After the dongles: the surprising march of the multiple devices
IDATE has just released its new market report “LTE Devices”. This report provides an overview of the LTE devices market with availability roadmaps for LTE devices for each region. It also includes a device typology (smartphone, tablet, M2M, dongle, personal hotspot…) and case studies of LTE chipset & devices manufacturers, along with an analysis of the players’ positioning in the LTE battleground. It also proposes detailed forecasts for LTE devices sales revenue & unit shipments.
“The LTE ecosystem is growing from strength to strength with more than 200 operators already having announced their commitment to LTE technology”, says Frédéric Pujol, the head of Mobile & Spectrum practice at IDATE. “By the end of June 2011, 19 operators had launched LTE service and at least 16 more are expected during the second half of the year.”Positioning and strategies of main LTE device players
The advent of a new Radio Access Network technology is often a game-changer in the mobile industry. It brings with it a raft of new challenges but, above all, new opportunities for players in the industry, especially chipset manufacturers, mobile device manufacturers and Mobile Network operators who may find a way to add further differentiation in the expanding arena of mobile competition.
• For chipset manufacturers, it will be seen that, in order to be able to succeed, the increased capabilities of mobile devices increasingly require competencies in various areas not limited to baseband. In our judgement, this will see Qualcomm, NVIDIA and ST-Ericsson establishing themselves as Tier 1 players in this market
• For mobile device manufacturers, the challenges will be to have the best possible integration of 4G into existing devices, with, of course, a series of challenges: technical, cost, IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) and Time To Market. Each of the device manufacturers has so far adopted different strategies. Some, such as Apple, have adopted a cautious approach, waiting for the technology to mature for mass market adoption. On the other hand, device vendors such as HTC or Samsung and LG have entered the market very early in an attempt to differentiate themselves and increase market share. In the long term, however, we do not see early LTE adoption into devices as an entry barrier for newcomers.
• For Mobile Network Operators, mobile devices are also key in their promotion of their new ultra fast network. Several important choices are to be made regarding which device to put on offer, at what level of subsidisation, with which mobile OS (operating system) and with what support for legacy services such as SMS and voice. The issue here is that, on the one hand, they have to make available a sufficient range of devices to appeal to potential subscribers whilst, on the other hand, represent a sufficiently broad market for device manufacturers to dare invest in new products for their network. So far, Verizon has been capturing most of the evolved LTE FDD devices announced so but this situation can be confidently expected to change soon, especially in Asia and later on in Europe.
• With the TD-LTE ecosystem currently growing, we expect to see multimode handsets coming to the market in 2012: Mobile WiMAX and TD-LTE will be combined into handsets in order to provide a smooth transition path for Mobile WiMAX operators switching to TD-LTE. LTE devices combining FDD and TDD capabilities are also expected for operators deploying the two duplex modes on their networks and to facilitate international roaming.
• Voice on LTE networks: initial LTE rollouts rely on Circuit Switched (CS) fallback for 3GPP operators meaning that voice will be carried over 3G networks. Verizon Wireless is planning to launch VoLTE by mid-2012 when its LTE coverage matches its 3G coverage. Adoption of VoLTE is expected to take many years as the transition to full-IP requires an IP Multimedia Sub-system (IMS) platform.
• Preferred LTE bands around the world are likely to be the Digital Dividend (700 MHz in the USA, 800 MHz in Europe), 1800 MHz and 2600 MHz bands. However, regional differences are likely to remain. This has a significant impact on the growth of the LTE device ecosystem as the selection of frequency bands is likely to be driven by national constraints first. Regional harmonisation is likely to be the next step and international roaming is expected to be a headache.
Project Manager, Head of Mobile & Spectrum practice
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