Carrier aggregation is a key feature of LTE advanced, delivering more efficient capacity utilisation and faster speeds; but LTE Advanced can deliver so much more, including heterogeneous network capabilities in particular. Coordinating the low-power layer of small cells with the macro network improves performance across the entire network while also further boosting efficiencies in spectrum use and power consumption, automating network configuration and optimisation.
According to analyst firm ABI Research, carriers across the world are moving apace toward LTE-Advanced technology. The firm estimated there are currently roughly 60 LTE-Advanced trials, commitments and commercial deployments worldwide, of which 22 commitments were from Western Europe, 16 from Asia-Pacific, and five from North America.
Huawei and LG Uplus signed a memorandum of understanding under which they will create a joint Mobile Innovation Center (MIC) in Seoul, South Korea, where the companies will work on LTE Advanced carrier aggregation, small cells and 5G technologies.
Singapore operator SingTel introduced the Huawei 5786 mobile MiFi hotspot device, enabling SingTel to claim it is the world's first mobile operator to offer commercial 300 Mbps service using LTE-Advanced carrier aggregation.
The South Korean mobile communications market is one of the world's most competitive and innovative. That keeps the pressure on SK Telecom, South Korea's largest mobile service provider, to find way to keep implementing cutting-edge technologies. Editor Tammy Parker recently conducted an email Q&A with Alex Jinsung Choi, executive vice president and head of SK Telecom's ICT R&D division, regarding the operator's roadmaps for LTE-Advanced and 5G. The following is an edited and condensed version of that Q&A.
It's been one year since South Korea's SK Telecom became the world's first carrier to activate LTE Advanced carrier aggregation with a commercial smartphone available for use with the service. That anniversary prompted me to ask around about any pitfalls to this technology that carriers and vendors may have come across now that there is a year of carrier-aggregation experience under the industry's collective belt.
Sprint is jumping into LTE Advanced (LTE-A) carrier aggregation later this year as part of its Sprint Spark initiative, and the operator is also taking hard looks at numerous other cutting-edge technologies, such as SON and even Cloud RAN, for inclusion in its long-term roadmap, said a top executive.
The total LTE baseband market will expand by 47 percent to reach 338 million units this year, according to a new report from Forward Concepts. The firm said the LTE baseband market totaled 291 million units in 2013, up from 103 million in 2012.
John Saw, Sprint's chief network officer, said that the carrier plans to expand its tri-band LTE Spark service to a two-carrier configuration toward the end of this year, which he said will result in peak download speeds of 120 Mbps. Then, by the end of 2015, Sprint plans to add another carrier to the configuration of its 2.5 GHz LTE network, which will result in three-carrier peak speeds of 180 Mbps.
Ericsson is more widely publicizing its desire to get 3GPP on board with the idea of enabling LTE for use in unlicensed spectrum, such as that used by Wi-Fi.