LTE Overview – An Australian Perspective

Long Term Evolution or LTE is a major upgrade to the mobile network. Work on LTE standards began in 2004, by 2008 LTE infrastructure was available. Commercial LTE networks are now widely deployed.

This report outlines key LTE technical features and describes Australian LTE rollouts.

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Widespread Third Generation (3G) mobile network deployment began in 2003. The initial 3G technology has been Universal Multimedia Telecommunication Service (UMTS), an upgrade to the 2G GSM network.

The UMTS radio interface is called Wideband CDMA (WCDMA). It uses two 5 MHz radio channels, one incoming, one outgoing. The original UMTS system, known as “Release 99” or R99, provided peak rates of only 384 kbps. UMTS radio channel efficiency has improved dramatically since then, with most UMTS 3G networks offering 21 Mbps peak rates. This newer UMTS version is called High Speed Packet Access Plus or HSPA+.

Despite these improvements, the WCDMA interface has disadvantages. It is optimised for 5 MHz radio channels, however available radio spectrum is often less than 5 MHz, sometimes more. A new interface which adapts to varying channel widths is needed. LTE provides this.

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