They certainly haven’t been as flashy as some competitors about making it known, but Verizon and AT&T this week both confirmed limited roll outs of 256-QAM are in progress.
Earlier this week, a Verizon spokeswoman verified 256-QAM is live in “some parts” of the carrier’s network after a reference to the technology was spotted in an FCC application for 28 GHz tests.
On Wednesday, an AT&T spokesman confirmed the same.
“We’re in the process of rolling out 256-QAM across our mobile network,” the spokesman said. “Customers with capable-devices will now be able to experience the benefits of these upgrades in select areas of some markets.”
The news follows T-Mobile’s announcement back in September that it had launched 256-QAM alongside 4X4 MIMO on its network. At the time, T-Mobile said 256-QAM for downloads and 64-QAM for uploads was live in half its network. The Un-carrier said both were expected to be activated across every cell by the end of October.
Last month at CES, T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray said 256-QAM was one of the tools the Un-carrier will use to hit gigabit speeds.
“5 MHz carrier (spectrum) in LTE gives you about 35, 38 Mbps. 256-QAM takes you to 50 (Mbps), 4×4 MIMO takes it to 100 Mbps. Ten of those gives you a gigabit,” he explained. “It’s a great milestone for us to chase.”
Not one to be left out, Sprint has also discussed plans to unleash 256-QAM in the near future.
In a December blog post, Sprint CTO John Saw said the carrier expects to “unveil some innovative work with 256-QAM and Massive MIMO pushing 1 Gbps class speed boundaries” sometime this year. A Sprint spokeswoman said Wednesday the carrier is still testing 256-QAM in the lab.