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Vodafone, Ericsson and Qualcomm demo commercial licensed/unlicensed LTE CA

Vodafone, Ericsson and Qualcomm claim they have successfully harmonised licensed and unlicensed spectrum for the first time via commercial LTE Carrier Aggregation (CA).

Mobile telco Vodafone is conducting LTE trials with unlicensed spectrum over its network in the Netherlands. The tests, conducted in partnership with equipment maker Ericsson and chip maker Qualcomm Technologies, aim to explore how all available spectrum channels could be combined to create more powerful LTE networks. The first successful over-the-air test broadcast of this kind was achieved recently, Ericsson has announced, by using Ericsson’s RBS 6402 small cells and a Qualcomm Snapdragon X12 LTE modem on the Vodafone network.

The successful aggregation was created using 20 MHz of Vodafone spectrum in Band 3 (1800 MHz) with 20 MHz of the unlicensed 5 GHz band U-NII-1 band. Tests validated that the required level of LTE performance in the unlicensed band was achieved and that fair co-existence was established with other technologies, such as Wi-Fi, that lie within the unlicensed 5 GHz band. The testing equipment for the exercise was developed by Qualcomm.

The aggregation of different carrier channels on LTE, including the previously unused unlicensed spectrum, will supplement the reliability of LTE licensed spectrum with extra downlink options. New functionality built into Ericsson’s LTE product range kit includes mechanisms for sharing the unlicensed spectrum with other unlicensed 5 GHz users, like Wi-Fi, so operators can use it to boost capacity. The ability to aggregate 5GHz unlicensed band within LTE is a feature of Ericsson Networks Software 16A, available this year.

“Vodafone has taken a leadership position in small cells,” said Valter D’Avino, Head of Ericsson’s Region Western and Central Europe, “and our LTE trials on unlicensed spectrum underscore their commitment to improving the performance of indoor networks.”

The aggregation of licensed and unlicensed bands in 4G and future 5G networks is critical to achieve this goal, added Serge Willenegger, VP of product management at Qualcomm Technologies.


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