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LTE Hits 300 Mbit/s

Next-generation mobile broadband standard long-term evolution (LTE) broke through the 300-Mbit/s speed barrier in the latest trial conducted by the LTE/SAE Trial Initiative (LSTI). (See LSTI Touts LTE Speeds.)

Prototype LTE systems using 4x4 Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) antennas hit downlink speeds faster than 300 Mbit/s. Baseline LTE devices achieved downlink speeds exceeding 100 Mbit/s.

The latency results were also encouraging. The roundtrip delay -- which was measured from the user terminal to the base station and back again -- was 10 milliseconds or below.

Of course, all of this happened in a lab environment using prototype LTE systems, and the tests were based on isolated cells with a single user -- hardly real-life conditions.

But it's an important milestone, nonetheless. The results show that the targets set by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) standards organization can indeed be achieved. (See 3G LTE: How Far? How Fast? and Next-Gen Spectrum Crunch.)

"The results are consistent with 3GPP expectations," says Erik Ekudden, vice president of standardization and industry initiatives at Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC). "Although challenging, the targets can be met."

The LTE standard will be included in the 3GPP's Release 8 set of standards, which could be ready by the end of this year or early 2009. But the specifications are mature enough for vendors to start building initial trial platforms. The first commercial products are estimated to be available in late 2009 or some time in 2010. (See LTE Specs on Track and PicoChip Unveils LTE Reference Design.)

NTT Docomo Inc. (NYSE: DCM), which is leading the LTE development pack, says it will start offering LTE services in 2010. The operator is co-developing base station and handset technology with Fujitsu Ltd. (Tokyo: 6702; London: FUJ; OTC: FJTSY) and NEC Corp. (Tokyo: 6701), respectively, according to a recent Unstrung Insider report, Evolved HSPA & the Roadmap to LTE. (See DoCoMo Adds NEC for LTE, DoCoMo Does LTE With NSN, Verizon Goes LTE, and Verizon, Vodafone Head for LTE.)

And DoCoMo is just one of the big names involved in the LSTI, which is testing early LTE systems in an effort to speed up the availability of commercial LTE.

One of the LSTI's roles is to "accelerate the adoption" of LTE, according to Paul Larbey, vice president of the LTE product line at Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU).

The initiative aims to achieve this by demonstrating the capabilities of LTE radio access network equipment and of systems architecture evolution (SAE), which defines the mobile packet core capabilities needed for LTE deployments.

The LSTI is also working to fix the many interoperability issues that will arise between network equipment from multiple vendors and between devices and network infrastructure. (See NSN Shows Off LTE, NSN Touts Tier 1 4G Trials, AlcaLu Tests 4G, AlcaLu, LG Make LTE Calls, and Ericsson Demos LTE.)

The LSTI comprises 18 companies, among them some of the industry's biggest operators, vendors, and chip makers, including China Mobile Communications Corp. , NTT DoCoMo, T-Mobile International AG , Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD), Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK), Nokia Solutions and Networks , Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM), and NXP Semiconductors N.V. (Nasdaq: NXPI).

The work done in the LSTI feeds back into the 3GPP as well as the Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGMN) alliance, the mobile operator organization that has established a set of requirements for next-generation mobile broadband networks. The NGMN's requirements are a reference for the LSTI's work. (See NGMN Alliance Updates.)

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Unstrung

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