MTN has a novel way of dealing with spectrum scarcity

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Spectrum is the lifeblood of mobile network operators and the fact of the matter is that there is not enough of it for networks to improve or expand services.

These operators are at the behest of regulators such as The Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services which controls spectrum allocation in South Africa.

In other parts of the world, operators are able to use a wide range of frequency bands to deliver LTE connectivity but local operators are limited to the 900MHz band. This is because a large chunk of spectrum is being used to broadcast television.

As more users move over to LTE connections the more strain there is on a network and the lower performance gets.

But today, MTN and Huawei have revealed a solution that allows the sharing of the 900MHz band between 2G, 3G, 4G (LTE), and narrowband-internet of things (NB-IOT) radio technologies.

The solution is called CloudAIR 2.0 and, according to Huawei and MTN, it’s the first commercial application of the technology.

“Spectrum is an extremely precious asset,” says chief technology and information officer at MTN South Africa, Giovanni Chiarelli, “This new network optimization technique improves spectral efficiency and gives MTN the ability to deploy LTE within the same 900MHz band alongside GSM, UMTS and NB-IoT, while significantly improving LTE coverage and user experience.”

CloudAIR 2.0 will reportedly increase MTN’s LTE throughput on the 900MHz band by as much as 45 percent.

It’s a clever fix to a problem that is really outside of MTN’s control, at least until the digital migration of terrestrial television happens and there’s more spectrum for operators to make use of.


[Image – CC BY SA 2.0 warrenski]

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.