Why Is True 4G Gigabit LTE So Elusive?
How to Bring Broadband Speed to Your IoT Networks
Many organizations are wondering why the gigabit speeds that have been hyped for years still don’t seem to be within a broader reach for enterprise cellular devices. Despite the promises of many 4G LTE module manufacturers, whose spec sheets tout gigabit-speed capabilities, the performance of these modules has fallen short. This shortcoming leaves enterprises, manufacturers, municipalities and emergency first responders mostly unable to realize the speed, reliability and wide range of new functionalities that the Gigabit LTE spec was designed to make possible.
The fact is that true 4G LTE gigabit speed is available for devices and applications — if you have a 4G LTE module with all the ingredients necessary for success.
The market for true 4G Gigabit LTE is strong. Businesses and organizations need the powerful cost and productivity benefits of gigabit-speed connectivity. Even as we move toward 5G, 4G Gigabit LTE remains an essential opportunity for device makers, offering optimal coverage and value. Enterprises around the globe with Gigabit LTE deployments intend to continue managing them after the launch of 5G.
What’s the Holdup on Widespread 4G LTE Operations?
Cellular connectivity is widely available almost anywhere for devices using a conventional module. However, when you are looking to achieve gigabit-level speeds, you need more than the basic connectivity. You need to make full use of all the ingredients in the gigabit recipe, which most mobile network operators (MNOs) now offer.
The culprit for one of the major areas of shortcomings is the issue of fragmented spectrum that particularly U.S. MNOs own. Because of the way the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the United States auctions off spectrum frequencies to carriers, their networks often consist of noncontiguous pieces of the spectrum. Gigabit-speed 4G LTE operations in the U.S. require that sections of noncontiguous channels across different bands of the cellular spectrum be combined on uplinks and downlinks — and 4G LTE modules must overcome the obstacle of this random distribution of spectrum resources before gigabit speeds can be delivered.
This ingredient for high speed wireless communication is called carrier aggregation (CA), which is a technology that combines ranges of the spectrum from different bands. CA is one of the primary technologies needed to achieve gigabit speeds in 4G LTE networks, and many 4G LTE modules have it. They also commonly have the 4 × 4 multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) antennas and the high-order modulation, and they have CA on the downlink. Still, enabling Gigabit LTE performance fully requires CA for uplink as well, and that’s something that these modules don’t have.
Capturing the Elusive 4G Gigabit LTE with the Telit LM960A18 Module
Telit has implemented interband CA in its Telit LM960A18 module, which combines noncontiguous sections of spectrum from separate frequency bands to achieve the broader bandwidth required for gigabit-speed wireless signals. With interband uplink CA, 4G LTE devices can achieve full spec, supporting the high-speed uplinks and downlinks demanded by a growing number of use cases, including in the U.S., the most complicated region for successful uplink CA.
The Gigabit LTE spec calls for an uplink of 150 Mbps. In some regions and operators, it is possible to achieve intraband CA (CA within the same band) and reach an uplink speed of 150 Mbps, but not consistently. However, with noncontiguous interband CA, frequency bands from two or more carriers can be combined from any piece of spectrum to achieve 150 Mbps in uplink consistently and reliably.
The Telit LM960A18 module is the only Gigabit LTE module on the market that can achieve the range of combinations in contiguous and noncontiguous interband and intraband CA to deliver full-spec downlink and uplink speeds across its certified operators and regions. It has more CA combinations than all other certified modules and is the only data card to support interband 2 CA uplink speeds of 150 Mbps. Moreover, the LM960A18 is made to withstand extreme environmental conditions, such as industrial temperatures, moisture, shock, etc.
Gigabit-Speed Data Cards
Telit’s LM960A18 data card is fully certified for use in all major carriers around the world and engineered for the strict reliability and availability requirements by enterprise gateway products. An LTE Cat 18 data card in a global, single SKU, the LM960A18 is the highest performing LTE data card that is PTCRB/GCF/etc. certified and supports Gigabit LTE.