LTE (telecommunication)

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In telecommunication, Long-Term Evolution (LTE) is a standard for wireless broadband communication for mobile devices and data terminals, based on the GSM/EDGE and UMTS/HSPA technologies. It increases the capacity and speed using a different radio interface together with core network improvements. [1] [2] The standard is developed by the 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) and is specified in its Release 8 document series, with minor enhancements described in Release 9. LTE is the upgrade path for carriers with both GSM/UMTS networks and CDMA2000 networks. The different LTE frequencies and bands used in different countries mean that only multi-band phones are able to use LTE in all countries where it is supported.

Telecommunication Transmission of information between locations using electromagnetics

Telecommunication is the transmission of signs, signals, messages, words, writings, images and sounds or information of any nature by wire, radio, optical or other electromagnetic systems. Telecommunication occurs when the exchange of information between communication participants includes the use of technology. It is transmitted through a transmission media, such as over physical media, for example, over electrical cable, or via electromagnetic radiation through space such as radio or light. Such transmission paths are often divided into communication channels which afford the advantages of multiplexing. Since the Latin term communicatio is considered the social process of information exchange, the term telecommunications is often used in its plural form because it involves many different technologies.

A technical standard is an established norm or requirement for a repeatable technical task. It is usually a formal document that establishes uniform engineering or technical criteria, methods, processes, and practices. In contrast, a custom, convention, company product, corporate standard, and so forth that becomes generally accepted and dominant is often called a de facto standard.

Wireless broadband telecommunications technology

Wireless broadband is telecommunications technology that provides high-speed wireless Internet access or computer networking access over a wide area. The term comprises both fixed and mobile broadband.


LTE is commonly marketed as "4G LTE and Advance 4G",[ citation needed ] but it does not meet the technical criteria of a 4G wireless service, as specified in the 3GPP Release 8 and 9 document series for LTE Advanced. LTE is also commonly known as 3.95G. The requirements were originally set forth by the ITU-R organisation in the IMT Advanced specification. However, due to marketing pressures and the significant advancements that WiMAX, Evolved High Speed Packet Access and LTE bring to the original 3G technologies, ITU later decided that LTE together with the aforementioned technologies can be called 4G technologies. [3] The LTE Advanced standard formally satisfies the ITU-R requirements to be considered IMT-Advanced. [4] To differentiate LTE Advanced and WiMAX-Advanced from current 4G technologies, ITU has defined them as "True 4G". [5] [6]

4G is the fourth generation of broadband cellular network technology, succeeding 3G. A 4G system must provide capabilities defined by ITU in IMT Advanced. Potential and current applications include amended mobile web access, IP telephony, gaming services, high-definition mobile TV, video conferencing, and 3D television.

LTE Advanced mobile communication standard and major enhancement of the Long Term Evolution (LTE) standard

LTE Advanced is a mobile communication standard and a major enhancement of the Long Term Evolution (LTE) standard. It was formally submitted as a candidate 4G to ITU-T in late 2009 as meeting the requirements of the IMT-Advanced standard, and was standardized by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) in March 2011 as 3GPP Release 10.


Telia-branded Samsung LTE modem Samsung 4G LTE modem-4.jpg
Telia-branded Samsung LTE modem
HTC ThunderBolt, the second commercially available LTE smartphone HTC Thunderbolt.jpg
HTC ThunderBolt, the second commercially available LTE smartphone

LTE stands for Long Term Evolution [7] and is a registered trademark owned by ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute) for the wireless data communications technology and a development of the GSM/UMTS standards. However, other nations and companies do play an active role in the LTE project. The goal of LTE was to increase the capacity and speed of wireless data networks using new DSP (digital signal processing) techniques and modulations that were developed around the turn of the millennium. A further goal was the redesign and simplification of the network architecture to an IP-based system with significantly reduced transfer latency compared to the 3G architecture. The LTE wireless interface is incompatible with 2G and 3G networks, so that it must be operated on a separate radio spectrum.

