By Prince Osuagwu
Controlling a major share of the growing ICT markets in the Middle East and Africa, it may not be totally strange or surprising to industry watchers, that the new baby in telecommunications advancement, Long Term Evolution, LTE has already berthed in Nigeria.
What may actually be interesting to see, is the intrigues that would play out as the technology tries to cut its way into the market that is yet to settle down properly with the dynamics of Wimax and 3G technologies.
With its amazing speed, LTE since its debut recently, it has revolutionalised a lot of advanced societies which though, have rich telecommunications culture, but are trying to catch up with the level of advanced technologies that emerging economies like Nigeria set-off their telecommunications journey with.
So, while it was not a problem for those countries accepting advancements in their telecommunications platforms, it however seems a lot of confusion for emerging markets which are yet to understudy and harness the full potentials of one advanced technology deployed, before the other raises its heads. Meanwhile, a faster way of growing emerging economies is to engender competition among operators and not among technologies because when operators compete, users enjoy but when technologies compete, a sharp drop in operatorâ€™s product offerings exists, due to high spending on technology offerings.
But there two convictions, Nokia Siemens Network is banking on to survive in Nigeria with this new technology. One; that with its improved and faster data speeds to support a suite of multimedia and rich call applications, LTEÂ has the capability of transforming mobile broadband user experience in Nigeria, which is in high demand.
Two; that the Nokia Siemens Networks LTE proposition is based on software upgrades to the 3G networks that are currently deployed by a majority of regional mobile operators including those in Nigeria.
Unveiling its proposition to a select ICT reporters in Lagos, Nigeria, last week, Nokia Siemens noted that it was the first to kick off LTE road show in Nigeria, Morocco, Bahrain, Egypt, Qatar, Saudi, Arabia and South Africa and that in each, there was a feeling of acceptance of the technology because everybody is on the move, and needs the highest speed in service delivery.
Head of Networks Systems, Middle East and Africa, for Nokia Siemens Networks, Mr Mohamed Abdelrehim at the event, said that â€œthe timing of our road show could not be more opportune. With Nigeriaâ€™s growing demand and need for mobile broadband, the growth for the countryâ€™s operators will now come from advanced mobile data service offerings and not basic connectivity.â€
He noted that LTE was the de-facto evolution path of the 3G mobile standard that is based on a full flat IP architecture and is optimized for data and multimedia traffic and that having demonstrated the worldâ€™s first LTE demo with data speeds of up to 160 Mb/s, Nokia Siemens Networks has been at the forefront of developments in this space.
According to him, In Middle East Africa specifically, Nokia Siemens Networks was behind the regionâ€™s first LTE contract with Zain Bahrain, adding that â€œleading the evolution of broadband technology means our customers will be the first to benefit. Today, we are reinforcing our vision of five billion people connected by 2015, via a showcase of the latest next generation mobile broadband technology to mobile operators in the region.â€
For him, LTE will truly revolutionize the regionâ€™s mobile market, changing the way businesses and individuals communicate. The technology will unleash a plethora of new devices such as Internet telephones and videophones to end user services such as teleconferencing, telecommuting, to wider benefits in medical services such as remote diagnosis, interactive distance education, rich multimedia entertainment, digitally-controlled home appliances and much more.
â€œWhatâ€™s more the Nokia Siemens Networks LTE proposition is based on software upgrades to current 3G networks that are currently deployed by a majority of regional mobile operators,â€ added Abdelrehim
At the heart of the Nokia Siemens Networksâ€™ solution is its Flexi Base Station that supports multiple technologies from GSM/EDGE and WCDMA/HSPA to LTE on a single platform. Being only 20% of the size and weight of a conventional base station, it is energy efficient and designed to minimize the overall cost of network operation and maintenance.
Depending on accelerating demand
Another factor which the Nokia Siemens network is relying on is the demand for high bandwidth networks as noted by the GSM Association (GSMA). The association recently reported that the rate of growth of high-speed packet access (HSPA) mobile broadband connections has increased by nearly two-thirds in the last year, according to figures from the Wireless Intelligence database. That means there are now more than 9 million new HSPA connections being added globally every month, compared with 5.5 million a year ago, and demand is accelerating.
Director of technology at the GSMA, Mr Dan Warren, said that â€œHSPA technology continues its phenomenal growth as thousands of operators, vendors, application and service providers back the technology, ensuring the presence of a vibrant and competitive ecosystem.
This expanding ecosystem also encompasses the next generation of GSM technologies, HSPA+ (HSPA Evolution) and LTE.â€ As the GSMA notes, there are now 62 HSPA+ network commitments around the world, with 36 running live commercially, and the next benchmark for the mobile broadband peak downlink data speed will be 21 Mbits/s.
Nokia Siemens says more than 50 mobile operators have already committed to LTE plans, trials or deployments that will take this speed well beyond 100 megabits.
However, whether it would make a headway in the Nigerian market which is battling to fully maximamise the 3G and Wimax technologies is only left to been. Although the company says its interactions with the Nigerian operators are producing a hopeful positive results.