Deploying broadband services to rural and suburban areas across Brazil is a huge challenge that telecommunications research and development institution CPqD aims to tackle.

On Feb. 24, the independent institution unveiled tests using LTE technology in the 450 MHz frequency band. The tests, held in Campinas, which is 90 kilometres from CPqD’s headquarters in São Paulo, were conducted in the presence of Brazilian Minister of Communications (MiniCom), Paul Bernardo.

“It was the world’s first transmission of LTE in the 450 MHz range. This frequency band is extremely important to attend rural areas,” Fabrício Lira Figueiredo, wireless technologies manager at CPqD, told RCR Wireless News.

The LTE solution in 450 MHz is a result of a project started in 2010 to develop 4G technologies, which began with about 100 workers. The project is supported through MiniCom’s technological development of telecommunications fund, dubbed Funttel, which has granted $32 million (R$55 million) for the three-year project.

According to Figueiredo, the solution is ready to be upgraded to LTE-Advanced, which was defined as true 4G by the International Telecommunications Union.

“We have also worked to develop LTE solutions in the 2.5 GHz band,’ Figueiredo said “We’ve tested it already, but the great innovation is in the 450 MHz band.”

CPqD expects its solution to be available by the end of 2012, and that it will be sold through WxBR, a Brazilian company for which CPqD will transfer the technology of product and that will be responsible for its industrialization and commercialization in the global market. CPqD does not sell directly since its role is to research and develop technologies focused on the improvements of national telecom solutions. However, CPqD is connected to WxBR as an indirect shareholder, owning 60% shares of Padtec, a company that owns about 75% of WxBR. Figueiredo noted there are global perspectives for commercializing LTE in the 450 MHz.

“Ours partners have international arms, mostly in Latin America,” Figueiredo explained. “So there’s ambition to expand the solution worldwide. There’s a good international market, since there are about 60 countries using 450 MHz for 2G and 3G. They could be a potential markets to migrate these networks for LTE.”

LTE in the 450 MHz band offers a number of advantages over current 3G technologies for the expansion of broadband in rural and remote areas of the country. Among the advantages, CPqD lists the greater coverage, higher data rates (up to 25 megabits per second on the downlink and 12.5 Mbps on the uplink), lower latency, better performance and that it’s based on IP architecture.

During the tests, Minister Bernardo noted that the government is confident in the 4G auction process, which is set to take place in May, and said the development of LTE in 450 MHz band by CPqD contributes to the provisioning of broadband in rural and remote areas of the country. The expectation is that with the auction of frequency in the 450 MHz band planned for later this year, the market potential for this technology in Brazil could reach around 30 million people and 5 million farms.

The CPqD solution is being developed using the 3GPP standard, and comprises several products, such as antennas, frequency radio devices, split eNodeB and network management system.

The next step for the project will include unveiling LTE gateways to interface with Wi-Fi, external eNodeB, and LTE mobile devices, which give subscribers direct access to the network.

In February, Brazilian carrier Oi announced that it has started tests in the 450 MHz band for broadband services in rural areas, but it was not using LTE. The testing is part of Oi’s contribution to the public consultation No.4/2012, promoted by Anatel.

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