Bell, the leading Canadian service provider, recently promised theoretical download speeds of up to 220 mbps on their new LTE-A network. Although only theoretical, this is one of the fastest download speeds in the world. On average, downloads will likely be closer to 40 mbps. Still, compare that to the 3 mbps you got from 3G.
LTE-Advanced, sometimes referred to as “5G,” is the next generation of wireless connection technology. While not widespread just yet, major carriers are investing heavily in these new systems. By 2018, 500 million subscribers across the globe will be using LTE-A, as predicted by ABI. But what exactly does LTE-A provide that our current networks don’t?
While speedier downloading is always welcome, most of what we do on smartphones doesn’t need to be done much faster. The most common smartphone tasks, like email exchanges or social media updates, can easily be completed in a relatively short amount of time on current systems. What’s really exciting is the more efficient way that LTE-A simultaneously uses multiple radio base stations, cells, bandwidths and antennas that are already in place. Basically, this new technology is going to provide much better coverage. That means that you can stay in touch in more places, especially when you’re on the move. “Can you hear me now?” could become a phrase of the past – think last minute phone calls on the way to work or during business trips.
This new technology will give you greater capacity from the same spectrum, which means that more people will be able to use the same network simultaneously. You won’t have to compromise connection strength or speed just because the whole office is working at the same time.
But does this mean you’re all going to need new devices? Not necessarily. Current LTE phones will work on LTE-A networks, but they don’t have the software to harness the full LTE-Advanced benefits. Mostly, those new phones haven’t even been made yet. Right now, Bell only offers four smartphones with “CAT 6” compatibility: Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, Galaxy S6, Galaxy Note Edge and HTC One M9.
So when can we start using all of this in the U.S? While definitive countrywide rollout dates are yet to be released, the big companies are definitely interested. Check out new features offered by Verizon Wireless and AT&T in major cities. Even Sprint is already using certain parts of the Advanced technology like bandwidth aggregation. LTE-Advanced networks should be widespread in no time and since phone contracts only last a couple of years, chances are you will find yourself using an LTE-A device pretty soon.