What happens with an internet connection via LTE/4G on board of a jet plane flying 700km/h? Ericsson’s tests reveal that 4G is robust enough to handle extreme situations.

4G is the fastest developing system in the history of mobile communication. Today’s LTE networks are capable of providing speeds of over 100Mbps.

Consumers in high-speed trains around the world need reliable 4G connections without any interruptions and Ericsson needs to make sure its network equipment supports this requirement. This was the inspiration for tests that went above and beyond anything Ericsson has done before.

“We tested a high-speed 4G connection using an aircraft flying fast at low altitude.”, said Ola Melander, Master Project Manager for R&D at Ericsson.

“We continuously evaluate our systems and this was a good opportunity to test a 4G network in Sweden. The commercial network used for the tests was not altered for extreme mobility testing. Our radio and core network products proved to be robust and it was very interesting to see how well these performed.”

For the tests, a routine flight with a training jet from Saab Aeronautics carrying two Ericsson engineers with PCs fitted with LTE dongles, took off in Linköping, Sweden. While flying over Västervik at 300 meters above ground, measurements were taken to determine the impact of the Doppler effect, handover performance and video stream stability.

The results showed that the PCs were able to connect to the internet with a maximum downlink speed of 19 megabits per second while flying at 700km/h and with the force of 4G.

The Doppler effect, which limits how fast the user can move in a straight line to or from the LTE radio base station, was successfully tested and internet connectivity was maintained while flying at more than 600km/h in a straight line toward the LTE radio base station. A seamless handover from one radio base station to the next was possible while flying at a speed of 500km/h, without any visible disturbances to a video stream used to monitor the stability of the internet connection.

When the test was completed, there was a sense of achievement but preparations are already underway for further tests at even higher speeds. As the saying goes: The sky is the limit!

“We are very pleased with the results from this test,” says Per Narvinger, Head of Product Line LTE at Ericsson. “Ericsson’s standard radio and core network products were used in the network that was in commercial service and there were no problems to connect from the aircraft.”

About LTE

  • LTE is the global standard for the fourth generation of mobile broadband (4G), supported by all major players in the industry. It is the fastest developing system in the history of mobile communication.
  • Today’s LTE networks are able to provide speeds over 100Mbps. The technology allows for speeds in excess of 300Mbps and Ericsson demonstrated the next step of LTE at MWC 2010, with speeds up to 1.2Gbps
  • Currently 105 LTE operators has launched commercial services, 11 of these are LTE-TDD deployments and the rest is LTE-FDD. 299 operators have publicly committed to the technology across 93 different countries with a large number of LTE trials currently in operation.
  • In the first year of rollout 150 million people had access to LTE networks, and today 455 million people have access to commercial LTE networks.
  • Ericsson’s Traffic and Data report predicts that by 2017 half of the world’s population will be covered by LTE/4G networks. Smartphone subscriptions will number around three billion in 2017 – compared to 700 million in 2011.
  • Ericsson predicts that 85 percent of the world’s population will be covered by high-speed mobile internet in 2017 and mobile data traffic will increase 15-fold between 2011 and 2017.

Notes to editors

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Ericsson is the world's leading provider of communications technology and services. We are enabling the Networked Society with efficient real-time solutions that allow us all to study, work and live our lives more freely, in sustainable societies around the world.

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