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Technology for Faster Downloads

The major carriers are using different methods to give you more data bandwidth and speed than is available from a single cellular channel.  Most methods use multiple channels which are possible with carriers that have spectrum holdings spread across various locations in the Radio Frequency spectrum.  This page explains the specific technologies that provide these greater download capabilities.  Our maps show spectrum and coverage used by the wireless carriers where this technology can potentially use the additional spectrum.


LTE Advanced
LTE Advanced is used to increase download speeds by accessing multiple wireless channels at the same time. Also called LTE A or Carrier Aggregation, this technology has the potential of increasing bandwidth from 50%  to 500%.  Carrier aggregation can work with contiguous component carriers that are located within the same operating frequency band, or with non-continuous carriers from different bands across different operating frequencies. LTE Advanced usually uses MIMO technology.

A major benefit of Carrier Aggregation is that it allows for full backwards and forwards compatibility between existing LTE networks and LTE Advanced compatible devices. LTE Advanced connections are provided through existing LTE bands, so standard LTE users will continue to use LTE as normal, whereas Advanced connections will make use of multiple LTE carriers.


MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output)

Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) is a wireless technology that uses multiple transmitters and receivers to transfer more data at the same time. The mobile device or the access point (AP) must support MIMO. For optimal performance and range, both must support MIMO.

MIMO technology uses a natural radio-wave phenomenon called multipath. With multipath, transmitted information bounces off walls, ceilings, and other objects, reaching the receiving antenna multiple times at different angles and slightly different times. In the past, multipath caused interference and slowed down wireless signals. With multipath, MIMO technology uses multiple, smart transmitters and receivers with an added spatial dimension, increasing performance and range.

MIMO increases receiver signal-capturing power by enabling antennas to combine data streams arriving from different paths and at different times. Smart antennas use spatial diversity technology, which puts surplus antennas to good use. When antennas outnumber spatial streams, the antennas can add receiver diversity and increase range. More antennas usually equate to higher speeds. 

Legacy wireless systems use Single-Input Single-Output (SISO) technology. They can only send or receive one spatial stream at a time.

4X4 MIMO
Put a number in front of MIMO and you're increasing the number of channels or bands used to further increase data bandwidth.  It could reach 6X6 or even 8X8 and theoretically the bandwidth is multiplied by the additional number of transmitters, receivers and antennas, but the real world keeps us within more conservative expectations.

VoLTE, eSRVCC, CoMP, SON, HetNets, EVS, etc.
There are several equally important but less known technologies that use various methods of compression, timing and coding to increase the amount of data flowing through the pipe.  While useful, none are as effective delivering faster downloads than Advanced and MIMO technologies.