Baicells claims launch of world's first LTE-U/LAA small cell

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Capping a successful run at Mobile World Congress 2016 last week, Chinese startup Baicells formally announced what it is calling the world's first LTE-U/LAA small cell, which it says provides up to 300 Mbps capacity.

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Baicells small cell

The company is discussing trials for the LAA small cell with operators in both the U.S. and Asia, but due to a non-disclosure agreement, it can't reveal the name of the U.S. operator that it is in talks with, Wei Bai, VP of marketing at Baicells, told FierceWirelessTech.

"Our goal is to reduce the capex and opex for operators to help them to build a healthy wireless communication ecosystem and provide free connection within everyone's reach," he said via email. "We plan to continuously improve our technology and work with our industry partners to make better and better utilization of the spectrum – which is the most valuable asset for wireless communication."

The company expects the first deployment of its LTE-U/LAA small cell will be in either China or America. To commercially launch a product in the U.S., the company would need to get FCC certification.

LAA specifically refers to the 3GPP Release 13 technology and includes a listen-before-talk (LBT) mechanism to ensure coexistence of LTE and Wi-Fi over unlicensed spectrum. The LBT mechanism is something the Wi-Fi community has said it wanted to see in LTE-U as well.

Baicells' LAA small cell uses Intel Transcede SoC processors. Last week, while showcasing demos at MWC, Baicells announced it had selected Radisys' CellEngine TOTALeNodeB LTE small cell software to deliver LTE in unlicensed spectrum functionality for Baicells' Light4G small cell solutions. The company also announced the launch of one of the world's smallest base stations, the palm-sized elfCell, which uses chipsets from Qualcomm Technologies (NASDAQ:QCOM).

LTE-U remains at the center of controversy in the U.S. The FCC last month granted a special temporary authority (STA) to Qualcomm to conduct small scale performance evaluation tests of LTE-U equipment at two Verizon (NYSE: VZ) sites in Oklahoma City, Okla., and Raleigh, N.C. In announcing the grant, the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) chief Julius Knapp said LTE-U devices will require equipment authorization by the FCC Laboratory before they can be marketed in the United States and applicants for certification of such devices will be required to submit sample devices for testing.

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Related articles:
AT&T's Keathley: We are testing LTE-U but LAA is a better option
Baicells selects Radisys small cell software for LTE-U deployments
Wi-Fi Alliance releases draft test procedures for Wi-Fi/LTE-U coexistence

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