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Keywords & Acronyms

We have written articles to explain some 3GPP related keywords and acronyms, to give some background material on the topic.

Terms include:  

3GPP Series & technologies

The first two digits of a 3GPP TS or TR number define the spec series; for example LTE radio (E-UTRAN) is defined in the 36 Series.

On this page you can find which technology is [at least partially] aligned with which 3GPP series.

A-Z list of technical terms

The 3GPP Report ‘Vocabulary for 3GPP Specifications’ identifies specialist technical terms used;

  • To ensure that editors use terminology that is consistent across specifications.
  • To provide a reader with convenient reference for technical terms that are used across multiple documents.

Furthermore, you can check which Spec(s) a term or abbreviation is defined in using ETSI’s TEDDI application. Note that this only shows terms defined in 3GPP TSs and TRs which have already been transposed as ETSI publications.




LTE (both radio and core network evolution) is now on the market. Release 8 was frozen in December 2008 and this has been the basis for the first wave of LTE equipment. LTE specifications are very stable, with the added benefit of enhancements having been introduced in all subsequent 3GPP Releases.

The motivation for LTE

  • Need to ensure the continuity of competitiveness of the 3G system for the future
  • User demand for higher data rates and quality of service
  • Packet Switch optimised system
  • Continued demand for cost reduction (CAPEX and OPEX)
  • Low complexity
  • Avoid unnecessary fragmentation of technologies for paired and unpaired band operation



By Jeanette Wannstrom

High Speed Packet data Access (HSPA) has been an upgrade to WCDMA networks (both FDD, and TDD) used to increase packet data performance. The introduction was done in steps; High Speed Down Link (DL) Packet data Access (HSDPA), was introduced in 3GPP Release 5, and Enhanced Up Link (UL), also referred to as High Speed UL Packet data Access (HSUPA), came in Release 6.

The combination of HSDPA and Enhanced UL is referred to as HSPA. HSPA evolution (also known as HSPA+ and evolved HSPA) came in Release 7 with further improvements in later releases.

The Evolved Packet Core

Author: Frédéric Firmin, 3GPP MCC

This article looks at the Evolved Packet Core (EPC), the core network of the LTE system, giving an overview of the architecture of the core network, describing some of its key elements.

The EPC is the latest evolution of the 3GPP core network architecture.

In GSM, the architecture relies on circuit-switching (CS). This means that circuits are established between the calling and called parties throughout the telecommunication network (radio, core network of the mobile operator, fixed network). This circuit-switching mode can be seen as an evolution of the "two cans and a string". In GSM, all services are transported over circuit-switches telephony principally, but short messages (SMS) and some data is also seen.


gsmGeneral Packet Radio Service / Enhanced Data rates for Global Evolution 

GSM is a circuit-switched network; ideal for the delivery of voice but with limitations for sending data. However, the standard for GSM was designed to evolve and in 2000 the introduction of General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) added packet-switched functionality, kick-starting the delivery of the Internet on mobile handsets.

GPRS adds packet-switched functionality to GSM networks

Based on specifications in Release 97, GPRS typically reached speeds of 40Kbps in the downlink and 14Kbps in the uplink by aggregating GSM time slots into one bearer. Enhancements in Releases R’98 and R’99 meant that GPRS could theoretically reach downlink speeds of up to 171Kbps.

EDGE… almost 3G

The next advance in GSM radio access technology was EDGE (Enhanced Data rates for Global Evolution), or Enhanced GRPS.

With a new modulation technique yielding a three-fold increase in bit rate (8PSK replacing GMSK) and new channel coding for spectral efficiency, EDGE was successfully introduced without disrupting the frequency re-use plans of existing GSM deployments.

The increase in data speeds to 384Kbps placed EDGE as an early pre-taste of 3G, although it was labeled 2.75G by industry watchers.


Ongoing standards work in 3GPP has delivered EDGE Evolution, which is designed to complement high-speed packet access (HSPA) coverage.

EDGE Evolution has:

  • Improved spectral efficiency with reduced latencies down to 100ms
  • Increased throughput speeds to 1.3Mbps in the downlink and 653Kbps in the uplink

GPRS (Release 97) and EDGE (Release 98) are largely maintained in the RAN6 Working Group of 3GPP, which succeeded TSG GERAN when it was closed in 2016.

Reading should start with the 44 series and 45 series of the 3GPP specifications.

Conformance Testing (UE)

UE test case work for LTE goes in to Over-drive

3GPP RAN5, the Working Group responsible for User Equipment (UE) testing, made significant progress during the recent Plenary meeting (#42), in Athens, with a set of LTE related test specifications being approved in Release 8 of the standard.

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