The 3GPP's Project Coordination Group acknowledged that a number of different terms related to LTE are appearing, but it has officially approved the following definition of LTE-Advanced, as determined in its bi-yearly meeting last week hosted by Ericsson AB in Kista, Sweden:
3GPP reaffirms that the naming for the technology family and its evolution continues to be covered by the term LTE-Advanced, which remains the correct description for specifications currently being defined -- from Release 10 onwards, including 3GPP Release 12.LTE Release 10 was finalized in April 2011. The reason such a statement was necessary is that operators, equipment vendors, chipmakers and the like are eager to attach their products and services to the name LTE-Advanced, despite the fact that they don't yet qualify.
The same thing happened with LTE back in 2010. The International Telecom Union (ITU) had a working definition of the 4G technology that only actually included LTE-Advanced and WirelessMAN-Advanced, but the operators took such a liberty with it, that it eventually backtracked. The ITU said at the time that LTE could also be applied to the forerunners of these technologies, LTE and WiMax, and "other evolved 3G technologies providing a substantial level of improvement in performance and capabilities with respect to the initial third-generation systems now deployed."
The end result was that everything from T-Mobile USA's HSPA+ to AT&T's GSM adopted the moniker 4G (or fauxG, as Light Reading dubbed it) to the point that a bunch of iPhone 4 owners went around thinking they, too, harnessed the power of 4G. The 3GPP appears to be looking to avoid this scenario with LTE-Advanced, which offers a whole host of improvements over today's LTE networks, including faster speeds, carrier aggregation, improved coverage and capacity.
The ITU's clear line in the sand may not stop the marketing machine, however. There have already been a number of "LTE-Advanced" announcements from companies such as Broadcom Corp., Sprint Nextel Corp., and T-Mobile. And, "LTE-Advanced-ready" is becoming the new tagline as most network operators are working on some of the features in LTE-Advanced's menu of improvements.
— Sarah Reedy, contributing editor, Light Reading