Yesterday, T-Mobile rolled out support for LTE-U in the selected regions in the US. LTE Unlicenced (LTE-U) comes with the 5GHz spectrum, which is commonly used by Wi-Fi devices to provide a faster network experience. The way LTE-U works is very simple by combining licensed spectrum with the unlicensed spectrum (5GHz) can boost both downlink speeds and network coverage on the supported devices.
For a long time, Mobile network operators have utilized the Carrier Aggregation techniques (CA) to boost downlink and uplink speeds, but with the appearance of LTE-U it can now deliver faster speeds and more bandwidth while even consuming less licensed spectrum than CA.
Both Carrier Aggregation and LTE-U works on the same procedure of utilizing more than one network band to boost up data throughput. The only difference between them is while Carrier Aggregation just uses licensed spectrum, LTE-U takes advantages of both licensed and unlicensed spectrum.
LTE-U is now available in Bellevue, Washington; Brooklyn, New York; Dearborn, Michigan; Las Vegas, Nevada; Richardson, Texas, and Simi Valley, California, and more regions will receive the LTE-U support later this year.
However, to use LTE-U network, you’ll need a compatible device. Until now, the Samsung Galaxy S8 is the only smartphone that supports LTE-U band when it’s out of the box, but the list of the compatible devices will grow up. Fortunately, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820/821 chipsets also support LTE-U and LTE-LAA band, which is possible that OEMs would add this functionality on their devices in the next firmware updates.
Furthermore, the LTE License Assisted Access (LTE-LAA) which it plans to roll-out later this year. According to T-Mobile, LTE-LAA will allow Carrier Aggregation to choose between licensed and unlicensed spectrum, which will provide more bandwidth as well as the faster downloading speeds over LTE-U. T-Mobile also states that during the testing time of LTE-LAA in Los Angeles, it can achieve a blazing fast download speed up to 741 Mbps.