BP LTE services provides data services, and when a voice call is to be initiated or received, it will fall back to the circuit-switched domain. When using this solution, operators just need to upgrade the MSC instead of deploying the IMS, and therefore, can provide services quickly.
Much of the LTE standard addresses the upgrading of 3G UMTS to what will eventually be 4G mobile communications technology. A large amount of the work is aimed at simplifying the architecture of the system, as it transits from the existing UMTS circuit + packet switching combined network, to an all-IP flat architecture system. E-UTRA is the air interface of LTE. Its main features are:
- Peak download rates up to 299.6 Mbit/s and upload rates up to 75.4 Mbit/s depending on the user equipment category (with 4×4 antennas using 20 MHz of spectrum). Five different terminal classes have been defined from a voice centric class up to a high end terminal that supports the peak data rates. All terminals will be able to process 20 MHz bandwidth.
- Low data transfer latencies (sub-5 ms latency for small IP packets in optimal conditions), lower latencies for handover and connection setup time than with previous radio access technologies.
- Improved support for mobility, exemplified by support for terminals moving at up to 350 km/h (220 mph) or 500 km/h (310 mph) depending on the frequency band.
- OFDMA for the downlink, SC-FDMA for the uplink to conserve power
- Support for both FDD and TDD communication systems as well as half-duplex FDD with the same radio access technology
- Support for all frequency bands currently used by IMT systems by ITU-R.
- Increased spectrum flexibility: 1.4 MHz, 3 MHz, 5 MHz, 10 MHz, 15 MHz and 20 MHz wide cells are standardized. (W-CDMA has no option for other than 5 MHz slices, leading to some problems rolling-out in countries where 5 MHz is a commonly allocated width of spectrum so would frequently already be in use with legacy standards such as 2G GSM and cdmaOne.)
- Support for cell sizes from tens of metres radius (femto and picocells) up to 100 km (62 miles) radius macrocells. In the lower frequency bands to be used in rural areas, 5 km (3.1 miles) is the optimal cell size, 30 km (19 miles) having reasonable performance, and up to 100 km cell sizes supported with acceptable performance. In city and urban areas, higher frequency bands (such as 2.6 GHz in EU) are used to support high speed mobile broadband. In this case, cell sizes may be 1 km (0.62 miles) or even less.
- Supports at least 200 active data clients in every 5 MHz cell.