MTN Sauth Africa, in partnership with Huawei, has recently successfully trialed Africa’s first LTE Licensed Assisted Access (LAA) network at a test site in Pretoria.
LTE LAA is an evolution of the LTE-Unlicensed mobile technology, which enables LTE to utilise unlicensed spectrum to significantly enhance network capacity.
The pilot of the LTE LAA mobile technology demonstrates MTN’s ongoing commitment to overhaul customer experience by improving the quality of its network.
The LTE LAA trial was completed by aggregating 15MHz of MTN’s licensed 2100MHz spectrum with 40MHz of spectrum located within the unlicensed 5GHz band. This achieved a peak downlink throughput of over 400Mbps as measured by Ookla Speedtest application.
The lack of critical high-value spectrum has compelled MTN to refarm existing spectrum and combine existing licensed mobile spectrum with unlicensed 5GHz spectrum to increase mobile broadband data speeds.
Due to the use of the unlicensed 5GHz band, which has a very short-range determined by regulated transmit power limits, LTE LAA will be used for in-building LTE deployments.
LTE LAA uses the Listen Before Talk (LBT) functionality to enable it to coexist in the same area as Wi-Fi networks without degrading their performance. This functionality is the key difference between LTE LAA and the previous LTE-Unlicensed mobile technology, and is considered critical to ensuring optimal co-existence between Wi-Fi and mobile networks.
Currently, all tests have been conducted on a non-commercial prototype device, as commercial handsets are not widely available. MTN expects that commercial devices that support LTE LAA will be available in the market later this year.