ITU-T Approval of LTE-Advanced And Expectations

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So the blogosphere is exploding with all of the announcements of 5G and/or broadband for cars after seeing the ITU-T announcement that hit the other day. If you are not sure who ITU-T is…

ITU (International Telecommunication Union) is the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies – ICTs.

So everyone seems fixated on the fact that 40MHz of spectrum with 8×8 MIMO will wirelessly get around 1Gbps of throughput goodness to your device. So firstly, to deploy 40MHz, there will need to be some spectrum aggregation of disparate bands like Cellular (850MHz) PCS (1900MHz), AWS (2100MHz), 2500MHz, 700MHz and so on. Clear actually has 40MHz of spectrum in most markets so for them this is easy, but for the remainder of the operators, this will be a challenge. They will need to ‘refarm’ the existing spectrum by migrating traffic over from existing 2G/3G use onto LTE. That rolls off the tongue wonderfully but in practice it will be really hard. Ask Sprint how easily their Nextel 800MHz migration is/was (ok without completely losing or punting subscribers.)  Even if AT&T and Verizon could get 40MHz to use with LTE, it’s really unlikely they would be able to offer much more than a service with 1Gbps bursts anywhere other than indoors or via pico cells. No, to me it seems that the 1 Gbps pipe dream is going to have to have some help from the outside. There are going to have to be other advances in areas like interference cancellation/management, processor and battery improvements, radio link (ex: MIMO) improvements and so on to further shrink the amount of spectrum required and simultaneously expand the coverage area able to utilize such a network. (presently extremely high Carrier to Noise requirements!) So hurray for getting it approved but don’t hold your breath for any of that to be available any time soon for you and me. Don’t believe the hype, yet.

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