What is Carrier Aggregation? Everything You Need to Know

In its release 12 in 2015, the 3GPP, which oversees the development of mobile telecommunications technologies, introduced carrier aggregation. Additionally, it took another three years for smartphone manufacturers, mobile carriers, and chip vendors to adopt this new technology. Nevertheless, many customers are still unfamiliar with carrier aggregation, particularly those who lack technical expertise. As a result, we provide you with a thorough explanation of carrier aggregation in this post, along with tips on how to take use of it. We have thoroughly examined its mechanism and contrasted the variations among 2CA, 3CA, 4CA, and so on. In addition, we have included a brief instruction on how to locate Carrier Aggregation capability on a certain device. Now that that has been stated, let’s read the article.

What is Carrier Aggregation?

Let me just explain carrier aggregation before we get too complicated. Using the carrier aggregation technology, you can get more bandwidth and better transmission speeds by combining multiple frequency bands. Bands are spectrums of particular frequencies used in wireless communication to communicate between devices. The operation will take longer to finish if there is only one band available for sending and receiving data, as was the case earlier. However, you can concurrently communicate and send data in a quick and effective way if you can combine several frequencies. the Electronic Design website

This is the basic idea of carrier aggregation, but let’s now take a closer look at how it functions. Multiple frequency bands are assigned to one device in carrier aggregation. There are six distinct frequencies for them: 1.4 MHz, 3 MHz, 5 MHz, 10 MHz, 15 MHz, and 20 MHz. They are known as component carriers. These component carriers can only be combined to transmit an aggregated bandwidth of up to 100 MHz. Two component carriers will be referred to as 2CA; three component carriers will be referred to as 3CA; and so on. The data speed will be faster the more component carriers there are. Now that you are familiar with the fundamentals, let’s study about the various categories of carrier aggregation.

  • 3 Types of Carrier Aggregation

Three methods are used in carrier aggregation to assign component carriers. First off, component carriers are grouped together when they are in the same frequency band. Contiguous intra-band carrier aggregation is the name given to this configuration. In wireless communication, it is the most typical. Second, it is known as intra-band non-contiguous carrier aggregation when the component carriers are from the same frequency band but are separated by a spectrum gap. Last but not least, frequency blocks are separated when the component carriers are assigned to different frequency bands. This system, known as inter-band carrier aggregation, is the most complicated but produces significantly faster data speeds. from Wikipedia

The nicest thing about carrier aggregation, aside from that, is that it adds load balancing to data transmission. Every frequency band has a principal component carrier, or PCell, and secondary component carriers, or SCell (Secondary Cell). The SCell is data transmission-capable whenever PCell is completely engaged. This reduces the stress on the principal component carrier and gives the user substantially faster speed. Additionally, it is nice because Carrier Aggregation operates in both TDD and FDD bands.

What it Means to General Consumers?

Carrier Aggregation’s major lesson is that you should always get a smartphone that supports a 3CA, 4CA, or at the very least, a 2CA arrangement. Even with a weak signal, it will still give you a reasonable data speed. However, a lot of these factors are determined by the hardware, the manufacturer of your smartphone, and your cell provider. All current smartphones feature carrier aggregation in terms of hardware. In 2016, Qualcomm debuted 2CA together with the X5 LTE modem. And it’s excellent that the most recent generation of modems supports carrier aggregation of up to 7 component carriers. Furthermore, Samsung’s Exynos and Huawei’s Kirin SoCs both enable CA.

The fundamental problem for OEMs is that, even when the hardware can support a feature, the capability is locked by the software. Numerous users have complained that, despite the SoC supporting it, Xiaomi smartphones have CA disabled. It’s irritating that no one fully understands why. Band combinations like Band 3+Band 40 do not provide higher data speed, not even on devices where carrier aggregation is enabled. Additionally, Redmi phones typically do not contain 3CA or 4CA. In contrast, Nokia and Samsung devices support 3CA and work with a variety of band configurations. India’s Airtel spectrum, via Wikipedia

Let’s talk about cell providers in India while still discussing band combinations. Carrier Aggregation support has so far only been offered by Airtel, Jio, and Vodafone in India. Jio offers Band 3 and Band 5 aggregation while Airtel offers Band 40, Band 8, and Band 3 aggregation. Regarding Vodafone, we are not aware of its band configuration. In addition, not all states support all band combinations, thus it also depends on where you are. In addition, make sure your smartphone is compatible with those band combinations in your area if you want the fastest data speed possible. Basically, you need a suitable handset, 3CA or 4CA support on your device, and compatibility with different band combinations from the cell carrier to enjoy all the benefits of carrier aggregation.

How to Find Carrier Aggregation Support on a Smartphone?

Installing the NetMonster app is the best way to determine if your smartphone is compatible with CA (Free). You can locate the band combination specified at the top of the homepage. If it shows a plus sign next to additional band frequencies, your smartphone is compatible with the technology. For instance, my OnePlus 7T is aggregating four bands at 1800MHz (Band 3), 2300MHz (Band 40), and 900MHz when the Airtel SIM is inserted (Band 8). In essence, it uses a 4CA configuration with two bands in a contiguous carrier aggregation. In addition, this website offers Carrier Aggregation combinations for particular devices.

Get High-Speed Connectivity with Carrier Aggregation

That was all there was to carrier aggregation and how you could benefit from it. You only need to comprehend one thing, even though the concept is quite technical: get a smartphone that supports multiple component carriers (e.g. 3CA, 4CA). Additionally, you would experience even faster speed if your mobile carrier supported inter-band carrier aggregation. That’s all we have to say, though. To learn more about communication technologies, be sure to read our other technology explained articles:

  • WiFi 6 Explained
  • Bluetooth 5.1 Explained
  • What is 5G
  • What is NavIC
  • Massive MIMO Explained

Please let us know in the comment area below if you find our articles about technology to be informative. Additionally, if there is a tech that you want to learn but don’t understand, remark the name of the tech below and we will explain it in a future article.