4G will not be bedeviled with the same kind of legal disputes which marred the roll-out of 3G, according to Michael Mamaghani, director of marketing at Qualcomm, speaking at the Globalpress Summit Conference in San Francisco.
“The world has become more sophisticated in its discussions of 3G licensing,” said Mamaghani, “the IP licensing business has become mature. There are very few disagreements among the major companies on licensing
For 4G, Qualcomm is an LTE advocate. “There has been some excitement and a lot of coverage about Wimax”, said Mamaghani, “but frankly from the beginning I’ve been struggling to see the exact business case for Wimax. LTE is leveraging several hundred million hand-sets that are already commercial.”
Mamaghani added: “70/80/90 per cent of operator revenues are for voice and 10/20/30 per cent are coming from data. Wimax is trying to get revenues from a network designed for data which was not designed for voice. That’s a business model which is difficult to understand.”
Mamaghani does not see the LTE roll out happening soon. “The 3G standard was released in 1999. The mass commercial market which I define as 10m subscribers and ten models of terminal did not happen until 2003/4”, said Mamaghani, “the LTE standard, for the physical layer, was released last year. So 2012/13/14 is when I expect mass market commercialization of LTE terminals.”
In the US, Mamaghani sees the leading proponent of LTE as Verizon. “Verizon is the first to launch LTE in the US, and is in the process of awarding contracts,” he said, “typically the deployment strategy is to put the box in, and add the software later. It takes one to two years to put the box in, so I’d be surprised if we see significant commercial-grade terminals before 2010.”