Data-Driven Performance Evaluation of Carrier Aggregation in LTE-Advanced
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Carrier aggregation increases the throughput of LTE mobile networks by aggregating bandwidth at different frequencies. The theoretical effectiveness of carrier aggregation has been widely studied in the literature and operators claim it substantially increases the network data rate. However, to the best of our knowledge no practical evaluation of the performance of carrier aggregation has been performed using real traffic data. We perform a thorough measurement-based study to assess how carrier aggregation improves the service offered in selected locations in Madrid, Spain. Although the best results for data rate boost are in line with the operator claims, we find that resource usage in aggregated bands is frequently suboptimal, and higher data rates could be achieved by simply overloading a single band. On the other hand, the quality of service achieved by users effectively exploiting carrier aggregation could not be achieved without it.