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Gbps upload speeds through carrier aggregation now a reality

New technology allows radio frequency spectrum aggregation to create unbelievable upload speeds, making wireless connectivity solutions even better for business than before.

Johannesburg, 20 May 2022
Read time 3min 40sec
Mauritz Lewies, Chief Technical Officer, Comsol Networks.
Mauritz Lewies, Chief Technical Officer, Comsol Networks.

For the everyday person, the asymmetry of upload and download speeds in wireless connectivity has never really been a problem. In the consumer sense, people download far more data than they upload. However, for businesses, especially those with large data volumes transferring to the cloud and back, symmetrical speeds have become essential.

International R&D by vendors have now unlocked the potential for upload speeds to match download speeds using the combination of distinct spectrum bands, more commonly known as carrier aggregation.

“Testing is now under way internationally to unlock the value of combining two distinct 5G frequency bands (frequency 1 and frequency 2), making this innovation an imminent reality, says Mauritz Lewies, Chief Technical Officer at Comsol Networks.

This off the back of a demonstration with a gigabit uplink test at the recent Mobile World Congress. “This showed what is possible with the right technology and spectrum and demonstrated the benefits that licence holders can gain by combining different spectrum pieces they already have,” he says.

Lewies suggests that the true benefit of 5G carrier aggregation is the increased upload speeds for the user.

“What this means from an enterprise perspective is that a business with multiple small branches can not only provide redundancy to a small office using 5G – but, by leveraging 5G carrier aggregation, can also offer close to a 1Gbps capacity uplink for connecting back to the head office for the purposes of sharing data.”

Lewies also points to live sports broadcasting, which has traditionally been saddled with long set-up times that include hundreds of kilometres of fibre cable roll-out. With Gbps upload on wireless connectivity, the streaming of a live sports match could simply be a matter of delivering a mobile base station. “This could be a game-changer for this industry, making it quicker, more efficient and ultimately cheaper to deploy for broadcasters,” says Lewies.

Another potential use case is the autonomous vehicle sector. “Autonomous vehicles will soon be abundant, and when one considers that each one is fitted with between four and eight high-definition cameras, streaming data back to the operator requires a huge amount of bandwidth. Without 5G carrier aggregation, this will simply not be possible.

“Moreover, the ability to comprehensively deliver such high capacity will change the way things have traditionally been done. Think about the manner in which modern security cameras now operate. Due to the limited capacity available for these cameras to connect to the control room, most cameras have to be fairly complex, as they need to be able to undertake image optimisation and analysis by themselves. This makes the equipment very costly. However, by using 5G carrier aggregation, it becomes possible to use standard (and thus less costly) cameras, as they can feed the images directly to the control room, where such analysis and optimisation can be undertaken,” he notes. He adds that it will also open up a host of new use cases and likely lead to the development of new technologies, solutions and applications that will be able to properly leverage this high capacity.

“There is a caveat to the technology, however,” says Lewies. “To make 5G carrier aggregation produce the Gbps speeds needed to enable these use cases, operators will need to have contiguous spectrum in the two frequency ranges they would use and will need to dedicate a large portion of the spectrum to the service. We are fortunate at Comsol to hold the largest contiguous allocation of 3.7GHz and our allocation of 28GHz, offering us the opportunity to aggregate across these bands.”

From a business mobility point of view, if you have high speed uplinks, it can change how and where your business operates. More to the point, it will play a critical role in the use of any cloud-related applications and is ideal for using collaboration tools, sending large e-mail attachments, and performing critical data backups.

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