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A few days ago we announced the Xperia™ ion, our first LTE smartphone, for the U.S. market. But what benefits does LTE really add? When will it come to the rest of the world? And what are the LTE-related specs for Xperia™ ion? In this article, we will introduce LTE and share some important facts about Xperia™ ion, and provide useful links where you can dig deeper into LTE. Find out the full story after the jump.
LTE is a new access technology
LTE stands for 3GPP Long Term Evolution, and it’s an improved wireless broadband communication technology that opens up new uses of mobile phones and other connected devices. To enjoy the benefits of an LTE network, you must not only have a phone supporting LTE, you also need a subscription with an operator running (and be in the range of) an LTE network. LTE is actually a new access technology, which means the network owner must upgrade the base stations through new hardware or software (or both) to be able to run an LTE network.
LTE is primarily used in the U.S., Scandinavia and Japan to this date, but over time the technology is expected to spread over large parts of the world. LTE is sometimes referred to as 4G, although it’s debated what release of LTE could be considered to be labelled “4G”.
Low latency and high throughput are the main benefits
One of the main benefits with LTE is the high speed data rate transfer, which enables you to download and upload large chunks of data to and from the Internet in a short time frame. This is especially true when it comes to data upload, which is improved by up to 5 times compared with previous technologies. LTE is also optimised for data IP services. A number of different use cases will be enhanced by these advantages. For example, real time video blogging and HD video streaming will be greatly improved.
LTE also brings really low latency, which means a very low delay in response time when accessing the Internet (it’s actually on par with fixed broadband). The latency in LTE can go down to 12-15 ms (50 ms to set up the first connection). This will, for example, enable instantaneous web browsing and great real time MMO gaming experiences. This is especially true with Xperia™ ion. If you combine all of the LTE benefits with Xperia™ ion’s massive 4.6 inch HD screen, the 1.5 GHz dual core processor, the Adreno 220 GPU and the PlayStation® Certification, you get a very powerful gaming device.
In Xperia™ ion, LTE is enabled by the Qualcomm Mobile Data Modem™ (MDM™) 9200 chipset, which is the industry’s first integrated multi-mode, single-chip 3G/LTE solution. The modem is capable of Cat 3 LTE (100 Mbps downlink and 50 Mbps), and in Xperia™ ion, it’s adapted for the AT&T network. If you’re on an HSPA+ network, you will be able to download up to 21 Mbps.
Xperia™ ion is perfect for global travelers
Another great thing with Xperia™ ion is the fact that it supports five radio bands. On LTE, it will support AT&T’s 700 MHz and 1700 MHz bands. On UMTS/HSPA, it supports 850 MHz, 1900 MHz and 2100 MHz. This combination of UMTS/HSPA bands makes the Xperia™ ion a perfect smartphone for the frequent traveler, as it basically allows the device to be used globally. In addition, Xperia™ ion also fully supports global GSM/EDGE coverage (850, 900, 1800, 1900MHz).
Xperia™ ion has dual antennas to support both LTE and HSPA. For LTE, Xperia™ ion supports MIMO (multiple input and multiple output), which is mandatory for LTE devices to give a higher data rate. For UMTS/HSPA, Xperia™ ion supports received (downlink) diversity for a more robust data transfer.
The way call handling works in Xperia™ ion is through a technology called CS (Circuit Switched) fallback. This allows the phone to reuse legacy voice and SMS services by switching its radio from LTE access to UMTS/GSM access. For example, typically you will switch from LTE to UMTS/HSPA or GSM/EDGE (depending on what is available) if you receive a phone call. If HSPA access is available, the data link will however continue on HSPA, so that any apps and services uploading or downloading data will continue to work as normal during the phone call (which is not the case if you’re on a GSM/EDGE network where you can either have voice or data).
So what do you think, Developer World readers? Will LTE be a hit around the world? What would you like the most if you were having LTE access? Drop a comment below and tell us what you think.
Thanks to Peter C Karlsson, Linh Trang and Daniel Lönnblad at the Sony Ericsson Technology Research Department for contributing to this article.
- Find out more in Ericsson’s LTE introduction.
- Read more in Ericsson’s paper on the key features of LTE.
- Learn more about the Xperia™ ion.
- Check out Wikipedia’s LTE article.
- Read more about MIMO.
- Find out more about antenna diversity.
- Read more about UMTS.
- Find out more about HSPA.
- Learn more about GSM.
- Read more about EDGE.