Gigabit LTE has gained momentum in the last few months with nearly 26 service providers in various stages of trialing or deploying it. AT&T, Megafon, Telstra, T-Mobile, Telecom Italia Mobile, Sprint, EE, NTT DoCoMo, SoftBank, KDDI, SK Telecom and Singtel are some of the service providers who have been focusing on Gigabit LTE as evol
Here are some of the recent developments regarding Gigabit LTE:
- China Unicom Launches Gigabit LTE with Ericsson’s Help
- Ericsson, Qualcomm And NETGEAR Launch Telstras World-First Commercial Gigabit LTE Network
- Verizon Records 1Gbps Download Speed In A Lab Trial
But what exactly is Gigabit LTE?
As the name suggests, it is an advanced form of LTE and is also referred to as LTE Advanced Pro. And yes, you are right. It supports evolution to 5G networks over a period of time. Gigabit LTE uses a number of technologies like carrier aggregation, 256 QAM and 4×4 Multiple-In-Multiple-Out (MIMO) to achieve the download speeds of 1Gbps or more in 60Mhz of spectrum. All the three technologies are an integral part of 5G networks as well.
Say That Again? What Do These Acronyms Mean?
Carrier aggregation means bringing together spectrum from different bands for better efficiency. License Assisted Access (LAA) can be used to bring together spectrum from the licensed and unlicensed band. 4×4 MIMO means that four antennas are used at both the transmitting and receiving end. This increases the speed.The third technology is 256 Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM) is a higher order modulation scheme and is part of LTE-Advanced specifications. It leads to an increase in peak rates of more than 20%.
For the end user it means that he/she would be able to enjoy 4K videos, virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence applications without any buffering or jitters.
Speed is just one aspect of it. The technology is known to improve overall network performance, which is the need of the hour when the telcos have to cater to never ending demand for bandwidth and speed. Service providers are finding it hard to cater to unlimited data demands of their subscribers. Gigabit LTE helps them to cater to these demands.
How is it different from 5G?
It is different from 5G in the sense that in 5G the speeds go beyond 1Gbps. 5G is known for ubiquitous coverage and extremely low latency of less than 1 milliseconds, which can enable many realtime use cases like connected car or remotely performing a surgery. Deployment of Gigabit LTE will help in the deployment of 5G once it is standardized.
What about Devices?
Devices with Category 16 technology support Gigabit LTE. Samsung’s Galaxy S8 is the first device to support Gigabit LTE. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835, which was announced earlier this year, provides a solution for building devices into mass market devices. So any phone/device with Snapdragon 835 chip will support Gigabit LTE.
Besides Samsung S8, Sony Xperia XZ Premium, HTC U11, Asus 835 flagship and Moto Z2 Force Edition support Gigabit LTE. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X16 LTE modem was the first modem with capabilities to support Gigabit LTE speeds.
Service providers are at different stages of deployment. Many of them have deployed Carrier aggregation as a means to enhance spectral efficiency. Like with any other technology, it will initially be deployed in select areas before being expanded in bigger geographies. The coming months are likely to see more service providers announcing their 5G and Gigabit LTE plans. The telcos who deploy this now will be better prepared to launch 5G services later.