MTN trials LTE-U in 1800MHz, 5GHz bands

28 Apr 2016

South African mobile operator MTN has trialled LTE-Unlicensed (LTE-U) technology at its flagship store in Morningside in Johannesburg, in partnership with long-standing equipment vendor Ericsson. TechCentral reports that the trial was performed by aggregating 10MHz of spectrum in the 1800MHz band and 20MHz of unlicensed 5GHz frequencies, achieving a throughput of more than 200Mbps. Krishna Chetty, MTN South Africa’s acting chief technology officer, said: ‘LTE-U is designed to take advantage of the capacity available in the unlicensed 5GHz band spectrum … Through aggregating licensed spectrum with unlicensed spectrum, a bigger LTE carrier is created. The ability to aggregate spectrum is one of the primary benefits of LTE.’

Henrik Linnet, Head of Practice for Mobile Broadband at Ericsson sub-Saharan Africa, said that when LTE-U is fully operational, it will allow MTN to ‘boost data speeds and coverage in the cellular network and support the growth of indoor traffic, by using the unlicensed 5GHz band already populated by Wi-Fi devices.’ According to the vendor, the application is suitable only for in-building LTE deployments due to the characteristics of unlicensed spectrum in the 5GHz band. ‘Thus far, our tests to demonstrate LTE-U have only been performed using a non-commercial prototype device, however we expect commercial devices that support LTE-U to be available in the market later this year.’

South Africa, Ericsson, MTN South Africa