What is LTE

LTE stands for a Long Term Evolution. LTE is a standard for high-speed wireless communication for mobile phones and data terminals. It is based on the GSM/EDGE and UMTS/HSPA network technologies, increasing the capacity and speed using a different radio interface together with core network improvements. The standard is developed by the 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) [Wiki]. It provides the fastest mobile broadband services commercially available today. The high speeds are made possible by using more radio spectrum per connection, multiple antenna pads and more efficient encoding and the data being sent and received. In order to build an LTE network, some elements are required, such as

  • antennas in radio base stations called ENode B
  • a transport network including microwave links, optical fibers, and IP routers
  • a connection to the internet IP networks known as the gateway
  • a controller to manage mobility called the Mobility Management Entity (MME)
  • a home subscriber server database which contains information about all the individual subscriptions
  • a policy management system to ensure that the services you subscribe are delivered accordingly
  • and an IP Multimedia Subsystem to handle the Voice over LTE and other multimedia services

It all starts from your personal device. Say you are making a Voice over LTE phone call while you’re sharing video and sending heavy emails at the same time. The Mobility Management Entity establishes the connections and controls the signaling with the terminal. Using LTE, all your data is sent and received in IP packets. IP packets are like boxes in which your movies, music, emails and phone calls are going to travel. The beginning of a technological journey that will take your data from your phone – carefully sorted out in their packets to an ENode B radio base station. Then, a huge transport network made of microwave links, fiber and IP routers sends your data from the antennas and ENode B radio base stations to the Gateway – a system made out of several levels. The serving gateway routes and pushes your data packet forward on its journey. It’s the frontier of the packet core, maintaining the connection between your phones in the IP network while you’re moving freely around. Now receiving the packets, the packet data network gateway looks at the destination of those packets, then sorts and sends your data on to the right tracks.

It is the crossroad of every kind of traffic no matter what the source or the technology. While all this data is processed the policy management counts your data packets and applies policy rules from your personal subscription plan. Quite a bit of travel, huh? And it has yet to go to its final destination through the Internet and other IP networks. And here we are, safely arrived to its destination. How easy was that?! Considering the numerous benefits that you will feel using LTE networks:

  • Improved browsing and online experience thanks to lower latency and no unwanted delays,
  • Better app coverage: that is, better performance in multimedia applications through higher upload and download speeds
  • Enhanced voice communication with higher voice quality and shorter call establishment time.
  • Naturally, LTE is also compatible with the existing telecom infrastructure and ecosystem.
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