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MWC 2015: Vendors search for best approach to LTE in unlicensed spectrum

MWC 2015: Vendors search for best approach to LTE in unlicensed spectrum

Before the halfway point of the first day of MWC 2015 Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Qualcomm, and SK Telecom had already spoken about using unlicensed spectrum in conjunction with LTE over licensed spectrum.

Before the halfway point of the first day of MWC 2015 Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Qualcomm, and SK Telecom had already spoken about using unlicensed spectrum in conjunction with LTE over licensed spectrum.

“Clearly this is a popular, as well as confusing, topic,” observes Daryl Schoolar, Principal Analyst, Intelligent Networks, Ovum.

Since CES in January, Schoolar says Ericsson has been talking about LTE Licensed Assisted Access (LTE-LAA) - here LTE is aggregated between both licensed spectrum and unlicensed 5GHz spectrum.

At Mobile World Congress 2015 however, Alcatel-Lucent provided a different approach, whereby the downlink remains Wi-Fi but LTE is used in the uplink - the vendor can see full carrier aggregation between Wi-Fi and LTE; it also supports LTE-LAA.

“All of this can be confusing: service models are uncertain, as are decisions on which type of harmonisation to use, and when,” Schoolar claims.

“Hopefully Qualcomm can help here, because it supports both Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent’s options.

“Most confusing of all, gaining regulatory approval to use unlicensed bands to support licensed bands is very questionable.

“SK Telecom – an LTE-LAA partner of Ericsson – said at an analyst event on Sunday that regulatory concerns give it cause to hesitate on full commitment to this technology.”


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