Major progress in Beijing on standardization of IMT-2000

Role of the International Telecommunication Union as "one-stop shop" for 3G global standards reaffirmed

15 June 1999

Geneva – The 17th meeting of the International Telecommunication Union group of radio experts on IMT-2000 (ITU-R Task Group 8/1) which closed on Friday in Beijing after two weeks of work endorsed the harmonization efforts made by the Operators’ Harmonization Group (OHG)1 for the CDMA component of the IMT-2000 standard2. The harmonized proposal tabled in Beijing – which provides a blueprint of agreed-upon technical issues to consider and implement in the context of IMT-2000 – was also supported by the ITU IMT-2000 Joint Experts Meeting of network3 and radio experts which met in Beijing on 10 June.

The proposal follows the appeal made to operators by the ITU after the 16th meeting of Task Group 8/1 last March in Fortaleza4 to provide information on their requirements, based on their various operational scenarios, with a view to maximizing the commonality between the various "building blocks" within the IMT-2000 standard. The Fortaleza meeting key decisions provide essentially for a single flexible standard with a choice of multiple access methods5 to meet the many different mobile operational environments around the world.

Participants strongly urged the Third Generation Partnership Projects (3GPPs) and Standards Development Organizations (SDOs) involved in IMT-2000 related activities, to ensure that the OHG recommendations are adopted and incorporated in their inputs to the 18th meeting of the Task Group 8/1 in Helsinki (25 October – 5 November, 1999).

"We welcome the initiative of the operators in having harmonized the two CDMA approaches to third generation, thus greatly facilitating the remaining harmonization efforts" Mr Y. Utsumi, ITU Secretary-General said in Geneva. "This represents one more step to maximize the ability of customers to roam across regions, networks and systems seamlessly while providing a gradual and compatible evolutionary path from existing infrastructures" he added.

Further harmonization work will focus on other aspects of the IMT-2000 standard such as time division duplex which uses unpaired spectrum. The aim is to minimize the impact of the flexibility within the IMT-2000 standard on users through maximizing commonality and ease of digital implementation in a hand-held mobile unit. The standard will allow IMT-2000 operators to select appropriate radio access methods and core networks to flexibly implement their systems subject to the regulatory, market or business requirements for each region or country.

Accordingly, users are expected to be able to roam among the various networks and radio environments because of intelligent dual or multiple mode handsets that would be able to determine the network and the radio environment it is accessing or in which it is operating and select the appropriate mode transparently and automatically. There are already many multi-mode/multi band mobile units appearing on the market to meet the evolution needs of today's systems and by, early next century, there should be negligible impact in areas such as power consumption, size or cost due to the flexibility defined within the IMT-2000 standard if harmonization efforts during the more detailed definition stage are strongly focused towards the needs of the end user.

"I hope that the success of the OHG in harmonizing the Frequency Division Duplex (FDD) aspects of the CDMA proposals submitted to the ITU – those using paired frequency bands – will be followed with a similar rationalization of the TDD proposals" stated Mrs Li Mofang, Chief Engineer of China Telecom Mobile Bureau who chaired the OHG.

Mrs Li Mofang pointed out that China Telecom operates the largest GSM network in the world with over 30 million users growing at more than 1 million per month. "China Telecom and China Unicom plan to support a 3G mobile system field trial by the end of the year 2000, based on the Chinese TD-SCDMA proposal submitted to the ITU". "This proposal" she explained "uses a single frequency band on a time-shared basis for transmit and receive (Time Division Duplex) and is currently being harmonized with the TDD mode of UTRA in the 3G Partnership Project (3GPP)."

Looking ahead, participants of the Beijing meeting agreed on the next steps for the future development of mobile systems. "The meeting specified further studies required within the Radiocommunication Sector of the ITU (ITU-R) on the future development of IMT-2000, including preliminary studies of the requirements for future mobile systems beyond IMT-2000" said Mr Mike Callendar, Chairman of Task Group 8/1. "The proposed future studies will be submitted to the full Study Group dealing with Mobile Communications (ITU-R Study Group 8) at its next meeting in early November 1999" he also said.

