We’re jumping around a bit on the blog here, but sometimes that’s just the way the timing works. Last week I had the good fortune to sit down with Motorola’s Mohammad Akhtar to discuss the evolution of 4G networks in Asia. I’ve finally got the write-up from that discussion here, including details from Mohammad on why LTE has progressed so quickly in Asia, and also how Motorola has come to play a leading role in its development there. Enjoy.
A Look at Japan and Asia
Japan has long been a global leader in adopting advanced mobile technologies, including 3G networks, which has had an impact on consumer expectations in the generation coming of age today. Adults in Japanese cities grew up with wireless connectivity, and not only do they have a history of relying on robust mobile networks, but daily circumstances, like long commutes on public transportation, have fueled continued heavy demand for high-speed mobile connections. There are more wireless broadband users in Japan today than fixed-line customers. China, meanwhile also moved quickly with 3G; not just in urban areas, but in rural regions as well to support the country’s astounding economic growth. Many consumers there have also grown up in a wireless age.
Beyond 3G, Mohammad believes that the efforts of leading telecommunications providers in Japan and China will push a larger group of operators throughout Asia to move quickly in adopting 4G technology; perhaps more quickly than originally planned. Eighteen months ago LTE was only a dream, but it has quickly become a viable concept, and is now a perceived requirement for Asia’s wireless future.
Motorola is working with two of the largest operators in Asia now, KDDI and China Mobile (CMCC). Field trials are currently underway, with initial commercial deployments expected in 2010. Success, however, did not come overnight.
Motorola began focusing on OFDM-based technology (also the basis for Motorola’s WiMAX solutions) all the way back in 2004, and that early focus is part of what has given the company a significant head start in LTE. Backed by years of development work and commercial network deployment experiences, Motorola’s LTE solutions provide a robust interface, high data rates, and low cost per bit. Both KDDI and CMCC acknowledge those advantages and the company’s overall expertise as reasons they chose to work with Motorola.
In addition to Motorola’s foresight in focusing on OFDM five years ago, technologists in the company also recognized a need to provide a migration path from legacy networks to 4G networks that would work well for Asian customers. For the last three years, Motorola has been designing products with a built-in upgrade path to get to LTE. This past February, Motorola introduced two new base station radios capable of running legacy wireless technologies as well as LTE. The ability to upgrade rather than to rip and replace has proven to be a compelling proposition, and one that continues to help Motorola win business.
Motorola has hit several milestones with LTE of late, including demonstrating a live TD-LTE network with CMCC in a real urban RF environment, winning a handful of awards, and launching an advanced LTE self-organizing network (SON) solution geared toward improving operator profitability. This continued progress, particularly in conjunction with Motorola’s operator customers, provides a promising outlook for 2010. Mohammad and Motorola’s larger 4G team in Asia expect momentum to continue to grow as we turn to the next calendar year.