|Written by David Brunnen|
|Thursday, 09 November 2006 00:00|
Groupe Intellex has pioneered the adoption of Mobile Broadband in Europe and has supported similar initiaives around the world - particularly in articulating the technological and economic benefits of Spatial Division systems with very high spectral efficiency.
The days when wireless systems designers could be profligate in their use of spectrum are fast fading - and, at the same time as spectrum is beoming a scarce resource it is also increasingly difficult for major industry players to argue for global and regional spectrum harmonisation. The case for harmonisation has been severely dented by the massive under-use of the 385MHz of prime spectrum reserved for 3G. The impact on service innovation and customer choice may yet be compounded by emergent calls from the 3G lobby for yet more exclusive spectrum to prop up what is essentially an inefficient legacy design.
Meanwhile, in commercial services and trials around the world the performance of HC-SDMA (an ATIS/ANSI standard - High Capacity - Spatial Division Multiple Access) is demonstrating the strength of a design aproach that is a development from earlier systems deployed largely in Asia-Pac. All systems go through a process of organic refinement and in the West we are familiar with 2G, 2.5G and 3G systems. In the far East it is easier to appreciate that HC-SDMA is an evolutionary step that is hugely informed by the success of more thasn 300,000 base stations that provide PHS and WLL services for around 53 million subascribers. Remarkably, the sort of performance now coming through from 3G (before expensive HS-DPA upgrades) is roughly equivalent to these earleir generations of the spatial division technology family.
HC-SDMA has three great advantages. Firstly it doen't need very much spectrum - less than half that of Wimax and about 5% of 3G. Secondly it works, indoors and out and on the move. Finally, it costs far less than 2/3G or WiMAX to deploy - needing only around 55% of the number of 2G base stations for equivalent coverage.
HC-SDMA is, of course, fundamentally an IP data system - where voice will be handled as VoIP. Whereas most previous mobile services were optimised for voice traffic the world has moved on and one can sense that in developments like EDGE and HSDPA the established manufacturers are attempting to retro-fit data concepts to their legacy technology designs.
The widespread Western technological ignorance of adaptive antenna systems is remarkable. A recent gathering of wireless experts for a lecture at the Royal Society in London suggested that spatial division technology was at such an early stage that the current limits were at 4-antenna base station arrays. The fact that 12-antenna systems have been in fiull commercial use on the other side of the world for several years seemed to have been overlooked.
Groupe Intellex projects in this arena are exploring the vast range of new applications and business opportunities in a world where hunting for a WiFi hotspot will be seen by future generations (of people) as some form of primitive survival behaviour.