While 5G is a ways away, there's still some growing room for 4G LTE. Qualcomm has been field testing its X20 LTE modem, which will allow for a theoretical limit of 1.2Gbps download speeds on cellular connections. Now, Verizon, Ericsson and Qualcomm have announced they were able to achieve a stable 1.07Gbps in lab conditions.
The test uses a combination of 12 separate LTE streams on 3X carrier aggregation, along with 4x4 MIMO and 256QAM, technologies that all carriers, especially T-Mobile, have been touting in their quest to eke as much speed out of the current 4G LTE spec as possible.
This 1.07 Gbps achievement builds on Verizon's recent announcement about Gigabit LTE with support for License Assisted Access (LAA). Also of significance, the 1.07 Gbps speed was achieved using only three 20MHz carriers of FDD (Frequency Division Duplex using separate transmit and receive frequencies) spectrum, achieving new levels of spectral efficiency for commercial networks and devices. These efficiencies will enable the delivery of the Gigabit class experience to more customers and lead to new wireless innovations.
The companies achieved the 1.07 Gbps industry milestone by using 12 simultaneous LTE streams, which allow for up to 20 percent increase in peak data rates and capacity with a corresponding improvement in average speeds. Ericsson's Radio System and LTE software, in concert with a mobile test device based on the Snapdragon X20 LTE modem, enabled these high speeds.
In the lab, the 1.07 Gbps speeds were achieved using all licensed band combinations with:
- 12 LTE streams with 3 cell carrier aggregation of FDD spectrum
- 4x4 MIMO per carrier (multiple in, multiple out), which uses multiple antennae at the cell tower and on consumers devices to optimize data speeds
- 256 QAM per carrier, which enables customer devices and the network to exchange information in large amounts, delivering more bits of data in each transmission, significantly enhancing data speeds
Even with this achievement, it will be a long time before consumers are able to see these high speeds. There are no consumer devices that include the Qualcomm X20 modem, but it may be included on next year's flagship devices, following more successful tests. Even then, carriers will need to upgrade the cellular towers before customers can take advantage of the super high speeds.
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