Qualcomm Technologies and T-Mobile have demonstrated the speed and power of Gigabit Class LTE on T-Mobile’s network with flagship smartphones powered by Snapdragon Gigabit LTE modems.
LTE Advanced, the next generation of LTE, has expanded to more than 920 markets. But in 430 of the markets, T-Mobile’s network sports a combination of three technologies – carrier aggregation, 4X4 MIMO and 256 QAM, which doubles the speed again. The carrier calls that service Gigabit Class LTE.
T-Mobile also unveiled plans to launch License Assisted Access (LAA), another advanced LTE technology that taps into unlicensed spectrum, on small cells this year to further densify the network for even more capacity and speed.
“With LTE Advanced, you can up to double your previous download speeds,” the carrier said. “With the combination of carrier aggregation, 4X4 MIMO and 256 QAM, speeds can up to double again.”
Along with sufficient spectrum and backhaul, Gigabit Class LTE is achieved by simultaneously accessing this trifecta of LTE Advanced technologies in both the device and the network to increase capacity, improve spectral efficiency, reduce congestion, and ultimately deliver faster real-world speeds. That means T-Mobile customers with capable devices could get Gigabit Class LTE download speeds.
T-Mobile has more than doubled its LTE Advanced footprint since last year and is expanding the technology trifecta in its nationwide LTE network. In addition, the capacity and speed capabilities of T-Mobile’s LAA small cell deployment pave the way for 5G with a dense upgradable infrastructure. Earlier this year, T-Mobile was the first to launch LTE-U, the precursor to LAA, in select locations.
Masayoshi Son, chairman and CEO of Softbank Bank Group and Chairman of Sprint, had some explaining to do about the breakdown of the T-Mobile/Sprint merger talks yesterday during the company’s second quarter fiscal year 2017 earnings presentation. It seems that the talks, which dragged on for years, hinged on one key point. Control.
Son and the Softbank board of directors were hoping that the two companies would be equal partners, but T-Mobile wanted to keep management control of the resulting merged company.
“If we gave up control of Sprint, in five or 10 years, we would regret it,” Son said. “We want to maximize profit [in Sprint] while maintaining control.”
Speaking in front of a slide with a map United States with “Most Important Market” over it, Son made it clear that Softbank was not moving away from interest in Sprint. In fact, he announced the company’s investment in the carrier would be increased to 85 percent.
“The United States is the biggest market in the world,” Son said. “Now that we have a good base of our business built up in the United States, it should not be let go.” Even though in the short-term Sprint’s share price or Softbank’s share price may drop because of the failed merger, it may actually good for Softbank as it buys up Sprint’s stock.
Softbank, which has a semiconductor subsidiary that will deliver a trillion chips designed for IoT devices in the next 20 years, plans to take advantage of that expertise to compete in the U.S. machine to machine communications market.
“AT&T and Verizon have a dominant market share of [smart phone users]. They are ahead of us by a long way. It is not easy to exceed their base, without merging with T-Mobile,” Son said. “When it comes to IoT, we may be far advanced than the other carriers, because of our acquisition of Vodafone K.K. that established a business alliance with Yahoo! JAPAN in 2006.”
T-Mobile is partnering with FOX Television Stations (FTS) to accelerate the repacking of its 600 MHz spectrum by 16 months and reducing overall costs for the Incentive Auction Relocation fund by tens of millions.
As part of the agreement, WWOR-TV will repack in early 2018, over a year sooner than the originally proposed FCC deadline of August 2019, and will do it for less money. This agreement ensures WWOR-TV viewers maintain access to the programming while T-Mobile enhances wireless coverage and capacity in the New York City area.
This agreement is part of T-Mobile’s broader commitment to work with broadcasters occupying 600 MHz spectrum to assist them in moving to new frequencies. Earlier this year, PBS and America’s Public Television Stations (APTS) announced a partnership with T-Mobile to assist rural translators in the move to new airwaves.
“We’re committed to working with broadcasters across the country to clear 600 MHz spectrum, so we can preserve programming and bring increased wireless choice and competition across the country!” said Neville Ray, chief technology officer at T-Mobile.
Even though there is no standard yet, Ericsson announced that its platform now includes an FDD radio from capable of supporting 5G and Massive Multiple Input Multiple Output (Massive MIMO). The new radio will provide a bridge between fourth generation and fifth generation wireless using today’s spectrum allocations.
