Ericsson demos mobile broadband at 160Mbps

Long Term Evolution technology is up to 20-times faster than current 3G network speeds.

Ericsson has demonstrated wireless broadband technology that can transmit data at 160Mbps.

The company is spruiking LTE or Long Term Evolution as a ‘4G’ successor to the 3G cellular, or HSPA, infrastructures currently deployed by all of Australia’s mobile carriers.

But 160 Mbps is just the beginning. The target is for LTE to hit 1Gbps by 2013.

The company currently has proof of concept products but hopes to deliver on some of these towards the end of next year.

In the demonstration, held in Sydney on Thursday, an engineer was able to show how fast it took to transfer files from a base station to a notebook. A 10MB email attachment downloaded almost in the blink of an eye, and 300MB of attachments was download in just over 10 seconds.

However, Colin Goodwin, strategic marketing manager for Ericsson did make clear that it was “cheating gloriously” in the demonstration. The notebook had a dedicated connection to the base station. However, in the real world, where the cell is shared, speeds would be significantly less than the 160MB downlink -- and 40MB uplink, which the company also demonstrated.

LTE, which is part of the GSM family, has many improvements over HSPA (3G). It clobbers it in terms of speed – anywhere from 10-20 times faster. However, it also has better latency – 16ms compared to 70ms and even 200ms for 2G GSM.

Although Ericsson and vendors such as Nortel and Huawei are working on LTE technology, the deployment in Australia wont be happening anytime soon. LTE, unlike HSPA, requires a different spectrum allocation. The goal of the ITU is for it to be harmonized globally and operate in the IMT Extension Band 2.50-2.69 GHz so users, among many benefits, can have seamless roaming. And on a local level, that spectrum has not be allocated in Australia.

Ericsson is allocating a lot of effort into LTE technology, and with local ramifications. It has just opened an LTE Global Competence Centre (GCC) in Melbourne which is aimed at a playing a bigger role in the global development of LTE.

The progression of LTE is also being helped by big players AT&T and Verizon Wireless in the US who have stated plans to adopt LTE, with major rollouts planned for 2011 or 2012. LTE is a competing technology to WiMax, which in the US has been heavily backed by Sprint and by Unwired in Australia.

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Howard Dahdah

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