Long Term Evolution (LTE) Technologies, 3G & 4G

This article explicitly compares the 3G and 4G Network Technologies and other later technologies like 2G and also shows their differences and node of operation, the differences between 3G and 4G technology and their speed in tabular form as Long Term Evolution (LTE) technologies.


long term evolution technologies, 3g and 4g

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Article Content

•    Introduction
•    Background
•    Overview of Wireless Telecommunication Networks
•    Motivation For LTE
•    Network Architecture
•    Specification Differences
•    4G Applications
•    Challenges of Migrating 3G to 4G
•    Conclusion

Introduction

•    The quest for faster speed, improved QoS, lower latency and  convergence of voice and data on a purely IP system to improve network resource efficiency has resulted in the emergence of  the 4G network, gradually but surely eclipsing the 3G network.

•    The integration of new MIMO antenna technologies, OFDMA modulation scheme, IPV6 and simplification and flattening of the existing 3G architecture have made the 4G network a reality today.


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Background

•    LTE is the fourth-generation (4G) network and is the current generation of wireless communications systems.
•    Mobile service provision is facing important advancements towards more flexible business models, with novel and dynamic Internet-like services, with the introduction of new 2.5G/3G generations of mobile communication systems, like GPRS, UMTS and CDMA.
•    LTE was planned to encompass many wireless networking and cellular technologies including Wireless Personal Area Network (WPAN), Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) and third generation (3G) cellular network. 

Internet Protocol (IP) is further introduced and utilized to seamlessly interconnect these wireless networking technologies on a backbone network.

•    Nearly everyone has been directly affected by two major systems:


    1. Wired and wireless data connectivity (WLAN IEEE 802.11/a/b/g standards & xDSL).

    2. Mobile communication via 2G network (GSM)

•    These two networks when merged, creates a more robust superior network capable of delivering virtually all the benefits of the 2 networks.


•    The third-generation (3G) network was the first bold step en route a convergence between both networks.

Overview of Wireless Telecommunication Networks

The two tables in the diagrams below show an overview of various telecommunication network technologies, year, standards, data band width, core network, multiplexing and service. 
Overview of Wireless Telecommunication Networks

Overview of Wireless Telecommunication Networks
Overview of Wireless Telecommunication Networks

Overview of Wireless Telecommunication Networks
•    3G performance is no longer sufficient to meet needs of high-performance multi-media, full-motion video and wireless teleconferencing applications.
•    High data speed demand.
•    3G is based on primarily a wide-area concept. Hybrid networks that utilize both wireless LAN (hot spot) concept and cell or base-station wide area network design is required.
•    Demand for wider bandwidth.
•    Spectrally more efficient modulation schemes that cannot be retrofitted into 3G infrastructure are now available. Hence the need for a new generation technology.

Motivation for LTE – Requirements

•    Simplifying the RAN by:
a. Reduce the number of different types of RAN nodes, and their complexity.
b. Minimize the number of RAN interface types.

•    Reduce latency (which is a prerequisite for CS replacement).


•    Increase throughput and spectrum efficiency.


•    Provide greater flexibility with regard to the frequency bands in which the system may be deployed (Frequency Refarming).


•    Migrate to an optimized PS domain, with no CS domain in the core network.


•    Provide efficient support for a variety of different services. Traditional CS services will be supported via VoIP, etc.


•    Minimize the presence of single points of failure in the network above the evolved Node Bs (eNBs).


•    Support inter-working with existing 3G systems and non-3GPP specified systems in order to support handover to/from these systems.


•    All-IP transport network.


•    Improve terminal power efficiency. 

Network Architecture for 3G UMTS

Below is the schematic diagram of 3G UMTS Network Architecture.


the Network Architecture for 3G UMTS

The Network Architecture for 3G UMTS
•    The key International Mobile Telecommunications-2000 (IMT-2000) proposals are the MTS (W-CDMA) as the successor to GSM. UMTS licenses have already been awarded across Europe and Asia through 3GPP group.
•    UMTS differs from GSM Phase 2+ (2.5 and 2.75G) (W–CDMA instead of TDMA/ FDMA).
•    The air interface access for User Equipment (UE) is provided by the UMTS Terrestrial Radio Access Network (UTRAN).
•    UTRAN introduces two new network elements: RNC (Radio Network Controller) and Node B.
•    The circuit switched elements include: (MSC)/ (VLR) and Gateway MSC.
•    Packet switched elements are (SGSN) and (GGSN).

