In terms of definition IMT stands for International Mobile Telecommunications and is a protocol or list of specific requirements and standards under which mobile devices and services must operate.  IMT standards are determined by the International Telecommunications Union which is a department of the United Nations.  Much like our government imposing regulation standards on automobiles or pretty much anything else, once those standards have passed through the legislative process and become law, manufacturers have the obligation to meet the mandates established by them.

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IMT-Advanced was approved this week at the ITU’s Geneva meeting with a lot of excitement. It is in essence the next generation of IMT-2000 which, in layman’s terms, established what we now refer to as 3G mobile technology.  One might ask then how it is that we now have 4G mobile technology if the new protocol has just been established this week.  The answer is that since 2000 when the present standards were formed, mobile technology has advanced beyond the mandated requirements.  What is typically called 4G is really more aptly 3G plus.

Practical Application

So what does all of this mean as far as practical application?  It means that when device technologies and network infrastructures catch up to the new standards, 4G mobile will be up to ten times faster than anything available today.  ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Toure expressed his own enthusiasm by saying,

“IMT-Advanced marks a huge leap forward in state-of-the-art technologies, which will make the present day smart phone feel like an old dial up Internet connection.   Access to the Internet, streaming videos and data transfers anytime, anywhere will be better than most desktop connections today.”

Geoff Duncan, in an article posted on Digital Trends website put it this way:

“…IMT-Advanced technologies should be able to deliver a theoretical maximum of 1 Gbit/s, which is ten times more bandwidth.  If all that seems like technical gobbledegook, think of it this way: with IMT-Advanced technology, it should take about 20 seconds to download a full-length (44 min) standard-definition television episode to a smart phone.  Want high-definition?  It’ll take less than 90 seconds.  How about a whole album of music?  Roughly one minute at full CD quality, no compression.  That’s faster than most users’ fixed-line broadband connections to their homes.”

For The Consumer

With all of this obvious ecstasy over these new developments, another question which comes to mind is what effect, if any, will all this have on the consumer?  Recent trends seem to indicate that due to rising contract prices and the recent implementation of data caps, the rank-and-file cell phone user generally restricts his data use to regularly checking his email and making the occasional visit to the World Wide Web.

Service providers have explained data caps as being a way to prevent congestion on the broadband highway.  There are many consumers who are convinced that the caps are just another way for these providers to increase their revenue.  If the consumers are right, then the new IMT-Advanced protocol will be virtually worthless.  It would mean that there is no congestion to justify the caps in the first place.  But if the providers are telling the truth, then it is almost certain that the caps will be removed until the technology once again surpasses the standards.  The competition between providers will be fierce and prices should be positively affected by it.  The most reasonable conclusion is that the wireless service providers are telling the truth.  Otherwise they are only shooting themselves in the foot.

As these new standards are reached and newer and better technology comes over the horizon, the future of mobile communication and connectivity just keeps getting brighter and brighter.