The super-fast mobile broadband technology LTE is the way of the future, says technology giant Alcatel-Lucent.

In Auckland for the launch of Telecom's new mobile network, Philippe Keryer, president of the French-based group, said LTE, rather than WiMAX, would be the technology of choice for mobile operators upgrading from 3G technology.

"LTE is a unique opportunity for Alcatel-Lucent because it is the first time you have one single technology which is positioned as an evolution of both the CDMA world and the GSM UMTS world," Keryer said.

He said the company could leverage its number one position in CDMA - Alcatel-Lucent built Telecom's existing mobile CDMA network and its new W-CDMA XT Network - and the fact that it had continued to invest "massively" in W-CDMA.

Keryer said recognition of its expertise was the announcement this year that Alcatel-Lucent, in partnership with Ericsson, would build an LTE network for Verizon Wireless in the United States.

Verizon Wireless - part-owned by Vodafone Group - plans to commercially launch the LTE network in 2010. Verizon said field trials had delivered peak download speeds of 50 megabits per second - roughly 25 times faster than the mobile networks now deliver in New Zealand.

Keryer said the backing of a big operator such as Verizon to deploy such new technology was a very strong statement about Alcatel-Lucent's position in the market.

Asked how Telecom might choose to deploy LTE in the future, given its position of having networks based on both CDMA and W-CDMA technology, Keryer said how and when Telecom might make the leap to LTE was "definitely their choice".

But the availability of the high-speed mobile technology was helping Telecom think about the smooth and natural evolution of its networks to LTE in the future.

Keryer said that despite WiMAX promising similar capabilities to LTE "it's absolutely obvious that LTE is the technology of choice for all mobile operators for their evolution towards broadband".

He said the speed at which mobile operators moved to LTE depended on how long they would rely on their current 3G networks.

"But the long-term view is that all the roads are leading to LTE when it comes to mobile operators," Keryer said.

This view was taken into account when Alcatel-Lucent made its strategic outlook announcements late last year.

The company said it would reduce its spending on WiMAX technology in favour of LTE.

Keryer said WiMAX was more likely to be deployed as a "last mile" connection in a traditional fixed-line network than as the technology of the future for mobile operators.

He said the telecommunications environment had not been left unscathed by the economic downturn.

Alcatel-Lucent's first-quarter results, announced this month, showed year-on-year revenues had fallen 6.9 per cent.

The company said it expected the market to continue to shrink between 8 and 12 per cent in 2009.

Keryer later flew to China, where Alcatel-Lucent was one of the first Western companies to enter that market with a Government joint-venture.

THE NEXT WAVE

* LTE - Long Term Evolution: The next wave of mobile technology promising super-fast wireless broadband speeds.
* Commercially available in the United States in 2010.
* Both GSM-based networks in New Zealand (Vodafone, Telecom XT Network and 2degrees) and CDMA networks (Telecom's current mobile network) could be upgraded to LTE.
* No indications have been given when LTE might come to New Zealand.
* Alcatel-Lucent: French-based technology giant formed out of the merger of Alcatel and Lucent in 2006.
* More than 77,000 staff and €16.98 billion in revenue.
* Major clients in the region include Telstra and Telecom.