02 September 2013
Long Term Evolution Advanced, or LTE-A, is the latest standard in 4G mobile network technology, designed to offer 4G customers faster and more advanced data download and upload speeds.
Despite the fact that many
countries worldwide are only just rolling out 4G services,
LTE-A is the bigger and better next-generation technology
waiting in the wings.
This speed of LTE-A is said to be obtained through a
combination of processor technology – which
brings together bandwidths from a number of different broadcast
frequencies – and the use of several extra
These extra antennae deliver greater power and enable mobile
devices to cope with the extra streams they are receiving.
Consequently, in the same way that 4G LTE uses more power than
3G, LTE-A technology will cause an even greater drain on
The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) –
the global custodian of mobile telephony standards up to and
including LTE-A – began investigating LTE-A back
in 2010, and released a report called "Requirements for Further
Advancements for E-UTRA (LTE-Advanced)", which revealed key
elements of the technology.
The report suggested that LTE-A should work alongside LTE, and
each should be able to function on the other's network. It was
also noted that LTE-A should accommodate geographically
available spectrum for channels above 20MHz.
Where has it been rolled out?
SK Telecom has been making rapid progress with LTE-A,
and in June launched what it claimed was the
world's first LTE-A network.
The services were designed to offer network speeds of up to
150Mbps, and SK Telecom believes LTE-A has the capability to
deliver services at twice the speed of existing 4G
The highest speed estimated for 4G is thought to be 100Mbps,
which is yet to have been reached on many networks, including
those in the UK. Although it is unlikely that subscribers will
initially experience 150Mbps speeds, SK Telecom believes the
service will be fast enough to carry out full HD streaming, as
well as group video chats with enhanced video and audio
Existing smartphones do not have the capability to host 4G
LTE-A, but in South Korea, Samsung has launched a dedicated
version of its Galaxy S4 smartphone that includes a chip
offering access to the 4G LTE-A network. SK Telecom expects
another six 4G LTE-A-enabled phones to emerge before the end of
SK Telecom extended its 4G services via LTE-A to Canada and
Switzerland in August this year, and has plans for further
growth in several regions worldwide.
Which markets will be the next to adopt
Until August 29 2013, when Vodafone and O2 are set to launch
rival 4G services, EE stands as the only UK operator running an
Local reports have said that EE-installed equipment in East
London is designed to equal the speeds being offered by SK
Telecomâ€™s LTE-A network.
Another player entering the LTE-A arena is Telstra, who
partnered with Swedish vendor Ericsson in August, and later
reported a successful LTE-A trial.
The trial was completed on combined 1800MHz and 900MHz spectrum
bands but, unlike SK Telecom's LTE-A network, the trial was
conducted on a commercial network, which Telstra claimed to be
a world first.
Telstra used LTE-A carrier aggregation
technology – earmarked by Ericsson as the next
step for high-speed mobile broadband – to
transfer data across its live network on a number of sites in
Mike Wright, executive director of networks at Telstra said:
"The capacity, higher data speeds and efficiencies provided by
LTE-A will help manage growth in data traffic."
How will LTE-A develop?
How LTE-A will develop in the future looks uncertain. The 3GPP
released a statement earlier this year attempting to clarify
the meaning of LTE-A.
"3GPP recognises that in the marketplace a number of differing
terms related to LTE are appearing. 3GPP reaffirms that the
naming for the technology family and its evolution continues to
be covered by the term LTE-Advanced," the group said.
Market watchers have scoffed at the term LTE-B –
which is emerging as the next logical step for
LTE-A – stating that there is no official
recognised LTE-B standard, and that it is simply "marketing
Ericsson, however, has a different opinion. Earlier this year,
in a statement on the importance of LTE, it said: "The further
evolution of LTE... is sometimes referred to as LTE-B. Work on
[this] has now started."
Need to Know,