ITU decision marks 4G milestone

The evolution of mobile broadband has taken another step forward with the formal acceptance of 3GPP Release 10 and Beyond, also known as LTE-Advanced, as an officially designated 4G mobile technology.

At a meeting in China on 20 October this week, the ITU-R Working Party 5D formally accepted LTE-Advanced, as proposed by the 3GPP Organisational Partners, as one of the two successful candidate submissions for the first release of IMT-Advanced.

According to a soon to be published ITU report, LTE-Advanced is one of the two technology candidates that successfully meet all of the criteria established by ITU-R for the first release of IMT-Advanced.

“This landmark decision by the ITU is an exciting step towards the true next generation of mobile broadband communications”, commented UMTS Forum chairman, Jean-Pierre Bienaimé. “As proposed by the 3GPP Partners, LTE-Advanced is the next iteration in a continuum of wireless standardisation at a global level that spans almost three decades.

“Some half a dozen commercially launched LTE networks based on 3GPP Release 8 are already giving customers an early taste of the possibilities of ultra-high speed mobile broadband”, added Bienaimé. “Offering dramatic increases in data rates, capacity and enriched service possibilities compared with WCDMA/HSPA, today’s first ‘3.9G’ networks give a hint of what our true 4G future will look like.”

It’s now anticipated that ITU Member States will approve the report at a meeting of ITU-R Study Group 5 in Geneva towards the end of November. It is expected that work on Release 10 will be effectively completed during 2011. In early 2012, an ITU-R Recommendation will specify the in-depth technical standards for these radio technologies, giving vendors and operators a clear target to start building 4G networks. While industry estimates vary, this timeframe points to initial LTE-Advanced deployments around 2015.