September 8, 2017
T-Mobile is touting a worldwide first, achieving download speeds of 1.175 Gbps on its network using Nokia’s 4.9G network gear powered by the Nokia AirScale Base Station together with the Snapdragon X20 LTE modem from Qualcomm Technologies. The speeds were achieved in tests at T-Mobile’s lab last week.
The test was configured for licensed spectrum only, using 40 MHz of AWS downlink spectrum and 20 MHz of PCS downlink spectrum, according to a T-Mobile spokesman.
Technology in the tests included the Snapdragon X20 LTE modem mobile test device supporting Downlink Category 18 for theoretical peak download speeds of up to 1.2 Gbps, 12 independent streams of LTE data, as well as 4x4 MIMO, 256 QAM and three carrier aggregation across 60 MHz of downlink spectrum on T-Mobile’s network.
The speeds aren’t necessarily surprising given that vendors have been touting their gigabit-class speeds for quite some time, but T-Mobile made a point of saying the tests demonstrate that commercially available 4G technologies can deliver unprecedented download speeds well beyond what customers experience today.
T-Mobile has been on a bit of a tear lately on the speed front, with Ookla deeming it the fastest mobile network in the United States, clocking in with a Speed Score of 23.17 on modern devices during its testing period. The report said that the combination of a tightly-spaced cell site grid and a smaller subscriber base than Verizon and AT&T could be the keys to T-Mobile’s success in the U.S. market and to its ability to support the exponential growth in mobile data consumption.
T-Mobile also has been expanding its LTE footprint into new markets, leveraging 700 MHz spectrum and now it’s got 600 MHz from the incentive auction that’s starting to get into play. The Ookla report also noted that T-Mobile has been aggressively refarming spectrum, previously used for legacy technologies such as GSM and WCDMA, and committing those assets to the more efficient LTE. Plus, it’s been employing pretty much every feature at its disposal, including the aforementioned 4x4 MIMO and 256 QAM, to push the envelope.
“Every meaningful network innovation in recent years has come first from T-Mobile. We already have America’s fastest and most advanced LTE network, and we’ve built it to advance faster for customers than anybody else out there,” said Neville Ray, CTO of T-Mobile, in a press release. “These tests with Nokia and Qualcomm Technologies prove that T-Mobile customers have a lot more speed to look forward to from our LTE network as we evolve to 5G.”
User devices supporting these speeds are expected to be made commercially available in the first half of 2018, according to Qualcomm.
Nokia and Qualcomm Technologies will demonstrate the 1.2 Gbps data rates at their booths at Mobile World Congress Americas 2017 in San Francisco next week.