A Look At LTE Deployment North of Chicago – Part 2

As indicated in the previous part on this topic I wanted to take a look at a second LTE network north of Chicago to see how networks are deployed and operated on this side of the Atlantic. I found this network to be a bit faster for me with data rates between 15 and 20 Mbit/s. Still comparatively slow but I’m hampered by the same issue as in the other network, i.e., my top of the line European smartphone does not indicate a single carrier aggregation combination for US bands. I really have to follow this up, as the spectrum landscape is so fractured in the US and networks are loaded quite a bit, so carrier aggregation is no longer only a ‘nice thing to have’.

So here we go. This second network requests information about even more bands than the other network, 10 in total:

Requested band info: 2, 4, 30, 17, 66, 14, 5, 12, 29 and 46.

Supported bands reported by my device in this region: Band 5, 2, 4, 12, 17, 26, 13, 25, 64, 41 and 66. In other words, the requested bands 30, 14, 29 and 46 are not supported.

Like the other operator, this operator also wanted to know if band 46, the 5 GHz unlicensed band used by Wifi networks today is supported for License Assisted Access (LAA) operation. I doubt it is used in the area so far but I guess the network operator simply wants to know how many devices are out there that support it.

SIB5 of the cell contains the priorities for bands 30 (2300 MHz, 5 MHz and 10 MHz channels), band 2 (1900 MHz, 5 MHz and a 15 MHz channel), band 17 (700, 10 MHz) and 14 (700 MHz, 10 MHz) while I was on a band 4 cell. This gives one a pretty good idea of just how fractured the spectrum landscape was in this area. Without carrier aggregation this is a real problem.

There are two interesting bands to note in addition: Band 29 that is requested is 700 MHz SDL (Supplementary Downlink) and then there’s band 14, which is also spectrum in the 700 MHz band. At first I did not pay band 14 a lot of attention until I noticed that it is quite special. In fact, so special, that I will have a separate post on it soon. Here’s a teaser.