Gigabit LTE key to providing network experience continuity once 5G hits

Since Telstra launched the first commercial gigabit LTE in January 2017, more than 40 other global operators have, to varying degrees, upgraded their networks to support 4X4 multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO), 256 QAM and aggregation of both licensed and unlicensed carriers. This combination of technologies comprises gigabit LTE.

In a recent interview with RCR Wireless News, CritComm Insights Founder and Principal Analyst Ken Rehbehn discussed the importance of gigabit LTE in addressing the current capacity crunch operators face in the era of unlimited data, as well as how investments today set the stage for future upgrades to 5G.

“It’s speed wars,” Rehbehn explained. “They take advantage of this to heighten the competitive advantage. Then, the next step is to address capacity issues where this provides an important set of capabilities. Today I don’t think the number of subscribers using it is particularly high, but that will change over time as the user equipment seeps into the market.”

He continued: “It comes down customer experience. With more efficient capabilities handling demanding users that the devices that support gigabit LTE, operators get increased efficiency. And it frees up head room for the other users that are out there.”

As it relates to ultimate move to commercial 5G, “Gig LTE is very fundamental…because of how spotty the 5G service is going to be,” Rehbehn said. “To have any sort of consistency in the user experience, there’ll have to be a pretty robust gigabit LTE surround, which kind of raises the question for an operator that decides to go to market with a mobile version of 5G, to what extent are they going to have to provide a broader reach of gigabit LTE?”

He went back to the Telstra project, which is confined to central business districts in major metropolitan area. “When you get to the next step with some mobile 5G, presumably that mobile 5G will be in the same places they’ve launched their gigabit LTE. So it’ll be an expanding circle of gigabit LTE coverage to ensure it’s not a jolt when you from 5G to LTE as you’re going through their network. It’s going to have to be enough of a surround to give credibility for the basic 5G story.”

For a deep dive into gigabit LTE, register for our upcoming webinar featuring insights from Rehbehn, as well as industry leaders from Qualcomm, Viavi and Anokiwave.



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