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Telstra tests Cat-M1 4G modem with Ericsson, Qualcomm across 700MHz

Ericsson, Telstra, and Qualcomm have successfully tested a Cat-M1 4G modem designed specifically for low-power, low-cost IoT use cases.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Ericsson has announced the conclusion of network and device tests of data communications across a Cat-M1 4G modem designed specifically for the Internet of Things (IoT), with the trials conducted alongside Australian telecommunications operator Telstra and technology manufacturer Qualcomm.

Calling the tests a success, the companies made use of Ericsson Networks Software 17A and Qualcomm's MDM9206 modem inside a lab at Ericsson's headquarters in Sweden.

Cat-M1 4G is designed for IoT, with features including extended mobile coverage through walls and floors; devices with long battery lives of up to 10 years; and lower cost thanks to using a single antenna and half duplex solution of up to 375Kbps.

It operates across the 700MHz mobile broadband spectrum band, which is currently being auctioned off by the Australian government.

"Cat-M1 is a significant step forward towards delivering cellular-based IoT capabilities, which extend the capabilities of Telstra's mobile network," said Telstra Networks group managing director Mike Wright.

"Cat-M1 will deliver both longer battery life and extended depth of coverage benefits that will be further complemented with the expected arrival of narrowband IoT (Cat-NB1) devices later next year, along with a progression toward the greatly reduced module costs."

According to vice president and head of Radio Product Management at Ericsson Thomas Norén, the software features of Ericsson Networks Software 17A enables lower power consumption, lower mobile device cost, and extended coverage, which will improve IoT productivity, as does the Qualcomm modem.

The modem is software upgradeable to Cat-M1+ NB-1 narrowband dual mode.

The news of the modem test follows Telstra, Ericsson, Qualcomm, and Netgear last month announcing the world's first commercial 1Gbps-capable 4G network, with a launch due in the next few months.

Telstra's network attains 1Gbps speeds when used in conjunction with the 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 Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) on two aggregated carriers; 2x2 MIMO on a third carrier; and Higher Order Modulation 256 Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM).

According to Ericsson, these technologies "pave the path to 5G".

"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.

Telstra flagged in February that it would be teaming up with Ericsson to launch the world's first 1Gbps commercial network alongside the first commercially available 1Gbps-capable mobile broadband device with Netgear in 2016.

Telstra's mobile network within the CBDs of Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane will support 1Gbps download speeds and 150Mbps upload speeds.

In September, Telstra, Ericsson, and Qualcomm also attained download speeds of 979Mbps and upload speeds of 129Mbps during 4G network testing using carrier aggregation, 64 QAM uplink, 256 QAM downlink, and 4x4 MIMO technologies; Ericsson's Baseband 5216 hardware; Qualcomm's Snapdragon X16 LTE modem test device; and Telstra's live network.

The use of 4x4 MIMO increases peak rates twofold without needing additional spectrum, with QAM also increasing the peak data rates.

Telstra and Ericsson last year also attained 1Gbps 4G mobile speeds during live commercial mobile trials by aggregating five spectrum bands.

During that 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.

Telstra then announced 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.

Telstra and Ericsson in September also achieved download speeds of between 18Gbps and 22Gbps during the first live trial of 5G in Australia, with the trials conducted in a real-world outdoor environment using Ericsson's 5G radio testbed.

The 20Gbps speeds were split between two mobile devices, with each one getting around 10Gbps download speeds thanks to the use of Massive Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output (MIMO), which sends multiple channels of data at the same time, allowing users to have peak performances simultaneously.

In addition, a moving vehicle achieved download speeds of between 1Gbps and 6Gbps thanks to the use of beam-forming technology, in which antenna arrays steer a beam to where a user is.

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