T-Mobile rolls out four-carrier aggregation in the US

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Operator T-Mobile is promising faster speeds and lower latency in the US thanks to the implementation of four-carrier aggregation on its 5G standalone (SA) network.

The operator achieved peak speeds of 3.3 Gbps in recent tests of four–carrier aggregation, which is now live in parts of its network and will be available nationwide in the coming weeks, we’re informed.

In terms of the technical wizardry, it is merging four 5G channels of sub-6 GHz spectrum – two channels of 2.5 GHz Ultra Capacity 5G, one channel of 1900 MHz and one channel of 600 MHz spectrum, designed to provide the boost in performance.

By way of illustration, the release explains: ‘that’s like taking four separate highways and turning them into a massive superhighway where traffic can zoom faster than before.’

Which sounds extremely dangerous actually, but we’ll take the metaphor.

“T-Mobile is blazing the trail for wireless customers around the globe, delivering new capabilities that unleash the true potential of 5G,” said Ulf Ewaldsson, President of Technology at T-Mobile. “With the only nationwide 5G standalone network in the country, T-Mobile is the ONLY provider bringing game-changing technologies like four-carrier aggregation to customers across the country.”

For now, the T-Mobile it only seems only those with a Samsung Galaxy S23 will be able to enjoy the fruits of T-Mobile’s aggregation efforts, though it says compatibility with more devices will follow.

Last year saw a number of operators around the world trial carrier aggregation, and there were lots of ‘firsts’ being claimed in various specific parameters. In December Nokia and A1 Austria declared they had successfully verified 3 component carrier aggregation (3CC CA) in a 5G standalone trial in Austria, clocking 2Gbps download speeds.

In August BT claimed to have achieved a Europe-first by aggregating four carrier components (4CC) in a 5G standalone (SA) live network trial. Working again with Nokia, the operator apparently combined four low and mid bands (2.1, 2.6, 3.4, 3.6 GHz) into one connection allowing increased data rates per user.

Meanwhile Nokia and O2 Telefónica Germany said they had aggregated sub-6 GHz spectrum frequencies in an ‘industry first’ two-component carrier uplink carrier aggregation (CA) trial on 5G standalone, and EE and Qualcomm managed to use seven distinct chunks of spectrum at once, resulting in more 5G bandwidth.

These are all technical milestones we’re sure, but none of it will mean very much to consumers other than a promise of ‘better’ 5G, and it might not be obvious even then what that materially means to their phone experience.


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