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ITU Approves Next-Generation Mobile Technology

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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The finalisation of IMT-Advanced lays the groundwork for services 100 times faster than today’s 3G

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) announced on Friday that it has finalised the specifications for a next-generation mobile broadband technology “at least 100 times faster” than 3G, while also improving efficiency.

IMT-Advanced, whose finalisation was announced on the closing day of the ITU’s Radiocommunication Assembly in Geneva, will support packed-based telecommunications services on mobile and fixed networks. It is intended as a step up from IMT-2000, the standard behind 3G.

‘True 4G’

The ITU has been working on IMT-Advanced since 2008 and in 2010 completed an assessment of several candidates that had been submitted as the basis for the standard.

IMT-Advanced sets the requirements for “true” 4G – current technologies such as Long Term Evolution (LTE) and Mobile WiMax are sometimes referred to as 4G, but technically are still considered 3G. The next generations of LTE and WiMax (LTE Advanced and WiMax 2.0, or WirelessMAN) will, however, qualify as 4G under the IMT-Advanced rules.

The ITU’s recommendations will be discussed at the ITU’s World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC), running from 23 January to 17 February in Geneva, with the participation of about 150 countries and 3,300 delegates.

“IMT-Advanced marks a huge leap forward in state-of-the-art technologies, which will make the present day smartphone feel like an old dial up Internet connection,” said ITU secretary-general Hamadoun Touré in a statement. “Access to the Internet, streaming videos and data transfers anytime, anywhere will be better than most desktop connections today.”

For moving connections, the standard requires a data rate of 100 Mbps, while for fixed connections it requires minimum speeds of 1Gbps, according to the ITU. It also imposes more efficient use of spectrum in order to support the continued explosion of mobile data traffic. It also provides quality of service (QoS) and rate requirements allowing the development of services such as mobile television and mobile video chat.

4G auctions

In the UK, Ofcom is still working on the delayed process of auctioning the spectrum that will be needed for 4G services, and earlier this month made a number of new proposals ahead of a second consultation into the process.The regulatory authority’s proposals mean that Everything Everywhere will not be reserved spectrum as while it has also suggested that coverage be extended to at least 98 percent of the British population. It had been previously indicated that Everything Everywhere, the UK’s largest mobile network by subscribers, would be reserved spectrum as part of plans to promote competition, but this will no longer be the case.

Three will probably be the only network to have spectrum reserved in order to ensure that there are four operators in the UK, with the network claiming that it could go out of business if it could not secure enough spectrum. In addition, Ofcom is also proposing that some of the 2.6GHz band be shared between companies prepared to experiment with new services, such as those for local mobile networks for student campuses, hospitals or commercial offices which operate on short-range frequencies.