Nokia Networks, STC claim MEA first with TDD-FDD carrier aggregation demo

Nokia Networks said it completed the first demonstration of TDD-FDD carrier aggregation on a commercial chipset in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region, in conjunction with Saudi Telecom Company (STC).

The Finland-headquartered infrastructure company said the demonstration sets a new benchmark for operators seeking to optimise scarce spectrum and improve the capacity, coverage and speed of their LTE mobile broadband networks.

Nokia Networks and STC conducted the demo using a combination of FDD 1800 MHz spectrum and TDD 2300 MHz spectrum--a pairing the infrastructure company said is also a first, and one that provides higher speeds in larger areas.

The company noted the combination will enable carriers to extend their TDD coverage without having to make changes to their network, and that traffic loads are balanced between the two variants of LTE to ensure the best customer experience for subscribers on both networks.

Abdullah Alzmame, vice president of networks at STC, said the company doubled the "available throughput for customers" when it deployed carrier aggregation on its TDD network earlier in 2014. The TDD-FDD demo takes the company to "the next level to improve speeds for consumers," he noted.

The head of Nokia Networks' STC customer team, Hani Dib, added that the demonstration "will encourage other operators globally to look at this kind of spectrum convergence to save costs and increase throughput."

Nokia Networks separately revealed it doubled the speed of Finnish operator Sonera's LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) network to 300 Mbps by utilising carrier aggregation.

In a statement announcing the STC demo, Nokia Networks explained that carrier aggregation enables operators "to create larger, virtual carrier bandwidths for services by combining separate spectrum bands," which boosts capacity, speed, and network performance.

The concept is certainly gathering pace in the EMEA region and beyond.

In early December, Kenyan operator Safaricom said it was using carrier aggregation to offer peak data rates of up to 100 Mbps on its LTE-A network: the first such network deployed in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the company.

Ericsson and Plus, a mobile brand operated by Polish company Polkomtel, last month revealed they utilised carrier aggregation in a trial of LTE-A technology that returned peak data rates of 300 Mbps in the 1800 MHz and 2600 MHz frequency bands.

Shortly after, Ericsson released details of tests of LTE-A carrier aggregation conducted with Australian incumbent Telstra and Qualcomm, achieving download speeds of up to 450 Mbps.

For more:
- see Nokia Networks' STC announcement
- read the company's Sonera press release

Related Articles:
Safaricom claims sub-Saharan Africa first with launch of LTE Advanced in Kenya
Ericsson trials LTE Advanced with Poland's Plus
Telstra, Ericsson and Qualcomm achieve 450 Mbps speeds with LTE Advanced
Saudi Mobily CEO suspended over accounting errors
Nokia Networks wins contracts in Saudi Arabia and Channel Islands