Recently, we have big competition between mobile carriers in India. Everyone wants to get Reliance Jio SIM for free and test this new 4G service. However, the biggest operator in our country, i.e. Airtel, goes further and they recently have launched LTE-Advanced in Mumbai. Generally, this is an extension of the already used LTE network which provides much higher data transmission speeds.
What does mean LTE-Advanced in the practice? If you check definition of LTE-Advanced network, then you will find out that this is the true 4G technology which provides up to 1 Gbps download throughput. Currently, all LTE-Advanced networks run around the world are much slower. Most of currently operating LTE-Advanced networks do not exceed 300 Mbps speed.
Airtel offers up to 135 Mbps thanks to the combination of two LTE bands.
At the beginning, Airtel was using only 2300 MHz band for TDD LTE technology. Unfortunately, despite the 20 MHz, it is hard to achieve high transmission speeds at this frequency band. The first reason is that TDD LTE technology use the same frequency channel for downlink (data receiving) and uplink (data sending). Also, 2300 MHz frequency is very high, so it is hard to achieve long range and good coverage. Therefore, Airtel has decided to apply FDD LTE technology using 1800 MHz band. This band may looks slower, because Airtel has only licence for 5 MHz channel. Therefore, the maximum achievable downlink transmission speed using 1800 MHz band is 35 Mbps. The 2300 MHz band offers up to 100 Mbps, so the total maximum aggregated throughput is 135 Mbps.
How does LTE-Advanced from Airtel work?
Generally, LTE-Advanced means that the mobile network (i.e. base stations) supports Carrier Aggregation feature. It means, that your phone is able to use two radio channels at the same time during data transmission. In the practice, you have to be also able to receive good quality signal from both base stations. Unfortunately, not every smartphone supports LTE-Advanced. For an example, the latest iPhone SE, which is very similar to iPhone 6s, is able to use only “normal” LTE technology. However, LTE-Advanced is supported by new Android flagship smartphones (e.g. Xiaomi Mi 5). Unfortunately, I did not find the list of mobile phones which are compatible with LTE-A from Airtel. You have to remember, that not every LTE-A capable smartphone is able to use Carrier Aggregation provided by Airtel. Most of already available mobiles is able to combine only FDD or TDD LTE channels. In case of LTE-A from Airtel, the smartphone has to support FDD and TDD Carrier Aggregation functionality for 1800 MHz and 2300 MHz bands combination.
You can test the speed of your mobile Internet using our application, which is available for Android devices in Google Play store.