In a glimpse of the combined T-Mobile US network’s future, the carrier used 2.5 GHz spectrum and multi-user MIMO to achieve peak cell throughput of more than 5.6 Gbps with eight 5G devices.
T-Mo said that in one 100-megahertz channel of 2.5 GHz, it connected eight OnePlus 8 5G smartphones to the same 5G radio and resources, and through the use of multi-user multiple-input multiple-output (MU-MIMO) and beamforming, it pumped more than 700 Mbps through each device: 16 unique streams of data, with each stream capable of hitting more than 350 Mbps, and two streams of data for each device. The antenna site was on top of a building, and the devices were scattered around the parking lot below.
The carrier conducted the test with a commercially available 64-element massive MIMO radio from Ericsson and the OnePlus devices, which is already available for T-Mo customers to buy. In a video documenting the demonstration (see below), Egil Gronstad, senior director of technology, development and strategy for T-Mobile US, described what was happening as being able to send narrow, directed “pencil beams” of energy directly to each device. Each device averaged download speeds of 650-733 Mbps, according to the video.
“At scale, this technology means T-Mobile could connect massively more devices to the same cell infrastructure and still deliver blazing fast speeds to all of them without compromising performance and that means wireless companies will be able to deliver even better 5G performance to even more people,” the carrier said, adding that it expects to start deploying the technologies used in the demo in its network next year.
T-Mobile said that it achieved an “astonishing” 50+ bits per second per hertz (bps/Hz) in spectral efficiency, which it says is “much higher than the single digit efficiency typically experienced today.” Gronstad called the efficiency “phenomenal.”
“Typically in these kind of systems, with conventional radios, you are sort of sending the energy across the whole cell. Now we are able to send it in a narrow beam to just one specific device,” he said, going on to add, “The more we can squeeze out of the spectrum the more users we can serve, and the more data each user can use. … Personally, what makes me so excited about this is the fact that we have the uniqueness from a spectrum point of view to actually be able to use this technology — so we’re going to have the best service in the nation.”
Watch the video about the demonstration below: