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Jennifer Steele

Content Marketing Manager

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What is 5G Carrier Aggregation?

5G Carrier Aggregation (CA) is a software functionality used to efficiently combine multiple frequency blocks, or carriers, to serve an individual end user with the highest quality of experience.

Applicable in areas with overlapping cell coverage, CA is used to strategically select and schedule a combination of available frequency blocks to deliver the desired performance whether the blocks are contiguous in the same frequency band, separated by a gap (intra-band non-contiguous) or on a different frequency band altogether (inter-band).

In assigning multiple frequency blocks or component carriers to the same user, maximum data rates and experience with advanced 5G services and applications are possible.

How does 5G carrier aggregation benefit customers?

For the end user, 5G carrier aggregation enables a seamless, reliable, and quality experience with high-speed, low latency applications including video calls, live streaming, augmented reality, cloud gaming and fixed wireless access (FWA).

With carrier aggregation, more simultaneous end users with CA-enabled devices can experience faster downloads, faster uploads and buffer-free video without interruptions or service degradation.

What is carrier aggregation in 5G standalone?

While CA adoption rates kept pace with LTE network evolutions to reach user data rates over 1Gbps, expected growth in 5G Standalone (SA) deployments will demand even more from the technology. In 5G, higher frequency carriers increase capacity while lower-frequency ones widen the coverage. As a result, the worldwide diversity of available and licensed frequency bands has created a significant challenge for operators needing to optimize resources and reliably deliver data rates beyond 4GBps.

In addition to fragmented frequency availability, 5G Standalone networks also introduce a dedicated 5G Core engineered to deliver new higher-speed, ultra-low latency communications and services, support mission-critical applications at scale and enable new business opportunities at the edge.

For these applications and services, carrier aggregation will be essential for commercial success.

What does carrier aggregation do for mobile networks?

Mobile service providers around the world have invested heavily to acquire newly allocated and reassigned spectrum licenses with the intent to grow their mobile broadband services and offer the highest bandwidth possible. To maximize the return on this spend, operators employ CA techniques to efficiently deliver on expected throughput and serve end users.

By joining multiple radio channels together using a well-performing CA strategy, mobile operators can increase the overall transmission bandwidth available to individual mobile devices, improving network coverage and reliability. With an effective CA approach in place, mobile networks can support more simultaneous users and improve network efficiency by optimizing the use of available spectrum resources.

How does our solution help with 5G Carrier Aggregation issues?

While the benefits of 5G carrier aggregation are widely known, field implementations often present new levels and layers of complexity for mobile network operators in part due to the relative infancy of commercial 5G Standalone networks, the large number of cells involved and the great diversity of available carrier component combinations.

With RAN Analytics for Carrier Aggregation, NETSCOUT enables accurate and ongoing assessment and troubleshooting of carrier aggregation viability and actual performance. By providing a combination view of handsets, cell CA performance, and RF conditions across the network, NETSCOUT arms mobile operators with the information they need to identify, investigate, and action any issues that impact CA performance success and bandwidth utilization efficiencies.

NETSCOUT’s RAN Analytics for Carrier Aggregation solution simplifies CA management with Kafka export capabilities to third-party applications and automation platforms, standalone reporting options, and the enablement of CA-specific metrics. Overcoming many of the productivity and expense limitations commonly associated with traditional Network Equipment Manufacturing (NEM) counter evaluation methods, the NETSCOUT solution enables a better understanding of the most frequently used bands and the less frequently used bands, swift identification of the band combinations, providing the most challenges or creating the most issues inside of the network, and actionable insights into the cause of radio connectivity failures.

Learn More:

The Need to Simplify Carrier Aggregation Complexity