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The big news for 2010: 4G...or is it G4?

4G is clearly a very powerful marketing at present. Ned Taleb, CEO and Co-Founder of Nexius, offers his executive commentary on why he thinks 4G is one of this year’s most buzzed-about topics.

The first quarter of 2010 has just come to an end and a colleague at Nexius recently asked me what seems to be the hot topic with our operator customers and the technology press and analysts this year. My simple answer: 4G.

From Apple previewing the 4th generation of its revolutionary iPhone to operators racing to launch their 4th generation networks, 4G is the marketing term of the moment.

At CTIA Wireless in March, I saw 4G news everywhere. Every major US wireless operator spoke about their 4G plans at the show:

Verizon said it expects to roll out LTE in nearly 30 markets to cover 1/3 of all Americans by the end of 2010. This is the biggest LTE rollout and the first to market in the US;

not to be outdone, however, AT&T announced that its 4G vendor trials are underway and that it plans to begin commercial rollout early in 2011;

while T-Mobile didn’t dive deep into 4G, it did announce plans to make a faster HSPA+ network available in markets that serve 180 million people by the end of the year. Since HSPA+ is backwards-compatible with T-Mobile’s current 3G technology, its customers can continue to use their existing handsets to enjoy considerably faster network speeds;

Sprint made perhaps the biggest 4G news at the show showcasing America’s first 4G smartphone, the HTC EVO 4G, which it will launch on the Clearwire WiMAX network. Sprint CEO Dan Hesse said in his address, “LTE will be the larger of the two standards, but we couldn't wait. We have enough spectrum that we can add other techs later."; and

even MetroPCS, a smaller operator, announced that it will launch its 4G LTE service in the second half of 2010. It is also working with Samsung to launch the first LTE handset, the SCH-r900, on their network later this year.

However, it isn’t just operators and Apple talking 4G. Even Avatar director James Cameron recently jumped on the 4G bandwagon by pointing out that faster 4G networks would be the key to delivering 3D applications on the phone. To be precise, he actually said faster “G4” networks would be the key…but he makes movies, not cell phones. His audience is Generation-X, Generation-Y, and beyond. He cares not for the enabling technology platforms but what they can do to bring media such as Avatar into the palm of the next generation of audience. So G4 it is, in as far as it really matters to our clients and customers.

Clearly 2010 is all about speed, firstly in getting to market quickly, secondly by launching faster networks and faster devices, and thirdly in delivering content to consumers at the speeds they demand.

It really does not matter which 4G wireless operators deploy. Be it WiMAX in the interim or LTE in the longer term, the objective is the same: to enable the realisation of the future of wireless services and applications. Everyone from wireless operators to Apple to James Cameron wants to deliver these services by uniting the best technology platforms with the fastest networks and the next generation of smart devices.

We feel fortunate that Nexius has had the opportunity to work with so many of these leading companies to develop our 4G network rollout strategies as well as create, deploy, and integrate the services and applications that these networks enable. It is great to be at the centre of such fast-paced innovation. Only time will tell who wins this battle for 4G dominance. Let’s check back next year, perhaps at CTIA 2011, to find out.

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