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4G wireless? Don’t hold your breath!

Sep 5, 2007 — by Jonathan Angel — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

What will “4G” (fourth generation) wireless technology be? No one quite knows yet, and it will take three or four years to deploy, according to a new report by research firm In-Stat.

In “The Road to 4G: Will LTE, UMB and WiMAX Just Be Stops Along the Way?,” the firm points out that the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has not even defined 4G yet. In-Stat suggests that what the ITU is calling “International Mobile Telecommunications – Advanced” (IMT-Advanced) may provide that definition.

However, many issues — including what spectrum IMT-Advanced would use — have not been settled. According to an article on the ITU Web site, these issues will be “high on the agenda” at next month's World Radiocommunication Conference.

Meanwhile, according to the In-Stat report, two expected requirements within IMT-Advanced are that technologies be based on Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) technology, and that they support 100Mbps mobile data rates. Three approaches fulfill these requirements, and are said to be the primary 4G technology contenders:

  • Long Term Evolution (LTE)
  • Ultra Mobile Broadband (UMB)
  • and 802.16m WiMAX
According to In-Stat, “Each of these 4G technologies has a head cheerleader, with Intel supporting WiMAX, Ericsson touting LTE, and Qualcomm preferring UMB.” The firm adds that it expects each to be implemented initially in 2010.

But, “looking at the slow uptake rate of EV-DO and HSPA, however, it may be 2012 and beyond,” the report says. In-Stat expects the majority of cellular handsets in 2011 to still be GSM/GPRS and GSM/EDGE models, with EV-DO and HSPA handsets finally overtaking 2G technologies in 2012.

“This points to a slow build-out of 4G networks, in which operators will maintain their 3G networks for a long time, running these as complementary to their 4G networks,” the report says. Analyst Gemma Tedesco adds that initial implementations of LTE, UMB and 802.16m technologies may fall short of throughput and other expectations.

In-Stat's list of tables provides a good flavor of the 58-page report's contents. They are:

  • Mobile WiMAX profiles
  • Technologies comparison: EV-DO vs. HSPA vs. 802.16e mobile WiMAX
  • Cellular handset chipset forecasts per technology
  • Cellular modem chipset unit forecasts for mobile PCs
  • 802.16e mobile WiMAX chipset shipment forecasts by form factor
  • Ericsson's expectation for embedded 3G cellular in mobile PCs vs. In-Stat's forecast
  • embedded Wi-Fi attach rate in mobile PCs
  • WiMAX attach rate in mobile PCs, trending to Wi-Fi's historical attach rate
Available now, the report costs $2,995. More details are available here.

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