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This work summarizes the current state of the art in software radio for 4G systems. Specifically, this work demonstrates that classic radio structures, e.g., heterodyne reception, homodyne reception, and their improved implementations, are inadequate selections for multi-mode reception. This opens the door to software defined radio, a novel reception architecture which promises ease in multi-band, multi-protocol design. The work presents the many advantages of such an architecture, including flexibility, reduced cost via component reduction, and improved reliability via, e.g., the elimination of environmental instability. The work also explains the limitations that currently curtail the widespread use of SDR, including issues surrounding A/D converters, management of software and power, and clock generation. This provides direction for future research to enable the broad applicability of SDR in 4G cellular and beyond.