Vodacom and MTN will be able to offer 1Gbps speeds

Qualcomm’s LTE modem in its Snapdragon 845 mobile platform will allow South African mobile operators to offer gigabit-per-second speeds, despite potential capacity challenges.

The Snapdragon 845 packs an X20 LTE modem, which offers a feature called five carrier aggregation.

This allows operators to combine wireless channels to deliver greater speeds.

With the X20 LTE modem, operators have access to several more carrier aggregation configurations compared to previous models.

The X20 LTE modem also offers 4×4 multiple-input and multiple-output (MIMO) antenna support, and Licensed Assisted Access (LAA).

Using these features with as little as 10MHz of licensed spectrum for one wireless signal carrier, operators can add four 20MHz carriers of unlicensed Wi-Fi frequencies to achieve speeds of 1Gbps.

Qualcomm’s senior director for product marketing, Peter Carson, explained that this requires full 4×4 MIMO and the use of 256QAM in the licensed spectrum.

On the unlicensed spectrum, networks and devices will need to support 2×2 MIMO and 256QAM to ultimately get 1Gbps.

Vodacom, MTN, and Cell C have already tested these technologies, with Vodacom achieving speeds of 650Mbps on an LAA-enabled site.

Vodacom and MTN also demonstrated radio network speeds of 1Gbps using LTE-U – an earlier variation of the technology.

New devices featuring the Snapdragon 845 and its X20 LTE modem are set to arrive soon, and will provide an opportunity for spectrum-constrained operators to offload data traffic onto Wi-Fi frequencies.

Carson said operators will need to use licensed spectrum in frequencies above 1.5GHz, and unlicensed spectrum in the 5GHz band.

This is suitable for South Africa, where operators have refarmed spectrum in the 1.8GHz band for LTE.

These high-frequency bands are not ideal for covering large areas, but may allow networks to add capacity in more densely-populated regions, and areas like malls and stadiums.

Carson said that although the architecture is simple, operators will need to solve challenges such as sufficient backhaul capacity, having sites in the right locations, and power requirements.

Now read: Xiaomi’s next flagship smartphone will use a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845

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Vodacom and MTN will be able to offer 1Gbps speeds