Posted: March 16, 2015

DNA Ltd, is testing LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) mobile network technology with Omnitele. The new technology is tested in a small cluster of DNA’s commercial 4G LTE network.

LTE-A introduces a set of features improving the capacity and customer experience of mobile networks beyond the current 4G LTE networks. The capacity increase is to be achieved mainly with advanced multi-antenna techniques and LTE carrier aggregation. A quick summary to LTE-A technology can be found here.

Promising results

In the initial phase the theoretical peak bitrates are increased from 150 Mbps to 300 Mbps. This is achieved by combining two 20 MHz LTE carriers into a single wideband channel that can be allocated for a single user. Later on when the technology evolves, even 1000 Mbps can be reached by increasing the LTE-A bandwidth and number of MIMO antennas.

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The field tests show that the practical performance is not so far from the theory. The average bitrate over a short drive test run was 207 Mbps. The highest measured value peaked to 270 Mbps. Worth noting is the fact that the tests were not conducted in a laboratory but in a practical live network.

Network Evolution

In DNA network, LTE-A carrier aggregation rollout has been started and the feature is implemented in isolated locations. The technology will be more widely available during 2015.

“We will rollout LTE-A carrier aggregation with capacity based prioritisation, starting from locations with higher LTE usage. Eventually the technology will cover most of the population,” states Jarkko Laari, Director Radio Networks from DNA.

Industry Outlook

Omnitele sees 2015 to be the year for LTE-Advanced uptake and mass market emerge. Category-6 (300 Mbps) smartphones are already commercially available from Samsung and other big ones in the Android camp. Some Category 9 (450 Mbps) smartphones have also been released.

The good availability of LTE-A smartphone chipsets from e.g. Intel (XMMTM7260), Qiualcomm (Snapdragon 810) and Samsung (Exynos) also suggests that competition exists in the domain. We expect to see more LTE-A smartphones also in the lower price points during the course of 2015.

LTE-A carrier aggregation is a welcome technology that will benefit the whole industry. With a reasonable effort and cost, mobile operators can bring a notable capacity upgrade to the network. No heavy hardware rollout campaign is required.

The mobile subscribers will naturally benefit from the increased capacity. Although most of the mobile applications and services work quite well already with say 20 Mbps, LTE-A carrier aggregation means that more customers can have such service simultaneously.

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