Innovations around tri-band carrier aggregation, including its first commercial launch, were among the Christmas/ New Year news.
In the week before Christmas, EE held a successful trial of Category 9 LTE technology, working with Huawei and Qualcomm to deliver speeds of up to 410MBps.
The trial involved the UK operator using Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 processor with a modem provided by Huawei. EE aggregated 20MHz of 1800MHz spectrum with two chunks of 2.6GHz spectrum comprising 20MHz and 15MHz.
Tom Bennett, Director of Network Services and Devices at EE, said: “Working closely with the excellent teams at Qualcomm Technologies and Huawei on the next generation LTE Category 9 connectivity enables us to make full use of our spectrum holdings, and continue to offer world class network capabilities, innovating to stay one step ahead of operators in Europe.
“Use of our remaining 15MHz of 2.6GHz spectrum enables both our fastest speeds and an increase in capacity across our network and this successful testing phase is a big step forward. We look forward to demonstrating this at Wembley Stadium early next year.”
Meanwhile, SK Telecom became the world’s first operator to offer tri-band LTE-A commercially, with plans to build more than 26,000 2.1GHz base stations by the end of March this year.
The Korean operator already offers dual-carrier LTE-A by aggregating the 800MHz and 1800MHz bands across 84 cities throughout the country. By adding the 2.1GHz base stations, it will be able to offer peak speeds of up to 300MBps.
Samsung is the first smartphone maker to announce a tri-band device commercially, with a new model of the Galaxy Note 4 to go on sale later this year.
Turkcell also claimed a world’s first in tri-band carrier aggregation, albeit with HSDPA technology. It said 81 Turkish cities can access the technology, which delivered download speeds of up to 63.3MBps in tests.
Sureyya Ciliv, CEO of Turkcell, said: “Upgrading our network to 3-Carrier technology will enable us to serve our customers with the fastest mobile internet in a country where the demand for data is rising exponentially. We are also getting ready for 4G as Turkey prepares to introduce this technology in 2015.”
Russian operators MTS and VimpelCom have signed a deal to deploy and run LTE networks across 36 regions in the country. The seven year deal with involve both operators sharing base staions, sites, transport networks and other infrastructure. MTS will build the shared networks in 19 regions, with VimpelCom in charge of the remainder.
Both operators hailed the regulator’s help in allowing them to share infrastructure, with VimpelCom CEO Mikhail Slobodin predicting more than half of data users will be on an LTE network by 2019.
In security, Deutsche Telekom called for a cross-industry alliance to tackle threats to the SS7 protocol, following reports on its vulnerability. The operator said attacks on the protocol allow hackers to “essentially access the network of the person being spied on by pretending to be a foreign mobile network operator”.
Deutsche Telekom said it has taken measures, such as SMS home routing, to protect against the threats but warned: “All the measures by individual network operators are nothing more than a bandage. A permanent solution can only be developed by the entire industry. This includes network operators, manufacturers of network infrastructure equipment and of terminals, industry associations and standardization committees like ETSI and the GSMA.”
Meanwhile, Thread, the smart home industry alliance boasting Google, Samsung and ARM among its members, said that more than 50 companies are now working on developing an IP-based wireless networking protocol.
Science company UL will work with Thread members to provide testing and certification of the standard and will also ensure interoperability and security across a range of compatible devices.
Chris Boross, President of the Thread Group and Technical Product Marketing Manager at Nest, said: “In a matter of months, we launched the Thread Group, selected UL to run our product certification lab and on-boarded more than 50 new member companies.
“This momentum paves the way for the first Thread-enabled products in 2015. Additionally, the strong interest in Thread underscores the industry’s excitement for Thread’s benefits and the future of the connected home.”
Staying with the Internet of Things sector, Sierra Wireless expanded its presence by buying Swedish M2M provider Maingate for $90 million (€75.5 million).
Sierra said Maingate’s client base and M2M customers would help it expand and launch new services quicker. Maingate connects more than 500,000 devices over more than 500 customers.
Ahead of a full report on 5G being released at March’s Mobile World Congress, the Next Generation Mobile Networks Alliance, which comprises the CTOs of more than 20 operators, issued an executive version of the paper.
It said future 5G networks need to “push the envelope” and provide “much greater throughput, much lower latency, ultra-high reliability, much higher connectivity density, and higher mobility range”.
Singaporean operator Singtel revealed it was trialling Ericsson’s Radio Dot System to increase in-building coverage at the Changi Business Park. The operator said it was planning to extend the technology to cover business buildings and public venues.
Samsung announced all of its smart televisions that will be produced this year will run its Tizen operating system, following suggestions it had axed plans to bring it to its smartphones.
The manufacturer, which had a difficult 2014 compared to its recent financial performance, said televisions will be able to stream content from mobile devices through Wi-Fi Direct and can also connect via Bluetooth Low Energy.
Finally, a report from Infonetics revealed that mobile broadband revenues overtook SMS as the biggest revenue generator of mobile data.