John Saw of Sprint will ">"push 1 Gbps speed boundaries very soon." Later, he specifically said, "in 2017." Neville Ray of T-Mobile replied, "T-Mobile will absolutely be first to Gigabit speeds!" They are using the techniques I describe in For non-engineers. How LTE gets to the gigabit: 4x4 MIMO, 4 Band Carrier Aggregation, 256 QAM. A gigabit, shared across the cell site, is the goal of the new Qualcomm 835 chip, about to ship. In 60-90 days, expect to see the 835 in the Samsung Galaxy 8, the Xiaomi MI 6, and phones from HTC and LG. Phones with a good connection will usually deliver hundreds of megabits. Behind some walls or at the cell edge, speeds can go down 95%.
T-Mobile has a dramatic video of testing over 900 megabits with "an unreleased phone." It's embedded below or just click on the picture to the left. In Tokyo, Huawei's LTE ran at over a gig for the two day show. They are working with British Telecom on a 2 gigabit version using more spectrum.
Both Sprint and T-Mobile have deployed 50-60 MHz of spectrum (three carrier aggregation) and advanced coding (256 QAM.) Tyrone Beckwith testing T-Mobile has found speeds more than doubling with 256 QAM and 4x4 MIMO, apparently with 20 MHz. When the MIMO and three/four carriers are combined, the cell will be served with something close to a gigabit. Ray speaks of four antenna MIMO, which is already working at True in Thailand, Telus in Canada, and T-Mobile. Saw speaks of "Massive MIMO," 64-128 antennas that Sprint parent Softbank is deploying by the thousand in Japan. That's a 3X to 10X further improvement.
Saw has 160 MHz in most cities across the U.S. but so far has only deployed 40-60 MHz. Sprint has extraordinary potential capacity. T-Mobile is more limited, with 40-80 MHz most places. Telstra in Australia and SK in Korea thought they'd be at the gigabit in 2016 but the Qualcomm chip was delayed. No one doubts the technology will work, but deployment in 2017 will probably be limited everywhere. Only high end phones will have all the features.
Verizon is being quiet but their research is advanced.
Mike Dano of Fierce is hosting a breakfast at CES on January 6 with Ray and Saw's colleague Günther Ottendorfer. I wish I were there and could ask for more details. I'd like to understand what brings down the peak speed to a user when the cell is uncongested; performance differences between 4x4 and Massive MIMO; and an estimate of when this performance will come to less expensive phones. Looks like a good event.