Monday 24 August 2009

EU commits to LTE-A future

Communications industry executives have welcomed the EU's commitment to fund research work on LTE Advanced , the follow-on technology from LTE that many mobile network operators have only just started embracing, but also cautioned on the timescales involved in deploying the next generation technology.

Earlier last week, the EU said it would invest 18 million Euros ($25 million) in developing the next generation of LTE, beginning on Jan. 1, 2010.

Between 2004 and 2007, the EU supported research on optimization and standardization of LTE -- the WINNER I and II projects, run by a consortium of 41 leading European companies and universities -- with 25 million Euros.

LTE Advanced is the first version of the mobile standard that might actually match the International Telecommunication Union (ITU)'s requirements for wireless 4G networks. It promises performance in the region of 1Gbit/s downlink when the user is stationary and 100 Mbit/s on the move.

The specs for LTE Advanced are in very initial stages and will be a part of 3GPP Release 10, which is scheduled for 2011, and may slip into 2012.

LTE by itself is considered to be really a '3.9G' technology and it is LTE Advanced that will deliver on the 4G promise of minimizing differences between wired and wireless broadband speeds. LTE Advanced calls for support of peak data rates which are as high as 1Gbit/s.

The investment will provide a base for migration, as well as experience with running 4G networks - and help evaluate whether/when the upgrade to LTE Advanced will be needed.

Operators have only now started embracing LTE, and are making plans to migrate their current 3G offerings to LTE by 2012.

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