ETSI nonprofit european standards organization

The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) is an independent, not-for-profit, standardization organization in the telecommunications industry in Europe, headquartered in Sophia-Antipolis, France, with worldwide projection. ETSI produces globally-applicable standards for Information and Communications Technologies (ICT), including fixed, mobile, radio, converged, broadcast and internet technologies.

Digital signal processing (DSP) is the use of digital processing, such as by computers or more specialized digital signal processors, to perform a wide variety of signal processing operations. The signals processed in this manner are a sequence of numbers that represent samples of a continuous variable in a domain such as time, space, or frequency.

Network architecture is the design of a computer network. It is a framework for the specification of a network's physical components and their functional organization and configuration, its operational principles and procedures, as well as communication protocols used.

LTE was first proposed in 2004 by Japan's NTT Docomo, with studies on the standard officially commenced in 2005. [8] In May 2007, the LTE/SAE Trial Initiative (LSTI) alliance was founded as a global collaboration between vendors and operators with the goal of verifying and promoting the new standard in order to ensure the global introduction of the technology as quickly as possible. [9] [10] The LTE standard was finalized in December 2008, and the first publicly available LTE service was launched by TeliaSonera in Oslo and Stockholm on December 14, 2009, as a data connection with a USB modem. The LTE services were launched by major North American carriers as well, with the Samsung SCH-r900 being the world's first LTE Mobile phone starting on September 21, 2010, [11] [12] and Samsung Galaxy Indulge being the world's first LTE smartphone starting on February 10, 2011, [13] [14] both offered by MetroPCS, and the HTC ThunderBolt offered by Verizon starting on March 17 being the second LTE smartphone to be sold commercially. [15] [16] In Canada, Rogers Wireless was the first to launch LTE network on July 7, 2011, offering the Sierra Wireless AirCard 313U USB mobile broadband modem, known as the "LTE Rocket stick" then followed closely by mobile devices from both HTC and Samsung. [17] Initially, CDMA operators planned to upgrade to rival standards called UMB and WiMAX, but major CDMA operators (such as Verizon, Sprint and MetroPCS in the United States, Bell and Telus in Canada, au by KDDI in Japan, SK Telecom in South Korea and China Telecom/China Unicom in China) have announced instead they intend to migrate to LTE. The next version of LTE is LTE Advanced, which was standardized in March 2011. [18] Services are expected to commence in 2013. [19] Additional evolution known as LTE Advanced Pro have been approved in year 2015. [20]

NTT Docomo Japanese telecommunications company

NTT Docomo Inc. is the predominant mobile phone operator in Japan. The name is officially an abbreviation of the phrase, "do communications over the mobile network", and is also from a compound word dokomo, meaning "everywhere" in Japanese. Docomo provides phone, video phone, i-mode (internet), and mail services. The company's headquarters are in the Sanno Park Tower, Nagatachō, Chiyoda, Tokyo.

System Architecture Evolution (SAE) is the core network architecture of 3GPP's LTE wireless communication standard.

Oslo Capital of Norway

Oslo is the capital and most populous city of Norway. It constitutes both a county and a municipality. Founded in the year 1040 as Ánslo, and established as a kaupstad or trading place in 1048 by Harald Hardrada, the city was elevated to a bishopric in 1070 and a capital under Haakon V of Norway around 1300. Personal unions with Denmark from 1397 to 1523 and again from 1536 to 1814 reduced its influence. After being destroyed by a fire in 1624, during the reign of King Christian IV, a new city was built closer to Akershus Fortress and named Christiania in the king's honour. It was established as a municipality (formannskapsdistrikt) on 1 January 1838. The city functioned as a co-official capital during the 1814 to 1905 Union between Sweden and Norway. In 1877, the city's name was respelled Kristiania in accordance with an official spelling reform – a change that was taken over by the municipal authorities only in 1897. In 1925 the city, after incorporating the village retaining its former name, was renamed Oslo.

