Ericsson and Qualcomm Technologies demo faster LTE speeds in Africa

Ericsson and Qualcomm Technologies, a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, have become the first to announce a successful demonstration of over-the-air Gigabit Class LTE in Africa with the use of licensed spectrum.

Peak data speeds over 900Mbps were recorded using Ericsson Radio Access Network equipment and a Qualcomm Snapdragon X16 LTE modem mobile test device.

To put that speed in perspective, Gigabit Class LTE means up to one billion bits of information delivered to a mobile device in a mere second. In technical terms, that’s LTE Category 16.

The demonstration continues the long-term cooperation between Ericsson and Qualcomm Technologies to support African operators in bringing advanced communication technologies and enhanced user experience to their subscribers.

James Munn, VP, Business Development, Qualcomm International, Inc., South African Branch Office, says: “This achievement of Gigabit Class LTE download speeds with Qualcomm Technologies and Ericsson is an important milestone on the road to Africa’s first 5G networks.

“This continent’s first announced demonstration of this technology using licensed spectrum makes use of the Snapdragon X16 LTE modem, which is expected in multiple devices during the course of next year, and underlines Qualcomm Technologies commitment to African ICT development.”

While smartphone ownership continues to increase exponentially with consumers still restricted by a lack of fixed broadband availability, mobile broadband is the most common way to connect to the internet in Africa.

For example, 83 percent of Nigerian mobile phone subscribers rely solely on this channel. Research indicates that LTE networks will serve 50 percent of the population in 2021 (source: Ericsson Mobility Report Sub-Saharan Africa Nov. 2015).

Ericsson Radio System’s multi-standard platform enables African operators to cost-effectively leverage the reach, maturity and increasing affordability of today’s 4G technology, while laying the foundation for their LTE Advanced and 5G evolution.

The Snapdragon X16 LTE modem is the first processor from Qualcomm Technologies to support LTE Advanced Pro, the next generation of LTE. It supports 4x carrier aggregation, 4×4 MIMO, 256 QAM, and Licensed Assisted Access (LAA) technologies and has the potential to expand the number of operators that can offer Gigabit Class LTE service to their customers.

Jean-Claude Geha, Head of Region sub-Saharan Africa, Ericsson, says: “We strongly believe that we can contribute and support African operators to develop a sustainable African telecommunications industry where mobile communication dominates. We are proud to continue with our longstanding relationship with, Qualcomm Technologies, to demonstrate the Ericsson platform leading to future 5G deployments in Africa.”


Gigabit Class LTE supports data throughput of over 900Mbps by utilizing three-carrier aggregation with 256 quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM), and by applying 4×4 multiple-input and multiple-output (MIMO) across 40MHz of spectrum.

In late 2014, Qualcomm introduced the Snapdragon X10 LTE modem, which was capable of peak download speeds of 450 Mbps. It achieved these speeds by aggregating three LTE carriers, each 20 MHz wide, for a total of 60 MHz of spectrum.

The X16 LTE modem achieves up to 1 Gbps – more than 100 percent faster throughput than the X10 – on that same amount of spectrum. How does it achieve this? By using more antennas and more sophisticated digital signal processing. The Snapdragon™ X16 LTE modem can receive 10 streams of LTE data simultaneously using four antennas, and uses better signal processing to extract more bits out of every LTE transmission, boosting the throughput of each of the 10 streams to around 100 Mbps.

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