PORTLAND, Ore. The first leg in the race to provide brodband wireless access to a range of computing devices may be won by WiMax, which appears ready to extend its reach to current Wi-Fi nodes.
However, the Long-Term Evolution (LTE) approach appears to be the long-term unifier of voice and data services in many developed countries, according to executives at Continuous Computing Inc., which has unveiled a hardware and software suite to allow network operators to upgrade from 3G to 4G wireless broadband.
LTE will upgrade existing Universal Mobile Telecommunications System cellphone networks to 4G performance on a par with WiMax. "Clearly, WiMax is a technology that is ready now and here to stay, but we feel it is best suited to 'green-field' markets where they want to deploy broadband, but there is no strong existing infrastructure, such as in India," said Manish Singh, vice president of product line management at San Diego-based Continuous Computing.
|LTE wireless broadband networks are slated for commercial rollout by 2011.|
"For LTE, there is still a lot of development and trials that need to happen. But from the network operators perspective you can overlay a 4G LTE network over an existing 3G or even 2G network with all the voice traffic and nationwide coverage being provided by their existing infrastructure," Singh added.
While WiMAX is an extension of Wi-Fi networks, it is also possible to design mobile handsets that use voice-over-Internet-Protocol to handle voice traffic, making it attractive in markets where there is no existing cellphone coverage. LTE, on the other hand, overlays an IP-network atop voice networks, enabling the use of existing infrastructure for voice traffic while next-generation services like Web browsing and streaming video use an IP network.
LTE seeks to evolve to an all-IP network that supports both 4G services and voice traffic. Unlike WiMax, however, LTE permits a 4G transition period where the existing 2G and 3G networks continue to off-load voice traffic and provide nationwide coverage.
Continuous Computing claims that it has developed a suite of hardware and software, the latter from its Trillium division which it acquired from Intel in 2004, that enables network operators to shift to 4G, all-IP networks by gradually upgrading network equipment.
"Our telecom platforms and Trillium software enable LTE networks to add new bandwidth-intensive mobile applications and services using the Advanced Telecommunications Computing Architecture (ATCA) with deep packet inspection," said Singh.
Its ATCA-based offerings now include Evolved Packet Core, the 4G equivalent of current General Packet Radio Service, and LTE femtocells or home base stations.
LTE services based on Continuous Computing's hardware and software suite will support broadband data rates of 100 Mb/s (download) and 50 Mb/s (upload) and real-time support for mobile TV.