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Could LTE Offer Better Battery Life?

Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks could help improve device battery life -- at least in theory -- thanks to a radio technology that will be deployed by Verizon Wireless and others as the technology is launched in 2010 and beyond.

Unstrung wrote about Verizon's new LTE Website on Friday, highlighting possible real-world speeds for the technology and asking about the actual launch date for the initial markets.

Data speeds, however, are not the only aspect of the technology that Verizon is covering on its new site. The carrier also states that LTE will help improve power consumption requirements on mobile devices:

The SC-FDMA uplink transmission allows for user equipment to transmit low power signals without the need for expensive power amplifiers. Improvement in battery power consumption in end-user devices (UEs) is a side-benefit of the coverage and multipath/power performance advantages offered by LTE.


SC-FDMA, if you must know, stands for Single-Carrier Frequency-Division Multiple Access. It's a modulation scheme that the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) has designed into LTE. The technology is a mechanism of splitting and re-combining uplink transmissions on a single channel that is expected to use less power than the rival Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) used in mobile WiMax. This WirelessMoves post is a useful summary if you want to dig deeper.

This means that LTE devices, whenever they actually arrive on the market, may offer better peak-to-average power ratio (PAPR) performance than WiMax devices, which are just hitting stores now. (See Sprint Reportedly Planning New WiMax Devices and Manic Mondi .)

What is not yet clear, however, is if the technology could help LTE devices offer improved battery life over today's cellular gadgets. Analysts have tended to predict that early LTE devices will be battery hungry because the initial silicon and hardware will suck down more power than 2G and 3G chipsets that have been refined over many generations of development. It will be interesting to see whether SC-FDMA can help offset this.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

Arno_K 12/5/2012 | 3:51:31 PM
re: Could LTE Offer Better Battery Life? ... better peak-to-average power ratio (PAPR) performance, allows for smaller PA's in terminal designs when compared to WiMax devices, which should be positive on power consumption/battery life-time.

But possibly even more importantly - keep in mind that there are other dimensions to power consumption in data cards and other devices as well.

Certainly Verizon LTE on 700 MHz band will benefit also from lower attenuation / path loss due to lower frequency utilized, and that certainly is another key driver on lower-power uplink transmission by the UE, i.e. LTE 700 MHz terminal power requirements vs. 2.5 GHz TDD WiMAX devices.

note: Cell ranges benefit also from an inherent FDD (LTE main-stream) over TDD (mobile-WiMAX) advantage with regards to coverage.
kaps 12/5/2012 | 3:51:18 PM
re: Could LTE Offer Better Battery Life?

While the LTE part of the device may allow for better battery life, don't forget that at least initially any LTE standalone device will also need to power the 3G and 2G chips so it can transmit voice (since LTE won't support voice, at least initially). So maybe not any battery life lead at all over WiMAX devices.


And don't forget that higher data speeds mean access to higher performing applications like streaming video... which need a bigger screen... again more battery consumption. It's a challenge for all device manufacturers, and saving anywhere you can is a good thing. But don't expect magic just because it's LTE.

kaps 12/5/2012 | 3:51:18 PM
re: Could LTE Offer Better Battery Life?

While the LTE part of the device may allow for better battery life, don't forget that at least initially any LTE standalone device will also need to power the 3G and 2G chips so it can transmit voice (since LTE won't support voice, at least initially). So maybe not any battery life lead at all over WiMAX devices.


And don't forget that higher data speeds mean access to higher performing applications like streaming video... which need a bigger screen... again more battery consumption. It's a challenge for all device manufacturers, and saving anywhere you can is a good thing. But don't expect magic just because it's LTE.

IPobserver 12/5/2012 | 3:51:16 PM
re: Could LTE Offer Better Battery Life?

A fascinating area is how devices and apps interact with stuff on the network (sorry, teh c1oud). Optimizations of this interaction will be crucial to extending battery life and will have a knock-on benefit for network resource use. Batch updates of multiple applications at the same time seems an obvious first step.

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