The headlong rush to advanced wireless services is, if anything, accelerating. Tests are proliferating -- Swedish operator TeliaSonera even counseled fellow operators to skip the trials and roll out services. Whatever the details, the sense is that the true birth of the next great phase of wireless is just about upon us.
The news is coming from every corner of the globe. This week, Reuters reported that Nokia Siemens is or has run 30 commercial Long Term Evolution (LTE) trials and is negotiating with 15 "top tier" operators to build commercial networks. The story says that the company claims to have 12 signed contracts-apparently different than those under discussion-for deployments. Most of these, the story says, will be done this year.
The LTE phenomenon has hit South America as well. Personal, the wireless arm of Telecom Argentina, is running a trial of LTE in the Pueto Madero area. It is being run in conjunction with Ericsson and includes high-definition video, video calls and 50 megabit per second (Mbps) downloads. The story quotes CommsUpdate, which said that NEC and Telefonica de Argentina performed an LTE trial in February and March of this year.
Halfway around the world, China Mobile said that it will work with foreign carriers on a Time Division LTE (TD-LTE) trial that will run for six months. The People's Daily Online story wasn't specific on which companies would be involved, but said that carriers from Asia, Europe and North America have expressed interest. The story says that China Mobile perceives TD-LTE as the successor to Time Division Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access (TD-SCDMA), the current 3G platform.
The Chinese market is, understandably, crowded. While the People's Daily story named no vendors, this release from Alcatel-Lucent is more specific. Earlier this week, the vendor said that China Mobile demonstrated high-definition video transmission over TD-LTE. The network and system integration was provided by Alcatel-Lucent, the TD-LTE dongle by ASTRI and chip maker Innofidei. The demonstration was conducted at the Shanghai World Expo.
The U.K. isn't being left out of the international mix, either. GoingLTE reports that regulator Ofcom has authorized O2 to run a trial of LTE in the 800 MHz band. This is the second trial for O2, which began a 2.6 GHz test last September. O2 is owned by Telefonica, which is running tests in the Czech Republic, Germany, Spain, Argentina-as referenced above-and Brazil.
This is a relatively small sample of the major moves around the world. Some service providers may feel that TeliaSonera is right and skip to commercialization, while others may feel that a methodical test phase is prudent. In any case, a big transition is at hand.