The 4G Ramp-Up Accelerates

Carl Weinschenk

Organizations need to get serious about their 4G plans. The rollout of such a significant new service-whether it's the WiMax or Long Term Evolution (LTE) version-has many significant ramifications for the way companies handle their mobile workforce. The impact isn't only technical. Faster wireless affects mobile policy, financial management and a number of other tangential areas.


Of course, Clearwire is offering WiMax through its Clear service now, and plans to accelerate its rollout. Things are heating up elsewhere. PC World is among several sites that are reporting rumors-originally carried by The Wall Street Journal-that Sprint will introduce Supersonic, a 4G phone by HTC, at the CTIA Wireless show in Las Vegas next week.

According to the site Benzinga, Verizon "has hinted" that it will roll out LTE handsets by the middle of next year. If so, the writer points out, it will be about six months ahead of its previously stated schedule. The phones will be dual mode code-division multiple access (CDMA) 3G and LTE devices, and will be preceded by modems and data cards for laptops. Verizon has said that it will launch its LTE network to between 25 and 30 markets late this year.

This is a good primer/refresher on 4G, which can be a good read for executives who face some tricky decisions. The piece, which comes from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, clearly defines 4G and its LTE and WiMax variants. It discusses the potential and the challenges, which start with a scarcity of bandwidth and the need to build out network infrastructure. According to the story:


[Wharton Legal Stuides and Business Ethics Professor Kevin Werbach] notes that the 4G build-out may move more rapidly than some observers think. "4G will roll out faster than 3G in the U.S. for several reasons. Some of them have to do with competition" between the providers, none of which are likely to remain dormant while others pull ahead. The most time-consuming component of the mobile infrastructure to upgrade is the towers, he adds, "[but] tens of thousands have been built around the U.S. over the past decade, so the 3G to 4G upgrade should be easier than in the past."

The news isn't that 4G will be a big deal, both from the technical and marketing perspectives. That's been established for years. It is noteworthy that the momentum is accelerating. Carriers wouldn't be pushing the release date of 4G handsets if they weren't confident that there will be plenty networks for them to operate.


Organizational planners, including those who recommend telecommunications services and equipment and those who plan for its implantation and operations, better pay close attention. One example of the type of gear that will become available was introduced this week by Alcatel-Lucent. The Ultimate Wireless Packet Core is a family of products designed to help service providers migrate from 3G to LTE networks and to manage both platforms.

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