Vodafone puts 200Mbps LTE-A through its paces in the lab

But the Dutch telco isn't saying yet when customers might be able to use the higher-speed successor to current-generation 4G.
Written by Martin Gijzemijter, Contributor

Vodafone has completed a series of tests of LTE-Advanced, the next generation of mobile network tech, in its Dutch laboratory.

The company had been rumoured to have been testing LTE-Advanced — the higher speed successor to LTE — for some time, and confirmed the trials to ZDNet this week.

The successful experiments mean that the telco can now proceed with its plans to upgrade the first masts in preparation for field tests of LTE-Advanced, which are scheduled for this spring. The company expects to achieve speeds of up to 200Mbps using LTE-A.

Not all phones compatible

The speeds are a significant improvement on the current generation 4G networks, which offer maximum speeds of about 70 or 80Mbps, making LTE-Advanced almost three times as fast under the same circumstances.

The high speeds are achieved by aggregating various slices of spectrum. Although LTE-A is a variant of the LTE tech used in most 4G networks today, devices will need LTE-A-compatible chips to be able to work with the newer technology. Depending on which operator you listen to, routers and handsets with those chips onboard are expected to arrive later this year or early next.

No rollout date

When asked when LTE-Advanced might be rolled out to customers in the Netherlands, a Vodafone spokesman said dates for a commercial deployment will be determined after the  field tests are completed.

The operator can't yet say whether customers will be able to make use of the next-gen 4G network using their current plan, or whether they'll need to move to a more expensive LTE-A tariff, the spokesman added.

Vodafone is not the only telco working on  this advanced version of 4G: KPN subsidiary Base in Belgium is already running field tests of LTE-Advanced.

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