Sunday, 9 September 2018

Hong Kong gets LAA via SmarTone Small Cells

According to Mobile World Live:

SmarTone, the smallest mobile operator in Hong Kong, said it installed small cells using licensed assisted access (LAA) technology in a number of congested areas in the territory and plans to extend the rollout to additional locations.

The operator, with a 17 per cent market share by subscribers, said its LTE network now makes use of both licensed and unlicensed spectrum as well as five-carrier aggregation to reach theoretical peak download speeds of 1Gb/s.

The LAA small cells were deployed in Central, Causeway Bay, Tsim Sha Tsui, Mong Kok and Shatin districts. By installing LAA small cells in strategic locations, the operator said its network can absorb traffic surges during festive and special events.

In June Hong Kong’s regulator allocated additional spectrum for the provision of public mobile services, a move it said would put the market at the forefront of adoption of advanced technologies including LAA. The Communications Authority officially allocated 580MHz of spectrum in the 5GHz band.

I have written about LAA on the 3G4G blog here. I have also expressed doubts here with increasing densification where Wi-Fi and Mobile signals will have to compete to deliver best end-user experience.

Disruptive Asia mentions that Ericsson is the vendor. Ericsson conducted trials with SmarTone last year, more details available on Ericsson's website here. As per Disruptive Asia:

The Ericsson LAA technology deployed by SmarTone combines licensed and unlicensed LTE carriers with 5CC carrier aggregation, 4×4 MIMO and 256 QAM to enable gigabit level speeds (at least theoretically – real-world speeds are likely to be around half of that, although that’s still way faster than current LTE speeds).

One catch with LAA is that it requires customers to use an LAA-compatible smartphone to take advantage of the faster throughput speeds – and there aren’t very many of those at the moment. According to the latest report from the GSA (July 2018), commercially available handsets supporting LAA include the Samsung Galaxy S8, Note 8 and S9, Sony’s Xperia XZ Premium and Xperia XZ1, HTC’s U11, LG’s V30 and V30+, and ZTE’s Nubia Z17.

One reason there aren’t many handsets is that the LAA ecosystem is still in its infancy, and few operators have commercially launched LAA – in fact, SmarTone is only the fifth cellco in the world to do so. Meanwhile, the GSA counts just 22 LAA trials and deployments in progress.

Test report on Licensed Assisted Access (LAA) using the unlicensed 5 GHz band by SmarTone Mobile Communications Limited is available on Hong Kong's Office of the Communications Authority website. See September 2018 report here and January 2018 report here.

HTCL (Hutchison Telephone Company Limited) also known as Three Hong Kong is also looking at LAA and is doing its own testing. Test report from The Communications Authority website is available here.

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2 comments:

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  2. T-Mobile & AT&T in USA, MTS in Russia and AIS in Thailand.

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