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MWCA: Sprint upgrades its Magic Box for faster speeds


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Sprint has announced an upgrade of its Magic Box, with an improved antenna for 25 percent faster speeds than the previous device.

The Sprint Magic Box Generation 3, which will become available later this year, also has a faster start-up process and is smaller, allowing users to plug it in anywhere rather than directly in a window.

The box utilises 4×4 Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (4×4 MIMO) and 256 quadrature amplitude moderation (256 QAM) technologies for faster speeds and higher reliability, along with three-carrier aggregation across Sprint’s licensed spectrum.

“The newest Sprint Magic Box is a free-standing unit that dramatically improves data coverage and increases download speeds on average by 250 percent to provide nearby Sprint customers a better data and customer experience overall,” the company said on Wednesday during Mobile World Congress Americas (MWCA) in Los Angeles.

“A single device covers an average-sized small business, extends data coverage to benefit Sprint customers in nearby buildings, and improves street-level network performance.”

The device, manufactured by Airspan Networks, can be self-installed within minutes and now also includes Wi-Fi backhaul, two USB ports, a colour screen, and an Ethernet port.

According to Sprint CTO Dr John Saw, the new Magic Boxes utilise the carrier’s 2.5GHz spectrum holdings.

During the quarter to June 30, Sprint had reported distributing more than 65,000 Magic Boxes for a total of over 260,000 across the nation.

Sprint had earlier this week also announced a demonstration of 5G Massive MIMO technology across its 2.5GHz spectrum ahead of a 5G deployment in the first half of next year.

The 5G NR connection utilised Nokia’s commercial AirScale Base Station and Massive MIMO Active Antenna, and a 5G test device emulator to deliver peak downlink throughput of 3Gbps across 5G and LTE simultaneously.

“Sprint has long collaborated with Nokia on its Massive MIMO and 5G innovations … because of our large spectrum holdings, Sprint is one of the only operators in the world with enough capacity to operate LTE and 5G simultaneously using Massive MIMO and huge licensed channels of 100MHz of spectrum on the same radios,” Saw said.

Saw told ZDNet during MWC Barcelona in February that his carrier has the best 5G spectrum, with Sprint choosing its initial six 5G markets of Los Angeles, Washington DC, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, and Houston due to their high traffic and its spectrum holdings.

Sprint in May added New York City, Phoenix, and Kansas City to its 5G rollout roadmap.

Read also: Sprint CTO at MWC: We have the best 5G spectrum

T-Mobile, which Sprint is aiming to merge with next year, earlier this week announced a $3.5 billion deal with Nokia rival Ericsson to deliver its 5G networks, meanwhile.

T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray told ZDNet during MWC that his carrier’s 5G deployment across 30 cities this year — Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas, and Dallas are to have the service by 2019 — is “moving well”, with the 600MHz LTE rollout beginning last year and much of the hardware being 5G NR capable.

Ookla claimed in a recent report that the T-Mobile merger with Sprint “could result in an unmatched network in the face of 5G”.

This week, however, the Federal Communications Commission told Sprint and T-Mobile that it needs more time to review their planned merger.

The federal regulatory agency published a letter saying that it is pausing its informal, 180-day “transaction shot clock” in order to review newly submitted materials from the companies.

Sprint is also working with LG on a 5G smartphone for the first half of 2019, and with Ericsson on building a virtualised core Internet of Things (IoT) network and operating system.

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