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My Lord, the fleet has moved out of lightspeed.
The Empire Strikes Back

Korean researchers successfully demonstrated LTE-Advanced technology, which is six times faster than the upcoming LTE network (up to 100 Mbps). The ITU has designated two methods to deploy 100 Mbps mobile networks, one based on LTE (LTE-Advanced) and one based on WiMAX 2.0 (802.16m)

The state-run Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) demonstrated an evolved Multimedia Broadcast and Multicast Service (eMBMS). This technology also enables users to watch 3D TV videos in a moving car.

ETRI brought in 470 researchers to develop comprehensive LTE-Advanced technology. ETRI secured 24 standard patents and 500 patent applications. While the final international standard for 4G is expected to be released in April this year, ETRI’s LTE-Advanced technology will fulfill 95% of the standard, except for some functions such as sleep mode, the state-run research institute said.

LTE Advanced achieves peak data rates of more than 1Gbps in the downlink, but utilizes 100 MHz of spectrum and 4×4 MIMO. The aggregation can be in chunks of up to 20 MHz each. But finding such a huge swath of spectrum won’t be easy.

The ITU’s Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R), completed the assessment of six candidate submissions for a global 4G broadband technology, last year. In October, the ITU proclaimed that only “LTE-Advanced” and “WirelessMAN-Advanced” would being accorded the official designation of IMT-Advanced, qualifying them as true 4G technologies.

WiMAX Release 1.0, the spec fielded by Sprint and Clear, is based on IEEE 802.16e-2005. It has now been upgraded to mobile WiMAX Release 1.5, which is based on IEEE 802.16-2009, adding femtocell support, multicasting and faster uploading.

Mobile WiMAX Release 2, based on IEEE 802.16m, is the ITU approved 4G standard for WiMAX, featuring relay stations, more bandwidth and spectrum flexibility, and 100 Mbps (mobile) and 1 Gbps (fixed) speeds using 4×2 MIMO on 20 Mhz channels.

An ITU committee will finalize IEEE 802.16m this March following a technical meetings in Taipei earlier this month. The first 802.16m dongles should be available to consumers in late 2011, with more wide-spread commercial deployments starting in 2012 (pdf).

The WiMAX Forum has started the WiMAX Release 2 project, to test for interoperability between different vendors.

WiMax 2.0 delivers four times the speed by doubling the pipe to 20 MHz and using MIMO. Do the math: 4 x 6Mbps = 24 Mbps.

Both LTE Advanced and WirelessMAN-Advanced (802.16m) are the real deal — ITU sanctioned 4G standards. Both will deliver up to 100 Mbps (mobile) and up to 1 Gbps (fixed). In order to deliver those speeds, however, both need multiple 20 Mhz wide channels and up to 4×4 MIMO antennas.

Final ratification of the full IMT-Advanced technology family took place at the ITU-R Study Group meeting on November 22 and 23 in Geneva, Switzerland.

The standards will now move into the final stage of the IMT-Advanced process, which provides for the development in early 2012 of an ITU-R Recommendation specifying the in-depth technical standards for these radio technologies.

WiMAX 2.0, and to a lesser extent LTE-Advanced, could make “wireless cable” cost/effective. Inexpensive relay stations, not unlike cheap WiFi repeaters, can provide blanket coverage. A home router, with 15-20 Mbps (real-world) wireless connectivity, might deliver the vaulted quadruple play – voice, data, video and mobile.

The 3G4G Blog spots an entertaining video from Alcatel-Lucent on femtocells in a box (episodes 2, 3 & 4). Feed it 20 Mbps and you’ve got a revolution on every block.

But this is dangerous territory. The real world can ruin even the best laid plans. Legacy providers have a lot to lose — and may strike back.

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