Ericsson hits 450 Mbps in Unitel LTE-A carrier aggregation trial

Ericsson said it achieved the highest data rate to date on a commercial LTE Advanced (LTE-A) network in Africa, following tests of carrier aggregation on Angola-based Unitel's network.

The Sweden-headquartered infrastructure vendor said trials in December achieved data rates of 450 Mbps by combining three 20 MHz carriers in the 1800 MHz, 2600 MHz and 2100 MHz frequency bands. Ericsson stated the data rate achieved is a first among commercial LTE networks in Africa, and a front runner in terms of global LTE-A development.

Commenting on the trial, Fredrik Jejdling, head of Ericsson sub-Saharan Africa said: "Mobile broadband is opening up a world of opportunities by facilitating industry transformation and bringing inclusion and empowerment to communities. This is especially true in countries across Africa, where the technology enables access to tools, services, expertise, entertainment, and information that was previously out of reach to the majority."

In a statement announcing the trial, Ericsson explained that carrier aggregation enables operators to better utilise their spectrum to enable super-fast downloads and improved application performance.

Amilcar Safeca, board member and deputy CEO at Unitel, said LTE-A carrier aggregation ensures the company's "network has the capabilities to be among the most advanced mobile networks in Africa and the world." He added that the trial with Ericsson confirms Unitel's "leading position in technological innovation not only in Angola, but globally."

Mobile broadband services in Africa are tipped to be the main way the majority of subscribers in the continent access online content and services, due to the challenges of deploying fixed-line infrastructure and the high cost of desktop and laptop PCs.

The GSMA last year predicted the number of unique mobile users in Africa will hit at least 500 million in 2020, as the cost of accessing mobile services and devices comes down.

Several operators have already launched LTE services in Sub-Saharan Africa, including Vodafone, Orange, and Netherlands-based Afrimax. The market also has a growing number of LTE-only mobile operators, including Surfline Communications in Ghana, and Smile in Tanzania, Uganda and Nigeria.

For more:
- see this Ericsson announcement

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