By J. Sharpe Smith
LTE is changing everything in the wireless industry and for the better, according to Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of Qualcomm Technologies, who gave a keynote address on Wednesday at the Wireless Infrastructure Show in Orlando, Florida.
Mobile broadband has had a tremendous impact on the flow of data, she noted, with the first introduction of 2 Mbps speeds dating back to 2004. HSPA+ improved it to 63 Mbps, and the introduction of the LTE standard moved speeds to 100 Mbps. With Category 4, Release 8, of the LTE standard, the state of the art pushed out to 150 Mbps.
At the beginning of 2014, Qualcomm launched the Gobi 9×35 modem, which included wideband 40 MHz LTE Advanced carrier aggregation and support for LTE Category 6 peak data rates of up to 300 Mbps, which effectively doubled the peak downlink speeds when compared with Category 4.
“The industry still is on the early side of the LTE curve with more good things to come,” she said. “We will be headed out to 450 Mbps with Category 10 of the LTE standard, right around the corner.”
The next big thing is the aggregation of carriers within LTE Advanced, according to Johnson, with the gold standard currently being a 2 by 20 megahertz channel.
“Carrier aggregation is very exciting,” she said. “TDD and FDD can be pair together and aggregated, meaning stranded pieces of spectrum can now be part of the solution.”
Johnson said a common global standard has been needed for a long time because of the advantages of the device and infrastructure ecosystem.
“Previously, we had an alphabet soup of air interfaces,” Johnson said. “Finally, they are converging into LTE. It has been amazing to see the growth in speeds.”
The launch of LTE by China Mobile, the largest carrier in the world, later this year will give another boost to the ecosystem, both on the device side and the infrastructure side.
Around the world, we now have 279 LTE systems launched in more than 100 countries, and 32 operators are launching or have launched TDD. LTE has experienced 124 percent growth year over year.
Thanks to LTE, there is an explosion of data, data rates and user expectations. “Customers have come to have this expectation that mobile broadband will be much like their fixed broadband,” Johnson said. “The bar has been set very, very high.”
But that’s not all. The industry has developed an LTE broadcast standard in which a virtually unlimited number of users can receive same content, such breaking news, disaster information, weather and sports. South Korea’s KT launched a multimedia broadcast service for LTE users in January. Verizon Wireless debuted broadcast LTE during the Super Bowl, sending four video streams to tablets. Currently, eight trials are ongoing and two more operators are expected to launch broadcast LTE by the end of the year.