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UMTS Forum sets sights on LTE, 4G

10 февраля 2009

Originally set up to promote UMTS as the 3G technology of choice, the UMTS Forum is now moving on to the next evolution of the 3GPP standard and focusing on LTE.

"We can say after 12 years that we have achieved our goals with UMTS," said UMTS Forum chairman Jean-Pierre Bienaime, speaking to Total Telecom on Friday. "We can see the global uptake of 3G UMTS," with estimated subscribers of around 350 million globally.

Now, Bienaime said the Forum is "strongly representing LTE", although it is under no illusion that networks will evolve overnight: "It has to be modular," said Bienaime, also noting that most mobile operators will not be turning off their GSM networks any time soon.

As well as focusing on aspects such as the future spectrum and licensing requirements for LTE, the Forum still has a lot more to do in the UMTS sphere. For example, it is pushing for a regulatory conclusion to UMTS 900, meaning that operators could re-use 900-megahertz spectrum, currently limited only to GSM services, for their 3G networks.

The European Parliament and Council are expected to ratify the amendment to the GSM Directive this year.

"The UMTS Forum will be supportive of UMTS 900," said Bienaime. "Regulation is moving that way, and there are already de facto deployments of UMTS-900 networks," such as by Elisa in Finland.

The Forum also continues to play a role in ongoing 3G licensing rounds in countries such as India, where it has been advising the regulator on issues from the pricing of licences and spectrum allocation to how licences should be sold.

Spectrum issues in general occupy a great deal of the Forum's time, not just to ensure the future survival and growth of existing 3G networks but also to support future LTE networks as well as 4G networks that will fall within the framework of the IMT-Advanced programme. Bienaime commented that the Forum does not employ the term "4G" for current LTE and WiMAX technologies, pointing out that they are included within the IMT-2000, or 3G, framework.

The Forum welcomed the allocation and identification of new IMT frequency bands at the ITU World Radiocommunication Conference in 2007 (WRC-07), when 72 megahertz of frequencies in the UHF band in the range from 790-862 MHz were identified for IMT 3G mobile services in countries in Region 1 (Europe), and in Region 3 (Asia-Pacific), and a band 698-806 MHz in Region 2 (Americas) and in some countries in Region 3 (including Japan, China, Republic of Korea and India).

More controversially, C-band frequencies from 3.4-3.6 GHz were also identified by WRC-07 for the development of IMT-Advanced, or 4G, services.

This has been strongly opposed by the satellite industry, which claims the allocation of C-band spectrum for future mobile broadband access services would cause interference with mission-critical satellite services.

But Bienaime said the allocation of wider bands such as C-band would be essential for the development of IMT-Advanced services, which he said will require bandwidth of up to 100 megahertz.

"It's a very sensitive subject," he said. But he believes the issue must be approached purely from a technical standpoint to see how this frequency band could be shared by mobile and satellite communications.

The UMTS Forum also spent some time last year looking at mobile TV services and has issued three white papers on the subject, looking at the different technologies, business cases and the role of advertising. But Bienaime said the organisation would not spend any more time on this subject in 2009.

In spite of the expansion of its remit beyond pure UMTS, the Forum has no current plans to change its name, however: like Carphone Warehouse and the GSM Association, the forum believes it has a brand image in the market that would be difficult to change now.

Источник: Total Telecom

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