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The 5G transition has not been as clear cut as previous mobile networking transitions due to the immense architectural differences and capabilities of 5G compared to its predecessors.

5G also relies on millimeter waves, which require a vastly different infrastructure in order to be harnessed and used effectively by 5G’s full capabilities. The infrastructure alone takes both time and capitol to be built out correctly. This is why telecom carriers are still leaning on pre-5G technologies until the full 5G show is ready.

One pre-5G technology in particular that stands out is Long Term Evolution (LTE). The goal of LTE was to increase the capacity and speed of wireless data networks using new DSP (digital signal processing) techniques and modulations that were developed around the turn of the millennium. A further goal was the redesign and simplification of the network architecture to an IP-based system with significantly reduced transfer latency compared to the 3G architecture. The LTE wireless interface was incompatible with 2G and 3G networks, so it was operated on a separate radio spectrum.

Then LTE-A (advanced) came along, which improved on the architecture of LTE. The new functionalities introduced in LTE-Advanced were carrier aggregation (CA), better use of existing multi-antenna techniques (MIMO), and support for relay nodes. All of these were designed to increase the stability, bandwidth, and speed of LTE networks and connections – and, as it turned out, helped lay the foundation for 5G.

The relay nodes were an especially important piece of carrier hardware. While relay nodes aren’t an integral part of improving data speeds, they improved the availability of LTE connections, and offered more connections to choose from when sending a receiving data.

Simply put, a relay node is a low-powered base station used to boost network coverage at the ends of and beyond the connection radius of the main station. These relay nodes connect wirelessly to the main station, and help boost signals when wondering close to the edge of an LTE network.

More recently, LTE-A Pro has taken up the LTE evolution torch, and to some extent is acting as a placeholder for the 5G that carriers are now rolling out across the U.S. LTE Advanced Pro roughly doubles the network capacity without the need for any additional spectrum or base stations. The use of 4×4 MiMo antennas increases capacity by allowing multiple transmit and receive signals simultaneously, and a 256 QAM modulation scheme (an increase from 64) makes it possible to carry more bits of data per symbol, increasing throughput and making better use of the spectrum.

Other benefits delivered by LTE-Advanced Pro over earlier LTE technologies include longer battery life (up to 10x) and a closer alignment with 5G for improved network future-proofing.

It also enables private organizations to take advantage of spectrum sharing to establish private LTE networks, without having to buy a spectrum license.

Want to learn more? Tonex offers LTE, LTE-A, and LTE-A Pro Migration to 5G Training, a 3-day course that covers LTE, LTE-Advanced, LTE-Advanced Pro, features and enhancements and migration toward 5G.  Other topics include: 5G NR, Air Interface Architecture, 5G Core (5GC) Architecture, Nodes, Interfaces, and Operation.

Additionally, Tonex offers 20 more cutting edge 5G Wireless courses with titles like:

5G NR Training (2 days)

5G for Sales and Tech Sales/Support Training (2 days)

5G Cybersecurity Bootcamp (4 days)

5G Wi-Fi Offload Training (2 days)

5G and mmWave Antenna Engineering Training (3 days)

Mobile Broadband Transformation Training Bootcamp (4 days)

For more information, questions, comments, contact us.

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