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Lte Tech Will Help 3G Cos Plug Network Gaps

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Commercial LTE devices will be available in the market by the fourth quarter of the current fiscal

Alcatel Lucent has been working in the WiMAX space for long. What prompted the shift to LTE and how ready are you for the technology?

We are as ready as we can be. Globally, we have already won two big contracts and are deploying Verizon’s commercial LTE network across 25 cities in the US later this year. AT&T will launch soon after. There are other two contracts, which we have not made public. There are also 50 LTE trials being conducted globally with key service providers.

LTE is a fourth generation technology with capabilities built on 3GPP standard, which has linkages with other networks including 2G and 3G. It can be integrated with other networks. It is beneficial from India’s point of view, where licences have just been granted and networks will start to roll out. Since there is no pan-India 3G operator, there will be gaps in network. But with LTE, 3G operators will have an option to partner with LTE operators to fill gaps. Whether it is CDMA/EVDO or HSPCA, LTE can provide interoperability. WiMAX, on the other hand, cannot do that.

But a section of the industry contends that LTE is about two years away and that WiMAX is the technology to be deployed today. Isn’t it a bit too early to bet on LTE?

I have heard those discussions which say WiMAX is a more mature technology than LTE. That is not true. Two things are important for a technology to succeed — network ecosystem and device ecosystem. We already have LTE network,which we are deploying commercially and there are others coming up. So, it is not true that LTE will take two years to be deployed. On the device side, we are working with four device partners and four more are coming up. We are actively building the device ecosystem.

Commercial LTE devices will be available in the market by the fourth quarter of the current fiscal. The deployment time between WiMAX and LTE is shrinking. The operators are now rethinking their strategy in favour of LTE, since ultimately everyone will move to LTE. And, India, I think is moving very quickly. I see vendor selection announcements in the next six months. Maybe, India will have LTE a bit later than other parts of the world, but it will attract demand rapidly. I see networks launching in 2010. There is not much difference between the two technologies but the interoperability factor is crucial.Alcatel Lucent has lagged behind its competitors in the 2G space.

Now, in 4G and LTE too, the Chinese vendors have higher number of patents. How will you combat competition?

Chinese vendors may have more patents, but, having a commercially-deployable solution is different. From patent perspective, we are at a comfortable position and have already deployed commercial network. We have Bell Labs backing us and we will definitely grab the market. We maintain key LTE patents in all part of the technology — from radio access to IP backhaul to IMS to enhanced packet core. We are a leader in creating such an ecosystem and LTE is about IP and we are the undisputed leader in IP communications technology.

Alcatel Lucent and C-DoT have a research centre in India. Will it be converted to focus solely on LTE and what happens to the WiMAX patents the company has acquired?

The Chennai centre is working on a lot of platforms simultaneously. The discussions on LTE have already begun, but WiMAX development will also continue there. It would not be just for LTE. We are still working on WiMAX so the patents are not null and void. We have increased focus on LTE and some of the WiMAX patents we have acquired are applicable to LTE also.

How does the India opportunity for LTE look like compared with other markets and what early breakthroughs has the technology made in India?

There is a significant momentum in the US, the first market for LTE, which is maturing. LTE is the broadband standard there. That will naturally extend to other areas. We see significant business in India too. We are talking to the operators who have announced their commitment to LTE (Qualcomm and RIL’s Infotel). We will have trials here too, that is definitely on our agenda. The global momentum LTE is acquiring is important. Globally, 450 service providers have announced their decision to move to LTE. Having a single standard for broadband is important because it makes it simple. Going forward, there will be shrinkage in WiMAX platform and expansion in LTE.

In India, already two players have announced their commitment to LTE and here the key thing will be the partnerships between LTE and 3G for roaming agreements. Alcatel Lucent is working on several applications in various segments, including automotive and healthcare, that will be very useful, as with LTE one can think of a number of innovations because of high bandwidth. Also, the consumer satisfaction in case of a break down or emergency will be faster. Then, there are new market segments coming up like cable operators who are looking to offer services like voice over internet protocol (VoIP) through LTE. Also, public safety is another segment where LTE services can be used effectively.

The company had plans to develop India as one of its global services hub. When do you see it materialising?

The discussions are on, it is being worked out. A decision is expected by next month. India is a very important market for us.

Edited by ravi_patent

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Seems LTE is a good option for Airtel, Reliance & Vodafone

But are they in postion to make this expense after sending so much for 3g

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