4G: War to End Wars  

The battle between Long Term Evolution and Mobile WiMAX may be escalating into a “4G” war, explains Unstrung.

The International Telecommunication Union, Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R), wants an “official” 4G standard. ITU defines “4G” as 100 Mbit/s (mobile) and 1 Gbit/s in hot spot areas with limited mobility. They call it IMT-Advanced and are looking for proposals.

Currently, cellular providers are talking up the Long Term Evolution (LTE) standard (although it’s not really a standard (yet). LTE is sometimes called “4G”, but it’s really just an evolutionary step to true “4G” — even if the standard still has yet to be fully ratified.

Undetered, 3GPP earlier this month started work on their version of “4G” — LTE-Advanced. It will be the 3GPP’s official proposal for IMT-Advanced. The requirements for LTE Advanced are expected to be firmed up at a meeting in Prague at the end of this month. (See Unstrung’s 3GPP Studies LTE Are Advanced, LTE Hits 300 Mbit/s, and LTE Specs on Track.)

Meanwhile, the IEEE believes their draft standard, WiMax 802.16m, should be the rightful IMT-Advanced standard. It would meet the 100 Mbps (mobile) and 1 Gbps (fixed) requirements of the ITU.

“802.16m should meet the requirements of IMT-Advanced and be backwards compatible with 802.16e,” says Roger Marks, chair of the IEEE 802.16 work group and a senior vice president at NextWave Wireless Inc. “We want 802.16m approved and completely finished by end of 2009.”

The IEEE and 3GPP are pushing efforts to modify their standards to be in line with the ITU’s IMT-Advanced proposals for “4G”.

The technical requirements for IMT-Advanced will be defined when it meets in Dubai at the end of June. The deadline for IMT-Advanced submissions is expected to be around October 2009, says Unstung.

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