Sprint, Samsung achieve 230 Mbps download speeds in Soldier Field demo

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While Verizon announced it’s using carrier aggregation, both two channel and three channel, to boost the performance of its network, Sprint and Samsung Electronics America were touting their demo of three-channel carrier aggregation (3CA) at Soldier Field in Chicago today.

Lyle Nyffeler, VP and GM of the Sprint customer team at Samsung, said it was the first public demo in North America of 3CA. Sprint has deployed 3CA on more than 500 cell sites in Chicago and its demo used Sprint’s 2.5 GHz spectrum to deliver peak download speeds of more than 230 Mbps. Earlier this year, Sprint said it had achieved speeds of more than 300 Mbps using 3CA on the Samsung Galaxy S7.

Carrier aggregation is an LTE-Advanced feature that bonds together bands of spectrum to create wider channels, produce greater capacity and deliver faster speeds on capable devices, essentially creating a wider lane that allows more data traffic to travel at higher rates.

Sprint’s Soldier Field demonstration used Samsung’s latest network infrastructure technology and the Samsung Galaxy Note7, Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge devices. The 3CA is live in its network today at the 500 sites in Chicago, and Samsung will be releasing the software in the next couple of months so users with capable devices should all of a sudden notice a big uptick in performance.

Verizon’s carrier aggregation uses a combination of 700 MHz, AWS and PCS spectrum. Verizon said its engineers deploying three-channel carrier aggregation have experienced speeds greater than 300 Mbps. It also offers some 39 LTE-Advanced-capable devices, including those from Samsung, that support its two-carrier and three-carrier aggregation offerings, but it didn’t list out the models supporting 3CA.

Chicago represents a major market for Sprint, which recently opened 200 stores there and hired more than 1,000 staff. By the end of 2016, it will have spent nearly $150 million in Chicago.

Ten months ago, Chicago was Sprint's first LTE Plus market to receive two-channel carrier aggregation and it’s taking a leadership role as the first carrier to publicly demonstrate three-channel carrier aggregation live in the field, according to Sprint COO of Technology Gunther Ottendorfer in an interview with FierceWirelessTech. Sprint holds more than 160 MHz of 2.5 GHz spectrum in the top U.S. markets, he noted.

Sprint said it offers 22 devices that actively support two-channel carrier aggregation on its LTE-Plus network. Six devices on its network are three-channel carrier aggregation capable and that’s expected to grow. Three-carrier aggregation is slated to be enabled on devices via an automatic software update following network deployment, Sprint said in its release.

Soldier Field is significant for another reason as well. Legend has it that the first call from a DynaTAC phone was placed outside the stadium from former Ameritech President Bob Barnett to the grandson of Alexander Graham Bell more than 30 years ago.

For more:
- see the press release

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