Contemplating coverage: to extend or not to extend? That is the question. The answer: yes – with 5G carrier aggregation.

Who would have thought that the recent pandemic that has shaken the world could inspire creative ways of doing business and going about our daily lives? Connectivity takes center stage in today’s drama, and as the plot unfolds, Ericsson 5G carrier aggregation – our latest game-changer – provides just the kind of coverage needed to meet the demands of the day.

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Exposition: time to embrace the new normal

We were recently having a video conference, when we began to consider the enormous impact such digital tools have had on our lives in the past few years.  Think of the ever-growing importance of smartphones in our everyday lives, the global deployment of 4G, and the improvements in digital cameras – not to mention the many advancements made in the fields of medicine and science . . . These are just a few of the game-changers that have benefited people all over the world.

It’s awesome to see how quickly even the smallest children have adapted to home schooling using video conferencing. From taking online guitar classes, to filming their daily lives and sharing their videos with family and friends… these things have become second nature. And many have discovered that sending text messages using their parents’ smartphones is even faster than writing by hand.

As theater lovers and enthusiasts, we’ve been fascinated to see virtual plays performed around the globe as part of the “new normal”.  With this in mind, let us guide you through a virtual performance, which is already being played out on the world telecom stage.

Rising action: enter the game-changers

We now have 5G – a true game-changer that is bringing more capacity, faster download speeds, lower latency, and the promise of a whole new range of business opportunities and novel applications. Within this exciting world of mobile connectivity, spectrum serves as the heartbeat of all wireless technology. In fact, without the wide array of radio frequency bands crisscrossing our planet, 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G wouldn’t exist at all. 

What then, we wonder, will be the next big game-changer that will optimize our use of spectrum in all the amazing ways necessary to carry us onwards through the 21st century?

Climax: the question of coverage

It’s all about using spectrum in the best possible way to maximize network coverage. And as an added bonus, expanding coverage is often a prerequisite for more capacity.

Most of today’s 5G networks rely on mid-band (below 6GHz Time Division Duplex or TTD) and high-band (above 6GHz) spectrum: invaluable frequencies that offer the full potential of high capacity – and yet they provide less coverage than the Frequency Division Duplex or FDD bands traditionally used for 4G. Beside this, both mid-band and high-band spectrum are further limited in the sense that the uplink restricts their coverage. Naturally, service providers aim to maximize their investments in the new 5G frequency bands and aspire to gain greater spectral efficiency that can lead to an increase in network coverage.

Imagine then the arrival of a solution that is capable of extending the coverage of the new shining spectrum stars, such as the mid-band and high-band frequencies, to overcome the coverage and uplink limitations typical of these 5G bands. 

To extend, or not to extend the coverage? That is the question.

(Tense break)

Aha! – 5G carrier aggregation is the answer.

The answer to the question above is yes – definitely: with Ericsson 5G carrier aggregation. This solution combines spectrum to give users access to more bandwidth, and successfully increases the user peak throughput, and is proven to boost coverage and capacity significantly.

Ericsson 5G carrier aggregation is the next new game-changer, where the limiting mid-band uplink channels can be moved to the low-band frequency layer, enabling a significant increase in coverage. The solution serves as a powerful tool that extends both mid-band and high-band coverage, which is vital to ensuring an optimal user experience.

Then there’s also the matter of capacity to consider.  Can capacity also be increased along with coverage? Yes, as an additional benefit, extending coverage provides an opportunity to move users from the low-band spectrum (sub 6GHz Frequency Division Duplex or FDD) – already heavily used to support 4G and 5G – to mid-band frequencies, increasing network capacity in the process.

Falling action: problem resolved

By increasing mid-band coverage and network capacity, many more users benefit from access to the mid-band spectrum layer. Today, most common 5G NR deployments use the dual connectivity configuration between the mid-band and LTE low-band to establish non-standalone (NSA) 5G services.  In contrast, our low/mid-band 5G carrier aggregation solution boosts mid-band coverage by up to 7dB versus traditional dual connectivity deployments – which, in simple terms, is equivalent to a 25 percent increase in population coverage.

The fact that more users can be off-loaded from the low band to mid-band 5G, leads to an overall capacity increase of 27 percent.

Revelation: 5G carrier aggregation coming to a network near you

A crisis is often a source of creativity, inspiring new ideas and ways of working. And today’s global pandemic is no different. Imagine new 5G cases emerging in the future which demand high bandwidth – rather like Ultra High Definition video, which can be used in stadiums for filming sports events, concerts or plays … a world of infinite applications where there are increasing uses for connectivity, and ever more satisfied users. That’s a scene to look forward to, where extending coverage and capacity with 5G carrier aggregation will already become the key player in the deployment of a better 5G in Q4 this year.

(Curtain falls. Darkness)

“Coverage extension with carrier aggregation in 5G NR” will premiere in Q4 2020.

Related links

Find out more about carrier aggregation in 5G

Explore our 5G Access key offerings

The significance of the 5G Uplink Booster to the new normal

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At the Ericsson Blog, we provide insight to make complex ideas on technology, innovation and business simple.