Vodafone conducts world’s first live testing of advanced LTE CA

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Telecom network operator Vodafone has conducted world’s first live testing of advanced LTE Carrier Aggregation (CA) of LTE in licensed and unlicensed bands on a commercial mobile network in Netherlands.

Vodafone has utilized Ericsson RBS 6402 indoor small cell, which supports LTE CA between licensed and unlicensed bands on its commercial network, connected to a LTE unlicensed band capable test device developed by wireless chip maker Qualcomm Technologies.

LTE aggregation with unlicensed bands on small cells is one way to improve customer experience.

“We are already using Ericsson’s RBS 6402 indoor picocell in our own shops in the Netherlands. It’s great to see that it will also support advanced LTE CA capabilities with unlicensed spectrum on our network,” said Matthias Sauder, chief network officer, Vodafone Netherlands.

Vodafone achieved the latest over the air results by aggregating 20 MHz of Vodafone spectrum in Band 3 (1800 MHz) with 20 MHz of the unlicensed 5 GHz band U-NII-1 band. The testing validated LTE performance in the unlicensed band and fair co-existence with other technologies like Wi-Fi within the unlicensed 5 GHz band.

The Ericsson RBS 6402 Indoor Picocell includes a 5GHz LTE enabled radio in addition to multiple LTE radio variants and optional 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi module. They used a test device powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon X12 LTE modem for the trial.

LTE CA with an unlicensed band enables telecom operators to combine the reliability of LTE licensed spectrum with incremental downlink throughput improvements provided by the unlicensed band.

The functionality includes mechanisms for sharing the unlicensed spectrum with other unlicensed 5 GHz users, like Wi-Fi allowing telecom operators to leverage unlicensed 5 GHz spectrum for improved peak rates and capacity.

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