Not so long ago LTE related news at MWC used to be something of a stand-out feature, but with the technology now mainstream in many leading markets round the world it’s now mainstream. Nevertheless there was still plenty of interesting LTE related things happening.
News wise there was an announcement from vendor Ericsson that it was still the number one in 4G and highlighted a major infrastructure deal with Telefonica UK, which operates under the brand O2. O2 has won 2x 10MHz of 800MHz spectrum, and has the taken on the UK regulator Ofcom’s requirement that it provide 98 per cent coverage of 4G in the country by 2017. Which gives Ericsson lots to do.
Small cells are going to soon play an increasingly important part of the LTE landscape. At MWC Aricent and Mindspeed announced that they have joined forces to create a small cell reference design. It features the Transcede T3300 Baseband Processor that supports 20MHz LTE FDD and throughput up to 150Mbps.
Sequans announced its LTE-Advanced chip: the SQN3220. This is part of Sequans’s Cassiopeia platform and adheres to Release 10 of 3GPP specifications, and as such meets the requirements to be considered ‘true’ 4G by the 3GPP.
On the device side Novatel Wireless, the company that introduced the original wireless hotspot device announced the Mifi 2. it features a funky touch-screen display and it will launch first in Canada on Bell’s 4G LTE network in March where it will be known as the Mifi Liberate. Having recently had to use the original, very dated, unit, a screen that enables you to see what it’s doing easily would be much appreciated especially as claims an 11 hour battery life.
Huawei launched a global flagship phone the Ascend P2. As an A.N Other flagship Android phone it’s not that interesting really, but what is interesting is that according to Huawei it can support speeds of up to 150Mbit/s, which makes it faster than other major LTE phones such as the iPhone 5 and the Galaxy SIII. That said, you’d have to have that whole base station to yourself to get that kind of speed and if you do, you’d be spoiling it for everybody else. The other downside is that if that does that person would be pretty easy to spot – they’d be the ones holding the Huawei Ascend P2. How to win friends etc…
In terms of future technology SK Telecom, the South Korean operator and one of the world leaders for LTE demonstrated LTE Advanced at the show. It used carrier aggregation techniques to reach speeds double that of current LTE, which is impressive. Unless you’re already using an Huawei Ascend P2 of course.
TD-LTE also seemed to gain real traction at MWC this year, showing that it is a technology that will be a force to be reckoned with. The GTI summit, which took place at MWC was packed out and there were keynote speech from members Bharti Airtel, Clearwire, China Mobile and the GSMA. Notably on the handset side there was support announced by Samsung and Nokia as well as from chip vendors Qualcomm and Marvell. Ericsson and NSN made up the vendors present.
At the event, the GTI said that new testing had been done between operators globally. Of note was a completed trial between China Mobile in Hong Kong and KT in Korea and with Clearwire in Hong Kong and in China
At MWC China Mobile revealed a multi-mode, multi-band TD-LTE devices, while LG demoed an Optimus G, it’s first TD-LTE ready handset.
All good news for TD-LTE. But will there be one device to rule them all. There will be according to Qualcomm.
Qualcommm announced the RF360 chip, which it says will be the first in the world able to handle every LTE frequency out there, making a handset using it a one-world LTE roaming phone. In total it support LTE-FDD, LTE-TDD, WCDMA, EV-DO, CDMA 1x, TD-SCDMA and GSM/EDGE. The press release also says it contains, “the industry’s first envelope power tracker for 3G/4G LTE mobile devices, a dynamic antenna matching tuner, an integrated power amplifier-antenna switch, and an innovative 3D-RF packaging solution incorporating key front end components.” To be honest I’m not sure what any of those things are, but it certainly seems as if progress is being made. Even more than the Huawei Ascend P2.
We can expect the RF360 to appear in devices towards the end of 2013, hopefully bringing an end to the pain of LTE spectrum fragmentation.