That was one of the messages from Orange's LTE/EPC Program Director Rémi Thomas, who presented the operator's current thinking about the next-generation mobile technology at Layer123's LTE/EPC & Converged Mobile Backhaul conference in London on Tuesday.
"LTE is not driven by a killer application, but it will essentially be driven by capacity needs," said Thomas.
The Orange man did not reveal exactly when or where the operator planned to launch LTE. However, he noted that as Orange had been awarded licenses for 20MHz of spectrum in the 2.6GHz frequency band in France and Spain, "this allows for some deployment in 2012." (See Euronews: French LTE Auction Good to Go.)
This is in line with the LTE timeline and strategy that Orange presented in February this year with its full-year 2010 financial results. But don't too excited. Further comments from Thomas suggest that Orange is in no rush to launch large-scale LTE services. (See France Telecom Updates on LTE, FTTH.)
"We want to launch LTE first time right," he said. "Also … where we don't have immediate capacity issues, we can choose when to launch LTE."
In order to get LTE "right," Thomas listed several areas that still needed work such as guaranteeing the interworking between the LTE and 2G/3G networks, optimizing certain radio aspects, implementing quality of service and fine-tuning circuit-switch fallback (CSFB) for voice services. (See T-Mobile, Orange Open Up on LTE.)
And when it comes to LTE devices, Thomas had a formidable list of features that need to be supported. For example, LTE devices need to support GSM/EDGE in four frequency bands, UMTS/HSPA on three bands, LTE in at least three bands (1800MHz, 800MHz and 2600MHz would be indispensible for roaming in Europe), as well as CSFB for initial voice services, voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) in the "near future," and self-organizing network features.
Why this matters
The comments from Orange's Thomas provide good insight into the LTE strategy of one of Europe's largest mobile operators. It's not exactly a revelation, but it is interesting to hear that Orange considers the drivers of LTE deployments to be capacity and network efficiency improvements rather than support for any particular application.
But this thinking does lead one to question: Do operators need compelling applications to convince users to buy new LTE devices and subscribe to the services, or is the higher-speed data enough? (See In Search of LTE’s Killer App.)
For more on other European operators' LTE plans, please see these stories:
- Europe Set for LTE Laggard Status
- Euronews: 3 Italia Preps LTE Launch
- Hola, LTE
- Deutsche Telekom Takes LTE to the City
— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile