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This blog post is part of a series called “CommScope Definitions” in which we will explain common terms in communications network infrastructure.
Carrier aggregation is a powerful feature of LTE Advanced as well as 5G technology. Carrier aggregation significantly increases the performance of the wireless network and is being adopted globally at a quick pace. For wireless operators, the advantages of using carrier aggregation are greater flexibility in increasing overall cell capacity, more efficient use of spectrum and better peak user throughput. For consumers, the benefit is more consistent and higher speed data connections leading to overall improved quality of experience.
Carrier aggregation enables network operators to create larger channels out of non-adjacent spectrum blocks. For example, an operator could take five MHz from the 700 MHz band and combine it with 10 MHz from the 2100 MHz band to create a single 15 MHz LTE channel. In addition, a carrier aggregation channel is not limited to a 20 MHz maximum but can be aggregated all the way up to a single 100 MHz LTE channel.
Carrier aggregation began with LTE Release 10 as defined by the industry group 3GPP. Each new release of LTE specifies more band combinations for operators in various regions of the globe. We can expect that carrier aggregation technology will continue to improve in future LTE releases. New technologies like carrier aggregation that enable the efficient use of spectrum are a major part of 5G. You can learn more about carrier aggregation directly from 3GPP.
Key Takeaway: Carrier aggregation is a powerful feature of LTE Advanced as well as 5G. It enables network operators to create larger channels, producing more capacity, more efficient use of spectrum and better throughput speeds for users.