The LTE specification provides downlink peak rates of 300 Mbit/s, uplink peak rates of 75 Mbit/s and QoS provisions permitting a transfer latency of less than 5  ms in the radio access network. LTE has the ability to manage fast-moving mobiles and supports multi-cast and broadcast streams. LTE supports scalable carrier bandwidths, from 1.4  MHz to 20 MHz and supports both frequency division duplexing (FDD) and time-division duplexing (TDD). The IP-based network architecture, called the Evolved Packet Core (EPC) designed to replace the GPRS Core Network, supports seamless handovers for both voice and data to cell towers with older network technology such as GSM, UMTS and CDMA2000. [21] The simpler architecture results in lower operating costs (for example, each E-UTRA cell will support up to four times the data and voice capacity supported by HSPA [22] ).

Quality of service (QoS) is the description or measurement of the overall performance of a service, such as a telephony or computer network or a cloud computing service, particularly the performance seen by the users of the network. To quantitatively measure quality of service, several related aspects of the network service are often considered, such as packet loss, bit rate, throughput, transmission delay, availability, jitter, etc.

Latency is a time interval between the stimulation and response, or, from a more general point of view, a time delay between the cause and the effect of some physical change in the system being observed. Latency is physically a consequence of the limited velocity with which any physical interaction can propagate. The magnitude of this velocity is always less than or equal to the speed of light. Therefore, every physical system with any physical separation (distance) between cause and effect will experience some sort of latency, regardless of the nature of stimulation that it has been exposed to.

A millisecond is a thousandth of a second.


3GPP standard development timeline

Japan Island country in East Asia

Japan is an island country in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies off the eastern coast of the Asian continent and stretches from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and the Philippine Sea in the south.

Nokia Networks is a multinational data networking and telecommunications equipment company headquartered in Espoo, Finland, and wholly owned subsidiary of Nokia Corporation. It started as a joint venture between Nokia of Finland and Siemens of Germany known as Nokia Siemens Networks. Nokia Networks has operations in around 120 countries. In 2013, Nokia acquired 100% of Nokia Networks, buying all of Siemens' shares. In April 2014, NSN name was phased out as part of rebranding process.

Ericsson Swedish provider of communications technology and services

Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson, doing business as Ericsson, is a Swedish multinational networking and telecommunications company headquartered in Stockholm. The company offers services, software and infrastructure in information and communications technology for telecommunications operators, traditional telecommunications and Internet Protocol (IP) networking equipment, mobile and fixed broadband, operations and business support services, cable television, IPTV, video systems, and an extensive services operation.

Carrier adoption timeline

Most carriers supporting GSM or HSUPA networks can be expected to upgrade their networks to LTE at some stage. A complete list of commercial contracts can be found at: [59]

The following is a list of top 10 countries/territories by 4G LTE coverage as measured by in October–December 2017. [70]

Flag of South Korea.svg  South Korea 97.49%
Flag of Japan.svg  Japan 94.70%
Flag of Norway.svg  Norway 92.16%
Flag of Hong Kong.svg  Hong Kong 90.34%
Flag of the United States.svg  United States 90.32%
Flag of the Netherlands.svg  Netherlands 89.64%
Flag of Hungary.svg  Hungary 89.26%
Flag of Kuwait.svg  Kuwait 88.40%
Flag of Lithuania.svg  Lithuania 88.40%
Flag of the Czech Republic.svg  Czech Republic 87.37%

For the complete list of all the countries/territories, see list of countries by 4G LTE penetration.


Long-Term Evolution Time-Division Duplex (LTE-TDD), also referred to as TDD LTE, is a 4G telecommunications technology and standard co-developed by an international coalition of companies, including China Mobile, Datang Telecom, Huawei, ZTE, Nokia Solutions and Networks, Qualcomm, Samsung, and ST-Ericsson. It is one of the two mobile data transmission technologies of the Long-Term Evolution (LTE) technology standard, the other being Long-Term Evolution Frequency-Division Duplex (LTE-FDD). While some companies refer to LTE-TDD as "TD-LTE" for familiarity with TD-SCDMA, there is no reference to that acronym anywhere in the 3GPP specifications. [71] [72] [73]

