Current LTE rollouts are based on Release 8 of the 3GPP standards, while LTE Advanced is based on Release 10, which was standardised in April 2011. Since then, some companies have been working on pre-release equipment, looking to get a jump on the rest of the industry.
Chief of these are equipment vendor Ericsson and SK Telecom, the biggest operator in South Korea with just under 50% market share. The two have got together to test a specific feature of core LTE Advanced technology called Transmission Mode 9. TM-9 is designed to help reduce interference between base stations to maximise signal stability and boost performance.
TM-9 is particularly smart though. It can detect when a mobile device is being used and send a different type of signal that is optimal for a mobile device (variable DM-RS – demodulation reference signals). This maximises the efficient use of the base station and guarantee’s a decent data rate for users. Early results are positive with a claimed 10-15% increase in data rates in locations where there was known inter-cell interference.
One of the best known improvements that LTE Advanced will bring is Carrier Aggregation and here ZTE have been taking strides with the world’s first use of it in a commercial network. This was the Guangdong arm of China Mobile using 20MHz of spectrum and interestingly was performed on a TD-LTE network. Peak download rate? A massive 223Mbps, more than double the peak rates quoted for Release 8 LTE.
TD-LTE also once again comes to the fore in China, having been used for a live TV broadcast – the Xiamen International Marathon beamed to the TV centres of China Central TV and Xiamen TV. The vendor here was NSN, using its SingleRAN platform with Liquid Core EPC.
It all points to a bright future for LTE.
This next evolution of LTE technology is significant as it will meet the speed requirements of what the 3GPP originally dubbed 4G. LTE Release 8 was of course not originally considered to be 4G, but the 3GPP were forced to acknowledge ‘the realities on the ground’ where even DC HSPA 3G was being dubbed 4G by some US carriers. This time round, there’s no doubt, though I suspect it will simply give some the licence to go to market with ‘True 4G’ or some such exaggeration.
If you want to hear more about the latest advances in TD-LTE then be sure to get to the inaugural TD-LTE Summit taking place on the 23rd-24th April 2013 at the Fairmont Singapore Hotel, Singapore. Click here to download the brochure