LTE & WiMAX – Two Views
If you are a power utility or a public safety agency you have been using the same wireless data technology for decades – Narrow Band FSK, or one of its derivatives such as FFSK, or GMSK. While the rest of the world has seen orders of magnitude increases in data speeds, you have been stuck in the world of the 80’s. That is about the change, a lot. The 20 MHz wide 700 MHz public safety network in the USA and the 30 MHz wide 1800 MHz power utility band in Canad are soon rolling out. We are familiar with public safety video, having designed one of the (if not the very) first commercially available battery-powered portable wireless video surveillance systems. This was hard to do with the narrow spectrum available at the time. LTE/WiMax will bring many benefits: higher video rates, easier deployment, and fewer coverage issues. The change to a public safety infra-structure changes some key things: • Everything in the system becomes a mobile. • Everything is IP based. • Bandwidths are large (Mbps vs kbps). • Setting up a command post wireless system becomes easier. The advent of the standards-based changeable wireless modem card (Sierra Wireless, Novatel, Japser, etc.) will support deployment of upgrade-able systems. Each decision made is no longer a 20 year decision. As the technology advances your system can move with the times. So what are the negatives? • New technology always does old things in new ways, so training will be needed and resistance will occur. • Deployment is always slower than we want or expect, so there will be several years of maintaining both narrowband and broadband equipment. • It will take time to discover and simplify the key applications for this increased bandwidth. With time these new broadband technologies, will greatly enhance the value of wireless to your organizaiton.
The name of the game is Capitalism, and usually those with the most capital win. If your company is supplying LTE equipment to the carriers, then you are a happy camper these days. But if you are a small radio supplier, you might be worried. Over the next decade public safety agencies are going to add rapid deployment video, high speed data down load and sophisticated situation awareness and command and control tools. These are applications that can easily be supported by the 5 to 20 MHz of LTE or WiMAX systems, but not the few kHz of bandwidth available today to most Public Safety radio systems. The situation is the same in the Utility market with Canada allocating 30 MHz in the 1800 MHz band and USA utilities likely to have access to part of the 700 MHz band alongside the public safety agencies. This is scary stuff if your business is wireless voice and low bit-rate data radio devices. Your customers probably intend to stay loyal since they know your equipment works well, but when the bulk of their needs are met by a WiMAX or LTE system the will to maintain a low-bandwidth system will fall victim to a budget manager. So what can one do? – Enter the cash cow phase? – Change markets (where)? – Upgrade your technology – Change your products so they work with and enhance the LTE or WiMAX systems? Clearly the latter two are the way to go – and even better if done in tandem. A good solution is one that bridges your own tech-nologies to WiMAX or LTE. Examples of this strategy might be: – Mobile Push to talk gateway to the LTE – Sensor network gateway to WiMAX – Pt-Pt extensions beyond the LTE or WiMAX coverage If you are selling into a market that will soon be using WiMax or LTE and you need a way to compete please contact us to arrange a free consultation.