Operators to begin testing mobile LTE service

The mobile phone industry plans to begin testing LTE mobile broadband technology this month

Several mobile phone operators and equipment manufacturers have teamed to test high-speed LTE (Long-Term Evolution) mobile phone technology in a race to dominate next-generation wireless networks.

The big European operators T-Mobile International AG & Co., Orange and Vodafone Group have joined forces with vendors Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia Siemens Networks, Nortel Networks and Telefonaktiebolaget Ericsson to begin trailing mobile broadband networks based on LTE technology, the companies said Thursday.

Cellular LTE and wireless WiMax are vying for dominance in the emerging market for 4G (fourth-generation) networking services.

The LTE trial, which will begin later this month, will test mobile broadband peak data rates of more than 100M bps (bits per second). The high data speeds will be achieved through LTE radio systems that use radio spectrum more efficiently than current systems and through advanced multi-antenna technologies.

On Wednesday, Nokia Siemens demonstrated the use of Virtual Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) technology in LTE networks. MIMO, an antenna technology already being used in Wi-Fi networks, combines multiple antennas at each end of the communications circuit to minimize errors and optimize data speeds, without requiring additional bandwidth or transmission power.

Participants in the LTE initiative plan to use the results of the tests in their ongoing LTE product and service development and contribute to standardization efforts.

They also intend to work closely with the Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGNM) initiative, established by a group of GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) operators seeking a business model their current beyond 3G (third-generation) services.

Commercial LTE service is planned in the 2009-2010 timeframe.

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