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Vodacom Group is a leading African mobile communications company that operates in over 30 countries

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Vodacom Group

Vodacom breaks 500 Mbps barrier on live 4G+ network

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Vodacom has chalked up another major milestone by becoming the first operator in South Africa to have broken the 500 Mbps barrier on its live LTE-Advanced (4G+) network.

The test was successfully completed on a commercial, LTE-Advanced (4G+) base station at the Vodacom regional office in Nelspruit (Mpumalanga) on the 6th of June 2017 using all three of Vodacom’s frequency bands. A total bandwidth of 35 MHz was used, by ‘carrier aggregating’ three different spectrum bands of 10 MHz of 900 MHz, 10 MHz of 1800 MHz and 15 MHz of 2100 MHz Vodacom spectrum.

In addition, 4x4 Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) and 256 Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (256 QAM) technology features were also activated on the site. The 4×4 MIMO feature uses four antenna ports to transmit and receive data, which in turn requires specialised antennas on base stations as well as accompanying smartphone antennas. The internal smartphone modem has to be capable of supporting four different data streams.

The 4×4 MIMO feature also means that the data connection between the base station and the mobile device consists of up to four separate data streams. Since each data stream can contain independent data there is the possibility for a quadrupling in the data rate over a single data stream. 256 QAM is a higher order modulation scheme, which also increases the amount of data carried in an LTE signal.

The test was carried out using the latest commercial Samsung Galaxy S8+* device which supports triple band carrier aggregation, 4x4 MIMO and 256 QAM - all at the same time. The actual speed achieved, using an OOKLA speed test, was 549.99 Mbps on the Samsung Galaxy S8+* on the Vodacom base station is shown below.

Andries Delport, Vodacom’s Chief Technology Officer commented:

“The speed test is a great example of the LTE-Advanced speeds which are possible if more spectrum is made available to mobile operators in South Africa. In this instance, it was possible to use the base station at the Nelspruit office for the test, as it presented an opportunity to re-farm spectrum for LTE without needing to do the same over extensive neighbouring areas. It is difficult to replicate the same results over other wider part of the network, as spectrum re-farming is not possible without affecting service quality to existing users, particularly the large number of 2G and 3G customers who are all competing for the same limited spectrum resources. The latest speeds on LTE-Advanced (4G+) network demonstrate that Vodacom continues to lead in technology innovation and enables new possibilities for our customers.

*Test was done using Samsung Galaxy S8+ 4x4 MIMO 256 QAM Test Software. Commercial availability to be released in Q3.

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