Heavy Reading

3G, Mobile WiMax, & the Future of Broadband Wireless

More than 30 million CDMA 1X EV-DO and High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) users worldwide attest to the potential of mobile broadband service. It’s a service proposition that operators are increasingly likely to want to deliver to customers, almost regardless of their business models and of whether or not they currently hold a mobile operating license.

The first generation of mobile broadband services is being provided over 3G networks. Expected upgrades to these networks will make broadband mobile services more attractive. Enhanced HSPA, expected in 2008, will provide up to 40 Mbit/s per cell in the downlink, and CDMA advocates claim 1X EV-DO Revision B will provide as much as 73.5 Mbit/s in around the same timeframe. But while it’s tempting to be impressed with these indicative roadmaps, both wireline and wireless technologies are maturing to a point where these approaches needn’t be the only platform for delivering broadband mobile services, nor even the primary ones.

It’s been ten years since the first CDMA-based networks were launched using IS-95 CDMA with hierarchical network topologies consisting of base stations, base station controllers (BSCs), and mobile switching centers (MSCs). While throughput rates have since been improved with CDMA and Wideband CDMA, the network architectures have remained essentially the same. Indeed, extra nodes have been added in the form of the Serving GPRS Support Node (SGSN) and Gateway GPRS Support Node (GGSN) to support data services in GSM/W-CDMA as well as the equivalent Packet Data Serving Node (PDSN) in CDMA.

Relative to the availability of new technology options, today’s 3G networks are sub-optimal for delivering mobile broadband services. The evolution of IP networking technology allows the potential for “flatter” architectures, promising a lower-cost, lower-latency network. Basic research into combining Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing Access (OFDMA) has also steered the wireless operator and vendor community toward an emerging consensus that OFDMA is more robust, more spectrum-efficient, and more amenable to supporting multiple antenna systems (MAS) than CDMA. Combining these new technologies promises not just to extend throughput toward the 100 Mbit/s downlink mark and beyond, but also to do it at a significantly lower cost than legacy 3G architectures.

3G, Mobile WiMax, & the Future of Broadband Wireless addresses the key technology enablers and the key standards that are being developed to expand the mobile broadband service market from 30 million pioneer users to a mass market comparable to the 2 billion users of narrowband mobile phones. It looks at the value proposition to operators of the CDMA 2000 and W-CDMA 2000 standards and the new standards, including WiMAX and IEEE 802.20. It assesses the range of commonalities among these standards, as well as the competition that exists among them in the eyes of operators and vendors.


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For a list of companies profiled and evaluated in this report, click here.

3G, Mobile WiMax, & the Future of Broadband Wireless delivers a complete analysis of technology strategies and product portfolios for 14 leading manufacturers of key mobile broadband products and components.

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While focusing on the network technology, the report also assesses critical challenges and progress to date in the domain of mobile broadband terminal development and spectrum allocation. Both of these will be critical factors affecting the growth of the broadband market as a whole, as well as the market share taken by these standards. The report also takes account of the blurring of definitions of mobility and portability in broadband mobile usage scenarios, and the impact that is liable to have on market take-up of mobile broadband services.

Report Scope and Structure

3G, Mobile WiMax, & the Future of Broadband Wireless is structured as follows:

Section I is an introduction to the report, with complete report key findings.

Section II defines broadband mobile as a service proposition. It contrasts conventional definitions of mobility with conventional definitions of portability, and concludes that in the transition from narrowband mobile services to broadband mobile services the distinctions between portability and mobility will blur. This has long term implications for operators as show by an example of what Clearwire is doing in the United States.

Section III describes the outlook of operators on broadband mobile as a service proposition. It asserts that mobile is no longer the preserve of mobile operators but needs to be offered as a basic service by a wide variety of operators, irrespective of whether or not they currently have a mobile license. The section details the expectations that operators have of broadband mobile networks as they evolve over time to meet user expectations.

