MWC 2010 – 3G Bandwidth Report from the Showfloor – Part 2

There we go, it's the last day of MWC 2010 and time to give an update on how the 3G networks fare on the Fira in Barcelona. As reported at the beginning of the show throughput on the day before the exhibition started was around 450 kbyte/s with a Cat 8 stick (for details see the earlier report) and there was still respectable throughput once the networks started to see some load on the first day between 150 – 300 kbyte/s.

Throughout the week I used one of the 3G networks heavily on the Fira not only for testing but also to get background information and of course for e-mail and the experience was always excellent. The 150 – 300 kbyte/s I experienced the first day was pretty throughout the other days as well. In other words the networks were quite capable to absorb the voice and data traffic of the 35.000 simultaneous visitors.

Some more numbers: While I focused on hall 8 in the first report, let's look at the setup in hall 2: On the ground level, there are 5 UMTS cells each operator has deployed. Some operators have deployed 3x 5MHz carriers, some 'only' 2. In total there were 4 (operators) x 5 (cells, freq 1) + 4 x 5 (freq 2) + 2 x 5 (freq 3) = 50 carriers. In addition there are two cells per operator on the smaller first level of the hall. That's another 10 carriers. Separation between them is quite good so bandwidth per carrier should be around 4 MBit/s. 4 Mbit/s x 60 carriers =  240 MBit/s of potentially available bandwidth over the 3G networks in hall 2 alone. Subtract from that some bandwidth for voice calls from mobile devices not using the deployed GSM network there.

For the whole of the exhibition ground I counted + estimated around 30 independent cells per operator, each with 2 or 3 carriers each. That would be around 300 carriers in total used to cover the ground there. That's well over 1 Gbit/s of available bandwidth over the air, plus, of course, the capacity provided by the 2G layer. And even that's probably only little compared to the total available bandwidth when you count all the Ethernet based Internet access used on the stands to connect the exhibitor equipment there to the net. Breathtaking!

3 thoughts on “MWC 2010 – 3G Bandwidth Report from the Showfloor – Part 2”

  1. hello Martin:
    I am a junior about UMTS.I like to read your posts,it funny.
    but there is two questions about your numbers.
    In IMT2000 the frequency for UMTS is about 60MHz in each UL&DL.So It can only sopport 12 carriers unless different telecom carriers get the same frequency.In my country a telecom carriers have got unique frequency,what about Europe.
    Second,each 5MHz carrier support much more bandwidth than 4Mbit/s. In HSPA+ network the bandwidth is more then 20Mbit/s per carrier.
    I am confused.

  2. Hi Justy,

    yes, if you are close to the base station you can reach really great data rates but when your are at the cell edge, data rates are much lower. So the 4 MBit/s I used for my calculation is a mean value today. With HSPA+ the mean value will go up in the future. Concerning the number of carriers: W-CDMA base stations use the same carrier in all cells. If you have 5 cells in a hall, each uses the same carrier. They are individual however, each using its own scrambling code. Neighbors are seen as interference. In addition operators at MWC uses several carriers per cell to extend capacity. So thats how you end up with the high number of carriers per hall. For details, you might want to take a look at one of my books, it is described in much more detail there 🙂

    Kind regards,

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