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The daunting switch from 3G CDMA to 4G Long Term Evolution looks less challenging as of Tuesday with Alcatel-Lucent's announcement of a solution to integrate the two technologies.
The company unveiled its Converged RAN (radio access network), which uses a common network infrastructure capable of simultaneously supporting both CDMA and LTE at the CTIA Wireless show.
While most cell phone service providers have announced their intention to move to LTE and its blazing speeds of up to 100 Mbps, they haven't been too clear about how they will make the move.
The Alcatel-Lucent Converged RAN is a solution because its software defined radio technology will enable the mixing and matching of CDMA and LTE baseband units in the same cabinet. The company noted that multiple frequencies and frequency combinations can be supported in a single footprint.
A means of integrating the various 2G and 3G technologies, and smoothing the way to LTE, has been a priority of Ben Verwaayen, the company's new CEO, who has been presiding over the merging of the two firms -- Alcatel and Lucent Technologies -- along with combining their various telecommunications infrastructures.
The RAN is likely to be welcomed by Verizon Wireless, which plans to move aggressively from CDMA to LTE starting this year. The pressure is on Verizon to accomplish the transition quickly and smoothly because competing technology WiMax is already rolling out. Sandy Motley, head of Alcatel-Lucent's CDMA/EV-DO activities, noted that the reuse of equipment for multiple architectures will dramatically reduce energy consumption for the companies that use the Alcatel-Lucent RAN.
The urgency of the switch to LTE was underscored Tuesday by a report from Juniper Research, which predicted that LTE mobile broadband will generate $70 billion in revenue by 2014. The drive to LTE is so intense, Jupiter said, that the current economic meltdown won't likely impact the growth beyond the short term.
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