August 28, 2014 — Japan’s NTT DoCoMo, which can always be counted on to be at the edge of the envelope, has demonstrated that LTE can work in the 5-GHz band. Typically, that band is used for LAN networking.
DoCoMo and Huawei have been working on Licensed-Assisted Access (LAA), a technology that allows LTE to function in the unlicensed spectrum. If experiments prove successful and the technology is commercially viable, network operators will be able to use this unlicensed band to deploy LTE networks.
Test results indicated that LAA can work in 5-GHz bandwidth. On the technical side, LAA has the capability to offer a higher cell capacity (approximately 1.6 times) than the IEEE 802.11n standard for WLAN. The result is that LAA can be used to enhance LTE, and possibly LTE-A as well.
On another LTE note, as of the end of 1Q 2014, ABI Research estimates there were 60 LTE-A trials, commitments and commercial deployments worldwide, of which 22 commitments were from Western Europe, 16 from Asia Pacific and five from North America.
Carrier aggregation (CA) is playing a big role in LTE-A. “CA is the most important feature of LTE-Advanced, which helps mobile carriers to utilize all spectrum resources to increase data rates,” said Marina Lu, research analyst at ABI Research.
Ernest Worthman is the editor of Small Cell Magazine.