Ericsson and Singtel to roll out gigabit LTE

Singtel will begin rolling out gigabit-capable 4G LTE across Singapore using Ericsson's intelligent carrier aggregation technology across quad-band FDD/TDD.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Ericsson has announced partnering with Singtel on attaining the world's first peak 1Gbps mobile speed using quad-band frequency-division duplex (FDD)/time-division duplex (TDD) carrier aggregation (CA) solutions.

Singapore's largest mobile telecommunications company said it will now proceed with rolling out the technology progressively, beginning with Orchard Road, Raffles Place, Tanjong Pagar, and Clarke Quay.

Ericsson's intelligent Bandwidth-Aware CA technology will be deployed as part of the network upgrade, enabling smartphones to automatically choose the most efficient spectrum band combination on offer at any time for 20 percent faster speeds on average.

"Singtel and Ericsson have a common goal of delivering the best mobile network in Singapore by seamlessly combining both FDD and TDD technologies in one 4G LTE network," Ericsson country manager for Singapore, Brunei, and the Philippines Martin Wiktorin said.

"Singtel subscribers will be able to enjoy higher speeds with Bandwidth-Aware CA, which also allows network providers to manage spectrum utilisation more efficiently."

Devices supporting quad-band FDD/TDD CA will be available by the second half of this year, Ericsson stated.

According to the companies, the technology will utilise Singtel's new 2.5GHz spectrum. Singtel had paid SG$563.7 million for 3x 5MHz in the 2.5GHz band, along with 4x 10MHz in the 700MHz band and 2x 10MHz in the 900MHz band, during the general spectrum auction last year.

"As the world prepares for the 5G era, Singtel is leveraging its spectrum assets and the latest advancements in mobile technology to optimise our network usage," Singtel CTO Mark Chong said.

"Singtel will continue to fully integrate our current capabilities and spectrum assets with cutting-edge technology solutions to ensure that we provide customers a future-ready, ultra-fast, and low latency mobile network."

The announcement of the gigabit 4G rollout follows Singtel and Ericsson in December being the first to attain 1.1Gbps across LTE during a trial of licensed-assisted access (LAA) technology.

The LAA test, which took place in Singtel's lab, utilised 4x4 Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (4x4 MIMO) and 256 Quadrature Amplitude Moderation (256 QAM) technology, and Ericsson's Radio 2203 and Radio 2205 devices.

Four layers with 4x4 MIMO on licensed spectrum were used in combination with two layers on a second licensed band, and 2x three layers of LAA with unlicensed spectrum, with Ericsson using a Cobham TM500 test device for the lab trials.

At the time, Chong said the telco would deploy LAA technology to boost capacity and speeds for indoor mobile traffic, such as in shopping malls.

The two companies have been live trialling LAA 4G since July 2016, at the time saying it would be rolled out over the next two years, beginning in the first half of 2017. Ericsson began upgrading Singtel's 4G networks over a year ago, in January 2017 launching 450Mbps speeds across the entire mobile network using 256 QAM.

At the time, the companies also attained speeds of up to 1Gbps in a trial of LTE-Advanced technology using 256 QAM downlink combined with 4x4 MIMO and triple carrier aggregation.

Singtel in August then unveiled its 64 Massive MIMO antennas with beamforming technology in partnership with Ericsson, Huawei, and ZTE. It used its new 2.5GHz spectrum band holdings for the Massive MIMO deployment, after picking up 3x 5MHz for SG$563.7 million in April.

Ericsson and Singtel have also been working on a "blueprint" for 5G deployment across Singapore since January 2015, with the companies in October announcing they would invest SG$2 million in establishing a 5G development facility.

Ericsson last week announced completing its 5G commercial software across radio and core networks, which it said will allow telecommunications carriers to launch 5G services from Q4 this year.

All Ericsson Radio System products will be backwards compatible with 5G NR capabilities thanks to remote software installation, including legacy radios dating back to 2015, dot system products, and micro radios. Carriers will also be able to run 5G and 4G in the same band using the same radio and baseband, thanks to dynamic spectrum sharing capabilities.

Ericsson also announced an upgrade to its distributed cloud solution for the deployment of cloud applications across central, distributed, and edge sites, along with support for distributed cloud infrastructure containers; and a new category of radio products labelled Street Macro.

The Street Macro products are sized between its macro and micro cell offerings, and can be positioned on building facades to provide network coverage to enable carriers to expand coverage throughout cities that have limited locations for radio sites.

To assist in the transition from 4G to 5G services, Ericsson lastly revealed new radio products that support Massive MIMO technology.

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