Mobile, First To Roll Out 'Unlicensed' Spectrum, LTE-U Network

The network equipment and devices will utilize the first 20 MHz of spectrum on the 5GHz band and give T-Mo additional LTE capacity, helping it to boost speeds.

LTE-U is shorthand for LTE for unlicensed spectrum. It will be interesting to see how the FCC addresses this; they could punish users who do so, make it easier for device makers to recertify devices, make sweeping changes to the law in order to allow current devices to use LTE-U if their hardware is compatible, or simply order their carriers to shut them down.

"LTE-U allows wireless providers to deliver mobile data traffic using unlicensed spectrum while sharing the road, so to speak, with Wi-Fi", Pai said.

The revelation that new smartphones will be required in order to access LTE-U was made by T-Mobile with the promise that by Spring new ones will have arrived as there are none in the market now that have achieved compatibility with LTE-U.

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T-Mobile is planning to extend LTE's longevity with the roll out of the LTE-U standard, scheduled for this spring. "T-Mobile's built a track record of introducing new innovations first, including deploying more LTE Advanced technologies than anyone in the US".

Pai added that industry testing "demonstrated that both these [LTE-U] devices and Wi-Fi operations can co-exist..." "Starting in December 2016, T-Mobile was already testing LTE-U equipment as part of early field trials, so the Un-carrier has been ready to hit the ground running to bring this new technology to customers!" VZ, +0.49% and T-Mobile US Inc.

"These end-to-end solutions are a key step for preparing Verizon's network for commercial deployment with different 5G scenarios and use cases", said Rima Qureshi, head of Ericsson's North American region. For years, proponents and opponents of LTE-U have been arguing about how LTE-U can adversely affect the quality of Wi-Fi networks in its attempt to improve LTE quality. The idea is to let mobile networks sense when WiFi and Bluetooth aren't using a particular channel, then apply LTE-U when a carrier's licensed network is congested.

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  • Delia Davidson