T-Mobile said it is forging ahead with a spring deployment of LTE for unlicensed spectrum (LTE-U) in the wake of the FCC’s certification Wednesday of the first equipment for the technology.
The Un-carrier announced it will be rolling out LTE-U on both its network and in consumer devices this spring. T-Mobile said it will use LTE-U to tap into 20 MHz of “underutilized” unlicensed spectrum on the 5 GHz band and use it to provide additional LTE capacity for its customers. The move, T-Mobile said, will enable the carrier to bring its forthcoming Gigabit LTE service to more markets across the country down the line.
The news came just minutes after the FCC announced certification for the first LTE-U devices from Nokia and Ericsson. FCC Chairman Pai called the move a “significant advance in wireless innovation and a big win for wireless customers.”
Predictably, Ericsson and Nokia both expressed their pleasure with the honor.
“Ericsson welcomes the FCC’s approval of LTE-U. The use of this technology will bring an even better customer experience while using LTE,” Glenn Laxdal, head of Network Products for Ericsson North America, commented. “Ericsson has been working in close collaboration with our partners to ensure that this technology will work in harmony with Wi-Fi, utilizing unlicensed spectrum in an optimal way.”
T-Mobile indicated it has been conducting field trials of LTE-U technology since December, but the journey to get even there was a long one.
T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray originally said he hoped to deploy the technology in 2016, but was forced to wait for the release of the LTE-U interoperability standards from the Wi-Fi Alliance.
The Un-carrier – along with other players like Verizon and Qualcomm – spent months throughout 2016 pushing for the timely release of the standards, which were initially slated for release in the summer. Those finally came in September, though, after a string of delays and controversy between WiFi and cellular interests held up the process.
T-Mobile isn’t the only one looking at unlicensed technologies for LTE.
A Verizon spokesman told Wireless Week late last month the carrier was in the process of testing LTE-U equipment and had a clear migration path to License Assisted Access (LAA) technology. Verizon is planning to deploy the latter sometime later this year, he said.
Filed Under: Infrastructure