While we are in the throes of finally seeing 3G networks deployed, there is already a buzz about its enhancement, going by names such as LTE, Beyond 3G, Super 3G (NTT DoCoMo's terminology; www.nttdocomo.com), and Ultra 3G (KDDI's term; www.kddi.com/english). In 2005 we saw the number of 3G networks deployed increase appreciably, with more networks also extending their coverage. At the same time, there was growth in the number of available 3G-capable devices, with reductions in their price. As the number of networks and customers grows, service providers are also extending their networks beyond the footprints initially planned. The bottom line is that 3G is making strides, despite its slow start.
With the pace of technology development speeding up each day, many industry players are working on enhancing the capabilities of 3G networks. Much of the research and development work is coming out of Japan, although efforts are occurring around the globe. The types of enhancements envisioned for Beyond 3G include IP technologies for the back end, faster data speeds, new business applications, and many other applications, including interactive games, video services, audio downloads, and location-based services. Given the range of advanced applications involved, higher-speed data services, QoS features, and new back-end systems that support the bridging between wireless and wired networks will be substantial components of the enhanced 3G networks. We are just beginning to see the range of services and content that can be delivered over 3G networks, and as discussed later in this chapter, there are also movements in the introduction of 4G networks, with 5G technologies already on the drawing boards.
The Beyond 3G vision involves today's 3G technologies, whether W-CDMA/UMTS or CDMA2000, but goes on to support bandwidths greater than 5MHz and adds smarter and more efficient IP-based back-end infrastructure and additional one-way or two-way airlinks to provide further capabilities. The intended result is to improve spectral efficiency, allowing for a great increase in system capacity, lower latency, increased data rates on both the downlink and uplink, full mobility, support for existing 3G networks, and reduced cost. Much of the vision is based on a new generation of handsets capable of handling a wide variety of technologies and communications links and providing all these services concurrently.
Both the NTT DoCoMo Super 3G and KDDI Ultra 3G plans assume that the 3G airlink will be the most widely used full mobility technology, although they also consider that Wi-Fi and other technologies will be integrated into these networks. The overall concept is to allow customers to use the best airlink available to them and to support voice and data services over the selected airlink.
Along with the NTT DoCoMo and KDDI efforts, 3GPP has formed a study group to determine the long-term evolution for W-CDMA/UMTS radio access networks and system architectures. The 3GPP standard is expected to be ready in mid-2007, with commercial products expected around 2009. 3G Long-Term Evolution (LTE) is the next version of the 3GPP-based radio standard. LTE will be based on many elements that will be included in Release 7 of the 3GPP standard, primarily OFDM and MIMO, although CDMA technology will be removed from Radio Layer 1 of LTE. The LTE and Super 3G visions are quite similar, and many industry observers view them as synonymous. One interesting industry observation is that 3G airlinks will continue to evolve, but, more importantly, so will the services, with one of the objectives being the ability to move away from having to select a communications medium to having the communications medium chosen for us, depending on what we wish to do and where we happen to be at that moment.
Part I: Communications Fundamentals
Telecommunications Technology Fundamentals
Traditional Transmission Media
Establishing Communications Channels
Part II: Data Networking and the Internet
Data Communications Basics
Local Area Networking
Wide Area Networking
The Internet and IP Infrastructures
Part III: The New Generation of Networks
Broadband Access Alternatives
Part IV: Wireless Communications
Wireless Communications Basics
WMANs, WLANs, and WPANs
Emerging Wireless Applications