After running tests with Qualcomm in early 2016, T-Mobile today announced plans to officially launch LTE-U (LTE for unlicensed).
T-Mobile says that it’ll launch LTE-U network capabilities and devices this spring. With LTE-U, T-Mobile will utilize the first 20 MHz of unlicensed spectrum on the 5GHz band, which will enable it to boost its LTE capacity.
Here’s how T-Mo explains LTE-U
“LTE-U devices and equipment intelligently tap into and share underutilized unlicensed spectrum without affecting other users on the same band, including those using conventional Wi-Fi. LTE-U constantly seeks the least utilized channels to maximize efficiency and performance for everyone. 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.”
Today’s announcement comes alongside the news that the FCC has authorized the first LTE-U devices in the 5GHz band, which FCC Chairman Ajit Pay described as a “significant advance in wireless innovation and a big win for wireless consumers.”
While T-Mobile hasn’t yet shared a ton of info on its LTE-U rollout plans, it does say that it’s been field testing LTE-U equipment since December 2016, so it’s already got some experience with the technology. With LTE-U, T-Mo will be able to boost its LTE capacity and offer improved data speeds. Just keep in mind that you’ll need a device that supports this feature to take advantage of the improvements that it offers.