RF201 - LTE Carrier Aggregation

One of the strongest features outline in LTE-Advances is Carrier Aggregation (CA). CA allows for operators to combine various spectrum holdings for use with a single user. This combining of spectrum and LTE Types (TDD & FDD) provides an enhanced experience for the end user and drastically improved data rates over a single spectrum allocation. Carrier Aggregation may be used in three different spectrum scenarios as follows.

Intraband Contiguous CA โ€” This is where a contiguous bandwidth wider than 20 MHz is used for CA. Although this may be a less likely scenario given frequency allocations today, it can be common when new spectrum bands like 3.5 GHz are allocated in the future in various parts of the world. The spacing between center frequencies of contiguously aggregated CCs (Component Carriers) is a multiple of 300 kHz to be compatible with the 100 kHz frequency raster of Release 8/9 and preserving orthogonality of the sub-carriers with 15 kHz spacing.

Intraband Non-Contiguous CA โ€” This is where multiple CCs belonging to the same band are used in a non-contiguous manner. This scenario can be expected in countries where spectrum allocation is non-contiguous within a single band, when the middle carriers are loaded with other users, or when network sharing is considered.

Interband Non-Contiguous CA โ€” This is where multiple CCs belonging to different bands (e.g., 2 GHz and 800 MHz are aggregated). With this type of aggregation, mobility robustness can potentially be improved by exploiting different radio propagation characteristics of different bands. This form of CA may also require additional complexity in the radio frequency (RF) front-end of UE. In LTE Release 10, for the UL the focus is on intraband CA, due to difficulties in defining RF requirements for simultaneous transmission on multiple CCs with large frequency separation, considering realistic device linearity. For the DL, however, both intra and interband cases are considered in Release 10, while specific RF requirements are being developed.

The 3GPP spec is continually updated and additional information is available at Carrier Aggregation Explained

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