The deployment of LTE across mobile networks in Europe has been driven by the on-going need for more bandwidth.
Current networks were built out during 1990’s using GSM and DSL technology and have been constantly upgraded since the original installation. The result is infrastructure that still uses the GSM voice service and the ‘twisted pair’ copper lines for home voice and DSL/internet service.
LTE is suitable to support wide bandwidths for high data rates, it has greater spectral efficiency (bits/second/hertz) so offers more data capacity in a given and limited bandwidth, allowing it to be deployed into existing 900 and 1800MHz GSM bands as well as the new wireless frequency bands.
In addition, the technology of ‘carrier aggregation’ introduced in LTE-Advanced enables the network to send data to a user using two or more frequency bands at the same time. This allows double the data throughput rate to that user.
This technology is very useful where an operator has only limited bandwidths (e.g. 5 or 10MHz licences), but has several allocations on different frequencies, as with ‘carrier aggregation’ the frequencies available can be combined to give a higher bandwidth experience to the user and greater capacity to the network.
To address the need for a “fixed-mobile convergence” experience; where applications like Skype or Messenger have the same look and feel when accessed from a fixed network at home or a mobile network on a tablet or smart phone the mobile network needs to support some features that users expect to experience.
Latency is a key factor, when the time for the network to connect and respond to requests needs to be fractions of a second and not 5-10 seconds.
LTE provides fast response time, along with faster data rates ensuring the same feeling when using a fixed or mobile network.
LTE addresses the legacy infra-structure issue by introducing not only LTE as an air interface, but also LTE as a radio network architecture and SAE (System Architecture Evolution). This transforms the whole network to a simple architecture based on “all IP” that is easily deployed by a telecoms operator.
This will enable the operators to remove much of the redundant old network technology that has relatively high maintenance costs and replace it with a more modern and cost effective backhaul infrastructure.
This is also a benefit to new operators looking to launch a new network with no legacy networks as they can have options to either deploy a new network with the latest and future proof IPv6 technology, or to use an existing network from another operator (competitor, partner, or strategic backhaul supplier) to reduce costs and only lease the backhaul that they need.
The SAE technology is a new architecture for a mobile network that simplifies the structure (fewer elements and less inter-connect needed), utilises all IP technology with the latest IPv6 standards and IMS for the service platform, has new connections to link it to GSM/GPRS/WCDMA and to WiFi and other air interface access technologies, and more simply supports the integration of femtocells and the use of home basestation that users can put at home to give better coverage and seamless experience.
Jonathan Borrill works for Anritsu