With the goal of significantly boosting wireless speeds, Ericsson Canada Inc. and Rogers Communications Inc. are running trials of 3G high-speed downlink packet access (HSDPA) wireless services and converged IP multimedia subsystem (IMS) applications over their cellular network in Toronto.
The partners expect the trials – to be conducted over the next six months – will increase wireless speeds from the current average of 300-400 Kbps to multimedia transfer rates of 2-3 Mbps, and enable convergence of the various cable, wireless and wireline networks.
HSDPA – an upgrade to universal mobile telephone system (UMTS) – provides the fastest data rates, peaking at 14.4 Mbps, of any 3G technology, and is expected to launch commercially in 2006.
IMS – an IP-based service creation technology – will enable Rogers to introduce new multimedia voice, data, audio and video services (quadruple play) in a single service environment.
“HSDPA is really an evolutionary step over and above the UMTS systems currently being deployed widely around the world,” said Mark Henderson, president and CEO of Mississauga, Ont.-based Ericsson Canada Inc. “It’s the next natural step in high-speed wireless broadband access technology.”
Henderson said HSDPA was being deployed on a wide scale right now in the U.S., and would be commercially available early in 2006. As well, Ericsson has about 35 IMS commercial platforms already operating worldwide, with companies like Reston, V.A.-based Sprint and Telefónica of Madrid, Spain.
"What we’re doing with Rogers is not so much a technology trial. Because it is a commercial platform, it’s more an implementation trial," Henderson said. "It's putting [the new system] into the Toronto market, which is Rogers’s most difficult, dense market with some of the more challenging RF propagation issues." The trial, he said, would enable the partners to determine how the system was tuned and optimized from an implementation and logistics point of view.
The Ericsson executive noted that Rogers had a wide range of assets in the telecommunications space. "It’s the largest cable and wireless operator and now, with Sprint Call-Net, is also in the wireline play. This technology on the wireless side, on the cellular network, just gives Rogers the last leg of the stool because now we have broadband everywhere."
According to Bob Berner, executive vice-president and chief technology officer for Rogers Wireless Inc., IMS creates a platform that lets you manage call connections in an integrated fashion from outside of the traditional network control systems. “When you want to make things work cross-platform – mobile wireless, cable TV, digital video, broadband IP network, digital telephone – IMS lifts those call-control functions out of individual network platforms and puts them in one place,” said Berner.
Henderson said IMS represented the glue between the network’s service layer and the transport layer, providing carbon functionality for service delivery, regardless of the access methodology. He said when IMS was put on the network, it allowed Rogers to develop an application that would be delivered seamlessly over the cable network, through its wireless network or over the wireline network. It moved Rogers from the scope of work where they would have to vertically integrate every application.