Meet the Next 4G: LTE-Advanced

8:00 AM -- You may have only just got your head around what 4G actually is, but the latest thing in boosting data speeds is coming in 2013 in the form of LTE-Advanced.

LTE-Advanced will be one of the 4G buzzwords of 2013 as carriers around the world start to upgrade and deploy the next evolution in networks. Here's what you need to know:

Understanding LTE-Advanced
LTE-Advanced is laid out in the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) release 10 of the LTE specification. The updated specification focuses on using technology and tweaks at the basestation and handset to increase the transmission speeds and spectral efficiency of 4G.

The spec is aiming for maximum download rates of 3Gbit/s and uploads of 1.5Gbit/s. These speeds will be less, however, when deployed on real networks outside of the lab.

LTE-Advanced will offer a data speed increase over current LTE networks by deploying upgrades at the radio access network (RAN) and handset. These include "carrier aggregation" techniques that bond together two or more separate radio channels to get faster data speeds, two-by-two smart antenna arrays [also known as 2x2 (or more) multiple input, multiple output (MIMO)] for faster uplink and downlinks. Relay nodes -- low power radios that will provide improved coverage and capacity at the cell edge -- will help speed up the network, too.

Some of these upgrades will help boost speeds on existing LTE devices. Taking full advantage of LTE-Advanced will, however, require a new device with more antennas onboard.

Watch and learn
If you prefer to watch, there's plenty of video on LTE-Advanced to help you learn. Here's a selection.

Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) has put out this concise six-minute video that runs you through the major differences of Release 10, LTE-Advanced over current LTE networks:

The NIWeek Conference talks about how 8x8 MIMO anntennas can help achieve 1-Gbit/s download rates:

Here's a useful talk on small cells and self-organizing networks from CTTC:

The spectrum gap
I should note that, if you look into LTE-Advanced, it becomes clear why so many carriers are so hot on the trail of fresh spectrum to use. LTE-Advanced is a hungry beast and can use up to 100MHz with bonded channels. It seems unlikely at the moment that any carrier will be able to free up that amount of spectrum in the foreseeable future.

Nonetheless, it is clear that LTE-Advanced is going to highlight spectrum-haves and have-nots around the world. Expect to hear a lot more belly-aching from wireless executives about spectrum in the years to come.

For more

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

joset01 12/5/2012 | 5:22:41 PM
re: Meet the Next 4G: LTE-Advanced

Can you imagine the TV ad campaign if the FCC had tried to do that?

krishanguru143 12/5/2012 | 5:22:41 PM
re: Meet the Next 4G: LTE-Advanced

What the FCC should have done, rather than just reallocate channels 52 – 69 (698MHz – 806MHz) for mobile services, they should have just reclaimed channels 7 – 69 (174MHz – 806MHz.)  In rural areas, channels 2 – 6 (54MHz – 88MHz) would be used for television transmission.  In populated areas, require the cable companies to offer a very basic cable service for free that would be subsidized by the TV stations and to a degree the FCC.  How many billions were spent on the converter box program?  How much did the FCC sell that spectrum for?  Providing just the local stations would be very cheap for a cable company to provide and at the same time, give them an opportunity to upsell the consumer on more channels, Internet and phone service.  With LTE-Advanced being able to consume large amounts of Spectrum, an additional 524MHz of spectrum would have been available.   Even if the Big Four mobile companies bid, that would have been 131MHz each.  No, the FCC felt like it had to keep broadcast TV around.  Currently you have less than 18% receive TV OTA.  That spectrum would have been far better used for mobile services than broadcast TV.  Of those 18%, a good percentage does have high speed Internet.  So a very affordable true basic offering would appeal to those users and drop the antenna crowed down even lower.

krishanguru143 12/5/2012 | 5:22:40 PM
re: Meet the Next 4G: LTE-Advanced

For what, less than 1/5 of the population?  The rural areas would still have been protected as there would have been plenty VHF Band 1 spectrum available.  In populated areas, the majority either has satellite or cable and would have cared less about it.  The rural areas would not have seen a change except for maybe some channel reordering, but they wouldn’t have cared either.  The billions spent on the converter box program was complete waste of money.  The converter boxes were already subsidized, so why not do the same for an ultra basic cable package?  It would have been cheaper and made much better use of the spectrum for majority of Americans.


