Carrier aggregation (CA) is one of the most important features of LTE-Advanced. This feature allows the combination of two or more carrier channels into a single aggregated channel, thus enabling higher throughput as well as more efficient use of the highly fragmented LTE spectrum. LTE network operators may have non-contiguous channels of different sizes within the same spectrum band, or contiguous channels of the same size in the same spectrum band, or channels of the same size in different spectrum bands. With CA, operators are relieved of the limitations of this fragmentation and will enjoy numerous other benefits.
Operators will not only be able to deliver higher throughput to individual users and better manage their spectrum, but they will be able to better manage interference and optimize scheduling to effectively load balance their networks. Having access to 40 MHz of aggregated bandwidth for these purposes provides much greater benefit than having only 20 MHz.
Not all solutions are the same and LTE chipmakers are implementing carrier aggregation in different ways. The best solutions are the most flexible and can aggregate larger amounts of bandwidth. LTE chipsets that allow for the combination of any two carriers of any size up to 20 MHz each, contiguous or non-continuous, inter-band or intra-band, for a total of 40 MHz overall, will provide operators with the greatest value from their spectrum, even the smallest slices.