Russia’s MegaFon joins the gigabit LTE club

Moscow (Pixabay)
MegaFon reached a data download speed of 979 Mbps on its commercial network in Moscow.

Gigabit LTE continues on its momentum-building path, with Russia’s MegaFon showcasing gigabit LTE on its commercial network, reaching a peak data download speed of 979 Mbps.

The operator used a Nokia Air Scale system module and Sony’s Xperia XZ Premium smartphone, powered, of course, by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Mobile Platform with X16 LTE. The Sony Xperia XZ Premium was the first commercial mobile device in Europe to support gigabit LTE.

To achieve the kinds of gigabit-class speeds they’re talking about, the operator and its vendors used 3x Carrier Aggregation (two 20 MHz 2600 FDD, one 20 MHz—1800 FDD), 256 QAM and 4×4 MIMO.

Nokia Flexi Multirado modules were used as the base station; most of the Moscow MegaFon branches use Nokia base stations, according to MegaFon. Conveniently, the Nokia AirScale system module is already in place to support the path to 5G.

In successfully completing the demonstration, MegaFon staked a claim in being one of the first operators in Europe to launch a commercial gigabit LTE network and showcase the operation of a commercial device on that network.

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Beyond peak speeds, the company said gigabit LTE is also about delivering more network capacity to benefit all users in the network, not only those users with gigabit LTE devices. A gigabit LTE mobile device will complete downloads significantly faster, freeing up network resources to be available for other users.

At the end of July, a whopping 26 operators in 18 countries were in some stage of trialing or deploying gigabit LTE, up from 15 operators in 11 countries just five months prior.

Things kicked off last year when Qualcomm unveiled the Snapdragon X16 LTE modem, the first commercially announced modem to support Gigabit class LTE speeds. Then, early this year, Qualcomm, along with Netgear and Ericsson, helped launch the “Gigabit LTE Experience” on Telstra’s network in Sydney, Australia, to celebrate the arrival of the world’s first gigabit LTE mobile device and network. The device was the Netgear Nighthawk M1 mobile router.

AT&T said earlier this year that its continued deployment of LTE-Advanced network features would include 1 Gbps speeds this year. T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray has promised that T-Mobile US will be first with the 4.5G feature, while Sprint says its 2.5 GHz TDD LTE spectrum is uniquely suited for gigabit-class LTE, which it is rolling out this year in select markets.

Verizon reiterated its plans to launch its gigabit-class LTE service later this year when, on July 25, it announced the launch of the Z2 Force Edition, “giving you access to peak speeds far exceeding most phones in the market today."

MegaFon is also continuing the trend of European operators to roll out LTE Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) technology. Last week, MegaFon and Qualcomm announced the finalization of testing of NB-IoT. According to Telecompaper, the testing was carried out on the 900 MHz band in the operator's R&D center in St. Petersburg. The tests used an end-user terminal based on the Qualcomm MDM9206 modem and Huawei network equipment .