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MTN, Qualcomm and Huawei Jointly Launch First LAA Commercial Network in Africa

2017-05-17

[Pretoria, South Africa, May 17, 2017] MTN SA successfully completed Africa's first commercial LAA deployment working with Huawei and Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. LAA, or Licensed-Assisted Access, is a very promising unlicensed spectrum technology that can help global operators address the challenges of spectrum shortage.

The commercial deployment was implemented in Pretoria, the political center and administrative capital of South Africa. Tests were conducted by aggregating three component carriers (3CC), which involve 15 MHz licensed spectrum on the 2100 MHz frequency band and 40 MHz unlicensed spectrum on the 5 GHz frequency band. Based on Huawei's innovative LampSite solution and terminals that use the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 835 Mobile Platform with X16 LTE, the tests demonstrated an downlink peak throughput of 400 Mbit/s.

Giovanni Chiarelli, Chief Technology and Information Officer of MTN Group, said: "LAA is an evolution of the LTE in unlicensed (LTE-U) mobile network technology. It enables LTE networks to utilize unlicensed spectrum to substantially enhance network capacity. By introducing unlicensed spectrum to LTE systems, LAA significantly alleviates the shortage of spectral resources and improves user experience. Using the Listen-Before-Talk (LBT) functionality, LAA coexists with existing Wi-Fi networks in the same area with the same or less impact, compared to if Wi-Fi was used instead of LAA. The LBT functionality also enables LAA to be deployed in any region globally, such as South Africa, which is a key difference to previous LTE-unlicensed mobile technology."

“We are very pleased to have been involved in delivering Africa’s first commercial LAA deployment using a Snapdragon 835 Mobile Platform with X16 LTE. Use of unlicensed spectrum is an important contribution to LTE-A technology deployment as the mobile industry moves towards 5G and we are pleased to work with MTN and Huawei on this significant project. Commercial LAA devices based on the Snapdragon 835 Mobile Platform with X16 LTE are anticipated to be available before the end of the calendar year” said Jay Srage, senior vice president and president, Qualcomm MEA.

LAA is now fully supported on Huawei Small Cell series products. Beginning in May of this year, MTN SA will start deploying LAA-compliant LampSite modules in South Africa. The commercial deployment will be a part of the operator's efforts to build the most extensive LAA network in South Africa.

Ritchie Peng, President of Small Cell Product Line of Huawei, said: "Mobile network innovations will help operators pursue continued service growth. Huawei Small Cell enabling the indoor digital economy development with LAA innovative technology. The core value of LAA lies in allowing operators to make full use of unlicensed spectrum to deliver LTE-comparable performance and service experience to mobile users. LAA enables a friendly coexistence with existing unlicensed technology, such as Wi-Fi, through the standardized LBT functionality. It also allows operators to fully reuse existing core networks and accounting and business operation support systems, helping improve return on investment (ROI) for mobile operators. Huawei Small Cell products are now fully prepared for scaled LAA commercial application. We are confident that operators will soon see a significant improvement of unlicensed spectral efficiency."