We still don’t know if Verizon is going to launch Gigabit LTE this year as they’ve told us they will, but they certainly haven’t slowed on testing out technologies that’ll get us closer to 5G. This week, during a trial with Qualcomm and Ericsson, they completed the “first successful FDD Massive MIMO” connection on a “fully compatible customer device.”
I know, that sounds like weird engineer speak for something we think is supposed to be cool. And it is cool! This is still 4G LTE technology here, but it’ll work as a nice upgrade and key component as we wait for 5G to get here.
With Massive MIMO (multiple input, multiple output), we get an upgrade over MIMO, which is likely a core technology of your current at-home WiFi system. We’re talking huge improvements in throughput and efficiency to help increase network capacity and deliver more speed to your phone. That’s the most simple explanation ever, by the way, and yes, it is much more complicated than that. Just know that Massive MIMO will likely be availability to you before 5G, especially as phones start supporting it.
That support may come first with phones running Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845. The trial we referenced above happened on a test device with a Snapdragon 845 and Qualcomm’s X20 LTE modem. The X20 modem supports a technology called TM9 (Transmission Mode 9) that makes it fully compatible with Massive MIMO. So again, with Massive MIMO and TM9 working together, you’ll see greater speeds to your phone.
For now, Verizon has only tested Massive MIMO on a phone in Irvine, CA. With that said, as the Snapdragon 845 (and TM9) hits phones in the first half of 2018, expect its reach to expand.