This blog is by Tero Kola from the Networks business of Nokia.
Earlier this year, we witnessed the world’s first large-scale 225 Mbps LTE-Advanced network launches in Korea. As LTE-A radio network supplier to all three Korean operators, Nokia receives a lot of questions about what’s coming next.
Here are two main developments in the evolution of carrier aggregation to report on:
1. Preparing LTE-A networks for the next generation of user devices, so-called Category 9, enabling data rates of up to 450 Mbps
2. Acceleration of typical user data rates by more flexible radio resource selection in LTE-Advanced networks
From our perspective as a network supplier, support of Category 6 devices enabling data speeds of up to 300 Mbps is now a given. The next thing we will see in commercial networks is that the 40 MHz aggregated bandwidth, which underpins the 300 Mbps peak rates, can be built with three different spectrum allocations rather than just two. This will be achieved by a software upgrade to our Nokia Flexi Multiradio 10 base station to ensure that operators can increase data rates throughout their networks.
At Mobile World Congress 2014, we demonstrated the next bandwidth extension, namely 3 Carrier Aggregation, with up to 60 MHz of spectrum and peak data rates of up to 450 Mbps. The live demonstration was run on our commercial Flexi Multiradio 10 BTS and a test user device. Since then, 3GPP Standards has published the specification of the Category 9 user equipment for 60 MHz carrier aggregation and we expect these to become commercial in 2015. Many operators have more than one LTE frequency band and have already deployed multiband LTE, so with this straightforward software upgrade, our LTE and TD-LTE networks will be ready to support service launches the moment the first user devices become available.
Nokia LTE-Advanced networks can deliver data to mobile devices at rates most people have never experienced on a residential broadband connection. Some may call this a paradigm shift, but our objective is to ensure that LTE-Advanced is faster everywhere and not just under ideal radio link conditions.
The second development concerns typical data rates, which are an important aspect of the user speed perception in mobile broadband, just as top car speeds are of interest to drivers. An LTE-Advanced Carrier Aggregation network can be likened to a multi-lane highway, where adding more lanes allows more cars to travel from A to B. Aggregating frequency carriers allows faster data transmission to an individual user. Extending the multi-lane highway analogy to encompass a real mobile broadband network, imagine building lanes to every possible location of a moving subscriber. Nokia Carrier Aggregation software effectively does this both dynamically and flexibly in the network, selecting the best radio cells to be aggregated.
But not all subscribers have devices supporting the full bandwidth of the highway. To provide them with the best possible data rates for their user devices, Nokia Carrier Aggregation software selects the best carriers – or lanes in the network appropriate for each user. Take the case of a Category 6 device, capable of supporting aggregation of two carriers (up to 40 MHz bandwidth but used in a network featuring three carrier aggregation capable of delivering up to 60 MHz). Here, the network software dynamically allocates the best two carriers out of the three available to deliver up to the maximum 40 MHz bandwidth. This effectively adds network capacity by freeing-up the 20 MHz bandwidth not allocated to this device to those users who can benefit from that frequency.
These new Nokia Flexi Multiradio 10 base station software upgrades work with both macro cells and the new Flexi Metro Remote Radio Heads for full deployment flexibility, allowing operators to increase data rates in urban and rural deployment scenarios throughout their networks – making LTE-Advanced user experience faster everywhere.
Read more in today’s launch press release: Nokia Liquid Radio raises the bar with capacity gains, ensuring users connect even in busiest metropolitan areas.
And please share your thoughts on this topic by replying below – or join the Twitter discussion with @nokianetworks using #LTE #NetworksPerform.