Expect 4G by 2012, says Ericsson research chief

Fourth-generation mobile telephony services will provide a data rate of 100Mbps from Sydney to Stockholm, only eight years from...

Fourth-generation mobile telephony services will provide a data rate of 100Mbps from Sydney to Stockholm, only eight years from now, claimed Ericsson vice president of research Ulf Wahlberg.

Four years from now, radio frequencies will be assigned, and in 2012 there will be 4G products on the market, he said, speaking at the annual conference of the Swedish Institute of Computer Science in Kista in Stockholm last Friday.

Wahlberg defined 4G as mobile telephony at a data rate of 100Mbps globally, that is, between any two points in the world. Locally, 1G bps will be possible.

"Transmitting a hundred megabits per second between two points at short range is not difficult," he said. "We can do that now. What's hard is to make it work between any two points on the globe."

New mobile telephony systems are launched approximately every 10 years, said Wahlberg. What takes time is not just developing the technology, it is finding available radio frequencies for the new systems, preferably the same frequency everywhere, at low cost.

A new system should be scalable, allowing operators to introduce a technology gradually instead of making huge investments before they have any customers.

Yet another acronym to watch for is ABC, which stands for Always Best Connected. This means that the network always knows what carrier systems are available to the user - 3G, GSM, Wi-Fi and, in the future, 4G - and selects the best option.

One problem that remains to be solved is the interface between IP (Internet Protocol), and the mobile telephony protocols. "Mobile telephony adds a few milliseconds of latency to give the system time to think. However, IP interprets high latency as an indicator of trouble and reacts by reducing the bit rate. This needs to be solved," Wahlberg said.

Anders Lotsson writes for Computer Sweden

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