The European Commission (EC) is to invest €18m (£15m) into researching the next generation of Long Term Evolution (LTE) mobile data technology.
From the beginning of next year, the EC will use the funds to help develop LTE Advanced, the next-generation 4G mobile network which promises mobile internet download speeds of up to 100Mbit/s.
"With LTE technologies, Europe's research 'know-how' will continue to set the tone for the development of mobile services and devices around the globe, just as we did in the past decades with the GSM standard," said Viviane Reding, the EU Commissioner for Telecoms and Media.
"LTE technologies will turn mobile phones into powerful mobile computers. Millions of new users will get ultra high-speed internet access on their portable devices, wherever they are. This will create tremendous opportunities and plenty of space for growing the digital economy."
Although the adoption of both WiMax and LTE has been hampered by the harsh economic climate, both are seeing gradual rollouts in various areas, and LTE has proved particularly popular in many developed areas.
LTE is currently being trialled by mobile operators in Finland, Germany, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the UK, and is expected to be commercially available in Sweden and Norway in the first half of 2010.
EU member states followed the European Parliament in July 2009 in approving the EC's proposal to update the 1987 GSM Directive, making the 900MHz band available for other technologies, including LTE.
The move builds on research by the EU between 2004 and 2007, in which €25m (£21m) was invested in a consortium of 41 European companies and universities to help push the optimisation and standardisation of LTE. This led to the development of the first concept for an LTE-based network infrastructure.
Based on Europe's joint research and the strength of the EU's single market, the GSM standard is today used by 80 per cent of the world's mobile networks.
The EU will invest more than €700m (£597m) in 2007-2013 into research on future networks, half of which will be allocated to wireless technologies contributing to the development of 4G networks and beyond.
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