T-Mobile Austria, Huawei achieve 2-Gbps speeds in LTE-A Pro trial

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T-Mobile Austria is gearing up for faster mobile data speeds

T-Mobile Austria and Huawei carried out what the operator claimed to be the first live test of LTE Advanced Pro (LTE-A Pro) technology in Austria, achieving speeds of almost 2 Gbps.

The Deutsche Telekom-owned operator, which like sister company T-Mobile Netherlands is placing the emphasis on the quality of its mobile network in the face of a non-existent fixed-mobile convergence strategy, said the high speed was achieved through the combination of different technologies.

LTE-A Pro is regarded as the precursor to 5G and first compatible devices are expected to be commercially available from around 2018, T-Mobile Austria noted. The main features of LTE-A Pro developments are defined in 3GPP Release 13 -- which was frozen in March 2016 -- and Release 14.

The technology is expected to play a role in enabling the Internet of Things (IoT) as well as raising data rates to several Gbps, cutting latency to a few milliseconds and generally improving network efficiency.

The recent NGMN Industry Conference and Exhibition in Frankfurt am Main, Germany also highlighted the role that LTE evolution will play in 5G. Indeed, the 3GPP is under pressure to complete the non-standalone New Radio (NSA-NR) 5G standard, which is essentially anchored to the LTE network, by December 2017. That is due to be followed by the standalone NR standard for 5G in 2019.

As part of its LTE-A Pro test with the China-based Huawei, T-Mobile Austria made use of 4x4 MIMO antennas and 256 QAM modulation technology. It also deployed carrier aggregation techniques, bundling together five frequency bands in total (20 MHz from the 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2.1 GHz and 2.6 GHz bands) and achieving speeds of up to 150 Mbps per carrier.

T-Mobile Austria noted that it currently bundles together two carriers but expects to be able to use up to five in future as carrier aggregation technology advances. As it pointed out, carrier aggregation enables operators to boost speeds by using their existing infrastructure and spectrum assets and thus avoids cost-intensive network upgrades.