BARCELONA – Ericsson played the standards game for a winning hand in LTE, according to a missive from an ABI Research analyst here at the Mobile World Congress. They are neither the first nor the last to play that game.
“From 2005 until 1H 2011, Ericsson has made the most approved contributions to the LTE radio access network (RAN) standard,” says Philip Solis, research director for mobile devices at ABI, speaking 9in a press statement. “This is one of several reasons why Ericsson is a leader in LTE,” he said.
Nokia and Nokia Siemens Networks together had the second highest number of contributions, according to an analysis of LTE contributions to the 3GPP RAN1 to 3GPP RAN3 standards, ABI said. China’s rising star, Huawei, came in third and was the leading contributor in 2010 and the first half of 2011, ABI said. Interestingly, NPD In-Stat recently said Huawei took the lead in European base station sales last year.
Indeed, Asia as a whole is on the rise. Of the top 15 contributors, nine were from Asia-Pacific, four were from Europe (Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Nokia/NSN, and Vodafone), and only two were from North America (Motorola and Qualcomm). Of the nine, three are based in China (CATT, Huawei, and ZTE), three in Japan (NEC, NTT DoCoMo, and Panasonic), two in South Korea (LG Electronics and Samsung), and one in Taiwan (HTC).
According to ABI’s analysis of LTE-specific contributions, the top two had nearly one-third of all contributions, and the top seven had nearly three-quarters of the total.
“Companies’ contributions are indirectly related to patents, but are still a means of detecting which companies are pushing their intellectual property into the standard,” said Solis in the statement.
Later this week we will see Cisco Systems playing the standards game aggressively in hopes of a competitive edge.
Huawei showed an example of the same strategy last year when a top U.S. technologist from the company took on leadership of two IEEE cloud computing standards. That’s an area apparently close to Huawei’s heart. The company is quietly gearing up a new effort called Borg, aimed to make lower power servers from ARM or Atom cores.
Of course in the comms field, standards are key. New flavors of Ethernet and optical modules don’t have a commercial life until some IEEE group or Multi-Source Agreement has explicitly backed them.
The game of taking a pro-active or even hyper-active role in standards setting is not confined to comms. Since before I came the EE Times, chip and systems companies have been using this tactic to tune industry norms to be in harmony with their agendas and road maps.
Indeed, for years now even the China government has been taking a part. It helped set China-specific standards for everything from early-generation recordable CD players to 4th generation cellular specs such as TD-SCDMA. Its goal has always been clear, to help its industry get out from under the need to pay royalties to rival US and European companies—and get them paying China royalties instead.
Where all this will end, especially as China continues it rise, is anyone’s guess. The one thing for sure is it is not likely to end.
Congratulations, Ericsson. Next?