A look into the future of wireless communications – beyond 3G Forward: The Public Safety Wireless Network (PSWN) Program is conducting an ongoing assessment of advancements in the wireless communications industry. The scope of this assessment is to identify emerging wireless services and technologies for potential public safety use in the near future and beyond. This particular document is the first of a series of emerging wireless technologies studies. This study will concentrate primarily on the fourth generation of mobile telecommunications and beyond.
3G – i.e., an entirely packet switched network with all digital network elements and extremely high available bandwidth. For the most part, it is believed that 4G will bring true multimedia capabilities such as high-speed data access and video conferencing to the handset. It is also envisioned that 4G systems will be deployed with software defined radios, allowing the equipment to be upgraded to new protocols and services via software upgrades. 4G also holds the promise of worldwide roaming using a single handheld device. Wireless Generations At-a-Glance As with all technology progressions, the “next” upgrades must be in planning and development phases while its predecessors are being deployed. This statement holds true with all mobile telecommunications to date. It seems that it will also hold true for the next generations of wireless networks. The original analog cellular systems are considered the first generation of mobile telephony (1G). In the early 1980s, 1G systems were deployed. At the same time, the cellular industry began developing the second generation of mobile telephony (2G). The difference between 1G and 2G is in the signaling techniques used: 1G used analog signaling, 2G used digital signaling. As experience shows, the lead-time for mobile phone systems development is about 10 years. It was not until the early to mid 1990s that 2G was deployed. Primary thinking and concept development on 3G generally began around 1991 as 2G systems just started to roll out. Since the general model of 10 years to develop a new mobile system is being followed, that timeline would suggest 4G should be operational some time around 2011. 4G would build on the second phase
Although the new, third generation (3G) wireless technology has not yet been implemented, leading companies in the industry are already laying the groundwork for what some are calling fourth generation (4G) technology. For the purposes of this article, 4G will be considered those technologies that are still in the planning stages and will not be deployed within the next five years. Researchers are continuing their ideas in the development of an undefined wireless world, which could become operational by 2010. The first generation (1G) and second generation (2G) of mobile telephony were intended primarily for voice transmission. The third generation of mobile telephony (3G) will serve both voice and data applications. There really is no clear definition of what 4G will be. It is generally accepted that 4G will be a super-enhanced version of
of 3G, when all networks are expected to embrace Internet protocol (IP) technology. During the last year, companies such as Ericsson, Motorola, Lucent, Nortel and Qualcomm came up with "3G-plus" concepts that would push performance of approved, though still emerging, standards beyond current ones. Interoperability and the Evolution of Network Architectures One of the most challenging issues facing deployment of 4G technologies is how to make the network architectures compatible with each other. New signaling techniques are being designed specifically to enhance today's second generation (2G) networks, deliver unprecedented functionality for 3G, and successfully drive the Fourth Generation (4G) of wireless, thus delivering immediate and long-term benefits to carriers. With the architecture of each generation of wireless devices...