Is carrier aggregation really a big deal? Sprint thinks so, announcing Tuesday they were demonstrating three-carrier capability with two device-makers in Chicago and Kansas City. Inside Towers reported recently on similar tests by AT&T and Verizon.
In recent demos of what’s next for Sprint’s LTE Plus Network, the company described carrier aggregation as an LTE-advanced feature that bonds together spectrum bands to create larger channels that can handle more data at greater speeds.
Sprint has deployed three-channel aggregation on 500+ cell sites in Chicago. At Soldier Field, Sprint used its 2.5 GHz spectrum to deliver peak download speeds of more than 230 Mbps on Samsung devices, including the Galaxy Note7, Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge.
The carrier demoed two-channel carrier aggregation in Chicago 10 months earlier. “4K video and immersive virtual reality systems are gaining momentum and Sprint is ready with more spectrum and capacity … to support our customers’ demands for data now and well into the future,” said Sprint COO Technology Günther Ottendorfer.
Sprint and Nokia also demonstrated three-channel carrier aggregation in Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium using the three Samsung devices mentioned above, as well as the HTC 10 and LG G5. This reached download speeds of up to 230 Mbps.
They used a Nokia Flexi Multiradio 10 Base Station for LTE TDD, including TD-LTE-Advanced 8-pipe radio (8T8R) that can deliver all three carriers from a single unit on 8T8R configuration for better performance and coverage. More antennas deliver a stronger, narrower signal that transmit more energy to the cell edge giving customers better coverage, reliability, and faster data speeds, say Nokia and Sprint.
Nokia EVP and head of its North American division Ricky Corker said: “Our aggregation feature not only increases the end user throughput significantly, but also balances Sprint’s network load on three carriers for an efficient use of spectrum.” That translates to good cell coverage at home, the office or at the stadium, he added.
Sprint has begun its three-channel carrier aggregation deployment in Kansas City with more than 100 cell sites slated to be on air in the metro area by the end of this month. The company also showcased live streaming of ultra-high definition 4K video and a low-latency, high-speed, virtual reality system.
Today, Sprint uses two-channel carrier aggregation to deliver peak speeds of more than 100 Mbps in 237 LTE Plus markets using 40 MHz of 2.5 GHz spectrum on the company’s LTE Plus cell sites.