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SDN Journal Authors: Johnnie Konstantas, Cloud Best Practices Network, Elizabeth White, Sarah Patrick, Ramesh Ganapathy

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Beyond LTE: Enabling the Mobile Broadband Explosion Toward 5G

4G Americas Releases New Rysavy Research Report

BELLEVUE, WA--(Marketwired - August 26, 2014) -  4G Americas, a wireless industry trade association representing the 3GPP family of technologies, today announced the publication of a report by Rysavy Research titled, Beyond LTE: Enabling the Mobile Broadband Explosion. The report compares on multiple levels the mobile broadband technologies of today, as well as the future technologies that are being standardized or planned, and their ability to deliver greater performance in the increasingly complex and challenging mobile computing industry. Comparisons that are provided in the report include throughput speeds for uplink and downlink, spectral capacity, latency, scope and scale, and other important features.

"Major developments for the mobile industry this past year include rapid deployment of 4G LTE networks with expansion to cover nearly all of the U.S. population, deepening smart device capabilities and more sophisticated approaches for addressing data demand which continues to grow unabated," stated Peter Rysavy, President of Rysavy Research and author of this new report for 4G Americas. "Other new developments in the area of spectrum and regulatory policy, to assuage the explosion of mobile broadband traffic, include urgent calls for additional spectrum, and have led to licensing with complex considerations, such as incentive auctions of TV broadcasting spectrum and spectrum sharing between government and commercial entities."

With 6.4 billion connections today, the 3GPP family of technologies is available on nearly 800 networks in more than 220 countries worldwide. It is anticipated that most of those networks will evolve to LTE. Globally, LTE has more than doubled in mobile connections from 124 million at the 2H 2013 to 282 million at the 2H 2014, and the number of deployments has tripled from 96 to 318 commercial networks during the same timeframe. With the first commercial deployment of LTE-Advanced in South Korea in 2013, there are now 17 commercial LTE-Advanced networks with 30 or more expected by the end of this year.

The following are some of the important observations of the paper:

  • Mobile broadband -- encompassing networks, devices and applications -- is becoming one of the most successful and fastest growing industries of all time. Computing itself is transitioning from a PC era to a mobile era with many users never having to use a PC.
  • Consumer and business applications have driven data demand until now, but machine-to-machine communication, also called the Internet of Things, will generate progressively higher volumes of traffic in the future.
  • Cloud computing is a significant and growing contributor to data demand. Growth drivers include cloud-based data synchronization, backup, applications, and streaming media.
  • The wireless industry is addressing exploding data demand through a combination of spectrally more efficient technology, denser deployments, small cells, Heterogeneous Networks (HetNets), self-configuration, self-optimization, use of unlicensed spectrum with Wi-Fi, and the future possibility of LTE operation in unlicensed bands.
  • LTE is the global-cellular technology platform of choice for wireless carriers and the fastest mobile broadband technology ever deployed.
  • The wireless technology roadmap now extends through International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT)-Advanced, with LTE-Advanced capable of peak theoretical throughput rates exceeding 1 gigabit per second (Gbps). Key capabilities include carrier aggregation, more advanced smart antennas, and better HetNet support.

Technology advancements reviewed in the report include:

  • Network Function Virtualization (NFV) and Software-Defined Networking (SDN) tools and architectures to enable operators to reduce network costs, simplify deployment of new services, and scale their networks.
  • New Evolved Packet Core (EPC) network that supports both LTE and interoperability with legacy GSM-UMTS radio-access networks and non-3GPP-based radio access networks. As part of EPC, the Policy and Charging Control (PCC) architecture flexibly manages Quality of Service (QoS), enabling new types of applications as well as more granular billing arrangements.
  • Small cells are currently being deployed by operators; the industry vision is that millions of small cells will ultimately lead to vast increases in capacity. However, to achieve cost-effective deployment, complex issues must be addressed, including self-optimization, interference management, and backhaul.
  • Unlicensed spectrum is playing an ever more important role as a means to increase data capacity. Innovations include tighter Wi-Fi coupling to mobile broadband networks, automatic authentication and network selection, and more secure communications. 3GPP is also studying a version of LTE that will operate in unlicensed spectrum.

And ultimately, the next generation beyond 4G:

  • 5G research and development has started for possible networks in 2020 or beyond. Unofficial initial goals include a broad range of usage models, throughput speeds 100 times higher than what is possible today, sub-1-msec latency, and the ability to harness spectrum at extremely high frequencies

Chris Pearson, President of 4G Americas, noted, "It is increasingly evident in this new informational age that mobile broadband is the key enabler of the connected society. LTE continues its momentum throughout the world and the Rysavy report puts the entire wireless ecosystem into perspective."

The white paper, Beyond LTE: Enabling the Mobile Broadband Explosion, and its accompanying slide presentation, was created in collaboration with Rysavy Research by the member companies of 4G Americas and is available for free download at www.4gamericas.org.

About 4G Americas: Unifying the Americas through Mobile Broadband Technology
4G Americas is an industry trade organization composed of leading telecommunications service providers and manufacturers. The organization's mission is to advocate for and foster the advancement and full capabilities of the 3GPP family of mobile broadband technologies, including LTE-Advanced, throughout the ecosystem's networks, services, applications and wirelessly connected devices in the Americas. 4G Americas contributes to the success of 3GPP technologies and their No. 1 place in the region. 4G Americas is headquartered in Bellevue, Wash. More information is available at www.4gamericas.org or www.facebook.com/4gamericas and www.twitter.com/4gamericas.

4G Americas' Board of Governors members include: Alcatel-Lucent, América Móvil, AT&T, Cable & Wireless, Cisco, CommScope, Entel, Ericsson, HP, Mavenir, Nokia, Openwave Mobility, Qualcomm, Rogers, Sprint, T-Mobile USA and Telefónica.

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