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"Does it really matter.. 3.5G, 3.9G or 4G?"

Personally, I'd call WiMax essentially 3G, but MIMO could be called 4G.

I'm annoyed when telcos try to use higher "G" numbers just to look better. The G is for "generation", and deserves to be upgraded only when there's a major shift in the technology. Equating "IMT Advanced" with "4G" seems shortsighted, as if a generation of wireless technology is entirely a question of maximum speed.

Compare the Second Generation with the preceding, original generation of mobile phones - they're very different, but still use radio waves, classic antenna designs, modulation and demodulation. Some things the same, but some entirely new.

Then consider CDMA and OFDM; both use greater bandwidth than should be necessary for a single data stream, but do it in ways that improve reliability while allowing multiple data streams in the same band and space. A whole new generation, though still based on QPSK, nQAM etc.

MIMO could be called fundamental change; a new generation. It may not increase transmission speed by an order of magnitude, but does improve spatial efficiency (and hence power efficiency, and also total capacity across a geographic region). It extends preceding systems in a new way. Conventiently in the case of beamforming using MIMO, it can be fully compatible with non-beamforming systems.


"G" is more a marketting thing, but it's sometimes useful to have a label of sorts.

You're right, WiMAX as 3G is political, to access "IMT-2000 bands"; itself an appropriate tag when mobile comms was still developing.

In the brave new spectrum managment world, labels for bands are not so important. What counts is that systems don't interfere with each other. In ITU terms, "Mobile Service" bands are a good enough label. But taking that further, why stop there? The line between mobile and fixed is blurring so why restrict ourselves with labels?

George Sarmonikas

Martin, I agree with you 100%. First of all it does not matter if a technology is 3G, 4G or 5G. Second, WIMAX and more specifically Mobile WiMAX (802.16e) can not be considered as a 4G technology just because it does meet the ITU requirements. However many operators/vendors claim it is 4G since it has the three key ingredients of 4G:

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