Part four in our LTE series focuses on the performance improvements end users will notice in speed, quality and reliability of services from the moment their subscription is activated in an LTE network.

As LTE networks enter commercial service, the main advantages noticed by end users are the super-fast speed – especially how quickly new connections are established, how fast web pages load and how much more responsive applications feel – and the improved reliability in delivering this high performance throughout the coverage area. These advantages are no accident: Ericsson’s LTE program has focused on ensuring they are delivered from day one.

During 2011, mobile broadband subscriptions grew by more than 60 percent year-on-year to reach the one billion milestone. This rapid growth looks set to continue and Ericsson predicts there will be close to five billion mobile broadband subscriptions by the end of 2016, driven by the rapid rise in the use of smartphones, tablets and other connected devices.

These new subscribers will not only expect mobile broadband to work wherever they go: they will expect it to work faster and better than ever before. And they will expect to be able to use sophisticated mobile apps and cloud-based services without a hitch, in any location.

For most operators, the priority today is to deliver higher peak rates and capacity in order to provide a better user experience of mobile broadband, as well as lower cost per megabyte – in effect, getting the most bang for their buck.

This is why Ericsson’s strategy for LTE has been – first and foremost – to create a high-speed, responsive network that delivers significantly better user experience from day one.

A significant element of Ericsson’s LTE program is to ensure that features to support this requirement are included in global standardization efforts. At the same time, we focus on providing proof points for operators by measuring, quantifying and demonstrating the promised performance benefits of LTE – not just in the lab, but also in field trials and live networks. Our own live measurements, as well as those from independent bodies, demonstrate a clear performance advantage for Ericsson LTE networks compared with our competitors’.

There are examples of performance-enhancing features in every aspect of LTE. One prime example is the way LTE enables very high peak rates to be delivered through flexible use of available radio spectrum. LTE can use carriers ranging in size from 1.4MHz up to 20MHz, with the option of carrier aggregation to deliver even higher peak rates. Peak rates, coverage and capacity can also be enhanced through the use of multiple antenna branches per sector – going from two to four per sector can double downlink peak rates, for example.

Reliable end-to-end performance of LTE, from user device to server, is also very important in delivering excellent user experience. Key areas that Ericsson has focused on here include high-performance backhaul solutions that can match the enhanced capacity in the radio network, as well as end-to-end policy control solutions that enable operators to differentiate their mobile broadband service offerings and prioritize traffic accordingly.

Through our device interoperability testing program, Ericsson also helps ensure that new LTE-capable devices can take full advantage of new radio features as soon as they are rolled out in the network.

As mobile broadband grows in popularity, people will appreciate the value of excellent connectivity more and more. Operators with the highest-performing LTE network will have a significant competitive advantage.