Just as we'd started to revel in the speeds of LTE 4G, Ericsson had to go and spoil it all by showing us what's next in the roadmap. The company has demonstrated LTE Advanced in Sweden this week, delivering speeds 10x that of regular LTE - over 900 MB/s in fact - by aggregating carrier spectrum into bigger blocks. According to Ericsson, that offers not only higher potential top-speeds, but better performance even when the network is congested.
Not that there'd be much congestion in Ericsson's testing, given that right now there's no operational LTE Advanced service around. The trial used a 3 x 20MHz (60MHz aggregated) spectrum chunk and an off the shelf Ericsson multi-mode, multi-standard radio base station, the RBS 6000, and streamed data between the RBS and a moving van from which engineers kept track of network performance.
Current LTE systems are limited to 20MHz at most, but thanks to carrier aggregation and extended multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) - fresh additions to LTE Advanced - the new system can pair together sections of the spectrum to create a fatter pipe. In the downlink, Ericsson says, 8x8 MIMO was used, and the new system is compliant with the 3GPP Release 10 global standard.
When will we get this super-fast LTE Advanced? Ericsson says the first commercial operation is expected in 2013, though that will obviously depend on where you live and how ambitious your carrier is.