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4G is the short term for fourth-generation wireless, the stage of broadband mobile

communications that will supercede the third generation (3G). While neither standards
bodies nor carriers have concretely defined or agreed upon what exactly 4G will be, it is
expected that end-to-end IP and high-quality streaming video will be among 4G's
distinguishing features. Fourth generation networks are likely to use a combination of
WiMAX and WiFi.

Technologies employed by 4G may include SDR (Software-defined radio) receivers,

OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing), OFDMA (Orthogonal Frequency
Division Multiple Access), MIMO (multiple input/multiple output) technologies, UMTS
and TD-SCDMA. All of these delivery methods are typified by high rates of data
transmission and packet-switched transmision protocols. 3G technologies, by contrast,
are a mix of packet and circuit-switched networks.

When fully implemented, 4G is expected to enable pervasive computing, in which

simultaneous connections to multiple high-speed networks provide seamless handoffs
throughout a geographical area. Network operators may employ technologies such as
cognitive radio and wireless mesh networks to ensure connectivity and efficiently
distribute both network traffic and spectrum.

The high speeds offered by 4G will create new markets and opportunities for both
traditional and startup telecommunications companies. 4G networks, when coupled with
cellular phones equipped with higher quality digital cameras and even HD capabilities,
will enable vlogs to go mobile, as has already occurred with text-based moblogs. New
models for collaborative citizen journalism are likely to emerge as well in areas with 4G

A Japanese company, NTT DoCoMo, is testing 4G communication at 100 Mbps for

mobile users and up to 1 Gbps while stationary. NTT DoCoMo plans on releasing their
first commercial network in 2010. Other telecommunications companies, however, are
moving into the area even faster. In August of 2006, Sprint Nextel announced plans to
develop and deploy a 4G broadband mobile network nationwide in the United States
using WiMAX. The United Kingdom's chancellor of the exchequer announced a plan to
auction 4G frequencies in fall of 2006.

4G technologies are sometimes referred to by the acronym "MAGIC," which stands for
Mobile multimedia, Anytime/any-where, Global mobility support, Integrated wireless
and Customized personal service.
3G refers to the third generation of developments in wireless technology, especially
mobile communications. The third generation, as its name suggests, follows the first
generation (1G) and second generation (2G) in wireless communications.

The 1G period began in the late 1970s and lasted through the 1980s. These systems
featured the first true mobile phone systems, known at first as "cellular mobile radio
telephone." These networks used analog voice signaling, and were little more
sophisticated than the repeater networks used by amateur radio operators.

The 2G phase began in the 1990s and much of this technology is still in use. The 2G cell
phone features digital voice encoding. Examples include CDMA and GSM. Since its
inception, 2G technology has steadily improved, with increased bandwidth, packet
routing, and the introduction of multimedia.

3G includes capabilities and features such as:

• Enhanced multimedia (voice, data, video, and remote control).

• Usability on all popular modes (cellular telephone, e-mail, paging, fax,
videoconferencing, and Web browsing).
• Broad bandwidth and high speed (upwards of 2 Mbps).
• Roaming capability throughout Europe, Japan, and North America.

While 3G is generally considered applicable mainly to mobile wireless, it is also relevant

to fixed wireless and portable wireless. A 3G system should be operational from any
location on, or over, the earth's surface, including use in homes, businesses, government
offices, medical establishments, the military, personal and commercial land vehicles,
private and commercial watercraft and marine craft, private and commercial aircraft
(except where passenger use restrictions apply), portable (pedestrians, hikers, cyclists,
campers), and space stations and spacecraft.

3G offers the potential to keep people connected at all times and in all places.
Researchers, engineers, and marketers are faced with the challenge of accurately
predicting how much technology consumers will actually be willing to pay for. Another
challenge faced by 3G services is competition from other high-speed wireless
technologies, especially mobile WiMAX, and ability to roam between different kinds of
wireless networks.

The current status of mobile wireless communications, as of July 2007, is a mix of 2nd
and 3rd generation technologies.

Also see UMTS and and CDMA2000.


Software-defined radio (SDR), sometimes shortened to software radio (SR), refers to

wireless communication in which the transmitter modulation is generated or defined by a
computer, and the receiver uses a computer to recover the signal intelligence.? To select
the desired modulation type, the proper programs must be run by microcomputers that
control the transmitter and receiver.

A typical voice SDR transmitter, such as might be used in mobile two-way radio or
cellular telephone communication, consists of the following stages.? Items with asterisks
represent computer-controlled circuits whose parameters are determined by the
programming (software).

• Microphone
• Audio amplifier
• Analog-to-digital converter (ADC) that converts the voice audio to ASCII data *
• Modulator that impresses the ASCII intelligence onto a radio-frequency (RF)
carrier *
• Series of amplifiers that boosts the RF carrier to the power level necessary for
• Transmitting antenna

A typical receiver designed to intercept the above-described voice SDR signal would
employ the following stages, essentially reversing the transmitter's action.? Again, items
followed by asterisks represent programmable circuits.

