(Updated) This morning TMN demonstrated the potential of LTE (Long Term Evolution), the technology that supports the fourth mobile generation and that can speed up data transmission to 100 to 150 Mbps. Alfredo Baptista, PT administrator, explained that the next step will be the implementation of a pilot, later this year, but that TMN will only move ahead with commercial implementations in 2011.
The demonstration marks a debut in Portugal, where tests have been carried out mainly in the laboratory. TMN is the first of the three mobile operators to demonstrate the results of experiments carried out in a real environment and, in its case, have Nokia Siemens Networks as a technological partner, already with international contracts and with commercial base equipment.
Alfredo Baptista said that the company is working on investment scenarios and that it still does not have numbers to advance, but guaranteed that – as Zeinal Bava had promised in October last year – a pilot will also be carried out in Brazil later this year.
“This experience shows that the technology is ripe to go on the ground, it is in the Go phase, but there are two essential issues yet to be realized”, recalls Alfredo Baptista, detailing that the first is the availability of terminals at affordable prices, since for the time being the offers are practically limited to cards for PCs, and the availability of the spectrum.
In this area, an auction is expected to be launched in 2010 by Anacom, for the 2.6 GHz band, to which the spectrum of the 800/900 MHz band (the so-called digital dividend) can be added, when it is available.
LTE technology is supported by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) and the maximum speeds achieved to date exceed 320 Mbps. In the demonstration today made by TMN in a real environment, access to websites and videos was shown through two PCs with LTE cards and a nodeB base station in the same room. The speed reached has stabilized at 100 Mbps. The transfer of 4 HD videos in real time was also tested, maintaining constant speed.
In addition to Nokia Siemens Networks, TMN is working with all technology suppliers with which it already has partnerships. Last year, the company opened a tender in which seven technology manufacturers participated, including Nokia, Ericsson, Huawey, ZTE, Alcatel, Motorola, Cisco and Nokia Siemens Networks, which today supplied the equipment for the first public experiment.
Also in October last year, TeK had made a round for the mobile operators to understand the investment intentions but the general opinion was that the technology would not be practical soon.
However, this is not the vision of the manufacturers, who have been investing heavily in LTE, as shown by the news from the last Mobile Communications congress in Barcelona, where equipment was presented in various areas.
LTE has been adopted in Europe as the fourth generation mobile technology, but in the United States Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility are also investing in networks supported by this technology. The first commercial services supported by LTE were made available by TeliaSonera in Stockholm and Oslo in December last year.
Editor’s Note: The news has been updated with more information.