T-Mobile says it will start using unlicensed LTE on its network this spring now that the FCC has finally approved LTE-U equipment for use in the US.
The FCC has approved 5GHz LTE-Unlicensed (LTE-U) equipment from Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) and Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) for use on US networks. The government agency has been kicking the tires on the use of LTE-U since 2014. (See T-Mobile Sounds Off on Verizon 5G, LTE-U Frustrations and Operators, Vendors Advise FCC on LTE-U.)
T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray said recently that the operator will deploy 5GHz small cells to take advantage of 20MHz of unlicensed spectrum available. (See T-Mobile to Spend Up to $5.1B on LTE in 2017.)
One of the main concerns around LTE-U was that it would interfere with WiFi at 5GHz. T-Mobile insists -- in a statement -- that this won't be an issue:
- LTE-U devices and equipment intelligently tap into and share underutilized unlicensed spectrum without affecting other users on the same band, including those using conventional Wi-Fi. LTE-U constantly seeks the least utilized channels to maximize efficiency and performance for everyone. 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.
Expect Verizon Wireless to follow with its own LTE-U plans soon. Potential alt-operators like Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) might also take a look at 5GHz too. (See Google, LTE-U & the Question of a Wireless Broadband Future .)
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading