The investment in LTE-U technology follows telecom regulator FCC certifying mobile equipment from technology firms Ericsson and Nokia. T-Mobile aims to enhance LTE network capabilities and bring devices for wireless consumers this spring.
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Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said LTE-U (LTE for unlicensed) devices in the 5 GHz band is a significant advance in wireless innovation.
“LTE-U allows wireless providers to deliver mobile data traffic using unlicensed spectrum while sharing the road, so to speak, with Wi-Fi. Voluntary industry testing has demonstrated that both these devices and Wi-Fi operations can co-exist in the 5 GHz band,” Ajit Pai said.
T-Mobile’s plans to deploy LTE-U technology
LTE-U enables T-Mobile customers to tap into the first 20 MHz of underutilized unlicensed spectrum on the 5GHz band and use it for additional LTE capacity. T-Mobile said the telecom network operator has more capacity per subscriber than AT&T and Verizon.
LTE-U will make it possible for T-Mobile to bring its forthcoming Gigabit LTE to more places across the country.
“T-Mobile’s built a track record of introducing new innovations first, including deploying more LTE Advanced technologies than anyone in the US,” said Neville Ray, CTO at T-Mobile.
In December 2016, T-Mobile tested LTE-U equipment as part of field trials in association with Nokia and Ericsson.
“We continue to push the boundaries of bringing new technologies in the unlicensed arena,” said Ricky Corker, head of North America.
“Ericsson welcomes the FCC’s approval of LTE-U. The use of this technology will bring an even better customer experience while using LTE,” said Glenn Laxdal, head of Network Products, Ericsson North America.
Benefits of LTE-U
LTE-U devices and equipment tap into underutilized unlicensed spectrum without affecting other users on the same band, including those using Wi-Fi. LTE-U seeks the least utilized channels to maximize efficiency and performance. As demand on the Wi-Fi network increases, LTE-U backs off, and as Wi-Fi demand wanes, customers can tap into that unused capacity for LTE.