As noted in the March issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY magazine, although AT&T has announced its plans and vendors for LTE (News - Alert), the wireless provider also has made clear it aims to continue to leverage its 3G network investment for some time. Given Alcatel-Lucent is one of the two big awardees of AT&T’s LTE business, it probably doesn’t come as a surprise that ALU today is unveiling a variety of solutions aimed at addressing the mobile data explosion on both 3G and LTE networks.
New today is 2G and 3G Gateway (News - Alert) GPRS Support Node functionality on Alcatel-Lucent’s 7750 Service Router-based mobile packet core gateways. That means this gear can now be used in both GPRS/EDGE, HSPA, HSPA+ and LTE networks. The 7750 SR has been in global LTE trials since 2009 and becomes generally available in the second half of 2010.
Alcatel-Lucent (News - Alert) today also introduced the Wireless Mobility Manager, which enables service provider packet cores to support HSPA and HSPA+ as well as LTE. Lindsay Newell, vice president of marketing for Alcatel-Lucent's IP activities, tells TMCnet that the WMM delivers high performance signaling. He says smartphones generate a lot more signaling load on the network than do traditional cellular handsets because “they’re a lot more chatty with the network.” Also, where today mobile subscribers usually have one connection to the network – either using the phone or Internet capability, in the future people will have multiple sessions per device, so that will increase the signaling load as well, adds Newell of Alcatel-Lucent, a key supplier of next-generation wireless gear to industry leaders AT&T and Verizon Wireless.
The new Alcatel-Lucent 5780 Dynamic Services Controller, meanwhile, allows for policy management on both 3G and LTE networks. And ALU’s existing 5620 Service Aware (News - Alert) Manager, an IP management system, has been expanded to include packet core gateway and policy manager support.
As it selected Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson (News - Alert) as its LTE suppliers in mid February, AT&T reiterated its earlier announced plans to do LTE trials later this year and early commercial deployments starting in 2011, which the carrier says will coincide with widespread availability of equipment and LTE-compatible end user devices. However, even as AT&T last year publicly embraced LTE, it made new investments to upgrade 3G cell sites to HSPA 7.2 technology, for which it offers 10 end user devices.
Although AT&T has been lambasted for poor coverage and capacity on its 3G network, which has seen heavy traffic in light of the introduction of the iPhone, the company has made clear it aims to continue to leverage its 3G network. That is evident in these new 4G supplier agreements, which stipulate that the 3G equipment delivered by Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson to AT&T starting this year must be software-convertible to LTE, so the company doesn’t have to rip out hardware when it needs to make the long-term evolution.
Edited by Michael Dinan