Cat 6, 300 Mbps, 4G LTE Advanced, 3x carrier aggregation (CA) … While all of these numbers and acronyms are important, paradoxically it’s the smallest of the numbers—the 3 in the “3x CA”—that Qualcomm Technologies is most excited about today. By successfully completing interoperability testing of the downlink LTE 3x carrier aggregation feature to get 300 Mbps peak data rates while using a device powered by the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 810 processor and network infra provided by a major infrastructure vendor, Qualcomm Technologies achieved another critical “1st” in LTE Cat 6.
LTE Cat 6 up to 300 Mbps refers to a standards-defined capability of LTE networks and devices that can be realized by aggregating up to 40 MHz of bandwidth. Note that Cat 6 is already commercial as seen in the recent launches of the Qualcomm Gobi™ 9x35 based Samsung Galaxy S5 broadband LTE-A and LG G3 phones in Korea. These devices were however limited to peak speeds of 225 Mbps as operators typically do not have two 20 MHz-wide LTE carriers and so are only able to combine 10 MHz and 20 MHz bandwidth using 2x CA.
This 1st successful 3x CA interoperability testing based on a combination of 20 MHz + 10MHz + 10 MHz carriers overcomes the aforementioned limitation and opens the doors to global adoption of Cat 6. According to the latest GSA statistics (July ’14), 69 operators are investing in LTE Advanced carrier aggregation across 38 countries and 16 have already launched commercially. As more operators begin to aggregate more combinations of 10 MHz and 20 MHz around the world based on 3x CA and more devices based on Snapdragon 810 start appearing on the shelves, more users around the world can benefit from the increase in LTE Cat 6 FDD and TDD downlink data speeds.
Small numbers can indeed make a huge difference. The completion of 3x CA interoperability testing by Qualcomm Technologies promises to expand the scope of LTE Cat 6 and thereby enhance LTE user experience worldwide.