Ericsson and MTN partner to trial LTE-Unlicensed (LTE-U) which combines licensed and unlicensed 5 GHz spectrum on indoor small cells, a key enabler on the road to 5G. LTE-U will enable MTN to optimize spectrum assets, while enabling higher data speeds to increase network capacity and enhance the end-user experience. In-building solution supports MTN’s enterprise strategy.

Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) and MTN, a leading telecommunications company with presence in 21 countries in Africa and the Middle East, have partnered to successfully trial LTE-Unlicensed (LTE-U), a mobile technology innovation that improves indoor app coverage for smartphone users, in South Africa. The trial was completed by aggregating 10 MHz from 1800 with 20 MHz from 5 GHz band and showcasing throughput of more than 200 Mbps. This is the first time LTE-U has been trialed over the air in Africa.

LTE-U is an LTE capability that leverages the 5 GHz unlicensed band in combination with licensed spectrum to deliver a performance boost for mobile device users. The solution optimizes available wireless network resources, and improves app coverage for all users whether their devices are using LTE-U, licensed cellular or Wi-Fi. LTE-U is a key milestone on the road to 5G, leveraging a combination of licensed and unlicensed spectrum, and using higher frequency bands on a small cell architecture.

This deployment supports MTN’s strategy to drive sustainable growth by driving growth in voice while developing new opportunities in data, enterprise, financial services and content.

Krishna Chetty, Acting Chief Technology Officer, MTN South Africa says: “This trial supports MTN’s strategy to drive sustainable growth by driving growth in voice, while developing new opportunities in data, enterprise, financial services and content. This innovation shows that MTN is within the cutting edge of world developments.”

“LTE-U is designed to take advantage of the capacity available in the unlicensed 5GHz band spectrum. Through aggregating licenced spectrum with unlicensed spectrum a bigger LTE carrier is created. The ability to aggregate spectrum is one of the primary benefits of LTE. Using this technology, MTN is able to combine its LTE spectrum with portions of the 5GHz spectrum band, to enable LTE- Unlicensed.

“The lack of critical high value spectrum has compelled MTN to combine existing licensed mobile spectrum with unlicensed 5GHz spectrum to cater for the rollout of new generation networks such as LTE-U.”

The LTE-U solution showcases Carrier Sensing Adaptive Transmission (CSAT) capabilities for coexistence with Wi-Fi in accordance with the latest LTE-U Forum specifications, which have been designed to enable fair sharing of unlicensed spectrum with Wi-Fi.

Henrik Linnet, Head of Practice Mobile Broadband, Ericsson Sub-Saharan Africa says: “We are very excited to be trialing LTE-U with MTN in South Africa. This solution when fully operational will allow MTN to boost data speeds and coverage in the cellular network and support the growth of indoor traffic, by using the unlicensed 5 GHz band already populated by Wi-Fi devices. This is the first LTE-U trial and first enhanced CSAT (Carrier Sensing Adaptive Transmission) functionality demonstrated in Africa. Through this, we demonstrated that LTE is a good neighbor to Wi-Fi. We are proud to have teamed up with our longstanding partner to demonstrate this service in South Africa on the way to future 5G deployments.”

Ericsson introduced its LTE-U small cells for the first time at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Today, unlicensed spectrum is generally utilized by Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies. LTE-U provides an efficient option for spectrum use by extending the benefits of LTE to unlicensed spectrum, providing a more reliable and predictable performance. The licensed band provides an anchor designed to ensure a seamless user experience with full mobility while the unlicensed band provides incremental capacity and a better user experience. The technology is designed to improve indoor app coverage for smartphone users in particular.

Ericsson is present today in all high traffic LTE markets including US, Japan, and South Korea, and is ranked first for handling the most global LTE traffic. In addition, forty percent of the world's total mobile traffic is carried over Ericsson networks. More than 250 LTE RAN and Evolved Packet Core networks have been delivered by Ericsson worldwide, of which 190 are live commercially.

RBS 6402

Image: Ericsson RBS 6402 Indoor Picocell combines the reliability of licensed spectrum with a throughput boost from available unlicensed 5 GHz spectrum, on a small cell architecture

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