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New smartphone OSes, network technologies vie for attention in Barcelona

Mikael Ricknäs | Feb. 22, 2013
ZTE will launch the first phone based on Firefox OS for consumers and LTE-Advanced will make several appearances

The company shipped 4.4 million Windows Phone-based Lumia devices during the fourth quarter, which was a step in the right direction. But in "2013 Nokia has only two options: either significantly grow sales or change its strategy, radically," IDC analyst Francisco Jeronimo said via email last month when Nokia announced its results.

Other devices that are anticipated to be announced in Barcelona include a tablet from Samsung with a 8-inch screen and a successor to Huawei's Ascend P1.

LTE will be a common theme for both devices and networks. For the technology to take off on a larger scale, there need to be more devices available at different price points, not just expensive high-end ones. On Thursday, LG Electronics launched the Optimus F series, which aims to bring LTE to the masses, according to the company. On the network side, there will be demonstrations of LTE-Advanced, including technologies such as carrier aggregation, which increases download speeds by combining two or more blocks of spectrum in the same or different frequency bands into one channel.

Voice over LTE (VoLTE) will also be an important topic with a number of operators launching services this year. Telefónica recently demonstrated the ability to move a phone call from LTE to a 3G network without disruption, and at Mobile World Congress Ericsson will demonstrate the world's first LTE-FDD (Frequency-Division Duplex) to LTE-TDD (Time-Division Duplex) voice call with China Mobile, ST-Ericsson and device partner Renesas Mobile. The goal is to show VoLTE has matured, according to the Swedish company.

However, the most important task Ericsson and competing companies such as Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia Siemens Networks and Huawei have is to help operators handle growing data volumes in their networks.

To do that, they intend to offer a multitude of different mechanisms starting with the use of so-called heterogenous networks, which use different-sized base stations and several networks, including Wi-Fi and LTE. On Tuesday, Nokia Siemens said it will extend its small-cell portfolio at the show to include new smaller base stations for LTE and Wi-Fi, designed to complement standard base stations in areas where there are a lot of users.

Mobile World Congress takes place from Monday through Thursday.


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