Your Guide To The Big Four’s Pre-5G LTE Offerings
No matter how hard we wish it so, 5G is still not commercially available. But the good news is that the Big Four carriers in America (Verizon Wireless, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint) are also busy beginning to transition to this wireless technology over the course of the next couple of years. Still, it is worth knowing more about what these mobile operators are offering before they eventually roll out their respective 5G services.
It was about three years ago when the Big Red started making full use of its XLTE offering, which is basically its LTE service that runs on AWS airwaves. Verizon claims that its XLTE offered two fold the bandwidth compared to 4G LTE, allowing peak connection speeds by way of the roughly 20 MegaHertz of countrywide AWS spectrum it acquired for a sum of $3.9 billion from a group of cable companies in a deal approved by the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) back in 2012.
The number one mobile operator in the US has also pursued LTE Advanced (LTE-A), which is an actual spec (also known as the 3GPP Release 10) that started to be present in the US wireless market a few years back. In August of last year, Verizon had launched two and three carrier aggregation with the use of 700 MegaHertz, AWS, and PCS airwaves, allowing data speeds that are 50 percent faster (topping 300 mbps, as claimed by the Big Red) to users based in more than 460 cities in America.
The second biggest carrier in the country has its LTE-A offering, but recently, the company has been claiming to have accomplished “5G Evolution Internet” connection speeds (more on this later). AT&T did this by taking full advantage of technologies such as carrier aggregation and LTE-Licensed Assisted Access (LAA).
Around a couple of months ago, AT&T stated that it was going to offer 5G Evolution Internet speeds in 20 major metropolitan areas before the end of this year. According to the carrier, it had introduced upgrades thanks to technologies that include carrier aggregation, 4 X 4 MIMO, and 256 QAM, among many others. AT&T added that with LTE-Licensed Assisted Access, it can deliver peak connection speeds of 1 gbps in selected regions this year.
T-Mobile is pursuing LTE Advanced, specifically looking to use 256 QAM for downloads and 64 QM for uploads. Under its LTE-A offering, it utilizes VoLTE with eSRVC, carrier aggregation, CoMP, SON, HetNets, EVS, and higher order modulation. By acquiring 700 MegaHertz A Block airwaves back in May of last year, the carrier is in a good position to be able to provide service in that spectrum in each of the top ten mobile markets in America. Last April, T-Mobile had started using that spectrum in the city of Chicago in Illinois.
Sprint’s LTE Plus offering includes 2.6 GigaHertz airwaves, 4 X 4 MIMO, 256 QAM, beam forming, and three carrier aggregation. This allowed the company to reach Cat 16 LTE download data speeds on a TDD network. The carrier happens to have loads of 2.5 GigaHertz airwaves, and it appears to be using it wisely. In March early this year, it managed to complete the first ever American roll out of Gigabit Class LTE on a live commercial network. The demo was done during an NBA game held in the city of New Orleans in Louisiana, with the help of partners Motorola and Qualcomm.