Dish’s technical breakthrough means faster speeds for customers

Dish Wireless claimed a technical victory today. The operator collaborated with Qualcomm Technologies and Samsung to successfully test simultaneous 5G 2x uplink and 4x downlink carrier aggregation (CA) using FDD spectrum across FDD bands n71, n70 and n66. The result, according to Dish, is that it was able to achieve 200 Mbps  peak uplink speeds with just 35 MHz of 5G spectrum and 1.3 Gbps peak downlink speeds with just 75 MHz of spectrum.

Dish said the CA tests occurred in its lab and in the field and used a mobile phone form factor test device powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X75 5G Modem RF System combined with Samsung’s 5G vRAN solution and dual and tri-band radios across the Dish 5G network.

The Snapdragon X75 is currently sampling to customers with commercial devices expected to launch later this year. 

According to Daryl Schoolar, analyst and director at Recon Analytics, this achievement is significant for Dish because while operators have been able to do downlink CA using multiple FDD bands, uplink CA is very new.

In fact, Dish’s announcement comes just a little over a month after Qualcomm and Samsung announced that they had completed the world’s first simultaneous 5G 2x uplink and 4x downlink CA for FDD spectrum. Qualcomm and Samsung noted at the time that this development was important because it gives operators with fragmented FDD spectrum assets more flexibility and makes it possible for them to deliver faster upload and download speeds.

Traditionally, uplink CA has been accomplished by combining FDD+TDD or TDD+TDD configurations.

Schooler added that Dish’s announcement demonstrates that this capability can be delivered over a commercial 5G network and Dish will benefit from it as it grows its subscriber base. “Increasing network capacity will be important given that Dish trails its three largest U.S. mobile competitors in lower-spectrum holdings,” he said.

Uplink capacity is becoming more critical as more consumers use uplink-heavy applications such as social media posting and video conferencing.  Indeed, the possibility of delivering peak uplink speeds of 200 Mbps is quite a sizable increase from typical uplink speeds that are measured on wireless networks today. In Ookla’s Q3 2023 report on U.S. wireless networks, it reported that T-Mobile had the fastest median upload speed in the U.S. with speeds of just 11.31 Mbps.

In a statement, Dish Wireless EVP and CTO Eben Albertyn said that by successfully delivering 5G 2x uplink and 4x downlink carrier aggregation for FDD spectrum, Dish is “poised to deliver a better customer experience across our 5G standalone network.”