1-Gigabit LTE will incorporate unlicensed spectrum

Ericsson's (NASDAQ: ERIC) newly coined version of LTE, which it is calling Gigabit LTE because it will make 1-Gbps speeds possible for LTE networks, will probably need to incorporate unlicensed spectrum for most operators to deploy it.

According to Ericsson, this version of LTE will allow operators to deliver extremely fast speeds for tasks such as downloading video or for enterprises looking for fast network access for mission-critical applications. And it will require 60 MHz of spectrum and a robust system of carrier aggregation. To get to that 60 MHz of spectrum, most operators will need to cull together a combination of licensed and unlicensed spectrum to make it work.

In an interview with FierceWireless at last week's Mobile World Congress 2016 conference in Barcelona, Spain, Arun Bansal, head of Ericsson's radio network unit, said that 1-Gigabit LTE will definitely incorporate unlicensed spectrum. In addition, he believes North American operators will deploy 1-Gig LTE in areas where there may not be as many landline broadband options. "1-Gigabit LTE could offer high speed connectivity. It could be a competitor in some markets," Bansal said.

Tom Keathley, SVP of wireless network architecture and design at AT&T, agreed with Bansal on the need for unlicensed spectrum for Gigabit-LTE to be deployed. Keathley would not say when or if AT&T has plans to roll out the technology but added that he expects operators to cull together two 20 MHz chunks of unlicensed spectrum and one 20 MHz of licensed spectrum to get the 60 MHz of spectrum necessary to deploy this technology.

Besides the 60 MHz of spectrum and carrier aggregation, other requirements for deploying 1-Gigabit LTE include:

  • 4x4 MIMO on 20 MHz of spectrum in mid and high bands
  • 2x2 MIMO in low bands
  • 256 QAM
  • 1.4 GHz supplemental downlink band

Australian operator Telstra announced last week that it will become the first carrier to commercially launch 1-Gig LTE service in the cities of Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane later this year using a 1-Gig capable Netgear mobile broadband hotspot and Ericsson's 1-Gigabit-LTE technology.

Mike Wright, Telstra Group's managing director of networks, said that the operator is striving to stay at the forefront of network technology with the 1-Gigabit-LTE launch, noting that consumers should be able to see upload speeds of 150 Mbps on compatible devices. However, Wright did not say that Telstra was using unlicensed spectrum for the launch.

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