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LTE

Telstra demonstrates five-band carrier aggregation

Carriers are starting to trial or deploy triband carrier aggregation, pushing LTE-Advanced speeds and coverage to new limits. But they are already pushing LTE-A – its next releases now labelled LTE-A Pro by the 3GPP – to further heights. Telstra of Australia, so often in the vanguard of new network technologies, is boasting the first successful trial of five-carrier aggregation, working with Ericsson to get close to 1Gbps.

The firms aggregated 100 MHz of Telstra’s spectrum holdings across five separate 4G channels integrated on the carrier’s LTE network. Its group managing director for networks, Mike Wright, wrote in a blog post that end-to-end tests achieved download speeds of over 950Mbps using a specialized field test application, as well as speeds of around 843Mbps over the internet to speedtest.net.

“Many may be aware of the debate some year ago around the technical definition of what 4G should be, with a widely accepted view that 4G should achieve peak speeds in the range of 1 Gbps,” he said.
“In the end the global consensus was that the term 4G could be applied to any LTE technology regardless of peak speed capability, but with LTE now reaching 1Gbps speeds in reality, LTE technology could be argued to be finally moving beyond the 4G barrier.”

Telstra’s commercial LTE-A network currently delivers 600Mbps peak speeds, using triband CA, in selected areas. It is also working with Ericsson on pre-5G RAN and core network projects.

Meanwhile, the 3GPP continues to put details behind the next stages of its LTE roadmap even as it kicks off work for its first 5G standards releases (Release 15).

Last week, it approved a new LTE label that will be used for specifications from Release 13 onwards. These will be called LTE-Advanced Pro, to signify that they are a major step forward from LTE-Advanced (Releases 11 and 12). Release 13 is due to be frozen in March, and aims to make the 4G standard fit for purpose for a wider range of use cases than traditional mobile broadband.

So the release will include standards geared to optimized machine-to-machine communications (LTE-MTC); low power wide area operations (NB-IoT); and public safety networks (D2D and ProSe functions in particular, enabling 4G to behave more like specialist networks such as Tetra).

Among the technologies which will be included are small cell dual-connectivity to enable greater densification; carrier aggregation enhancements; interworking with Wi-Fi; LTE-LAA (licensed assisted access, only at 5 GHz at this point); 3D/FD-MIMO; indoor positioning; single cell point-to-multipoint; latency reduction. Many of these features were started in previous Releases, but will become mature in Release 13.

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