Sections IV looks at the positioning of the major candidate technologies for broadband mobile – the WCDMA evolution through High Speed Packet Access (HSPA), Extended HSPA and UTRAN Long Term Evolution (UTRAN LTE); the CDMA 2000 evolution through Revisions A. B and C; Mobile WiMAX and IEEE 802.20. The section describes the market momentum behind each of these candidate broadband mobile standards, describes their systems architecture, assesses the commonalities and differences between them and assesses the view of the operator community as regards these multiple standards.

Section V describes the current regulatory environment as regards radio spectrum. It compares the frequency bands currently available in different regions for each of the candidate technologies. It assesses the outlook of the regulatory authorities as they contemplate the claims of broadband mobile for new spectrum against the claims of other wireless services. It also compares the access to spectrum that the incumbent cellular standards have as compared with WiMAX.

Section VI describes the basic properties of OFDMA modulation and the benefits that it brings to the next phase of broadband mobile network evolution. It also describes the transition to OFDMA in the market from the perspective of the key IPR holders in the market and points to the very different position of some leading vendors in OFDMA IPR as compared with IPR based on CDMA based systems.

Section VII describes the evolution of multiple antenna technology as key enabler of broadband mobile network evolution. It describes the basic concepts ranging from single antenna challenges to receive diversity, MIMO and Adaptive Antenna Systems. The deployment challenges from the operator’s perspective are assessed, together with insights into new technologies which promise to make multiple antenna system deployment less challenging than in the past. Finally the positioning of the major vendors on multiple antenna technologies is assessed, including the major base station vendors as well as other key players such as Qualcomm, Arraycomm and Intel.

Section VIII describes the concept of Software Defined Radio (SDR) and the potential contribution it has to make to broadband mobile networks. It describes the differing perspectives which leading vendors like Ericsson, Lucent and Alcatel have on the business case from a vendor’s perspective.

Section IX outlines current and upcoming availability of broadband mobile terminals supporting W-CDMA, CDMA 1X EV-DO and Mobile WiMAX technologies. As well as conventional product categories it also looks at some emerging new product categories and the roadmaps which Samsung and Nokia have for integrating broadband mobile radios into them

Section X describes the positioning of leading vendors for the broadband mobile market, including their current market proof-points, IPR strengths, R&D prioritizations across the major broadband mobile standards, product development and marketing strategies.

The report is essential reading for a wide range of industry participants, including:

Mobile broadband technology suppliers: How will the ongoing shifts in mobile operator broadband strategies affect your business? Where are the new opportunities for market growth? Are your products and marketing messages in line with customer plans and expectations? Are there significant gaps in your product line coverage that need to be addressed to meet future demand for mobile broadband solutions?
Other equipment suppliers: Will demand for mobile broadband products take shape? Which technologies are emerging as the most likely winners for tomorrow’s mobile broadband networks? Is your company in position to take advantage of those anticipated trends?
Mobile network operators: How do your plans for mobile broadband service deployment compare with those of your competitors? Do your mobile broadband technology choices deliver the best performance and cost-control options for your network, or are there better alternatives? Which technology suppliers are in best position to deliver the solutions you need for your mobile broadband network plans?
Investors: Which technologies are emerging as the winning solutions for next-gen mobile broadband, and which companies are the leading providers of those solutions? How will ramp-up of mobile broadband service affect profitability for the entire telecom sector in the coming months and years?

3G, Mobile WiMax, & the Future of Broadband Wireless is published in PDF format.

PRICE: $3,795
Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading
Donegan has 15 years' experience as a telecom market journalist, analyst, and strategist. His in-depth knowledge of wireless technology...
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71 pages of analysis covering deployment of mobile broadband technology by wireless service providers
In-depth product and strategy analyses for leading vendors and technology suppliers in the mobile broadband sector
Full analysis of the likely role of current and planned mobile broadband standards and technologies
Information and analysis on the current status spectrum regulation affecting mobile broadband deployments worldwide
PRICE: $3,795
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