T-Mobile doubles network speeds with 4x4 MIMO, expands to cover 312M POPs

T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray

T-Mobile followed last week’s news that Verizon had launched carrier aggregation with a network announcement of its own, saying this morning that it has doubled the speed of its data network using 4x4 MIMO (multiple input, multiple output).

The nation’s third-largest carrier said 4x4 MIMO “doubles the number of data paths between a cell site and your phone,” enabling data transmissions that are twice as fast. The technology is available in 319 cities, T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray wrote in a blog post, and Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge handsets will be able to use it later this month with a software update.

Other phones will support the technology soon, according to the operator. And T-Mobile said its network covers nearly 312 million people, 99.7 percent of the number of people Verizon’s network reaches.

Ray also said that today it became the first U.S. carrier to launch 256 QAM (quadrature amplitude modulation) for downloads and 64 QAM for uploads. When combined with 4x4 MIMO, 256 QAM provides download speeds up to 400 Mbps.

“256 QAM and 64 QAM are already live in half our network, and by the end of October, we’ll light up every single cell site across our nationwide framework,” Ray wrote. “Customers with the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge will be able to use this new technology with a software update in October, with more phones on the way.”

Verizon last week announced the launch of two- and three-channel carrier aggregation, claiming to bring 50 percent faster peak data speeds to its customers in 461 cities. Verizon uses 700 MHz, AWS and PCS spectrum, combining two or three of the channels to deliver data over the most efficient route to devices.

But Ray took a swipe at Verizon’s news, saying that T-Mobile customers have been able to access two-channel carrier aggregation since 2014, and that T-Mobile has also deployed three-channel carrier aggregation.

Ray also used the opportunity to crow about the unlimited data plans T-Mobile introduced a few weeks ago. Both T-Mobile and Sprint have launched unlimited plans, while Verizon and AT&T both increased the price of their data plans and monthly data allotments.

“There’s a reason Verizon and AT&T don’t offer everyone unlimited high-speed data and have been running away from it for years – their networks just can’t handle it,” Ray wrote. “Their networks were built when a phone call was the #1 smartphone app – not Instagram or Pokémon Go or Snapchat.  Their network was not built to handle the massive amounts of data people use today.”

For more:
- read Neville Ray’s blog post

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