In a blog post today, AT&T touted its achievements involving 5G standalone technology, including the completion several weeks ago of what the company said was the first 5G standalone uplink two-carrier aggregation data call in the United States.

Like most carriers, AT&T initially deployed 5G in non-standalone mode, which relies on previous-generation technology in the core network. As the blog post notes, standalone 5G uses a dedicated core, which can help support faster upload speeds, lower latency, and edge functions, as well as enhancing reliability.

The 5G standalone uplink two-carrier aggregation data call was conducted at AT&T’s Labs with Nokia’s 5G AirScale portfolio and MediaTek’s 5G M80 mobile test platform. AT&T aggregated low band n5 and mid-band n77 spectrum.

When the n5 was aggregated with 40 MHz of the n77 mid-band, the test generated a 100% increase in uplink throughput compared to the n5 low-band alone. A 250% increase was seen when 100 MHz of n77 was aggregated with the n5 spectrum.

“The bottom line? We achieved incredible upload speeds of over 70 Mbps on n5 with 40MHz of n77 and over 120 Mbps on n5 with 100MHz of n77,” said Jason Sikes, AT&T’s Associate Vice President of Device Architecture, in today’s blog post.

AT&T also said that it completed a standalone 5G four component carrier downlink call several months ago. The call combined two frequency division duplex (FDD) and two time division duplex (TDD) carriers. AT&T was able to aggregate mid-band n77 in the C-band and 3.45 GHz spectrum ranges.

The blog post also references AT&T’s use of two-layer uplink multiple in multiple out (MIMO) on TDD in the n77 band. MIMO combines signals and data streams from multiple antennas to improve signal quality and data rates, the carrier said.

“This feature ill not only improve uplink throughput but also enhance cell capacity and spectrum efficiency,” Sikes said, although the post doesn’t indicate the status of that development

Looking ahead, AT&T plans to enable 5G new radio dual connectivity (NR-DC), which will involve the aggregation of low and mid-band spectrum with high-frequency mmWave spectrum on 5G SA. So far, AT&T’s labs achieved 5G NR-DC downlink throughput speeds as high as 5.3 Gbps and uplink throughput speeds as fast as 670 Mbps.

Other things on AT&T’s 5G SA to-do list:

  • Specialized network services including network slicing, precision location, private routing and others
  • Non-terrestrial network solutions to supplement coverage in remote locations
  • Reduced capability 5G (RedCap) for a new generation of 5G capable wearables, industrial IoT, wireless sensors and similar small form factor consumer devices.

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