SingTel and Ericsson unveiled their Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology trial recently. SingTel is the first in the region to successfully power on air the 42Mbps mobile broadband network. Even though 42Mbps network will be available in the second half of the year, SingTel and Ericsson is already featuring even higher speed with LTE.
LTE is often marketed as 4G even though it does not fully comply with the IMT Advanced 4G requirements. Stockholm and Oslo are the first to provide publicly available LTE service on 14 December 2009. Major Telcos around the world are also getting their network to be LTE ready. American Telco, AT&T, announced its rollout of LTE service in 2011. Singapore is not far behind with SingTel rolling out LTE in phrase beginning second half of 2010.
We saw a demo of LTE at 42Mbps. It’s pretty impressive with HD video streaming, Live Cam, 3D map and voice call running at the same time without lag. But do note that the demo unit is most likely the only device connected to the LTE network. Like the current 3G network, the data transfer speed also depends on the number of users around your area. So we will still need to see how well SingTel and Ericsson implement it for commercial.
And like the 2.5G to 3G transition, all your current 3G/3.5G SIM Card, phones and USB dongle needs to be upgraded before you can enjoy LTE. Right not, there aren’t much LTE devices. They were using a Samsung USB dongle modem at the demo. But not to worry, I’m sure all the mobile phone makers are preparing to roll out their LTE ready devices. We can also expect to see more LTE Dongle soon.
One thing to note is that LTE is not meant to replace your home broadband, although I foresee people going to use it to replace their home broadband. (We already seen people replacing their home broadband with 3G Broadband on Mobile) As I mentioned previously, the speed of LTE will also depends on the number of concurrent users around your area. And although 42Mbps may sound fast now, we can expect more bandwidth intensive website and services soon. For home internet use, IDA is rolling out Fiber To The Home in phrases around the island. LTE is still more suitable for people on the move.
And if you have been following my blog, you will know that I use the internet on the move a lot. I can hardly wait for LTE to come. Although my current 7.2Mbps is pretty good for normal usage, it is still not good enough for doing live video streaming. This is something that the Tech65 crew been wanting to do for a long time. We tried a couple of times previously with 7.2Mbps Broadband on Mobile. It can be done, but the video quality is not so good. I think LTE will be a perfect solution.
SingTel’s mobile broadband network will be upgraded progressively over the next 12 to 24 months to be LTE ready. Commercial deployment is slated to take place in phases, subjected to the availability of frequency spectrum and commercial LTE mobile device. No announcement of the plans and pricing yet. All we know is that it will be made affordable to consumers.