T-Mobile bragged about a new speed test result Thursday that relied on a sort of wireless fusion cuisine: By merging an unprecedented six channels of mid-band 5G wireless on its regular network, the carrier saw download speeds exceed 3.6Gbps.
That would be an impressive figure for millimeter-wave 5G, the fastest frequencies available, and it also beats the connection speeds of most Americans’ residential fiber-optic broadband. Reaching that download speed with midband frequencies that normally can’t touch mmWave’s peak speeds required bonding those six channels via a technique called carrier aggregation.
T-Mobile has been deploying aggregation commercially with fewer channels at a time for a couple of years now, but the test it conducted with Ericsson and Qualcomm took the concept a few steps further.
T-Mobile’s press release says it featured two channels of 2.5GHz 5G, the fast band it markets as “Ultra Capacity 5G,” two of AWS (Advanced Wireless Services, not to be confused with Amazon Web Services), and two of PCS (Personal Communications Service), to yield a combined 245MHz of capacity.
That announcement touts that this speed was “fast enough to download a two-hour HD movie in less than 7 seconds” but does not make a case for spending the next two hours watching that movie on a phone’s small screen.
Last month, T-Mobile announced even faster results from a test of carrier aggregation that employed its little-used mmWave spectrum to boost download speeds past 4.3Gbps. That post offered more of a hint about what new services customers could get, by suggesting that carrier aggregation plus mmWave could help upgrade its booming home fixed-wireless business.
Both sets of experimental results may make T-Mobile’s regular 5G look slow, but in third-party tests, the service that wireless customers can actually get continues to outrank AT&T and Verizon’s 5G. For example, the latest published Speedtest app data from Ookla have T-Mobile’s average downloads at 163.59Mbps, more than twice as fast as Verizon’s average of 75.68Mbps and AT&T’s 72.64Mbps.
Recommended by Our Editors
T-Mobile’s rural coverage, however, can still fall short of what its two rivals offer. So in that context, T-Mobile’s more significant announcement this week may have been the news of Tuesday’s launch by SpaceX of the first six Starlink satellites capable of providing roaming service to T-Mobile phones.
Whenever that becomes commercially available—not until late 2024 at best—that won’t be terribly fast and at first will only support texting before later adding voice and data. But going from no coverage to slow coverage will represent more of an upgrade than moving from fast to really fast.
Disclosure: Ookla is owned by PCMag’s parent company, Ziff Davis.
Like What You’re Reading?
Sign up for Fully Mobilized newsletter to get our top mobile tech stories delivered right to your inbox.
The post T-Mobile Touts New Top Speeds for the Second-Fastest Flavor of 5G first appeared on www.pcmag.com