RealTime IT News

Who's Shaping The Mobile Future?

A group of mobile carriers has come together to help develop the future of wireless.

Sprint Nextel , T-Mobile, Vodafone, NTT DoCoMo, China Mobile, Orange and KPN want to use the influence of the Next Generations Mobile Networks (NGMN) initiative to shape the development of next-generation wireless networks.

"As major players within the industry and heavy consumers of mobile broadband infrastructure, we believe that the future of mobile networks should be determined by a mix of technical and performance standards," Thomas Geitner, chair of NGMN Ltd., said in a statement.

The group formed the U.K.-based NGN Limited to expound its work with existing standards organizations to extend mobile networks beyond HSPA and EVDO .

The organization's founding principles include the assurance of fast data speeds, low operation and maintenance costs, legacy compatibility, authentication and security, as well as differentiated quality of service.

In a statement, Geitner said as operators "we will be able to bring a whole new perspective to the debate and continue to ensure that we give our customers exactly what they want."

"Presenting a unified block is an important statement to the industry," said Ken Rehbehn, research director of wireless services at Current Analysis.

While Sprint is a CDMA operator, and many of the other companies involved in the NGMN plan have adopted GSM, they all share a common goal: building the requirements of a mobile WiMAX network.

"For some time, 2G and 3G operators didn't speak with a single voice," explained Steve Falk, Sprint's vice president of global standards. That lack of unity allowed vendors to set the requirements.

The group will provide guidance to vendors, preventing what Falk said would otherwise lead to a fragmented 4G mobile network similar to current mobile systems.

Similar to the NGMN plan, Verizon Wireless offered its own Advances to IMS, or A-IMS as a way to prevent what the carrier feared would result in standards bodies orphaning current multimedia applications.

Hinting at how they believe the next mobile network should be offered, the companies said future wireless networks must "focus on existing infrastructure and spectrum allocation," according to a statement.

It's a case of "use it or lose it," David Chamberlain, analyst with In-Stat, told internetnews.com. "The FCC made it clear they've got to use that spectrum."

In August, Sprint became the first U.S. carrier to invest in mobile WiMAX .

Sprint, along with Intel, Motorola and Samsung, will spend $1 billion in 2007 and almost double that figure in 2008.

Sprint President and CEO Gary Forsee said the WiMAX system would not hinder its plans for future EVDO and would use the same 2.5 gigahertz (GHz) frequencies it owned.

"One of the real nightmares is what frequencies WiMAX will run on," Chamberlain said.

The battle for a next generation mobile wireless network is being fought between what Chamberlain called the "Net Heads" and the "Bell Heads."

Sprint and other carriers are Bell Heads and could wrest control of tomorrow's mobile network.