T-Mobile is adding extra antennas to cell towers for a more consistent connection

By on April 25, 2014, 5:30 PM
t-mobile, lte, antennas, cell tower, 4x2 mimo, mimo

T-Mobile is in the process of upgrading its LTE network but instead of focusing on faster connection speeds, the carrier is aiming to alleviate another wireless pain point: the inconsistent connection as users move around on the network.

The technology is called 4-by-2 multiple input, multiple output, or 4x2 MIMO. Those up to speed with Wi-Fi technology are likely already familiar with it. If not, it’s a pretty simple concept to grasp as it uses multiple antennas to send multiple parallel transmissions to and from a device.

As GigaOm highlights, virtually every LTE system in use today uses 2x2 MIMO. That means two antennas on the cell tower are used to send two simultaneous streams to two antennas on your mobile device. But with 4x2 MIMO, T-Mobile is doubling down on the number of tower antennas for a total of four.

Increasing the number of signals heading your way won’t boost top-end speeds but it will result in a more consistent experience. That means you’ll be far less likely to go from five bars of service to just two simply by moving 20 yards in one direction, for example.

But as the publication points out, the upstream will benefit the most from the new technology. According to Petri Hautakangas, Nokia networks’ Head of Technology for North America, users can expect to see a 50 to 60 percent boost in download performance and as much as a 100 percent increase in upload speed in areas where connections typically suffer the most.

The service already appears to be active in Chicago, Dallas and San Antonio based on independent reports but we’re still waiting to hear something official from T-Mobile on the matter.

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