Earlier today, a Galaxy Note 3 as reached a download speed of 300Mbps, and with its Snapdragon 805 processor, it became the fastest and most powerful device of its kind. The bad news is that you won’t be able to purchase it: it’s a unique prototype built for the sole purpose to demonstrate LTE Category 6 (Cat6) which is even faster that the best wireless networks deployed in the world: South Korea’s Cat4 LTE networks.
This Galaxy Note is has a Gobi 9×35 modem (a cousin of the Gobi 9×30) that is twice as fast as anything found commercially, and it features Snapdragon 805, which brings a boost of 30%-40% over the original Snapdragon 800 of the Note 3. [note: the image above is NOT the actual Note 3 used in the test]
First, keep in mind that Cat6’s 300Mbps is a theoretical limit that can be achieved only in the best conditions, including being very close of the cell tower, etc… this is a metric used by the industry to test what is essentially the “speed of light” (maximum speed) for this generation of LTE networks. Users should have lower absolute speeds in practice, but could still achieve 2X the actual speed that they experienced before.
LTE Cat6 is the talk of the town these days, and Huawei or Broadcom are also promoting their 300Mbps solutions. It works by aggregating two 20Mhz bands to double the download speed of Cat4 (there is no Cat5, if you wonder). For handset makers, this is yet another feature that is easy to market: who doesn’t like the idea of a 2X speed boost on the network? For wireless carriers, it’s not only a marketing bullet point, but the key to easier growth.
Higher speed LTE networks are faster, but also more network-efficient and have better management tools to maximize the usage of the existing radio-band. This allows carriers to do more with their existing spectrum license and at the same times serve more customers at higher speeds – and do all that without significantly increasing the network density.
And if that sounds good, that’s because it is, and this is why the next few years, you will keep hearing about LTE 150Mbps, then LTE 300Mbps. Unless your wireless bill goes up, it may be one of these technologies that makes virtually everyone happy.
It’s not clear which carrier will deploy Cat6 first, but there is a good chance that South Korea Telecom (SK Telecom) may be the first to do so. Hopefully, the U.S won’t be far behind.
Transparency: Our trip from San Francisco to Barcelona is partially arranged by Qualcomm, along with other media. Many news outlet don’t disclose this, but we do. More about our travel policy.