Ever wanted to download an HD TV show to your tablet almost instantaneously over the mobile network? Turkcell is tinkering with a network in Istanbul that some day may allow you to do just that. It’s testing out LTE technologies supplied by Huawei that will support theoretical download speeds of 900 Mbps, fast enough to download a 2 GB video in 18 seconds.
I should make it very clear that while the feat is impressive, it’s still just a lab test, and it’s one of many various industry players have conducted over the last few years. We shouldn’t expect Turkcell or any other carrier to put out gigabit LTE network any time soon. The Turkish operator is accomplishing this using an LTE-Advanced technique called carrier aggregation, which can slap together up to 100 MHz of bandwidth into a single super-powered connection. The more spectrum you pile onto a connection, the faster speeds it will support.
To put that in perspective, the fattest LTE pipe in the U.S. today uses only 10 MHz of spectrum, while the newer super-charged LTE networks emerging in Japan, Korea and Europe top out at 20 MHz. The more frequencies you have to play with, the faster LTE can get. Using current LTE technologies, we’re basically squeezing 75 Mbps out of every 10 MHz used. Turkcell is using additional new LTE technologies to get some extra oomph out of this test network, though it didn’t give any specifics in its announcement.
There are still a lot of steps in the LTE-Advanced standard carriers have to get to through beyond carrier aggregation, but when they do, they will be able to field networks that deliver much more than just raw speeds. Those networks will ultimately deliver tremendous amounts of capacity in the places consumers need it most and provide much more consistent and resilient connections.
As the efficiency of the network increases, the cost of delivering a megabyte will fall, which hopefully will be reflected in cheaper mobile data pricing. After all, a 900 Mbps isn’t much use if you eat through your monthly data allotment in a mere 18 seconds.