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4G/3G/WiFi

Then There Were Six

6:00 PM -- The International Telecommunication Union, Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R) received six different submissions for the IMT-Advanced 4G specifications, but that number shouldn’t be as surprising as it first sounds -- as in, "What six? I thought there were just two!" (See ITU Receives IMT-Advanced Proposals.)

There are still essentially just two contenders for the real 4G: the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) 's 802.16m (or WiMax 2.0) and the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) 's LTE-Advanced. Each of the six candidates relate to either the IEEE or 3GPP technologies. One candidate technology that comes from China is the time division duplex (TDD) version of LTE-Advanced, for example. So, there isn't a new wild card technology thrown in among the candidates that might upset the mobile broadband universe.

And it's not necessarily the case that the ITU will choose just one of these technologies -- either WiMax 2.0 or LTE-Advanced. Industry sources say the ITU could well decide that both meet the criteria and should be included in the IMT-Advanced family. After all, the previous generation IMT-2000 is a family of six 3G technologies. (See WiMax vs. LTE: The Rematch and ITU Day 2: WiMax Brings It.)

Some say that if the ITU selects both standards for 4G, then that would be progress, because two standards are at least better than six.

But then it's possible that the two technologies could get together and merge in the course of the ITU's evaluation process this year. Anything can happen in a year, right?

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Unstrung

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