OnQ Blog

True or False? Getting Direct about LTE Direct

Nov 11, 2014

Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

True: In the last few months, the hype around LTE Direct has been growing. I first wrote about how LTE Direct is ‘Creating your Digital 6th Sense’ this past summer. As a quick reminder, LTE Direct is an innovative, device-to-device proximal discovery technology that is part of the upcoming Release 12 of the 3GPP standard. Apps using LTE Direct will enable your device to be aware of what’s happening around them at all times, efficiently and privately, changing how you socialize, receive discounts, and connect with people and things. LTE Direct is one of many ways in which we are transforming the role of LTE.

PC Magazine recently highlighted this in the article, “How Qualcomm Is Advancing Wireless Innovation.”

True: LTE Direct took center stage at our recent Uplinq Mobile Developers Conference. This included Facebook discussing the social networking and commerce capabilities of LTE Direct as part of Steve Mollenkopf’s Keynote, as well as many early app developer partners showcasing amazing new experiences with LTE Direct in a dedicated session—from enhancing the consumer experience in shared spaces such as subways, shopping centers, and next-generation stadiums (Control Group, R/GA Labs, Sacromento Kings) to creating hyper-personalized experiences as with apps such as Hyper-Local News and Point-of-Interest Tour Guides (Yahoo Labs). One thing was clear, the opportunities for LTE Direct always-on proximal discovery services are big, and I look forward to seeing the continued innovation as app developers discover new ways to use this technology.

But, as is often the case with new technologies, with the hype, also come the misconceptions and confusion. So, let me try to clear up a few of the most common…

False: LTE Direct allows devices to communicate without the network. Yes, LTE Direct is a device-to-device technology that enables devices to broadcast services, interests, and needs to other nearby (within ~500m) devices in a “direct” manner.  However, LTE Direct utilizes the LTE Advanced network in order to do this. Although, this discovery is happening device-to-device, the LTE network provides the timing, authentication, and configuration to make this possible.

False: LTE Direct is commercial today. Yes, the LTE Direct ecosystem implementation is underway with operator trials ongoing and app developers developing and testing use cases using the trial LTE Direct SDK from Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. However, LTE Direct is part of the upcoming Release 12 of the 3GPP standard, meaning that commercialization is likely over a year away.

False: LTE Direct will eliminate the need for today’s location-based and proximity beacon soluions. Yes, LTE Direct is required to scale up from today’s solutions, empowering mobile apps to create a digital 6th sense by delivering always-on, proximal discovery of thousands of devices in ~500m proximity, in a privacy-sensitive and battery-efficient manner. However, there are still use cases that will require the unlimited range of location-based solutions (e.g., user-initiated seraches) and the micro-awareness of large-scale proximity beacon deployments (e.g., inside a retail environment). The truth is, we must make best use of all technologies for proximity services.

I hope this helps in clearing up a few of the common misconceptions. Although I believe LTE Direct is definitely worth all the hype, it is always nice to separate the facts from the fiction. To discover more about how LTE Direct works, read our new whitepaper.