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Heterogeneous networks benefit ecosystem flexibility

Posted: 21 Mar 2011     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:LTE  4G  network  WiMAX  market report 

ABI Research says that heterogeneous networks will provide flexibility to the ecosystem characterized by the diversity in the use of LTE and WiMAX standards. The market watcher says that though LTE will emerge as the 4G network technology winner, its universal use is still in the future. Meanwhile, ABI says dual-platform 4G strategy will be beneficial to mobile network operators, chip and device makers.

According to Philip Solis, research director, ABI Research, "Intel and others are pushing the idea of heterogeneous networks. This is not to deny LTE's long-term position as the leading 4G platform, but to recognise that a small part of the ecosystem will still be characterized by diversity for some time."

Solis says that operators such as Sprint, Clearwire, KDDI, UQ Communications and KT will use both technologies for some time. He explains, "By using both standards, they'll have access to more spectrum, which helps with capacity issues."

Flexible multi-standard base stations that are being deployed now support several generations of technologies and both 4G standards. Vendors doing so include Alvarion, Huawei, NEC, NSN, Samsung, and ZTE.

There will also be multi-mode 4G chipsets in devices. Prior to its acquisition by Broadcom, Beceem was already planning such chipsets. Chipmaker Sequans recently announced a similar product initiative it calls 4Sight, with software allowing for handoffs between multiple networks if carriers choose to implement it. According to Solis, these solutions "provide the ecosystem with the flexibility it needs."

Intel already has WiMAX/Wi-Fi chipsets and in the near future it will focus designs on HSPA+/LTE. Longer term, it will likely combine those into one solution along with short-range wireless technologies, notes to ABI Research. The market watcher adds that multi-mode chipsets also benefit mobile device manufacturers interested in reducing the number of their SKUs. That by creating devices compatible with multiple networks, they ensure product longevity and allow MNOs to migrate without stranding their subscribers.

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