South Africa: Vodacom announces commercial LAA speed test on LTE network
15 September 2017
Vodacom South Africa has successfully launched a Licensed Assisted Access (LAA) site on its live network at its Midrand campus and demonstrated speeds of 650 Mbps using a commercial handset. This is the first speed test on both a commercial LAA site and device in Africa and is also the fastest speed test ever achieved on a commercial LTE network and device in South Africa.
Vodacom’s LAA site is also believed to be the first time in South Africa where 4 component carrier (4CC) aggregation have been deployed on a live LTE network. The LAA site on Vodacom’s campus is configured to use a single 10 MHz carrier of Vodacom’s licensed 1800 MHz spectrum and 3 additional carriers each of 20 MHz unlicensed 5GHz spectrum.
In addition to 4CC carrier aggregation, 4x4 MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) technology was used for 1800 MHz carrier and 256 QAM (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation) was activated on all carriers. Using this configuration, it was possible to achieve a peak download speed of up to 653Mbps on OOKLA using a commercial Motorola Z2 Force handset, which is also considered to be the first commercial LAA device tested in South Africa.
LAA enables operators such as Vodacom to use unlicensed spectrum while co-existing with Wi-Fi by fair sharing the unlicensed spectrum using Listen Before Talk (LBT) Technology. Innovative technologies such as LAA enable Vodacom to improve the network capacity and speeds in important indoor hotspot areas, n the absence of much needed additional licensed spectrum. It is less suited to widescale coverage on outdoor macro sites due to the poorer propagation characteristics of the unlicensed 5GHz band.
Vodacom will soon begin rolling out LAA to other sites on its live network, starting with important indoor hotspots such as airports, malls and office buildings. The availability and pricing for LAA capable handsets will be communicated as rollout progresses