SlideshowGSA: 87 Devices Now Support LTE-Advanced

Sarah Thomas 11/8/2013 | 6:19:20 PM
Re: CAT4 thoughput does not necessarily imply LTE-Advanced Thanks for the feedback, cmiller. I believe the GSA means there are 87 LTE-A devices with the qualifying chip, but I will double check. 
cmiller_sqns 11/8/2013 | 2:27:48 PM
CAT4 thoughput does not necessarily imply LTE-Advanced CAT4 ≠ LTE-Advanced: I think your conclusion - that all 87 CAT4 devices are LTE-Advanced - is propagating a misconception about what CAT4 performance implies.  These terms aren't interchangeable, and one does not necessarily imply the other.  It's a matter of the operator's spectrum configuration.

CAT4 simply means an LTE device is capable of peak downlink throughput of 150Mbps.  For LTE, it turns out that this speed basically requires a 20MHz wide channel, which can exist in a single RF carrier in a 3GPP Release 8 or Release 9 LTE network, or in a Release 10 (LTE-A) network using carrier aggregation (CA) to create a virtual 20MHz channel from two different and narrower RF carriers.

Not many operators have LTE spectrum with single-carriers that are 20MHz wide. Those that don't are forced to use CA (which is only available in LTE-A chipsets and networks) to offer this kind of speed.  It's also true that not many of the early round of LTE (Release 8 or 9) chipsets offered CAT4 performance in a single 20MHz channel (Sequans' LTE chips do).  Those operators lucky enough to have 20MHz wide channels in a single carrier have the option of using lower-cost non-LTE-A chipsets that provide this kind of performance.

So, while many CAT4 devices are using LTE-A and CA, there are almost certainly some that are built using non-LTE-A technology.  It is not really a proper conclusion (without digging a little deeper on each device) that these 87 CAT4 devices are all using LTE-Advanced chipsets.  CAT6 is another matter: the two CAT6 devices reported in the GSA report are defintely LTE-Advanced, as this performance level (300Mbps max downlink) was not specified until Release 10 of the 3GPP spec.
Sarah Thomas 11/7/2013 | 4:24:36 PM
99% LTE/3G The GSA also said smartphones are still the "largest LTE device category with 455 products released, representing 36% share of all LTE device types.  99% of LTE smartphones also operate on 3G networks (HSPA/HSPA+ or EV-DO or TS-SCDMA technologies)."

I wouldn't expect LTE-only smartphones anytime soon. Wonder what the 1% LTE-only smartphone is...?
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