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World-famous for 15 minutes with the help of carrier aggregation

by Francisco Martin, Head of Radio Product, Vodafone Group

In a world where millions of people are sharing videos and photos every day, it’s probably fair to say that Andy Warhol’s prediction that “everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes” was a touch conservative.  With ultra-fast networks and more and more people carrying smartphones, which also serve as very capable broadcast studios, it’s never been easier to vie for a minimum of 15 minutes of world fame.

From our perspective, this changes the way we manage our networks. For the majority of our customers, download speeds have traditionally been more important than upload speeds because they consumed more content than they created and shared. However, thanks to advances in networks and smartphone technology, more of our customers want to stream, publish and share their own content, which means that more of them are looking for fast upload speeds.

In order to meet the needs of uploaders, we have been working with our partners to enhance uplink capabilities on our networks using carrier aggregation. Carrier aggregation allows us to combine bandwidth from different component carriers in order to increase network speeds. While this technology is relatively new, it is expected to deliver significant benefits in local traffic hot-spot environments such as stadia, events, and other areas where people congregate in high numbers.

Recently, working with Ericsson, Vodafone Ireland achieved an uplink speed of 136Mbps using Uplink Carrier Aggregation (CA) and 64 QAM modulation with a Qualcomm handset based on the Snapdragon 820 processor. We believe this to be the fastest uplink speed achieved on a commercial network in Europe.

With more mobile devices which support the technology expected to launch later this year, we continue to test the technology and plan to roll it out across our networks soon. Carrier aggregation will help us give our customers the very best experience, whether they are uploading for pleasure, work or looking for their 15 minutes (or more) of fame.

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