3G (UMTS, HSPA, HSPA+) and 4G (LTE / LTE-Advanced (LTE A)) mobile technologies, it becomes
clear that the introduction of new transmission methods
on the air interface between base stations and wireless
devices as well as the optimization of the mobile network
architecture have resulted in significant improvements.
The theoretically achievable data rate per device has
evolved from a few 100 kbit/s (EDGE) to 42 Mbit/s
(HSPA+) to several hundred Mbit/s (LTE / LTE A).
State of the art, commercially available LTE A devices
achieve 600 Mbit/s in ideal lab environments. In a real
network, propagation conditions and the shared channel
principle reduce achievable download speeds due to the
fact that available bandwidth is divided among all active
subscribers. Nonetheless, LTE / LTE A technology has
significantly enhanced available data rates and network
capacity. The following innovations have been essential to
• A wide system bandwidth of 20 MHz that can be
provided to an individual subscriber as well as the ability
to bundle up to five of these 20 MHz carrier frequencies
for each subscriber (commonly known as carrier
aggregation, CA). CA is the most significant improvement
within LTE-Advanced in 3GPP Release 10.
• Use of spatial multiplexing (MIMO technology), i. e.
using anywhere from two to eight/four transmit/receive
• Fast OFDMA multiplexing, i. e. the frequency and time
resource allocation can be changed on a millisecond
basis. The smallest resource that can be allocated to a
wireless device is a resource block (RB) with a frequency
of 180 kHz and a time duration of 0.5 ms.
• High quality modulation methods, specifically QPSK,
16QAM, 64QAM and 256QAM.
A lean network architecture and pure packet-switched
data transmission enable short network response times.
LTE smartphones load Internet pages much faster than
with older technologies.
Introducing LTE / LTE A has allowed network
operators to meet increasing demands. The success of
this technology can also be seen in the fact that 494
commercial networks have been implemented in 162
countries around the world since the first commercial
LTE network was launched in late 2009 (source: Global
Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA), April 2016). The
following section explores several key LTE improvements
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