The ITU has asked the OHG to build upon their successful CDMA achievements by considering harmonization possibilities in other aspects of IMT-2000, IMT-2000 enhancements and the requirements for systems beyond IMT-2000.

Another key decision of the Beijing meeting has been to endorse the proposal to harness all resources available in the industry to complete the work needed to finalize a global IMT-2000 standard by the end of 1999. Participants reaffirmed the role of ITU as the "one-stop shop" for 3G global standards to ensure that the radio recommendations for IMT-2000 meet industry needs worldwide, making maximum use of the work carried out by other team members through references where appropriate.

To this end, the meeting defined cooperative working arrangements necessary between the members of the global standards team involved in the standardization of the third generation systems namely ITU, 3G Partnership Projects (3GPPs) and Standards Development Organizations (SDOs).

"The IMT-2000 standard being developed by the ITU is very important for global communications in the 21st century and China is pleased to be able to play a major role in these developments, said Wen Ku, China’s Deputy Director-General of Science and Technology Department of Ministry of Information and Industry who hosted the meeting." Mrs Cao Shumin, Deputy Director of Research Institute of Telecommunications Transmission and Chairperson of the China Wireless Telecommunication Standards Group, chaired the working group in ITU-R Task Group 8/1 that defined the key characteristics of the IMT-2000 radio interfaces. She is currently chairing the ITU working group developing detailed IMT-2000 radio recommendations.

With the progress made both at Fortaleza and in Beijing, the IMT-2000 standard is holding its promise to deliver the many benefits of the next generation of mobile systems in the 21st century including:

Qualcomm and Ericsson both submitted formal statements concerning the resolution of the Intellectual Property Rights problems on CDMA2000 and W-CDMA technologies which indicate that all disputes are globally resolved between the two companies. The statements also confirm the companies’ commitment to license their essential patents for a single CDMA standard or any of its modes on a fair and reasonable basis, free from unfair discrimination.

Technical Note to Editors

The harmonized parameters for the CDMA standard are said to allow for the development of inexpensive, multimode handsets and infrastructure, supporting all three modes of operation (a Frequency Division Duplex with single or multi-carrier operation as well as a Time Division Duplex mode of operation) on both major core networks (ANSI-41 and GSM-MAP) In compliance with the objectives of IMT-2000 and the decisions made at the Fortaleza meeting. In addition, it defined the chip rates to use for each mode (3.84 Mcps for FDD single-carrier also called Direct Sequence derived from the W-CDMA proposal and for Time Division Duplex and 3.6864 Mcps for the FDD multi-carrier derived from the CDMA2000 proposal).

The Operators Harmonization Group (OHG) reaffirmed that maximum commonality had to be achieved. It has stressed that the global ITU specifications for IMT-2000 had to be sufficiently detailed to enable 3G operators to implement systems incorporating various harmonized radio access modes and core networks. It also indicated that for complete harmonization, 3GPP and 3GPP2 should consider merging into a single body no later than December 2000. This merger is seen as required to provide focus in developing a unified core network for the future as well as ensuring that air interfaces and the associated protocol layers in the future will be completely harmonized.

1 The Mobile communications operators took an increasingly active role in the standardization of 3rd generation systems after the "Harmonization Forum" in Beijing (27 October 1998). An operator group, set up primarily to harmonize CDMA, held four meetings: in Beijing in January 1999, in London in March 1999, in Tokyo in April 1999 and in Toronto in May 1999. Called the Operators’ Harmonization Group (OHG), it now comprises 35 operators and 12 manufacturers.
2 The CDMA component of IMT-2000 includes the associated variations due to mobile network differences i.e. CDMA2000 and W-CDMA and IS-41 and GSM networks
3 ITU-T Study Group 11 chaired by Dr Sadahiko Kano (Japan)
4 See press release ITU/99-4 of 25 March 1999 [ ] for details
5 CDMA, TDMA and combined TDMA/CDMA