There are two major differences between LTE-TDD and LTE-FDD: how data is uploaded and downloaded, and what frequency spectra the networks are deployed in. While LTE-FDD uses paired frequencies to upload and download data, [74] LTE-TDD uses a single frequency, alternating between uploading and downloading data through time. [75] [76] The ratio between uploads and downloads on a LTE-TDD network can be changed dynamically, depending on whether more data needs to be sent or received. [77] LTE-TDD and LTE-FDD also operate on different frequency bands, [78] with LTE-TDD working better at higher frequencies, and LTE-FDD working better at lower frequencies. [79] Frequencies used for LTE-TDD range from 1850 MHz to 3800 MHz, with several different bands being used. [80] The LTE-TDD spectrum is generally cheaper to access, and has less traffic. [78] Further, the bands for LTE-TDD overlap with those used for WiMAX, which can easily be upgraded to support LTE-TDD. [78]

Despite the differences in how the two types of LTE handle data transmission, LTE-TDD and LTE-FDD share 90 percent of their core technology, making it possible for the same chipsets and networks to use both versions of LTE. [78] [81] A number of companies produce dual-mode chips or mobile devices, including Samsung and Qualcomm, [82] [83] while operators CMHK and Hi3G Access have developed dual-mode networks in Hong Kong and Sweden, respectively. [84]

History of LTE-TDD

The creation of LTE-TDD involved a coalition of international companies that worked to develop and test the technology. [85] China Mobile was an early proponent of LTE-TDD, [78] [86] along with other companies like Datang Telecom [85] and Huawei, which worked to deploy LTE-TDD networks, and later developed technology allowing LTE-TDD equipment to operate in white spaces—frequency spectra between broadcast TV stations. [72] [87] Intel also participated in the development, setting up a LTE-TDD interoperability lab with Huawei in China, [88] as well as ST-Ericsson, [78] Nokia, [78] and Nokia Siemens (now Nokia Solutions and Networks), [72] which developed LTE-TDD base stations that increased capacity by 80 percent and coverage by 40 percent. [89] Qualcomm also participated, developing the world's first multi-mode chip, combining both LTE-TDD and LTE-FDD, along with HSPA and EV-DO. [83] Accelleran, a Belgian company, has also worked to build small cells for LTE-TDD networks. [90]

Trials of LTE-TDD technology began as early as 2010, with Reliance Industries and Ericsson India conducting field tests of LTE-TDD in India, achieving 80 megabit-per second download speeds and 20 megabit-per-second upload speeds. [91] By 2011, China Mobile began trials of the technology in six cities. [72]

Although initially seen as a technology utilized by only a few countries, including China and India, [92] by 2011 international interest in LTE-TDD had expanded, especially in Asia, in part due to LTE-TDD 's lower cost of deployment compared to LTE-FDD. [72] By the middle of that year, 26 networks around the world were conducting trials of the technology. [73] The Global LTE-TDD Initiative (GTI) was also started in 2011, with founding partners China Mobile, Bharti Airtel, SoftBank Mobile, Vodafone, Clearwire, Aero2 and E-Plus. [93] In September 2011, Huawei announced it would partner with Polish mobile provider Aero2 to develop a combined LTE-TDD and LTE-FDD network in Poland, [94] and by April 2012, ZTE Corporation had worked to deploy trial or commercial LTE-TDD networks for 33 operators in 19 countries. [84] In late 2012, Qualcomm worked extensively to deploy a commercial LTE-TDD network in India, and partnered with Bharti Airtel and Huawei to develop the first multi-mode LTE-TDD smartphone for India. [83]

In Japan, SoftBank Mobile launched LTE-TDD services in February 2012 under the name Advanced eXtended Global Platform (AXGP), and marketed as SoftBank 4G (ja). The AXGP band was previously used for Willcom's PHS service, and after PHS was discontinued in 2010 the PHS band was re-purposed for AXGP service. [95] [96]

