Signals Ahead: Uplink Carrier Aggregation and Uplink 64-QAM Benchmark Study

  • ID: 3891596
  • Report
  • Region: Global
  • 60 Pages
  • Signals Research Group, LLC
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The Hunt for Uplink 64-QAM
Quantifying the Benefits of Uplink Carrier Aggregation and Uplink 64-QAM in a Commercial LTE Network In this Signals Ahead report we provide the results from the industry's first and only independent performance analysis of two critical LTE features which can meaningfully impact the uplink performance of an LTE network. For this study we used SK Telecom's commercial LTE network in Seoul, South Korea where Samsung Networks is the infrastructure supplier.

Highlights of the Report include the following:

Our Thanks

This study could not have been done without the support of Accuver, who provided us with its XCAL-Solo and Harmony drive test tools as well as its XCAP post-processing solution to analyze the data that we collected.

Our Approach

We transferred more than 136 GB during our upload tests which involved a mix of full buffer FTP transfers and more typical user applications, such as web browsing, video telephony (IR.94), and uploading a large video file to Google Drive. We analyzed the incremental impact of the two features on end user data rates and overall network efficiency, not to mention the potential impact on current consumption/battery life.

Lofty Expectations Exceeded

We had high expectations for how frequently we would observe uplink 64-QAM. Needless to say, those expectations were greatly exceeded. Combined with uplink CA, the uplink performance of SKT's network exceeded the downlink performance of most LTE networks. We note that the downlink to uplink performance ratio of most LTE networks is at least 6:1 if not a 10:1 ratio, suggesting greater attention to the uplink is warranted.

The Comparison

We used a commercial LG G4 and LG G5 smartphone with the LG G5 supporting Category 13 uplink capabilities. Needless to say, we identified significant differences in performance which provide real benefits to consumers and to mobile operators in terms of increased network efficiency (CA) and increased spectral efficiency (64-QAM). We quantify these benefits for the applications that we tested.

What about Power?

The knock on these two features is that they are perceived to have a big impact on the current consumption/battery life. Therefore we provide results from several tests which look into the power efficiency of uplink CA and uplink 64-QAM.

What about the Downlink?

Thanks to 3-carrier CA, during our drive tests we observed a median speed of 137 Mbps and a peak speed that was well over 300 Mbps.

*SIGNALS AHEAD SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION

This report is included as part of a subscription to Signals Ahead or it can be purchased separately. Signals Ahead is a research-focused product that is published on a periodic basis. Its clientele include all facets of the wireless ecosystem, including some of the largest mobile operators, the top handset suppliers, the major infrastructure vendors, subsystem suppliers, semiconductor companies and financial institutions, including Wall Street, Private Equity and Venture Capitalists, spread across five continent"
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1. Executive Summary

2. Key Observations

3. Downlink Performance Analysis

4. Uplink Performance Analysis
4.1 LG G5 Single Device Testing
4.2 LG G5 and LG G4 Concurrent Testing - Afternoon in Gangnam
4.3 LG G5 and LG G4 Concurrent Testing - Night #1 in Gangnam
4.4 LG G5 and LG G4 Concurrent Testing - Night #2 in Gangnam

5. Uplink Carrier Aggregation, Uplink 64-QAM and Real World Applications
5.1 Web Browsing
5.2 Upload to Google Drive
5.3 Video Telephony (IR.94)
5.4 The Impact on Power Consumption and Battery Life

