In major boost for the rapid deployment of nationwide 4G mobile service – the Federal Communications Commission [FCC], on Friday gave Broadway theaters, sports franchises, and other public entertainment forums until June 12th to change the radio frequencies they use for their wireless microphones, and communications.
The FCC in a new order (PDF) set out the road to 4G data by banning the sale of all current devices that use the 700MHz band. The measure has a “sunset period” until June 12th to ease the transition but will demand that everyone either stop using equipment on those airwaves or have it modified to use a non-offending space. Most of the affected devices will be wireless microphones.
Most of the devices in the frequency range were cleared out with the digital TV transition in June of last year.
All of the steps are meant to clear the 700MHz space in time for public safety uses but also for cellular services. In the US and most other countries, the Long Term Evolution (LTE) standard for 4G will run on the newly freed bands, which are ideal for mobile data as they both carry over longer distances and are much more capable of penetrating indoors than 3G does today.
Verizon will be one of the first carriers to use 700MHz LTE and expects to have commercial 4G active sometime in mid-year. AT&T and T-Mobile are making their own transitions in 2011, while Sprint is for now still focused on its 2.5GHz WiMAX network.
The overall objective for LTE is to provide an extremely high performance radio-access technology that offers full vehicular speed mobility and that can readily coexist with HSPA and earlier networks. Because of scalable bandwidth, operators will be able to easily migrate their networks and users from HSPA to LTE over time.
LTE assumes a full Internet Protocol (IP) network architecture and is designed to support voice in the packet domain. It incorporates top-of-the-line radio techniques to achieve performance levels beyond what will be practical with CDMA approaches, particularly in larger channel bandwidths.
LTE capabilities include:
- Downlink peak data rates up to 326 Mbps with 20 MHz bandwidth
- Uplink peak data rates up to 86.4 Mbps with 20 MHz bandwidth
- Scalable bandwidth up to 20 MHz, covering 1.4, 3, 5, 10, 15, and 20 MHz in the study phase
- Reduced latency, up to 10 milliseconds (ms) round-trip times between user equipment and the base station, and to less than 100 ms transition times from inactive to active
- Improved service for both mobile and fixed-location users
LTE will address the market needs for at least the next decade, after which time operators might deploy IMT-Advanced or fourth generation (4G) networks using LTE-Advanced technology with work already in progress at 3GPP in Release 10.
Use of much of that spectrum has been licensed for around $20 billion by major wireless carriers – including Verizon and AT&T.
Complete details at our iPhone meetup on Thursday, January 21st at BB Rovers.