Mobile World Congress (MWC) Barcelona 2012 brought some great announcements from ARM Partners showcasing wireless connectivity solutions that work to meet the ever growing demand for power efficient, high bandwidth connections.
LTE devices – ‘Long Term Evolution’
2012 brings widespread LTE device availability into the mainstream. At MWC we have seen LTE devices from most of the major handset vendors including Huawei, LG, Samsung and ZTE. According to the GSA, over 269 LTE products worldwide have been launched to date with 285 operators in 93 countries investing in LTE – ‘the fastest developing mobile technology ever’. LTE brings complete packet based connectivity without the overhead of legacy voice standards that exist in 2G and 3G standards such as GSM and WCDMA. As well as high bandwidth mobile broadband connectivity for the consumer, crucially LTE delivers capacity to the operators allowing them to serve higher number of users with higher data rates in a spectrally efficient way. One area of particular interest is the support of simultaneous voice and data services that allow the user to share data/video services concurrently with voice services. LG showcased their VoLTE handset allowing the user to seamlessly switch between video and file sharing during a voice call. Verizon is already running VoLTE trials in two cities in the US and plan a nationwide rollout in 2013.
Small cells/Wi-Fi off-load
How to deliver capacity remains a big theme, and this year at MWC was no exception. Small cell offerings from ARM Partners such as Mindspeed, Qualcomm and TI who were all on show giving operators the provision of capacity through increased cell density giving a much needed ‘hot spot’ style capacity where it is needed. Korea’s SK Telecom were showing their simultaneous Wi-Fi/LTE service that provides capacity to the user by the way of an active LTE link alongside Wi-Fi services. Indeed, the provision of Wi-Fi as a complementary service alongside cellular is expected to be a major theme across all carriers as they look at various techniques to offload the data services in their networks in order to build capacity to try and meet the demand from the ever growing number of connected devices. Mobile users who move between 3G and Wi-Fi services need a unified and seamless way to authorise access to those networks. The 802.11u standard is defined to provision that authentication in order to improve interworking with external networks.
Given that LTE services are only just being deployed it seems a little premature to talk about the LTE Advanced evolution of the standard. Based on the 3GPP Release 10 specification, LTE Advanced offers operators the mechanisms to deploy higher data rate cellular services through a multitude of techniques such as carrier aggregation, advanced MIMO techniques and higher order modulation; all delivering increased spectral efficiency. With operators such as Sprint, AT&T Mobility and SK Telecom all announcing intent to deploy services based on LTE Advanced in 2013 then we can expect to see device announcements over the next 12 months. The first to break cover with devices expected to sample in Q4 2012 is Qualcomm who have announced their next generation Gobi modem chipset supporting seven different radio access modes on a single baseband chip (CDMA2000, GSM/EDGE, WCDMA, TDS-CDMA, LTE and LTE-Advanced) which will drive the first wave of consumer devices in 2013.
There has been a flood of announcements in recent weeks around a new emerging Wi-Fi standard called 802.11ac including Redpine, Broadcom, Qualcomm/Atheros and Marvell as well as licensable IP technology from CEVA DSP partner Antcor. The not yet ratified standard brings higher throughput capabilities up to 1Gbps by way of increased bandwidth utilization. The existing 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi makes use of the 2.4GHz band which is susceptible to interference and has limited bandwidth availability and as such to meet the higher bandwidth needs such as HD video streaming and online gaming then 802.11ac is to be deployed in the 5GHz band. 802.11ac will be ratified by the IEEE later this year with Wi-Fi Alliance certified devices in 2013, but as is usually the case in Wi-Fi we can expect pre-certified equipment will start to become available from the 2nd quarter of this year with the option to software upgrade to meet any final certification requirements.
Wi-Fi + NFC
NFC technology has been around for a few years now and is mostly associated with applications (contactless payments) and wireless device ID (asset tagging), and more recently, the concept of pairing two Wi-Fi devices initially via NFC. Pairing of two Wi-Fi devices and supporting pier to pier connectivity makes a lot of sense, especially for applications such as video streaming and point to point connectivity between mobile devices. The concept of touching two devices together to allow initial pairing before Wi-Fi services take over looks like a very promising fusion of technologies that will allow the consumer to use wireless in a seamless and tactile way not currently realised. Since we often see NFC and Wi-Fi integrated into the same device this union of technologies makes a lot of sense.
See videos from ARM at MWC, HERE.
More blogs from MWC 2012:
- Mobile World Congress 2012: ARM Enabling Great Smartphone Innovation
- MWC 2012: ARM & ARM Partner Innovation All Around
- ARM Mobile Showcase at MWC 2012: Multicore, Security & LTE
- MWC 2012: Cutting Edge Smartphones & Secure Payment Technology
- Samsung Confirms Mali is in the Exynos 5250 Processor
David Maidment, Mobile Segment Manager, ARM, looking in particular at all things ARM based in the wireless connectivity space. Before arriving at ARM in 2012, David has held positions at several ARM Partners in both the handset and small cell space.
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