LTE spectrum sharing could accelerate coverage

German researchers have create algorithms that allow two or more LTE providers to use a network jointly, which can help reduce infrastructure costs, close coverage gaps, and speed availability to rural area.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications, Heinrich-Hertz-Institut (HHI) in Berlin have found a way to make it easier for providers to build out 4G LTE infrastructure in the face of growing demand for high-speed mobile access to the Internet.

They've created a new technology, dubbed LTE spectrum sharing, that allows two or more providers to share frequencies and infrastructure such as base stations and mobile radio antennas. HHI's Dr. Volker Jungnickel explained: "This way, for example, customers of network provider A in Bavaria could use the base stations of network provider B in Brandenburg and vice versa."

Apart from cost savings, say the researchers, the new approach can close coverage gaps and make LTE available more quickly in rural areas.

"In the city, by combining the functions, they an double the density of the base stations and thus the capacity of both networks. The data rate per surface area increases and more users are provided with service at the same time without having to erect new antennas. The end user profits from shorter downloading and uploading times," Jungnickel said.

LTE spectrum sharing is based on intelligent algorithms that control the allocation of the radio frequencies in a decentralized way. For it to work, however, providers need to exchange information about traffic load, the quality of the channel, and which services are being used at any given moment.

"With our technology, networks can coordinate to provide access to additional radio resources in the network of the partner. With the aid of fixed rules, we can distribute signal processing across networks, so no central control is required," Jungnickel said.

Demand for 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) networks has been flourishing with spending projected to reach $24.3 billion in 2013-- almost three times as much as the $8.7 billion figure expected for this year.

The researchers will demo the technology at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona from Feb. 27 - March 1, 2012.

Source: Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications, Heinrich Hertz Institute HHI