Ericsson's next-gen LTE targets faster mobile networks and IoT

The company is demonstrating some of the upgrades at CTIA Super Mobility next week

Ericsson is working on LTE with faster upload speeds, as well as using unlicensed spectrum to speed up downloads and customizing the technology for Internet of Things applications.

The Swedish telecom equipment vendor is showing off some of the developments at the CTIA Super Mobility conference next week in Las Vegas.

5G will likely be one of the hottest topics at CTIA, but LTE still has lots mileage left -- after all, the first two letters stand for Long Term. And it’s a lot easier to upgrade an existing network than roll out a new one.

One of the more contentious upgrades is using unlicensed spectrum for LTE. Detractors fear it will affect Wi-Fi performance, which uses the same frequencies.

To prevent that from happening, a number of methods are being developed to make LTE play well alongside Wi-Fi. At CTIA, Ericsson is demonstrating LTE-U (Unlicensed) Fair Sharing, which continually monitors the radio environment to determine the overall average channel availability.

The company is also showing LTE at speeds up to 600Mbps with the help of carrier aggregation and better signal encoding. Carrier aggregation, which is part of LTE-Advanced, allows networks to devote more resources to some users by treating two or more channels in the same or different frequency bands as if they were one.

Because of the amount of spectrum needed, not all operators will be able to offer 600Mbps.

The work that’s been done to increase bandwidths has so far focused on faster download speeds. Using some of the same technologies, attention is now being turned to speedier uploads, as well.

Using carrier aggregation on the uplink along with improved encoding allows the bandwidth to be increased from 75Mbps to 150Mbps.

Users are becoming more dependent on cloud-based storage, and are also uploading bigger images and videos to social networks, so higher upload speeds will be welcomed.

However, future LTE networks are also being developed to work better with the Internet of Things. A new version called  LTE Category 0 is much slower than current networks, but that's fine since most IoT apps don't need lots of bandwidth. The upside is that the cost of devices drops and battery lives can be extended to 10 years and more.

To show what's possible, Ericsson has teamed up with chipmaker Sequans to demonstrate a prototype network and device.

All the LTE upgrades are part of Ericsson’s Networks Software 16A and 16B. They will be used on indoor and outdoor base stations and become available next year.

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Mikael Ricknäs

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