Are you LTE-Advanced With A 2×10 MHz Carrier Aggregation?

With LTE networks on air these days it seems that those that don't have one yet need to come up with an excuse. Not that they really have to from a technical point of view when they have a well running and optimized HSPA+ Dual Carrier network but still, LTE sounds nicer. So one of my favourite excuse is "we are waiting for LTE-Advanced" without giving more details. But what is it exactly they are waiting for?

LTE-Advanced consists of many features such as LTE CoMP I discussed a couple of days ago. I am pretty sure that's not the one feature they are waiting for to come to the market. Rather, I get the impression that they are waiting for Carrier Aggregation (CA), that allows bundling several carriers in different bands together.

So say, you have 10 MHz in one band and 10 MHz in another band and you want to bundle that together. Is that LTE-Advanced then? Sure it is, from a definition point of view. But is it better than taking a "plain old" 20 MHz channel defined in LTE Release 8 that you don't have to scrap together? And why wait for that in the first place, isn't 10 MHz good enough to start with?

So the point I am trying to make here is to listen with pointed ears when someone uses the term "LTE-Advanced" and actually ask what specifically is meant by that. Combining two 10 MHz channels doesn't count for me (even though it is technically LTE-Advanced). Having said that I can hardly wait for the press to fall into the trap and declare one country more advanced in wireless than another because an "LTE-Advanced" network (with 2x10MHz CA) has been deployed there, while other parts of the world are "lagging" behind (with networks that have 20 MHz LTE Release 8 channels) deployed.

Bah, so much double-talk.

One thought on “Are you LTE-Advanced With A 2×10 MHz Carrier Aggregation?”

  1. The naming of generations of wireless and claims for performance cause conflict as soon as they shift from the engineering development stage to the marketing stage.

    In my thinking, only IMT-Advanced standards based networks should have been called ‘4G’. That demarcation would allow networks that used LTE-Advanced based equipment that meets typical interoperability and conformance requirements, to be called 4G. Of course, that would allow for a large range of suitability and performance. However, how else could ‘True 4G’ or ‘True LTE-A’ be policed? The industry is prone for marketing departments and managers to take liberties such as setting ‘4G’ to relate to bandwidth which the company itself sets and which is open to vagaries of field performance.

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