Published: Sat, February 25, 2017
Technology | By Ramiro Moody

U Authorization Paves Way for T-Mobile Gigabit LTE

"Verizon is excited about today's announcement from the FCC that it has granted the first authorizations for LTE-U equipment", Will Johnson, Verizon senior vice president of federal regulatory and legal affairs, said. LTE-U constantly seeks the least utilized channels to maximize efficiency and performance for everyone. Thanks to LTE-U technology, T-Mobile customers will be able to take advantage of "underutilized unlicensed spectrum" on the 5GHz band.

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". LTE-U lets carriers boost coverage by using the 5GHz band commonly used by Wi-Fi devices. T-Mobile US says it will immediately begin to install LTE-U base stations, with the aim of having the service live by the spring.

"T-Mobile's network is second to none, with more capacity per customer than the Duopoly ... and LTE-U will only accelerate our lead", said Neville Ray, CTO at T-Mobile.

The LTE-U devices have been approved after FCC staff has certified that they are in compliance with FCC rules.

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"LTE-U and Wi-Fi stakeholders worked together under the auspices of the Wi-Fi Alliance to develop co-existence guidelines and an evaluation test plan that was released last fall", pointed out FCc Chief Engineer Julius Knapp.

Critics of the technology point to potential pitfalls should the smartphone signals conflict with existing users of the airwaves, which aren't limited to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and include garage door openers, baby monitors and key fobs for cars. Naturally, the new LTE-U technology will require LTE-U capable devices as well. "I remain committed to ensuring a competitive and vibrant unlicensed ecosystem that fosters innovation and promotes the efficient use of spectrum".

Aside from equipment vendors like Ericsson and Nokia, the only companies likely to greet the news of LTE-Us approval with enthusiasm are the carriers themselves and Qualcomm, which essentially invented the technology. "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.

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

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