4G technology is the fourth generation of mobile communication technology, the collective name for future standards beyond 3G. 4G is intended primarily for ultrabroadband internet access. In order for a communication technology to be called 4G, it is actually required to offer speeds of around 100 Megabits per second to mobile users and 1 Gbit/s to stationary users, and thus meets the specifications for IMT-advanced, which is the standards body ITU’s criteria for 4G systems, but early versions of the standards that have not come up in over 100 Mbit/s are marketed as 4G.
Students intended to write their research papers on 4G technology should know that the one last step before the introduction of 4G in the European 3G mobile networks is the first version of the 3GPP technology LTE, Long term evolution, sometimes called “3.9G”. Several network operators have received frequencies in the 2.6 GHz – band for LTE, and the world’s first commercial LTE network was opened in Oslo and Stockholm by TeliaSonera 14 December 2009.
Theoretically, the first version of LTE reached 100 Mbit/s downstream and 50 Mbit/s upstream for desktop users, and thus does not reach up to the demands of a 4G system, yet has been promoted as 4G in the media and by network operators. A new version of LTE called LTE-Advanced was standardized in spring 2011, with the aim to meet and pass the ITU requirements for 4G systems, including 1 Gbit/s maximum data rate. Consumer equipment and services for LTE-Advanced are not yet available (May 2012). LTE-Advanced will be backward compatible with first LTE version, and will use the same frequency band.
Mobile WiMAX technology from 2006 is also called 4G. A new WiMAX version intended to meet the 4G requirements of IMT-advanced was presented in spring 2011, and can become a competitor to LTE-Advanced.
ITU now accept that the early versions of standards that are forward compatible predecessor to the IMT advanced compatible versions called 4G. Thus, the Mobile WiMAX version from 2006 and the first version of LTE from 2009 are called 4G.
In 3G systems, there are dual network infrastructures, partly consisting of GPRS-nodes for packet switching (mainly for IP communications) and traditional circuit switching as AXE switches (for, among other things, conventional telephony). 4G systems, LTE and WiMAX, are fully IP-based, i.e., only offers infra-structure for packet switching. VoIP is therefore still possible, but not the circuit-switched telephony.
For 4G systems the ambition is to merge with mobile systems, for example, Wi-Fi and WiMAX so that roaming and handover can take place between different networks using different techniques.
Unlike 3G, 4G uses LTE and WiMAX to CDMA (spread spectrum), but modulation (OFDMA, a multi-user version of OFDM) and/or other frequency domain equalization (SC-FDE, single carrier-frequency domain equalization).
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