In a 4G-LTE environment a user will be allocated a channel through which the data upload or download is executed. To increase the data rate for the given user there are only two options namely, widen the channel or combine channels. This latter option is available in 4G+ and called carrier aggregation. Channels, or component carriers will be of size 1.4, 3, 5, 10, 15 or 20MHz and can be combined in up to 5 channels, so 100MHz is the widest possible, although a bit unrealistic. Remember that the 2.6GHz 4G licenses in the UK were allocated in 35MHz blocks
Note that different carrier aggregation can be implemented on the up and down links min order to make best use of the available bandwidth
With these basics quite complex carrier aggregation can be used. For the operator a large bandwidth makes this easier and more efficient. Currently the 4G (and 5G) bandwidth allocated to operators is small and spread over various bandwidths making carrier aggregation both difficult and necessary. THREE, with their purchase of UKBroadband managed to acquire a significant amount of contiguous bandwidth and thus making their bandwidth management through carrier aggregation simpler. OfCom is promoting some refactoring of broadband to give more contiguous space.
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