Last year, we started seeing some of the first smartphones arrive with support for next-gen LTE-Advanced networks, like when Samsung introduced that special LTE-A version of the Galaxy S 4, running a Snapdragon 800, for use on such networks in South Korea. Since then we’ve heard about similar networks in a few other regions, but the US has been stuck with regular-old LTE. Today we start to hear about that changing, as AT&T switches-on some LTE-Advanced functionality in Chicago, with plans to bring it to more areas soon.
LTE-Advanced offers a lot of features, but the one we’re talking about today is carrier aggregation. That lets a provider like AT&T communicate with your phone using multiple chunks of the spectrum at once – in this case, AT&T’s LTE bands in the 700MHz and 2100MHz ranges. While this doesn’t increase overall bandwidth available, it does let AT&T hit higher speeds when its towers are talking to individual phones.
Right now, the only officially confirmed AT&T device to support this high-speed access is a hotspot, but comments Samsung made regarding the Galaxy S5 strongly imply that the phone will similarly be able to take advantage of AT&T’s carrier aggregation – at the least, Samsung has talked about general support for the feature, but not specifically naming AT&T’s as one network that would work.
Expect to hear a lot more about carrier aggregation and LTE-Advanced as more and more handsets arrive this year supporting the tech.