4G Capacity Gains

11 May 2011

This project aimed to identify the best available information on the relative increase in capacity for 4G systems relative to 3G, while carefully identifying the technical and demand factors which create variability in the results.

The study largely consisted of desk research, collating and synthesising data on simulations, prototype trials and early deployments into a single report, available for download below. The project team additionally conducted a number of interviews with network equipment manufacturers and mobile network operators.

The projects findings include:

  • Initial deployments of 4G will deliver a 1.2 times improvement in spectrum efficiency over emerging, high end 3G configurations (i.e. 2x2 HSPA+ 64QAM release 8). Comparing against a typical, high end 3G device on the market in 2011, such as a HSUPA release 6 1x1 handset, gives a gain of 3.3 times.
  • The project forecast that spectrum efficiency in deployed networks will grow by approximately 5.5 times between 2010 and 2020
  • The project anticipates that network topology will become important to achieving capacity gains in 4G networks to a larger extent than in 3G networks.

Ofcom's technical programme enables us to keep up to date with technologies and trends, so that we can be in the best possible position to execute our regulatory duties. In many cases, we do not conduct investigations in-house but make use of external resources, such as private commercial organisations, university departments and government funded research institutions. These reports present the findings of technical work conducted on Ofcom's behalf. The opinions and conclusions stated within these reports are those of the organisations who conducted the work and may not reflect the view of Ofcom or imply any future policy work in related areas. Ofcom is not responsible for the content or accuracy of these reports.

Full report

4G Capacity Gains - Main Body (PDF, 2.9 MB)

4G Capacity Gains - Appendices (PDF, 3.7 MB)