Understanding MIMO (Multiple Input, Multiple Output) – LTE Speed & Cell Booster Implications

An early MIMO prototype...

An early MIMO antenna prototype?

To anyone who knows a thing or two about wireless communications, modern LTE cellular radios are borderline miraculous.

Consider the first iPhone - which launched in 2007 with a maximum theoretical cellular speed of around 500kbps using AT&T's 2G EDGE cellular network.

Less than a decade later - the latest flagship phones like the iPhone 6s or hotspots like the Netgear AC791L actually support theoretical maximum cellular download speeds of 300Mbps.

That is a 600x increase - in just 8 years!

That sort of raw speed is fast enough to transfer an entire DVD in around 2 minutes - an amount of data that would have taken over 8 days to transfer over an old-school 56kbps telephone modem, or the earliest 2G cellular data networks.

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Of course theory rarely equals reality - and the cellular networks need to be substantially upgraded and built out to even come close to being able to deliver speeds like this to real people outside of a lab. And in the real world - you will be sharing this speed with perhaps hundreds of others connected to the same cell tower.

But real LTE speeds over 50Mbps are actually not at all uncommon nowadays, and speeds over 100Mbps are starting to be found in the field by a lucky few.

One of the key technologies making these sorts of speeds possible is known as MIMO (Multiple Input, Multiple Output) - an incredibly clever technique for putting multiple antennas to work to increase both data transmission speed and reliability.

MIMO is fundamental to LTE - but cellular boosters and MIMO have some... challenges... working together.

Read on to get a grasp of what MIMO is, how it works, and how you can use a little bit of MIMO awareness to potentially double your cellular speeds.

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