The EU will be researching 4G networks based on Long-Term Evolution technology, which has the potential to provide mobile Internet speeds that are 100 times faster than current 3G networks. The research will also involve LTE Advanced technology, which is aiming to propel mobile broadband speeds up to 1 gigabit per second.
The EU will also target using radio spectrum more efficiently with LTE networks in order to mitigate the need for multiple antenna sites, as well as reduce energy consumption. The research could also help the EU bridge its digital divide, as roughly 23% of its population does not have access to a DSL Internet connection. The EU is also trying to be at the forefront of the mobile telecommunications space again, as it was instrumental in helping shape the GSM standard that is used by about 80% of the cellular operators in the world.
"LTE technologies will turn mobile phones into powerful mobile computers," said Viviane Reding, the EU's commissioner for telecoms and media, in a statement. "Millions of new users will get ultra high-speed Internet access on their portable devices, wherever they are. This will create tremendous opportunities and plenty of space for growing the digital economy."
The majority of operators around the world are looking at LTE as the technology of choice for 4G networks, but the United States may be facing a standards battle similar to its split between GSM and CDMA. Verizon Wireless and AT&T have committed to LTE networks, but Sprint Nextel is already rolling out 4G networks based on WiMax technology.
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