Summarising Sierra Wireless’ whitepaper, “The Last 4G Technology Jump Before 5G”, we take a look at what is LTE-Advanced Pro, and what it will mean for cellular networking.
What is LTE-Advanced Pro?
LTE-Advanced Pro (LTE-A Pro) is a version of the LTE standard, and is also known as “4.5G”. Delivering significant data speed increases, plus improved network efficiency and capacity, it is a step-up again from LTE-Advanced. Sierra Wireless describes LTE-A Pro as a “data superhighway”, achieving speeds of up to 1.2 Gbps by combining carrier aggregation, use of unlicensed bands, a 4×4 MiMo antenna scheme, and an increased 256 QAM modulation scheme.
The below diagram from the Sierra whitepaper shows this:
The Difference Between LTE-A and LTE-A Pro
LTE-Advanced (CAT 6) arrived first, with Sierra Wireless products available from 2016. It delivers 300Mbps and offers a significant step up in LTE performance compared to standard LTE.
LTE-Advanced Pro products have started to arrive since 2018 and are dramatically increasing download speed possibilities again, with CAT 12 offering up to 600Mbps and CAT 18 up to 1.2Gbps. Sierra Wireless LTE-A Pro products available now are CAT 12 and represent a major performance update compared to LTE-Advanced, offering enhanced capacity and efficiency as well as speed:
As outlined above, the main technologies underpinning this advancement are:
Carrier Aggregation: Available for up to 5 carriers with 20MHz bandwidth with LTE-Advanced, carrier aggregation enables combined frequencies to be transmitted in parallel – delivering higher throughput. LTE-Advanced Pro however increases this to 32 carriers, each with a bandwidth of 100MHz – delivering a maximum aggregated bandwidth of 640 MHz.
Increased Network Capacity and Efficiency: LTE-Advanced Pro roughly doubles the network capacity without the need for any additional spectrum or base stations. The use of 4×4 MiMo antennas increases capacity by allowing multiple transmit and receive signals simultaneously, and a 256 QAM modulation scheme (an increase from 64) makes it possible to carry more bits of data per symbol, increasing throughput and making better use of the spectrum.
Other benefits delivered by LTE-Advanced Pro over earlier LTE technologies include longer battery life (up to 10x) and a closer alignment with 5G for improved network future-proofing. It also enables private organisations to take advantage of spectrum sharing to establish private LTE networks, without having to buy a spectrum license.
What is LTE-Advanced Pro Suited For?
Offering faster data speeds and greatly improved network efficiency and capacity, LTE-Advanced Pro is ideal for data-intensive and critical applications such as in-vehicle, primary and rapid site/pop-up networking.
Follow the link provided to download the full Sierra Wireless whitepaper, “The Last 4G Technology Jump Before 5G: What LTE-Advanced Pro Means for the IoT”, to learn even more about LTE-A Pro and its expected impact.