Verizon CEO Dick Lynch’s first contact with Ericsson’s CTO Håkan Eriksson in Atlanta in 2004 marked the start of a long and increasingly warm relationship between the two companies.
In June 2005, Lynch sent two of his experts, Ted Hoffman and George Zeisman, to Kista to get more detailed information on Ericsson’s ideas about the alternatives in the 4G contest: LTE, CDMA Rev C and WiMAX. This visit was followed by a carefully planned high-level meeting, which included Jan Uddenfeldt.
There then followed a period of intensive contacts in which Ericsson’s and Verizon’s staff analyzed details. A nucleus of a dozen of Ericsson’s development experts made countless journeys to and fro across the Atlantic. Ericsson’s 3GPP representatives Erik Ekudden and Jan Ellsberger raised questions about standards that were important for Verizon to clarify.
One issue was working out how the interface between CDMA and LTE could be optimized. Ericsson established a special team to work with Verizon and the suppliers who were members of 3GPP to create a standard for interoperability between CDMS and LTE. This was how Verizon became a member of 3GPP.
In November 2007, Verizon made an internal decision to focus on LTE as its 4G technology; shortly afterwards, Ericsson and several competitors were selected to take part in Verizon’s tests of LTE in the American market.
The next step came with the auction announced by the US regulator, the FCC, for March 2008. At stake was a broad spectrum in the 700 MHz band that had become available through digitalization of television transmissions in the US. Like its competitor AT&T, Verizon went on a shopping spree to acquire frequencies all over the US; Verizon spent USD 9.4 billion and AT&T USD 6.6 billion.
Both these giants declared that the frequencies were to be filled using LTE technology.
The team from Ericsson Mobile Platforms, led by Andreas Wilde, which dealt with a multitude of questions about terminals and other equipment for use in the LTE network, played an important role in this victory for Ericsson.
Revenge in Barcelona
If Ericsson had encountered general skepticism at the Barcelona Mobile World Congress in February 2007, the event in February 2008 was a triumph.
This time LTE was presented in the main hall. It was now clear to the industry that several major operators were about to adopt LTE – a dramatic change of course. Ericsson described how CDMA technology could also be migrated to LTE. A small portable LTE handset, called Berta, was demonstrated and made a great impression. There had been a lot of talk about the high broadband transmission rates and here was the best evidence yet that it worked.
Berta offered speeds of 140 Mbps. The specification process for LTE in 3GPP was still only half complete, so Ericsson had to treat many of its solutions as proprietary ones. Both the hardware and the LTE interface in Berta were exclusive Ericsson designs.
It now became clear that the WiMAX camp had been forced to further postpone their project. Nokia did launch a WiMAX mobile phone as promised in April 2008 but no WiMAX network was in operation at that time. On the other hand, in April, Ericsson demonstrated an LTE-boosted HSPA solution at the CTIA Wireless event at Las Vegas that offered speeds of 42 Mbps.
This was described as a new world record in data transmission rates using mobile networks. The record was made possible by incorporating 64QAM modulation solutions in HSPA technology and through twin antennas at the base station and in the mobile phone, known as 2x2 MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output).
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