Three-channel carrier aggregation, the newest iteration of a technology that allows phones to bond network bands together for a wider channel and to power their LTE networks with the unused radio waves in the air around them, has been pulling down some incredible speeds in carriers’ tests. Fortunately for consumers, these speeds aren’t all that far off in the future; most 2016 flagship devices, such as the Samsung Galaxy S7 and HTC 10, not only support three-channel carrier aggregation, but have been taking part in carriers’ test of the technology and getting speeds many times faster than what users with those phones currently get on the same network. The latest phone to join in the fun on Sprint’s network is the LG G5, which managed to nab an extremely impressive speed of 275 megabits per second, a huge boost over standard speeds on Sprint’s network.
Sprint’s flavor of three-channel carrier aggregation utilizes up to 60 MHz of spectrum that’s otherwise going unused, along with their own networks. The technology has been delivering great results in lab testing, but has yet to get any real-world testing. Among Sprint’s stable of devices, the technology is only supported on a handful for now; specifically, the HTC One M9, HTC 10, LG G5, Samsung Galaxy S7, Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, and Samsung Galaxy Note 7. Real-world speeds, when the technology starts rolling out, are estimated to top out in excess of 200 Mbps under optimal network conditions, and make it easier for customers to find a signal in some places where they would otherwise have no signal or a weak signal.
Two-channel carrier aggregation is already rolled out in some of Sprint’s LTE Plus markets, and is available on 22 current Sprint devices. These devices, under good network conditions, can see their speeds blow past the 100 megabits per second mark. Two-channel carrier aggregation utilizes only 40 MHz of spectrum as opposed to three-channel carrier aggregation’s 60 MHz, but still produces markedly better speeds and signal strength than normal LTE networks. Sprint has not said exactly when users will start to see three-channel carrier aggregation available, but they did state that those with capable devices will see their devices take an automatic update to enable the function once the necessary network legwork has been done.