ITU Loosens Hold on Term “4G” – Now Calls it “Undefined”

The debate won’t end but the volume is dropping on the what-is-4G controversy. Previously, I’ve written about the ITU’s characterization of 4G as only applying to the two radio technologies it has designated as IMT-Advanced: LTE-Advanced and WirelessMAN-Advanced (the latest version of WiMAX).

The ITU now says that while it still considers IMT-Advanced as 4G, it’s not the only 4G, since that term is used to describe other high-performing radio systems such as LTE and the previous version of WiMAX.

Here’s how the ITU put it:

As the most advanced technologies currently defined for global wireless mobile broadband communications, IMT-Advanced is considered as “4G”, although it is recognized that this term, while undefined, may also be applied to the forerunners of these technologies, LTE and WiMAX, and to other evolved 3G technologies providing a substantial level of improvement in performance and capabilities with respect to the initial third generation systems now deployed.

This is a victory for IEEE 802 which had sought a broadening of the definition for just the reasons the ITU states.