Sandy Motley remembers a time when wireless devices were primarily for “road warriors,” and says she still carries an “army of devices,” when she travels. But now, many of her trips are inspired by the new reality of wireless communications. “Today the mainstream use of this technology is phenomenal,” says Motley, and as consumers demand constant wireless communication, Motley is frequently on the road calling on regional U.S. carriers who are thinking about LTE. “This is the year for competitive carriers,” says Motley. “4G is really starting to go mainstream and they’re all moving to LTE.”
As the new COO of Alcatel-Lucent’s wireless division, Motley says she’ll continue her work to help smaller carriers approach LTE thoughtfully and successfully. In her previous role as VP of U.S. wireless sales, Motley made a strong case for LTE as the way for rural carriers to keep up with the growing demand for video, which she says will represent 70% of data traffic by 2014. “This will explode the needs on the carriers’ networks, so we all need to get ready for that and … LTE is the solution,” Motley says. “It will bring great services and great user experiences for video.”
Motley knows it will not be easy for regional carriers. This spring she began her keynote address at the RCA Spring Expo the way Charles Dickens began “A Tale of Two Cities,” saying that for rural carriers it is “the best of times and the worst of times.” Motley says Alcatel-Lucent works with carriers to help them free up spectrum so that they can deploy next-generation services. “Tier-two and tier-three (carriers) do have some unique needs,” she says. “Some are certainly able to get additional spectrum but they don’t have large volumes of spectrum. … We need to work with them to free up spectrum. There are ways to free up (3G) spectrum so they can use if for 4G. They need to have interoperabilty between 3G and 4G; they have to do some data handoffs.”
The other big issues for regional carriers are interoperability between carrier networks and device availability. Smaller carriers worry that they will not be able to recoup their investments in LTE technology if they cannot secure handsets compatible with their 700 MHz spectrum assets, which for many regional carriers are referred to as band class 12.
The Federal Communications Commission is currently considering a proposal to collapse AT&T’s band class 17 into band class 12, thereby increasing interoperability and device availability. AT&T has argued that the move would increase interference on its network.
Alcatel-Lucent walks a fine line as a supplier to both large and small operators. “The features and capabilities that we are developing are certainly for the larger carriers but also for the smaller ones,” says Motley, “Multiple bandwidths need to be supported.”
Sandy Motley is one of RCR’s Top 10 Women in Wireless for 2012. Look for the complete list in our upcoming feature report.
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