Known as the ng (next-generation) Connect Program, the new industry group will bring together device manufacturers, application developers and content providers who are creating products that utilize 4G wireless technologies such as Long Term Evolution (LTE). Big-name device manufacturers Samsung and Motorola have already signed up, as have software companies such as QNX Software Systems and mobile platform companies such as TuneWiki.
“Our intent with this program is to go beyond the traditional ecosystem,” says Derek Kuhn, the vice president for emerging technology and media for Alcatel-Lucent. “We want to build out a showcase of LTE products from companies that are not traditional telecom providers.”
By pooling their resources, the companies hope to cross-promote applications and content that can be delivered through 4G wireless networks. In particular, the group is concentrating on marketing LTE-based services for five different areas: media and entertainment, e-healthcare, automotive connectivity, mobile advertising and emergency messaging, and cloud computing.
QNX CEO Dan Dodge says that his company is particularly interested in how LTE and other 4G wireless networks can be applied to automobiles. If 4G is implemented successfully in cars, he said that it will mean “no more hard drives in cars, no more out-of-date navigation and mapping systems and no more visits to the dealer to update your software.”
By having a wireless system that is always connected at high speeds, Dodge says that cars themselves will become Internet terminals capable of updating applications themselves.
One of the ng Connect Programs chief goals will be to broaden the scope of devices that connect to 4G networks, including consumer electronics products such as camcorders and televisions, industrial equipment and automobiles. Alcatel-Lucent says that the group will demonstrate end-to-end wireless broadband applications, including a wireless healthcare application that will let doctors monitor patients using handsets and televisions, at this week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The group will also demonstrate how 4G networks can be used to deliver location relevant advertisements and how wireless broadband can expand online music and social networking applications.
LTE technology is considered the next step up in the evolution of wireless GSM-based technologies. Verizon is due to begin offering LTE services commercially in the US in 2010 with AT&T due to follow shortly after. Currently, the fastest commercial mobile data service in the US is the Sprint-Clearwire mobile WiMAX offering, which in demonstrations has delivered peak downlink speeds of 5Mbps.