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The move to 4G

The move to 4G

Certainly 4G is one of the most prominent industry buzzwords today. But what, specifically, is meant by the term 4G, and what are some of the key challenges and benefits that it provides over its predecessor, 3G?


4G in a nutshell

The race to increase uplink and downlink speeds beyond 3G has seen a number of competing approaches and a confusing number of possible upgrade paths. They include EVDO, HSPA, HSOPA, E-UTRA, EDGE, Wi-Max, HSPA+ and LTE. The most recent one, LTE which is the acronym of Long Term Evolution, offers up to 100mbps on the downlink and 50mbps on the uplink while Wimax enables 128Mbps and 56mbps. However both LTE and Wimax are not considered real 4G by the purists.

The ITU has raised the ante now ‘true’ 4G as LTE+ (Advanced LTE) and Wimax (IETF 802.16.m) are offering up to 1 gigabit per second to fixed users and 100 mbps to mobile users.

In the meantime, the market power of mobile operators and the GSMA has made LTE the de facto winner in the race but the astonishing growth in volumes to be transmitted makes even the increased available spectrum, made available recently in a number of countries, a scarce commodity. This results in the need for a peaceful coexistence between wireless and wired as the devices switch back and forth between local Wi-Fi access and mobile roaming to avoid needless clogging of precious spectrum.


Why 4G now

One of the most pressing drivers behind 4G recently has been the mobile data deluge. Mobile data traffic has doubled in each of the past three years (Cisco) – a fact that is attributed largely to the meteoric rise in smartphone usage. Video constitutes a large chunk of this traffic and will continue to do so.


The network challenge

The rapid growth in mobile data, particularly in bandwidth-intensive video which constitutes a large percentage of this traffic, has currently overwhelmed many 3G networks. Many carriers now are struggling in the midst of a constant cycle of catch up. Even as their networks become fully built out, with the exponential rise in mobile data, they risk not being to meet future demands fast enough unless there are significant network improvements. This is partially a result of spectrum availability as well as backhaul limitations.


Our commitment

At Tata Communications, we are leading the way to supporting mobile operators in the move to Next-generation Networks and successfully meet the rapidly advancing mobile data landscape. Our IPX+ framework includes LTE Roaming, Voice over LTE (VoLTE), and application enablement solutions for real-time rich media applications.

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About the author:

Director – IP Business Development and Strategy - Tata Communications

Yves Poppe has over 35 years of experience in the data communications industry. Mr. Poppe represents Tata Communications in Research and Education Networking. He is a frequent presenter on the evolution of telecommunications, the internet and the key role of IPv6. He also regularly covers the evolution of subsea communication capacity and international telecommunications at sessions of TEMIC (Telecommunications Executive Management Institute of Canada).

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