Carrier aggregation, a feature that lets a phone snatch unused spectrum from the air around it and use it in tandem with the carrier-provided spectrum that its network functions normally run on, is in testing with most US carriers. The feature can bring some seriously shocking speed increases to a phone’s LTE networking capabilities, as well as give the device a boost in crowded places or even provide LTE coverage where there would otherwise be none. Three-channel carrier aggregation is an incredibly dense and fast variant of the technology, and can provide LTE speeds that rival and even blow away most home broadband. The HTC 10 is one of the first commercial smartphones in the world to support the functionality, and Sprint has decided to put it to the test with their own flavor of three-channel carrier aggregation, called LTE Plus.
The HTC 10 is a phone that doesn’t get a lot of love. Despite being, for the most part, just as good as most other flagships these days, the phone has done poorly enough in sales to never make it onto AT&T and to have already been pulled from T-Mobile, less than 3 months after its launch. Those who looked past the HTC 10 and only had eyes for the feature-packed Galaxy S7 or the modular LG G5 may change their tone upon hearing that Sprint’s testing managed to get speeds up to 295 megabits per second out of the quaint little phone, putting it in the same league, as far as potential speed, as Samsung’s flagships, which have been used in three-channel carrier aggregation tests by both Sprint and T-Mobile in the past.
Currently, Sprint has a stable of 22 LTE Plus devices that support two-channel carrier aggregation. As far as support for three-channel carrier aggregation, only 5 devices currently on the network will make the cut when the technology rolls out; the HTC 10 and M9, Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, and the LG G5. The full loadout of compatible devices will reportedly be receiving automatic updates to enable three-channel carrier aggregation as soon as Sprint has completed the proper preparations and is ready to roll the feature out.