Narothum Saxena, Vice President, Advanced Technology & Strategy US Cellular

Narothum Saxena, Vice President, Advanced Technology & Strategy US Cellular

Narothum Saxena, Vice President, Advanced Technology & Strategy US Cellular, USA is taking part in a keynote panel discussion on LTE Advanced on Day One of the LTE North America conference, taking place on the 21st-22nd November 2013, in Dallas, Texas, USA. Ahead of the show he explains what the key aspects of LTE Advanced are and why the technology is so important to operators.

What are operators getting so excited about LTE-Advanced, and in particular Carrier Aggregation?

Carrier aggregation allows the operators to increase the bandwidth by aggregating different blocks and sizes of contiguous or non-contiguous spectrum which could be intra-band or inter-band. It allows for efficient management and utilisation of spectrum. For example, if a carrier has 10MHz of AWS (Band 4) and 10MHz of lower 700MHz (Band 12) spectrum they can operate two independent LTE networks, but with carrier aggregation these two different bands can be aggregated into one 20MHz downlink pipe. It’s a more effective use of spectrum that potentially increases throughput. From an operator’s perspective, this provides many benefits such as supporting higher number of users and apps of the future that demand increased bandwidth.

The LTE North America conference is taking place on the 21st-22nd November 2013, in Dallas, Texas, USA. Click here NOW to download a brochure for the event.

LTE Advanced offers other features in addition to carrier aggregation such as small cells (femto/pico/micro-cells, which helps with capacity and coverage), relays (low power radio nodes that provides enhanced coverage and capacity at cell edges), improved MIMO (multiple input multiple output transmission of different data streams on multiple antennas), COMP (coordinated multipoint, which allows a device to send/receive information from different base stations and thus helps in improved cell edge performance), enhanced inter-cell interference coordination techniques (eICIC), and D2D (device to device discovery). Carrier aggregation and small cells are two features of LTE Advanced that provide an immediate benefit and can be deployed in near future.

How much are you thinking beyond LTE-A towards 5G, and what technologies do you think will be used in the creation of the future standard?

It is too early to talk about 5G, but METIS is looking into it. METIS (Mobile and wireless communication Enablers for Twenty-Twenty Information Society) is a consortium of several partners (manufacturers, network operators, academic institutions, and members of automotive industry) created to provide a system concept that supports significantly higher mobile data volume per area, large number of connected devices, 10 times to 100 times higher typical user data rates, longer battery life for low power machine type communication, significantly reduced end-to-end latency, flexible spectrum management and  introduction of intelligence to heterogeneous infrastructures.

Is it fair to say that LTE Advanced is more about lowering the cost per bit for the carriers than the perceived benefits for consumers?

I’m not sure if we can make that claim. LTE carrier aggregation, for example, certainly provides a benefit to both operator and customers in terms of bandwidth, throughput and the possibility of supporting futuristic apps that need higher bandwidth or speed. Small cells provide the capacity and coverage in hot spots thus providing better customer experience. Most of the features intended in LTE Advanced do help in enhancing the customer experience.

Which aspect of the key LTE Advanced technologies will be hardest to effectively implement, and why – CA, HetNets, or MIMO?

There are many factors for different aspects of LTE Advanced features that come into play for implementation of these features. For carrier aggregation (CA), first and foremost there needs to be support in the chipset for the relevant CA scenario. Both the network and the device need to support it.

For Hetnets/small cells, these could be deployed either in-band or out-of-band. In the out-of-band scenario, macro and small cells are deployed on two different spectrum frequencies. High frequency is preferable for the small cell and low frequency for the macro, as this helps avoid interference issues. Additionally, lower frequency for macro is effective as it has much better propagation characteristics. In the in-band scenario, both macro and small cells are deployed in the same frequency, which may require potential interference mitigation techniques. Backhaul and the location of the small cell itself are other considerations to keep in mind during deployment.

For MIMO, there is a need for both device and network support.

Why is the LTE North America conference such an important date in the diary for you?

LTE North America conference is covering a wide range of topics and provides a wide perspective from both operators and vendors. I am looking forward to hearing from other attendees and learning about what is happening in the industry.

 The LTE North America conference is taking place on the 21st-22nd November 2013, in Dallas, Texas, USA. Click here NOW to download a brochure for the event.

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