T-Mobile launches 3.3Gbps 5G SA speeds thanks to four-carrier aggregation


    T-Mobile has been busy working on its carrier aggregation tech over the last few years that’s bringing gigabit speeds to customers around the US. Now the latest advancement is rolling out with 5G SA speeds reaching up to 3.3Gbps.


    T-Mobile launched its 5G Standalone (SA) Ultra Capacity coverage back in November 2022, the first US carrier to do so with speeds up to 3Gbps via three-carrier aggregation.

    However, it wasn’t until iOS 16.4 in March 2023 that 5G SA support arrived for iPhone:

    After a successful production test of four-carrier aggregation 5G SA back in March, T-Mobile announced today that it’s officially available boosting speeds as high as 3.3Gbps with the advancement.

    Who can use four-carrier aggregation?

    Like the Un-carrier did with three-carrier aggregation, the latest coverage is available to start for Samsung Galaxy S23 users before arriving for iPhone and other 5G SA capable smartphones.

    T-Mobile says “Four-carrier aggregation is live in parts of T-Mobile’s network now and will be available nationwide in the coming weeks.”

    However, if you’ve got a modern iPhone on T-Mobile, you can turn on 5G SA as long as you have iOS 16.4 and still get up to 3Gbps speeds, just not the max 3.3Gbps for now.

    What is carrier aggregation?

    As a refresher, carrier aggregation is when a provider combines multiple channels of 5G spectrum to increase performance. In T-Mobile’s case, it’s using four sub-6GHz frequencies “two channels of 2.5 GHz Ultra Capacity 5G, one channel of 1900 MHz and one channel of 600 MHz spectrum” to get the super-fast gigabit speeds.

    While 5G SA is available from carriers abroad, T-Mobile touts it’s the only provider in the US that offers it.

    9to5Mac’s Take

    iPhone users might be a bit bummed to see it’s Samsung S23 users who will get this upgrade first. But Apple customers already get over 90% of the max 3.3Gbps speed with T-Mobile’s previous 5G SA Ultra Capacity performance.

    Another thing to keep in mind is 3.3Gbps is the top-end speed, not the average that T-Mobile customers will see when connected via 5G SA with four-carrier aggregation. So while it’s great to see T-Mobile continuing to lead the US carriers with speed and performance, it’s good to keep realistic expectations for real-world performance.

    The latest independent study puts T-Mobile’s US median download speed at 164 Mbps (just over 2x faster than both Verizon and AT&T).

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