During a demonstration at Ericsson Canada Inc.’s lab in Montreal this week, Keith Shank, director of the manufacturer’s advanced technology labs in Dallas, Texas, showed journalists a prototype LTE client, about the size of a tablet PC.
“I believe that you’ll see the devices built into systems, not necessarily as phones by themselves,” Shank said. “We’ll see them built into cars, built into homes.”
He showed how a consumer could, in theory, download four movies simultaneously over a wireless network and at one point was able to download at 169 Mbps.
“We’re looking at bandwidths which are incredibly large,” he said. “Will any one user get that? No. I think a lot of people are going to get between 5 and 20 Mbps.”
LTE is the name for the third generation partnership project’s (3GPP) standard for fourth-generation wireless services. LTE is not available in Canada, though Verizon plans to start trials in the U.S. this year.
“We never are overestimating how much bandwidth an end user wants,” Shank said.
Ericsson employs about 1,800 workers in Canada, said Mark Henderson, president of Ericsson Canada. Of those, about 1,500 work at the Montreal facility, located in an old manufacturing plant in the Town of Mount Royal that Ericsson bought in 1991.
The lab includes on-site daycare for employees’ children and a cafeteria, plus a wall with about 300 plaques displaying patents for technologies developed in Montreal.
“The products that are developed here in Montreal are integrated and exported worldwide,” Henderson said.
The lab also has a global service delivery centre, which employs about 600 tech support staff answering calls from carriers around the world during normal working hours. Calls outside of Eastern time working hours would be taken by Ericsson staff in Europe or Asia.
The building also has 20,000 square feet of test plant space, complete with base stations, where engineers run network traffic through the hardware and software. The equipment uses closed antennas, meaning all traffic runs through cables rather than radio frequencies, because Ericsson does not have wireless spectrum licences for Montreal.
A recent report by Dell’Oro group showed Ericsson is the top wireless infrastructure vendor, with 33 per cent of the market. Nokia-Siemens is the runner up with 20 per cent market share, while Chinese manufacturer Huawei has 14 per cent.
During the Ericsson media tour, company engineers demonstrated various technologies, such as a wireless transmitter on a bicycle.
Mark Murphy, who works at the Dallas innovation lab, was at Montreal to show how information from the bicycle gets sent to a Web app made from their SDS or software development studio.
The bicycle had a GPS units with a small tablet PC, connected by Bluetooth to three sensors. One measures the cyclist’s blood oxygen and heart rate, another measures body temperature and the third measures outside air temperature
Ericsson also showed a cellular tower design, known as a tower tube, with a windmill on top. The equipment is not used in Canada yet but has been installed in Europe.
Shank said you can put equipment from more than operator in one tower instead of having separate towers for separate carriers or networks
“I can hang all of my equipment inside this tower tube so there’s no longer any metal structure,” he said, adding the tower is cooled by sucking outside air in from the bottom and pushing it out through the top.
Ericsson also demonstrated a social networking application known as Pixl8r. Designed as a social networking site for users uploading photos from their mobile phones, Pixl8r lets customers from different carriers connect to each other if they use their respective carriers’ photo sharing services.