The AIR 3246 is designed to complement to Ericsson’s global 5G radio offering, supporting both 4G/LTE and 5G NR (New Radio) technologies. Operators will be able to bring 5G to subscribers using mid-band spectrum and boost capacity in their LTE networks.
Ericsson’s 5G Platform includes three previously launched time division duplex (TDD) radios capable of supporting 5G and Massive MIMO, as well as core, transport, digital support and security elements.
The radio will enhance 4G capacity for subscribers today and simplify the transition to 5G in the future, according to Fredrik Jejdling, head of Business Area Networks at Ericsson.
Stefan Pongratz, Senior Director at the Dell’Oro Group, said, “With an expected installed base of 10 million LTE macro radios in high traffic and metro areas by 2021, service providers are expected to capitalize on the improved spectral efficiency made possible with Massive MIMO.”
FDD Massive MIMO is part of a trial with T-Mobile US, on three sites in Baltimore, Maryland, which will be the first time that standardized Massive MIMO will be used to carry commercial LTE traffic using mid-band FDD spectrum.
Massive MIMO on FDD can increase network capacity up to three times and bring up to five times better user throughput, boosting performance for the end users. Today’s global base is primarily on FDD technology and devices, which separates uplink and downlink streams on different radio frequencies.
Commercially available in the second quarter 2018, AIR 3246 will be part of Ericsson Radio System.
With characteristic bravado, T-Mobile has begun lighting up its 600 MHz LTE network, switching on a Nokia transmitter on a rooftop in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
T-Mobile’s 600 MHz LTE network rollout will initially be in rural America and other markets where the spectrum is already clear of broadcasting. Those deployments and other network upgrades will increase T-Mobile’s total LTE coverage from 315 million Americans today to 321 million.
By the end of the year, an additional 600 MHz sites are slated for locations in Wyoming, Northwest Oregon, West Texas, Southwest Kansas, the Oklahoma panhandle, western North Dakota, Maine, coastal North Carolina, Central Pennsylvania, Central Virginia and Eastern Washington.
In an ex parte meeting with FCC personnel, T-Mobile officials said they expect to have at least 10 megahertz of 600 MHz spectrum ready for deployment across “more than one million square miles” by the end of this year, including “hundreds of thousands of square miles” of rural areas.
T-Mo CTO Neville Ray applauded the speed of the deployment effort in the 600 MHz frequencies.
“This team broke every record in the books with the speed of our 700 MHz LTE deployment, and we’re doing it again. T-Mobile is effectively executing in six months what would normally be a two-year process,” said Ray said. “We won’t stop … and we won’t slow down!”
The operator is using “low-band” spectrum won in the government broadcast incentive auction concluded earlier this year, and yesterday’s announcement came two months after the carrier received its spectrum licenses from the FCC.
The speed of T-Mobile’s rollout is no accident. In February 2016, T-Mobile, in conjunction with Broadcast Tower Technologies and Hammett & Edison, set out a plan to maximize the resources needed to move the TV broadcasters from the band and rollout the needed technology.
T-Mobile worked with Nokia, Qualcomm, Samsung and LG to ensure the right transmitter and handset technology would be available when the rollout began. It is also collaborating with the FCC and broadcasters such as the Public Broadcasting System to quickly clear the spectrum.
Moreover, T-Mobile worked with Electronics Research to make sure that adequate broadcast antennas and installation crews would be available for the TV stations’ move to new spectrum. Antenna production capacity was increased by 800 percent by the end of 2016, and production began at the end of the auction when new channels were assigned to broadcasters.
Additionally, T-Mobile went above and beyond the FCC’s spectrum clearing requirements of the auction winner, committing to pay for new low-power facilities used by local public television stations that are required to relocate to new broadcasting frequencies because of the auction.
J. Sharpe Smith is senior editor of the AGL eDigest. He joined AGL in 2007 as contributing editor to the magazine and as editor of eDigest email newsletter. He has 27 years of experience writing about industrial communications, paging, cellular, small cells, DAS and towers. Previously, he worked for the Enterprise Wireless Alliance as editor of the Enterprise Wireless Magazine. Before that, he edited the Wireless Journal for CTIA and he began his wireless journalism career with Phillips Publishing, now Access Intelligence.