Chipmakers start seeing the importance of more robust uplink - up to 100 Mbps - for LTE

Downlink data speeds on LTE networks get a lot of attention, and uplink speeds get much less love. That's mainly because carriers and consumers have long been concerned with what kinds of streaming data can be pulled down from the network to mobile devices. However, chipset suppliers are starting to herald the importance of increasing uplink bandwidth for applications like cloud data uploads and video calling.

As GigaOM notes, this week Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) unveiled its fifth-generation LTE modem chipset, the Gobi 9x45 modem, which supports Category 10 LTE speeds as well as carrier aggregation. Importantly, the modem supports theoretical peak downlink speeds of 450 Mbps and uplink speeds of up to 100 Mbps. The uplink speed peak is much faster than anything that has been seen on LTE networks to date.

Ken Stewart, Intel's chief wireless technologist, explained to GigaOM that uplink speeds were never given much attention in the development of LTE standards because those developing the standards could not think of uses cases where such large amounts of upstream bandwidth would be necessary, However, with more mobile users uploading videos, photos, messages and other data to the cloud, and with the advent of Voice over LTE video calling in which symmetric bandwidth is more important, uplink is now getting more attention.

The push to make uplink more advanced is coming as both silicon vendors and carriers increasingly turn to carrier aggregation technology to enhance the bandwidth customers can achieve on their devices. Carrier aggregation, a key feature of LTE advanced networks, lets operators bond together noncontiguous bands of spectrum to create wider channels.

Qualcomm's new modem supports the ability to meld three channels (up to 60 MHz) for downlink via carrier aggregation and to channels (up to 40 MHz) for uplink operations. In theory, that could greatly enhance the downlink and uplink speeds users can receive.

For more:
- see this GigaOM article
- see this EE Times article

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