Cobham Wireless has announced that its TM500 network test family can now validate all the main features of LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) up to and including Release 12 of the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) specification. The system has also added support for carrier aggregation with unlicensed frequency bands as used for LTE Licence Assisted Access (LAA), a major feature of 3GPP Release 13.
The Release 12 feature line-up includes LTE TDD-FDD carrier aggregation and 256 QAM, which were both announced last year. The TM500 also now supports carrier aggregation with unlicensed spectrum in the 5 GHz WLAN band, as used by LTE Unlicensed (LTE-U) and LTE-LAA. This increases the available bandwidth and gives the user the benefit of higher 4G LTE data rates.
“The TM500 network test family maintains its leading position in LTE-A network validation by continuing to add new features ahead of market need,” said Nicola Logli, senior product manager at Cobham Wireless. “Network operators are keen for their subscribers to experience the better 4G service promised by features such as LAA as soon as possible, and we are providing the validation tools that will accelerate that process.”
LTE-LAA is a technology for carrier aggregation of LTE with a secondary cell in the unlicensed band, normally the 5 GHz band that is already used by WLAN. In order to be able to coexist with WLAN devices in the same band without causing contention issues, LTE-LAA uses a protocol known as listen-before-talk (LBT), which is mandatory in Europe. LTE-U is a similar technology that is already being used in SE Asia, without the use of LBT.