Fibre connectivity may no longer be the only means of delivering high-speed downloads in Africa after network equipment company Ericsson, in partnership with mobile operator Unitel, demonstrated speeds of 450Mbit/s using a commercial LTE Advanced (LTE-A) network in Angola. The download speed was achieved by combining three 20MHz LTE carriers on Unitel’s commercial network in Angola.
This sort of LTE-A Carrier Aggregation (CA) allows operators to use spectrum more efficiently and push more data more rapidly over their networks. The demonstration, conducted at the end of last year, utilised 60MHz of spectrum – three 20 MHz allocations in band 3 (1800 MHz), band 7 (2600 MHz) and band 1 (2100 MHz) respectively.
Reaching these speeds using LTE-A CA isn’t only a first for Africa, it’s one of the first demonstrations of its kind in the world.
Amilcar Safeca, deputy CEO at Unitel says: “The 450Mbps demo in Unitel’s LTE commercial network ascertains our leading position in technological innovation not only in Angola, but globally. At the same time, aims at ensuring that our network has the capabilities to be among the most advanced mobile networks in Africa and in the world.”
Fredrik Jejdling, Head of Ericsson sub-Saharan Africa says: “Mobile broadband is opening up a world of opportunities by facilitating industry transformation and bringing inclusion and empowerment to communities. This is especially true in countries across Africa, where the technology enables access to tools, services, expertise, entertainment, and information that was previously out of reach to the majority.”
This isn’t the first time Ericsson and Unitel have shown off advances in LTE technology. In late 2013 the pair demonstrated LTE-Advanced with two carriers’ aggregation using Unitel’s live network and a commercial device for the first time in Africa.
LTE remains unaffordable for many Africans, but one of the advantages of its increased rollout is the fibre networks required to support it. Many operators, like MTN and Vodacom in South Africa, are using these fibre networks to offer fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) and fibre-to-the-business (FTTB) services in addition to their LTE offerings.