The goal of power control is to transmit at the right amount of power needed to support a certain data rate. Too much power generates unnecessary interference, while too little power results in an increased error rate requiring retransmissions and hence resulting in larger transmission delays and lower throughputs. In a WCDMA system, power control is important particularly in the uplink to avoid the near–far problem. This is because the uplink transmissions are nonorthogonal and very high signal levels from cell-center UEs can overwhelm the weak signals received from cell-edge UEs. Therefore, a very elaborate power control mechanism based on the fast closed-loop principle is used in the WCDMA system. Similarly, power control is used for the downlink of WCDMA systems to support the fixed rate delay-sensitive voice service. However, for high-speed data transmission in WCDMA/HSPA systems, transmissions are generally performed at full power and link adaptation is preferably used to match the data rate to the channel conditions.
The LTE uplink uses orthogonal SC-FDMA access and hence the near–far problem of WCDMA does not exist. However, high levels of interference from neighboring cells can still limit the uplink coverage if UEs in the neighboring cells are not power controlled. The cellular systems are generally coverage limited in the uplink due to limited UE transmit power. The increased levels of interference from neighboring cells increase Interference over Thermal (IoT) limiting coverage at the desired cell. Therefore, uplink power control is beneficial in an orthogonal uplink access as well.