Gigabit LTE network waiting on mobile device support

Operators around the world, in addition to prepping for rapid commercialization of 5G, are working to deliver gigabit LTE network experiences based on 4×4 MIMO, 256 QAM and multi-channel carrier aggregation. The name might be a little misleading though, as many gigabit LTE networks are really gigabit-class meaning they could theoretically hit peak speeds around 1 Gbps, but, in practice, deliver downlink throughput in the 100 Mbps-plus range.

In Finland, operator Elisa says it has established a true gigabit LTE network. Now it’s a matter of waiting for mobile devices to catch up to the network technology, which reps for the carrier expect next year.

The early network rollout is focused in Tampere and near an Elisa facility in Helsinki.

“Building an ultrafast mobile network is yet another step towards 5G and its fast transfer speeds, and we are among the global frontrunners of this development,” VP for Mobile Network Service Sami Komulainen said. “The capacity added to the base stations in the centre of Tampere will enable a 1 [Gbps] mobile broadband connection, and in addition, it will immediately bring more speed to all current network users.”

One of the really cool things about gigabit LTE is that it deliver an enhanced network experience by more efficiently using spectrum and network resources. This has a trickle down effect in that the increased efficiency opens up network and spectral resources that improve experience for users regardless of whether they have a compatible device.

In terms of a future transition to 5G, upgraded base stations will be able to conform to the 5G New Radio specification, set for release by the 3GPP in mid-2018, through a quick software update facilitating rapid commercialization of 5G>

Building mobile broadband with a 1 Gbit/s transfer speed in the centre of Tampere is part of a large-scale mobile network modernization project where Elisa is building a 5G-ready network in Tampere and its surroundings.

“The development in this field is fast, and the first terminal devices supporting 1 [Gpbs] data speeds are expected to be on the market next year,” Komulainen said. “We want to ensure for our part that when these devices become more common, there will be fast wireless connections available.”

Elisa and compatriot vendor partner Nokia earlier this year said they completed a test of pre-standard 5G technology using the 3.5 GHz spectrum band that hit peak data speeds of 1.5 gigabits per second and showed latency as low as 1.5 milliseconds.

Results from the tests, which were conducted in Rusko, Finland, were compared favorably to current commercial LTE networks, with the companies stating “the test results were very encouraging.” It was noted the test was the first of its kind in Europe.

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