T-Mobile announced that it has completed the first live mobile broadband data session field test using License Assisted Access (LAA) on its commercial network. The T-Mobile LAA test is the first of its kind on a live commercial network by a U.S. carrier for the emerging technology, the ‘Un-carrier’ claims.
Making use of LAA in the field in Los Angeles, the T-Mobile LAA field test was able to achieve download speeds of as high as 741 Mbps using 80 MHz of aggregated spectrum, management highlights.
T-Mobile is claiming another U.S. wireless industry first, announcing that it’s the first nationwide U.S. wireless broadband provider to make LTE-U available to customers as well. LTE-U makes use of publicly available spectrum in the 5GHz band to boost LTE capacity and data speed.
T-Mobile LTE-U is now live in select locations in Bellevue, Wash.; Brooklyn, N.Y.; Dearborn, Mich.; Las Vegas, Nev.; Richardson, Tex.; and Simi Valley, Calif. Management expects to be able to announce additional LTE-U roll-outs later this year.
One nice thing about LTE-U, for both T-Mobile and customers, is that LTE-U-enabled smartphones and mobile/wireless devices will automatically make use of available unlicensed wireless spectrum (although compatible devices are somewhat limited now). T-Mobile pointed out that LTE-U’s performance enhancements provide similar speed and capacity benefits as LTE carrier aggregation, 256 QAM (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation) and 4×4 MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output), and with less licensed spectrum. T-Mobile introduced all three of these LTE-Advanced features last fall.
“LAA is the just the latest example of how T-Mobile is innovating the way forward. While our competitors scramble to deal with the way unlimited data plans are slowing down their networks, we’re already moving on to what’s next,” said T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray. “This means that the fastest LTE network – that’s T-Mobile – will only get faster. I hope AT&T and Verizon like eating our dust!”
The FCC cleared the way for LTE network operators to tap and make use of unlicensed, infrequently used 5GHz spectrum earlier this year. Both LAA and LTE-U devices and equipment enable mobile carriers to intelligently share and make use of these airwaves without interfering with others making use of the same band. That can include those using conventional Wi-Fi network services, T-Mobile notes.
LAA takes LTE-U a step further in that it enables wireless carriers greater carrier aggregation by making optimal use of both licensed and unlicensed spectrum, hence the moniker License-Assisted Access.