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160Mbps realistic on LTE

Posted on Aug 16 in News-Public, O-TELby Press OfficerPrint

LTE promises very high speeds with some experts predicting that WiMax will be no match

Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) South Africa recently did a live demonstration of its LTE service, showing speeds of up to 35 Mbps and latency below 10 ms. This is however nowhere close to the maximum speeds possible using this technology, and previous demonstrations provided speeds in excess of 160 Mbps.

The high speeds and spectral efficiency of LTE promises to revolutionize the mobile broadband environment and reduce the cost of providing broadband to end users. According to Malan Smith, Head of NSN Network Solutions MEA, LTE will go a long way to ensuring that affordable broadband can be brought to unconnected people around the globe.

Expected speeds

LTE has a theoretical maximum peak throughput of 173 Mbps per sector when using 20 MHz of spectrum and 2 x 2 MIMO. This speed can be increased to 326 Mbps with a 4 x 4 MIMO configuration.

MIMO (multiple-input and multiple-output) is an antenna technology where multiple antennas are used for both the transmitter and the receiver to improve performance.

NSN’s Kofi Kyei points out that realistic throughput expectations are in the region of 160 Mbps when using 20 MHz of spectrum and a 2×2 MIMO and up to 300 Mbps when using 20 MHz of spectrum and 4×4 MIMO.

These high speeds are however only possible on a quiet base station, and this speed will reduce to around 40 Mbps when a sector is fully loaded. This remains multiple times higher than current technologies like HSPA or CDMA2000.

“The typical user will experience between 2 Mbps and 10 Mbps when the sector is fully loaded,” said Kyei. “This is far higher than the few hundred kbps with HSPA under similar conditions.”

Launch dates

Consumers should however not expect LTE to arrive in South Africa anytime soon. According to NSN a commercial LTE chipset is expected to be ready for testing by mid-2010 with mass production of LTE chipsets to follow in the last quarter of 2010.

LTE embedded laptops, LTE dongles and other CPE devices should become widely available in 2011 and 2012, and it is expected that LTE rollouts will start in 2012 and 2013 in Africa and South Africa.

Vodacom CEO Pieter Uys also recently hinted that LTE is not an immediate plan for the mobile operator, and that HSPA +, which promises speeds of up to 42 Mbps on the downlink and 22 Mbps on the uplink, is the natural progression for the company’s current 3G/HSPA network.


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