The transition from one speed plateau to the next highest is never a short-term process. The situation is no different in the move from LTE to 5G. There are exaggerated vendor and carrier claims (think “faux G” instead of 5G) and cost/benefits of transition that must be made by end users and a variety of other items.
Another item that slows down transitions is that older technology tends to speed up as the rollout of the new approaches. Research and development on LTE, therefore, is not stopping as attention turns to 5G. Far from it: Research is increasing as ecosystems try to take advantage of the higher interest in faster speeds gives carriers and their subscribers a path to most of the advantages of higher speed more quickly and with much less disruption than a 5G changeover.
LTE is flexing its still formidable muscle as Mobile World Congress convenes in San Francisco. In anticipation of the show, both T-Mobile and AT&T made LTE-related announcements.
T-Mobile said that it worked with Qualcomm and Nokia to achieve 1.175 Gigabit per second (Gbps). Equipment in the test was Nokia’s 4.9G-powered AirScale Base Station and the Snapdragon X20 LTE modem. Both are commercially available. The test featured 4×4 multiple in multiple out (MIMO) antennas, 256 Quadrature Amplitude Modulation, and three carriers aggregated across 60 MHz of downlink spectrum.
On September 2, Verizon said that it, along with Qualcomm and Ericsson, have transmitted data at 953 Megabits per second (Mbps) using License Assisted Access (LAA) spectrum. All elements of the test are commercially available. They include the micro Radio 2205, the Snapdragon X16 LTE modem and Ericsson remote radio head technology.
A third test of note was conducted by Verizon, Ericsson and Qualcomm. It mirrored the T-Mobile test in many technical respects. The companies reached a download speed of 1.07 Gbps. The Qualcomm X20 LTE modem, the same model as in the T-Mobile test, was used.
In the final analysis, it pays to know what the numbers really mean. Light Reading’s Dan Jones points out that LTE simulations promising 1 Gbps download speeds likely will provide actual speeds of 100 Mbps to 300 Mbps. That’s a lot slower. It is, however, about three times the speed of most networks today, Jones writes.
Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at [email protected] and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.