The Most Important 3GPP Features From Release 5 to 10

I can still remember the days when 3GPP Release 99 was the latest and greatest with the introduction of UMTS and data rates of 384 kbit/s. It's not that long ago really, and it's incredible how much has changed since then. As I went through the feature descriptions I drew up a list of which features I personally think are the most important ones in each release:

Release 4

  • Even today, Release 4 is still synonymous with the definition of the Bearer Independent Core Network (BICN) or, in other words, the virtualization of the circuit switched network.

Release 5

  • Introduction of the IMS which has continued to be developed throughout all following releases
  • The specification of High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA). I think this is one of the single most important features ever specified. Without it, UMTS would look entirely different today.

Release 6

  • Introduction of High Speed Packet Uplink (HSUPA)

Release 7

  • Specification of HSPA+ with 64QAM and MIMO
  • Enhancements to conserve battery power and to make state changes quicker for a better browsing experience. Also referred to as Continued Packet Connectivity
  • HSUPA 16QAM for a faster uplink
  • Extended Cell Range. Wasn't that done for Australia?

Release 8

  • The LTE baseline release
  • Definition of Dual Carrier HSDPA
  • Simultaneous use of 64QAM and MIMO on a single carrier
  • Single Radio Voice Call Continuity to hand-over voice calls from a packet to a circuit switched bearer
  • Femtocell definition (Home NodeBs)
  • Small but Important: ICE (In Case of Emergency) information storage on the SIM card and retrieval in a standardized way to help first responders to contact your family and friends in case something has happened to you.

Release 9

  • Separate dual carriers to simultaneously transmit downlink data in the 900 and 2100 MHz band.
  • Dual carrier in the uplink
  • Inclusion of the European Digital Dividend band

Release 10

  • Information on the content of Release 10 is still sketchy at this time. The one thing that is clear at this point that it will contain the baseline for LTE Advanced.

Agreed, a very very short list considering the dozens and dozens of features in each release. So, what have I been missing that will really make an impact? Do you have other favorites?

8 thoughts on “The Most Important 3GPP Features From Release 5 to 10”

  1. A very nice summary. Tells a story of a huge amount of effort, in just a few words.

    I wonder if there’s a similar one on GSM? Haven’t paid much attention since EDGE but stuff is still being developed.


  2. Martin, I think that SONs and virtualization of the network architecture will play an enabling role to achieve lower cost/higher performance going forward.

    You mentioned “Separate dual carriers to simultaneously transmit downlink data in the 900 and 2100 MHz band.”; dual/multiple carriers is also being pursued in other bands including 700Mhz and 2.6GHz. Although few operators will be in a position or have the desire to re-farm existing spectrum in the near term, the few that can move forward with multi-carrier may gain a commercial advantage.

  3. Also EPC definition is a major effort in Rel 8. Probably worth a seperate bullet in the list 🙂

    Ajay Sahai

  4. How about the flat network architecture (basically Pre-EPC) defined in R7 and already deployed by NSN as I-HSPA?

  5. Hi Martin,

    Can you pls provide some info on this “Inclusion of the European Digital Dividend band”

    Thanks a lot & Good Job.

  6. Hi Pawan,

    In Release 9, the 800 MHz band freed up in Europe by TV digitisation has now received a band number in the 3GPP specs. In other words, the vendors can now build equipment for this band. From my point of view this is significant as it will help to connect very rural areas and at the same time, maybe a bit later on also be used in the cities for better inhouse coverage.


Comments are closed.