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Sep 30 2015

Nokia Networks drives LTE-A data speeds to 262.5 Mbps on SoftBank’s commercial network with 3-band carrier aggregation

This blog is by Arne Schaelicke at Nokia Networks.Twitter: @nokianetworks

With the jaw-dropping robotics technology "Peppering"* SoftBank headlines lately, it’s no surprise that the company’s mobile division also continues to drive the industry pace. In September 2015, Nokia Networks showcased about 1.4 times faster data service (up to 262.5 Mbps**), facilitated by 3-band carrier aggregation on SoftBank’s commercial 4G network.

Softbank_logo

A simple software update of the LTE radio network by Nokia Networks did the trick. It introduced LTE-Advanced Carrier Aggregation, with not only two aggregated bands, but three component carriers. Aggregating the spectrum resources of 10 MHz on the 900 MHz and 1800 MHz bands with 15 MHz on the 2100 MHz band, a 35 MHz wide data highway has been built, on which subscribers can enjoy downlink data rates of up to 262.5 Mbps, as demonstrated during the event.

The beauty of LTE-Advanced Carrier Aggregation is that it’s evolving alongside users’ demands for higher data rates and their smartphones’ capability to support Carrier Aggregation band combinations. The latest user devices can aggregate three frequency bands, while devices supporting the aggregation of two bands have already been on the market for some time. The Nokia LTE-Advanced software allows subscribers to benefit from the maximum data rates supported by their smartphones and other devices. Any band combination of the three bands can be aggregated.

So what does this achievement mean for operators across the world? As one of the 10 largest LTE operators globally measured by LTE subscribers, SoftBank’s step towards 3 component carrier aggregation will accelerate the development of a wider smartphone ecosystem. In particular, SoftBank’s frequency band combination is applicable in many markets around the world. Globally, the 1800 MHz band is the one most used by networks for LTE. Re-farming spectrum on 900 MHz from 2G to LTE and on 2100 MHz from 3G to LTE will enable many operators to benefit from the high data rates of three component carrier aggregation. Nokia Networks has unique experience in spectrum re-farming, including all aspects of traffic steering and load balancing. This technology demonstration by Nokia Networks on SoftBank’s network serves as yet another global speed boost example from Japan of what can be achieved with 4G data rates.

* Like Nokia, SoftBank is actively embracing the concept of making technology human with one remarkable example being ‘Pepper’ - the world's first personal robot with its own emotions, thanks to SoftBank Robotics. You can read more here.

** Represents the theoretically expected data speed

Did you know?

Nokia Networks is LTE supplier to 14 out of the 15 largest LTE operators worldwide (measured by LTE subscriber count). Source: OVUM WCIS data base, September 2015.

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About Arne Schaelicke

Arne heads LTE marketing in Mobile Networks. He has a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Karlsruhe in Germany, an MBA from Edinburgh Business School and over 19 years of experience in telecommunications.