Ofcom has revealed that LTE will deliver more than 200% of the
capacity of existing 3G technologies, using the same amount of
spectrum. This increased capacity is essential in meeting the UK’s
rapid increase in mobile data traffic, fuelled by the growth of
smartphones and mobile broadband services, such as video streaming,
email, messenger services, mapping services and social networking. LTE
will be rolled out in the UK from 2013.
New Ofcom research reveals that the next generation of mobile
technology will deliver more than 200% of the capacity of existing 3G
technologies, using the same amount of spectrum – the airwaves that
carry information between customers’ mobile handsets and the internet.
This increased capacity is essential in meeting the UK’s rapid
increase in mobile traffic, fuelled by the growth of smartphones and
mobile broadband data services such as video streaming, email,
messenger services, mapping services and social networking.
4G mobile technologies will be rolled out in the UK from 2013 and are
set to deliver significantly faster mobile broadband services –
approaching today’s ADSL home broadband speeds.
This will be achieved in part thanks to 4G using spectrum more efficiently.
Dr Stephen Unger, Chief Technology Officer at Ofcom said: “4G mobile
technologies will be able to send more information than 3G, for a given
amount of spectrum. This increased efficiency means that 4G networks
will be able to support increased data rates and more users.
“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.”
Aim of research
The research was conducted to understand the likely spectrum
efficiency improvements that will be gained from 4G technologies, based
on a review and analysis of both existing theoretical predictions and
real-world trials in realistic deployments. This information provides a
vital input into Ofcom’s strategic spectrum management work.
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 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 – the largest ever single
auction of additional spectrum for mobile services in the UK,
equivalent to three quarters of the mobile spectrum in use today.
Finally, mobile networks will also need to be designed intelligently
to ensure the best use of spectrum. In particular, the research
anticipates a greater use of small cells to meet demand in specific
The research is available here: http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/market-data-research/technology-research/2011/4G-Capacity-Gains/