LTE and WiMAX to share CTIA stage  

xpect a flurry of mobile application announcements at the wireless show

Long-term evolution trumped WiMAX at Mobile World Congress, as GSM operators around the world gathered under the LTE banner, but don't expect the same to happen at CTIA. WiMAX's champions will likely be just as loud as LTE's at North America's largest wireless event.

Leading up to CTIA, Ericsson announced its intention to support both LTE and high-speed packet access (HSPA) at 700 MHz. Ericsson won't be unveiling a new product, per se, but it has promised to turn around a 700 MHz UMTS base station within six months of an order being placed.

“What we're announcing today are product plans to produce a complete ecosystem for LTE and HSPA at 700 MHz,” said Arun Bhikshesvaran, vice president of strategy and chief technology officer for North America for Ericsson.

Nokia Siemens Networks already has committed to tuning its Flexi base station line to 700 MHz across its GSM, HSPA, LTE, UMTS and WiMAX portfolios. As CTIA arrives, the rest of the vendor community will likely follow suit. Alcatel-Lucent, Motorola, Nortel Networks and NSN want to make it abundantly clear that they can support both technologies, said Peter Jarich, principal analyst for wireless infrastructure for Current Analysis: They want to be in the carriers' good graces no matter which 4G path those providers opt to follow.

Ultimately, WiMAX may have the upper hand at the show. LTE is still just a point on vendors' development road maps, while WiMAX is being deployed by Clearwire, Sprint and a handful of tiny providers across the country — and the first inklings of WiMAX network enhancements are starting to emerge. NextWave is unveiling its new MXtv solution at CTIA, which adds multicast and unicast video capabilities to the WiMAX base station.

The only thing taking the wind out of WiMAX's sales is the troubling performance of its biggest champion, Sprint. The operator soft-launched networks in Baltimore, Chicago and Washington, D.C., at the beginning of the year, but it has been very quiet amid rumors of a new partnership or group of investors to ease its financial burden. Sprint, however, has promised some kind of commercial launch in the second quarter, and CEO Dan Hesse's CTIA keynote happens to fall on April 1, the first day of the new quarter.

On the mobile applications side, CTIA won't be hurting for new announcements. Show discussions will center on apps and services running over operators' new WiMAX networks — all things related to open access and mobile content, said Shiv Bakhshi, director of mobility research for IDC.

Following Qualcomm's acquisition of content-targeting technologist Xiam, more companies are expected to get on board with mobile ads. TeleCommunication Systems will introduce CTIA attendees to new blended short message services (SMS) that leverage location-based messaging — applications such as prescription alerts, emergency alerts, SMS banners for location-based advertising and information — on mobile handsets.

In the mobile content area, Quickplay Media will unveil what it claims is the first universally available XM Radio Mobile service for BlackBerry users in the U.S. Until now, subscribers have been required to belong to a specific network.

Comverse will unveil a Total Communications Strategy, which it claims drives “true convergence.” The platform will include converged billing and IP services, mobile content and messaging, and its recently launched mobile advertising platform. Comverse's Innovation Lab also will feature a slew of new mobile apps, including Web 2.0 mashups, Social Sync — allowing users to update their Facebook profile from their mobile devices — Virtual Worlds and a service similar to Flickr called Context Calls.

Ulticom will announce ePASS, a server that uses SIM card authorization to make it easier for service providers to give users access to for-pay mobile content and services. The server enables a single-sign-on experience, making it much easier for users to try premium services — and much easier for operators to get paid.

Who has control of these new services and how they will be delivered will be a topic for debate at the show. With the operators on one side affirming their authority and the vendors on the other side calling for the end of the operator's regime, Bakhshi said that the power will shift somewhat into the hands of challengers such as Google and Nokia, but the operators will ultimately remain in charge. Along those lines, mobile policy solution provider Camiant is launching new wireless applications for a made-for-mobile broadband solution that give carriers complete control over off-deck mobile apps while guaranteeing quality of experience to help encourage uptake of these high-priced premium applications.

D2 Technologies will debut a mobile device solution that links handsets built under Google's Android specifications to enterprise IP PBXs and service provider unified communications offerings. The solution will use D2's mCUE user interface to handle voice, IM, SMS and e-mail communications in a next-generation, mixed-network environment.

Backhaul announcements also are sure to abound at CTIA. Mobile backhaul provider Juniper Networks will move from the network core to the base station with the launch of the BX7000 Multi-Access Gateway, an aggregation site gateway that Mallik Tatipamula, head of the mobile and fixed/mobile convergence segment for Juniper, said will solve operator's two biggest challenges: providing broadband service across next-generation mobile broadband backhaul and concurrently keeping operating expenses down. The backhaul platform will extend Juniper's aggregation node to the GSM/UMTS market.

Also in the transport area, Vanu will be featuring its recently announced Anywave MultiRAN radio access network, which can be shared by multiple operators. The company claims the product is one of the first such systems to enable each operator to maintain independent management control and make technology road map improvements.

[get this widget]

AddThis Social Bookmark Button