EU to fund LTE research

Considered “an essential infrastructure for our society”, 4G mobile networks are now a top priority for the European Commission which has just decided to fund research related to Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology. As of 1 January 2010, the EU will invest €18 million into research that will underpin next generation 4G mobile networks.

“With LTE technologies, Europe’s research ‘know-how’ will continue to set the tone for the development of mobile services and devices around the globe, just as we did in the past decades with the GSM standard,” said Viviane Reding, the EU’s Commissioner for Telecoms and Media. “LTE technologies will turn mobile phones into powerful mobile computers. Millions of new users will get ultra high-speed Internet access on their portable devices, wherever they are. This will create tremendous opportunities and plenty of space for growing the digital economy.”

The EU press release issued this week explains the potential of LTE technologies to boost the capacities of network operators so that they can serve more customers at lower prices. LTE is expected to revolutionize the European telecommunications market.

Expected to propel mobile broadband speeds to up to 1 Gigabit per second, it will allow users on the go to fully benefit from sophisticated online services, such as high quality TV or video on demand. LTE will use radio spectrum more efficiently. Radio signals will travel further than with current GSM technology and reduce the number of antenna sites needed to achieve the same network coverage, preserving Europe’s landscapes and reducing energy.

Finally, LTE could bring mobile broadband to less populated regions and contribute to the reduction of the “digital divide” between rural and urban areas. The EU press release concludes: “Twenty-five years ago, Europe already made the GSM standard the backbone of modern mobile telephony. Based on Europe’s joint research and the strength of the EU’s single market, the GSM standard is today used by 80% of the world’s mobile networks. LTE promises to be a similar success as EU-funded research continues to bring cutting-edge technology to the daily lives of Europeans.”

In September, the Commission will start to negotiate the details with project consortia for LTE research funds, including the flagship ARTIST4G that builds on the achievements of the WINNER (World Initiative New Radio) projects and unites 4G industry and researchers from Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden and the UK. Between 2004 and 2007, the EU supported research on optimization and standardization of LTE (the WINNER I and II projects, run by a consortium of 41 leading European companies and universities) with €25 million. The new projects are expected to start in January 2010. Between 2007 and 2013, the EU research program on networks of the future and LTE will be allocated €700 million, half of it being focused on wireless technologies for 4G networks.

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