It’s all about carrier aggregation
Decisions which can radically affect the course of the cellular industry are frequently announced at MWC and 2014 is no exception. However, although a Vodafone & Huawei, link up could provide a really big boost for the cellular sector, its significance could be lost because it involves network infrastructure not devices. Nonetheless, it is a breakthrough. The pair have proved it’s possible to combine what were previously regarded as disparate resources – FDD and TDD LTE spectrum. Not only that but in this case the partners are promising impressive speeds – over 500Mbit/s.
“The cost efficiencies for an operator of leveraging the full range of spectrum assets available is unquestionable,” explained Steven Hartley, a principal analyst with Ovum.
He continued, “But most operators have so far shied away from the technical complexities involved.”
“That an industry (and FDD) stalwart of Vodafone’s scale backs a dual-mode approach is notable, yet this announcement is not a complete surprise.”
“Back in 2009 Vodafone, Verizon, and China Mobile called on vendors to develop equipment and devices supporting both modes.”
It is something of a surprise to GoMo News that Vodafone and Huawei are so closely co-operating because we’d always thought that Vodafone had opposed the deployment of Huawei infrastructure equipment for the London Olympics. Must have been wrong then.
Anyway, as Hartley says, “The benefit of CA across FDD and TDD LTE is that operators can combine cheaper TDD spectrum with more ‘traditional’ FDD spectrum to boost capacity and downlink speeds.”
Who’s going to be the biggest winner out of all of this? Well, Ian Fogg, director of Mobile Analysis with IHS Technology thinks it’s Huawei.
“Huawei is using its 4G infrastructure business to boost its handset business,” Fogg explained.
He added, “This is an old but proven model. It’s what Nokia and Ericsson did back in the day but have since given up on as Samsung and Apple have shown smartphone success does not need a strong accompanying infrastructure business.”
That’s more the case for Apple than it is for Samsung, of course. Samsung has very definite infrastructure ambitions, GoMo would argue.
Anyway, Hogg reckons that,”Huawei is benefitting now from the network-handset synergies because of the switch to 4G network technologies, but longer term the strategy will deliver less support for its handset business as the 4G market matures.”
It will be very interesting to see how the industry views these developments with hindsight.
The heavy duty technical stuff over CA [Carrier Aggregation] can be found here.