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Cellular is moving from third to fourth generation

April 20, 2009

by Mark Ollig

This past Easter Sunday, for the 25th year in a row, I was in the restaurant where our family meets to celebrate the holiday.

The Master’s golf tournament was being broadcast on TV – but there was no television in the dining room.

“I wonder who is leading?” someone asked.

I had brought along my iPodtouch, and of course there was no Wi-Fi signal; thus, I could not access the Internet to check the leader board on the Master’s golf web site.

So this family member and humble weekly columnist was a bit embarrassed in his attempt to demonstrate the usefulness of his latest high tech toy.

I did, however, play a few songs off of my iPod, which some people surprisingly found annoying.

Fortunately, my youngest son, Andrew, had brought his Verizon “LG Voyager” cell phone with him.

Through his cell phone, he is able to receive television broadcasts from the carrier’s (Verizon) “Vcast Mobile TV” service.

MobiTV is a 3G service Sprint, AT&T, and other carriers use to deliver movies, TV, and other audio-visual content to their cellular subscribers.

Andrew told me he receives about 12 channels. He can also go to Verizon’s “Vcast” on his cell phone to get other channels, like Discovery, the History Channel, and more.

His cell phone has 3G broadband, GPS navigation, weather, and more. According to him, “It has everything.”

Number three son got online to the Internet and punched up the Master’s web site and found out Kenny Perry was currently leading.

Andrew, when using his laptop for Internet access, can opt for either an available Wi-Fi connection or he can access the Internet at higher cellular broadband speeds by plugging in his 3G broadband access card.

3G is a third-generation cellular wireless service.

Most of today’s cellular 3G is sent over a “Universal Mobile Telecommunications System” (UMTS) and coded as “Wideband Code Division Multiple Access” (WCDMA).

Darn acronyms . . . okay, you can breathe again.

3G technology has the ability to download data at speeds up to 1.92 Mbps.

Being I am always wanting to know what the “next big thing” is, I learned the next generation of wireless is called Long Term Evolution or (LTE) and will handle the next or fourth generation (4G) of cellular and wireless applications.

It is important to note, however, there is no “official” standard for fourth generation (4G) networks yet from the organization that will ultimately be the ones to classify “4G,” which is the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

The ITU was established to standardize and regulate international radio and telecommunications.

Started in Paris, France May 17, 1865, the ITU was originally known as the International Telegraph Union.

The ITU’s primary responsibilities include standardization and the allocation of the radio spectrum.

The ITU also organizes the interconnection arrangements between different countries to permit international phone calls.

Verizon has conducted tests in Minneapolis and demonstrated that LTE is capable of delivering peak download speed rates of 50 to 60 Mbps.

These fast downloading speeds to me are hard to believe; but I have learned it is only a matter of time until today’s impossibilities become tomorrow’s reality.

Verizon also hopes to run more LTE trials when it can gain access to new 4G frequencies in the 700-MHz spectrum. This new spectrum will be made available when the television broadcaster’s finalize the switch from analog to digital transmission in June.

Some of the new services we will see over a 4G network with compatible 4G cellular devices – like cell phones – will include full-motion video streaming and video-chat, HDTV reception, and new multimedia services.

The Apple rumor mill and the blogs are talking about the next iPhone 4G – which we will see in the near future.

My research from a web site called “Heavy Reading” at http://www.heavyreading.com says 4G - LTE, once it is in operation, will have us realizing more believable day-to-day real average download data rates of 34 Mbps and uploads of about 7.3 Mbps.

Robert Crago, who is a consultant in the telecom industry, sums it up nicely: “The face- off between 4G verses Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi) verses Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX) will be a globally-adopted network of shared applications, resources, and standards, meeting a minimum delivery requirement of voice over IP over Wi-Fi (VoFi), broadband, and multimedia services to all 4G enabled end-users.”

We will begin to see the new 4G networks being made available by some cellular carriers beginning in 2010.

When you’re online, be sure to check the latest “Web Site of The Week,” forum at http://tinyurl.com/6aqejv.

Here you will find the results of the Bits_blogger’s latest “in depth” gathering of ITU and 3G/4G and LTE information, along with some interesting videos, photographs, and diagrams.