The State of Carrier Aggregation in Paris

Back in 2016 I noted on this site that one German network operator had by that time deployed 50 MHz worth of LTE in the center of Cologne where I live. I was impressed! Others have also not been idle since then and when I was in Paris recently, I noticed that Orange also has an impressive array of channels on air which can be used simultaneously by devices.

At the place of the conference I attended, Orange was on air with 20 MHz in Band 3 (1800 MHz) which served as the ‘Primary Component Carrier’, 20 MHz of band 7 spectrum (2600 MHz), 10 MHz of band 1 spectrum (2100 MHz) and 10 MHz in band 20 (800 MHz). The network and my device supported 4 Carrier Aggregation (4CA) so all channels were accumulated to an overall channel bandwidth of 60 MHz (!) and I could get around 150 MBit/s out of the channel under fairly good signal conditions and still 30-50 Mbit/s while in the meeting room with quite unfavorable signaling conditions. Very nice indeed!

Spectrummonitoring.com has the details of which of frequency assets Orange has available in France. According to them, they have pretty much everything on air they own. They have an additional 10 MHz of spectrum in band 8 (900 MHz) which they must still use for GSM, an additional 10 MHz of spectrum in band 8 (2100 MHz) which they probably use for UMTS, and an additional 15 MHz in band 7 (2600 MHz) which they could in theory use for LTE right away. In other words, they have already significantly re-farmed 3G spectrum for LTE.

And that also means that there is little they can do to further increase network capacity at this point in time other than increasing the number of cell sites or press the 3.5 GHz band into service with 5G, which, however, does not seem to given out by the regulator yet. So until that happens, it’s a bit downhill from here while demand keeps rising.

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