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Stop with that LTE-B nonsense... it's NOT a thing - mobe standards guardian

4G, dude... as if it weren't confusing enough

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The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), global custodian of mobile telephony standards up to and including LTE Advanced, has issued a statement insisting that "Advanced" is as, er, advanced as the naming system will go.

LTE is the preferred 4G technology, and is currently being deployed around the world. Standards evolve, though, and "LTE Advanced" comprises a collection of technologies. The first of these is now appearing in networks and being branded "LTE-A", which has prompted some people to start calling the next revision "LTE-B" - a practice the 3GPP wishes to kill off before it takes root.

The group said in its statement:

3GPP recognises that in the marketplace a number of differing terms related to LTE are appearing. 3GPP reaffirms that the naming for the technology family and its evolution continues to be covered by the term LTE-Advanced

It is clearly trying to avoid the confusion around "4G" which still means different things depending on where you are.

For the first decade or so, GSM standards were named by their year of publication: 1992, 1995, 1998 Q1 etc. That got embarrassing when operators were sitting around in 2004 discussing when they expected to fully implement the '99 standard, so a numbering system was adopted instead.

LTE stands for Long Term Evolution, and its first technicial specifications were outlined in 3GPP Release 8. LTE Advanced is a catch-all term for enhancements to the standard, right up to the still-being-drafted Release 12. There is no officially recognised LTE-B standard, although some companies have begun using the term in their marketing blurbs.

One part of LTE-A, carrier aggregation, is already being deployed by some networks and will be trialled in the UK by EE later this year. Carrier aggregation basically involves using two separate LTE channels as a single data connection (twice the bandwidth in twice the spectrum) but deploying it has allowed some operators to claim support for LTE Advanced - despite carrier aggregation being a very small component.

Carrier aggregation gets much more interesting when it uses dispersed carriers, where connectivity is shared between channels at, say, 2.6GHz and 800MHz. This allows operators lacking contiguous blocks to compete more effectively, but early deployments are restricting themselves to single bands which is, frankly, quite complicated enough.

As networks develop, the marketing drones will doubtless struggle for more hyperbolic terms to describe their networks. Hopefully the 3GPP's prompt action will discourage them from using "LTE-B", "LTE-C" or, heaven forbid, LTEz. ®

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