3GPP Long Term Evolution proves it has a future, following recent successful trials. The recent field trial by Nokia Siemens Networks has brought 3GPP Long Term Evolution one step closer to implementation. LTE is a developing standard for 4G wireless high-speed Internet access.
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In its recent trial, the company deployed an LTE base station in central Berlin, and began testing in and around the Heinrich Hertz Institut building. The setup consisted of a set of MIMO (Multiple Input, Multiple Output) antennas, and a Nokia Siemens-built network station, operating in the 2.6 GHz band which is likely to be used in Europe for 4G networks.
Not without qualifications...
The enthusiastic terms of the press release are, however, somewhat couched in marketing talk. For instance, Nokia Siemens talks about peak data rates of 173 megabits per second, but it isn't clear over what distance these speeds were achieved. The company does note several consistent test speeds over 100 megabits, but only at distances up to "several hundred meters." Likewise, maximum tested distance was given as 1 kilometer (about 0.62 miles), but no speed test was listed.
Further, the base station used a full 20 MHz of spectrum, a very large amount even for a city environment where spectrum is relatively abundant. 20 MHz of spectrum in a major city like New York can fetch as much as billions of dollars on the open market, and several such blocks would be needed to implement a large-scale LTE network.
Until more "real world" testing is accomplished, all performance numbers and figures for LTE should be considered experimental.
...And not soon
Don't expect to see this technology being rolled out in the near future. Nokia Siemens lists a date of 2010 as being the goal for commercial availability of hardware, with widespread coverage likely being at least a year or two behind that.