The Mobile Broadband Standard
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3GPP system standards heading into the 5G era

An article for the Eurescom message, by Balazs Bertenyi, 3GPP TSG SA Chairman

3GPP standards have played a pivotal role in the success of LTE, making it the fastest growing cellular technology in history. Never before has a new radio technology made it to the market so quickly and widely after the finalization of the first version of the standards (3GPP Release 8 was finalized in December 2008).

For the first time in history LTE has brought the entire mobile industry to a single technology footprint resulting in unprecedented economies of scale. After the initial LTE Release, work in 3GPP has been centered on the following strategic areas:

  1. Enhancing LTE radio standards to further improve capacity and performance;
  2. Enhancing system standards to make LTE and EPC available to new business segments;
  3. Introducing improvements for system robustness, especially for handing exponential smart phone traffic growth.

This article focuses on the latter two aspects, and outlines the potential standards path towards the 5G era.

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Industry Voices

August 18, 2014, a new HetNet paper by Keith Mallinson, WiseHarbor

LTE-Advanced  is bringing more than just carrier aggregation in 3GPP Release 12

Carrier aggregation multiplies maximum user speeds several-fold and significantly improves capacity utilization by increasing trunking efficiency as more spectrum blocks are added; but LTE-Advanced can deliver so much more including heterogeneous network capabilities in particular.

Coordinating the low-power layer of small cells with the macro network improves performance across the entire network while also further boosting efficiencies in spectrum use and power consumption, automating network configuration and optimization. The upcoming 3GPP Release 12 (due to be frozen September 2014) standardises various capabilities in these developments including dual connectivity, small cell on/off and 256 QAM.

LTE in unlicensed spectrum

June 19, 2014 - Sophia Antipolis, France

A workshop to share ideas on LTE in unlicensed spectrum has been described as a “fruitful contribution to the start of work in the project” as it is considered by cellular operators as an important complement to meet future traffic demands.

In his summing up Dino Flore, Workshop & 3GPP TSG-RAN Chairman, looked at the main deployment options and requirements emerging from the discussion, calling for interested companies to work offline on a 3GPP Study Item proposal that will define the scope of the technical work, which will be discussed in the regular 3GPP approval process from the next meeting in September 2014.

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