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LTE Project NRW writes mobile communications history


With a push of a button, theLTE pilot project on the Nordhelle was started officially in April 2009.

Southern Westphalia’s Nordhelle is at the centre of arguably the most important mobile communications development in North Rhine-Westphalia. Since September 2009, apilot project for long term evolution signals (LTE) has been running from the West German Broadcasting (WDR) tower located there. These signals enable transmission speeds of 300 Mbit per second, and more, to mobile phones. High-resolution videos, multiplayer online games, automotive navigation systems – this technology practically suspends the limits of mobile internet.

The objective of the pilot project of Vodafone, WDR and the Media Authority of North Rhine-Westphalia (LfM), with the support of the State Government of North Rhine-Westphalia, is to establish the volume of data that can be transmitted in a stable manner over a certain period of time, without disrupting other transmission such as DVB-T. The project uses the so-called »digital dividends«, that is, the frequencies that have become free through the changeover to digital television.

Prof. Dr. Helmut Thoma

The four generations of mobile telephony


In this Telekom van the LTE data transfer was demonstrated in 2008.


The new mobile standard for example promises a revolution in mobile navigation systems.

Traffic jams on the mobile data highway

Deutsche Telekom introduced LTE back in September 2008: A small bus shuttled back and forth across a bridge over the Rhine between the Bonn headquarters and T-Mobile headquarters on the other side, while the fast data transmission ran in a vehicle.

After auctioning the mobile communications frequencies for LTE, the court decided that regional areas should first be provided with full broadband internet coverage. The result is that 85% of all German households are now provided with Internet access. The EU has also made a financial contribution to the funding: it has been providing several million euros for the ultra high speed mobile internet system.

This investment is urgently required. In 2011, more than 11.8 million smart phones were sold in Germany - 31 per cent more than in 2010. iPhones, data flat rates from mobile communications providers, and web 2.0 applications lead to genuine »traffic jams« on the mobile data highway. According to IT association Bitkom, the volume of wirelessly transmitted data will rise by 57 per cent in 2013, to 170 million gigabytes. Deutsche Telekom responded to this by expanding the UMTS networks to 42 Mbit/s with HSPA+- technology. Vodafone, too, is now taking this path, but in the long term this won’t be enough. »The next generation of technology will make entirely new applications possible on mobile devices,« explains Günther Ottendorfer, Technology Director at Deutsche Telekom.

T-Mobile presented an impressive LTE demonstration at the Mobile World Congress 2010: The exhibition stand in Barcelona, the Bonn headquarters and a car in Innsbruck were all connected together, and exchanged videos and data at 70 Mbit/s.
At the same time, the Willich device manufacturer LG Electronics presented a prototype of a wireless LTE USB modem with a download speed of 100 Mbit/s. And the Dusseldorf technology company Ericsson even presented a download at 1Gbit/s, a speed that exceeds even that of conventional fixed line connections. LTE thereby revealed itself as a high speed connection which puts the standard DSL connection in the shade. And it may be worthwhile not only for mobile devices, but also for home computing. These transmission speeds aren’t just helping mobile television to a renaissance, they are also revolutionising navigation systems.

Thomas Elllerbeck

»A knowledge society like Germany needs modern communications infrastructure. The comprehensive provision of broadband internet, including to regional areas, plays a central role in the appeal of cities and communities as residential and commercial locations. The joint pilot project in NRW is an important step. We have a clear goal: Internet for everyone.«

Thomas Ellerbeck, Vodafone Germany

New devices and applications

The decisive technical advantage of LTE lies in the fact that the standard relies completely on the IP protocol. Even speech is transmitted as VoIP, which allows short reaction times to be guaranteed. The industry wants to quickly agree on a standard for voice transmission. For this purpose, companies including Ericsson, Huawei, LG Electronics, T-Mobile and ZTE have founded the »VoLGA Forum« (Voice over LTE via Generic Access). For LTE, the mobile communications providers will have to invest billions in the expansion of the networks. At the same time, T-Mobile and Vodafone are already announcing LTE flat rates. The only problem is that due to the broad acceptance of flat rates, the revenue of the network providers is stagnating. Generous flat rate offers could therefore soon be a thing of the past.

Rapid development

13 million households are currently capable of receiving LTE; more than 150.000 customers are making actual use of the new technology. »After providing the regional areas with LTE, the focus will now be on the big cities«, announces Dieter Kempf, president of Bitkom. In North Rhine Westphalia, the coverage of Cologne and Düsseldorf has already been completed.

LTE applications increase just as rapidly. Modems and LTE sticks are already available. Mobile phone providers such as Samsung and Nokia are presenting the first LTE smart phones. And the next revolution in transmission standards is already on the horizon: LTE Advanced can ostensibly reach 1 Gbps though realistically would get only 100 Mbps in everyday use.

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