Although an official definition of wireless 4G technology won’t be released until the 2008/09 timeframe in the form of the International Telecommunication Union’s IMT-Advanced requirements, there apparently are clear contenders for the designation already emerging.
According to In-Stat, the primary 4G technologies of the future are expected to be Long-Term Evolution (LTE), Ultra Mobile Broadband (UMB), and IEEE 802.16m WiMAX.
“Companies are extremely uncomfortable talking about 4G technologies, since the ITU has not defined 4G yet,” says Gemma Tedesco, In-Stat analyst. “However, each of the contending 4G technologies has a cheerleader, with Ericsson touting LTE, Qualcomm preferring UMB and Intel touting 802.16m WiMAX.”
Recent research by In-Stat found the following:
Two widely expected requirements for 4G technologies are that they be OFDMA-based, and that they support 100 Mbps for wide-area mobile applications.With the dominant worldwide technology currently being GSM/EDGE, and HSPA and EV-DO handsets not expected to be dominant until 2012, 4G technology rollouts will most likely start in the 2010/12 timeframe.It is widely believed that mobile operators initially will deploy 4G slowly, relying on their EV-DO or HSPA networks to provide for more ubiquitous coverage.Drivers of LTE, UMB and 802.16m WiMAX adoption will include the following: the re-allocation of older spectrum for 4G technologies; the resolution of any WiMAX IPR issues; the creation of FDD profiles for 802.16e WiMAX; the uptake rate of 802.16e in Mobile PCs; the uptake rate of 3G cellular in Mobile PCs; the continued evolution of the mobile handset; and an increase in the uptake rate of wireless broadband technologies into portable CE devices.
Realistically, the research firm says, initial implementations of LTE, UMB and 802.16m WiMAX may fall short of throughput and other expectations, with later enhancements or even some type of technology combination actually bringing real 4G to the table.