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Verizon, Qualcomm and Ericsson almost hit 1 Gbps using commercial LAA

Cheerful students with thumbs up

The trio, who have been doing quite a bit of work together recently, recorded speeds of 953 Mbps in a joint commercial network deployment in Boca Raton, Florida.

While they did fall just short of the holy grail that is gigabit speeds, 953 Mbps is pretty impressive nonetheless. Many lab tests have brought up similar results, but the trio claim this is the first time such speeds have been reached in a real-world deployment. Perhaps the gigabit economy isn’t as far away as we actually think, and maybe we don’t have to wait for 5G to realise it…

“Today’s milestone is a great example of our approach to new technology – we deploy the latest capabilities reliably and in real-world environments, not just in a lab,” said Nicola Palmer, Chief Wireless Network Officer for Verizon. “By continuing to deploy the latest technologies on our 4G LTE Advanced network, we pave the way for better and faster performance for the things our customers do now, and provide the groundwork for our future advancements.”

Perhaps what makes the test more impressive is the kit which was used. Making use of commercially available Verizon network components including a cell site, hardware, software, and backhaul, it makes the test a bit more realistic. Many tests are demonstrating such speeds, but using kit which would not be feasible in the real world just yet. This looks to be one of the first steps towards economically viable gigabit speeds.

Other bits of kit involved included Ericsson’s micro Radio 2205 for Licensed Assisted Access (LAA), as well as the wider Ericsson Radio System, and also Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 mobile platform test device, featuring a Snapdragon X16 LTE modem.

As you can imagine with such speeds, the test made use of some of the more advanced breakthroughs of recent months as well. The test used a combination of licensed and unlicensed spectrum, allowing four carrier aggregation, as well as 4×4 MIMO and 256 QAM to allow the devices to deliver more data in each transmission.

“It is exciting to see Gigabit LTE momentum globally and in the US, especially as we move closer to a 5G world,” said Mike Finley, SVP & President, Qualcomm North America. “With leading operators and infrastructure vendors like Verizon and Ericsson, we will continue to develop and deploy innovative technologies to power future networks and devices.”

It’s a nice mix of the old and new, placing emphasis on making commercially viable steps forward. Gigabit speeds have been promised over and over again throughout recent months, and while it will happen eventually, you swallow the PR-laden promises with a bit of a grimace. This one, however, has a bit more a real feel about it.

And talking about PR, the speeds certainly come at a good time when you consider the T-Mobile challenge which Verizon is facing. T-Mobile is eating up market share, not only because of disruptive pricing plans and offers, but because their network is performing exceptionally well. The latest report from Opensignal, pinned the winners in the network speed tests in the US as Sprint and T-Mobile, though on a nationwide level, Verizon was still a very strong performer. The news of such speeds will give the Verizon marketing bods a bit of ammunition to fight back with.

Bearing this in mind, you can probably expect to see some very bold claims over the next couple of months, as flagship smartphone launches are likely to be compatible with such breakthroughs. Prepare for such slogans as ‘5G speeds on 4G’ or ‘4G which is as good as 5G’ as the marketing machine gets set to confuse consumers all over again.

It is good news and a very positive step forward, but let’s not overdo it, ey?

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