In an interview with FierceWireless, Verizon’s Mike Haberman said the carrier’s embrace of carrier aggregation technology in its LTE network will result in significantly faster speeds for users. But he said those speeds will depend on a wide range of factors, including the size of the chunks of spectrum that are being aggregated, as well as how many different channels are being combined.
Verizon said its launch of “LTE Advanced technology” will provide 50 percent faster peak wireless data speeds to more than 288 million people in 461 cities across the United States. Haberman said that the “carrier aggregation” portion of the LTE Advanced standard is the technology driving the carrier’s announcement today. Carrier aggregation is essentially a technology that glues together transmissions in different spectrum bands, thereby increasing speeds for end users.
Haberman said Verizon is currently offering two-channel carrier aggregation in the 461 cities covered in the announcement, and he said the operator will also offer three-channel carrier aggregation in locations where it has sufficient spectrum. He said Verizon’s two RAN network vendors, Nokia and Ericsson, are deploying the technology.
“We are in the process of activating three-way carrier aggregation, and it’s literally in the rollout phase right now,” Haberman said. “So there are areas of the network where you can certainly get that. And the speed does increment again.”
“The speed is dependent on the carrier size and what you’re aggregating,” he said. “In many cases we have a 10x10 [MHz spectrum block] in 700 [MHz], and a 20x20 [MHz block] in [AWS] LTE, and therefore you can get speeds of over 200 Mbps. As you get to three carrier [aggregation], you can reach speeds upwards of 300 Mbps, depending upon what spectrum you have available.”
However, Haberman declined to say exactly how Verizon’s three-channel carrier aggregation footprint would compare with the carrier’s two-channel carrier aggregation footprint. He said the most common configuration for two-channel systems would combine a 10x10 MHz block of the carrier’s 700 MHz spectrum holdings with a 20x20 MHz block of its AWS spectrum holdings. He said that, if Verizon has the resources, it will also add a third carrier to that system, such as a 5x5 MHz block of its PCS spectrum holdings.
“It depends upon the other spectrum holdings that are within that market,” Haberman said of the third channel. “Some markets might be able to afford a 15x15 PCS spectrum, some a 10x10. So that third carrier that comes in will be defined by the spectrum that’s available.”
And what of the speeds Verizon will be able to provide? “Even during the busy hours you’re going to see the speed, you’re going to see the increase in speed,” Haberman said.
However, Haberman said the carrier continues to promise users average speeds of 5 Mbps – 12 Mbps, a range the carrier hasn’t changed since the early days of its LTE network when the network ran solely on the nationwide 10x10 MHz block of 700 MHz spectrum Verizon purchased during the FCC’s 2008 spectrum auction. The carrier has since bolstered its LTE network with AWS spectrum, an addition the carrier dubbed XLTE.
“As far as the actual speed [provided by carrier aggregation], it will depend on where you are, how close to the cell you are, how many users, what have you,” Haberman said. “But you could easily see speeds over 100 Mbps.”
Added Haberman: “Carrier aggregation is … sort of a combination of XLTE and your original [700 MHz] LTE carrier. So this is just the evolution of the technology. … This to me is sort of the next step of XLTE and bringing it to another level.”
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