Vicki Livingston, Head of Communications and Analyst Relations, 4G Americas chaired the ‘The future of LTE’ track at the recent LTE North America conference, which took place in Dallas, Texas, and hosted the LTE North America 2013 Awards. Here she gives here insight into the challenges facing operators in the coming year and what were her key take-away from the conference.
What do you think will be the biggest challenges as US LTE evolves in the coming year?
Among the challenges facing mobile network operators in the US is the need for more spectrum, specifically internationally harmonised spectrum. The President and the FCC have recognised that to remain a leader in mobile innovation, the US must allocate 500MHz of spectrum over the coming years for mobile broadband services to serve society and to continue enabling innovation, connectivity and the economy. The right steps are being taken already; for example, with the November letter from the National Telecommunications and Information Association (NTIA) endorsing the repurposing of federal spectrum for commercial mobile broadband as recommended by the private sector. NTIA’s letter will help to free up the valuable 1755-1780MHz spectrum, allowing it to be paired with the 2155-2180MHz band that is internationally harmonised for deployment of mobile broadband LTE technology.
From your perspective what are the big areas of concern that carriers in the US are looking for insight on from analysts?
Operators look to the analysts for their research on key opportunities in the market, such as the growing M2M market where insightful decisions can add significant revenue as connected devices begin to lead us into the Internet of Things era.
Do you feel the carriers do a good job at marketing the benefits of 4G to consumers?
Yes, I believe operators focus their marketing on the benefits of 4G that consumers will understand. Often the consumer is unaware of the technology that is underlying their successful video streaming or file sharing, and more aware of the screen size, the speeds and the variety of applications and services. Operators encourage their customers to understand and utilise 4G smartphones, tablets and other devices, and do a great job at marketing how those devices and services can contribute to their lifestyle, job and well-being.
Having attended LTE North America what was your key take-away from the event this year?
LTE North America is one of my favourite events of the year. The variety of speakers and their focus on LTE technology in all its aspects for success, contributes to a great learning and sharing experience. 4G Americas has been involved with this North American event for many years, and the event is evolving, improving and advancing constantly. My take-away this year was the growing message from all members of the ecosystem on the importance of:
1) More licensed spectrum;
2) Regulatory policy innovation;
3) Technical enhancements to LTE-Advanced such as carrier aggregation, advanced antennas, HetNets and small cells, SON and network virtualisation.
All three of these working in tandem will be needed for continued mobile broadband success and progress in the region.
You hosted the LTE North America 2013 awards this year. What was your view on the winners, their products and were there any standouts for you?
It wasn’t only the company names in the envelopes that were winners. We are seeing such incredible innovation and growth in the mobile broadband wireless industry, not only in Canada and the U.S., but worldwide. As the MC for the awards ceremony, I emphasised that all the members of our wireless ecosystem are winners and the work they are doing is great. Even beyond those companies that were shortlisted, our ecosystem is vibrant and growing and exciting and successful.
It was a lot of fun attending and hosting the awards ceremony and it’s something I would encourage all the show attendees to join in for 2014. You never know, your company’s product or new idea could be next year’s winner!