We've known about LTE for a long time and I've done an extensive interview with the UMTS Forum explaining every real world aspect of its roll-out and implementation. So three months after the first European deployment it's nice the EC is spending 18m euros to "research" it...
"With LTE technologies, Europe's research 'know-how' will continue to set the tone for the development of mobile services and devices around the globe, just as we did in the past decades with the GSM standard," said EU Commissioner for Telecoms and Media, Viviane Reding. "LTE technologies will turn mobile phones into powerful mobile computers. Millions of new users will get ultra high-speed internet access on their portable devices, wherever they are. This will create tremendous opportunities and plenty of space for growing the digital economy."
The EC statement then gets a few things wrong: the first iteration of LTE (or 'Super 3G' as it is likely to be known commercially) will launch at speeds of up to 160Mbit, not 100Mbit as detailed in the report. Furthermore this is misleading because - much like the 7.2Mbit available in some HSDPA areas today, this is a shared speed that will likely only achieve a fraction of this when each cell tower is accessed by 1000s of customers.
In fact, what the UMTS Forum told us in June is that a minimum standard of 2Mbit is the primary aim of LTE's first roll-out. A speed which in real terms should be more than enough for fast, reliable and enjoyable mobile web usage.
In fairness, the EC is primarily looking to invest the 18m euros in 'LTE Advanced', the standard's second generation which can reach up to a theoretical 300MBit so we won't get too bitchy. As for references to '4G', to quote Jean-Pierre Bienaimé, chairman of the UMTS Forum: "Neither LTE or WiMax is 4G, they are extensions of 3G. The Japanese have found the real term, that is 'Super 3G' and that is what it represents. It is the ultimate form of 3G. They call it 3G 3.9."
Look for the roll-out of Super 3G in the latter half of 2010 and a target market of computer dongles initially. LTE/Super 3G is also backwards compatible with 3G, but to reap its benefits you'll need an LTE equipped device - none of which will be on sale for some time.
Still, it's good news the EC is stepping up its LTE research and distribution plans. When it does eventually launch on a wide scale it should revolutionise mobile broadband.
For more, read my Interview: UMTS Forum Talks LTE the Future of 3G