Three-channel carrier aggregation is an incredible technology that can produce network speeds in excess of 200 megabits per second with current technology, but it has been largely restricted to a lab setting using specialized equipment. The feature has to be unlocked on the device at hand, which involves deep-level software work, and the network conditions have to be ideal. These limitations are exactly what carriers are working to abolish before rolling the technology out to users, and if a recent live demo in Chicago is to be believed, Sprint and Samsung are very close to cracking the case wide open.
After having gotten a Samsung Galaxy S7 up to the 300 megabit per second mark in lab testing of three-channel carrier aggregation on both high and low bands, Sprint decided to take the technology to the public to show off what they've been working on. Hand in hand with Samsung, Sprint did multiple tests on the three hottest Samsung devices going right now; the Galaxy Note 7, the Galaxy S7, and the Galaxy S7 Edge. Between all the tests on the three devices, the peak download speed reached in the course of the festivities was a blazing 230 megabits per second, many times faster than the peak speeds that users these days see on the best devices in the best network conditions. The test took place at Soldier Field, and used the 2.5GHz spectrum cluster that Sprint has licenses for.
The successful demonstration is quite significant in the fact that Chicago was Sprint's first LTE Plus market, where customers enjoyed increased speeds due to the presence of two-channel carrier aggregation. With today's demonstration, it seems that things will come full circle and Chicago will become the first market for commercial deployment of three-channel carrier aggregation on Sprint's network, with the service potentially available on most of the major 2016 flagship devices and only needing a software update to flip the switch. The demonstration took place on one device at a time, leaving some questions as to how realistic the testing speeds would be at scale for multiple users. For now, Sprint has not announced a definite date for rolling out the technology to customers.