T-Mobile testing three-channel carrier aggregation on LTE network

T-Mobile US is testing carrier aggregation technology across three different spectrum bands, a move that could significantly improve the speed and performance of the operator's LTE network.

The tests, in Dallas, were first highlighted by a user on Reddit. The user posted documents showing carrier aggregation working across T-Mobile's 1900 MHz (band 2), 2100 MHz AWS-1 (band 4) and 700 MHz A Block (band 12) operations. The technology appears to have been running on a Samsung Galaxy Note 5 smartphone.

When questioned about the posting, a T-Mobile spokesperson said only that "We've been doing some advanced LTE field trials in the area, but don't have anything to announce yet."

Carrier aggregation technology essentially allows wireless network operators to combine transmissions in two or more spectrum bands to increase speeds. Already in the United States carriers including Verizon (NYSE: VZ), AT&T (NYSE: T) and Sprint (NYSE: S) have deployed two-channel carrier aggregation in order to improve their networks. For example, Verizon has used carrier aggregation to combine transmissions across its 700 MHz and AWS spectrum.

Three-channel carrier aggregation essentially represents the next step up from two-channel aggregation, and Sprint executives have said the carrier is working to roll out three-channel carrier aggregation across the operator's 800 MHz, 1900 MHz and 2.5 GHz bands. Indeed, in March Sprint announced it achieved speeds of more than 300 Mbps using the new Samsung Galaxy S7, one of the first handsets on the market able to support the operator's three-channel carrier aggregation network technology.

The Reddit user who posted the evidence of T-Mobile's three-channel carrier aggregation noted that their download speeds on T-Mobile's LTE network reached 60 Mbps.

Although it was relatively late to the LTE game, T-Mobile has been working to expand the reach and performance of its LTE network. On the carrier's recent earnings call with investors, CEO John Legere noted that T-Mobile currently covers 308 million Americans with LTE "and we are virtually on par with Verizon."

"We've had the fastest 4G LTE network for nine quarters in a row that produced speeds averaging 22 megs in Q1," he added.

Legere also said T-Mobile has deployed its 700 MHz A Block spectrum across 340 markets covering 194 million people. He added that the carrier had recently purchased more 700 MHz spectrum in order to cover a total of 258 million people, or 80 percent of the U.S. population.

Further, Legere said T-Mobile is participating in the FCC's incentive auction of TV broadcasters' unwanted 600 MHz licenses. T-Mobile executives have said the carrier could spend billions of dollars on licenses in that auction in order to expand its wireless network and add more capacity. The addition of carrier aggregation to that 600 MHz network deployment could further boost the performance of T-Mobile's network.

For more:
- see this Reddit post

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