Insight: The Latest LTE Buzz

Posted by Mae Kowalke on Thursday, May 14, 2015 with No comments

Wi-Fi is great (lots of spectrum, lots of capacity), but it has its limits. Put enough demands on it, for example, and the uplink is challenged, said Mike Schabel, VP of Small Cells at Alcatel-Lucent, in a recent RCR Wireless Analyst Angle article

Combining Wi-Fi with LTE-U could be an effective way to give both a boost. Alcatel-Lucent's Wireless Unified Networks solution employs this strategy, Schabel explained, by closely tying together Wi-Fi and cell transmission. The idea is to leverage each technology's inherent strengths for a better overall use experience.

Puneet Sethi, director of product management at Qualcomm Atheros, concurred in another Analyst Angle article describing how LTE-U complement efforts to increase wireless capacity using small cells, as well as improve shared access and multiple flavors of Wi-Fi.

LTE, Sethi explained, is inherently spectrally more efficient, delivering twice the capacity of Wi-Fi. And, it's complementary to Wi-Fi; if, for example, you have two Wi-Fi nodes next to each other and replace one with LTE-U, the result would be gains from the LTE-U node and also improved performance of the Wi-Fi node. 

The goal with all of this is, of course, significantly increased throughput (say, in the order of a thousandfold increase based on mobile data usage growth estimates). It's going to take a combination of technologies to achieve that.

In a related vein, the International Wireless Industry Consortium released a white paper about methods being explored to optimize the RF performance of mobile devices beyond LTE-Advanced, RCR Wireless reported.

The paper found that RF tuning can support revolutionary new approaches to mobile system design and operation, such as cramming 12-15 bands into a phone for global roaming. Considerations include antenna tuning (to improve battery life, coverage, and data rates), proliferation of different radio types (which has created ongoing interference issues), and aggregation of HetNets (requiring evolution of the RF front end).

The adaptations and innovations described here aren't just theory; they're being put to use in the real world by carriers.

For example, South Korean operator LG Uplus recently completed its first demo of LTE-U, leveraging 5.7 GHz unlicensed spectrum capable of transmitting data at up to 600 Mbps, RCR Wireless reported. LG Uplus plans to build on this, using 80 MHz bandwidth to achieve 750 Mbps downlink speed. 

Meanwhile, Israel's Altair Semiconductor recently completed AT&T ADAPT chipset validation for its net FourGee-3800/6300 chipset, RCR Wireless said. These are LTE chipsets, so far used mostly in tablets; the implication is that AT&T may leverage them in mobile phones for voice over LTE (VoLTE) on its wireless network.

And, in the Phillippines, Globe Telecom aims to double its base of 4G LTE subscribers by the end of 2015, RCR Wireless said. To help make that happen, the company expects to invest almost $600 million this year to expand its capacity and coverage. 

What LTE-related innovations and developments do you see on the horizon?
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