Mobile launching LTE-U in spring 2017 to increase LTE capacity

As FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai explained in a statement, "LTE-U allows wireless providers to deliver mobile data traffic using unlicensed spectrum while sharing the road, so to speak, with Wi-Fi".

Later in the year, other wireless carriers are also understood to be planning to install LTE-U as well as another technology that is closely related, LAA. Doubtlessly, once the switches are flipped on the base stations and LTE-U compatibility begins to spread, some users will at least consider unlawfully unlocking the capability by modifying their existing devices.

T-Mobile USA is ready to deploy a new LTE technology over the same 5GHz frequencies used by Wi-Fi following US government approval of the first "LTE-U" devices. It also promises to give way to Wi-Fi as the need arises.

The news came just minutes after the FCC announced certification for the first LTE-U devices from Nokia and Ericsson. T-Mobile has been working with the 5GHz spectrum for a while though, so we're confident that will go fine. The excellent staff of the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology has certified that the LTE-U devices being approved today are in compliance with FCC rules. This heralds a technical breakthrough in the many shared uses of this spectrum.

There's no telling when iPhones will support the LTE-U band.

"Ericsson welcomes the FCC's approval of LTE-U", commented Glenn Laxdal, Head of Network Products, Ericsson North America. Ricky Corker, Nokia EVP and Head of North America, said that the company is committed to work alongside T-Mobile in order to bring new solutions to market. The WiFi Alliance, a trade group that certifies WiFi equipment, ultimately released a "Coexistence Test Plan" in September that sought to ensure LTE-U devices wouldn't interfere with WiFi out in the wild. Other major tech sector players, including Google, Comcast, Microsoft and many others, have expressed serious concerns that LTE-U doesn't play as nicely with Wi-Fi as advertised, though collaborative testing has ratcheted tensions down of late. "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".

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