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IP/09/1238

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:

  • LTE will boost the capacities of network operators, enabling them to provide faster mobile broadband to more users at lower prices, revolutionising Europe's mobile telecoms market.

  • LTE Advanced will propel mobile broadband speeds up to 1 gigabit (thousand megabits) per second, allowing users on the go to fully benefit from sophisticated online services such as high quality TV or video on demand.

  • LTE uses radio spectrum more efficiently, enabling mobile networks to benefit from the "digital dividend" and use the frequencies freed by the switchover from analogue to digital TV (IP/09/1112). Signals will travel further than with current GSM technology and reduce the number of antenna sites needed to achieve the same network coverage, preserving Europe's landscapes and reducing energy consumption.

  • LTE could bring mobile broadband to less populated regions and contribute to the reduction of the "digital divide" between rural and urban areas. In late 2008, 23% of the population in rural areas of the EU still could not subscribe to a DSL internet connection (IP/09/1221).

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.

Background

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 (IP/09/1192).

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:

http://cordis.europa.eu/fp7/ict/future-networks/

EU-funded project Wireless World Initiative New Radio (WINNER):

http://www.ist-winner.org

Annex

LTE compared to previous mobile internet technologies

Faster mobile broadband:

Peak download speeds, in megabits per second

Better user experience:

Time it takes data to travel from user to main server and back, in milliseconds

Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED

Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED

Operator commitments to LTE

Country

Operator

Anticipated LTE service launch

France

Orange

2011-12

Germany

T-Mobile

2011

Ireland

Hutchison 3

2011

Italy

Telecom Italia

Not known

Spain

Telefonica O2

2011

Sweden

TeliaSonera

2010

Sweden

Tele2 Sweden

2010

Sweden

Telenor Sweden

2010

Various

Vodafone

Not known

Australia

Telstra

Not known

Canada

Telus

2010

Canada

Bell Canada

2010

Canada

Rogers Wireless

2010-11

China

China Mobile

2011

China

China Telecom

2011-12

Hong Kong

SmarTone-Vodafone

Not known

Hong Kong

HK CSL Ltd

Not known

Hong Kong

PCCW

Not known

Japan

NTT DoCoMo

2010

Japan

KDDI

2010

New Zealand

Telecom NZ

2011-12

Norway

TeliaSonera

2010

Philippines

Piltel

Not known

South Korea

SK Telecom

Not known

South Korea

KTF

Not known

USA

Verizon

2010

USA

MetroPCS

2010

USA

CenturyTel

2010

USA

Aircell

2011

USA

Cox

2011

USA

AT&T Mobility

2011

Source: Global mobile Suppliers Association, April 2009.

LTE

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

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.

LTE-Advanced will be 3GPP’s technology as a candidate for the ITU-R IMT-Advanced process, which is intended to identify ‘4G’ technologies.


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