10 LTE facts that are NOT just for nerds

Published: 1 Oct 2015
Reading time: 5 min


Have you ever Googled LTE, trying to find a real answer to your question? Maybe you were disappointed at the results. I know I was: the resulting pages were full of acronyms and technicalese.

Luckily, I know some experts who also speak human, in addition to technicalese. With their help, I’ve made a list of 10 things you should know about LTE.

1. LTE is the standard

LTE stands for Long Term Evolution. It is a standard for wireless communication of high-speed data for mobile phones and data terminals. The standard is developed by the 3GPP - 3rd Generation Partnership Project.

2. LTE is the “new and improved 3G”

LTE is a further development of the 3G standard. It offers major cost improvements for mobile operators as well as faster connection set-up times and lower latency times in data connections for end users. This can be easily seen in many popular applications, like messaging solutions, email and many others.

3. As a rule, voice does not travel on LTE

Today, only a few commercial operators offer voice services over LTE, with most offering voice via GSM and 3G networks and providing data services over their LTE networks. Although the LTE standard does support voice services, these require a high Quality of Service (QoS). Group calls are currently not supported in LTE standards.

4. Forget about priorities for now

Some priority features are included in the LTE standards. However, priorities are not widely available for critical users like police or other authorities. This is because equipment vendors and mobile operators do not currently offer this option widely.

5. Eavesdropping and fake base stations

Current 3G network standards offer features to prevent eavesdropping and fake base stations. However, not all vendors and mobile operators have brought these measures into use. This applies also to LTE networks.

6. LTE is not complete yet

Standardization work concerning LTE is divided into releases. For example, data rates will improve, thanks to antenna and other innovations. Also some features important to critical users can and will be included in the coming releases.

7. Availability and redundancy are not particularly addressed

The current LTE standards do not address many availability and redundancy issues. There are some definitions related to base station handover and similar areas. How redundancy and availability are taken ito account in LTE networks is mostly up to the equipment vendor and mobile operator. In current networks, there are almost no specific implementations to improve this.

8. Data speeds in practice are different from what's advertised

Currently, mobile operators are advertising data speeds from 50 Mbp/s to 150 Mbp/s. To achieve this, the user would need to be the only user connected to a particular base station.

More realistically, the data rates could be around 20 Mbp/s downlink and 10 Mbp/s uplink. This is enough to enjoy a movie on a laptop screen.

The main advantage from the user's point of view is that you don't need separate mobile applications - instead, you use the same applications whether you are using a fixed or mobile Internet connection.

9. LTE can save money, but not alone

You may have wondered if LTE provides cost savings compared to delivering mission-critical communication services with TETRA or other narrowband services.

Currently, LTE cannot replace mission-critical PMR voice and data services. However, improvements in the efficiency can be achieved when using a hybrid solution. This would allow use of efficiency improving applications such as mobile office and efficient database queries, while still ensuring that crucial, life-saving voice and data services are available even in extreme situations.

LTE enables smarter working through next generation applications that can automate and expedite workflows or routine tasks such as ticketing, criminal investigations and fire inspections. This can bring savings through reduced workloads and increased effectiveness and efficiency.

10. Benefits from TETRA/Tetrapol and LTE networks can be combined

Critical users have very high requirements for security, availability and redundancy and have so far used their own designated networks to achieve this. In the future, some of the benefits of LTE networks can be available for critical users as well, with broadband and PMR networks complementing each other in a hybrid network.

The hybrid model lets you continue with TETRA or Tetrapol for mission-critical and voice and introduce mobile broadband step-by-step. There's an executive briefing that explains how to make a success of introducing mission-critical broadband to public safety. 

Get your copy of the document "How  to minimize risks when introducing mission-critical broadband to public safety":

Download exec briefing

These were just the first and foremost LTE related questions that people have.

If you are planning to introduce mobile broadband and mobile apps but don't know where to start, take a look at these 14 great resources that help you evolve your PMR network to broadband, provided by Key Touch magazine.

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The Mission Is Critical blog gives you insights into professional and public safety broadband, mission critical user experience, secure and critical communications, hybrid narrowband-broadband solutions and dual-mode devices, and Tetrapol and TETRA radios.