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Past Testifies to Future Need for LTE-A Testing
Denise Culver | Research Analyst
Vendors and operators are turning to Long Term Evolution-Advanced (LTE-A) testing to ensure that their mobile networks are working as efficiently as possible.

As bandwidth demand is increasing, this testing is giving users the best experience available, and it also cuts costs.
more

LTE-A Deployments Spur Need for New Test Solutions
As mobile carriers address seemingly insurmountable demands for data on their networks, those networks become increasingly heterogeneous whereby they're no longer macro sites, but now also integrating Wi-Fi for offload and small cell coverage for pinpointed capacity. The way vendors and operators ensure the networks function in order to meet customer expectations for speed and quality is by testing of pre-launch and post-deployment in ways that address the particularities of both Long Term Evolution-Advanced (LTE-A) and the legacy networks with it coexists.

According to recent research, at the end of 2014, the number of LTE subscribers exceeded 400 million and LTE-A subscribers exceeded more than 22 million. It was widely expected that more than 43 LTE-A networks would be commercially deployed by the end of 2014. Of the 60 LTE-A trials that were in operation during the second quarter of 2014, the strongest participation came from Western Europe, followed by Asia/Pacific and North America.

For network operations, it is not enough to make sure that the network is acceptable by experiencing things like call drops, handovers, capacity or throughput. They must pay much more attention to quality of experience (QoE) that is delivered to key customers like roamers and heavy users. The prioritization of troubleshooting and optimization actions should be based on the classification of these problems by importance of the subscribers.

LTE-A emphasizes features like carrier aggregation and multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) techniques to provide higher bit rates while maintaining compatibility with earlier cellular implementations. As a key LTE-A technology, carrier aggregation allows for full utilization of operators' spectrum resources, empowering them to provide faster mobile broadband experiences, including video conferencing, high-definition content transmission, high-speed video downloads, social networking and more.

There's no question that LTE-A offers significant promise, especially as mobile demand continues to skyrocket. And the benefits of LTE-A are impressive. While LTE's peak downlink speed is about 300 Mbit/s, LTE-A's peak downlink speed is theoretically capable of reaching 1 Gbit/s. Meanwhile, LTE's strongest uplink rate is around 75 Mbit/s, while LTE-A's sits around 500 Mbit/s.

Everyone wants data across these devices to speed along as quickly as possible, and, of course, they want it for as cheaply as possible. Somewhere in that equation, mobile operators need a way to make money off of their wireless investments. The key for that to happen is for operators to test their LTE-A networks to ensure that optimization of network resources is occurring. It also will hint at areas of the network that need to be scaled to handle all of the devices and servicing that LTE-A demands. Finally, it will enable them to create business cases that leverage LTE-A profitably.

LTE-A Deployments Spur Need for New Test Solutions examines the LTE-A testing market, analyzing how LTE-A is being used, as well as areas of growth expected in the market over the next two years. It discusses drivers and challenges in the industry and includes a comparative analysis of solutions available. Finally, it examines the geographic landscape of the market and details trends that are likely to occur in the industry over the next 18-24 months.

Sample research data from the report is shown in the excerpts below:
Table of Contents (4gltei0115_toc.pdf)
As shown in the following excerpt, the binding together of separate frequency bands will be a significant driver for LTE-A testing, mostly because of the disparate bands that each operator has acquired. The possibility to bind together frequency bands and, thus, combine legacy 2G and 3G spectrum with 2.5GHz LTE specific bands will facilitate the transition from 2G/3G to LTE. This will allow them to more efficiently use those little bits of spectrum in one uniform coverage map. That, in turn, results in better coverage and capacity, including increased data rates that operators ultimately market to their subscribers.
[click on the image above for the full excerpt]
Companies analyzed in this report include: Anritsu Corp. (TYO: 6754); Aricent Inc.; EXFO Inc. (Nasdaq: EXFO; TSX: EXF); GL Communications Inc.; Ixia (Nasdaq: XXIA); JDS Uniphase Corp. (Nasdaq: JDSU); Keysight Technologies (NYSE: KEYS); and Tektronix Inc.
Total pages: 13
OCTOBER 2014
LTE for Utilities: A Spectrum of Challenges & Opportunities
This report identifies and analyzes key issues driving and inhibiting the utility market's adoption of LTE. It discusses how LTE compares to competitors such as broadband over powerline (BPL), CDMA, fiber and WiMax in terms of cost and capabilities. The report is based on interviews with a representative sample of companies in the ecosystem.
READ SUMMARY
Including table of contents, executive summary, and financial metrics
AUGUST 2014
LTE-A Infrastructure: A Heavy Reading Competitive Analysis
This report summarizes the drivers of LTE-A network investment, and assesses the products and solutions offered by the leading LTE infrastructure vendors. It also applies a ranking overall to eight leading vendors, and describes their LTE-A approaches and offers.
READ SUMMARY
Including table of contents, executive summary, and financial metrics
JUNE 2014
LTE-A: State of the Market
This report looks at the state of the market for LTE-A networks and services. It reviews features of the 3GPP specifications for Release 10 and beyond. It also looks at availability of chipsets and devices supporting LTE-A features and gives the perspectives of eight leading vendors of LTE-A network infrastructure.
READ SUMMARY
Including table of contents, executive summary, and financial metrics
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CONTRIBUTING ANALYST
Danny Dicks
Danny is an analyst and consultant with over 20 years' experience in technology markets who contributes regularly to Heavy Reading Insider.
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Danny Dicks
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ANALYST
Tim Kridel
Tim writes for both Mobile Networks Insider and Cable Industry Insider. He has previously covered the wireless and cable industries for a number of research firms, including Heavy Reading.
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Tim Kridel
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ANALYST
Tim Sanders
Tim, president of The Final Mile Inc., is a frequent author, analyst, and industry speaker.
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Tim Sanders
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