New Technology Gives Mobile Phone Maker a Shot to Battle With Top Players
Paik Woo-hyun, center, chief technology officer of LG Electronics, poses with Ahn Seung-kwon, left, head of LG’s mobile division and Choi Jin-sung, head of its Mobile Communication Technology Research Lab, after LG unveiled the industry’s first LTE modem chipsets at its technology compound in Anyang, Gyeonggi Province, Tuesday. / Courtesy of LG Electronics
By Kim Yoo-chul
ANYANG, Gyeonggi Province ― LG Electronics Tuesday unveiled modem chipsets for its fourth-generation mobile platform ― Long-term evolution or LTE ― the first among mobile handset makers here.
Despite some lingering doubts, LTE has been gaining momentum, with mobile makers eager to lock in on operator commitments by marketing 3G gear that can be later upgraded to LTE.
"The equipment based on the advanced technology standard is capable of supporting wireless download speeds of 100 megabits-per-second (Mbps) and upload speeds of 50Mbps," Paik Woo-hyun, LG's chief technology officer told reporters in a news conference at its Mobile Communication Technology Research Lab in this satellite city, west of Seoul.
"We've already secured 300 patents related to the technology," Paik said.
LG officials say users can download a 700MB movie file in less than one minute at speeds of 100Mbps on a handset equipped with LTE chipsets, while simultaneously streaming four high-definition movies with no buffering.
Higher download speeds have been emerging as a crucial factor to meet needs of customers who rely on their mobile phones to watch movies, listen to music and browse the Internet.
"LG will strengthen talks with traditional partners Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile for the possible expansion of devices with LTE technology," Ahn Seung-kwon, chief of LG's handset business said.
"The time is still not on our side for LTE expansion, with the industry's mainstream 3G wireless networks available on a global basis," Ahn added.
Ahn expects the commercial launch of LTE chipset-equipped phones in 2010, if networks are in place and the standards have been implemented.
Industry watchers say mobile phone makers are likely to deploy LTE initially in urban areas with HSDPA bridging the gap between 3G and 4G in suburban and rural areas.
According to a forecast by Juniper Research, 80 million WiMAX subscribers are expected by 2013. Three billion cellular subscribers exist today.
Ericsson has already launched a 4G LTE mobile platform with download speeds that far surpass the 3G platform and Qualcomm is eager to jump into LTE.
LTE's success depends largely on how major phone makers will embrace the mainstream WiMAX bandwagon, and whether WiMAX lives up to its promises and if LTE materializes on time.
More global wireless carriers, including China Unicom and NTT Docomo, are moving to the LTE camp.
LG's new chipsets, however, means competition between its bigger rival Samsung Electronics will be getting fiercer.
Samsung, the world's No. 2 handset maker, is still a betting big on WiMAX, a technology that allows the user to access high-sped Internet and other data applications wirelessly.
Samsung missed building 2G networks and is a late entrant in the networks race. It also aims to leapfrog earlier technologies and solidify its leadership as a major player in WiMAX.
"WiMAX services should be expanded. Samsung needs more support from the South Korean government for the market," Choi Gee-sung, chief of Samsung Electronics telecommunication division said.
Samsung plans to export WiMAX-related equipment to Baltic countries and Lithuania early next year. The Nokia chaser was exporting the equipment to the United States, Japan and Russia, according to a Samsung spokesman.