Sprint is pushing ahead with its quest for gigabit LTE speeds with a new series of massive MIMO tests with Samsung in South Korea.
The carrier said the tests were conducted in the city of Suwon on 2.5 GHz spectrum using a 32T32R setup. Samsung Electronics America VP and GM Lyle Nyffeler told Wireless Week the trial covered 13 different test cases, including multi-users and non-stationary scenarios. These utilized both vertical and horizontal beamforming, also known as “full dimension MIMO,” which provides coverage not only at the street level but also several stories up.
All told, Sprint reported it was able to achieve speeds of 330 Mbps on a single 20 MHz channel using the massive MIMO and beamforming combination. The experiments also yielded per channel capacity improvements of 4x with a three times boost in cell edge performance, Nyffeler added.
Nyffeler pointed out that the speeds would be significantly higher using carrier aggregation of multiple 20 MHz channels – as Sprint is able to do stateside thanks to its massive trove of 2.5 GHz spectrum. But Sprint indicated it’s planning to take things further still with an end-game that calls for a 64T64R antenna expected to deliver an eight times improvement in capacity.
Back in March, Sprint flexed its gigabit LTE muscles in a demonstration held in New Orleans. That showcase used 4×4 MIMO, 256-QAM, and three-carrier aggregation to deliver speeds well into the 600 Mbps range on a single Motorola prototype device during a network-taxing NBA game in the Smoothie King arena. With Massive MIMO radios using 64T64R, Sprint said it will have the ability to push capacity beyond 1 Gbps to reach 3-6 Gbps per sector.
“The testing in South Korea is an important step towards deploying Massive MIMO in our U.S. network where it will be a key element of LTE Plus as well as 5G,” Sprint COO of Technology Guenther Ottendorfer said in a statement. “Massive MIMO is a tremendous differentiator for Sprint because it is easily deployed on 2.5 GHz spectrum due to the small form factor of the radios needed for a high frequency band. In lower frequency bands, wavelengths are much longer and therefore the radios require much larger, impractical form factors. This makes Massive MIMO an important tool for unleashing our deep 2.5 GHz spectrum holdings.”
While the mystery Motorola handset is expected to be the first to support both 4×4 MIMO and 256-QAM for gigabit speeds, a Qualcomm representative in March told Wireless Week that at least four – but up to 7 – gigabit handsets utilizing the Snapdragon 835 platform will be landing in the United States this year.
More on Sprint’s Massive MIMO ambitions can be found here.
Filed Under: Telecommunications (Spectrum)