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November 2008 | Volume 11/ Number 11
Ask the Mobile VoIP Expert

Fourth Generation Networks

For those of you keeping score, you might remember that, earlier this year, I predicted the adoption of 4G standards which would produce 100 Megabit per second (Mbps) mobile wireless standards. Well it appears that AT&T and Verizon (News - Alert) have settled on LTE (Long Term Evolution), which is a “big deal” for Verizon and its CDMA network in the U.S. market.

For the evolving Voice and IP mobile networks, this means the acceptance of a common set of devices that may operate across carrier networks. (I don’t know about you, but I’m certainly tired of buying phones here in the U.S. that only work a single network). LTE (News - Alert) signals the beginning of 4G networks with device portability.

Over sixty carriers worldwide have now subscribed to the emerging LTE standard, which should be ratified in December 2008. Check out the September 5, 2008 feature by Jai C.S.

Sprint (News - Alert) may continue to be the exception, as they are today, with the Sprint network being unique in requiring handset makers to produce devices that are restricted to the Sprint network. This is why you can’t seem to find a satisfactory variety of handsets that work on Sprint’s network.

4G, or Fourth Generation, wireless networks — unlike current 3G networks — will support direct IP clients that allow operators to create a true Mobile VoIP offering. A clear illustration of how this might work is evident in the Apple iPhone (News - Alert). AT&T and Apple will not allow applications that push VoIP over the 3G network; instead, a true VoIP client is only allowed when WiFi is available.

My prediction is that we will see more handsets built around LTE networks than WiMAX (News - Alert) technologies within the next several years. WiMAX may support some special services; however the risk and expense of handset development is far greater for WiMAX than will be the case for LTE. IT

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