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Marketing Next Generation Mobile Networks

Mobile phone service provider marketing teams have been truly challenged to create winning offers to attract demand for 3G value-added services. To date, efforts have essentially been fruitless. The result, a significant investment in network infrastructure is still underutilized.

On this backdrop of poor performance, there's now a new plan for even further investment.

Long Term Evolution (LTE) of 3G technologies is about include Rel-8 of the 3GPP standard, planned for the third quarter of 2007. This will be the trigger for development of components and systems to provide 100 Mbps download speeds to mobile devices.

According to a new study from ABI Research, network operators will invest a total of almost $18 billion in LTE capital infrastructure over the period to 2014. ABI believes this will yield a significant payoff, both in reduction of operating expenses and in the potential creation of new revenue from IP-based services.

"LTE faces competition from other broadband wireless technologies and it will need to demonstrate clear technical and economic advantages to convince network operators," says ABI Research analyst Ian Cox. "WiMAX has a two-year lead over LTE but suffers from not being backwards compatible with current 3G technologies. LTE will not only be backwards compatible with UMTS but is likely to be used to upgrade CDMA networks as well. But, the industry is also working on HSPA+, which could offer the same performance in a 5MHz bandwidth. Without additional spectrum, operators face a difficult choice."

Cox further comments that, "The industry is also making progress in avoiding intellectual property rights issues in the new standard. Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGMN) has been set up by leading operators to ensure a level playing field."

For users, says Cox, LTE will enable broadband services, including VoIP, to be offered over SIP-enabled networks. Each service will be IP-based, offering high data rates and low latency, with online gaming becoming a reality along with mobile network data speeds comparable to those of fixed networks.

For vendors, LTE will allow development of a new market to replace declining 3G revenues. For operators, an all-IP network with simpler, flat architecture will reduce operating costs. Now all that's needed is customer demand which results in meaningful revenue. Otherwise, consider this scenario as the sequel to -- new technology in search of a market.

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