CommunicAsia 2010: Two Techs Set for 4G OK

SINGAPORE -- CommunicAsia 2010 -- The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is likely to approve two IMT-Advanced (4G) standard technologies following a critical International Telecommunication Union, Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R) meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam, earlier this week, delegates here were told today.

IMT-Advanced (International Mobile Telecommunications Advanced) is the "real" 4G, whereas current wireless technologies such as LTE and WiMax 802.16e are pre-4G, or proto-4G, technologies.

The two technologies set to make the 4G cut are LTE Advanced, proposed by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) , and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) 's 802.16m (also known as WiMax 2.0), both of which have been under consideration since October 2009. (See Then There Were Six and CommunicAsia 2010: Intel Still Bullish on WiMax.)

A detailed evaluation of both technologies has been undertaken by a dozen independent evaluation groups in a detailed, consensus-building process that led up to the IMT-Advanced meeting in Vietnam.

There's still an outside chance that only one of the technologies will receive final approval, but one industry consultant who has close ties to the ITU believes both will get the nod, with specifications for both LTE Advanced and 802.16m likely to be approved in December.

"It is not formalized yet, but it's clear the ITU is going to approve both... It is just a formality now. The [test] results of both technologies were very similar -- there is hardly any differentiation between the two," Stuart Sharrock, an independent analyst at the Interact Group (no Website) told Light Reading Asia.

Sharrock, who has worked closely with the ITU during the past 15 years, and who is a member of the Forum Advisory Committee of the ITU Telecom Board, hosted a series of conference sessions here today that included presentations from senior figures from both the 3GPP and the IEEE.

While both technologies are likely to become official 4G standards, the size and scale of their supporting industry ecosystems are likely to very different, with LTE Advanced set to be supported by all of the world's major chip and network infrastructure vendors, as well as the majority of mobile operators.

Sharrock believes "LTE will be the dominant technology where the number of subscribers is concerned" but isn't convinced the technology will deliver the best profit margins for the industry.

— Gagandeep Kaur, India Editor, Light Reading

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