Vodafone, Huawei demonstrate spectrum sharing at 900 MHz

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Diyarbakir, Turkey, is the site of a test to improve 900 MHz spectrum sharing. Image: Vodafone

Expectations are fairly high that more spectrum sharing is going to be in the works for mobile operators, and it’s already being done at 900 MHz in Turkey thanks to a trial involving Vodafone and Huawei.

The world’s first live commercial trial of GSM/LTE (GL) spectrum sharing was conducted on Vodafone's network in the city of Diyarbakir, on the banks of the Tigris River in southeast Turkey. Huawei developed the algorithms that were used to enable greater flexibility in the way that blocks of 900 MHz spectrum could carry both 4G (LTE) and 2G (GSM) traffic.

The companies report that GL spectrum sharing enabled an approximate 58% increase in average downlink user throughput and a 44% average increase in uplink user throughput compared with a standard 5 MHz block of LTE bandwidth.

The trial was a collaboration between Vodafone Group’s Networks Centre of Excellence team and the Huawei Mobile Innovation Center that identified a new way to create “unparalleled overlap” between the usage of 900 MHz spectrum for GSM and LTE services, leading to the significant increase in speeds and improved customer experience.  

Vodafone Turkey wants to use its spectrum resources more effectively to handle increasing 4G data traffic. The operator launched 4.5G services on April 1, 2016, and now boasts the country’s broadest 4.5G coverage.

"Spectrum is an extremely valuable resource,” said Mallik Rao, chief technology officer of Vodafone Turkey, in a press release. “Traditional refarming of spectrum results in a low utilisation rate. In comparison, GL spectrum sharing supports more efficient use of the bandwidth. That has helped to boost spectral efficiency and improve the overall experience of 4G users in Diyarbakir.”

Rao is so pleased with the results that he anticipates deploying this across Vodafone’s entire network in Turkey.

Cao Ming, president of Huawei's LTE FDD product line, said GL spectrum sharing is an innovation that is exclusive to Huawei. “We are glad to verify this on commercial networks in partnership with Vodafone Turkey. Huawei is dedicated to offering technical innovations to secure the success of our customers,” Ming added. “GL spectrum sharing not only increases spectral efficiency but also promises operators a smooth transition to LTE."

The Dynamic Spectrum Alliance (DSA), whose members include some big names like Facebook, Google and Microsoft, was incorporated in the United Kingdom in 2013 with the aim of advocating for more efficient and effective spectrum utilization around the world—like with TV white spaces. The DSA’s fifth annual Global Summit will take place May 9 to 11, 2017, in Cape Town, South Africa.