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Ericsson, Samsung Make LTE Connection

Ray Le Maistre
LR Mobile News Analysis
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief

The flood of pro-Long Term Evolution (LTE) announcements continued Friday with news that Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) and Samsung Corp. have "successfully achieved interoperability between the world's first commercial LTE device from Samsung and the live network from Ericsson in Stockholm, Sweden."

Ericsson, which needed some good news to end a disappointing week, says this is the "first time a commercial, standard compliant LTE device demonstrated full interoperability with a live network. The cooperation with Samsung has been successful and shows that LTE services soon will be ready for the market." (See Pressure Tells on Ericsson's Q3.)

The network-to-device connection was made using LTE FDD (frequency division duplex) technology.

The location is significant because Stockholm is set to host one of the world's first LTE service launches: TeliaSonera AB (Nasdaq: TLSN) has been working with Ericsson to get its service up and running in the Swedish capital. The carrier has also been working with Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. on a similar network in Oslo, the Norwegian capital. (See TeliaSonera Makes LTE Connection, Sweden Claims LTE First, Lars Klasson, CTO & VP of TeliaSonera Mobility, and TeliaSonera: We'll Do 4G in 2010.)

The announcement comes a day after Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC) announced it will supply TeliaSonera with LTE devices (USB sticks) for the launch of commercial services in Sweden and Norway during 2010. (See TeliaSonera to Use Samsung LTE.)

Samsung says its LTE device is built around its own LTE modem chip, supports the 2.6GHz spectrum band for LTE, and is "compliant with the latest 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) LTE Release 8 (Rel-8) standard." The company has been working on its LTE device strategy for a while, and showed off a prototype in Barcelona in February this year. (See Samsung Claims First LTE Modem and Korean LTE Handsets in 2010?)

It's worth noting that, only hours after Ericsson and Samsung made their announcement, Huawei issued a press release of its own to announce the "world's first LTE IOT (Interoperability Test) in Europe in November to verify the interoperability of LTE network infrastructures and device terminals." That test is also with Samsung, which clearly hadn't told Huawei about the Ericsson tests...

So, an important step has been taken toward LTE deployment, but is there more to this than meets the eye? Heavy Reading senior analyst Patrick Donegan thinks so.

He refers back to July of this year, when Ericsson struck a cooperation agreement with the Korean government that, at first, created something of a storm over potential R&D investments. (See Ericsson Touts LTE for Korea's Green Economy and Ericsson Denies $1.5B Korean Investment.)

Donegan sees that move, and the current cooperation with Samsung, as part of the Swedish vendor's efforts to put pressure on alternative mobile broadband technologies. "However much Ericsson did or didn't commit by way of LTE R&D during its high-level public relations offensive in Korea during the summer, there's no doubt that incentivizing the Korean government and industry to divert its energy from WiBro and WiMax into LTE is now a key strategic priority for Ericsson."

That could be because WiMax has a head start on LTE and is attracting increasing levels of investment.

While the might of the mobile world appears to be behind LTE, WiMax services are already up and running, the next generation of the technology is already in the works, and according to the WiMAX Forum , there are currently 500 WiMax network deployments in 145 countries (though the estimated number of WiMax users worldwide is still thought to be fewer than 10 million). (See Trio Add 3 WiMax Markets, TWC Revs Up 'Road Runner Mobile' in North Carolina, Clearwire Can't Stray From WiMax 'Til 2011, ITU: Huawei Predicts WiMax Boom, and Clearwire Takes WiMax to Spain.)

And there's certainly no love lost between the supporters of the two technologies: At the ITU Telecom World 2009 event in Geneva recently, the WiMax camp took every opportunity to stick the verbal knife into LTE and its precursors as the roadmap for 802.16m (or WiMax Release 2.0) was unveiled. (See ITU Day 2: WiMax Brings It and WiMax vs. LTE: The Rematch.)

WiBro, meanwhile, hasn't been adopted outside Korea, and is struggling to establish itself in its home country. (See WiBro Operators on Borrowed Time.)

Other LTE-related news of note from this week includes:

� Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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