Independent testing of Ericsson Lean Carrier LTE software has verified that it improves both the user experience and the spectrum efficiency of mobile networks. Ericsson Lean Carrier applies 5G ultra-lean design concepts to today's LTE networks.
Both Telstra and SK Telecom have confirmed support for Ericsson Lean Carrier software in their commercial LTE networks. In February 2016, Signals Research Group (SRG) conducted independent testing on the Telstra 4G LTE service, verifying the increased utilisation of both 256 QAM and 64 QAM when Ericsson Lean Carrier software was enabled.
Michael Thelander, president and founder, Signals Research Group, said: "Our testing reflects that, with Ericsson Lean Carrier, the user experience and network efficiency benefits of higher order modulation techniques, both 256 QAM and 64 QAM, in fixed and mobile applications, can be delivered more often and over a broader coverage area.
“It is evident in our geo plots that the 256 QAM modulation scheme was used far more frequently when Ericsson Lean Carrier was enabled - this was a very pleasant surprise since 256 QAM was solely targeted for use in small cells when first introduced. We foresee tremendous advantages associated with deploying 256 QAM throughout an operator's macro network."
Telstra configured the network so that SRG could conduct testing with Ericsson Lean Carrier enabled and disabled, ensuring a valid basis for comparison. Ericsson was not aware of the test campaign until just prior to SRG releasing the study in its subscription-based Signals Ahead publication.
The user device for the testing was the NETGEARTM 810S mobile hotspot (Category 11 device) with the Qualcomm SnapdragonTM X12 LTE modem. The device supports 256 QAM and three 20 MHz FDD carriers.
Mike Wright, Telstra group managing director, Networks, said: "The Telstra mobile network already supports devices capable of download speeds of up to 600 Mbps enabled with 256 QAM and Ericsson Lean Carrier, and we were pleased that Signals Research Group noted, 'There are very few LTE networks anywhere in the world where this level of performance can be observed'."
For all of the tests, SRG had multiple FTP downloads occurring simultaneously in order to maximize the amount of data being sent through the network. In the mobility testing, it was found that there were numerous regions along the drive route where 256 QAM availability was higher with Ericsson Lean Carrier enabled.
In stationary testing, the incidence of 64 and 256 QAM utilisation increased by 67%. In addition to improved efficiency, greater utilisation of 256 QAM will also increase the data rates users experience enabling peak LTE data rates of 1 Gbps for gigabit LTE equipped networks.
From a network efficiency perspective, SRG highlighted a rising tide effect with Ericsson Lean Carrier, noting: "Using 256 QAM, if the network can more efficiently schedule a few users then it has more network resources available to schedule all of the other users, which cannot take advantage of the higher modulation."
Comprehensive results are included in the research consultancy's Signals Ahead report "How Fast is that Kangaroo in the Window? The one with the 256 QAM" published in May 2016. This study was independently conducted by and entirely self-funded by SRG. Access to the findings is available in SRG's "Signals Ahead" subscription-based publication.
Per Narvinger, Head of 4G and 5G Access, Business Unit Radio, Ericsson, said: "With Lean Carrier, Ericsson is the first to address inter-cell signalling interference by introducing 5G ultra-lean design concepts to LTE, so we are pleased to see that the results of Signals Research independent testing have validated our own findings, in terms of improved app coverage and network efficiency.
“With increasing mobile network demand from consumers, industry and the IoT, Ericsson innovation focuses on enhancing the performance and efficiency of today's LTE networks while supporting our customers' evolution to 5G."
Ericsson Lean Carrier has also been validated in the SK Telecom 4G LTE network where the software is running live in thousands of cells. Joint testing conducted with Ericsson in Q3 and Q4, 2015 confirmed that that the reduction of reference signals and related interference enabled 256 QAM to be more broadly applied throughout the outdoor macro environment.
See also: Ericsson addresses 4G and 5G inter-cell signalling interference