Verizon hits 1.45 Gbps using six-channel carrier aggregation

Verizon is launching its first 5G service, a residential broadband offering, today in select markets. While this is a fixed wireless play using spectrum in the 28 GHz band, the carrier has made it clear it will quickly stand up mobile 5G. With millimeter wave frequencies supporting mobility, early deployments are expected to initially be geographically limited to hot spots. As 5G goes live, it’s imperative that operators continue to invest in gigabit LTE to provide a surround that will ensure a level of continuity as users move in and out of 5G areas.

To that end both Verizon and AT&T, which is planning to bring mobile 5G to 12 markets by the end of the year, continue to deploy enhancements based on the LTE Advanced standard. Working with partners Qualcomm and Nokia, Verizon says it has used six-channel carrier aggregation to achieve speeds of 1.45 Gbps “in a live commercial environment.”

To break the 1 gigabit barrier on LTE, Verizon used licensed spectrum in the PCS and AWS bands, aggregated using License Assisted Access with four channels of unlicensed spectrum. The tests took place in New York. Nokia provided basestation equipment and Qualcomm provided its Cat 20 X24 LTE modem.

Verizon’s Bill Stone, vice president of technology planning and development, said eight years in, LTE still has room to run. “When we first launched our LTE network, we knew there would be a lot of room for innovation and to expand its capabilities…we continue to our advancement of our 4G LTE network knowing our LTE network leadership is foundational for our evolution into 5G.”

In August last year, the operator worked with Ericsson and Qualcomm to test four-channel carrier aggregation of licensed and unlicensed bands to hit 953 Mbps on its network in South Florida. Other technologies underpinning gigabit LTE are 4X4 MIMO and 256 QAM.

That particular test used Qualcomm’s X16 LTE modem. The more recent testing in New York tapped the X24 modem, which can provide peak download speeds of 2 Gbps, according to the chipmaker. The X24 can support carrier aggregation of up to seven 20 megahertz channels.

Joe Glynn, Qualcomm vice president of business development, said, “As we lead the way to 5G and collaborate with industry leaders to make it a commercial reality, it’s important we continue to innovate in LTE as it will be foundational in early 5G network deployments.”

While Verizon’s initial fixed 5G deployment is based on the Verizon Technical Forum specification, later deployments will conform to the 3GPP’s non-standalone 5G New Radio specification, which contemplates an LTE RAN and core with the addition of a 5G component carrier.

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