LTE is not yet even deployed and the 3GPP Third Generation Partnership Project) is already thinking about how to further evolve the technology. A main driver is probably the ITU (International Telecommunication Union), who will in due time release their requirements for so called IMT-Advanced 4G wireless systems.
It is quite certain that in terms of bandwidth, LTE and all other beyond 3G wireless systems such as the current WiMAX 802.16-2005 (802.16e) specification will fall short of the ITU requirements, which will probably be in the range of 100 MBit/s to 1 GBit/s. A very ambitious goal. Earlier this month, 3GPP hosted an IMT-Advanced workshop in Shenzen to which 170 representatives of network vendors and network operators from all over the world attended.
Not much has been reported about it yet in the news or on blogs, so one could think they are working in the shadows. But far from that, the 3GPP website reported on it here and all papers presented during the workshop and a report can be downloaded from here. Tons of information! Compared to other standards bodies that keep their proceedings to themselves, it is great to see 3GPP is so openly distributing their information. They set a good example!
The following bullets list some of the first ideas for LTE-Advanced presented during the meeting to comply with the likely requirements of IMT-Advanced. During the meeting it was decided to officially gather and approve them in 3GPP TR 36.913 over the coming months:
- LTE advanced shall be backwards compatible to LTE (i.e. like HSPA is backwards compatible to UMTS)
- Primary focus should be on low mobility users in order to reach ITU-Advanced data rates.
- Use of channel bandwidths beyond 20 MHz currently standardized for LTE (e.g. 50 MHz, 100 MHz).
- Increase the number of antennas for MIMO beyond what is currently specified in LTE
- Combine MIMO with beamforming.
- Further increase in Voice over IP capacity
- Further improved cell edge data rates
- Improved self configuration of the network
Very ambitious goals, given that vendors are still working on the challenges of LTE. But then, what would the world be without ambitious goals?
Thanks to Zahid Ghadialy and his post on his '3G and 4G Wireless Blog' for the pointer!