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Reliance Jio puts more 4G spectrum to use to increase speeds

Reliance Jio, the 4G operator that has taken the market by storm, has deployed the extra spectrum that it bought last year, increasing the total spectrum in use in most markets by 20-25%.

In most circles, Jio is operating with about 40-50 MHz of spectrum, and with the new spectrum, this has gone up to 50-60 MHz.

Jio had purchased this 10 MHz block in the auction that was completed in October last year.

The 10 Mhz has been added as a separate carrier (or block) in band 40 (2300 MHz).

LTE ADVANCED

The move brings the benefits of ‘carrier aggregation’ to more Jio circles, benefiting users of mid- and high-priced phones.

Jio was not the first to introduce carrier aggregation — or the use of multiple blocks of spectrum by the same handset to increase speeds.

That credit belongs to Bharti Airtel, which introduced carrier aggregation in February 2016 in Kerala, and in Mumbai in August.

However, to take advantage of joining two carriers together, the user must have a phone or dongle that supports Category 6 LTE or higher. Chipsets such as Snapdragon 650, 652 and 625 support various forms of aggregation.

Some phones only support aggregation of 5 MHz blocks.

In each circle, Jio has 4 to 5 carriers, including one of 20 MHz, one of 10 MHz and another two or three blocks of 5 MHz each.

In some circles like Mumbai — where it has three 5 MHz blocks — Jio has already introduced carrier aggregation technology for its these blocks.

In our tests, the new 10 MHz block has been able to deliver speeds of around 20 Mbps without any aggregation in an area with a signal level of 3 out of 5 bars.

In comparison, the 5 MHz block provided about 15 Mbps in the same spot and the biggest carrier of all, the 20 MHz block, gave speeds of about 30-35 Mbps.

The test results are impacted by the number of users present on each block. Moreover, the throughput could double if tests are carried out very close to a tower.

IDEA CELLULAR

The successful introduction of the second Band 40 carrier is good news for Idea Cellular, which too has purchased a 10 Mhz block in the same band in three circles — Kerala, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh — where it enjoys market leadership. The company said on Saturday it will launch this carrier in coming months. It has already introduced 4G services using 5 MHz blocks in band 3.

The spectrum auction of 2016 had seen the government sell 2 blocks of the band 40 spectrum in each circle.

Jio bought one block each in all circles, while Bharti Airtel purchased the same in 19 circles and Idea in the remaining three.

It is not clear whether Bharti Airtel has already deployed its 10 MHz carrier or not. Unlike Jio, Bharti Airtel’s 4G network is largely empty, though filling up fast.

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