina said, the reason that Verizon, Sprint, KDDI, Korea Telecom, and all the other IS-95/CDMA operators went with CDMA2000 for 3G is that, while UMTS and CDMA2000 are relatively similar in having CDMA air interfaces and bandwidth, CDMA2000 was a very painless upgrade path for the IS-95 operators, with both towers and phones easily backwards compatible since IS-95 was already CDMA. By contrast, while GSM has a lot of nice features like SIM cards (which are put into the standard unlike IS-95), the original GSM TDMA air interface is highly incompatible with all 3G technologies, including UMTS. That’s why the 3G transition was much more painful for GSM operators. IS-95 came out after GSM was developed; the various issues with CDMA air interfaces like multipath interface were thought to be insurmountable from a practical perspective until Qualcomm solved them. That’s why they have those patents, and why they get money even from GSM (for UMTS.)

    The difference is that all the 4G solutions are OFDMA, not CDMA like the 3G solutions. Transitioning to 4G is going to produce compatibility headaches for the operators no matter what they choose. This time, without the CDMA2000 operators having the option of a very painless upgrade, there’s a much greater chance that they’ll go with the more dominant standard.

  7. Om,
    I would also look to NTT DoCoMo for leadership in this arena (no surprise right). At the CTIA show last week, they too showed off a glimpse of LTE (and beyond). They also announced in a press release on March 26 of this year that achieved speeds of 250Mbps for the downlink. The press release can be found here: Also, they are defining LTE as “Super 3G”, and have an even more advanced road map for what they term as 4G. Their press release includes a very nice PDF roadmap that you might find interesting.

  8. Om,

    The WCA Global Development Committee publishes a newsletter that comes ot several times a week and is a good source of info in WIMAX deployments, spectrum and regulatory affairs and other news.

    Here is a link:

    The email newsletter can be subscribed using:

    Hope that is useful,


  9. To add to John Thacker’s comments, I think the effort required from existing GSM operators to get to LTE has been understated as well. If one is a GSM operator (TDMA-based), also with UMTS (CDMA-based) then “migrates” to LTE (OFDMA-based) are the tower headframes going to collapse under the weight of all the different antennas ? I guess the industry is hoping that with so many operators going through the same pain it will be somehow less difficult.

  10. Way too early to call a winner in the 4G sweepstakes (although UMB does look like toast). If it was all about global support then GSM should have stamped out CDMA back in 2002 but it didn’t. If it was just about speeds and feeds then why is the iPhone so popular? Devices and services sell the network, not vice versa. Until we see services, gadgets and pricing for early 4G we don’t have a clue what will eventually emerge, although I guess that WiMax and LTE will co-exist.


    Dan Jones

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