Network Architecture 4G LTE

Below is the schematic diagram of 3G UMTS Network Architecture.
The figure shows the schematic diagram of 3G UMTS Network Architecture
The schematic diagram of 3G UMTS Network Architecture
•    The first release of LTE (release 8) was labeled as “3.9G”. The goal was to provide a high-data rate, low-latency and packet-optimized radio access technology.
•    The 4G LTE network architecture is a highly simplified flatter architecture, see Figure 2,  with only two types of node:
1. Evolved Node-B (eNB)
2. Mobility Management Entity/Gateway (MME/GW)

•    RNC eliminated, functions in many eNB –better latency

.
•    eNB and other IP interfaces are connected to MME/GW
.
•    GMSC/GGSN eliminated, functions now logical entities:
1. The serving gateway (S-GW)
2. The packet data network gateway (P-GW).

Network Architecture Evolution

The diagram below gives the summary of the various network architecyure evolution.

From 3GPP Rel6/ HSPA,

•    Original 3G architecture.
•     2 nodes in the RAN.
•     2 nodes in the PS Core Network.
•     Every Node introduces additional delay.
•     Common path for User plane and Control plane data.
•     Air interface based on WCDMA.
•     RAN interfaces based on ATM.
•     Option for Iu-PS interface to be based on IP.

Then, 3GPP Rel7/ HSPA,

•    Separated path for Control Plane and User Plane data in the PS Core Network.

•     Direct GTP tunnel from the GGSN to the RNC for User plane data: simplifies the Core Network and reduces Signalling.


•     First step towards a flat network Architecture.


•     30% core network OPEX and CAPEX savings with Direct Tunnel.


•     The SGSN still controls traffic plane handling, performs session and mobility management, and manages paging.


•     Still 2 nodes in the RAN.

To 3GPP Rel8/ LTE,

•    LTE takes the same Flat architecture from Internet HSPA.
•     Air interface based on OFDMA.
•     All-IP network.
•     New spectrum allocation (i.e 2600 MHz band)

Specification Differences between 3G and 4G Networks

The table in the figure below shows a summary of the specifications and differences between 3G and 4G networks.
Specifications and differences between 3G and 4G networks

Specifications and differences between 3G and 4G networks

4G Applications

•    4G networks handle broadcast quality data loads over much faster, cheaper, and more mobile connections.

•    Tele-geo processing which is a combination of GIS (Geographical Information System) and GPS (Global Positioning System) gives required location by querying.


•    Tele-Medicine by remote health monitoring of patients. Users get assistance from a doctor at anytime and anywhere via video conference.


•    Rapid crisis management capability rectifies breakdown in communication systems quickly, avoiding long MTTR.


•    Cloud services become considerably more reliable, functional and secure for the mobile users.


•    More interactive and cost effective online education.

Challenges of Migrating 3G to 4G Technology

•    Security: Monitoring, detecting, analyzing and preventing worms and viruses on wireless, and mobile networks combined would be more difficult, challenging.

•    Many operators: A large number of network operators are expected to co-exist and collaborate in the 4G - Networks. This will be complicated by versatile trust relationships between network operators.


•    Infrastructure: New 4G frequencies means new components in cell towers are required.


•    New Handsets ad PDAs: Consumers are forced to buy a new device compatible with the 4G network.


•    Coverage issues: Rural areas and multistory buildings in metropolitan areas are not being served well by existing wireless networks. 4G has not yet overcome this challenge.

3G and 4G nodes installed in a chilled switch room

3G and 4G nodes installed in a chilled switch room

Conclusion

The evolution from 3G to 4G has been planned, studied and implemented yet it has already been discovered that some countries are yet to implement the 4G.

An important characteristic of performances are still unable to completely solve the unending problems of poor coverage, poor QoS, bad inter connectivity, and flexibility the 5G technology will be the ability of mobile devices to simultaneously send and receive information from cell tower, that things are not currently possible with older networks.


5G can be a completed wireless communication without limitation, delivering perfect real world wireless – World Wide Wireless Web (WWWW). 5G should be the driver for the ‘Internet of Things’ concept.


By: Tobechukwu Obiefuna
From: MTN Nigeria 
Email: tobyobiefuna@gmail.com OR tobecho@mtnnigeria.net

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Click the link to download the PDF copy of  this article for free: LONG TERM EVOLUTION TECHNOLOGIES, 3G AND 4G

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