T-Mobile FLASH-OFDM, Slovakia
In October 2005 T-Mobile launched a new and faster mobile broadband internet access network in Slovakia. The network is Europe's first commercial mobile broadband service (also a world first) and uses Flarion Technologies' (now acquired by Qualcomm Inc. for $600m) Fast, Low-latency Access with Seamless Handoff – Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (FLASH-OFDM) network technology.
The service, which was trialled in The Hague, Netherlands, in September 2004 was launched commercially in selected areas of Bratislava and in 19 other cities around Slovakia in mid-October 2005.
Part of the reason behind the commercial launch is that Slovakia is not well covered by wired broadband particularly in rural regions. The new technology has the power to deliver broadband internet to offices and homes even in areas that lack other telecommunications infrastructure.
Hamid Akhavan, chief technology officer of T-Mobile International, said: “Mobile broadband access is an extremely important asset in today’s world of communication. It will soon become a vital part of countries’ infrastructure. I am very pleased to see T-Mobile in Slovakia be the world’s pioneer for this exciting new technology.”
The service will provide mobile data speeds of 1Mbps average for the downlink and 256kbps average for the uplink, increasing the choice for the consumer beyond DSL and cable.
The operator of the network is T-Mobile Slovensko, the Slovakian subsidiary of Germany's T-Mobile International. The investment was estimated at €115m.
T-Mobile Slovensko is the first mobile operator to have rolled out MMS services, W-LAN and SuperSpeed, EDGE based data services and UMTS in Slovakia.
CONTRACTORS AND EQUIPMENT
Siemens and Flarion have delivered to T-Mobile a complete FLASH-OFDM solution for the 450MHz frequency spectrum including radio router base stations, desktop modems and PC cards. Siemens also had the task of integrating the FLASH-OFDM network into the existing mobile network operated by T-Mobile in Slovakia.
Flarion's FLASH-OFDM technology has an all-IP architecture and allows mobile operators to seamlessly connect business customers to their LANs and residential subscribers to the internet with an impressive speed and low packet latency (>20ms) which exceeds wired network requirements. By using a FLASH-OFDM data card, users need no modifications to their user settings to experience broadband connectivity in a mobile environment.
The spatial extension of the FLASH-OFDM cells in the 450MHz frequency band used makes the technology ideal for providing coverage in rural areas. The technology has been shown to be capable of letting users travelling at 250km/hr (during tests) to download data at speeds up to 1.5Mbps or upload at speeds up to 500kbps. Flarion's technology is currently in market and technology trials with operators which include Nextel Communications (USA), Vodafone KK (Japan), Telstra (Australia) and the city of Washington, DC (USA) for public safety and security communication.
In April 2006 Cisco Systems was contracted by T-Mobile Slovakia to provide its mobile operator solution to process and manage radio access network traffic and FLASH-OFDM network layer integration for the new system. Robert Chvatal, the CEO of T-Mobile Slovakia, said: “With Cisco’s back-end aggregation solutions, T-Mobile gains a competitive advantage by being able to quickly deploy the latest mobile broadband services… we want to provide a broadband internet choice outside of big cities and increase the choice beyond DSL and cable.”
FLASH-OFDM is a new signal processing scheme from Flarion that can support high data rates at very low packet and delay losses, also known as latencies, over a distributed all-IP wireless network. The low-latency enables real-time mobile interactive and multimedia applications. It is also able to offer higher quality wireless service and better cost effectiveness than current wireless data technologies.
While CDMA and UMTS increase the capacity and spectral efficiency viewpoints as compared to 2G and 2.5G wireless networks, there are still issues with these packet networks when applied to wireless data; information is not always sent in high-speed bursts bi-directionally and there is an inherent latency and propagation delay between the two end points.
Flarion's FLASH-OFDM network technology addresses these problems. The Flarion system is capable of sustaining 12Mbps of throughput per cell in a three-carrier, three-sector configuration, peak user data rates up to 3Mbps, full cellular mobility, less than 20ms of latency and full QoS.
RADIO ROUTER TECHNOLOGY
Radio router technology (IP routers with radio adjuncts) uses a radio-transmission framework for packet-based, broadband, IP wireless communications and is designed to make links in an IP mobile network. Since IP network technology is already well developed and inexpensive, RadioRouter systems should be economical to implement.
A radio router network can be built over the existing IP infrastructure, rather than from the ground up like a 3G network. The technology uses OFDM, in which a single channel is divided into several subchannels, each at a different frequency. This boosts bandwidth by letting a system carry several transmissions at the same time. Radio router systems offer a maximum throughput of 1.5Mbps, which is about the same as a T1 line.
OFDM, unlike traditional FDM, uses signal modulation and demodulation techniques, as well as the orthogonal placement of adjacent channels, to minimise interference. Radio routers are a data-focused technology, designed from a data perspective. But they do support voice-packet-switched voice, not circuit-switched voice.
Radio routers can handle packet traffic and serve as the equivalent of cellular base stations. Consumers would connect with Flash-OFDM networks via PC cards in their notebooks and via flash-memory cards in handheld devices.