Erik Dahlman, Stefan Parkvall, Muhammad Kazmi, Robert Baldemair, George Jöngren, Henning Wiemann, Johan Torsner and Magnus Stattin

Mobile network communication standard LTE

Technical field
The 3G networks that first enabled true broadband mobile Internet access are now being superseded by LTE networks, which offer download and upload speeds many times greater than those achievable via decade-old 3G technology. A team of experts at Ericsson have contributed a significant number of patents to the development of LTE, powering the rise of the mobile Internet economy.

Finalists for the European Inventor Award 2014

 As the Internet has become ever richer with multimedia content, and the number of people accessing the web via mobile devices has increased, there is a growing need to develop more advanced and efficient communication networks. A new network standard has been developed to replace them: This game-changer is called the Long Term Evolution (LTE) standard, commonly referred to as “4G”.

LTE technology consists of thousands of individually patented innovations, and its development cannot be attributed to a single organisation, company or individual. However, eight Ericsson employees – Erik Dahlman, Stefan Parkvall, Muhammad Kazmi, Robert Baldemair, George Jöngren, Henning Wiemann, Johan Torsner and Magnus Stattin – and their team have made significant contributions to the development of the LTE standard. Their patents in the fields of cellular network base station design, signal processing, air interface design and the efficient use of radio resources have been especially important because they influence the quality of LTE signals and, thus, user experience.

Societal benefit

LTE networks offer download speeds of up to 300 megabits per second (Mbit/s) and peak upload speeds of up to 75 Mbit/s – compared with the speeds of about 7 Mbit/s and 1 Mbit/s respectively, that 3G networks allow. This significantly enhances Internet users’ experience, for example by enabling them to view live high-definition television (HDTV) on their mobile devices. The evolving LTE Advanced standard, which is currently being developed by Ericsson and other industry players, will increase access speeds and capacity further, enabling an even faster, smoother mobile Internet experience for hundreds of millions of people around the world.

Economic benefit

In the fourth quarter of 2013, an estimated 200 million active LTE subscriptions existed globally, and more than 1000 different models of LTE-enabled devices were on the market. In the same time period, 250 million LTE smartphones were shipped.

And the market is growing rapidly, with no slow-down expected: One report estimates a 56% compound annual growth rate between 2013 and 2020. At the same time, Ericsson’s own research predicts that the total volume of mobile data traffic will increase twelve-fold by 2018. Ericsson is the leading manufacturer of LTE infrastructure, and it is estimated that it handles 50% of all LTE smartphone traffic.

How it works

LTE uses one air interface for downlinks (from the network mast to the device) and one for uplinks (from the device to the network mast), allowing for optimal signal transmission in both directions. LTE also employs a specific type of access technology to transport voice and data traffic over the air, which enables devices to form multiple downlink connections with each cell within the LTE network. This maximises the stability, speed and capacity of the downlink connection when compared with technologies used by 3G networks.

A variation on the same technology is used for the uplink, allowing the device to connect reliably when uploading, despite the fact that LTE-enabled devices usually feature a weakened uplink signal in order to conserve battery life.

The inventors

Thanks to the achievements of Erik Dahlman, Stefan Parkvall, Muhammad Kazmi, Robert Baldemair, George Jöngren, Henning Wiemann, Johan Torsner, Magnus Stattin and other experts at Ericsson, the Swedish corporation expects to hold an impressive 25% of all essential patents in LTE. Several of the nominees have also been recognised as “Inventors of the Year” within Ericsson at different times.

In 2009, the Swedish government recognised Parkvall and Dahlman with the Stora Teknikpriset award for their contribution to the technical and commercial success of the UMTS accelerator HSPA.

Did you know?

Because there is much more capacity in an LTE network than in a 3G network, there is also much less chance of the so-called “cell shrinkage” that occurs in a 3G network, where a mobile signal station is sometimes forced to trade coverage for capacity. This allows a larger number of people in close proximity to each other to access the Internet without being affected by a slow-down in access speeds.

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