T-Mobile tops 3.6 Gbps in 6-CA test with Ericsson, Qualcomm

T-Mobile is boasting another first when it comes to carrier aggregation, this time saying it completed the world’s first six-carrier aggregation (CA) call using sub-6 GHz spectrum on its live 5G network.

The operator worked with Ericsson and Qualcomm Technologies in the test to reach speeds above 3.6 Gbps, which, as T-Mobile reminds us, is fast enough to download a two-hour HD movie in “less than 7 seconds!”  

“We are pushing the boundaries of wireless technology to offer our customers the best experience possible,” said T-Mobile President of Technology Ulf Ewaldsson in a statement. “With the first and largest 5G standalone network in the country, T-Mobile is the only mobile provider serving 10s of millions of customers to unleash new capabilities like 5G carrier aggregation nationwide, and I am so incredibly proud of our team for leading the way.”  

Ewaldsson’s team used 5G carrier aggregation to combine multiple 5G channels to deliver greater speed and performance. In the test, the “un-carrier” said it merged six 5G channels of mid-band spectrum – two channels of 2.5 GHz, two channels of PCS spectrum and two channels of AWS spectrum – creating an effective 245 MHz of aggregated 5G channels. 

A lot of claims are made about 5G carrier aggregation, so discerning what’s what and keying in on qualifying terms is part of the game.

At last year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, T-Mobile talked about how it had achieved the world’s first four-carrier aggregation data call on its 5G standalone (SA) network with a commercial device. In July, the carrier was rolling out four-carrier aggregation on its network, combining four different 5G channels: two channels of 2.5 GHz, one channel of 1900 MHz and one channel of 600 MHz, creating an effective 225 MHz 5G channel with peak speeds of up to 3.3 Gbps.

Last month T-Mobile claimed a “5G U.S. first” in a test that leveraged 5G standalone millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum and technology from Ericsson and Qualcomm.

Unsurprisingly, given the nature of mmWave, those tests produced greater speeds than the mid-band spectrum in the test touted today. Using the high-band spectrum, T-Mobile aggregated eight channels of mmWave spectrum to reach download speeds over 4.3 Gbps without using low-band or mid-band spectrum to anchor the connection. T-Mobile also said it aggregated four channels of mmWave spectrum on the uplink, reaching speeds above 420 Mbps.

Of course, mmWave gets a bad rap due to its poor propagation characteristics – signals don’t travel far or very well through obstacles. But in that press release, T-Mobile acknowledged how mmWave could be used for its fixed wireless access (FWA) business, where the use case involves a “standing still” implementation as opposed to moving around in a more traditional cellular environment, making it potentially more economical for home broadband.