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Brussels, 18 August 2009
EU invests a fresh € 18 million in future ultra high-speed mobile internet
As of 1 January 2010, the EU will invest € 18 million into research that will underpin next generation 4G mobile networks. The European Commission just decided to start the process of funding research on Long Term Evolution (LTE) Advanced technology, that will offer mobile internet speeds up to a hundred times faster than current 3G networks. LTE is becoming the industry's first choice for next generation mobile networks, also thanks to substantial EU research funding since 2004. 25 years ago, Europe already made the GSM standard the backbone of modern mobile telephony. Based on Europe's joint research and the strength of the EU's single market, the GSM standard is today used by 80% of the world's mobile networks. LTE promises to be a similar success as EU-funded research continues to bring cutting-edge technology to the daily lives of Europeans.
"With LTE technologies, Europe's research 'know-how' will continue to set the tone for the development of mobile services and devices around the globe, just as we did in the past decades with the GSM standard," said Viviane Reding, the EU's Commissioner for Telecoms and Media. "LTE technologies will turn mobile phones into powerful mobile computers. Millions of new users will get ultra high-speed internet access on their portable devices, wherever they are. This will create tremendous opportunities and plenty of space for growing the digital economy."
Long Term Evolution (LTE) is the latest wireless technology, providing mobile internet speeds of up to 100 megabits per second, ten times faster than 3G mobile networks. In Europe, it is currently being trialled by mobile operators in Finland, Germany, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the UK and is expected to be commercially available in Sweden and Norway in the first half of 2010. Between 2004 and 2007, the EU supported research on optimisation and standardisation of LTE (the WINNER I and II projects, run by a consortium of 41 leading European companies and universities) with € 25 million. This led to the development of the first concept for a LTE-based network infrastructure.
Last month, the European Commission decided to start investing a further €18 million into research on the enhanced version of LTE, LTE Advanced. In September, the Commission will start to negotiate the details with project consortia, including the flagship ARTIST4G that builds on the achievements of the WINNER projects and unites 4G industry and researchers from Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden and the UK. The new projects are expected to start in January 2010.
The European Commission sees strong potential in the deployment of LTE and LTE Advanced technology:
Leading mobile operators and manufacturers around the world such as Orange, TeliaSonera, T-Mobile, AT&T, NTT-DoCoMo, Verizon, Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia Siemens Networks have already committed to using the LTE standard. By 2013, operators worldwide are expected to invest nearly € 6 billion ($ 8.6 billion) in LTE equipment, according to market analysts.
The worldwide success of the GSM standard was achieved through close pan-European collaboration of industry, researchers and regulators. In the 1980s, GSM standardisation was fostered under the European Cooperation in Science and Technology instrument, a fore-runner of today's EU research programmes. The European Commission endorsed the GSM project, and in 1987 the European countries agreed on the Commission's proposal to reserve the 900MHz band for GSM services, paving the way for swift deployment of GSM technology across Europe.
In July 2009, EU Member States followed the European Parliament in approving the Commission's proposal to update the 1987 GSM Directive, making the 900MHz band available for other technologies, including LTE ().
Overall, in 2007-2013 the EU will invest more than €700 million into research on future networks, half of which will be allocated to wireless technologies contributing to development of 4G and beyond 4G networks.
EU research on networks of the future and LTE:
EU-funded project Wireless World Initiative New Radio (WINNER):
LTE compared to previous mobile internet technologies
Operator commitments to LTE
Source: Global mobile Suppliers Association, April 2009.
Long Term Evolution (LTE) is the next step from current mobile technologies, such as 3G/WCDMA & HSPA. This new radio access technology will be optimized to deliver very fast data speeds of up to 100Mb/s when downloading and 50Mb/s for uploading.
Designed to be backwards-compatible with GSM and HSPA, LTE incorporates Multiple In Multiple Out (MIMO) in combination with Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) in the downlink and Single Carrier FDMA in the uplink to provide high levels of spectral efficiency and end user data rates exceeding 100 Mb/s, coupled with major improvements in capacity and reductions in latency. LTE will support channel bandwidths from 1.25 MHz to 20 MHz and both FDD and TDD operation.
LTE-Advanced extends the technological principles behind LTE into a further step change in data rates. Incorporating higher order MIMO (4x4 and beyond) and allowing multiple carriers to be bonded together into a single stream, target peak data rates of 1Gbps have been set.
LTE-Advanced also intends to use a number of further innovations including the ability to use non-contiguous frequency ranges, with the intent that this will alleviate frequency range issues in an increasingly crowded spectrum, self back-hauling base station and full incorporation of Femto cells using Self-Organising Network techniques.