AT&T is forging ahead with deployments of what it calls “5G Evolution” technology, giving customers in Indianapolis, Ind., and parts of Austin, Texas, a first glimpse at the network improvements headed down the pipe.
The carrier said Wednesday it has launched several LTE-Advanced technologies across all of Indianapolis and parts of Austin, including 256-QAM, 4×4 MIMO, and three-channel carrier aggregation. AT&T said customers with Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus handsets will be the first to see the benefits of the network improvements, but noted it is planning to launch more 5G Evolution capable devices in the coming months.
AT&T noted it’s also adding capacity and improving efficiency with deployments of new distributed antenna systems, small cells, and a centralized RAN architecture.
“We’re excited to launch these new, faster, wireless technologies in Indianapolis as we march towards standards-based mobile 5G,” Marachel Knight, AT&T’s SVP of Wireless Network Architecture and Design, commented. “The upgrades in Indianapolis are crucial to the future of next generation connectivity in this city.”
The deployments come about five months after AT&T announced its 5G roadmap. The carrier’s plan includes launching LTE-Advanced technology in more than 20 metro areas – Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Nashville, and San Francisco, among them – by the end of this year.
While the LTE-Advanced technologies aren’t necessarily groundbreaking given T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint have all deployed or are working on the same, AT&T said the 5G Evolution markets will also be getting an additional boost from deployments of LTE-License Assisted Access (LAA) and four-channel carrier aggregation.
As previously reported, AT&T VP of RAN and Device Design Gordon Mansfield indicated last month the carrier is “actively testing” four-channel carrier aggregation, and noted the technology should be making its way into devices in the “near future.” Mansfield also noted 256-QAM and 4×4 MIMO have been rolled out in a “significant part of our network already.”
AT&T late last month utilized four carrier aggregation alongside LAA to hit peak speeds of more than 750 Mbps in field trials conducted in San Francisco. But the carrier isn’t alone in taking LTE-Advanced technology to the next level. T-Mobile also reported it used four carrier aggregation and LAA to hit similar speeds. More on both tests here.