Vodacom’s LTE-Advanced network in Llandudno shows why mobile operators should get access to more spectrum.
In a mobile speed test on 6 March, the network produced a download speed of 141Mbps, and an upload speed of 21Mbps.
Vodacom’s LTE-A network in Llandudno uses 20MHz of spectrum, which includes LTE-1800 and LTE-2100 carrier aggregation.
“This is a good indication of what can be achieved in practice if we had enough spectrum,” said a Vodacom engineer.
A lack of spectrum is hurting the roll-out of broadband in South Africa, and there does not seem to be a quick solution to the problem.
The challenges in handing out spectrum are caused by slow policy progress at the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services, and the delay in digital TV migration.
Networks need spectrum
MTN said the majority of its 3,500 LTE sites are LTE-A ready. However, a lack of spectrum is hampering its plans to let customers take advantage of this.
“The deployment of LTE-A requires sufficient spectrum to be available to an operator to be able to configure more than one LTE carrier per site-sector to aggregate them,” said MTN’s Krishna Chetty.
Vodacom share these views. “Spectrum constraints is the single biggest hurdle to deploying the service to the SA population,” it said.
Without the required spectrum, Vodacom decided to launch a limited LTE-A network by re-farming existing spectrum – and only in sites where it could control quality of service to the rest of the base.
Below is a speed test on Vodacom’s LTE-A network in Llandudno.