Carriers to Spend $18 B on 3G Successor

ABI Research reports cellular service providers will invest billions in high-speed long-term evolution (LTE) networks, a rival to WiMAX

3G is ancient history and the HSDPA flavour of 3.5G is fast becoming yesterday's man - it seems mobile operators are already gearing up for LTE, or long-term evolution, the next iteration of cellular networks that could see speeds eventually reach 100Mbps.

According to a report from ABI Research, operators will spend $18bn investing in their LTE networks up to 2014.

LTE will, however, be challenged by the emergence of WiMax, which some operators including Sprint in the US are already deploying and which ABI Research predicts has a two-year lead over LTE.

Nevertheless, some big name operators have already come out in the LTE camp. Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin last month said the mobile industry must move faster on LTE, while T-Mobile's new CEO Hamid Akhavan recently said he expects LTE to deliver 20Mpbs to mobiles by 2009.

When LTE does eventually make its appearance, it's thought it will enable a whole host of mobile services including cellular VoIP as well as broadcast mobile TV which doesn't run on any of the current standards, such as DVB-H.

The future of LTE remains clouded by the question of spectrum availability and standards, however.

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