4G (also known as Beyond 3G), an abbreviation for Fourth-Generation, is a term used to describe the next complete evolution in wireless communications. A 4G system will be able to provide a comprehensive IP solution where voice, data and streamed multimedia can be given to users on an "Anytime, Anywhere" basis, and at higher data rates than previous generations.
As the second generation was a total replacement of the first generation networks and handsets; and the third generation was a total replacement of second generation networks and handsets; so too the fourth generation cannot be an incremental evolution of current 3G technologies, but rather the total replacement of the current 3G networks and handsets. The international telecommunications regulatory and standardization bodies are working for commercial deployment of 4G networks roughly in the 2012-2015 time scale. At that point it is predicted that even with current evolutions of third generation 3G networks, these will tend to be congested.
There is no formal definition for what 4G is; however, there are certain objectives that are projected for 4G. These objectives include: that 4G will be a fully IP-based integrated system. 4G will be capable of providing between 100 Mbit/s and 1 Gbit/s speeds both indoors and outdoors, with premium quality and high security.
3G Systems :
3G technologies enable network operators to offer users a wider range of more advanced services while achieving greater network capacity through improved spectral efficiency. Services include wide-area wireless voice telephony and broadband wireless data, all in a mobile environment. Typically, they provide service at 5-10 Mb per second.
Unlike IEEE 802.11 networks, 3G networks are wide area cellular telephone networks which evolved to incorporate high-speed internet access and video telephony. IEEE 802.11 (common names Wi-Fi or WLAN) networks are short range, high-bandwidth networks primarily developed for data.
The first pre-commercial 3G network was launched by NTT DoCoMo in Japan branded FOMA, in May of 2001 on the W-CDMA technology. The first commercial launch of 3G was also by NTT DoCoMo in Japan on October 1, 2001. The second network to go commercially live was by SK Telecom in South Korea on the CDMA2000 1xEV-DO technology.
The first European pre-commercial network was at the Island of Man by Manx, the operator owned by the British Telecoms group, and the first commercial network in Europe was opened for business by Telenor in December 2001 with no commercial handsets and thus no paying customers. These were both on the W-CDMA technology.
The first commercial United States 3G network was by Monet, on CDMA2000 1x EV-DO technology, but this network provider later shut down operations. The first UMTS 3G network operator in the USA was Verizon.
The "first pre-commercial demonstration network" in the southern hemisphere was built in Adelaide, South Australia by m.Net Corporation in February 2002 using UMTS on 2100MHz. This was a demonstration network for the 2002 IT World Congress. The first "commercial" 3G network was launched by Hutchison Telecommunications branded as Three in April 2003. Australia's largest and fastest 3G UMTS/HSDPA network was launched by Telstra branded as "NextG(tm)" on the 850MHz band in October 2006, intended as a replacement of their cdmaOne network Australia wide.
In December 2007, 190 3G networks were operating in 40 countries and 154 HSDPA networks were operating in 71 countries, according to the Global mobile Suppliers Association. In Asia, Europe, Canada and the USA, telecommunication companies use W-CDMA technology with the support of around 100 terminal designs to operate 3G mobile networks.
In Europe, mass market commercial 3G services were introduced starting in March 2003 by Three (Part of the Hutchison Group) in the UK and Italy. The European Union Council suggested that the 3G operators should cover 80% of the European national populations by the end of 2005.
Roll-out of 3G networks was delayed in some countries by the enormous costs of additional spectrum licensing fees. See Telecoms crash. In many countries, 3G networks do not use the same radio frequencies as 2G, so mobile operators must build entirely new networks and license entirely new frequencies; an exception is the United States where carriers operate 3G service in the same frequencies as other services. The license fees in some European countries were particularly high, bolstered by government auctions of a limited number of licenses and sealed bid auctions, and initial excitement over 3G's potential. Other delays were due to the expenses of upgrading equipment for the new systems.
By June 2007 the 200 millionth 3G subscriber had been connected. Out of 3 billion mobile phone subscriptions worldwide this is only 6.7%. In the countries where 3G was launched first - Japan and South Korea - over half of all subscribers use 3G. In Europe the leading country is Italy with a third of its subscribers migrated to 3G. Other leading countries by 3G migration include UK, Austria, Australia and Singapore at the 20% migration level. A confusing statistic is counting CDMA 2000 1x RTT customers as if they were 3G customers. If using this oft-disputed definition, then the total 3G subscriber base would be 475 million at June 2007 and 15.8% of all subscribers worldwide.
Still several major countries such as Turkey, China etc have not awarded 3G licenses and customers await 3G services. China has been delaying its decisions on 3G for many years, partly hoping to have the Chinese 3G standard, TD-SCDMA, to mature for commercial production.
The first African use of 3G technology was a 3G videocall made in Johannesburg on the Vodacom network in November 2004. The first commercial launch of 3G in Africa was by EMTEL in Mauritius on the W-CDMA standard. In north African Morocco in late March 2006, a 3G service was provided by the new company Wana.
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