Verizon points to ‘exhaustive testing’ for launch of carrier aggregation

network and phone

A top Verizon executive said the carrier’s recent wide-scale launch of carrier aggregation technology in its network was the result of a year of work and extensive testing.

“It required exhaustive testing between the network and the device to make it sure it worked properly and it worked the way you expected it to work,” explained Mike Haberman, vice president of Verizon’s wireless network.

“It was different from vendor to vendor, but it required us to replumb equipment at the cell site, it required us to deploy new software in the cell site, it did require handsets, although the handsets had had that for a bit of time now,” he said. “It’s been in the works for the past year.”

Haberman said Verizon’s two main RAN vendors, Nokia and Ericsson, provided much of the equipment for the carrier’s upgrade to carrier aggregation technology, which is a main element of the LTE Advanced network standard. However, Haberman said the work did not require any changes to the antennas on Verizon’s cell towers.

“It was more in the software,” he said. “A lot of it was inside the hut itself or at the base of the tower. You did not have to go to the top and modify the antennas and do things like that, other than to [initially] put the carrier in place.”

Verizon this week launched two- and three-channel carrier aggregation, claiming to bring 50 percent faster peak data speeds to its customers in 461 cities. And the nation’s largest carrier backed the launch with an aggressive marketing campaign.

Carrier aggregation uses software to combine multiple channels to increase data speeds. Verizon said it uses 700 MHz, AWS and PCS spectrum, combining two or three of the channels to deliver data over the most efficient route to devices.

Of course, Verizon isn’t alone in the work. AT&T first launched two-channel carrier aggregation in some markets in early 2014, for instance. And Sprint said earlier this year that it achieved speeds of more than 300 Mbps using three-channel carrier aggregation on the Samsung Galaxy S7. Indeed, Sprint demonstrated its carrier aggregation technology at Chicago's Soldier Field this week.

Thirty-nine devices already on Verizon’s network support the offering, the carrier said, including the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S7, Moto Droids and Apple iPhones.

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