Friday, January 6, 2012

Right Now, "Speed" is the Killer App for LTE

Many observers would argue there will be no "killer app" for Long Term Evolution fourth generation mobile networks, though virtually everybody expects new apps to develop, at some point. No killer app?

It might be more accurate to say that, at first, the 4G killer app will be "speed and lower latency," compared to 3G. In that case, "speed" is not a "unique new app," but is the value driver.

In fact, speed is a "default" killer app, by design, in some markets where new networks launch with an exclusive focus on PC modems. In that case, the current killer app is mobile broadband access for notebooks and PCs, but "faster."

The largest LTE device segment will be PC modems through 2014, as operators initially focus on mobile broadband access for PCs, argues Pyramid Research.

But after 2014, the PC segment will be replaced by smart phone connections. In that case, one might simply argue that Internet access is the killer app, as it has been for 3G networks. But it also might be argued that entertainment video or various cloud computing services could emerge as key apps that require broadband access.

In 2016, Pyramid Research forecasts there will be 592 million  LTE subscriptions in service, equivalent to 7.3 percent of all cellular subscriptions at that time.

Orange's LTE/EPC Program Director RĂ©mi Thomas says "LTE is not driven by a killer application, but it will essentially be driven by capacity needs," said Thomas. No Killer App for LTE

In other words, the killer value is simply "faster access" to the Internet. Perhaps that is all consumers will require, or that developers will build upon. But some think new apps specific to 4G capabilities could emerge, rather than being "planned for." Killer app is a myth

Other candidates for eventual killer apps might be those which are cloud-based and therefore offer better or new functionality; video services; gaming, telemetry or other "new" apps we haven't discovered yet. Some of us would say the unique "killer app" for 4G is the personal Wi-Fi hotspot. It's an app that is used on 3G networks, but arguably works much better on 4G networks. 

It would be perfectly fine, in one sense, for "faster" to be the unique 4G network value, at least initially. But there are good reasons why service providers would love to discover some novel app that becomes really popular. As was the case with text messaging, large new revenue streams would then be possible. LTE Devices and Applications

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