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

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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.

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.

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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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