Just a few years ago, Gigabit mobile broadband was almost unthinkable -- in 2017 it will be a reality.
Operators worldwide are starting to deploy Gigabit LTE. Sprint was the first operator to launch in the US market, with a live deployment at the New Orleans basketball stadium in March this year. And in June, AT&T announced that it had deployed its first "5G Evolution" market in Indianapolis, with a view to 20 more live markets by the end of the year.
Elsewhere, in London, the UK's largest operator, EE, showed off its first live deployment to analysts and media, where I observed downlink speeds of 700+ Mbit/s on a commercial network, with commercial devices. (Watch Gigabit LTE With Snapdragon 835 for more.)
To better understand the opportunities of this important technology, Light Reading is hosting a dedicated workshop on LTE Advanced Pro and Gigabit LTE: The Path to 5G in San Francisco this September 13. The event is timed to coincide with the inaugural Mobile World Congress Americas and will be held right across the street from the Moscone Center in the Marriot Marquis hotel.
At the breakfast, AT&T and Sprint and Boingo will be on hand to provide insight into Gigabit LTE strategy. Günther Ottendorfer, chief operating officer of technology at Sprint, is set to keynote, and Gordon Mansfield, vice president of RAN and device design at AT&T, and Derek Peterson, CTO of Boingo Wireless, are participating on the morning panel. Plus, expert speakers from our event sponsors Qualcomm, Ericsson amd Anritsu will also be contributing to the discussion.
Toward 1 Gbit/s LTE
Gigabit LTE refers to the peak rate downlink speed achievable using a mixture of carrier aggregation, MIMO and 256 QAM with a "Category 16" device, such as the Sony Xperia XZ or Samsung Galaxy S8. The chart below shows how LTE has evolved from 100 Mbit/s peak rate at launch in 2010 to 1 Gbit/s in 2017, progressively adding spectrum and improving efficiency.
To achieve a Gigabit downlink requires near-perfect radio conditions; in practice, an end-user is unlikely to experience this theoretical peak performance in a real-world network (hence the EE example at around 700 Mbit/s). This isn’t such a problem, or even necessarily a misnomer. The real strength of the technology is not in speed test apps, but the capability to support advanced services, for many users simultaneously. Operator see Gigabit LTE as a capacity tool that gives them the ability to keep pace with demand in dense urban markets. From this perspective, to deliver a reliable 50 Mbit/s to every user in a cell would count as a great achievement.
Customers, of course, sees thing differently. To them, Gigabit LTE is about services: watching 4K video, syncing data to the cloud and having broadband mobile Internet that "just works."
I'm looking forward to hearing what our experts from Sprint, AT&T and Boingo have to say about this and more in San Francisco on September 13. I hope to see you there. For more information and to register, visit tmt.knect365.com/ltepro.
— Gabriel Brown, Principal Analyst, Heavy Reading