EU Invests in LTE to Reclaim Mobile Technology Lead

The European Commission has decided that the European Union will invest €18 million (US$25 million) into research that will underpin next-generation 4G mobile networks based on LTE Advanced, it said on Tuesday.

In September, the Commission will start to negotiate the details on how the money will be doled out, and projects funded with the money are expected to start in January 2010, according to a statement.

LTE Advanced will eventually replace the first generation LTE (Long Term Evolution) networks that are just starting to get built out. The goal is to offer download capacities of up to 1G bps (bit per second). The first generation of LTE will offer speeds at up to 100M bps, according to the Commission.

The E.U.'s investment in LTE Advanced research is a good thing, said Richard Webb, directing analyst at market research company Infonetics. It shows how important mobile broadband has become, he said.

Western Europe was a very dominant force in developing GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications), an earlier mobile technology, said Webb. But the Continent has lost some of its edge -- especially compared to Asia -- as the market has moved on to more advanced wireless technologies, he said. By backing LTE Advanced research, the Commission is hoping to reclaim some of its former glory, he said.

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