What Is LTE

LTE is the abbreviation for Long Term Evolution, and is a technology protocol for mobile wireless high speed data communications. LTE is specified, designed, developed and standardized by the Third Generation Partnership Project, or 3GPP for short.

LTE was first officially launched in in late 2009 and the first live networks were launched in Norway and Sweden. In other parts of the world by Dec 2014, South Korea had the most advanced LTE network in the world.

LTE Advanced (or LTE A) is the next major step in the evolution of LTE networks. It's a enhanced version of the LTE network technology that's expected to both help the massive increases in mobile data demand, and deliver much higher data speeds for all. That means better coverage, greater stability, and faster performance.

 LTE is sometimes known as “4G LTE” or “4G” depending on the country and the mobile network provders marketing. The “4G LTE” term has been used because a number of mobile network carriers used “4G” to name wireless protocols that were really 3.5G (HSPA+ or WiMax) for marketing reasons. This is mainly a marketing tactic that started in America, but you may find the same terminology used elsewhere.


LTE Categories

In order to differentiate between several LTE evolutions, the industry is using different LTE Categories to describe the LTE network capabilities of both the networks themselves and the hardware (mobile phones, modems etc) that can connect. There are 11 different categories that are defined, and from a external perspective, they mainly differ in terms of theoretical speed.

 

User
equipment
category
Max Download
datarate
Max. number
of MIMO connections
Max Upload
datarate
3GPP release
Category 0 1.0 Mbit/s 1 1.0 Mbit/s Release 12
Category 1 10.3 Mbit/s 1 5.2 Mbit/s Release 8
Category 2 51.0 Mbit/s 2 25.5 Mbit/s Release 8
Category 3 102.0 Mbit/s 2 51.0 Mbit/s Release 8
Category 4 150.8 Mbit/s 2 51.0 Mbit/s Release 8
Category 5 299.6 Mbit/s 4 75.4 Mbit/s Release 8
Category 6 301.5 Mbit/s 2 or 4 51.0 Mbit/s Release 10
Category 7 301.5 Mbit/s 2 or 4 102.0 Mbit/s Release 10
Category 8 2,998.6 Mbit/s 8 1,497.8 Mbit/s Release 10
Category 9 452.2 Mbit/s 2 or 4 51.0 Mbit/s Release 11
Category 10 452.2 Mbit/s 2 or 4 102.0 Mbit/s Release 11
Category 11 603.0 Mbit/s 2 or 4 51.0 Mbit/s Release 12
Category 12 603.0 Mbit/s 2 or 4 102.0 Mbit/s Release 12
Category 13 391.6 Mbit/s 2 or 4 153.0 Mbit/s Release 12
Category 14 391.6 Mbit/s 2 or 4 102.0 Mbit/s Release 12
Category 15 3,916.6 Mbit/s 8 1,497.8 Mbit/s Release 12


Note that these speeds are maximum theoretical numbers, which are used to compare the maximum potential of the technology under ideal conditions

The modems Icomera uses in it's products are normally Category 3 at this time - (Models include the MC7304/7354 for example).


LTE Bands and compatibility

Although the core LTE technology is very similar worldwide, each country has allocated different bands (frequencies) for wireless carriers to carry LTE data. Unfortunately this is very messy for mobile devices like phones and modems, and very much unlike WiFi, which uses the same radio frequency worldwide. 3G was also much less fragmented from that point of view.

The proliferation of LTE bands is mostly due to governments worldwide rushing to auction radio frequencies, without a global perspective. In the rush, there are now 44 LTE Bands to be concerned about. On top of that, LTE has split into two families, FDD (frequency division duplex) and TDD (time division duplex), which are not compatible.

Each device will have a specification as to which bands it can work with which is why Icomera needs to understand where in the world your vehicles will operate so that we can ensure they have the correct modems on board to handle the relevevant countries bands in and around your area.

A list of country and bands by mobile network provider is maintained on Wikipedia and can be found here.

Icomera products normally include Sierra Wireless modems that support your band/region.

For exmaple the two common modems in our products are the 7304 and the 7354.

The MC7304 supports the following "LTE Bands":
    B1 (2100)
    B3 (1800)
    B7 (2600)
    B8 (900)
    B20 (800DD)

The MC7354 supports the following "LTE Bands":
    B2 (1900)
    B4 (1700/AWS)
    B13 (700c)
    B17 (700bc)
    B5 (850)
    B25 (1900)

 

Also see : What is LTE-A