Convergence components - mobile baseband

Monday, May 19, 2008

Convergence for me is more relevant from a technology provider perspective. As I alluded to in my previous convergence article, innovative ideas and use cases have always existed. But it is only now that form-factor reduction and power consumption research have caught up with the human mind which generates creative mobility ideas. These technological advances coupled with increased attention to usability have made mobile convergence possible. One of the key effects of these improvements is the inclusion of more radios into the hand-held. So, it will be illustrative to look at the wireless components of convergence along with use cases.

The heart of the convergence device will be the mobile radio. We have the rapidly proliferating 3G standards that combine voice with reasonable speed data services. On one side, we have the Wideband CDMA (WCDMA), and its evolution namely High Speed Data Packet Access (HSDPA), HSPA, HSPA+. On the other hand, we also have the Data Optimized CDMA evolution standard (CDMA1x EV-DO).

Looking ahead, the industry talks of 4G wireless as well. Today, we have two main 4G standards, namely 3GPP Long-term evolution (LTE) and Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX.) LTE is the 3GPP evolution path beyond the HSDPA standards. WiMAX, promoted as THE wireless broadband solution, received a reprieve in the US recently as Sprint finally decided the tie the knot with Clearwire. While mobile WiMAX will have to share the pie with LTE, fixed WiMAX can offer backhaul wireless broadband services as the panacea for the emerging markets.

The transition from 3G to 4G has to be preceded by the maturity and monetization of the existing and future 3G infrastructure. It appears that the 3G networks are slowly ramping up as data becomes a more prominent differentiator in the developing markets. These networks will mature in the next couple of years and thrive for five years or so before slowly being replaced by Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) based 4G technologies that promise much higher data rates and hence more service possibilities.

Keep in mind that from a convergence device perspective, mobile broadband is the key technological driver. So, the cellular baseband modem that is complemented by the Wide Area Network (WAN) coverage from the wireless service providers becomes central to such a device.

Posted by Vijay Nagarajan at 10:00 PM  

2 comments:

Do you have a chart/graphic that illustrates the different types of wireless networks (both voice and data), and how they evolve over time?

Anonymous said...
May 20, 2008 at 4:38 PM  

I do not have one handy now. Will scout for one or create it and post it later this week.

Vijay Nagarajan said...
May 20, 2008 at 11:49 PM  

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