When it comes to the FCC’s ongoing auction of 700 MHz spectrum, the buzz around WiMAX has been louder than a Georgia sawmill on a busy day. Even the WiMAX Forum has entered the picture with plans to develop specifications for 700 MHz spectrum adding to the noise and creating the general impression that WiMAX will drown out any other wireless broadband user.
Ericsson, though, maintains that WiMAX is not the only way to use this chunk of air being abandoned by broadcasters and acquired for multiple billions of dollars by an as-yet unnamed crowd of potential broadband wireless service providers. There’s also HSPA and its offspring LTE and that’s where Ericsson’s focused.
“From our perspective we could care less about the competing technologies. What is of most interest to us is to offer whatever technology our customers want for whatever they want to use it (spectrum) for,” said Arun Bhikshesvaran, CTO and vice president of strategy for Ericsson North America.
As long as those customers want LTE.
“The beauty of LTE is that the momentum is now really global and it’s coming from HSPA, CDMA and TD-CDMA,” he said. “All these operators that are part of the global momentum have shown their support because they can see that this LTE technology will provide the backward compatibility to their existing technologies.”
Ericsson’s plans are to go ahead and develop 700 MHz HSPA gear and then migrate that to LTE. This, said Bhikshesvaran, is similar to the path the company took when operators started moving from GSM to HSPA.
“The right technology has to have the flexibility to work in multiple modes; has to have the global economy of scale that comes from having a good ecosystem to support it; and in some ways has to take it all to a platform that everybody can enjoy on a global basis. Those are some of the criteria that we use when we decide on what technologies to offer in what bands,” he said.
And Ericsson has decided on LTE where it has “trials ongoing this year both from a device platform and from a network perspective,” he said. “We will supply it to anybody who wins built out in the mobile broadband network for applications that require backward compatibility.”