Long-Term Evolution (LTE (News - Alert)) is perhaps one of the most exciting developments in mobile technology in the last few years. Helping to drive the next generation of connectivity, and all that comes along with it from cloud operations to mobile conferencing and beyond, it's offering plenty of opportunity. But it's also offering plenty of challenges, and some are already looking at 5G to serve up more opportunity still in the coming years. A new report from Pyramid Research is showing us some of the biggest considerations to make when it comes to developing this new technology to its fullest.
Since there's commonly about a 10-year lag between generations by some reports, that means 4G and 4G LTE are here to stay, at least for now, so getting a handle on not only how to establish an LTE network, but also how to operate said network will prove important. The Pyramid Research report, titled “LTE Business Models: Best Practices in Network Deployment, Positioning and Service Pricing to Maximize Market Opportunity,” offers insight on this front, taking a look at five separate case studies where LTE markets were launched.
One of the biggest points from the report focused on the availability of spectrum. Since LTE deployments can't run without sufficient spectrum to keep the whole process afloat, there have been some positively staggering auctions of late to get hands on sufficient spectrum, along with outright acquisitions of smaller companies that already had some spectrum on hand to allocate. Additionally, the first-mover advantage is a big one when it comes to deploying LTE; those who don't get into the markets first must therefore look to pricing strategies to minimize the other companies' competitive advantage that do land the first-mover position. Companies with the first-mover advantage, meanwhile, can dictate premium pricing, but this is a strategy with its own inherent risks.
But just as important, according to the report, are device strategies. Offering low-cost devices overall that can get in on LTE access, as well as financing options and annual replacement / upgrade options—some even suggest limiting the number of non-LTE devices available to purchase in the first place as a possible strategy—can help drive interest in LTE, and thus keep customers coming back for more. Shared data plans—plans that allow an entire family or business access to one central pool of data shared out among all users—and even car connections are starting to appear as useful options here as well.
What this report really underscores, however, is just how much value LTE can have overall. LTE, in the right light, is the driver behind many common mobile trends; from the mobile workforce to video calling, video conferencing, things like the Amazon Mayday button...many of these things are able to run thanks to LTE. Though all of these don't strictly use LTE, LTE does come into the picture for many, so considering issues of LTE in the operation and establishment of such trends makes plenty of sense in light of that. Like so many things online, it all runs on bandwidth, and LTE helps provide that bandwidth.
Considering how to set up an LTE system so that it's not only easy to work with but also profitable helps ensure that it will be around for some time to come, until 5G or the like can step in to replace it. But if LTE isn't profitable, then 5G can never really be realized, and it's that profit that helps keep development running.
Edited by Alisen Downey