Huawei looks to give indoor mobile speeds a boost with LTE-Advanced

The network equipment used is capable of download speeds at up to 300Mbps

Huawei Technologies has conducted a real-world trial of LTE-Advanced that shows that much faster indoor cellular speeds may be around the corner.

The telecommunications equipment vendor conducted the trial with Singaporean network operator StarHub, using products capable of download speeds of up to 300Mbps. Early test results were promising, with users getting much faster downloads and better video quality than before, Huawei said without offering any details of the data rates achieved.

The speed increase is fueled by a technique called carrier aggregation, an LTE-Advanced technology that allows mobile operators to treat up to three radio channels in different frequency bands as if they were one.

The trial used Huawei's LampSite products, which are part of a new generation of indoor mobile network devices that support both cellular and Wi-Fi networks in one box, and use Power-over-Ethernet to lower installation costs.

Indoor coverage and data speeds have been getting more attention recently, in part thanks to a growing interest in using LTE in the 5GHz unlicensed band, which today is used by Wi-Fi networks. The move is controversial, as some fear that mobile operators' use of the frequency will degrade Wi-Fi performance.

Vendors such as Huawei seem intent on making LTE and Wi-Fi work well together, and standardization organization 3GPP has said that developing the underlying technology is a high priority. However, not everyone is convinced that enough is being done. There is a risk that especially pre-standard systems deployed ahead of coexistence work being done in the industry will negatively impact Wi-Fi users, industry group Wi-Fi Alliance said a statement last week.

At the end of 2014, 49 of the world's 360 or so LTE operators had LTE-Advanced networks in commercial operation. Even in countries where such networks are in operation, though, they are not extensive: North America has the largest population coverage at just 7.8 percent, according to ABI Research.

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Mikael Ricknäs

IDG News Service
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