In the U.S., Clearwire planned to implement LTE-TDD, with chip-maker Qualcomm agreeing to support Clearwire's frequencies on its multi-mode LTE chipsets. [97] With Sprint's acquisition of Clearwire in 2013, [74] [98] the carrier began using these frequencies for LTE service on networks built by Samsung, Alcatel-Lucent, and Nokia. [99] [100]

As of March 2013, 156 commercial 4G LTE networks existed, including 142 LTE-FDD networks and 14 LTE-TDD networks. [85] As of November 2013, the South Korean government planned to allow a fourth wireless carrier in 2014, which would provide LTE-TDD services, [76] and in December 2013, LTE-TDD licenses were granted to China's three mobile operators, allowing commercial deployment of 4G LTE services. [101]

In January 2014, Nokia Solutions and Networks indicated that it had completed a series of tests of voice over LTE (VoLTE) calls on China Mobile's TD-LTE network. [102] The next month, Nokia Solutions and Networks and Sprint announced that they had demonstrated throughput speeds of 2.6 gigabits per second using a LTE-TDD network, surpassing the previous record of 1.6 gigabits per second. [103]


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 transitions 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:

Voice calls

cs domLTE CSFB to GSM/UMTS network interconnects LTE-CSFB-E-UTRAN-UTRAN-GERAN-Interfaces.svg
cs domLTE CSFB to GSM/UMTS network interconnects

The LTE standard supports only packet switching with its all-IP network. Voice calls in GSM, UMTS and CDMA2000 are circuit switched, so with the adoption of LTE, carriers will have to re-engineer their voice call network. [106] Three different approaches sprang up:

Voice over LTE (VoLTE)
Circuit-switched fallback (CSFB)
In this approach, LTE just 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. However, the disadvantage is longer call setup delay.
Simultaneous voice and LTE (SVLTE)
In this approach, the handset works simultaneously in the LTE and circuit switched modes, with the LTE mode providing data services and the circuit switched mode providing the voice service. This is a solution solely based on the handset, which does not have special requirements on the network and does not require the deployment of IMS either. The disadvantage of this solution is that the phone can become expensive with high power consumption.
Single Radio Voice Call Continuity (SRVCC)

One additional approach which is not initiated by operators is the usage of over-the-top content (OTT) services, using applications like Skype and Google Talk to provide LTE voice service. [107]

Most major backers of LTE preferred and promoted VoLTE from the beginning. The lack of software support in initial LTE devices, as well as core network devices, however led to a number of carriers promoting VoLGA (Voice over LTE Generic Access) as an interim solution. [108] The idea was to use the same principles as GAN (Generic Access Network, also known as UMA or Unlicensed Mobile Access), which defines the protocols through which a mobile handset can perform voice calls over a customer's private Internet connection, usually over wireless LAN. VoLGA however never gained much support, because VoLTE (IMS) promises much more flexible services, albeit at the cost of having to upgrade the entire voice call infrastructure. VoLTE will also require Single Radio Voice Call Continuity (SRVCC) in order to be able to smoothly perform a handover to a 3G network in case of poor LTE signal quality. [109]

While the industry has seemingly standardized on VoLTE for the future, the demand for voice calls today has led LTE carriers to introduce circuit-switched fallback as a stopgap measure. When placing or receiving a voice call, LTE handsets will fall back to old 2G or 3G networks for the duration of the call.

Enhanced voice quality

To ensure compatibility, 3GPP demands at least AMR-NB codec (narrow band), but the recommended speech codec for VoLTE is Adaptive Multi-Rate Wideband, also known as HD Voice. This codec is mandated in 3GPP networks that support 16 kHz sampling. [110]

Fraunhofer IIS has proposed and demonstrated "Full-HD Voice", an implementation of the AAC-ELD (Advanced Audio Coding Enhanced Low Delay) codec for LTE handsets. [111] Where previous cell phone voice codecs only supported frequencies up to 3.5 kHz and upcoming wideband audio services branded as HD Voice up to 7 kHz, Full-HD Voice supports the entire bandwidth range from 20 Hz to 20 kHz. For end-to-end Full-HD Voice calls to succeed, however, both the caller and recipient's handsets, as well as networks, have to support the feature. [112]

Frequency bands

The LTE standard covers a range of many different bands, each of which is designated by both a frequency and a band number:

As a result, phones from one country may not work in other countries. Users will need a multi-band capable phone for roaming internationally.


