T-Mobile US has tested License Assisted Access (LAA) on its commercial network, allowing T-Mobile to essentially aggregate mobile spectrum with unlicensed 5-GHz spectrum to boost download speeds to 741 Mbps, using 80 MHz of aggregated spectrum.
T-Mobile US also has made commercial use of a similar Long Term Evolution in Unlicensed Spectrum (LTE-U) platform to serve customers in Bellevue, Wash.; Brooklyn, N.Y.; Dearborn, Mich.; Las Vegas, Nev; Richardson, Texas; and Simi Valley, Calif., with more rolling areas adding the capability in 2017.
The feature requires use of compatible smartphones.
Earlier this year, the FCC cleared the way for LTE in unlicensed spectrum, enabling wireless providers to use unlicensed airwaves in the 5 GHz band.
LTE-U and LAA 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.
LAA enables greater carrier aggregation than LTE-U, so T-Mobile US is expected to rely on LAA in the future, equipping its new small cells with the capability.