Introducing LTE-Advanced Pro, the new standards marker from 3GPP

First there was LTE, then LTE Advanced. Now you better get used to a new name – LTE Advanced Pro.

The 3GPP has decided that future releases of LTE-Advanced standards specifications will officially be known as LTE Advanced PRO, following a decision at a recent meeting to adopt a new name for specifications from Release 13 onwards.

Seventeen names were considered for the new marker by an ad hoc study group, with two emerging as favourites after several rounds of discussion: LTE Advanced Pro and LTE Advanced Phase 2. The 3GPP’s PCG#35 meeting, held in Vancouver on 22 October, was therefore asked to choose between the two. TTA (Korea) and CCSA (China) voted for the “Pro” name, with only ATIS (North America) choosing “Phase 2”. ARIB (Japan) and TTC (Japan) abstained, and ETSI (Europe) said it would support whichever term achieved a majority.

LTE-Advanced PRO is, then, your official name for LTE specifications from now on.

3GPP has said that the name would be “used as a marker to distinguish 3GPP specifications resulting from Release 13 and onwards and that it was not intended to be used by 3GPP for branding purposes.”

Others, however, will not be so shy. Huawei, for example, is pretty triumphant about the decision. The company has been marketing 4.5G for months now, and has worked hard to make 4.5G related to specific standards. The issue for Huawei was that every time it talked of 4.5G as a specific set of pre-5G technologies, there was a tendency for analysts and some competitors to respond that there was no such thing as 4.5G, and the term was merely Huawei marketing – and a confusing one at that.

Well the company now clearly feels vindicated. A lengthy release from the company said 3GPP’s decision means “this now becomes the formal name of 4.5G in standard”.

Huawei is clearly relieved to have a decision, outlining the process to date in the following manner:

“In the PCG#31 meeting in October 2013, 3GPP decided to start debating a new marker for further evolution of LTE (4.5G). Then on April 28th, 2015 at the PCG#34 meeting, 3GPP finally agreed to introduce a new marker for 4.5G as a significant step forward above LTE-Advanced. After a six-month discussion at the PCG#35 meeting on October 22nd, 2015, the new marker has officially been named as LTE-Advanced Pro. “

Mention of the six month discussion, the “finally”, and the original debate being started two years ago all point to some level of frustration and now relief within the Chinese vendor. You can look forward to continued mentions of 4.5G as LTE-Advanced Pro technology, in the same way that 4G relates to LTE and LTE-Advanced.

Huawei is not the only company that has been looking for a term for capabilities that go beyond “plain” LTE. Some operators, for example, have looked to market Carrier Aggregation as  LTE+, to mark the extra speeds available. It’s less likely operators will use LTE-Advanced Pro as a consumer-facing brand, but it will give them an official standards marker that underlies attempts to brand “LTE Plus” type capabilities that are achieved through things such as multiple carrier aggregation, LAA and even MTC and Narrowband-IoT services.

LTE-Advanced PRO is, then, your official name for LTE specifications from now on.