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4G/3G/WiFi

Hold On for LTE-Advanced

1:15 PM -- For those of you getting excited about the release of LTE-Advanced specifications this week, sit down and take some deep breaths.

Reports such as this one from PC World suggest that the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) will finalize the LTE-Advanced standard at a meeting in Taipei, Taiwan, this week.

That's not entirely right, according to our industry sources.

So here's what's happening: Yes, there is a 3GPP meeting in Taipei this week. It's a meeting of the standard body's radio access network (RAN) working groups and they will indeed put their finishing touches on LTE-Advanced, among other things. It's the first time that Taipei has ever hosted a 3GPP meeting, so it is momentous for Taiwan and for the host company, High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498).

But the work done in Taipei will have to be formally approved at a broader plenary 3GPP meeting in Kansas City next month, where Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) will host the proceedings. (See MWC 2011: Sprint's LTE D-Day Next Month?)

Now that's the meeting to watch. That's where the 3GPP will decide what makes the cut for the Release 10 version of specs, which includes LTE-Advanced. That means LTE-Advanced specs, along with many others in 3GPP Release 10, are scheduled to be what's called "frozen" (that is, completed) at the Kansas City plenary meeting in March.

So, LTE-Advanced isn't really being finalized this week. That will happen next month with the rest of Release 10.

The March 2011 freeze date for LTE-Advanced is significant for the 3GPP because this deadline was set by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) as a requirement for inclusion in the IMT-Advanced family of standards, which some consider to be the real 4G. (See ITU Says '4G' Isn't , The Battle of FauxG, ITU Ratifies LTE-Advanced, and ITU Backtracks on '4G' Definition.)

But don't expect to see commercial LTE-Advanced equipment built on the specs agreed upon at the March 3GPP meeting in Kansas City. There still will be some minor changes or adjustments in the coming months so that it's more likely that the version of LTE-Advanced specs due to be published in September this year will be stable enough for chipset development to start. And typically, commercial equipment doesn't usually appear until about two years after 3GPP release specs have been frozen. So, that would be sometime in 2013.

A more pedantic post there probably never has been from Wireless Bits. But that's the latest on the LTE-Advanced standard from our industry sources.

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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