National carrier T-Mobile and networking giant Nokia have pulled down LTE downlink speeds of 1.3Gbps in a joint trial utilizing license assisted access, or LAA technology. The testing was conducted in T-Mobile's own lab in Bellevue, Washington, using equipment sourced from Nokia. To be specific, the Nokia equipment in question was Nokia AirScale Micro Remote Radio Head, along with an AirScale system module. The 14 antenna layers provided yielded those incredible LTE speeds through 5-component carrier aggregation across both licensed and unlicensed spectrum. 256QAM and 4×4 MIMO were also used in the test. The Nokia equipment is considered a high-capacity small cell, which means that it will mostly be helping to boost speed and capacity in urban areas once it begins commercial deployment, and it could also be used in T-Mobile's 5G rollout. On top of traditional LTE equipment and 5G solutions, Nokia works with in-between 4.9G equipment, and this is part of that series.
According to T-Mobile Chief Technology Officer Neville Ray, T-Mobile plans to work on deploying the same equipment in the lab tests. These deployments will make up a small cell network that will serve LTE-Advanced to customers for now, including the same LAA technology seen in the lab test. The kicker with this deployment is that it will form a foundation for the company's future 5G ambitions, allowing it to update existing hotspots in some markets to support 5G, rather than having to put down entirely new equipment deployments. Nokia Mobile Networking President Marc Rouanne seconded that notion, saying that it provided T-Mobile with LAA-compatible LTE technology that can expand the Un-Carrier's current repertoire for higher download speeds and capacity than what's possible with current tech, while also laying the groundwork for 5G.
T-Mobile has been running field tests on 4.9G and 5G technology with Nokia for quite some time, and now it seems that those tests will be yielding an actual commercial product in the very near future. Nokia, for its part, has been working on 5G solutions worldwide with a range of carriers and telecom entities. Its 4.9G solutions are not quite as popular as its 5G equipment, which could indicate that many carriers plan to jump straight from 4G LTE to 5G. In some developing countries, the ease of deploying and building out small cells could mean that areas with little or no connectivity may suddenly jump to 5G.