NSN to show off gigabit TD-LTE at CTIA
Also boosting network speed is Vodafone, using software from InToTally to improve HSPA uplink performance
Published: 4 May, 2012
Major wireless shows are always the venue where vendors get out their latest party tricks and give a hint of the network speeds of the future. Nokia Siemens plans to use next week's CTIA Wireless show in New Orleans to demonstrate gigabit speeds on a TD-LTE network - a stunt presumably aiming to impress Clearwire and China Mobile, two main deployers of this technology.
NSN said it had delivered gigabit speeds in a test environment last month, and will recreate that demonstration in New Orleans. To date, most tests showing this kind of speed - which qualify a technology to be 'true 4G' by ITU definitions - have been on the forthcoming LTE-Advanced and in paired spectrum. NSN is applying LTE-Advanced hallmarks, such as carrier aggregation, to TD-LTE.
Pushing the limits of the TDD flavour of LTE will be important for a wave of contracts to be awarded this year by carriers in the US, India, China and among WiMAX migrations, even if the gigabit capabilities will require future LTE-A enhancements plus plenty of uncluttered spectrum.
Huawei and ZTE have so far dominated TD-LTE sales and shown their own advanced demos, but the market remains wide open, and NSN acquired significant TDD expertise with its purchase of Motorola Networks. Although it sold on the actual WiMAX products, the unit also had a long track record of R&D in both TDD platforms.
In a rather more immediate performance boost, Vodafone is to upgrade its data networks in Italy, Spain and the UK with software that promises to boost data capacity by 40%. The technology has been developed by start-up InToTally and focuses on solving a common problem of both CDMA and HSPA networks - the outer loop power control issue. Since base stations and handsets are continuously changing their transmit levels to deal with imperfect network conditions, they create signal variations which help improve the connection - but can degrade transmission for other users in the cell.
Alvaro Lopez-Medrano, CEO of Silicon Valley-based InToTally, told GigaOM that the company's software solves this problem using algorithms that allow the base station and phone to react dynamically as network conditions change. Vodafone will adopt the system to boost uplink performance, but it would have to influence phone suppliers to support the feature to achieve a similar improvement on the downlink. Vodafone has reportedly told two of its main infrastructure vendors to add InToTally support to their networks, affecting 30% of the carrier's global base station installation. Lopez-Medrano adds that supporting handsets should become available within a year.
According to GigaOM, Vodafone is also making an equity investment of an undisclosed amount in InToTally, which was started by Lopez-Medrano and a team of engineers from the Polytechnic University of Madrid in 2002. The company has raised $1.25m so far to fund development.