3CA: Three frequency blocks for one unique user experience

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Telekom Deutschland leads the way with new developments in mobile communications. Telekom becomes the first network operator in Germany to introduce 3CA into its operational network. As of now, this technology is only available at a few locations in the Berlin district of Prenzlauer Berg.

In an interview, Bruno Jacobfeuerborn, Head of Technology at Telekom Deutschland, explains why this is still an important step for mobile Internet communications in Germany.

Mr. Jacobfeuerborn, only a very small number of people would have heard of 3CA. What does the abbreviation stand for?

Bruno Jacobfeuerborn: 3CA stands for 3-band Carrier Aggregation, in other words the bundling of three frequency blocks. We are the first network operator in Germany to successfully demonstrate this technology in our operational network and on a commercial smartphone. We achieved this with the support of our network partners Huawei. The terminal device is a Samsung smartphone. All we had to do was simply install a software program onto the device. No hardware modifications were required.

Is there any noticeable difference on the smartphone?

Jacobfeuerborn: Users have a peak speed of up to 375 Mbit/s. There is, however, something else that we are more interested in: the average data rates that we can offer users.

And how would they increase?

Jacobfeuerborn: These data rates cannot boast the captivating allure of peak values. There are simply too many parameters involved. I think, however, even non-experts will understand that by bundling the frequency blocks of 800, 1800 and 2600, I can achieve greater bandwidth and consequently greater flexibility for the intelligent management of data streams in one radio cell.

Three blocks will remain three blocks. What have you gained?

Jacobfeuerborn: Well, firstly, I can minimize the interference between the cell blocks thanks to the additional degrees of freedom with 3CA. This allows me to get the maximum benefit from the frequency bands. Frequencies are our most valuable asset and the efficient use thereof is our top priority. Moreover, I can offer users the benefits of three frequency blocks in one terminal device. I can combine the advantages of a lower frequency band, area coverage and penetration of buildings with the advantages of higher frequency bands, greater capacity and data transfer rates.

A year ago in Alzey, you demonstrated a speed of almost 600 Mbit/s in the operational network. What has become of it?

Jacobfeuerborn: That was a different setting. In Alzey, we used a terminal device prototype and new antenna technology – in both the device and the base station. Back then, we looked way into the future and demonstrated what is theoretically possible if terminal device manufacturers constructed the appropriate cell phones. With 3CA, our focus is on the near future.

When will 3CA be available to users throughout Germany?

Jacobfeuerborn: We're not there yet. At Deutsche Telekom, everything is put to the acid test prior to roll-out. We do not experiment on our customers. Apart from that, 3CA is in competition with other innovative technologies. We examine the situation very carefully before selecting the right option and the right moment to move ahead. Thanks to the spectrum auction, we have basically created an ideal setting for 3CA services in the coming years.