Research Notes

Pardon me but 4G does not exist

– it has been invented by the press and by people with little knowledge of the mobile world and the standards being used.

Hardly a day passes where you do not read something about the upcoming 4G mobile network, that many claim that mobile operators will be launching in the coming years. The fact is that there is no 4G standard and that 4G is a phrase that has been invented by journalists and others that are having difficulty explaining the difference between UMTS and LTE.

The short explanation is that the standard that is the foundation of 3G/UMTS is called IMT-2000. It is a standard that was created under the auspices of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) years ago, a standard that was created to enable telephones, infrastructure and services to function across networks from different manufacturers, in the same way as we know from a number of other areas in the telecom industry.

If we then examine the LTE standard, we will see that it is part of the IMT-2000 standard and thereby part of what we daily call 3G or UMTS. In practice, LTE is a natural evolution of UMTS and part of the same standard that is the foundation of the 3G networks that are in operation today all over the world. Simply put one could say that LTE is a 3G technology in the same way as UMTS, UMTS-HSDPA, UMTS-HSUPA etc. etc.

To understand this we need to examine the mobile development that started with the various analog systems that were launched around the world. Let us call these systems 1G. These systems were later replaced by the GSM technology which we then called 2G. The GSM standard dates back to September 7th. 1987, where a number of industry players agreed on this standard at a meeting in Copenhagen and thereafter signed a MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) to create what later proved to be the foundation of a global mobile industry with billions of users.

Later the IMT-2000 standard was created that became the foundation of 3G and the start of an evolution that is based on a number of technologies moving from UMTS to LTE – an evolution that has given millions of people access to mobile broadband and that will result in over one billion people using mobile networks as their primary Internet access technology in just a few years.

To call LTE 4G is simply misleading and is contributing in moving focus away from the possibilities created by mobile broadband and over to a technological race with nothing else than the number of G’s deciding whether something is good or bad.

In our latest report about the mobile broadband market SuccessfulL Strategies for the Mobile Broadband Market we have examined today’s mobile broadband market, how it is developing and we take a very close look at how different market players are creating a healthy business case – our customers want to know how to achieve success.

When we here at Strand Consult examine how mobile broadband is developing, we view the market from four angles: the technological development, the distribution of mobile broadband, the business models and especially how customers will be purchasing and using these mobile broadband solutions.
Our customers, who are mobile operators around the world, do not do business by marketing and selling 1G, 2G, 3G or 4G, they make a living from selling solutions that are valuable to their customers, solutions that can generate enough revenue that they over time will be able to create a profitable business.

If you read how some media view LTE, it would appear that they have much more focus on technology than they do on the users. We know for a fact that customers that purchase mobile broadband are not asking for 1G, 2G, 3G or 4G, they are asking and paying for the possibility of getting online and using the available services – and if that online connection is mobile they are purchasing a freedom very similar to the freedom they already know and enjoy from using their mobile phones.

In our report SuccessfuLl Strategies for the Mobile Broadband Market we have analysed the market and put forward solutions. We naturally describe the technological evolution, but our primary focus is on how to create a profitable and successful mobile broadband business case. We are not marketing 4G and do not belong to those that try to hype something that has not been invented yet. We examine and analyse existing and future technology. In the mobile industry, LTE is – and in its present form will remain – a 3G standard. At the end of the day that ought to be pretty straightforward.

If you would like more information about our report SuccessfulL Strategies for the Mobile Broadband Market, please do not hesitate to contact us and learn more about how the mobile broadband currently looks and how it is developing. In our world knowledge is the path to success – and we make a living from selling knowledge. 

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