For an industry that can sometimes focus on the doom and gloom of issues such as lost revenue streams, the opening keynote of Day Two of the LTE World Summit 2013, from Alain Maloberti, senior vice president, network architecture & design, Orange, France, had a almost wholly positive vibe to it. The core takeaway was that LTE had, in the main, lived up to its expectations. It has been widely deployed; it offers real, tangible performance benefits and customers want it. As they say on the street, that’s a win. Naturally Maloberti picked out some issues – roaming, spectrum fragmentation, interference with TV and the need for SRVCC for VoLTE, but as he pointed out all these are being addressed.

Maloberti

Alain Maloberti, senior vice president, network architecture & design, Orange, France speaking on Day Two of the 2013 LTE World Summit

Following Maloberti, Samsung’s marketing director of European networks, Mark Thompson opened his speech with the quote from science-fiction writer Robert Heinlein who said that, “one man’s magic is another man’s engineering.” The implication was that Samsung’s network is ‘magical’, but his call for the creation of ‘smart networks’ comes as a welcome change from the normal industry call to avoid the baseness of becoming a mere ‘dumb pipe’. He also pointed out that Korea’s unassailable LTE technology lead ahead of Europe was actually a good thing.  It serves as a tech testing ground, so if it all goes horribly wrong over there we won’t make the same mistakes. It’s not going horribly wrong of course, and Korea is miles ahead.

To prove the point, the vice president of the network technology unit of Korea Telecom, Mr. Chang-Seok Seo, came on to go describe that carrier’s network in some detail. Carrier aggregation, heterogeneous networks, commercial femtocells, and 1000 cell virtualisation are all part of the mix. Point certainly made then.

Huawei’s Ying Weimin, president of GSM/UMTS/LTE then brought us down to earth with his assessment that, “the dream [of ubiquitous capacity] is nearly here, but performance at the cell edge is still not good enough [for video uploads]. The solution? LTE-A. It will provide 10x better performance at the cell edge, and plans are afoot for LTE-B.

The keynote sessions finished off with a traditional panel discussion with questions being fired at the panel consisting of Frank Meywerk, CTIO, T-Mobile, Netherlands; Marwan Zawaydeh, CTIO, Etisalat, UAE; Suresh Sidhu, CCOO, Celcom Axiata, Malaysia, and Miguel Geraldes, CEO, MTC, Namibia.

The question highlights included, “Are you planning on turning off your 2G network?” The responses were all “no”, except for Etisalat’s Zawaydeh, who can’t seem to wait to get rid of 2G. on order to reduce cost and complexity on the network.

Do you expect LTE-Advanced to offer an improved experience for consumers? Two yeses, but surprisingly two said no. The reveal? LTE-A will help operators due to the cost savings gleaned from greater efficiencies of spectrum use, but Meywerk claimed that above 6Mbps consumers don’t notice the extra speed, and as such LTE-A will not bring an appreciably faster experience for 98 per cent of users.

The third highlight for me as, “Do you expect to be ready to promote your network as 5G ready in the next five years?” After the first person along the line said yes, like dominoes falling into line, the rest felt obliged to say the same – marketing madness kicking in in an instant. Here’s we go again….

Panel session with Miguel Geraldes, CEO, MTC, Namibia; Suresh Sidhu, CCOO, Celcom Axiata, Malaysia; Frank Meywerk, CTIO, T-Mobile, Netherlands and Marwan Zawaydeh, CTIO, Etisalat, UAE.

Panel session with Miguel Geraldes, CEO, MTC, Namibia; Suresh Sidhu, CCOO, Celcom Axiata, Malaysia; Frank Meywerk, CTIO, T-Mobile, Netherlands and Marwan Zawaydeh, CTIO, Etisalat, UAE.

Other impressions I gleaned from those I spoke to was that the show was both broader, with topics such as public safety and 5G on the agenda, and deeper, with a great number of detailed and focused tracks.

The numbers also backed up the sense of improvement, with a 30 per cent increase in attendees over the previous year. There’s no doubt that this year’s event was a wild success, with a raft of interesting speakers, broaching new topics of interest and everyone who attended came away educated and enlightened, if a little tired!

See you back next year for another successful LTE World Summit!

For those who can make it, the next event in the series is the groundbreaking LTE Africa conference, taking place on the 9th-10th July 2013 in Cape Town, South Africa. Click here to download the brochure for the event.

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