AT&T lined up a trio of LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) technologies in Minneapolis, Minnesota, as the city prepares to host the Super Bowl in February 2018.
The operator indicated it is lighting up 4×4 MIMO, 256 QAM and 3-carrier aggregation in the city, making it one of 20 markets where AT&T deployed what it calls “5G evolution” technology. In a statement, AT&T also said it added a number of small cells across the city and plans to add additional sites in the coming months ahead of the American football championship.
Minnesota state senator Bobby Joe Champion said AT&T’s work is the first step in attracting investment in the next generation wireless economy: “Minnesota is in a great position to welcome 5G Evolution wireless technology, with a climate that encourages the deployment of small cells – an integral building block for 5G. Good public policy can help put Minnesota on the map and attract investment that will prepare our state for the next generation wireless economy.”
AT&T said the rollouts will boost network speeds for its customers in the area, but noted only a handful of handsets can support the three technologies simultaneously: the LG V30; Moto Z Force Edition; and Samsung Galaxy Note 8, S8, S8 Plus and S8 Active.
The operator did not disclose what speeds it expects the upgrades to deliver to customers, saying only it would “share more about speeds as we get closer to launch”.
However, an AT&T representative told Mobile World Live (MWL) customers in more mature 5G Evolution markets including Indianapolis, Indiana; and Austin, Texas, have seen speeds of around 100Mb/s.
On AT&T’s Q3 earnings call, CFO John Stephens said he is “optimistic” the combination of 256 QAM, 4×4 MIMO and carrier aggregation will eventually help the operator deliver flow-through speeds of around 400Mb/s in 5G Evolution markets. AT&T declined to comment on whether it plans to deploy Licensed Assisted Access technology alongside the aforementioned trio, but if it does recent trials show it could bump speeds up to around 750Mb/s.
AT&T isn’t the only US operator deploying carrier aggregation, 4×4 MIMO and 256 QAM. T-Mobile US recently announced the technologies are already live in 430 of its markets, and Verizon told MWL it is steadily working to roll out the technology combination in all of its markets. Verizon indicated it rolled out carrier aggregation in nearly 2,000 markets, while 256 QAM and 4×4 MIMO are live in more than 560 markets.
But AT&T is also upgrading its distributed antenna system in US Bank Stadium (pictured) ahead of the big game. The operator said the stadium had been made “future-ready” with the installation of more than 800 antennas and a capacity boost of 150 per cent.