On the Inside, Looking Out
On the Inside, Looking Out
Evaluating the in-building performance capabilities of commercial LTE networks (Band 4, Band 7, Band 13, Band 17)
01/22/2013 | 75 pages
In-building performance study of LTE networks in four frequency bands
As we enter the fourth year of commercial LTE networks, operators who have been at it for a while are starting to transition from providing basic macro network coverage across a large swath of territory to improving and enhancing the performance of their networks. As revealed in this report, one critical area that requires a lot of [immediate] attention is in-building coverage along with the requisite capacity to satisfy the needs of the in- building mobile data subscriber.
With the continued support of Accuver, we leveraged its XCAL-M drive test solution and its enhanced support for in-building testing to evaluate the performance of four LTE networks at Band 4, Band 7, Band 13 and Band 17. SRG takes full responsibility for the analysis and conclusions that we provide in this report.
KEY OBSERVATIONS, which we quantify and analyze in great detail in the report, INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING:
- Outdoor macro LTE networks remain lightly-loaded in aggregate although hot spot areas inevitably exist in many of the networks that we tested. The scenario is much different inside of buildings where a large number of people congregate and use their mobile devices. We quantify the differences between in-building and outdoor network loading.
- 700 MHz isn’t a panacea for coverage. In some cases our mobile device reverted to legacy 3G networks while in almost all scenarios involving the in-building coverage coming from the outdoor macro networks, there was strong evidence that the networks were coverage constrained. AWS spectrum may not provide an adequate capacity layer if it isn’t available where it is most needed. Using the AWS spectrum in a dedicated in-building solution is the only viable solution.
- Many of the coverage-related problems that exist are masked by the effects of a lightly-loaded network. Once network resources become limited, the poor coverage areas will quickly become apparent.
- Many, but not all, of the in-building networks that we tested do not scale in their present configuration to support the projected growth of mobile data. For a very modest increase in network traffic, the quality of the signal (SINR) dropped appreciably and downlink / uplink throughput suffered. Although a natural phenomenon, the same scenario was not nearly as evident in the outdoor macro network.
- The uplink remains the most challenging. In many cases the poor uplink was also reducing the potential downlink throughput.
- There remain material differences in the performance characteristics of the Verizon Wireless and AT&T LTE networks that cannot be explained by the differences in the network loading that we observed