Networking giant Ericsson and Unites States telecommunications carrier T-Mobile have announced that they will be bringing gigabit-capable 4G LTE across the nation during 2017.
The announcement, made at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona on Monday morning, will see the two implement network enhancements outlined in 3GPP Release 13.
In partnership with Ericsson, T-Mobile has rolled out a nationwide 4G network over the last 18 months using Ericsson's Antenna-Integrated Radio (AIR), 4x4 Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO), and 256 and 64 Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM). Ericsson also provided T-Mobile with 700MHz tuning and optimisation.
T-Mobile will now combine these technologies with carrier aggregation in order to enable gigabit speeds across its LTE network during 2017, as well as utilising LTE-U -- a mobile technology using unlicensed LTE spectrum to boost data speeds -- to take those 1Gbps speeds to more areas.
"T-Mobile's LTE network is the most advanced in the US, and we'll continue to deploy the latest, global-leading technologies that will create the foundation of a powerful 5G network built for mobility," said T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray.
"We work closely with strategic partners like Ericsson to deliver the most advanced technologies that enhance our customers' experience."
Ray added that T-Mobile will be providing more coverage through the use of small cells -- which provide mobile coverage through the use of satellite services -- with the mobile carrier planning on rolling out between 5,000 and 6,000 more small cells in addition to its current 1,000, particularly in urban areas.
Thanks to the partnership with Ericsson, T-Mobile has become a real third player in the mobile market in the US, Ray said during the announcement at MWC.
Gigabit LTE is also a precursor for 5G deployment in 2020, the companies said.
"We're hugely excited about 5G," Ray said.
Ericsson similarly worked with Australian mobile provider Telstra to launch a gigabit-capable 4G network in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane earlier this month, with Adelaide and Perth to join later in the year followed by more areas in future.
Like T-Mobile, Telstra will also upgrade its regular 4G LTE network to enable 300Mbps speeds for much of its mobile footprint by 2019 using 256 QAM, 4x4 MIMO, and carrier aggregation across spectrum bands.
The use of 4x4 MIMO increases peak rates twofold without needing additional spectrum, with QAM also increasing peak data rates.
Emilio Romeo, head of Ericsson ANZ, said that working with these 4G technologies will mean Ericsson and its carrier partners are experts by the time 5G is adopted.
"While the standards for 5G are still being established, it is exciting to know that it will include a more advanced evolution of the technologies that we're launching today -- namely, carrier aggregation, 4x4 MIMO, 256 QAM -- meaning that ours and Telstra's engineers and our partners' engineers will get to know the technologies today, and it will be deployed and it will evolve into 5G tomorrow," Romeo said earlier this month.