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Mobile telecommunications gives birth to a fourth generation: an analysis of technological, licensing and strategic implications

Peter Curwen (University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK)
Jason Whalley (University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK)


ISSN: 1463-6697

Article publication date: 28 June 2011




The purpose of this paper is to analyse the technological, licensing and strategic implications of the move to the fourth generation of mobile telecommunications


An initial section provides an analysis of what is meant by fourth generation mobile telecommunications based upon a new taxonomy. This is followed by an overview of all countries where Long Term Evolution is being, or has been, introduced, introducing multiple case studies to illustrate the variety of approaches adopted. After a subsequent summary of what is happening in respect of WiMAX, the paper concludes with an assessment of the prospects for fourth generation technology.


One key finding is that what is commonly understood to be fourth generation technology is in practice 3.9G rather than 4G. Another is that “true 4G” is shortly to be ratified and will gradually be introduced over the next few years, but that it will be used in different ways by different operators in different countries.

Research limitations/implications

Some data for the case studies is hard to establish with certainty.

Practical implications

Very fast mobile networks are already a reality. Ultra‐fast networks will soon appear but only in limited places. Most customers will not notice the difference.

Social implications

Things that are already easy and quick to download on a mobile device will become even easier and quicker to download. Whether this will matter much is a moot point.


The taxonomy of mobile technology is the only one available in the public sector.



Curwen, P. and Whalley, J. (2011), "Mobile telecommunications gives birth to a fourth generation: an analysis of technological, licensing and strategic implications", info, Vol. 13 No. 4, pp. 42-60.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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