Wireless router from Huawei hints at new ways to speed up LTE

The company is using the 3.5GHz band to offer speeds at up to 220Mbps with LTE-Advanced

In the hunt for more spectrum to offer higher wireless broadband speeds, mobile operators and equipment vendors are showing a growing interest in a new candidate.

Huawei Technologies has laid the groundwork for speeds up to 220Mbps using LTE-Advanced at 3.5GHz. On Friday, the company said it has launched the world's first device, a wireless router, that combines the speedy network technology with that frequency band.

The amount of spectrum is one of the things that determines what speeds a network can offer. The 3.5GHz band is an ideal candidate for offering high speeds because it has a lot of spectrum available, according to Huawei. What the vendor does not mention is that using the higher band also means worse coverage than what mobile operators can offer with current networks.

The Huawei wireless router uses so-called carrier aggregation to get to 220Mbps. The technology is part of LTE-Advanced and lets operators treat multiple radio channels (in this case two) in different or the same frequency bands as if they were one. Huawei didn't offer any other product details.

There is a growing worldwide momentum around 3.5GHz spectrum, according to the company. In Japan, mobile operators were recently awarded 3.5GHz spectrum for their LTE-Advanced network deployments last December.

In the Americas, operators in Canada, Argentina and Peru are currently rolling out 3.5GHz spectrum LTE networks, according to Huawei. Its router would also be a good fit for the 3.5GHz spectrum the FCC is working on making available in the U.S. The spectrum band is available for use in Europe, but hasn't taken off, a situation that more availability of 3.5GHz devices could help change.

With hype around higher LTE speeds growing, it's important to remember that real-world speeds are never as high as the numbers quoted by equipment makers. A recent report published by Opensignal found that the average global LTE download bandwidth was 9.3 Mbps between November and January. The average speeds in the U.S., U.K. and Germany were 7Mbps, 12Mbps and 13Mbps, respectively.

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Mikael Ricknäs

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