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7 communications tech that will shape 2015

Posted: 12 Feb 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:LTE? VoLTE? HetNet? 802.11ac? NFV?

The relentless pace of change various communications technologies have experienced in 2014 has carried on strong and well this year. Particularly, developing technologies such as LTE and LTE-Advanced (LTE-A), voice over LTE (VoLTE), small cells, heterogeneous networks and NFV/SDN are set to make a wider and more extensive transformation that will unfold this 2015.

Communications test equipment market

LTE and LTE-A

Data rates have helped LTE-A gain prominence in the global communications market. While LTE's peak downlink speed is 300Mb/s, LTE-A is theoretically capable of reaching 1Gb/s. LTE's highest rates are 75Mb/s while LTE-A clocks at 500Mb/s.

The introduction of LTE and LTE-A-compatible mobile phones has generated competition among mobile manufacturers. Consequently, attaining data rates that meet LTE standards is a key to success for service providers (SPs) and network element managers (NEMs). Competition among leading equipment suppliers to develop efficient radio access networks (RANS), cell site implementation and LTE base-station products also drives LTE network deployment.

More than 330 global networks deployed 4G LTE in 1H14, while 2Q14 saw almost 60 LTE-A trials, commitments and commercial deployments. Most of these came from Western Europe, followed by Asia-Pacific and North America.

The transition from LTE networks to LTE-A is most visible in North America and Asia-Pacific, followed by Western Europe. According to Frost & Sullivan, by the end of January 2015, the number of LTE subscribers is expected to exceed 400 million while LTE-A will reach an estimated 22 million subscribers. Further, the analysis predicts that SPs will deploy over 43 LTE-A networks by the end of the year.

 LTE-A enabled phone

Phones with LTE-A capability are starting to appear.

VoLTE and HetNets

As SPs focus investments on LTE, sophisticated services such as voice over LTE (VoLTE) will likely gain importance. VoLTE will lead to a recovery in mobile voice services and enable a new conversation experience, one much better than Skype. Because consumers still value voice services, VoLTE will remain significant for SPs.

HD voice will be available within the same network and SPs will offer additional services for VoLTE calls. Moreover, services such as web real-time communications are expected to be deployed, and enterprises will embed rich communications services (RCSs) into web applications to improve customer experience. At present, there is a shortage of VoLTE-compliant mobile devices. In addition, the industry must address handover when switching from circuit switch networks to complete IP-based networks. Mobile manufacturers must address issues with battery life to capacitate VoLTE. Because of these issues, demand for VoLTE continues to grow as there is a need to conduct performance testing on VoLTE-enabled devices, especially against heterogeneous networks.

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