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How to keep GSM and LTE users happy – at the same time

Twitter: @v_agnihotri


Subscribers have raced to adopt LTE faster than any other technology in cellular history. In fact, so headlong has been the rush that operators struggle to supply the capacity needed. Scarcity of spectrum is one of the main pressure points and, as we all know, spectrum is expensive.

One way to tackle the issue is to repurpose existing spectrum used by one technology for use by another, commonly called refarming.

GSM refarming, for example, re-uses a part of the GSM spectrum for LTE. The lower frequencies of GSM bands also offer  better coverage for lower network deployment cost. This is fine, but how will it affect service quality for GSM users? Can we avoid any bad effects of GSM refarming?

Middle East operator refarms spectrum for LTE

This was exactly the challenge facing a major operator in the Middle East – it needed new spectrum to launch LTE in new areas and increase LTE capacity in others. The operator wanted to refarm GSM 900 for LTE but without affecting the quality of its GSM service.

Nokia met the challenge with a unique software feature known as Dynamic Frequency and Channel Allocation (DFCA). This allows more carriers to be deployed over a given spectrum, increasing the traffic carrying capacity of GSM sites. The result is that operators can serve existing GSM traffic with much fewer frequencies, freeing up spectrum that can be reused for LTE.

With DFCA, the operator was able to refarm 5 MHz of GSM 900 spectrum to LTE, meeting its aim of introducing LTE to new areas and increasing LTE capacity in existing areas. What’s more, GSM users in those areas saw no reduction in service quality.

DFCA has already been deployed across several networks.

With more than 110 refarming customer references and backed by range of refarming services and solutions, Nokia is a leader in refarming. Nokia supplies its radio access to around 600 customers globally, and is a global #1 in LTE.

Did you know that our radio access portfolio supports all technologies running simultaneously, including current GSMWCDMA/HSPALTETD-LTE , LTE Advanced Pro, and is 5G ready with AirScale? See our Radio access offering.

Share your thoughts on this topic by replying below – or join the Twitter discussion with @nokianetworks or @nokia using #LTE #GSM

Vishal Agnihotri

About Vishal Agnihotri

Vishal Agnihotri is responsible for AirScale marketing at Nokia, which makes sense given his passion for marketing, technology and innovation. Based in India, he’s worked with many operators and telecom vendors, introducing new technologies and solutions to simplify networks and make them better. What excites him most is how our industry enables human interaction in all forms to bring the world closer together.

Tweet me at @v_agnihotri

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