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stc, Nokia and MediaTek announced that they have successfully verified 3 Component Carrier Aggregation (3CC-CA) in a 5G Standalone (SA) network in the city of Makkah for the first time in the Middle East and Africa. Carrier Aggregation (CA) allows mobile operators to reach higher throughputs by combining FDD and TDD spectrum and efficiently utilize their spectrum assets to enhance the 5G user experience. CA will allow stc to deliver leading 5G services to its customers, as well as achieve a faster time to market for new 5G use cases.

The companies used the combination of one FDD carrier (20MHz) and two TDD carriers to create 180MHz of spectrum using FDD-TDD CA technology. Nokia used its commercial AirScale Baseband, massive MIMO and RRH products, powered by its Reefshark chipset on stc’s live network. MediaTek provided its 5G mobile platform featuring its Release-16 ready, M80 modem. CA will also improve the overall 5G experience as well as reduce the battery consumption of user devices in stc’s network.

CA combines spectrum from different frequency bands to enhance coverage and network capacity, providing higher data rates, increased coverage and superior indoor performance by allowing service providers to make optimal use of 5G spectrum. It also enables service providers to bring down the cost of deploying 5G networks while enhancing customer experience.

Bader Allhieb, Infrastructure Sector VP at stc, said: “This crucial, region-first trial of 3CC-CA in 5G SA mode reiterates our commitment to provide a world-class experience to our subscribers. Nokia's carrier aggregation solution gives us a competitive edge by providing best-in-class speed, capacity and coverage to our subscribers. We look forward to continuing our engagement with Nokia to enhance our 5G capabilities and efficiencies.”

Khalid Hussain, Head of stc Customer Business Team at Nokia, said: “Carrier aggregation allows service providers to make optimal use of spectrum without impacting the network performance. Nokia is at the forefront of developing 5G CA and other technologies that support service providers in maximizing the use of available resources. We look forward to implementing this solution with stc based on commercial hardware and software.”

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