Ofcom: LTE capacity gains more than 200% over 3G

in News, UK, WiFi, 3G, 4G, HSPA, LTE, WiMAX

UK regulator Ofcom has said that 4G mobile technology will deliver more than 200% of the capacity of existing 3G technologies, using the same amount of spectrum. This will be achieved in part thanks to 4G using spectrum more efficiently.

The research was commissioned by Ofcom and carried out by Real Wireless Ltd. The research looked at a number of 4G technologies including Long Term Evolution (LTE) and later generations of LTE, which are still in development, such as LTE Advanced. It also considered emerging and later generations of WiMAX – a wireless technology, similar to Wi-Fi, but with a longer range which can cover many kilometres.

“The research that we commissioned indicates that early 4G mobile networks with standard configurations will be 3.3 times (230%) more spectrally efficient than today’s standard 3G networks. To put this in context, a user on an early 4G network will be able to download a video in around a third of the time it takes today on a 3G network. It is anticipated that this efficiency will increase to approximately 5.5 times (450%) by 2020,” said Dr Stephen Unger, Chief Technology Officer at Ofcom.

The research revealed that the capacity gain from the increased spectral efficiency of 4G technologies will not on its own be sufficient to meet the expected growth in demand for mobile data. As well as using existing spectrum more efficiently, more spectrum itself is also needed, some of which will be gained from the auction of new spectrum at 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz in 2012.

According to findings, Initial deployments of 4G will deliver a 1.2 times improvement in spectrum efficiency over emerging, high end 3G configurations (i.e. 2x2 HSPA+ 64QAM release 8). Comparing against a typical, high end 3G device on the market in 2011, such as a HSUPA release 6 1x1 handset, gives a gain of 3.3 times.

Report forecasts that spectrum efficiency in deployed networks will grow by approximately 5.5 times between 2010 and 2020.

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