• Receiving antenna
• superheterodyne system that boosts incoming RF signal strength and converts it to
a constant frequency
• Demodulator that separates the ASCII intelligence from the RF carrier *
• Digital-to-analog converter (DAC) that generates a voice waveform from the
ASCII data *
• Audio amplifier
• Speaker, earphone, or headset

The most significant asset of SDR is versatility.? Wireless systems employ protocols that
vary from one service to another.? Even in the same type of service, for example wireless
fax, the protocol often differs from country to country. ? A single SDR set with an all-
inclusive software repertoire can be used in any mode, anywhere in the world.? Changing
the service type, the mode, and/or the modulation protocol involves simply selecting and
launching the requisite computer program, and making sure the batteries are adequately
charged if portable operation is contemplated.
The ultimate goal of SDR engineers is to provide a single radio transceiver capable of
playing the roles of cordless telephone, cell phone, wireless fax, wireless e-mail system,
pager, wireless videoconferencing unit, wireless Web browser, Global Positioning
System (GPS) unit, and other functions still in the realm of science fiction, operable from
any location on the surface of the earth, and perhaps in space as well.

Orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) is a method of digital modulation

in which a signal is split into several narrowband channels at different frequencies. The
technology was first conceived in the 1960s and 1970s during research into minimizing
interference among channels near each other in frequency.

In some respects, OFDM is similar to conventional frequency-division multiplexing

(FDM). The difference lies in the way in which the signals are modulated and
demodulated. Priority is given to minimizing the interference, or crosstalk, among the
channels and symbols comprising the data stream. Less importance is placed on
perfecting individual channels.

OFDM is used in European digital audio broadcast services. The technology lends itself
to digital television, and is being considered as a method of obtaining high-speed digital
data transmission over conventional telephone lines. It is also used in wireless local area

Also see frequency-division multiplexing (FDM), time-division multiplexing (TDM), and

multi-carrier modulation (MCM).
MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) is an antenna technology for wireless
communications in which multiple antennas are used at both the source (transmitter) and
the destination (receiver). The antennas at each end of the communications circuit are
combined to minimize errors and optimize data speed. MIMO is one of several forms of
smart antenna technology, the others being MISO (multiple input, single output) and
SIMO (single input, multiple output).

In conventional wireless communications, a single antenna is used at the source, and

another single antenna is used at the destination. In some cases, this gives rise to
problems with multipath effects. When an electromagnetic field (EM field) is met with
obstructions such as hills, canyons, buildings, and utility wires, the wavefronts are
scattered, and thus they take many paths to reach the destination. The late arrival of
scattered portions of the signal causes problems such as fading, cut-out (cliff effect), and
intermittent reception (picket fencing). In digital communications systems such as
wireless Internet, it can cause a reduction in data speed and an increase in the number of
errors. The use of two or more antennas, along with the transmission of multiple signals
(one for each antenna) at the source and the destination, eliminates the trouble caused by
multipath wave propagation, and can even take advantage of this effect.

MIMO technology has aroused interest because of its possible applications in digital
television (DTV), wireless local area networks (WLANs), metropolitan area networks
(MANs), and mobile communications.
UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications Service) is a third-generation (3G)
broadband, packet-based transmission of text, digitized voice, video, and multimedia at
data rates up to 2 megabits per second (Mbps). UMTS offers a consistent set of services
to mobile computer and phone users, no matter where they are located in the world.
UMTS is based on the Global System for Mobile (GSM) communication standard. It is
also endorsed by major standards bodies and manufacturers as the planned standard for
mobile users around the world. Once UMTS is fully available, computer and phone users
can be constantly attached to the Internet wherever they travel and, as they roam, will
have the same set of capabilities. Users will have access through a combination of
terrestrial wireless and satellite transmissions. Until UMTS is fully implemented, users
can use multi-mode devices that switch to the currently available technology (such as
GSM 900 and 1800) where UMTS is not yet available.

Previous cellular telephone systems were mainly circuit-switched, meaning connections

were always dependent on circuit availability. A packet-switched connection uses the
Internet Protocol (IP), meaning that a virtual connection is always available to any other
end point in the network. UMTS also makes it possible to provide new services like
alternative billing methods or calling plans. For instance, users can choose to pay-per-bit,
pay-per-session, flat rate, or asymmetric bandwidth options. The higher bandwidth of
UMTS also enables other new services like video conferencing or IPTV. UMTS may
allow the Virtual Home Environment (VHE) to fully develop, where a roaming user can
have the same services to either at home, in the office or in the field through a
combination of transparent terrestrial and satellite connections.

The electromagnetic radiation spectrum for UMTS has been identified as frequency
bands 1885-2025 MHz for future IMT-2000 systems, and 1980-2010 MHz and 2170-
2200 MHz for the satellite portion of UMTS systems.

LAST UPDATED: 20 Jun 2006

TD-SCDMA (time division synchronous code division multiple access) is a mobile
telephone standard for wireless network operators who want to move from a second
generation (2G) wireless network to a third-generation (3G) one. Supporting data
transmission at speeds up to 2 Mbps, TD-SCDMA combines support for both circuit-
switched data, such as speech or video, and also packet-switched data from the Internet.
The standard combines time division multiple access (TDMA) with an adaptive,
synchronous-mode code division multiple access (CDMA) component.

TD-SCDMA was developed by the China Academy of Telecommunications Technology

(CATT) in collaboration with Datang and Siemens.
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