According to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute's (ETSI) intellectual property rights (IPR) database, about 50 companies have declared, as of March 2012, holding essential patents covering the LTE standard. [120] The ETSI has made no investigation on the correctness of the declarations however, [120] so that "any analysis of essential LTE patents should take into account more than ETSI declarations." [121] Independent studies have found that about 3.3 to 5 percent of all revenues from handset manufacturers are spent on standard-essential patents. This is less than the combined published rates, due to reduced-rate licensing agreements, such as cross-licensing. [122] [123] [124]

See also

Related Research Articles

The Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) is a third generation mobile cellular system for networks based on the GSM standard. Developed and maintained by the 3GPP, UMTS is a component of the International Telecommunications Union IMT-2000 standard set and compares with the CDMA2000 standard set for networks based on the competing cdmaOne technology. UMTS uses wideband code division multiple access (W-CDMA) radio access technology to offer greater spectral efficiency and bandwidth to mobile network operators.

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Bell Mobility Canadian telecommunications company

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WiMAX wireless broadband standard

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Evolution-Data Optimized telecommunications standard for the wireless transmission of data through radio signals

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Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Services (MBMS) is a point-to-multipoint interface specification for existing and upcoming 3GPP cellular networks, which is designed to provide efficient delivery of broadcast and multicast services, both within a cell as well as within the core network. For broadcast transmission across multiple cells, it defines transmission via single-frequency network configurations. The specification is referred to as Evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Services (eMBMS) when transmissions are delivered through an LTE network. eMBMS is also known as LTE Broadcast.

E-UTRA air interface of 3GPP LTE upgrade path for mobile networks

E-UTRA is the air interface of 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) Long Term Evolution (LTE) upgrade path for mobile networks. It is an acronym for Evolved Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) Terrestrial Radio Access, also referred to as the 3GPP work item on the Long Term Evolution (LTE) also known as the Evolved Universal Terrestrial Radio Access (E-UTRA) in early drafts of the 3GPP LTE specification. E-UTRAN is the initialism of Evolved UMTS Terrestrial Radio Access Network and is the combination of E-UTRA, user equipment (UE), and E-UTRAN Node B or Evolved Node B (EnodeB).

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Huawei SingleRAN is a radio access network (RAN) technology offered by Huawei that allows mobile telecommunications operators to support multiple mobile communications standards and wireless telephone services on a single network. The technology incorporates a software-defined radio device, and is designed with a consolidated set of hardware components, allowing operators to purchase, operate and maintain a single telecommunications network and set of equipment, while supporting multiple mobile communications standards.

The Asia-Pacific Telecommunity (APT) band plan is a type of segmentation of the 698–806 MHz band formalized by the APT in 2008–2010 and specially configured for the deployment of mobile broadband technologies. This segmentation exists in two variants, FDD and TDD, that have been standardized by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) and recommended by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) as segmentations A5 and A6, respectively. The APT band plan has been designed to enable the most efficient use of available spectrum. Therefore, this plan divides the band into contiguous blocks of frequencies that are as large as possible taking account of the need to avoid interference with services in other frequency bands. As the result, the TDD option includes 100 MHz of continuous spectrum, while the FDD option comprises two large blocks, one of 45 MHz for uplink transmission in the lower part of the band and the other also of 45 MHz for downlink transmission in the upper part. As defined in the standard, both FDD and TDD schemes for the 700 MHz band include guard bands of 5 MHz and 3 MHz at their lower and upper edges, respectively. The FDD version also includes a center gap of 10 MHz. The guardbands serve the purpose of mitigating interference with adjacent bands while the FDD center gap is required to avoid interference between uplink and downlink transmissions. The two arrangements are shown graphically in figures 1 and 2.

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Further reading