Mobile to launch LTE-U in the Spring of 2017

If the phone is new, it might be already supported with LTE-U on the hardware level, at least. One of the chips that is LTE-U-compatible is the Snapdragon 821 and the Snapdragon 820 from QUALCOMM, Inc.

Shortly after the Federal Communications Commission approved the first use of unlicensed LTE in the 5 GHz band, T-Mobile announced it would launch LTE-U over its network by this spring.

In order to take advantage of the speed boost from LTE-U, however, customers will need a compatible device - of which there aren't any now on the market.

LTE-U will provide customers with another option that offers the extra capacity of unlicensed spectrum, but also the added security and faster speeds of LTE, a wireless broadband technology.

The debate also roped in consumer advocates and the city of NY, which sent a letter to the FCC and worldwide standards authorities saying LTE-U threatened the city's network of free Wi-Fi hot spots. 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 even says the LTE-U rollout will make it possible for the carrier to bring "Gigabit LTE to more places across the country", though there is no timetable given on that. In other words, they will get more LTE capacity. Even though the new testing is voluntary rather than required by the FCC, the Wi-Fi Alliance declared that it is satisfied with the result.

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Multichannel News reports that carriers are excited by the prospects LTE-U will bring. The FCC's decision opens the possibilities for a technical breakthrough in the shared uses of this spectrum.

T-Mobile US CEO John Legere.

"These end-to-end solutions are a key step for preparing Verizon's network for commercial deployment with different 5G scenarios and use cases", said Rima Qureshi, head of Ericsson's North American region.

In particular, the fight has pitted cable companies - whose customers rely on Wi-Fi routers to connect to the internet - against cellular carriers whose users are consuming an ever growing amount of mobile data.

  • Desiree Holland