We’ve followed the evolution of cellular technologies especially as it pertains to the marine market – working on sail and motor yachts to provide Internet and Voice Communications options. When I got in this field in early 2004 we were working on Inmarsat satellite systems and providing control (routers) to turn the Internet on and off because they were expensive to use. We also provided onboard networks within yachts using WiFi and Ethernet wired and wireless networking.
But … we kept bumping into cellular gear on boats mainly Fixed Cellular Terminals also called Fixed Wireless Terminals that were used for Voice Telephone. It was a magical thing a box that could connect to an external antenna – link up to the cellular network – and provide an RJ-11 analog (CO – Central Office) input for the yacht PBX system. These boxes also had GPRS and later Edge 2G, 2G+ Internet but it was a PITA to hook it up because it was a 9-pin modem port. Like making a landline modem call for Internet.
This was the Ericssons and Telular boxes …
Now it’s 4G time … According to those that know (3GPP) (ITU-T)
Self Fulfilling Prophecies
Moores Law (Integrated Circuits, Computers) and now Cellular Technologies supposedly run out of gas about every 10 years and are upgraded. I saw that on 3GGP’s web site but can’t seem to find it again now, but I did find:
“3.3. Cellular Communications from 1G to 3G
Mobile systems have seen a change of generation, from first to second to third, every 10 years or so (see Figure 3.3).” on: http://my.safaribooksonline.com/book/networking/wireless/9780123750778/an-overview-of-wireless-systems/ch03lev1sec3
Somebody had a chart of the technologies showing the “every 10 years” thing … and they are pretty close to on schedule with 4G LTE in 2012 and 2013.
* 3GPP says this:
“GSM was developed to carry real time services, in a circuit switched manner (in blue in fig.1), with data services only possible over a circuit switched modem connection, with very low data rates. The first step towards an IP based packet switched (in green in fig.1) solution was made with the evolution of GSM to GPRS, using the same air interface and access method, TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access).
To reach higher data rates and data volume UMTS was developed with a new access network, based on CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access). The access network in UMTS emulates a circuit switched connection for real time services and a packet switched connection for datacom services (in black in fig.1). In UMTS the IP address is allocated to the UE when a datacom service is established and released when the service is released. Incoming datacom services are therefore still relying upon the circuit switched core for paging.
The Evolved Packet System (EPS) is purely IP based. Both real time services and datacom services will be carried by the IP protocol. The IP address is allocated when the mobile is switched on and released when switched off.
The new access solution, LTE, is based on OFDMA (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access) to be able to reach even higher data rates and data volumes. High order modulation (up to 64QAM), large bandwidth (up to 20 MHz) and MIMO transmission in the downlink (up to 4×4) is also a part of the solution. The highest theoretical data rate is 170 Mbps in uplink and with MIMO the rate can be as high as 300 Mbps in the downlink.”
* Anyway … there are lots of technical documents and pages that one could go through , but basically there is LTE and LTE Advanced. The LTE that cellular carriers are on now may not be the final LTE that ITU-T requires to really qualify as 4G.
It is interesting though the evolution from circuit switched to all IP network – but one sticky part about that is the dropping of CS phone calls. For now they are falling back to CS phone calls even with 4G handsets – and 3G + or HSPA+ can do a CS phone call and still allow you to surf the Internet on 4G data. But the final voice technology that is supposed to be implemented is VoLTE – Voice over LTE – which will be the NEW voice for 4G. And they have to beat the “over the top” services like VOIP – Voice over IP to keep their good old income from Minutes (phone calls.) You can’t charge for a Voice Plan if you don’t have Voice Service. That means falling back to 2G (3G emulated CS?) for phone calls until VoLTE is ready and every customer is on it. If that ever happens they could theoretically turn all the older “G”‘s off.
Alan Spicer Marine Telecom
+1 954 683 3426
communications @ marinetelecom.net