Fast mobile on track but faces curves

A new mobile technology offering several megabits per second is working as planned, but that doesn't guarantee that kind of speed at its launch date in 2010.

An emerging mobile technology that would give on-the-go users several megabits per second is working as planned so far, but that doesn't guarantee you'll get that kind of speed at its planned launch date of 2010.

The system, called LTE (Long Term Evolution) or SAE (System Architecture Evolution), is the next major evolution from the world's most common mobile technology, GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications). As such, it has the backing of the 3GPP (Third-Generation Partnership Project) and mobile giants including Ericsson, Nokia, Alcatel-Lucent, T-Mobile and Vodafone.

The initiative they are backing, called the LTE/SAE Trial Initiative (LSTI), said that in tests, the new technology met targets for physical-layer throughput to both stationary and moving users. It met expected peak data rates in tests with both single-antenna and multiple-antenna radios in lab and urban field settings, the group said. LSTI also announced some big new backers, including China Mobile, Huawei, LG Electronics, NTT DoCoMo and Samsung.

The peak data rate for LTE in initial deployments is 100M bps (bits per second) downstream and 50M bps upstream, according to LSTI. That speed is for one channel, which would be shared by many users in a given area, according to Yankee Group analyst Phil Marshall. But the news is still good: Marshall believes a real user would get anywhere between 2M bps and 10M bps, or about as fast or faster than typical home broadband in the U.S. today. Current 3G usually runs below 1M bps.

Between here and that 4G promised land are several hurdles, however. First, most carriers will need new radio spectrum to carry LTE services, Marshall said. Current 3G uses about 5MHz of spectrum for communication from the base station to the handset and 5MHz the other direction, he said, while LTE will need about twice that much to deliver the promised speeds. Auctions in Europe for "3G extension" bands that could be used for LTE will probably be done by 2010, but current users may still be vacating it, he said. In the U.S., parts of the 700MHz spectrum set to be auctioned early next year could be used for LTE.

Once networks get up and running, the speed you get will depend partly on how many base stations your carrier puts up for it, as well as how many other people are trying to use your local base station, Marshall said. Also, the wireless link between the handset and base station doesn't go all the way to the Internet. In between is the carrier's "backhaul" connection, which today often consists of one or more T-1 leased lines at 1.5M bps each. Without upgrades, backhaul could create a bottleneck.

LTE's rival, mobile WiMax, will be out sooner with large deployments such as Sprint Nextel and ClearWire's Xohm network in the U.S. next year. From the start, WiMax should deliver speeds at least at the low end of the 2M bps to 10M bps range, Marshall said. But it faces the same questions when it comes to real speed to the subscriber's phone or laptop.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

PC World Evaluation Team Review - MSI GT75 TITAN

"I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it."

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?