updated 02:35 pm EST, Tue January 22, 2008
3GPP Finalizes LTE Spec
The specifications for the upcoming fourth-generation Long Term Evolution (LTE) have been finalized, the wireless standards group 3GPP says. In its final form, the 4G cellular technology will use the same basic multiple-in, multiple-out antenna concept as 802.11n Wi-Fi to greatly improve the bandwidth over today's 3G technology. By piecing together multiple signals the technology can achieve as much as 326 megabits per second in downloads on a 20MHz slice of the wireless spectrum; uploads peak at 86MHz, says the standards body. The finished version of LTE also cuts latency down to 10 milliseconds between the tower and the user, allowing relatively time-sensitive activities such as video calls or games.
News of the approval comes after Nokia has already demonstrated the 4G cell service in action, reaching 173Mbps in real-world tests that involved an interference-prone downtown environment and several users connected to a station at once. Practical use may see a further drop once service is commercially available and more users are present on a single network.
LTE is expected to form the backbone of mobile Internet access across both Europe and North America in the next few years. Both AT&T and Verizon have said they plan to roll out LTE networks by the turn of the decade that will ultimately replace their respective EVDO (Verizon) and HSPA (AT&T) 3G Internet services and should also allow global roaming with Vodafone, which owns a stake in Verizon and similarly intends to use LTE.