The latest in our popular series, in this “What is Gigabit LTE?” article we take a look at this cellular development and why it’s so important today and for the future. As we anticipate the arrival of our first Gigabit LTE products from Cradlepoint, due mid-September, we take a look at what’s different about this LTE standard, key use cases for Gigabit LTE, and how it can help organisations to lay the path for 5G.
What is Gigabit LTE?
As the name suggests, “Gigabit LTE” (CAT 16 and 18) is the first 4G LTE standard which delivers gigabit speeds, truly transforming cellular’s capabilities. Its peak theoretical speeds considerably outpace average UK fixed line broadband speeds (according to Ofcom’s data), and while real world download speeds won’t hit the Gbps mark, it’s still a significant leap forward.
The key components which deliver Gigabit LTE are:
- Carrier Aggregation – carrier aggregation combines licensed and unlicensed spectrum into a single, wider channel which speeds up how fast data can flow through it. Gigabit LTE can join up to 5 channels.
- 4×4 MiMo – Not quite hitting the massive MiMo that 5G will bring, Gigabit LTE still uses more antennas than earlier iterations (4x LTE) which improves its efficiency and signal optimisation by enabling more data to be transmitted and received simultaneously at one time.
- 256 QAM – Quadrature Amplitude Modulation is a signal processing technology that can improve throughput by enabling each signal to carry more data. Standard LTE (CAT 3) only allows 64 QAM, so the uptick to 256 QAM is significant. As spectrum is limited, the ability to process more through a single signal is crucial to network efficiency and speeds.
These abilities combined means a faster, more efficient cellular network that can enable a range of new applications, not previously possible.
What Applications Can Gigabit LTE Enable?
Other LTE standards are already enabling new and amazing applications, so what does this latest development really mean? The enhanced capabilities of Gigabit LTE over earlier options can enable:
- Improved Video Capabilities – Always welcomed by multiple industries, improved video means better HD visual recognition and monitoring for surveillance and emergency services, while more commercial requirements will enjoy a better visual experience for improved marketing and internal communications.
- Remote Robotics – Increasing in popularity, these systems effectively remove the need for the operator to be physically present, but reliable, superfast communications are essential to their success. Gigabit LTE can help to deliver these new approaches across multiple industries, such as remote medical diagnosis and industrial operations.
- Primary and Failover – Gigabit LTE can help organisations to go fully wireless as it matches and outpaces most broadband fixed line capabilities. In addition, it expands LTE’s failover capabilities as it can comfortably support all applications, not just critical ones, during periods of downtime.
Gigabit LTE can support more applications over cellular than ever before possible – and by enabling all of these things to work faster, utilising higher speeds and throughput, it also reduces network congestion.
Mobile Network Operator Investments in Gigabit LTE and 5G
Many operators worldwide are actively investing in Gigabit LTE, and according to GSA (as of February 2019) 53 operators have already deployed all three of the required technologies (Carrier Aggregation, 4×4 MiMo and 256 QAM). In addition, there are 101 operators across 60 countries/territories currently investing in all three of the core features, while a further 313 operators across 133 countries are investing in at least one.
5G investment is also increasing rapidly with GSA reporting 201 operators in 83 countries have tested, trialled or deployed 5G services (March 2019). Although the full benefits of 5G are still some years away, organisations want to ensure purchases made today will be the right choices for the future. The three key components which enable Gigabit LTE form the foundation for 5G networks, and Gigabit LTE will also provide a fallback for 5G, making it the ideal “stepping stone” as organisations prepare for their move to 5G.
Is Gigabit LTE the Same as LTE-Advanced Pro?
According to GSA, any network delivering download speeds of 1Gbps or greater in commercial services is considered Gigabit LTE, but Gigabit LTE is not necessarily LTE-Advanced Pro unless it also meets the wider requirements set out in 3GPP’s Releases 13 and 14.
Similarly, an LTE-Advanced Pro network could offer Gigabit speeds via CAT 16 and 18 LTE, but it isn’t a requirement as it also includes CAT 12 which delivers 600Mbps. So sometimes a network can be both, but they have different requirements for classification.
Gigabit LTE Solutions from Westbase.io and Cradlepoint
Announced a few weeks ago, with stock due to hit Westbase.io’s shelves mid-September, Cradlepoint’s Gigabit LTE series of NetCloud Solutions will be the first to deliver Gbps capabilities over cellular in our leading portfolio.
The Gigabit options will be available for the MC400 modular modem, plus the AER2200 Branch NetCloud Solution, ARC CBA850 Branch Failover NetCloud Solution and COR IBR1700 Mobility NetCloud Solution. We’ll keep our Cradlepoint channel customers posted with updates for these new additions as they become available to us.
Westbase.io is the leading Cradlepoint UK and European distributor. We work with our channel to deploy 4G LTE solutions across branch, mobile and IoT applications. For more information about our “What Is Gigabit LTE?” article, or to place your pre-order for the new Cradlepoint Gigabit LTE solutions today, contact us now on +44 (0) 1291 437 567 or firstname.lastname@example.org.