LTE-Advanced is a term used for the version of LTE that addresses IMT- Advanced requirements, as specified in 3GPP Release 10 and beyond. The world’s first LTE-Advanced network using Carrier Aggregation was commercially launched in South Korea by SK Telecom (which included a compatible handset) in June 2013. Carrier Aggregation is important for carriers around the world as it allows them to create larger spectrum swaths by combining disparate spectrum assets. The larger the spectrum swaths, the better the efficiency of LTE; however, Carrier Aggregation is just one component of LTE-Advanced; it also includes other elements such as Coordinated Multi-Point (CoMP), Self-Optimizing Networks (SON), small cell enhancements, Enhanced Inter-Cell Interference Coordination (eICIC) and advanced Multi-Input Multi-Output (MIMO) antenna technology to improve network performance and capacity.
AT&T launched LTE-Advanced in Chicago in early 2014, making them the first major U.S. carrier to offer the service. It is expected that all four national U.S. carriers – AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon – will launch LTE-Advanced in 2014 and 2015.
LTE-Advanced is both backwards- and forwards-compatible with LTE, meaning LTE devices will operate in newer LTE-Advanced networks, and LTE-Advanced devices will operate in older LTE networks.
In preparation for the next generation of wireless technology, called IMT-Advanced by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), LTE-Advanced was first standardized by 3GPP in Release 10 and developed further in Releases 11 to 13. In November 2010, the ITU ratified LTE-Advanced as IMT-Advanced. LTE-Advanced is a further evolution of LTE, an OFDMA-based technology, specified in Release 8 and 9, which is supported by a tremendous ecosystem of manufacturers and operators worldwide, and has already proven itself to be the global next generation technology.
3GPP developed the following capabilities for LTE-Advanced with specifications in Release 11 and beyond which are considered the most important features for LTE-Advanced:
The table below summarizes anticipated LTE-Advanced performance relative to IMT-Advanced requirements. In all cases, projections of LTE-Advanced performance exceed that of the IMT-Advanced requirements.
LTE-Advanced (with 8X* MIMO, 20+20 MHz, Downlink 64 QAM, Uplink 64 QAM) is expected to deliver 1.2 Gbps downlink throughput and 568 Mbps uplink throughput.
It is expected to be the next decade before OFDMA-based systems like LTE have the largest percentage of subscribers, and it could be well toward the end of the next decade before LTE-Advanced has a large subscriber base.
LTE will address the market needs of the next decade. After that, operators may deploy 4G networks using LTE-Advanced technology as a foundation. As new spectrum becomes available, in the next decade, especially if it includes wide radio channels, then LTE-Advance will be the ideal technology for these new bands. Even in existing bands, operators are likely to eventually upgrade their LTE networks to LTE-Advanced to obtain spectral efficiency gains and capabilities.
(August 2014) This white paper compares the mobile broadband technologies of today, as well as the future technologies that are being standardized or planned, and their ability to deliver greater performance in the increasingly complex and challenging mobile computing industry.
(March 2014) This summary is intended to provide a brief review of some of the key specifications and enhancements outlined in 3GPP Release 12.
(February 2014) This white paper provides an in-depth look at 3GPP Release 11 and Release 12 technology standards, including HSPA+, LTE-Advanced and Machine Type Communications.
White Paper: The Prospect of LTE and Wi-Fi Sharing Unlicensed Spectrum, Signals Research, February 2015