M1 and Huawei attain 1Gbps 4G mobile speeds in Singapore

Singaporean telco M1 has achieved 1Gbps speeds across its 4G network by combining 4x4 MIMO, 256 QAM, 2CC, and 3CC technologies in a trial with Huawei.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Senior Reporter on

Singapore's third-largest telecommunications carrier, M1, has announced that it attained 1Gbps download/130Mbps upload speeds on its 4G mobile network in Singapore in partnership with Chinese technology giant Huawei.

The trial was conducted inside of M1's LTE Advanced test lab, and attained through the combination of four network technologies: 4x4 Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO); two-component carrier (2CC) uplink carrier aggregation; 3CC tri-band downlink carrier aggregation; and Higher Order Modulation 256 Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM).

The two companies used commercially available hardware as well as a prototype CAT14 Huawei device for the trial.

"Through technology innovation, we can further stretch the capability of current 4G technology, prior to the advent of 5G technology, to achieve an incredible peak download speed of more than 1Gbps," said M1 CTO Denis Seek.

"With more customers uploading and sharing content on social media and other channels, it is equally important to ensure we can deliver higher upload speeds. For this reason, we are also testing technology to deliver increased mobile upload speeds, to ensure we can meet their expectations."

Wang Jun, president of LTE Networks at Huawei, added that mobile networks are moving from 4G towards "4.5G" before the arrival of 5G in 2020.

"The successful trial marks the beginning of 4.5G era in Singapore, demonstrating Huawei and M1's continual innovation in delivering the benefits of the latest mobile technology advances to Singapore consumers, for instance, in enabling machine-to-machine connections and improving HD video experience," Wang Jun said.

Similarly, Australian telecommunications carrier Telstra last year attained 1Gbps 4G mobile speeds with Ericsson during live commercial 4G mobile trials by aggregating five spectrum bands in a world first.

During the test, 100MHz of spectrum was aggregated across the 700MHz, 1800MHz, 2100MHz, and 2600MHz (2x 20MHz) bands, and delivered to a Cobham Aeroflex TM500 mobile device.

"Our end-to-end tests have been achieving amazing download speeds of over 950Mbps using a specialised speed test application," Mike Wright, Telstra group managing director of Networks, said.

Telstra then followed this up by announcing a demonstration in partnership with Ericsson and Qualcomm of 4x4 spatial MIMO combined with 256 QAM, which it claimed had established the foundation for commercial network download speeds of up to 1Gbps.

For the experiment, the companies combined 4x4 MIMO with 256 QAM using the Qualcomm Snapdragon X12 LTE modem, Ericsson Networks Software 16B for LTE, and Telstra's commercial network.

The combination currently achieves peak downlink data speeds of up to 380Mbps, but the technology is expected to reach download speeds of 1Gbps in the future.

"Activating new advanced network and operational capabilities such as 4x4 MIMO with 256 QAM provides operators with a more solid and secure network performance, enabling digitalisation opportunities to everyone, everywhere," said Thomas Norén, VP and head of Radio Product Management at Ericsson.

The companies noted that 4x4 MIMO with 256 QAM should be supported on smartphones from 2016.

"We are constantly looking to enhance our customers' user experience, and 4x4 MIMO will be an important addition to our mobile network speeds and capacity," said Telstra's Wright.

"This next step in device evolution, achieved by Ericsson and Qualcomm, shows 4x4 MIMO with 256 QAM in combination. This brings us even closer to offering 1Gbps capabilities to our customers."

In November, Alcatel-Lucent's research arm, Bell Labs, also announced that ongoing testing of its 6x6 MIMO system could see the company attain speeds of 1 petabit per second in time for the arrival of 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT).

In what the company called a "major breakthrough", a trial of its prototype real-time space-division multiplexed optical MIMO transmission technology saw Bell Labs successfully remove for the first time crosstalk from multiple signals on the fibre supporting the six parallel optical signal paths using real-time processing.

"This experiment represents a major breakthrough in the development of future optical transport," Marcus Weldon, CTO of Alcatel-Lucent and president of Bell Labs, said.

"We are at the crossroads of a huge change in communications networks, with the advent of 5G wireless and cloud networking under way. Operators and enterprises alike will see their networks challenged by massive increases in traffic. At Bell Labs, we are continuously innovating to shape the future of communications networks to meet those demands."

The successful experiment used six transmitters and six receivers alongside real-time digital signal processing over coupled fibre stretching 60km in Bell Labs' global headquarters in New Jersey.

Huawei shipped 108 million smartphones during 2015, achieving revenue of more than $20 billion in the process. It also launched its 6-inch Mate 8 smartphone at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) last week, touting its increased power and battery life, as well as the improved camera, as selling points.

M1 announced a third-quarter profit of SG$44.9 million in September, a marginal year-on-year increase of 0.8 percent, on operating revenue of SG$277.6 million.


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