a) What is LTE-A and how is it different from just LTE?

LTE-A is the natural progression of LTE technology that enhances the customer experience. The basic idea is to maximize the use of all resources and share them across base stations, frequency bands and diverse radio paths so that the customer gets more in less. This is done with the help of “advanced” features like carrier aggregation, multi-antenna evolution and some exceedingly complex algorithms to minimize interference and co-ordinate across neighboring base stations.

b) Has Airtel launched LTE-A in any of its circles in India?

With our state of the art technology footprint, we are launching the LTE- Advanced features as and when they become available. One of the most important capabilities that LTE-A offers is called carrier aggregation. As of now, this is live in three circles of Mumbai, Karnataka and Kerala where we have demonstrated peak downlink speeds up to 135 Mbps on our live networks.

c) What is carrier aggregation?

Carrier aggregation is the capability to combine signals across different 4G bands into a single, aggregated signal that can be used by one device.
For example, if two LTE base stations on different frequency bands are providing downlink speeds of 100 Mbps and 35 Mbps respectively – it is now possible to serve 135 Mbps to a device by “aggregating” these two. This means that the customer can enjoy the “added” downlink speeds on his or her mobile device in a single session.

d) Any guidance to customers on the device ecosystem?

Today, almost all smartphones being shipped have 4G capabilities. Among these devices, the most popular device ecosystem is in 1800 MHz band for 4G as this is the most prevalent band across the globe. Also, because of China, and now India, adapting well to 2300 MHz, where the adoption is very high – more than 80% of 4G devices support this. Next come bands 2100 MHz and 900 MHz which have 60%+ devices support. There are 2500 MHz and new 700 MHz band which have about 20% device support.
Airtel is at the forefront of these exciting technological advancements through our proactive network readiness!

-Shyam Mardikar is our Chief of Network Strategy, Architecture & Planning. He has more than 20 years of experience in telecom. He has worked with Bharti Airtel for 13 years and also with India’s telecom research organization CDOT, Department of Telecommunications, Lebara Mobile across India and Europe.