Mobile
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11/28/2007
05:10 PM
Elena Malykhina
Elena Malykhina
Commentary
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Super 3G In The Hands Of 24 Million People Predicted By 2012

A new report by Juniper Research forecasts that by 2012, nearly 24 million subscribers worldwide will be using services based on a cellular technology called Long Term Evolution, or LTE, which is often referred to as "super 3G." That means in the next couple of years wireless carriers and mobile device makers will have to step up their game, especially in the United States.

A new report by Juniper Research forecasts that by 2012, nearly 24 million subscribers worldwide will be using services based on a cellular technology called Long Term Evolution, or LTE, which is often referred to as "super 3G." That means in the next couple of years wireless carriers and mobile device makers will have to step up their game, especially in the United States.In a battle of high-speed wireless networks, LTE earlier this month was chosen by the GSM Association as the preferred standard for fourth-generation wireless services. LTE is a successor to a 3G technology known as HSDPA. The other two proposed standards were WiMax and Qualcomm-backed Ultra Mobile Broadband.

According to the author of the Juniper Research report, Howard Wilcox, LTE will begin to achieve significant market traction in the 2011 and 2012 timeframe. He stated:

By 2012, for example, we forecast that [LTE] will represent around 24 million subscribers globally. As the GSM Association has said recently, it is a natural follow-on from HSPA and will benefit from the extensive installed base of [HSDPA] worldwide. Western Europe will account for over half of LTE subscribers in 2012.

The report predicts that LTE will go commercial by 2010, or at least early versions of the technology, and that high definition will become a reality on mobile devices.

That forecast is only two years away. Although most of the major carriers have rolled out 3G networks in the United States, they still offer mobile phones without the capability to use them. The iPhone is a perfect example. Instead of 3G, it uses AT&T's slower cellular technology known as EDGE. Both Apple and AT&T have said that the iPhone's already limited battery life would be shortened even further if it had operated on a high-speed 3G network.

I wonder if that's the sacrifice we'll have to make as manufacturers pack more features into phones and as networks become faster and suck more power out of these phones?

Some testing is currently taking place to figure that whole thing out. Alcatel-Lucent and LG Electronics this month said they completed test calls using Alcatel-Lucent's LTE technology and mobile device prototypes from LG. The companies claim they've achieved one of the industry's first multivendor wireless LTE interoperability testing initiatives.

Juniper Research gives several reasons why we should care about LTE, including:

  • Downlink peak data rates up to 100 Mbps with 20 MHz bandwidth
  • Uplink peak data rates up to 50 Mbps with 20 MHz bandwidth
  • Reduced latency
  • However, a lot of the talk around LTE is still futuristic. Symbian, the world's No. 1 mobile operating system maker, is in the process of developing two mobile technologies that will make smartphones faster and richer in graphics in the future. One is called FreeWay, a new Internet Protocol networking architecture in Symbian OS, which promises superfast download speeds, high resolution audio and video streaming, and good-quality voice-over-IP calls without latency and jitter.

    Whether Symbian's FreeWay and similar mobile technologies can deliver the broadband-like speeds they promise will ultimately depend on availability of LTE and other high-speed wireless services like WiMax.

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