• 4G Challenges Include Channel Quality and Individual User Throughput
  • April 28, 2009 | Authors: Jennifer L. Richter; Jennifer A. Cetta; Carly T. Didden
  • Law Firm: Patton Boggs LLP - Washington Office
  • The economy may be struggling but wireless carriers are planning for large expenditures in order to launch 4G networks. There is great promise that OFDM will allow for very high broadband speeds on 4G networks but data throughput is still limited by channel quality in spite of improved channel structure and coding. In many urban areas, channel quality may be compromised by interference from other users of the same channel. Some interference can be mitigated through the use of multiple input/multiple output (MIMO) antennas that increase the number of permitted simultaneous users on the same channel in a small area. Unfortunately, it is too early to tell how well such technologies will work once deployed in real world network operations and it may take years of network management to refine 4G operations.

    Wireless channels are shared and whatever capacity is available on those channels is also shared decreasing the available throughput for a single user. Individual throughput rates will vary depending on an individual’s usage patterns. As the popularity of applications shifts to high bandwidth applications where degraded performance will be noticeable, such as streaming video and peer-to-peer file sharing, networks will need to decrease the number of users per channel in order to increase the throughput available to each individual. A decrease in the number of users per channels will significantly increase a provider’s costs and only add to the increasing demand for spectrum in highly populated urban areas.

    Moving forward, 4G networks will need to develop improved techniques for managing interference and implement user-friendly throughput limitations in order to maximize network operations.