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The next major step in the evolution of LTE targets the rapidly increasing demand for mobile broadband services and traffic volumes. One of the key technologies is a new carrier type, referred to in this article as a Lean Carrier, an LTE carrier with minimized control channel overhead and cell-specific reference signals. The Lean Carrier can enhance spectral efficiency, increase spectrum flexibility, and reduce energy consumption. This article provides an overview of the motivations and main use cases of the Lean Carrier. Technical challenges are highlighted, and design options are discussed; finally, a performance evaluation quantifies the benefits of the Lean Carrier.