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Guest Column

Singing A Collaborative 3G Tune

- Key Players Have Teamed To Open a Smooth Migration to a Global, Harmonized 3G Radio Standard

Columnist:
Dave Murashige
Vice President, CDMA Marketing and Product Management
Nortel Networks

As the industry moves ever closer to the emergence of third-generation (3G) wireless standards and capabilities, key players are forging close alliances to promote a truly global, harmonized 3G standard.

Recent 3G-oriented agreements among leading network designers, operators and equipment manufacturers have removed significant hurdles to the refinement and deployment of 3G technologies. These cooperative efforts are creating powerful economies of scale for both 3G terminal and infrastructure providers, thus further accelerating the industry's move toward global 3G harmonization.

Led by the CDMA Development Group and others, this cooperative effort is yielding measurable dividends in the effort to forge a cohesive wireless future. And thatís music to the ears of operators, manufacturers and subscribers the world over.

3G Progress

A collaborative, market-based approach is now driving the movement towards 3G, as key industry players have joined the effort to identify and implement a global, harmonized standard for third-generation radio technology. These cooperative projects are helping to settle many of the largest 3G questions, and participants are now refining the technological systems needed to support the deployment of 3G-radio technology.

In an agreement announced in June, the Operators Harmonization Group (OHG) proposed specifications for a Direct-Sequence CDMA mode, a Multi-Carrier CDMA mode and a Time Division Duplex CDMA mode within a harmonized 3G CDMA standard. These harmonized parameters support the development of multi-mode 3G handsets and infrastructure technologies, while supporting these three CDMA modes on both ANSI-41 and GSM-MAP networks.

Nortel Networks played an active role in this agreement, providing crucial technical assistance during the OHG discussions, and serving as Rapporteur of the Manufacturers' Ad Hoc group during detailed technical evaluations.

Nortel Networks is also an active participant in the TR45.6 forum, which is developing the mobile IP network architecture for 3G CDMA.

As noted by industry observers, Nortel Networks is uniquely qualified to help lead the movement towards 3G harmonization. The Yankee Group recently ranked the company's Wireless Internet strategy number one among the major wireless infrastructure equipment suppliers. The Yankee Group ranking analyzed each vendor's end-to-end approach, including IP and ATM market positioning, air interface positioning, articulation of next-generation wireless network architecture, and coverage of service and enterprise market segments.

CDMA 3G Migration

So how can the CDMA industry best move towards a harmonized third-generation future?

Industry experts now agree the most productive pathway calls for the creation of harmonized 3G radio standards and an evolution from the current circuit-switched data approach to an IP packet-based network architecture.

As proposed by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) for an evolutionary migration to the IMT-2000 3G solution, cdmaOne supports a low-risk and flexible phased evolution to 3G, called cdma2000. The first step in this transition to cdma2000, also referred to as 1xRTT, calls for the development of technical standards delivering peak data rates of 144 kbps for stationary or mobile applications. In addition, 1xRTT also offers up to 2 times RF capacity gain relative to cdmaOne, which will help increase the cost-effectiveness of CDMA voice and data substantially. Future evolutionary steps will produce a harmonized 3xRTT solution expected to deliver peak data rates of up to 2 Mbps.

In addition, both 1xRTT and 3xRTT are backward compatible to cdmaOne. Thus, cdmaOne operators will have the unique advantage of leveraging and protecting their cdmaOne investments, while evolving towards 3G and enjoying the superior cdma2000 technological and features benefits.

Implementation of these next-generation standards will offer wireless operators dramatically improved encryption, security and authentication technologies. The harmonized 3G standards will also support advanced multimedia capabilities and voice-over-IP services. For operators, a smooth migration towards 3G-radio technology will depend on the nature and flexibility of their current second-generation network architecture. Today's most successful 2G networks rest on an open, scalable architecture that opens a clear, cost-effective pathway to 3G.

Nortel Networks envisions a convergence of wireless communications and the Internet into a single, packet-based network structure for delivery of Wireless Internet services. This approach combines the proven value of mobility with the exciting multimedia capabilities of the Internet, and supports the evolution of CDMA, TDMA and GSM operators to 3G.

To provide the architectural basis for the Wireless Internet, Nortel Networks has created Unified Networks* solutions that incorporate routing, optical, wireline, wireless, switching and IP technologies, and will provide the seamless pathway needed to support a smooth transition to next generation service capabilities.

3G Benefits

The advent of truly harmonized third-generation wireless radio technologies will yield measurable improvements for both subscribers and CDMA network operators.

Wireless subscribers will enjoy "anytime, anywhere" access to a wide range of advanced voice, data and multimedia services. 3G-enabled networks will allow operators to offer sophisticated voice and messaging features, high-speed data transfers, video conferencing, real-time location-based services, high-resolution imaging and graphics, mobile Internet and intranet access, and other still-emerging IP-driven applications.

Operators will also reap significant advantages from a global 3G wireless radio standard. Once fully deployed, a 3G radio and packet-based network architecture will give CDMA operators the ability to use as much as 90 percent of their networks' engineered capacity. It promises to deliver up to a six-to-one reduction in network elements, a 50 percent improvement in trunking and backhaul efficiencies, and measurably lower OAM&P requirements.

This will also dramatically reduce the cost of operating a wireless network. By improving network efficiencies, 3G wireless and packet technologies are expected to produce an order of magnitude reduction in total network operating costs by the year 2004. Those savings will measurably reduce the cost of delivering subscriber services, allowing operators to use competitive pricing to attract new customers while boosting overall network profitability.

With data speeds projected to approach 2 Mbps in the not-too-distant future, operators will be able to offer better quality and lower costs on a broad spectrum of popular voice and data services. CDMA operators who have deployed future-oriented 2G networks can now leverage the value of those existing infrastructures, meet the growing worldwide demand for multimedia data services, and start the migration to harmonized 3G radio standards.

These next-generation benefits will be available to operators in both existing markets and for those pursuing greenfield opportunities. A phased Wireless Internet strategy delivers revenue-generating potential at every step and represents the most practical, manageable 3G migration pathway. Aggressive CDMA operators the world over are now positioning themselves to take maximum advantage of the 3G landscape.

Recent progress by the Operators Harmonization Group, the CDMA Development Group and others has taken the wireless industry several steps closer to the realization of a single third-generation standard. By singing a more collaborative tune, these key groups are taking steps toward a global, harmonized 3G future.


(8/5/1999)

 


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