6. Test Methodology

7. Final Thoughts

List of Figures

Figure 1. Geo Plot of Downlink Drive Test Route
Figure 2. Distribution of Downlink Data Speeds, Including the Contribution from each Codeword - by primary cell, secondary cell #1 and secondary cell #2
Figure 3. Distribution of Downlink Data Speeds - by primary cell, secondary cell #1 and secondary cell #2
Figure 4. Time Series Plot of Total Data Speeds and the Contribution from each Individual Radio Channel
Figure 5. Time Series Plot of Total Data Speeds and the Contribution from each Individual Radio Channel - enhanced view
Figure 6. Geo Plot of Uplink Testing Drive Routes
Figure 7. Geo Plot of LG G5 Single Device Testing
Figure 8. Distribution of Uplink Data Speeds - by primary and secondary cell
Figure 9. Physical and MAC Layer Throughput, Including Distribution of Modulation Schemes - by frequency band
Figure 10. Availability of Uplink Carrier Aggregation
Figure 11. Distribution of Downlink SINR - by frequency band
Figure 12. Distribution of Downlink RSRP - by frequency band
Figure 13. Distribution of Uplink CQI Reports - by frequency band
Figure 14. Correlation between Downlink SINR and Uplink CQI - by frequency band
Figure 15. Distribution of Uplink MCS - by frequency band
Figure 16. Correlation between Uplink MCS and Uplink 64-QAM Utilization - Band 1
Figure 17. Correlation between Downlink SINR and Uplink 64-QAM Utilization - by frequency band
Figure 18. Correlation between Uplink CQI and Uplink 64-QAM Utilization - by frequency band
Figure 19. MCS and Resource Block Allocations - by frequency band
Figure 20. The Impact of Uplink 64-QAM on Spectral Efficiency - by frequency band
Figure 21. Geo Plot of Drive Route
Figure 22. Distribution of Uplink Data Speeds for the LG G5 and LG G4 - including primary and secondary cell contributions
Figure 23. Pie Chart Distribution of Uplink Data Speeds for the LG G5 and LG G4 - including primary and secondary cell contributions
Figure 24. Time Series Plot of Total Uplink Data Speeds for the LG G5 and LG G4 - including primary and secondary cell contributions
Figure 25. Distribution of Uplink MCS Allocations for the LG G5 and LG G4 - including primary and secondary cell contributions
Figure 26. Distribution of Uplink Modulation Scheme Allocations for the LG G5 and LG G4 - including primary and secondary cell contributions
Figure 27. Distribution of Uplink CQI Reports for the LG G5 and LG G4 - including primary and secondary cell contributions
Figure 28. Uplink MCS and Resource Block Allocations for the LG G5 and LG G4 - by frequency band
Figure 29. The Impact of Uplink 64-QAM on Spectral Efficiency - by frequency band
Figure 30. The Benefits of Uplink 64-QAM as a Function of Uplink CQI - by frequency band
Figure 31. Geo Plot of Drive Route
Figure 32. Total Uplink Data Speeds for the LG G5 and LG G4 - including primary and secondary cell contributions
Figure 33. Distribution of Uplink Data Speeds for the LG G5 and LG G4 - including primary and secondary cell contributions
Figure 34. Pie Chart Distributions of Uplink Data Speeds for the LG G5 and LG G4 - including primary and secondary cell contributions
Figure 35. Availability of Uplink Carrier Aggregation
Figure 36. Time Series Plot of Total Uplink Data Speeds for the LG G5 and LG G4 - including primary and secondary cell contributions
Figure 37. Distribution of Uplink MCS Allocations for the LG G5 and LG G4 - including primary and secondary cell contributions
Figure 38. Distribution of Uplink Modulation Schemes for the LG G5 and LG G4 - including primary and secondary cell contributions
Figure 39. Distribution of Uplink CQI Reports for the LG G5 and LG G4 - including primary and secondary cell contributions
Figure 40. Uplink MCS and Resource Block Allocations for the LG G5 and LG G4 - by frequency band
Figure 41. The Impact of Uplink 64-QAM on Spectral Efficiency - by frequency band
Figure 42. The Benefits of Uplink 64-QAM as a Function of Uplink CQI - by frequency band
Figure 43. The Benefits of Uplink 64-QAM - Band 5 Detailed Analysis
Figure 44. Geo Plot of Drive Route
Figure 45. Total Uplink Data Speeds for the LG G5 and LG G4 - including primary and secondary cell contributions
Figure 46. Distribution of Uplink Data Speeds for the LG G5 and LG G4 - including primary and secondary cell contributions
Figure 47. Pie Chart Distributions of Uplink Data Speeds for the LG G5 and LG G4 - including primary and secondary cell contributions
Figure 48. Availability of Uplink Carrier Aggregation
Figure 49. Distribution of Uplink MCS Allocations for the LG G5 and LG G4 - including primary and secondary cell contributions
Figure 50. Distribution of Uplink Modulation Schemes for the LG G5 and LG G4 - including primary and secondary cell contributions
Figure 51. Distribution of Uplink CQI Reports for the LG G5 and LG G4 - including primary and secondary cell contributions
Figure 52. Uplink MCS and Resource Block Allocations for the LG G5 and LG G4 - by frequency band
Figure 53. The Impact of Uplink 64-QAM on Spectral Efficiency - by frequency band
Figure 54. The Benefits of Uplink 64-QAM - Band 1 Detailed Analysis
Figure 55. Web Browsing Test Results - User Experience Implications
Figure 56. Web Browsing Test Results - Allocated TTIs
Figure 57. Web Browsing Test Results - Total Test Time
Figure 58. Uploading a File to Google Drive Test Results
Figure 59. IR.94 Video Telephony Test Results - Allocated RBs and TTIs
Figure 60. IR.94 Video Telephony Test Results - Uplink 64-QAM Utilization
Figure 61. Current Usage with no Activity, with SpeedTest.net and with Google Drive - LG G5 and LG G4
Figure 62. Total Uplink Data Rate and Current Usage with Google Drive - LG G5 and LG G4
Figure 63. Total Uplink Throughput and Current Usage with SpeedTest.net - LG G5 and LG G4
Figure 64. Downlink Pathloss and RSRP for Various Drive Tests - LG G5 and LG G4
Figure 65. PUSCH Transmit Power and Uplink Utilization of 16 QAM/64 QAM for Various
Figure 66. PUSCH Transmit Power and Uplink Physical Layer Throughput for Various Drive
Figure 67. XCAL Solo and XCAL Harmony
Figure 68. XCAL in Action
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