Despite not getting its fair share of press, Gigabit LTE is an important stepping stone between the current 4G standards and the newly-proposed 5G. Gigabit LTE is capable of delivering speeds up to 1 Gbps. In the real world, this often translates to speeds around 400 Mbps, but compared to the national averages of 23 Mbps (for mobile networks) and 64 Mbps (at home), it is a substantial improvement.
Several new technologies, both in your phone and within the towers they reach, allow us to reach these ridiculous speeds. Carrier Aggregation allows carriers to use multiple frequencies on their cell towers to send data to and from your phone, essentially widening the lanes of the highway you can use to access data.
In the real world, this often translates to speeds around 400 Mbps.
256-QAM allows more data to be transferred at one time. Continuing with the highway metaphor, this means that each truck on the highway can now carry more information and prevent that highway from getting more congested. Additional antennas on devices, known as MIMO 4×4, allow your phone to better pick up signals, thus resulting in increased speeds.
Carriers are also using License Assisted Access (LAA) to use their licensed radio waves — as well as the waves used by everyone — to increase speeds, which further pushes today’s smartphones toward the theoretical 1 Gigabit speed.
With Gigabit LTE, you can quickly download games and TV shows on the go, as well as tether multiple devices to your phone, allowing for lightning-fast internet wherever you are. The service is already pretty available, and is quickly becoming more widespread with time. More than 40 operators and 16 devices now support it, and it’s currently available in 25 countries.
It not only improves speeds for those who have it — you can actually access data online faster than you can access the data on your phone with Gigabit LTE — but it also clears up congestion by Gigabit LTE users faster. It also enhances speeds across the board and is more reliable in areas that aren’t known for having good coverage. This could be the tipping point in wireless technology, one in which mobile data will surpass broadband speeds and change the way we access information.