Singaporean telecommunications carrier Singtel has launched 450Mbps speeds across its entire 4G network for customers with compatible smartphones, and has also announced attaining speeds of up to 1Gbps in a trial of its 4G network with Ericsson.
The network upgrade was achieved by making use of 256 Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM) technology, which increases efficient use of spectrum by increasing the number of unique radio waveform shapes to transport a third more data.
Initially, only Singtel customers with Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge handsets will be able to access the 450Mbps speeds, as can LG V20 users once the latter's upcoming software update is released.
Singtel and Ericsson also announced that a live trial, conducted to the east of Singapore in Pasir Ris, saw them attain speeds of 1Gbps across 4G using 256 QAM downlink combined with 4x4 Multiple Input Multiple Output (4x4 MIMO) and triple carrier aggregation.
Singtel said it plans to roll out 4x4 MIMO technology, which doubles the data paths between mobile phones and cellular base station to double download speeds, to high-traffic locations on its network next year.
"Achieving 1Gbps speeds on our live network marks a significant milestone in our journey to 5G," Singtel CEO of Consumer Singapore Yuen Kuan Moon added.
Ericsson and Singtel have been working on a "blueprint" for 5G deployment across Singapore since January 2015, signing a memorandum of understanding to "study the future of 5G networks and its applications" for consumers and enterprises.
In July last year, the two companies also completed a live trial of License Assisted Access (LAA) 4G, saying the mobile technology would boost network capacity and speeds indoors and would be rolled out over the next two years, beginning in the first half of 2017.
The trial involved two weeks of testing across several RBS 6402 indoor small cells, Wi-Fi access points, prototype LAA devices, and Wi-Fi devices, using 20MHz of the 1800MHz licensed spectrum band aggregated with 20MHz of the 5GHz unlicensed spectrum band over a live network inside an office premises in Serangoon North.
"To provide our customers with a superior mobile experience when they are indoors, we are continuing to invest in new technologies that will increase indoor 4G speeds," Tay Yeow Lian, managing director of Networks for Singtel's Consumer Singapore group, said at the time.
"We are pleased to be the first in Singapore to showcase LAA technology live. This is an integral part of the LTE-Advanced evolution, and will bring us one step closer to our 5G goals."
LAA is a kind of LTE-U -- a mobile technology using unlicensed LTE spectrum to boost data speeds -- which comes with "listen-before-talk" functionality that ensures LAA coexists with other Wi-Fi devices across the same unlicensed spectrum, improving network capacity for multiple devices.
The first trial saw Singtel and Ericsson conduct a stationary live test at the office building that attained 275Mbps throughput -- the highest possible with the devices currently available -- across LTE LAA; the second test case demonstrated that LAA can coexist with regular Wi-Fi signals without interference and while maintaining a high throughput; and the third trial saw the two companies show that LAA has better link performance, medium access control, mobility management, coverage, higher throughput speeds, and handover between small cells than a standard Wi-Fi access point.
LAA-capable smartphones and devices should be available for consumers in early 2017, Singtel added, allowing for 450Mbps throughput speeds.
In February last year, Singtel and Ericsson also announced their collaboration on enabling Singtel's 4G network for the IoT, including a trial of narrowband IoT technology during the latter half of 2016.
Ericsson is also working with Australian telecommunications provider Telstra on a 1Gbps 4G network in partnership with Qualcomm and Netgear, with the solution unveiled in October last year.
Telstra's network attains 1Gbps speeds when used in conjunction with the newly announced Netgear Mobile Router MR1100m, which runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon X16 LTE modem and Qualcomm's Wi-Fi solution.
The Netgear Mobile Router MR1100m is the first consumer device capable of reaching download speeds up to 1Gbps over 4G. It attains gigabit speeds via 3x carrier aggregation; 4x4 MIMO on two aggregated carriers; 2x2 MIMO on a third carrier; and Higher Order Modulation 256 QAM.
"Many of the techniques enabled by Ericsson technology to achieve these ultra-high speeds, such as the use of multiple spectrum bands, advanced MIMO antenna technology, higher order modulation scheme, as well as Ericsson Lean Carrier, are critical to making 5G a reality," Per Narvinger, Ericsson head of Product Line RAN, said in October.