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3GPP Mobile Broadband Innovation Offers Operator Choices on the Path to 4G

2/4/10 - 3G Americas announced that it has published its highly anticipated resource report on 3rd Generation Partnership Project ( 3GPP) standards and their evolution to IMT-Advanced, or 4G. The white paper, " 3GPP Mobile Broadband Innovation Path to 4G: Release 9, Release 10 and Beyond: HSPA+, SAE/LTE and LTE-Advanced ," provides in-depth examination of 3GPP technology standards from a technical, business and applications standpoint.

"The 3GPP technology standards deliver mobile connectivity to more than 4 billion users worldwide today and have been developed to continue evolving to higher levels of performance with mobile broadband innovation," said Chris Pearson, president of 3G Americas. "GSM operators can choose to evolve their networks in ways that best suit their assets and business environments with benefits that offer flexibility, scalability and economic advantages, whether they choose HSPA+ or LTE."

UMTS-HSPA is the world's leading 3G technology and is the preferred choice for the majority of wireless operators and subscribers today and into the future. The global demand for wireless data services continues to drive the rapid growth of HSPA technology with 303 commercial HSPA networks and over 454 million UMTS-HSPA subscriptions reported at the end of 2009 by Informa Telecoms & Media. Informa has further projected that by year-end 2012, worldwide subscriptions to UMTS-HSPA will reach nearly 1.4 billion; by year-end 2013, global UMTS-HSPA subscriptions are expected to exceed 2 billion, rising to 2.8 billion by the end of 2014. GSM-UMTS-HSPA subscriptions provide the foundation for future evolutions to 3GPP Release 9, Release 10 and beyond with HSPA+, LTE and LTE-Advanced.

"Wireless data consumption is increasing faster now than ever before," said Adrian Scrase, 3GPP Head of Mobile Competence Center. "Smartphone usage is experiencing higher volumes and the superior user experience offered by such devices is resulting in quickly rising demand and escalating use of wireless data applications. This is consequently driving the need for continued innovations that are supported by the efficient and successful 3GPP technology path."

"3GPP Mobile Broadband Innovation Path to 4G: Release 9, Release 10 and Beyond: HSPA+, SAE/LTE and LTE-Advanced ," is a comprehensive resource intended to assist members of the wireless industry as well as interested members of the general public in understanding details of the work in 3GPP on Release 9 and Release 10. In addition, the report further describes the features of Release 8 that were closed in March 2009.

Release 9, which is targeted for completion by March 2010, will provide increased feature functionality and performance enhancements to both HSPA and LTE. The report reviews additional multi-carrier and MIMO options for HSPA and features and enhancements to support emergency services, location services and broadcast services for LTE. Other Release 9 enhancements include those to support Home NodeB/eNodeB (i.e. femtocells), Self-Organizing/Self-Optimizing Networks (SON) and the evolution of the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) architecture.

LTE will serve to unify the fixed and mobile broadband worlds. As an all IP-based technology, LTE will allow expansion of the Internet experience on mobile devices and deliver multimedia content to the screen of choice. The vast majority of leading operators, device and infrastructure manufacturers support LTE as the mobile broadband technology of the future and, according to Informa Telecoms & Media, 130 global operators have announced trials or intentions to evolve their networks to LTE. Two commercial networks have already been launched in Norway and Sweden by TeliaSonera in 2009 and as many as 20 will be launched in 2010.

"All roads lead to LTE -- for GSM, CDMA, newly licensed and potentially even WiMAX mobile operators," Pearson added. "The appeal of the 3GPP technology roadmap is no longer suited for only GSM operators."

While work for Release 9 is nearing completion, significant progress has already been made in 3GPP on work for Release 10, which includes LTE-Advanced. In fact, 3GPP already submitted a proposal in October 2009 based on LTE-Advanced for the IMT-Advanced evaluation and certification process led by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The ITU has defined requirements that will officially define and certify technologies as IMT-Advanced, or 4G, and is expected to evaluate submitted proposals by standards organizations for potential certification in the 2010 timeframe; certified 4G/IMT-Advanced technology specifications are projected to be published by early 2011.

As part of Release 10, some of the key LTE-Advanced technology enhancements include carrier aggregation, multi-antenna enhancements and relays. Assuming LTE-Advanced is certified to be IMT-Advanced compliant, 3GPP targets completion of the Release 10 specification by year-end 2010.

"The white paper by 3G Americas provides an excellent overview of the work by 3GPP in determining the standards on the path to 4G," Scrase said.

By Robert Hoskins

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