June 29, 2017 —
T-Mobile and AT&T are moving forward aggressively using License Assisted Access (LAA) and LTE-Unlicensed (LTE-U).
T-Mobile completed its first mobile broadband data session live in the field using License Assisted Access (LAA) on its commercial network in Los Angeles recording 741 Mbps download speeds using 80 MHz of aggregated spectrum.
Meanwhile, in a separate LTE-LAA field trial, AT&T and Ericsson reached speeds of more than 650 Mbps in San Francisco.
“It’s a positive for the wireless infrastructure industry,” Ted Abrams, founder and principal of Abrams Wireless, said. “It will enjoy additional revenues because of LAA and LTE-U because at each fixed site new radio transceivers need to be installed to carry the signal.”
LAA and LTE-U aggregate unlicensed and licensed spectrum to create a better link between the base facility at the tower or small cell node and the user’s handset. Both technologies also had to be designed to coexist with unlicensed technologies to guard against interference.
Earlier this year, the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology authorized the first LTE-U devices in the 5 GHz band.
LAA vs. LTE-U
On the same day that T-Mobile announced its LAA achievement, it reported that it is live with LTE-U, which requires a specialized proprietary chipset developed by Qualcomm, in select locations in its commercial networks in Bellevue, Washington; Brooklyn, New York; Dearborn, Michigan; Las Vegas, Nevada; Richardson, Texas; and Simi Valley, California. More LTE-U capable sites will be rolled out later this year.
Both LTE-U and LAA extend LTE into unlicensed. LTE-U was introduced by 3GPP in Release 12 of its LTE standard and LAA was included in Release 13 of the LTE standard.
A mobile operator using LAA can support Gigabit Class LTE with as little as 20 megahertz of licensed spectrum, according to Qualcomm. LAA enables greater carrier aggregation than LTE-U, so mobile operators can combine larger amounts of unlicensed and licensed spectrum, according to T-Mobile.
AT&T called the testing of LTE-LAA technology a milestone on its way to 5G technology. The carrier’s initial LTE-LAA rollout is planned by the end of the year, when it hopes to reach gigabit speeds.
“LTE-LAA technology is expected to play a key role as we aim to reach theoretical peak speeds of up to 1 Gbps at some small cell sites by the end of the year. It’s also one of the technologies we’re using to enhance the network and boost speeds in our 5G Evolution markets,” Marachel Knight, senior vice president, Wireless Network Architecture and Design, said.
Verizon, which began the LTE-U Forum in 2014 with Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Qualcomm Technologies, has been quiet on this front. In mid April it asked the FCC for permission to extend its LTE-U testing, according to RCR Wireless News.
Other LTE-U, LAA News