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14 November 2007

Beyond UMTS

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The mobile revolution continues. UMTS is slowly becoming the new standard in mobile communication, providing new services to users throughout the European Union. (Dec. '04)
The mobile revolution continues. UMTS is slowly becoming the new standard in mobile communication, providing new services to users throughout the European Union. These can send pictures taken with their in-built camera, or they can download videos through the mobile network. But these features are still limited due to the maximum bandwidth of the mobile network.

The frequency range or ‘spectrum’ is the basis for all mobile phone services, broadcasting, and for all wireless systems. This spectrum is limited and so far it is strictly divided between different services. No mobile network is allowed to use a frequency outside its allocated limits. The ‘OverDRIVE’ project is now trying to use the available spectrum more efficiently, by allocating frequencies according users’ needs.

For example, the mobile phone network needs more capacity during the daytime and thus might receive a larger share of the bandwidth during that period. “We were able to show that if we distribute the spectrum dynamically, we could increase the capacity by 30%”, says Ralf Tönjes of Ericsson Eurolab in Germany. But this is only one way to revolutionise the mobile network and increase its capabilities.

Ralf Tönjes is also the project leader of OverDRIVE, and works from his research laboratory in Aachen, Germany. His plan is to mix mobile communication and broadcast, to what he calls “multicast”. Multicast means that the service is not provided to everyone, but to a pre-selected group of users.

A sports fan may have subscribed to a mobile service, which would provide him with up-to-date information, including high-quality videos, on a specific football match or Formula One race. The challenge: videos running in real time require huge amounts of data needs to be transmitted at a very fast rate – the mobile network would not be able to cope with this but, with the help of radio networks, video transmissions are a possibility.

But there is also a practical problem; mobile phones have been getting smaller and smaller, and they don’t provide the best means of enjoying a high-quality video. Ever-smaller screens are the main problem. So OverDRIVE has set itself a further goal: to link the world of mobile communication to bigger monitors or screens, that are in the neighbourhood of the user. The aim is to integrate the mobile network to the infrastructure of a car or a train, once the mobile phone user enters the vehicle.

The idea is that the user would enter the vehicle having a normal conversation on his mobile phone. The phone call would then be transferred automatically to the audio systems and visual screens inside the vehicle. The person could continue his conversation as a picture conference, and could then use his phone for additional features, such as watching the sports highlights or obtaining information over the network.

The way we communicate and the way we obtain information is moving on. New broadband services are going to accelerate this development. And engineers working on the OverDRIVE Project will ensure that this technology is ready for the new generation of mobile users


> The Overdrive Project
The EU project OverDRiVE aims at UMTS enhancements and coordination of existing radio networks into a hybrid network to ensure spectrum efficient provision of mobile multimedia services.

> European Commission
The Commission’s information on its policies and activities related to the Mobile and Wireless Communications, with links, reports and factsheets.

> UMTS Forum
The Universal Mobile Telecommunications System Forum is the voice of the 3G (third generation) mobile systems and services market. The website includes reports, news and events listings.

> GSM Europe
GSM Europe is the leading representative body of the wireless industry in Europe. News, links, reports, a very useful FAQ section on mobile phone technology and issues, as well as statistics.

> UMTS world
All about UMTS and the 3G (Third Generation): technology explanations, devices, and extensive links to research, network operators, and sector, organizations events, FAQ, news etc.


Dr. Ralf Tönjes
> Project leader
Ericsson GmbH, Eurolab
Ericsson Allee 1
52134 Herzogenrath
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Beyond UMTS

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