US Operators Get Cracking on Unlicensed-LTE

As expected, US mobile is pushing on with unlicensed plans, with T-Mobile launching LTE-U in six cities and both the Un-carrier and AT&T testing LAA at blazing download speeds of over 600 Mbit/s.

Dan Jones, Mobile Editor

June 27, 2017

2 Min Read
US Operators Get Cracking on Unlicensed-LTE

Major US operators are now working with unlicensed spectrum to boost 4G capacity and speed: T-Mobile says it has launched LTE-U in six markets, while AT&T has completed LAA trials with Ericsson in San Francisco.

T-Mobile US Inc. says that LTE-Unlicensed (LTE-U) at 5GHz is now live in Bellevue, Wash.; Brooklyn, NY; Dearborn, Mich.; Las Vegas, Nev.; Richardson, Texas; and Simi Valley, Calif., with more locations coming. Subscribers will need a compatible phone to access the additional 5GHz bandwidth, such as the Samsung Galaxy S8. We've asked T-Mobile for a list of compatible devices.

Part of the T-Mobile focus for LTE-U is using it in outdoor small cells for improved coverage. Karri Kuoppamaki, VP of radio network technology and strategy at T-Mobile, said last week that the operator has "contracted ... for 25,000 small cells over the next few years," without specifying how many will be compliant with LTE-U or License Assisted Access (LAA).

Both AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and T-Mobile want to use the 5GHz spectrum to boost the depth of spectrum channels on their network. This means bonding radio channels to push aggregated spectrum capacity to 60MHz, 80MHz or above, and to boost LTE download speeds to multiple hundreds of Mbit/s.

T-Mobile said on Sunday it tested LAA downloads at 741 Mbit/s in 80MHz of spectrum. AT&T, meanwhile, said Monday it conducted LAA field trials with Ericsson, reaching initial download speeds of over 650 Mbit/s. (See LTE-Advanced Pro: Creeping Into Networks Near You.)

AT&T says that carrier aggregation with LAA will be part of its "5G Evolution" LTE-Advanced network updates this year. (See Surprise! AT&T Markets 4G Advances as '5G Evolution' and AT&T Expects 5G in Late 2018 or Early '19.)

The FCC approved the use of unlicensed LTE equipment from Ericsson and Nokia by US carriers back in February. Light Reading noted in April that unlicensed would be a big focus for operators in 2017 and beyond. (See T-Mobile Promises LTE-U Services in the Spring and Unlicensed: It's What's Next for US Mobile Operators.)

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Dan Jones

Mobile Editor

Dan is to hats what Will.I.Am is to ridiculous eyewear. Fedora, trilby, tam-o-shanter -- all have graced the Jones pate during his career as the go-to purveyor of mobile essentials.

But hey, Dan is so much more than 4G maps and state-of-the-art headgear. Before joining the Light Reading team in 2002 he was an award-winning cult hit on Broadway (with four 'Toni' awards, two 'Emma' gongs and a 'Brian' to his name) with his one-man show, "Dan Sings the Show Tunes."

His perfectly crafted blogs, falling under the "Jonestown" banner, have been compared to the works of Chekhov. But only by Dan.

He lives in Brooklyn with cats.

Subscribe and receive the latest news from the industry.
Join 62,000+ members. Yes it's completely free.

You May Also Like