Telecom providers announce LTE standard

Group of companies announces new global standard for LTE broadband wireless technology designed to provide interoperable voice and messaging services.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read

In the battle between LTE and WiMax for wireless broadband, LTE may have just gotten another boost.

A group of leading telecom service and equipment providers, including AT&T, Verizon, Nokia, and Samsung, announced a new standard Thursday for delivering compatible voice and messaging services using Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks.

The standard, dubbed the One Voice initiative, offers a set of technical functionalities that telecommunication companies can use in their LTE services and products to provide both voice and Short Message Services (SMS).

The group of companies setting up One Voice (which also includes LTE proponents Orange, Telefonica, TeliaSonera, Vodafone, Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Nokia Siemens Networks, and Sony Ericsson), see the standard as a way to provide interoperability for broadband voice and SMS services. The goal is to give telecom providers and manufacturers a convenient technical profile for working with each other and save customers from wrestling with different and conflicting LTE technologies.

LTE has been fine at supporting data, which uses IP-based packet switching. But it's faced challenges trying to incorporate traditional circuit-based switching voice and SMS services onto IP-based networks. One Voice is the group's attempt to resolve that issue.

The new specification will use existing functionality known as IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS), which already defines how to provide data, voice, and other content over an IP-based network. IMS was established by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), a group comprised of telecom industry associations trying to set standards for 3G mobile networks.

"Open collaborative discussions have concluded that the IP Multimedia Subsystem-based solution as defined by 3GPP, is the most applicable approach to meeting the consumers' expectations," said One Group in a statement.

In recent years, LTE has been duking it out with WiMax to be crowned the upcoming broadband wireless standard. In one corner has been telecom giants like AT&T and Verizon, both of which have announced plans to deploy 4G wireless networks using LTE.

In the other corner has been Sprint, which is eyeing a rollout of its own 4G network using WiMax. Sprint owns a majority stake in WiMax provider Clearwire, a wholesale distributor of 4G services. Clearwire recently unveiled a huge WiMax testing sandbox in Silicon Valley where developers could play with the technology.

However, Clearwire has been waffling on the choice between LTE and WiMax. In a recent interview with Dow Jones Newswires, Clearwire CEO Bill Morrow said he would be willing to switch to LTE if helped the company.