Nokia Siemens Says Shipping 4G-Ready Network Gear

Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) said on Wednesday it has started to deliver technology for emerging high-speed wireless networks.

NSN said it was the first vendor to do so, and it would deliver fourth-generation-ready (4G) mobile network hardware to more than 10 major operators by end 2008. Rival Ericsson was not immediately available for comment.

The gear can be upgraded into much faster Long-Term Evolution (LTE) technology with just new software, meaning lower costs for operators, starting from latter half of 2009, promising a smoother transition than third generation, which required steep investments and took years to gain popularity.

LTE promises to make everything from mobile video sharing to music downloads speedier, but it may not show a visible boost in sales for the network equipment industry any time soon, as the first networks are not expected for two years and many operators will wait longer until the technology matures.

Canada’s Nortel Networks Corp sees LTE as the most likely upgrade path for about 80% of the world’s existing mobile phone providers, with others going for an alternative technology known as WiMax. Nokia Siemens said it expects to see commercial LTE network rollouts from 2010.

(Reporting by Tarmo Virki. Editing by David Cowell.)