A reasonable person might wonder why mobile service providers might be interested in using Long Term Evolution in unlicensed spectrum. After all, mobile service providers already routinely offload traffic to Wi-Fi, and no special protocol is required.

Mobile service providers “do not need LTE-U to use the 5 GHz band (they can do so with Wi-Fi),” notes analyst Monica Paolini.

But there are advantages, nevertheless.

LTE-U helps because it is more efficient, offers better spectral efficiency, easier network integration, and better traffic load management.

In other words, LTE-U–also known as licensed-assisted LTE–allows mobile service providers to manage their network access operations better.