Advanced LTE and what it means for the future of internet speeds in Uganda


Those internet speeds you have never woolgathered


LTE- Advanced networks are now upon us, which promise even faster and more reliable mobile access. Unlike other developed nations that have managed to build an infrastructure of ADSL dedicated which is basically fixed broadband internet, the boom of internet usage in Uganda has been due to mobile internet right from 3GHSPA speeds now we are talking 4G LTE.

Don’t get lost by the alphabet soup of acronyms and technospeak, take heart: Just know you are not alone. Let me help you with what to expect from the future mobile LTE networks.

“Current LTE speeds are actually more like speeds that were promised for 3G standards”

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Just to make sure we all on the same page, 4G LTE stands for fourth generation “long term evolution.” It’s the latest and fastest mobile network that promises to offer faster internet speeds. And now we shall soon start hearing of LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) networks that have advanced set of standards and technologies that will be able to deliver bigger and speedier wireless-data payloads.

Just to let you in into and industry secret the current LTE speeds are actually more like speeds that were promised for 3G standards. What most carriers refer to as “4G” today is perhaps more accurately called “super 3G.” It satisfies some of the 4G requirements that the ITU set, but not all of them. The most important thing to know now is that LTE-A promises to deliver true 4G speeds. You can expect the real-world speed of LTE-A to be two to three times faster than today’s LTE. It should also be robust, with fewer dropped connections as you move around.

The true 4G

We all love those crazy fast speeds, but whenever someone mentions the price tag of a 4G device bit phone, router or modem, its like an insult to one’s pockets especially in these trying times. For a mobile network to be considered true 4G, several benchmarks must be fulfilled. First an foremost, a peak data rate of at least 100 megabits per second when a user moves through the network at high speeds, such as in a car , and 1 gigabit per second when the user is in a fixed position. Truth be told no commercial network known to man currently can deliver such speeds.

Other benchmarks include, a full Internet Protocol packet-switched network, specific Quality of Service goals, spectral efficiency targets, and the list continues. Today, a mobile user in Uganda on a 4G LTE network can expect top download speeds of 33 mbps around large-population areas, based on the previous test we carried out last year.

Did you say 33mbps?

Yes, we were able to hits over 30mbps on average for some carriers and the good news is that for most people’s mobile tasks, such performance is more than sufficient. Unless you’re streaming 4K Ultra HD video, with the current networks all you need your Youtube and social media tasks.

Besides, the 100-mbps minimum requirement is sort of a best-case scenario in the lab. Real-world LTE-A speeds are more likely to be in the range of 40 to 50 mbps on average. That’s not nearly 100, but it’s still a lot faster than what we have today.

New Network, new devices

My fellow Ugandans, LTE-A hasn’t been deployed at all yet and not expected for this year, may be late 2015 when the spectrum from UCC becomes available. So be assured to buy yourself an LTE device without worrying about a thing. Fortunately LTE-A is both backward- and forward-compatible, so a regular LTE phone such as the one you have now will be able to access an LTE-A network. You just won’t get all the LTE-A benefits of enhanced speed and better coverage depending on carrier of course.

Just like we have 21mbps and 42mbps in 3G networks, LTE-A is also a  set of upgrade to the regular LTE we currently have. Carriers are likely to improve their existing LTE networks one technology at a time, and the decision on when to start calling the result “LTE Advanced” or “5G” will probably fall to the marketing department as usual.

Currently we don’t have any network in Uganda committing to LTE-A so there is no cause for alarm. The carriers themselves are still struggling to roll-out regular LTE out of Kampala. ll we have is a promise, a promise that suggests that once our carriers start implementing LTE-A we are assured of higher speeds.

How is your current LTE experience? Leave us a feedback below.