Supporting a familiar mantra that operators want to wring as much out of LTE technology as they can before 5G comes along, Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) said it can help bring benefits of 5G to LTE networks today through what it calls its LTE Lean Carrier technology.
One operator currently using the technology is South Korea's SK Telecom (SKT), which is running Ericsson Lean Carrier live in thousands of cells in its network. Ericsson Lean Carrier has been deployed in urban, suburban and rural areas of SKT's network.
In a large-scale deployment, Ericsson said, users can see up to a 50 percent increase in downlink data speed with a network average increase of about 10 percent. That's pretty good, considering that slow speeds and quality of service/dropped calls or dropped data sessions are among the chief complaints among smartphone users. The company also said the solution is compatible for all LTE devices.
Ericsson says Lean Carrier applies 5G concept to today's LTE networks. (Source: Ericsson)
By reducing interference, Ericsson Lean Carrier enables new 256 QAM higher order modulation to be used over a broader area, extending the higher data speed advantage to the outdoor macro environment. Ericsson Lean Carrier increases the use of 256 QAM by up to 280 percent, the company says.
Lean Carrier reduces, or makes lean, the level of reference signaling needed for good network performance, which leads to a corresponding improvement of the downlink data speed that applies to all parts of the LTE network, with the highest performance gains occurring in the areas with most cell overlap.
By reducing interference, Ericsson Lean Carrier increases the amount of time during which 64 QAM and 256 QAM encoding schemes can be used by the LTE system.
"When LTE was created in 2008, it was straightforward, powerful technology, but now we have added significantly more intelligence," Per Narvinger, head of LTE at Ericsson, said in a release. "Drawing on our experience from high-performance networks and projecting forward to what will be possible with 5G, we were able to innovate a solution that optimizes the signaling in today's 4G LTE network."
With the shift to small cell architectures in 5G, addressing signaling interference now puts Ericsson firmly on the path to meet 2020 requirements, he said.
Last month Ericsson announced that it had collaborated with Nokia (NYSE:NOK) and Intel on narrowband LTE (NB-LTE), which they said allows a high re-use of already existing LTE network technology for both infrastructure and chipsets and will lead to faster adoption and better economies of scale.
- see the release
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