LIVE FROM GSMA M360 NORTH AMERICA: Executives from Alcatel-Lucent, ZTE and Verizon gave their opinions as to what has enabled the US to become a market leader in 4G technology, leapfrogging many countries which had previously led the way in terms of advanced mobile network services.
Both Alcatel-Lucent, addressing the market from an infrastructure viewpoint, and ZTE, looking at the market primarily as a handset player, highlighted the strength of the ecosystem beyond purely network connectivity, which has led to the creation of a compelling end-to-end proposition for consumers.
“Being close to the device and app ecosystem helps, because there’s a resonant transfer of those innovations into the demand for networking, and the ecosystem and network infrastructure rises up at the same time. That symbiosis is very healthy,” said Marcus Weldon (pictured), CTO of Alcatel-Lucent and president of Bell Labs.
But he also noted the role that operators have played in rapidly rolling out advanced network technology.
“The other thing is a clarity in the operator’s head that the network was the next big thing. You need infrastructure to innovate, and there was a clarity of purpose and an ambition, because of the market dynamics here, which allowed to happen,” he continued.
Lixin Cheng, president of ZTE here in the US, echoed this theme.
“It is very important to have a reliable and mature network, in order to have a good user experience. But remember that users experience the quality of network through the device. The device should always think about how to better utilise resources, in the most efficient way, so you can make sure that end consumers have a better experience,” the executive said.
“With the limit of resources which is spectrum, and the user experience expecting a similar internet to that they have at home when on the go – or even better, with video streaming and at 10,000 feet – it is very important to look into this whole ecosystem end-to-end, which is device, the pipe and the cloud. That’s the key for the innovation focus for the next years,” he continued.
Tony Melone, CTO of Verizon, noted that the company’s technology position and desire to move toward a global standard, meant that it moved to LTE at an early stage, which in turn had an impact on the strategies of its competitors.
“This is going to sound a little self-serving, so I apologise, but I do think that Verizon went big, early with LTE. And we had reasons for that, being a CDMA player it was strategically important for us to do that. But I think we drove a lot of that in the US and the fact that we went big, coupled with the fact that the network does matter, that resonated and our competitors followed,” he argued.