"After testing equipment from multiple suppliers in the field and in a lab environment, AT&T chose to extend existing relationships with Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson, which provide equipment for the AT&T 3G network today," the operator announced:
- Continued work with these two suppliers will enable AT&T not only to incorporate high-performance LTE equipment, but also to take full advantage of compatibility between the suppliers’ existing 3G equipment and forthcoming LTE upgrades. As part of the supplier agreements, 3G equipment delivered to AT&T by the suppliers starting this year will be easily convertible to LTE, enabling AT&T to upgrade existing equipment and software rather than install entirely new equipment in many cases as it deploys the next-generation technology.
The choice of vendors won't come as a major shock: AlcaLu and Ericsson were identified as the likely LTE access equipment suppliers by Light Reading in September 2009. (See AT&T's LTE Suppliers.)
The selection, though, leaves Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and Nokia Networks , which had been under consideration for RAN domain status, without a role in AT&T's mobile access plans for now. (See Rumor: AT&T Vets Wireless 'Domain' Suppliers.)
AT&T's decision also cements Ericsson's position as one of the leading LTE equipment players, while it gives AlcaLu a real boost in the emerging market. (See MWC 2010: The LTE G8.)
It's unclear, however, whether AT&T has decided which companies will provide the Evolved Packet Core (EPC) technology for LTE. The carrier had not responded to questions from Light Reading as this article was published. (See Evolved Packet Core for LTE.)
AT&T is pumping billions into its mobile networks this year, including more cell towers and backhaul capacity that will also support its LTE rollout, which is set to include field trials in two cities in 2010 prior to a commercial launch next year. (See AT&T to Spend $2B More on Wireless in 2010 and 4G World: AT&T – an LTE Tortoise.)
The carrier is also a key supporter of an IMS-based solution for tackling the thorny issue of delivering voice services over LTE. (See Operators Rally Round IMS for LTE Voice.)
LTE is set to be a hot topic at next week's Mobile World Congress, with AT&T's selection certain to be a major talking point. (See Prepping for MWC: LTE and Preparing for LTE.)
— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading
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