What is LTE?

February 9th, 2012 in .News & Events
Suds McSoapdish
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You’ve probably heard about LTE when it comes to mobile device network performance, and indeed it’s a term bandied about quite often when speaking of 4G. LTE stands for Long Term Evolution, referring to the future development of so-called 3G technology. It’s promulgated by the 3GPP, or 3rd Generation Partnership Project. That’s the same umbrella organisation of technology companies and research bodies that has been responsible for GSM, GPRS, EDGE, W-CDMA, and HSPA. The 3GPP has been working on LTE since the mid 2000’s, with concrete releases arriving in 2008, and then again a year later. The current LTE 2009 release still holds valid, but has been added to in creating what is known as LTE Advanced. While the original LTE qualifies as 3.5G, LTE Advanced meets 4G criteria as set by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

Imagine your friendly smartphone with a turbo charger strapped to it

The basic idea

Each “G” of cellular/mobile communications has brought a bigger data bandwidth, stronger error correction, better interference remediation, and added features such as tighter encryption. Every subsequent generation has made mobile communications faster, clearer, and more private and secure. The ITU classifies standard LTE as 3.5G, but considers LTE Advanced as a 4G candidate system.

LTE Advanced, or LTE Release 10 and upwards to give it its formal name, meets the core requirements for 4G:

-          Seamless worldwide roaming

-          Compatibility with services such as internet browsing, multimedia, messaging, and so on

-          Compatibility with other wireless standards

-          Data rates of up to 100Mbps for “high mobility” mode and a rather impressive 1Gbps for “low mobility” mode. I would assume the difference between the two refers to the nature of the connection, the location, and just how transient the device and user are. So even if you’re on a bus travelling at 40mph, LTE Advanced is supposed to maintain up to 100Mbps to a device like the Transformer. Or if you’re at home on your couch, even better: you get that illustrious 1Gbps.

Compare this to the around 7.2Mbps you get with your standard HSPA, and it looks really good. There have been HSPA+ revisions over the last couple of years that have been able to push speeds to well over 80Mbps, but very few networks support those. Most 3G users get around 8Mbps, according to the 3GPP.

With the more powerful, more pervasive, and more “packed” transmission of LTE Advanced, you’ll be able to get even smoother high definition performance generally well in excess of your current Wi-Fi connection.

Get that weather in extra real real time!

Current deployment

Transitioning to something like LTE Advanced doesn’t happen overnight, as the infrastructure has to be in place to support its faster speeds and stronger signals. Operators and service providers are currently deploying LTE across the world, with the news coming in today that Hong Kong is getting more of it. The UK is still pending, but commercial deployment has already occurred in markets like Japan, the US and Canada, Brazil, Germany, Scandinavia, and Australia. China, Russia, France, and Spain are expected to roll out LTE Advanced access in the next year or so.

What would you do with 100Mbps anywhere on your mobile device of choice? Imagine your current 3G connection running ten times faster…the biggest application I can think of right away is proper multiplayer gaming on mobile in a majority of titles, not like now, where it’s the exception.

The 3GPP has plans to attend the Mobile World Congress 2012 in force, so you can expect more news in the near future.

Good times are coming fast!

Main page post image copyright 2012 3GPP

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  • http://twitter.com/cloudsmesh Vishal

    Nice article.