There should be more than 40 LTE-based networks under deployment within the next two years, according to the Global Mobile Suppliers Association. These will be capable of supporting data rates of over 100Mbps and lower latency levels than previous mobile communication generations (5ms-10ms). Infonetics predicts that by 2014 the worldwide LTE infrastructure market will be worth 11.5 billion, while Wireless Intelligence expects there to be 300 million subscribers utilizing LTE connections by 2015.
“LTE will herald a new age for mobile communications, with provision for far greater data transfer, thanks to its reliance on packet-switched rather than circuit-switched technology, leading to the emergence of exciting new multimedia applications” states Philippe Suel, International Development Director of Livingston Group’s test division, “however, there will be major obstacles that need to be overcome, both of a technical and a commercial nature.”
The technical challenges are well understood, such as maintaining high level Quality-of-Service (QoS) or ensuring interoperability with the existing infrastructure so that handover issues do not arise between the LTE and legacy UMTS/GSM networks. Little consideration has been given so far to other factors though. Advanced network testing equipment is required for these projects, and finding the budget to acquire such high value items could prove difficult for contractors charged with carrying out LTE deployment. Also there will be further modifications to technology standards as true 4G mobile communication emerges.
By renting test equipment rather than following the tradition route of direct purchase, it is possible to avoid the need heavy capital expenditure on LTE test equipment. This means that the costs associated with test hardware can be more closely matched to its use, and it is not a drain on resources the rest of the time. This approach also allows a greater degree of flexibility, so that future changes in wireless standards can be adopted without additional outlay.
In order to addressed these issues Livingston has put in place a range of different rental/leasing options so that specific sourcing needs are catered for. It has also made heavy investment into state-of-the-art test equipment from the world’s leading suppliers.