OnQ Blog

Today’s wireless revolution is brought to you by the letters L, T, and E

Apr 29, 2015

Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

Forty. It just happened. Eighty. It happened again. One twenty. And again. Roughly 40 new mobile devices are shipped globally with every passing second. That’s a dizzying growth rate in mobile connections, and not only is it showing no signs of slowing, but the number of new connections is increasing exponentially.

Meeting that future demand is a daunting challenge for network operators, but the payoff is huge. Each new connection brings new possibilities—new ways to share information from all corners of the globe. And each connection represents new people, new places, new devices, new discoveries, and the potential for any number of new experiences.

Connectivity breeds new ideas every day. It shapes lives, and it shapes industries. And we’re not just talking smartphones. Mobile broadband touches nearly everything we see and do. A growing number of “things” (from cameras to cars, to health care devices, robots, and more) are becoming connected—both to the network and to one another. And the more we connect, the more efficient, secure, and engaging life can become.

Our mobile networks are serving our current needs, but, in the future, they’ll need to do much more. That’s why we’re digging deep into the underlying technology of the current LTE network to extend its capacity and capability, from the ground up. After all, LTE was never meant to be complete. Its continuing refinement is right in its name: Long-Term Evolution. Looking over the horizon, our long-term vision is to find ways to deliver 1,000 times more data, and to support billions more connections—than we can today. We call it the 1,000x data challenge.

One promising step along the way is LTE Advanced, which takes advantage of “carrier aggregation” to increase network speed and capacity. How does it work? Over time, mobile operators and cellular providers have purchased piecemeal allotments of spectrum as needed. While one provider may own a number of these allotments, chances are, they aren’t all right next to each other. Instead of having to jump between disparate allotments, carrier aggregation stitches multiple chunks of spectrum, (that belong to the same operator) together, while ignoring those belonging to other operators. The math speaks for itself: Stitch five 20 MHz networks together, and get a 100 MHz connection. This aggregation extends to unlicensed spectrum as well, we pioneered LTE-U, which brings LTE to unlicensed spectrum, to augment capacity and ensure seamless user experiences. 

Apart from carrier aggregation, LTE Advanced packs a large number of features that not only improve mobile broadband, but also bring new types of connectivity to life. Examples include LTE Broadcast evolution, which saves bandwidth by delivering a single piece of content to many users simultaneously (e.g. in sport stadium venues) and LTE Direct, which enables a whole new class of proximity based applications and services—and serendipitous, cross-platform engagement.

Here’s one possible scenario: You’re a huge soccer fan. The ESPN app on your smartphone “knows” this, of course. Meanwhile, you’re walking through town, looking for a place to have lunch—and unbeknownst to you, a group is gathering at a nearby sports bar to watch the final game of the UEFA Champions League. One of the soccer fans at the bar uses LTE Direct with the Facebook or Twitter app on her phone to announce the gathering, and the bar’s manager uses his Open Table app to announce that the live game is being shown there. Your ESPN app can now guide you to the ideal lunch spot for you.

These advancements in connectivity technologies are just the beginning. There are even bigger breakthroughs ahead. And that spells good news for all of us. It’s what keeps us innovating and reinventing the way we connect to each other and to the devices around us. It’s through those connections that the next generation of ideas will come to life. And all this is based on a core belief: The more people connect, the better our world can become.

Find out more at Why Wait.

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Eduardo Esteves

Vice President, Product Management