Technically, they could have used the VHF Band 1 in all areas and instead of 5 channels, made it 12.  How many local stations are there in any given area?  They each would have had almost 8Mbps instead of 19Mbps.  8Mbps in MPEG2 or 4 is more than enough.


The hundreds of MHz used for broadcast TV is absurd.  The FCC could have required the use of DVB on all of the allocations sold.  So the TV signal would be coming from the towers and every carrier would carry some of the stations.  It still would have been a better use of spectrum, but getting the TV stations off the airwaves is an even better idea.


Broadcast TV is a dinosaur.  The fact is, ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, etc. all have broadcast TV stations as well as own some of the stations.  All of them would like nothing more than to get rid of the broadcast TV stations.  All of them make more money with their cable stations than they do with their broadcast counterparts.  So who would be running that TV ad?  The independent stations owners.


Look at the positives of getting rid of broadcast TV.  The stations are still there, just carried by cable, satellite and other providers.  The station wouldn’t need to buy spectrum to broadcast.  The station wouldn’t need to maintain a tower or pay the huge amount of power they consume.  There are many positives to getting rid of the OTA broadcasting aspect of it.  The stations already are on cable, satellite, etc. so no change there.


ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, etc. have all talked about broadcast earnings continuing to fall for long before the switch to digital broadcast TV.



joset01 12/5/2012 | 5:22:39 PM
re: Meet the Next 4G: LTE-Advanced

Well, we know the FCC is unlikely to open up any more TV bandwidth right now, not before the next election. So do you think its worth deploying LTE-Advanced anyway? The speed increases don't simply come from extra bandwidth, although it helps.

krishanguru143 12/5/2012 | 5:22:38 PM
re: Meet the Next 4G: LTE-Advanced

They should deploy it as there are plenty of advantages to it.  But as more spectrum is needed and the current TV broadcast bands are in prime spectrum, what option is there?  The FCC could have saved billions of dollars and made tens of billions more in selling the current TV broadcast spectrum.  The use of the higher freqs have poor distance and building penetration.  The FCC had prime spectrum and with the analog TV's set to go away, that was the best time to just get rid of broadcast TV.


How much would it really cost the cable companies to offer just the local channels?  Most TV's had a digital cable tuner or they could have just used analog cable for the true local channels.  They were already offering them anyway, so the cost would be the hook the cable up and maybe a box.  With some already having Internet, the cost would be even lower as the infrastructure to the house was already there.  There would also be the potential for them to buy additional channels or services.

gtchavan 12/5/2012 | 5:22:32 PM
re: Meet the Next 4G: LTE-Advanced

To be frank with you regardless whether this is deployable anytime in near future or not, the good news is the carriers can look at the roadmap for all of the network hardware providers and realize that regular LTE is it for a while so better start buying hardware because it ain't going to get any cheaper or faster a year from now and Iphone 5 is going to put their feet to the fire next month.   It is also good news that there is somewhere to go after LTE, but I am sure as these dinasaurs argued against LTE for not having a killer app all the while Voice-LTE was staring them in the face, they will argue that advanced LTE will have no killer app.



joset01 12/5/2012 | 5:22:28 PM
re: Meet the Next 4G: LTE-Advanced

Chuck, expect the first networks in 2013, from T-Mobile, South Korean operators, Sprint, possibly even some action from AT&T.

odyssey_2010 12/5/2012 | 5:22:16 PM
re: Meet the Next 4G: LTE-Advanced

The bandwidth efficiency of LTE-A is almos the same as LTE. Actually, a single LTE-A user is assigned a much larger bandwidth than a LTE user. That's the main reason that LTE-A can offer XGbit/s download and upload rates. Larger bandwidth means higher carriers.
Higher carriers means smaller coverage. So, I think LTE-A is a good solution for indoors coverage and small sells, at least in its early phases of development.

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