News From Telecom World

Vodafone’s Sarin calls for LTE, WiMAX merger

Posted on: December 23, 2008

This article though old, is very relevant in present time. So I thought it might be useful to read.

The telecoms industry should incorporate WiMAX into the LTE standard to avoid fragmentation and confusion, Vodafone chief executive Arun Sarin said Tuesday.

In his opening keynote address at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Sarin also said he believes the time is right for mobile Internet and called for a reduction in the number of mobile handset operating systems on the market.

The LTE (long-term evolution) versus WiMAX debate is confusing, Sarin told conference delegates.

“[There is] potential for WiMAX as part of the LTE standard,” said Sarin, reversing the stance he took on LTE at the Barcelona event last year, when he warned mobile operators that delays in moving to LTE could lead to a loss of market share to WiMAX providers.

Technology debates are not productive, its services and applications that matter, said Sarin.

“Merge WiMAX into LTE,” said Sarin, noting that it could be inserted into the TDD section of the LTE standard.

In response to comments that his standpoint on wireless broadband technologies has changed, Sarin noted that LTE has made good progress in the past year. He added that with a finite number of R&D engineers in the world, merging the standards would avoid the dilution that comes from splitting those engineers into two or three camps.

Sarin was, however, reluctant to disclose Vodafone’s position on LTE, noting that the mobile operator will declare its hand in the course of time.

“Customers will demand faster networks, faster speeds from us,” Sarin went on. HSPA and its variants will not satisfy that need forever and the industry will migrate to LTE in a “reasonable time period,” he added.

Picking up on a theme that has already proved to be ever-present at the congress, Sarin also urged his fellow mobile operator executives to focus on services in order to avoid being relegated to the role of mere access providers.

“We must not allow ourselves to become bitpipes… I encourage you to think about services,” he said. “The lack of success here has significant consequences.”

But encouragingly for mobile operators, Sarin believes that the time is right for mobile Internet.

“I feel that we’ve got all the various piece parts lined up,” he said, indicating that available devices and the right tariff plans will drive the sector. “We are there,” he said.

According to Sarin, HSPA has been able to deliver what WCDMA could not.

“Be confident that you’re on the right path,” he told operators that are ploughing investment into HSPA networks.

Consumers want social networking, email, and instant messaging, as well as voice and SMS, the executive added. “We have to be in all these places.”

Devices will particularly important to the spread of mobile Internet.

“Apple has raised the bar through the iPhone,” Sarin said, making reference to the electronics company’s highly praised user interface.

Internet players and others are making the move into mobile, he said, making reference to Nokia’s multimedia platform Ovi and Google’s open standards Android initiative.

“[Mobile operators must] learn to both partner and compete with these new players,” said Sarin.

He believes the industry would benefit from a reduction in the number of available operating systems for mobile handsets, noting that providing customers with an easier UI would drive usage.

There are 30 to 40 different operating systems at present. “I would argue that that is too many,” said Sarin. Reducing these to between three to five systems “would be a very good thing,” he said, although he was quick to add that having just one OS would not.

“We’ve seen that movie before and we don’t want to go there,” he joked.

Source: Total Telecom

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